Christopher Coover, a longtime Antiques Roadshow appraiser of rare books, manuscripts and printed ephemera, died April 3 at a hospital in Livingston, New Jersey. He was 72.
Coover’s son, Timothy Coover, told The New York Times that the cause of death was pneumonia complicated by Parkinson’s disease.
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A familiar face to viewers of PBS’ Antiques Roadshow, Coover was the series go-to expert on all things paper for 14 seasons, from 1998 to 2011. While having to break the news to countless hopeful families toting old Bibles that were of little financial value, Coover also spotted the gold, whether it was a 1928 inscribed Show Boat score ($5,000 – $7,000), a 1737 German atlas ($10,000 Auction – $15,000) or an Abraham Lincoln-inscribed speech and funeral invitation ($77,500).
As a 35-year rare book and manuscript specialist at Christie’s auction house in Manhattan, Coover came across – and had a part in identifying and valuing – some of the world’s great printed treasures. In 1994, he oversaw the sale of the Leonardo da Vinci “Codex Hammer” that contains observations on water, winds and cosmology for a record $30.2 million.
According to PBS, Coover also oversaw the dispersal of Malcolm Forbes’ extensive collection of American historical documents that set records for at least 15 different presidents’ letters. The collection sold for more than $40 million, another record. In 2001, Coover wrote the catalogue for the sale of the original 119-foot scroll typescript of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, an iconic literary document that sold for $2.46 million.
In addition to his son, Coover, a resident of Montclair, New Jersey, is survived by wife Lois Adams, daughter Chloe; and two sisters.
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