Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2015 Issue

A New Man on the Left Coast

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Nick Aretakis has moved back to the west coast and is establishing himself as a bookseller in the Bay Area.  He grew up in northern California and now expects to grow old there.  He is 48.  Nick, for fourteen years, was a cataloguer, salesman, and trade show representative for the William Reese Company.  In 2008 he married Maria and now has a son who will soon be eighteen months old.  “It was time.  With Bill I had the exceptional opportunity to learn the book trade.  At 48 I’m the age of the next generation of book, manuscript, map and ephemera collectors.  I hope that I can have a thirty-year career as a dealer on my own, helping to build private and institutional collections.  I’ve been apprenticing for almost twenty years and bring to my enterprise an up-to-date perspective on appropriateness, value, and rarity.”

 

Others who have similarly worked for Bill Reese have gone on to distinguished careers.  Joe Bray, who worked for the Reese Company for 6 years, 1994-2000, has become a published author and is now back in southern California and working for UC San Diego's Special Collections & Archives department.

 

“When I first worked for Bill some twenty years ago the Internet was becoming an important source of sales.  Dead stock suddenly found buyers. And at the high I saw collector strength that translated into formidable rare book collections that have since, in some cases, come back into the market via the auction rooms. At times collections have also been donated to institutions. The field has a sense of movement.” 

 

“For myself I have transitioned from the selling side into research and collecting. Some people can sell.  My strength is in identifying exceptional material.  Nick brings both the research and sales skills to his enterprise.  I expect he’ll do very well.”

 

Joe Newman worked for Bill for four years, 2000-2004, and describes his years there as a wonderful experience, “one of the most valuable I’ve had.  Working with Nick was a great pleasure. He is extremely smart, kind, and generous with his knowledge. He’s passionate about Americana, and will make a tremendous bookseller. With a strong academic background, and more than a dozen years on the front line of the book trade, his clients will benefit from long and fruitful collaborations with him. I wish him all the best.”

 

And they are not alone.  Bill Reese speaks of Nick in warm and flattering terms.  “He’s solid and thorough, and, in the trade there is a real vacuum in strong dealers on the West Coast.  He brings great skills to the area.”

 

His continuing association with Bill will soften his transition to independent dealer. “I hope he’s associated with me for years to come.”

 

And he of course has a background sufficiently complex for a character in a Dickens novel.  “Early on I wanted to be a diplomat and then a scholar.  But while I was obtaining a masters degree at George Washington University I took a part-time job in a bookstore.  A few years later I worked at the Strand in New York, and really loved working in a used bookstore.  When I was accepted to the American History Ph.D. program at the University of Virginia, I went back to school, but the lure of bookselling was strongly felt.  A year later I’d left graduate school and was back in Washington, trying to figure out what to do with my life.  I found myself spending a lot of time in used and antiquarian bookstores, and eventually noticed that I was looking out much more than I was looking in.”

 

For the next few years, while working at C-SPAN television he moonlighted at Bartleby’s Books, ABAA in Georgetown and became drawn to antiquarian bookselling, and especially Americana.  In 1999 he interviewed Bill Reese during C-SPAN’s coverage of the first Siebert Sale.  A year later he went to New Haven and was hired.  Fourteen years later Nick is on to the next stage and will become an important dealer.  It’s only a matter of time.

 

Bill Reese is of course in the ABAA and in the future Nick hopes to be.  But there is a four-year waiting period for a new dealer that seems inappropriate for Nick who manned Bill’s booths for fourteen years.  He’s hardly a new face.

 

Today in California he is building his inventory, developing e-lists, and reaching out to clients.  Later this year he’ll have a website.  He’ll be very good at this but there is a reason so few of the highly skilled join the fray.  It’s a tough and very high stakes game.  Asked about it Bill said, “He’ll make it.  He’s good.”

 

Here are links to his e-lists:

 

New Acquisitions in Western Americana

Mid-Winter Miscellany

 

Friends and prospects can reach him by email at naretakis@mindspring.com.  His phone number is 203-584-3469.

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Published Half Plate Ambrotype of a North Carolina Confederate Officer. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two 19th Century Books Pertaining to Canada's Red River Settlement. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two Books With Fore-Edge Paintings of British Architectual Landmarks. $400 to $600
    <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), "Torte a la Dobosch" from <i>Wild Raspberries</i>. $1,000 to $3,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990), <i>Pop Shop II,</i> One Plate screenprint in colors, on wove paper, 1998. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Thomas Rowlandson (British, 1756-1827), Twenty-Two Prints from the <i>Tours of Dr. Syntax</i>. $500 to $1,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000

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