• <b>Seth Kaller:</b> “America the Beautiful”
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington, Tongue-in-Cheek, Writes James McHenry About His Wife or Mistress—But Funding the Continental Army is the Real Topic
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Young’s Map of the United States
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> President Lincoln & His Most Profitable Client, the Illinois Central Railroad
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Lincoln Thanks Former Pro-Slavery and Newly Republican Congressman for a Fiery Anti-Slavery Speech at a Philadelphia Campaign Rally
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> “A Visit From St. Nicholas” - great association copy inscribed by Clement C. Moore
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Einstein Agrees to Allow “a Short Book on the Hydrogen Bomb” to Use His Statement Made on Eleanor Roosevelt’s TV Show
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The Building Blocks of Albert Einstein’s Creative Mind
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> A Unique Manuscript Map of Block Island Sound Including Fisher’s and Gardiner’s Islands, the Hamptons, and Montauk Point
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> J.R.R. Tolkien Writes his Proofreader with a Lengthy Discussion of the Lord of the Rings, Including Criticism of Radio Broadcasts of his Work
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Six Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipts – Including his Earliest Obtainable Autograph — Acknowledging a Donation to the Famous Library Company He Founded, and Five Payments for His Pennsylvania Gazette
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Sherman Dishes on Lincoln & Thomas, Meade, Sheridan, Halleck & Grant
  • <b>Lawbook Exchange:</b> Jodocus of Erfurt. Vocabularius. Strasbourg, 1500. See at the 2017 NY ABAA Book Fair Booth C-22
    <b>Lawbook Exchange:</b> Magna Carta Printed in Letters of Gold. London, 1816. See at the 2017 NY ABAA Book Fair Booth C-22
    <b>Lawbook Exchange:</b> Manuscript. Laws of the Forest, 1632-1638. See at the 2017 NY ABAA Book Fair Booth C-22
    <b>Lawbook Exchange:</b> Manuscript. NYC Police Blotter, 1864. See at the 2017 NY ABAA Book Fair Booth C-22
    <b>Lawbook Exchange:</b> Tucker's Blackstone, first edition. Philadelphia, 1803. 5 vols. See at the 2017 NY ABAA Book Fair Booth C-22
    <b>Lawbook Exchange:</b> Trial of the 12 Spanish Pirates. Boston, 1834. See at the 2017 NY ABAA Book Fair Booth C-22
    <b>Lawbook Exchange:</b> Broadside. Sentences of Prisoners Tried at Devon... Devonport, 1828. See at the 2017 NY ABAA Book Fair Booth C-22
    <b>Lawbook Exchange:</b> Fitzherbert. Heavily annotated copy of La Nouvelle Natura Brevium. London, 1553. See at the 2017 NY ABAA Book Fair Booth C-22
    <b>Lawbook Exchange:</b> Gregory IX. Decretalium. Basel, 1511. See at the 2017 NY ABAA Book Fair Booth C-22
    <b>Lawbook Exchange:</b> Edgar, Lawes Resolutions of Womens Rights, first book on this subject. London, 1632. See at the 2017 NY ABAA Book Fair Booth C-22
    <b>Lawbook Exchange:</b> Hamilton, Madison, Jay. The Federalist. Leaf book with an original leaf from the first edition, 1788. See at the 2017 NY ABAA Book Fair Booth C-22
    <b>Lawbook Exchange:</b> Catalogue 85. Recently Acquired Books, Manuscripts & Ephemera
  • <b>Now in press: 19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> <i>The First American Magna Carta. English Liberties.</i> Boston, 1721.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Babbage presentation to Peel, the man who killed the Difference Engine 1832
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> The Stamp Act. 1765
    <b>Now in press: 19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Central Park Photographs by Prevost 1862
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Salem Witch Trials. Wonders of the Invisible World 1693
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Mammoth print of Millie-Christine, "The Carolina Twins" c. 1868
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9:</b> Single leaf from a paper copy of the Gutenberg Bible, Mainz, 1455, in a copy of Newton's <i>A Noble Fragment</i>. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9:</b> Immanuel Kant, <i>Critik der reinen Vernunft</i>, first edition, Riga, 1781. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9:</b> Hans Holbein, <i>The Images of the Old Testament</i>, with 94 woodcut illustrations, first edition in English, Lyon, 1549. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9:</b> Samuel Johnson, <i>A Dictionary of the English Language</i>, first edition, London, 1755. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9:</b><br>John Milton, <i>Paradise Lost</i>, first edition, London, 1668.<br>$6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9:</b> Antonio de Guevara, <i>The Dial of Princes</i>, London, 1568.<br>$3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9:</b> <i>Oraciones de los SS. Mysterios Gloriosos y Dolorosos</i>, manuscript in Spanish, Brussels, 1676.<br>$3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9:</b><br>Jan Nieuhoff, et al., <i>An Embassy from the East-India Company... to the Grand Tartar Cham, Emperour of China, </i>London, 1671. 4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9:</b> Moses Maimonides, <i>Ha-Higayon... Logica</i>, first edition, Basel, 1527.<br>$800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9:</b> Petrus Berchorius, <i>Liber Bibliae moralis</i>, fourth edition of the first volume, Cologne, 1477.<br>$10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9:</b> Niccolò Machiavelli, <i>The Florentine Historie</i>, first edition in English, London, 1595. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9:</b><br>Sir Philip Sidney, <i>The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia</i>, third edition, London, 1598. $3,000 to $5,000.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2014 Issue

