Seller Story

James Seacrest, Lincoln, NE

“These items belonged to my father, James Seacrest. His collecting started right out of high school and his train collection was one-of-a-kind; everyone knew about Dad and his trains. On my property, we have a 6,000 square foot building that is a fully operational historical model of the Duluth Winnipeg and Pacific Railroad from the year 1956. My father built all of it. We also have a library of railroad timetables that is large enough to start our own museum.

The majority of what he collected was train-oriented, but as he went along, my dad decided he also wanted to collect art, books, maps. He was interested in things that were relevant to his childhood, so there was a great focus on the year 1946 and 1956 — he’d collect pieces from that era that were culturally iconic.

Everybody knew about the trains, but after he passed and we started digging through boxes in the basement, we found this huge book collection which none of us knew about. It’s mostly signed books that were culturally relevant – from celebrities to presidents, scientists and great literary figures He’d buy these books from dealers, antiques places, or major bookstores in big cities.

My father never talked specifically about what he had, but he would say frequently that once he was gone, his collection would allow us to make incredible charitable donations. So we realized we needed to have experts come in, tell us what we had, and find homes for these items, and then take the funds and donate to organizations. A great deal of the proceeds are going to local charities of the city mission, as well as education and outreach programs to help children get on a better path.” — Ryan Seacrest, son

Seller Story: James Seacrest, Lincoln, NE
Seller Story: James Seacrest, Lincoln, NE
Shop More From This Sale
Seller Story: James Seacrest, Lincoln, NE

What was it like going through the collection?

We’d come across books that were unbelievable in terms of historical significance, and then some that made us think: “Well, why did he do this?” To give you an example: we found Shakespeare’s Fourth Folio, one hundred percent intact except for one repaired page. In a next box was a signed copy of the autobiography of Gypsy Rose Lee — no idea why he would want that, or why we’d have some books that are of great cultural importance and some that are pop culture mush.

What most impressed you?

That he collected almost every presidential signature in some form or another. I also think it’s impressive that he really had no appreciation for pop culture of any kind, yet, in his collection of books there’s Frank Sinatra, Joe Dimaggio, and then many other people from mainstream culture about whom my dad wouldn’t necessarily have known the details, but who he knew were relevant.

So what do you think was his motivation for collecting?

My family was in newspapers, and I think my father had an appreciation for history — and also the fact that if he wanted to, he could say to someone: “I have signatures of every president there ever was.” There’s a Jimmy Carter book from about 20 years ago that I actually got signed for him in Chicago. That was something he would do — call me or other friends up and say ‘So and so is going to be there, is there any way you could get this book signed?’”

Full-service selling solutions for home or business-minded consignors.

Learn More