‘Pawn Stars’: One Collector Thought He Hit the Big Bucks with Rare Lewis & Clark Journal

by Matthew Memrick

One man thought he had big bucks coming to him as he tried to sell a rare Lewis & Clark Journal on “Pawn Stars” recently. But what he came away with is still pretty impressive.

Don, the seller, wanted $16,000 for Patrick Gass’s book, titled “Journal of the Voyages and Travels of a Corps of Discovery.” Don had that ballpark amount in his head, and there was no turning back. If you’ve seen “Pawn Stars,” you know that Don’s not going to get that price.

But a three or four $1,000 bills isn’t half bad at all.

A Little History

Don said he bought a box of books from an estate sale. He saw the Lewis & Clark book and thought he struck it rich. He saw Patrick Gass’s name on it. Then, he made a beeline to Rick Harrison’s show in Las Vegas.

As historians learned of their travels, Lewis and Clark became superstars of sorts. Thanks to Gass, of course. The man, who was also an expert carpenter, died in 1870 at age 98.

The men soon learned about Gass’s important role in the Lewis & Clark story. After an appraiser looked it over, she revealed that the man was a Sergeant in the American West expedition. A historian could pick apart other flaws in the Gass journal, but it still is one of the few authentic accounts of the trip. 

Gass recounted trips along rivers that made for an early version of traveling through America. The men traveled to places like Mandan, N.D., and Idaho’s Clearwater River, and Gass was there to write it all down.

One story involved Gass traveling several miles searching for a waterfall on the Marias River that never existed.

After Gass, Nicholas Biddle’s paraphrase of the captains’ journals outdid that account

The book had a few things going for it. It had original covering and binding despite the spine’s visible wear. Keep in mind, the book is a first-hand account of a pivotal moment in America’s history. Any collector would benefit from the book in a rare book collection.

The downside came with original library stamps and had stained pages, among other issues.

Unfortunately, the book’s wear and tear, along with three library ownership stamps, dropped the value from that initial $16,000. And Don probably knew that coming in.

His book copy, with all its flaws, came in at $7,500.

After Rick and Don started throwing out numbers, Don took $4,200 for the book. The deal worked well because Don ended the segment saying the sale paid for his “expedition” out to the shop and Las Vegas.

‘Pawn Stars’ Dealing

Now, if you know “Pawn Stars,” you’ll learn how Rick sells stuff that finds a way into his possession.

The book was for sale for $7,950 on the shop’s website.