Wessel & Lieberman Closing Forever

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The old book business is not the old book business.  Opportunities are opportunities because the underlying situation is fundamentally improving or because no predatory alternatives are undermining the current opportunity.  In 1991, when Marc Wessel and Michael Lieberman set up shop as used book sellers you could still make the case that the future of the traditional rare book shop was hopeful if not robust.  But the 1990’s would prove to be the seminal decade for change in a field that had, for the previous 200 years, measured change in very small increments.  The world was changing a bit more rapidly and there was everywhere heightened uncertainty but opening a rare bookshop in Seattle still seemed a safe and settled idea.

 

True, Seattle neighbor Microsoft was transforming itself into one of the most valuable companies on the planet by moving the world from paper to bits but the Internet, as a used and rare book sales tool was still a few years from launch while the electronic possibilities, still confined to computers connected together looked benign and interesting.  Seattle would be at or near ground zero in the breathtaking changes that would restructure bookselling over the next decade but in the early 1990’s, it wouldn’t be immediately apparent that new selling methods would eventually overwhelm almost all American bookshops.

 

So, starting a bookshop simply seemed the natural affirmation of a couple of fellows who had come of age in what we now know were the final moments of traditional bookselling and thinking the future was bright.  For the book business in fact it was Krakatoa on the 25th of August 1883.  The damage to those shops has since been incremental and ruthless but only slowly so.  A bad year could be followed by a good year but the good years would not recast the continuing cadence of decline.  The world would turn away from bookshops but Mark Wessel says and AE data supports him, the world has not turned its back on collectible books.  Huge and highly visible online inventories have simply provided more efficient collecting and purchasing as buyers have learned to prefer computer searches of inventories of millions of books to personal visits to see 10,000 or 20,000 examples.

 

For a time the romance and tactile experience of visiting bookshops seemed to give booksellers some immunity but it would turn out that the two principal communities of buyers would respond very differently to the changes in their retail options.

 

Experienced book buyers, long used to the ambiance and camaraderie of bookshops grew up with the personal experience they have long provided, sometimes appreciating the experience as much as the books themselves.  But more recent generations did not acquire the bookshop experience in such a personal way and increasingly they have opted to buy what they wanted online, often on the basis of price.  For the bookshop this has meant a slow decline and an aging and smaller clientele as younger prospects drifted away.  For Wessel and Lieberman it turned out that the rare book business, like so much in life, is about timing.

For Mark, now the single principal in the company, the prospect of personal freedom now trumps the continuing contretemps of maintaining the business.

He has been busy but recently answered some questions I emailed him.  Here are my questions and his replies.

 

 

What prompts the closing?  Is it a decline in the efficiency of open retail?  Are there other factors?

The predominant reason for closing is that, selfishly, my time is over. I honestly believe that bookstores still can, and in fact do thrive - especially those able to offer non-new books in an interesting environment. However a bookstore - like any small business -- requires the right combination of will, vision and luck/ good fortune. We've been granted more than our share of the third; I still have a bit of the second, I think- but not nearly enough of the first to see it through.

 

Do you own the property and if so, do you plan to sell or lease it or use it for another purpose?

We do not own our space; unfortunately never have been in that position. We have a tentative agreement to sublease and then turn over our lease to a tenant in the "front half" of the footprint that our space occupies - and they will 'expand' and take over our space - much as we did in 2006 w/ a previous tenant

 

You are relatively young to be cashing out.  Is there another career ahead or simply a recasting of your career as a bookseller?

 

I appreciate both of those thoughts "young" (if relative) & "cashing out" (if only...).  Seriously though, I honestly have no idea what lies ahead. Even after the doors close to the public for good (Sept 6) there will be a couple of month’s worth of tying up a variety of loose ends. As for bookselling, I think my bookselling days will be put behind me; but I would not rule out a future involvement with books (in different environment.)

