Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2012 Issue

Selling History - Moving on Down the Highway

Hyco

History You Can Buy - fresh thinking on the challenge of building an audience

Jim Croce said or perhaps I should say sang “Movin’ me down the highway” in 1973 and we have been hearing it ever since on radios and in elevators.  Seth Kaller and John Reznikoff got the message and heard something in the song most other booksellers have not.   Many, and its probably a safe assumption most, booksellers have been closing shops.  Seth of Seth Kaller, Inc. Historical Autographs and John Reznikoff of University Archives have partnered with Stephen Rockwell [he’s a distant relative of Norman] Desloge, owner of six Rockwell Galleries in Fairfield County, Connecticut. They are converting one of the galleries into a mixed media shop in Westport to sell collectible history, much of it on paper.  It’s an experiment with a good chance of success.  The shop will feature a combination of objects, documents, ephemera and books, in other words the new quartet of mixed media collecting.  Bookshops may be closing but shops that mimic the combination of materials that next generation collectors are acquiring stand a good chance of success.

The facility is 1,250 square feet.  Rockwell’s framing operation uses 20%, and the balance- gallery space formerly showing contemporary art- has been given over for the display of appealing historic offerings.  Rockwell staff will explain the objects as well as assist with framing decisions.  When questions exceed the staff’s knowledge, they will link the prospective client by phone or email with Kaller’s or Reznikoff’s offices, depending on ownership of the particular item.

Mr. Rockwell-Desloge, interviewed for this article, suggested he views the symbiotic relationship of collectible objects and art and framing as important to both sides.  He believes both will benefit from the collaboration.
   

Bookstores, for many years, have been in decline, their single concept too often not strong enough to pay the rent and justify the time and money invested.  The notion of frame-able material on the other hand is positioned close to the bull’s eye of the new collecting paradigm that is subject-centric but scattered with respect to media.  Photography, original art, documents, baseball gloves and bats, a general’s baton, and his love letters are all aspects of the ‘complete’ approach that new style, deep and compelling collections increasingly encompass.

This venture is in some sense a marriage of convenience; framers looking for more work and sellers of history looking for a wider market.  It is a marriage that makes sense.  Whether, in the most logically constructed retail model, framing is equal to content will need to be confirmed.  It could be.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
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    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
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    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
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    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
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    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 17: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
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    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 2:<br>Old Master Through Modern Prints</b>
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