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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,832

PostPosted: Fri 08 Oct, 2004 9:45 pm    Post subject: Ethical, moral or capatilistic?         Reply with quote

I find myself facing a dilema and am not sure what to do. As some here may know, my dad passed away in August. Having relocated our stepmother to the left coast, a sister and myself have the chore of cleanout.

Among the mountains of boxes, I find one containing an edition of Corpus Juris Civilis 4th edition published/printed in 1688. After many hours on the web tonight, I determine that this is not just a rare book but quite valuble. It's in better shape than I will be in 306 years.

Do I scalp it and (a)run with the dough (b) distribute the proceeds?

Do I stash it carefully for future executors?

Should I (a)donate it or (b) loan it, to a museum/school?

Most of the five thousand books aren't really a problem to deal with, many are going overseas. There are a few from the 19th century (many of little interest or value).

The old 1688 one was tucked away quite carefully. I wish I read Latin. This is a tome of civil law from the Roman era. Kind of a neat engraving of Leopold I on the inside. The binding is in great shape.

What to do?

~~~~~

Curses to the meeses, I hates them to pieces. They are everywhere in that wing. Even upstairs in the office they managed to get to an old bible cover (minor nibbling). Fortunately they liked boxes of stationery better.

I pulled out my brothers old computer (both last ran in 1996) the other day and there were live mice in the monitor box (I was as suprised as they were). Dig this, it's a hotrodded 386 that boots to DOS. When I finally found the Windows program I was still lost (jk), Windows 3.1 ! There are some great old games and graphics on it.

~~~~~~~~~

I wish I could archive everything but the mice but I've no space. I look at the tin type model railroad stuff and alll I can think is antique dealers. I find this truly rare 1688 book and all I can think about is museums and dollar signs.

Cheers

Glen

I doubt I'm going be done with cleanup before the new year
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Steve Fabert





Joined: 03 Mar 2004
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Posts: 493

PostPosted: Fri 08 Oct, 2004 10:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If your father's estate has not yet gone through probate, then the executor or administrator of the estate will be responsible for deciding how to handle the asset. An executor might be required to sell the book and distribute the proceeds, or the book might be delivered as is to one or more family members to be their property, to keep, sell, or give away as they wish. Once the property has been distributed among the family members with the approval of the probate court and is no longer in the legal custody of an executor, then the decision is just a practical one for whoever is given the book.

If you donate it to a library, you will get your name on a plate inside the book's front cover and a tax deduction. Even if you are in a high tax bracket the tax deduction will not do you as much good as a sale to the highest bidder would.

It is quite surprising how many books from this era have survived with no serious effort at preservation, just by being left in a low moisture environment. In the 1970s I found volumes printed in the 17th or 18th Century sitting on open shelves in the Harvard libraries, untouched since they had last been checked out by students sixty or seventy years earlier. But even a short period of exposure to the wrong conditions can irreparably damage any old book. So if you can't keep it in a climate controlled space at a constant temperature, it should be passed on to someone else who can. Unless you are confident that you can store it safely for a very long time, and can afford to insure it fully as well, it is better off in the hands of a library/museum/collector.
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Chris Holzman





Joined: 24 Aug 2003

Posts: 124

PostPosted: Fri 08 Oct, 2004 10:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Ethical, moral or capatilistic?         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
I find myself facing a dilema and am not sure what to do. As some here may know, my dad passed away in August. Having relocated our stepmother to the left coast, a sister and myself have the chore of cleanout.

Among the mountains of boxes, I find one containing an edition of Corpus Juris Civilis 4th edition published/printed in 1688. After many hours on the web tonight, I determine that this is not just a rare book but quite valuble. It's in better shape than I will be in 306 years.

Do I scalp it and (a)run with the dough (b) distribute the proceeds?

Do I stash it carefully for future executors?

Should I (a)donate it or (b) loan it, to a museum/school?

Most of the five thousand books aren't really a problem to deal with, many are going overseas. There are a few from the 19th century (many of little interest or value).

The old 1688 one was tucked away quite carefully. I wish I read Latin. This is a tome of civil law from the Roman era. Kind of a neat engraving of Leopold I on the inside. The binding is in great shape.

