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Seller Q&A: RJM Autographs and Antiques


RJM Autographs and Antiques is a seller with a love of history and a passion for sharing it. The shop, located in Boston, Massachusetts, is owned and operated by Bob Minnocci, who has been collecting and selling historic documents, autographs, books and antiques for more than 25 years. The focus of RJM Autographs and Antiques is to provide a broad range of material from many categories, including Revolutionary War, Civil War, abolitionist, slavery, political and Americana in general. It’s the perfect place to find a one-of-a-kind gift or the next treasure for your collection.

We asked Bob Minnocci to share his experience of working in the field. Here’s what he had to say.

AbeBooks: How did you become a professional seller of ephemera and collectibles?

Bob: Beginning in college, where I was a journalism major and a history minor, I had a keen interest in politics and American history. After college, I became an investigative newspaper reporter, a profession that demands a deep search for the truth. I have been collecting and selling ephemera and manuscripts since the 1980s. It’s a field that continues to enable me to exercise my passion for uncovering aspects of history.

 

AbeBooks: What do you love most about working in your field?

Bob: I love selling history, mostly American history as it relates to justice. The American experience for all its faults always seems to move toward justice. I often look for examples that best elucidate that justice when I’m searching for inventory. I enjoy the search for letters and documents containing content that describes or says something about a historical event. This might be something written by a political figure, a civil war soldier or someone from the Revolutionary War. It may contain only a morsel of related information or a trove. Each and every piece helps to solve the puzzle of how we got to where we are.

AbeBooks: What is the most prized item in your inventory? Why?

Bob: At the moment — Helen Keller’s photograph and autograph. Helen Keller was a great person, waiting to emerge and she did so in a brilliant way against odds that, during her time, would have left most people a complete invalid. To think that this was a woman who during part of her life struggled and achieved before women were given the right to vote is amazing to me.

 

AbeBooks: What’s the one collectible item you covet most? Why?

Bob: I have an autograph of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a real American hero, in my opinion, who reshaped the course of American history with respect to African Americans, ultimately broadening the scope of freedom and justice for everyone. It’s difficult to imagine that in the 1960s, nearly a hundred years after the Civil War, African Americans did not enjoy the universal right to vote in America and many lost their lives or suffered physical and verbal abuse as they tried to exercise those rights. Dr. King lost his, yet he left an enormous legacy.

AbeBooks: What’s the oddest collectible you’ve come across?

Bob: It was a letter written by Jon Jay when he was governor of New York in which he pardoned two prostitutes. Very odd and difficult to research.

 

AbeBooks: What has been your most memorable moment as a professional ephemera/collectibles seller?

Bob: I purchased a box of letters once from an auction that were poorly described. When I began reading them, I found they were an archive of gold rush letters, an incredible find.

AbeBooks: And of course, what is your favorite collectible item or piece of ephemera?

Bob: In general, my favorites always lean toward American history as it extends itself toward the arch of justice and liberty. I have a letter written by a Confederate to his slaves. This was in the middle of the war that would take hundreds of thousands of lives and only barely resolve the issue of slavery, yet it tells of how one man felt toward his slaves — an important expression, though certainly not laudable.

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