April 25, 2012

Antiques Roadshow unearths a signed copy of Gone with the Wind

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A guest on Monday night’s episode of Antiques Roadshow, now in its sixteenth season on PBS, brought the show’s expert appraisers a very rare item — a copy of Gone with the Wind signed not only  by author Margaret Mitchell, but by many of the film’s stars, including Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Hattie McDaniel, Olivia de HavillandVictor Fleming, and others. You can watch the full episode featuring the rare book at PBS’ website here; the specific segment runs from 12:31 to 16:12.

The guest’s aunt, Sue Myrick, was a technical advisor on the set of the film, and in fact was close to Margaret Mitchell. In fact, Mitchell personally selected Myrick to be an advisor and praised her “charm and gumption and gallantry” when signing the book in 1937, two years before filming started. This copy, her niece explains, was the one she used on set as a reference — her “Bible” — when producer David O. Selznick needed her technical expertise. That the book endured some wear and tear on set actually makes it the exception to the rule in appraising 20th-century literature (which is usually worth more when it’s in better condition), appraiser Catherine Williamson says, as it adds to its authenticity. In the end, she estimates that it would receive $7,000-$9,000 at auction.

Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.

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