intrinsic value

n. the usefulness or significance of a record derived from its physical or associational qualities, inherent in its original form and generally independent of its content, that are integral to its material nature and would be lost in reproduction


Intrinsic value may include an item’s form, layout, materials, or process. It may also be based on an item’s direct relationship to a significant person, activity, event, organization, or place. Intrinsic value is independent of informational or evidential value. A record may have great intrinsic value without significant informational or evidential value; records with significant informational or evidential value may have little intrinsic value. The process of copying a document may sufficiently capture its informational or evidential value but fail to preserve some aspects of the material nature of the original—its intrinsic value—that merit preservation. Hence, documents with significant intrinsic value are often preserved in their original form. For example, a document written by a famous individual, such as a signature on a scrap of paper, may tell us little about the person. However, the document may have intrinsic value if it is the only surviving specimen of a document written by the individual. The document may have intrinsic value if it is made using a process of historical interest, such as inks made from flowers.