Hello. While going through the estate of my grandfather in New England, I've come across a copy of "In Starry Realms" which is signed inside by the author "[E A], August '96, from R.S. Ball Jr." [E A] is my great grandmother. I wondered if there would be any interest in this book, perhaps among fans, from the academic personnel at Cambridge or elsewhere, or in the realm of book collectors in general. I thought I'd write and ask your opinion.My reply:
R.S. Ball jr will certainly be Robert Steele Ball, born 1869, the son of the astronomer (they are buried in the same grave), who was a successful engineer in his own right, and studied for a while in Boston which might explain his acquaintance with your great-grandmother. It's a nice touch to have his signature in the book, and it may add a dollar or two to the sale value, but to be honest I expect a dealer will be much more interested in its overall condition. It's not a particularly rare book, first published in 1892 so a copy bought in 1896 is unlikely to be a first edition.