 

There are two names in the company name.  Are you currently working together?  Please remind me of the history of the partnership.

 

The bookshop was faced with an expiring lease in our current location ~ 2 years ago. . At that time Michael Lieberman & I explored a number of options for moving forward.  What we eventually settled on was my assuming sole ownership of the business over time while he pursued his work with the blog he successful runs (bookpatrol.net) along with some other consulting in the book business. We started the business together almost 23 years ago and I've never had the desire to change the name, regardless of the ownership situation. We remain good friends.

 

If doing it over again [opening the shop] what would you do differently and what would you double down on?

 

That's a difficult question because I rarely (if ever) think in those terms or entertain those scenarios (for better & worse). What I have often said to people is that we were fortunate to begin in the book business when we did (the store opened in 1992) because I would never have tried if it were later. I had worked in books since 1989 - before the Internet was even remotely thought of or apprehended as a potential reality (much less its applications). I don't know if I would have started a bookshop had our timing been different, say even 5 years later (late 1990s). Interestingly (perhaps) it is only just recently that I've thought the idea of having a bookshop might again have legs.  But that brings us back to the will + vision + luck equation.... And essentially it’s a non-starter at this point, for me. 

 

6.  You are selling the entire inventory?  How have you been doing it?

 

Yes, we are selling it all (including reference books) - or, at least, attempting to - and have only been doing so at discounted prices for the last month+. The final part of our sale begins Saturday Aug 23 and will continue until Sept 6; everything in the shop & online will be 70% off.  After the doors close there will still be work to do (and some books to dispose of) but I will cross that bridge next month.

 

So the bookshop will close and the final day is September 6th.  Old friends and customers will want to stop by.  New customers are of course just as welcome but the experience will be brief.  To quote Groucho Marks “hello I must be going.”  Bookshops have always been the temples where the gospels of literacy, curiosity and interpretation have been taught.  To lose even one is a profound loss but it has been a game fight.

 

Store location and hours

 

Wessel and Lieberman Booksellers

209 Occidental Avenue South

Seattle, Washington 98104

 

Everyday through the 6th:

11:00 am to 5:00 pm

 

Their website:  www.wlbooks.com

 

Telephone Number:

206 682-3545

 

Email address

read@wlbooks.com

 


Posted On: 2014-09-29 21:47
User Name: laurelle

A very interesting article and and insightful interview. May I suggest a future article for AE on the frauds and misrepresentations of the auction houses, past and present.