What to do?

~~~~~

Curses to the meeses, I hates them to pieces. They are everywhere in that wing. Even upstairs in the office they managed to get to an old bible cover (minor nibbling). Fortunately they liked boxes of stationery better.

I pulled out my brothers old computer (both last ran in 1996) the other day and there were live mice in the monitor box (I was as suprised as they were). Dig this, it's a hotrodded 386 that boots to DOS. When I finally found the Windows program I was still lost (jk), Windows 3.1 ! There are some great old games and graphics on it.

~~~~~~~~~

I wish I could archive everything but the mice but I've no space. I look at the tin type model railroad stuff and alll I can think is antique dealers. I find this truly rare 1688 book and all I can think about is museums and dollar signs.

Cheers

Glen

I doubt I'm going be done with cleanup before the new year



As a law student, I would suggest that if it's to be sold, it should be offered to some of the larger law schools - many of which have some amazing research and historical law libraries. They may have resources to call upon. At least then it would be accessible to people in the field, well cared for, and probably at a good price for you. I'd hate to see something like this vanish into a private collection...

Chris Holzman
River City Fencing Club
Wichita, KS
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,832

PostPosted: Fri 08 Oct, 2004 10:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Steve,

We managed to side step the probate with a family trust. My sister and me have power of attorney and are co-trustees. Technically, the estate has passed to my stepmother, until such time as her demise.

It was really fortunate that this book survived. There was a lot of water damage over the years and the mice got to a lot as well. I cried real tears when I opened one cabinet filled with a complete set of gilded classics that had gotten soaked (before the new roof)

Considering the debt load, before the sale of the house, it would be a good idea to sell it and put the proceeds back in. In the grand scheme of things though, I'd rather it be appreciated by more than one.

The Higgins Armory Museum has a library and is close by. I'll touch base with them.

Harvard lists that they have some 400 volumes related to this text.

Cheers

Glen

The Wentworth gang took fifteen boxes the other night and it didn't put a dent in the overall picture.
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Stephen Wittsell




Location: New Glarus, WI.
Joined: 17 May 2004

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sat 09 Oct, 2004 6:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is quite surprising how many books from this era have survived with no serious effort at preservation, just by being left in a low moisture environment.

Can you imagine any of the books printed today lasting that long. Book binding & printing was once a craft. Pride of workmanship has been replaced by mass production.Being a lover of old books, I'd probably not want to let it go. Barring my selfish instincts, I would think it does belong in a museum. You might not get as much money for it, but you'll be "sharing the wealth" w/others who will appreciate it for a long time to come.

Lynn (the wife)

There are very few personal problems that cannot be solved through a suitable application of high explosives.
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Steve Fabert





Joined: 03 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Sat 09 Oct, 2004 8:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:

We managed to side step the probate with a family trust. My sister and me have power of attorney and are co-trustees. Technically, the estate has passed to my stepmother, until such time as her demise.
[/i]


So the book is an asset of the trust, and you are obligated to preserve it as a trustee. With an especially valuable asset, it is customary to obtain court approval for any decision to sell the item or give it away. Since I don't practice law in Massachusetts, I can't tell you anything about the process for getting court approval there. Obviously you would be open to a legal challenge if you did anything permanent about the book without the consent and support of all of the beneficiaries of the trust.


Last edited by Steve Fabert on Sat 09 Oct, 2004 1:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,832

PostPosted: Sat 09 Oct, 2004 10:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Steve,

That was my gut feeling as well.

Most of the estate will be swallowed up by debt and it is a shame to think about letting any (very few) of the real treasures dissapear.

The book came out of a box from my grandfathers estate. I think he must have originally bought it as a study piece for a book he was writing on printing.

Of the tons of books and papers, this seems like the most valuble single item. I was hesitant to even take it home but felt it worthy to research a bit.

With better information in hand, I can now proceed with disscussion amongst the family.

I guess we need to get some sort of documentation down for what dad's university associates are taking for Wentworth and the donation program.

Cheers

Glen
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Benjamin McCracken





Joined: 26 Feb 2004

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Sat 09 Oct, 2004 12:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree one-hundred percent with Steve. It needs to go through probate unless everything in your father's estate is covered by a trust agreement . The other thing is that the IRS will be very interested in said book. If you have an attorney I would contact him or her about the book. That's the advice from this law student.

