I have a good friend who has enlisted my help in disposing of a large amount of correspondence & related ephemera from his family. Naturallly, he's hoping to realize the most value possible, and I'm trying to determine the best process to help him do that, while also preserving the inter-related history of it all, perhaps in the form of a book. Here's a concise description of what's there:
The lot consists of approximately 550 personal & business letters & related ephemera from one of his family ancestors. Most of it centers around one man, who was a local civic leader & businessman. He was a lawyer & dabbled in many other occupations, including farmer, politician, salesman, census enumerator, and others. He was an independent sales agent & sold various books & farm implements, so there are old broadheads & advertisements, as well as business letters on great old letterhead stationery. Some of his contemporaries were state & federal politicians, so there are some letters from Congress too.
The time frame runs from the 1840's, when he was a young man, through the Civil War and into the late 1800's & a tiny bit of the early 1900's. Many of the personal letters are from his 7 siblings & some nephews & neices, so there's a good deal of information about daily life in an American small town through that era.
So, my question is, how to proceed? We want to sell it all eventually, but we feel that the history is important to preserve & share. Would it bring more if we sold it all together as one, whole lot? Or should we sell individual, more pertinent letters first (after transcribing the contents)? Maybe we should take care not to "gut" the collection by selling the more valuable things, leaving just the less desirable items...
For now, we have sorted and put all the letters in chronological order. We've separated out the business from the personal letters, and we're reading through the personal ones, making note of those that have unusual or more intersting information, such as current events & the Civil War. We've been trying to get a sense of the overall content in hopes of compiling enough of interest to put a book together.
If anyone out there has had experience with this sort of thing, I would appreciate some advice as to what/how to proceed.
Thank you in advance to anyone who can advise. I'll post this same letter on the several groups I've joined on this network, hoping for some helpful feedback.