Two Nonprofit Organizations, Worlds Apart, Come Together for The First Time to Transfer Special Car Book Collection

Donating books. Liquidating an Estate.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – – Perhaps you are moving, maybe cleaning, or just sick of looking at a “read next” pile that is likely never going to happen. Perhaps, there could even be something more emotionally laden. The point is there comes a time in every book reader’s life when they must give away books.

The Society of Automotive Historians, (SAH), an affiliate of the American Historical Association, proudly responded to the call of the Costa Mesa Historical Society (CMHS) to facilitate the transfer of more than one hundred twenty-five automobile related books, or “car books” to a new home.

The two nonprofit organizations, worlds apart, came together for the first time following a telephone call to CMHS by a local resident needing help in disposing of an estate of a relative who, by all accounts, was a pioneer Orange County resident.

Not only did this effort prevent the special book collection of the late Sam N. Fuller, of Santa Ana, CA, from making an unceremonious arrival at the landfills, but it also provided a way to keep the books within the grasp of car lovers for continued use.

Sam Fuller, a founder in the 1960’s of the Early Ford V-8 Club of America, Southern California Regional Group #11, a group that met regularly at Hart Park in Santa Ana, was not only a Ford lover, fully engaged in the buying and selling of Ford cars and Ford parts, but also a bibliophile, as well. As any bibliophile will tell you, letting go of one’s books can be difficult.

For those who have approached an estate liquidation situation, ready to evaluate and catalog the properties and whoopee you come upon a collection, maybe a full library, of old books. Invariably, the familiar question, “what do I do with all these books?” suddenly becomes a real issue. A dilemma all too common.


In this case, the executor of the estate, a cousin to Fuller, reached out to CMHS.

CMHS, with its vast research and network reach did a deep dive and connected with SAH leadership, H. Donald Capps, President, and Robert G. Barr, Vice President, the San Diego/Inland Empire Chapter was designated as the responsible party to develop and execute a plan suitable to all parties for the transfer of the books.

The executor of the estate decided to donate the books. This is quite frequently the best solution for used books, especially niche books such as car books. One of the more favorably things about books is that they can be reused almost indefinitely!

With increasing frequency people come across an “old book” during an estate liquidation and they think: “Wow. This is really old! It’s got to be worth some really good money!”

Many old books, even antique books, are not valuable or rare. Dealers and collectors generally follow the general rule of thumb that an antique is a piece at least 100 years old. In many cases, this does not apply to antique books. Age has little to do with value unless the book is considerably old, and in the world of antique books, the term “old” usually refers to a book that is hundreds of years old.

Donating used books is a win-win for donors and recipients. For donors, giving old books brings with it the satisfaction of a decluttering job well done and the knowledge the recipient organizations will get more mileage out of them. For recipients, old books can be a vital source of revenue or knowledge, or both, depending on the organization’s mission and purpose.

Donating old books has other benefits too, such as reducing the donor’s carbon footprint and slowing the relentless growth of the planet’s landfills. Along with other sensible lifestyle changes, swapping physical volumes for digital versions could be one of the best things one could do for the planet this year.

Donations may have a beneficial tax implication for the estate. Talk to an accountant.

Things have changed.

From a deadly pandemic to a global movement for racial justice, the year 2020 certainly presented more than its fair share of world-shifting events. 2020 definitively pulled the rug out from our feet. This includes donations.

Pre pandemic, a donor would bring their book treasures to local libraries.


However, today many libraries have shortages of shelf space, and only so much staff to do the work, so they must take only books they know will circulate regularly.

In early spring 2020, the widening educational resource gap caused by COVID-19 disruptions was recognized. But amidst the clouds of COVID-19, a silver lining was found: a restored faith in the value of book reading activities and a new push to eradicate illiteracy.

Even in today’s high-tech world, traditional hard copy books still have the amazing ability to offer inspiration, insight and education. And sometimes, there’s just nothing better than holding a book in your hand, rather than a cell phone or a tablet.

The International Literacy Association (ILA) a professional organization connecting research and practice to continuously improve the quality of literacy instruction across the globe research shows: Access to books in general is viewed by respondents as a top barrier to equity in literacy instruction. Fifty-seven percent of respondents say a barrier is families not having enough books at home, while 40% say a barrier is not having enough at school.

SAH is committed to creating Literacy-Rich Environments in and out of school. The organization places its emphasis upon having students take on more challenging text such as what is presented in automotive magazines and professional works.

H. Donald Capps SAH President says, “Books about things automotive, whether marque histories, dealing with the many cultural or social aspects of automotive history, biographies, motor sport, and what have you, are important”.

In responding to the success of the joint effort. Mary Ellen Goddard, Costa Mesa Historical Society wrote: “I am glad I was able to help. I am just glad that everyone responded so quickly and the books have found a new home”.


The Society of Automotive Historians was founded in Hershey Pennsylvania in 1969. We are an international organization with over 900 members. SAH membership spans over 20 countries around the globe.

The Society is an eclectic but serious community of historians that includes academic scholars, automotive journalists and publishers, museum and library professionals, educational and cultural organizations, car collectors and restorers, and enthusiasts.



The Costa Mesa Historical Society (CMHS) is a Costa Mesa, California non-profit organization and is a member of the Conference of California Historical Societies, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the American Association for State and Local History.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 16, 2021
Contact: Len Holland, Ph.D., President