Ben
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Chris Holzman





Joined: 24 Aug 2003

Posts: 124

PostPosted: Sat 09 Oct, 2004 10:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin McCracken wrote:
I agree one-hundred percent with Steve. It needs to go through probate unless everything in your father's estate is covered by a trust agreement . The other thing is that the IRS will be very interested in said book. If you have an attorney I would contact him or her about the book. That's the advice from this law student.

Ben



Yep, I'd second that as well. thats no cheap book, and its definitely better to find out ahead of time, before it bites you in the butt later. maybe a call to the local bar association (if you don't have an attorney already) to find out if someone there local to you happens to have experience with antiquities, would be a good idea as well.

Chris Holzman
River City Fencing Club
Wichita, KS
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Brian M




Location: Austin, TX
Joined: 01 Oct 2003

Posts: 500

PostPosted: Sun 10 Oct, 2004 9:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I will take somewhat of a contrary view, having recently helped deal with my grandfather's estate.
I believe the correct course of action is to have an open discussion with the immediate family about the book. Tell them what you know about the book's value, and the possibility of donating it. I think you can come to an amicable agreement about either donating the book to an appropriate library, or selling the book and distributing the proceeds, or paying off debt. It's important that everyone has the information now, and not find out later and think there is something underhanded going on. Family can be pretty touchy about that.
I absolutely disagree with the suggestion of involving lawyers in this in any way. It is unnessary and is an absolute guarantee to have the process slowed to a crawl and have a lawyer take a substantial chunk of the value, in return for filing a little paperwork. It's YOUR family's property, not the court's.

Regards,
Brian M
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Chris Holzman





Joined: 24 Aug 2003

Posts: 124

PostPosted: Sun 10 Oct, 2004 12:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brian M wrote:
I will take somewhat of a contrary view, having recently helped deal with my grandfather's estate.
I believe the correct course of action is to have an open discussion with the immediate family about the book. Tell them what you know about the book's value, and the possibility of donating it. I think you can come to an amicable agreement about either donating the book to an appropriate library, or selling the book and distributing the proceeds, or paying off debt. It's important that everyone has the information now, and not find out later and think there is something underhanded going on. Family can be pretty touchy about that.
I absolutely disagree with the suggestion of involving lawyers in this in any way. It is unnessary and is an absolute guarantee to have the process slowed to a crawl and have a lawyer take a substantial chunk of the value, in return for filing a little paperwork. It's YOUR family's property, not the court's.

Regards,
Brian M


Actually, its sounds to me like its part of a trust, which means the trustee has certain responsibilities to the beneficiaries of the trust, and a whole lot of legal exposure if the trustee does somethout outside the bounds of the trust arrangement. Steve said that above. the process will vary from state to state of course (as nothing cool like uniform laws ever occur, even when they call them uniform :rolleyes: ) the big thing is that whatever a person does, one should spend a couple hundred dollars to avoid the possibility of getting sued up the wazoo for doing something uncool. if one is the trustee, one must act in the best interest of the trust...

granted one should not antagonize family members either...

Chris Holzman
River City Fencing Club
Wichita, KS
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Brian M




Location: Austin, TX
Joined: 01 Oct 2003

Posts: 500

PostPosted: Sun 10 Oct, 2004 11:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If the only beneficiaries are the immediate family and the matter is discussed openly with them, I see no reason to involve an attorney in family business, and subsequently give him a chunk of money for no reason.

Brian M
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Jeff Johnson





Joined: 05 Jan 2004

Posts: 116

PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2004 6:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:

Considering the debt load, before the sale of the house, it would be a good idea to sell it and put the proceeds back in.


Condolences on your Father.

I've no legal training, but this sounds like the Honest course. If there are creditors, or taxes due, then the proceeds of sale of any portion of the estate ought go to them (however the law dictates). It's not yours to donate either. There were no special provisions for it in any will or other legal document and no members of the family seem to have any special interest in it as an heirloom, or even known this item existed.

If you do something otherwise, including donating it, then you are looting the estate for your own purposes. The law might tend to side with creditors and see this as theft and the IRS as untaxed income.


Last edited by Jeff Johnson on Mon 11 Oct, 2004 8:38 am; edited 1 time in total
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Steve Fabert





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PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2004 6:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff Johnson wrote:

I've no legal training, but this sounds like the Honest course.


It is generally a good idea to act honestly in financial matters, though sometimes honesty alone is not enough to comply with the law.

