In 1970, at the annual meeting of the Archives Section of the Canadian Historical Association, the forerunner of the ACA, there was a formative discussion of the monetary appraisal of donations of archival documents. Robert S. Gordon, head of the Manuscripts Division of the then Public Archives of Canada had initiated discussions with Revenue Canada exploring how archives might follow other charitable institutions in providing donors with receipts for the fair market value of such 'gifts in kind'. The initial response from Revenue Canada was skeptical, referring to 'accumulated junk'. Through the leadership and perseverance of Bob Gordon, the archival community appointed the first 'document appraisal committee' and established the key elements of the approach. The challenge was complex: having to establish credibility both with Revenue Canada and archives while developing a methodology and body of practice for the monetary appraisal of unique archival fonds.
Ian Wilson was a member of that first Document Appraisal Committee and later served as President of NAAB. He has the perspective both of an appraiser and of the head of archives active in the acquisition of private fonds. He also admits to being well into his 'anecdotage'. Ian will reflect on the early years of monetary appraisal and highlight some of his memorable moments and issues in appraising, including the monetary appraisal of the textual component of the donation of the Hudson's Bay Co archives to the government of Manitoba.
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