Jeff Elfont
Swan's Fine Books


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>SAXTON, Christopher. <i>The Travellers Guide being the best Mapp of the Kingdom of England and Principality of Wales</i>. London, [1583, but c.1716].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>VISSCHER, Claes Jansz. <i>Novissima et Accuratissima Leonis Belgici</i>. Amsterdam, Claes Jansz Visscher, [1611-1621 or later].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius. <i>Decima Asie Tabula</i>. Ulm, Lienhart Holle, 16 July 1482.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>WIT, Frederick de, and Gerard VALK. <i>Orbis Terrarum Nova et Accurata Tabula</i>. Amsterdam, Gerard Valk, [c.1690-1700].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>APIANUS, Petrus. <i>Astronomicum Caesareum</i>. Ingolstadt, Peter Apian, 1540.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>CASSINI, Jean-Dominique. <i>Carte de la Lune</i>. Paris, Jean-Dominique Cassini, 1787.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius. <i>Geographicae enarrationis libri octo</i>. Argentoragi, 1525.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>[SAXTON, Christopher]. <i> [An Atlas of England and Wales]</i>. [London, Christopher Saxton, 1579].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> Commission des sciences et arts d'Egypte. <i>Description de l’Égypte</i>… Paris, Imprimerie impériale - Imprimerie royale, 1809-1828.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> CHURCHMAN, John. <i>To George Washington President of the United States of America this Magnetic Atlas or Variation Chart is humbly inscribed by John Churchman</i>. Philadelphia, 1790.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>APIANUS, Petrus. <i>Tipus Orbis Universalis</i>. Vienna, Johannes Camertius, 1520.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>LORIOT, A[uguste], [after] Nicolas LANE. <i>[Pocket globe]</i>. London, 65 New Bond Street, 1809.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>BLAEU, Johannes. <i>Grooten Atlas</i>. Amsterdam, Joan Blaeu, 1662-1665.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>INGEBORG BRUN, Emmy. <i>Mars efter Lowell’s Glober 1894-1914</i>. Denmark, [c1915].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>LUTHER, Martin. <i>Der vierde Teil aller Bücher vnd Schrifften des thewren seligen Mans</i>. Gedruckt zu Jhena, Durch Christian Rödinger, 1556.
  • <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> BROWNING, ELIZABETH BARRETT. Autograph Manuscript Initialed ("E.B.B."), being the working notebook for the poems contained in <i>The Seraphim and Other Poems</i>. $400,000 to 600,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> WILDE, OSCAR. Two leaves, pp 31-34, from the first appearance of <i>The Picture of Dorian Gray in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine for July, 1890</i>, with Wilde's autograph revisions. $40,000 to 60,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories and Tragedies; Published according to the true Originall Copies. Second Impression. [THE SECOND FOLIO.]</i> $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> KENNEDY, JOHN FITZGERALD. Photograph Signed ("John F. Kennedy") and Inscribed, 8 x 10 inch gelatin silver print, of Senator Kennedy and Miss Barelli, at the swearing of the secretarial oath for Miss Barelli. $1,200 to 1,800
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> COOPER, JAMES FENIMORE. Autograph Manuscript, being Chapter XXVII of <i>Afloat and Ashore</i>. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> IRVING, WASHINGTON. Autograph Manuscript, being Chapter 20 from Volume IV of <i>The Life of George Washington</i>. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> VERNE, JULES. Autograph Manuscript Signed ("Jules Verne"), being the complete short story "<i>Une fantaisie de docteur Ox</i>". $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> ALCHEMY. <i>[The Crowning of Nature, or Coronatio Naturae.]</i> Original alchemical manuscript on paper, ruled in red, with watermark of the arms of Schieland. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> DE JODE, CORNELUS. 1568 - 1600. <i>Quivirae Regnu, Cum Alija Versus Borea</i>. [Antwerp: Arnoldum Coninx, 1593]. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> HOOKER, JOSEPH DALTON. <i>The Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya; Being an Account, Botanical and Geographical, of the Rhododendrons Recently Discovered in the Mountains of Eastern Himalaya</i>… $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> CATLIN, GEORGE. <i>North American Indian Portfolio. Hunting scenes and amusements of the Rocky Mountains and prairies of America. From drawings and notes of the author, made during eight years' travel.</i> $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> LINCOLN, ABRAHAM. HESLER, ALEXANDER. Platinum print, 8 3/4 x 6 3/4 in, of a beardless Lincoln, 1860.<br>$2,000 to 3,000
  • <b>Cowan’s Auctions: Property of N. Flayderman & Co. and Select Additions. February 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Feb. 21:</b> Darlinghurst Gaol Photographic Prisoner Records Featuring Australian Bushranger, Frank Gardiner Plus Other Convicted Felons, Ca 1873-1874.<br>$8,000 - $10,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Feb. 21:</b> USRC <i>Bear</i> Log Books Under the Direction of Captain Michael A. Healy, One Documenting the Important 1892 Season, Set of Eight. <br>$8,000 - $10,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Feb. 21:</b> Rare & Important Album Containing CDVs & Cabinet Cards of Wells Fargo Highway Men, Train Robbers, & Other Criminals. $7,000 - $10,000
    <b>Cowan’s Auctions: Property of N. Flayderman & Co. and Select Additions. February 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Feb. 21:</b> Extraordinary Barbary Wars-Era, United States Naval Officer's POW Diary, Ca 1803-1805. $6,000 - $8,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Feb. 21:</b> <i>Charleston Mercury Extra</i>, Rare Broadside Announcing South Carolina Secession, December 1860. $5,000 - $10,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Feb. 21:</b> <i>Washington in Danger!</i>, Early Civil War Political Broadside, 1861. $500 - $700
    <b>Cowan’s Auctions: Property of N. Flayderman & Co. and Select Additions. February 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Feb. 21:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry</i>, Civil War Recruiting Broadside. $2,000 - $2,500
    <b>Cowan’s, Feb. 21:</b> <i>Come and Join Us Brothers</i> Very Rare Civil War Colored Troops Recruitment Broadside. $5,000 - $7,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Feb. 21:</b> <i>Men of Color, To Arms! To Arms! Now or Never,</i> Exceptionally Rare Civil War Recruitment Broadside. <br>$5,000 - $10,000
    <b>Cowan’s Auctions: Property of N. Flayderman & Co. and Select Additions. February 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Feb. 21:</b> Civil War Albumen Photograph of Soldiers Posed with a Six-Pound Gun. $600 - $800
    <b>Cowan’s, Feb. 21:</b> General Douglas MacArthur, Romantic Letter to his Future Wife Plus Other Scandalous Correspondence. $8,000 - $10,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Feb. 21:</b> Cpt. George E. Albee, MOH Recipient, Extensive Archive Featuring 1869 Indian Wars Journal. $10,000 - $15,000

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