Sadly, it is not often possible to know whether you need a lawyer, unless you either are one already or have spoken to one who knows what he is talking about. Just as it is sometimes not possible to know whether you need a doctor unless you ask a doctor, your only realistic choice in asking a lawyer for advice is to inquire when something doesn't feel right. If you never ask a question you will never get an answer.

Most state bar associations run a lawyer referral service that guarantees a free initial consultation. If a transaction doesn't feel right, a bit of free advice is almost always available. You may not get anything more from the initial consultation than an opinion on whether you can skip hiring a lawyer or not, but at least that's better than guessing and hoping.

I like to remind people that the old commercial for the local auto repair shop applies just as much to lawyers as mechanics: "Pay me now, pay me later!" A little bit of preventive advice can sometimes save you not only money, but also embarrassment and worry, and in a tough situation maybe even avoid a criminal investigation.
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Brian M




Location: Austin, TX
Joined: 01 Oct 2003

Posts: 500

PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2004 9:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Legality is not the same thing as honesty. This is a family matter. If this is discussed honestly with the family, and they reach a mutual decision, that should be the end of it.

Brian M
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Steve Fabert





Joined: 03 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2004 11:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brian M wrote:
Legality is not the same thing as honesty. This is a family matter. If this is discussed honestly with the family, and they reach a mutual decision, that should be the end of it.

Brian M


The law does not exempt "family matters" from the requirements of trust accounting. Most trusts are family matters, and trusts require accountings whether the beneficiaries are all members of a single family or not. More pointless litigation occurs among family members than among strangers, when the subject is ownership of property left by a deceased person.

The last family dispute I saw up close kept the grandchildren in court fighting with their aunts and uncles for over seven years, just because somebody assumed all would be OK as long as the present beneficiaries agreed to the plan of action.

There can still be legal problems even if the present benficiaries all agree. The consent of all present beneficiaries of a trust is not always binding on their successors, for example. All it takes is for one of the family members to die, leaving an unfriendly remote relation to succeed to the interest in the trust, and there can be a legal dispute that could easily have been avoided if the procedural requirements of the law had only been followed.
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,832

PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2004 12:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gentlemen,

I appreciate the continued discussion on this matter. I made some inquiry to a buddy of the bar.
After his eyes got as big as saucers when I mentioned the title, he echoed much of the setiment here.

My obligation is to notify my stepmother, as property has transfered to her via dad's will.
Unfortunately, I may get an unrealistic result from her. She is a bit free with her philanthropic nature and is responsible for a lot of the debt.

The lawyer who helped us update proxies, wills and trust paperwork, indicated that my sister and myself are able to act as her agents. As I understand this, I/we still need only her approval in matters concerning property of the estate.

If she were to pass, before resolution of any asset, the property is completely covered by the trust and then becomes a matter of distribution to the beneficieries. The hope is to convert as much as possible to cash, outside of goods promised to individuals.

I doubt that even my father knew of the book, he never mentioned it. It is likely to have been stored with other boxes from my grandfathers estate which was processed a quarter century ago.
As such, I hope my stepmother can see her way clear to releasing the issue to the wishes of his family.

A Philidelphia bookseller has a very similar edition (same printer) selling for $1,000. It's in worse shape but I would doubt that this one is worth much more on the open market. To me, it seems like it needs a good home in a law libray or museum.

Thanks again and Cheers

Glen
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Jeff Johnson





Joined: 05 Jan 2004

Posts: 116

PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2004 12:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Best of luck to you in settling things in these trying times. I hope I didn't come across as overly harsh (I can get a tad riteous at times) Wink
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Chris Holzman





Joined: 24 Aug 2003

Posts: 124

PostPosted: Mon 11 Oct, 2004 10:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Glen,

any chance of getting a couple of no-flash digital photos of a page or two of it? I'd love to see something like that. is it print or hand manuscript?

I take it it's written in Latin? (My B.A. is in Latin... yeah.and before you ask what I intended to do with such a degree, my parents already asked, and I said 'go to law school' )


Chris

Chris Holzman
River City Fencing Club
Wichita, KS
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,832

PostPosted: Tue 12 Oct, 2004 7:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A couple of quickies.

Here is the frontpiece, perhaps the most fragile page


Last edited by Glen A Cleeton on Tue 12 Oct, 2004 8:11 am; edited 2 times in total
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