Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2016 Issue

Louis Weinstein: Noted Heritage Book Shop Partner Retires and Becomes Hawaiiana Collector on Maui

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Louis Weinstein became a serious collector of pre-1900 Hawaiiana after retirement from Heritage Book Shop in 2007.

There are many things remarkable about Louis (Lou) Weinstein, a former partner in Heritage Book Shop Inc. on Melrose Ave. in Beverly Hills, CA.

 

For one thing, when Weinstein started in business in 1962, his firm based in Compton, CA, (one of LA’s notorious down-market neighborhoods) was known as BJ Merchandisers, which stood for Ben and Jerry. Both Ben and Jerry were his brothers. He soon bought Jerry out and with Ben as his partner their initial venture was a store selling items like broken toasters and clocks with one hand. (See link at end of this story for reminiscence about their first year in business.)

 

The pair labored at the bottom of the food chain until 1963 when they moved their shop to Hollywood Boulevard and changed their name to Heritage Book Shop and began to deal exclusively in books. They stayed there ten years and moved to La Cienega Boulevard in West Hollywood. In 1984 they moved to their well known Beverly Hills location.

 

In business for 45 years, Heritage was a high end antiquarian book shop. Many of its clients were drawn from the famous and not-so-famous ranks of the entertainment industry. At its height Heritage had more than 35 employees.

 

But, unlike many in the antiquarian trade the brothers had the foresight to purchase their own building and Melrose Avenue real estate went up in value - way up. When they decided to retire in 2007 the property alone brought a reported $10 million dollars, while their inventory of rare volumes generated additional millions. The Heritage reference collection, consisting of 13,000 books, was donated to the William Andrews Clarke Collection at UCLA.

 

Many dealers start out as collectors and then gravitate to the trade, but Weinstein reversed that pattern. A long time visitor to Hawaii he bought property on Maui - and then, a few years after retirement, he became an enthusiastic and aggressive Hawaiiana collector. His interests focus on material including books, photos, maps, and ephemera related to the islands, most from before 1900.

 

Asked about his motivation for retirement he replied, "There were several reasons, not necessarily in this order. The market was strong in mid-2007 and common sense suggested to avoid selling in a weak market. I wanted to travel with my wife without a schedule. At the time we had 30+ employees and one must sell a lot of books to feed so many mouths. I'd been coming to Hawaii annually for over 25 years and I knew that's where I wanted to spend my final decade(s). We now live here almost 8 months a year."

 

"I believe all booksellers are closet collectors," he explained, "truth being this passion carries on to their clients and makes them better dealers. We've always taken the position that one should collect what they love therefore Hawaiiana was a natural pursuit. More importantly, I spent a lifetime cultivating collectors thus the thought of forming my own collection came easily and with confidence. I had the basic ingredients of a collector, enthusiasm, an understanding of what things are worth, familiarity with the required bibliographies and for the most part … capital."

 

Currently he gives "three to four hours every day to reading, searching for material and researching … all great fun. My pre-1900 criteria is based on my admiration for David Forbes’ monumental four volume Hawaiiana bibliography covering the period 1780-1900."

 

What’s he buying? "Unique copies, association copies, annotated copies, original drawings, unrecorded items … They all make my heart race."

 

Indeed a visit to Weinstein’s South Maui home and a chance to browse through what he’s accumulated in only a few years would make the heart of any Hawaiiana enthusiast beat faster.

 

He has all the usual voyages and travel, but he also has lovely, quirky, odd and unusual ephemera, including photos, letters and volumes like the first bi-lingual English-Japanese cookbook printed in Honolulu. There are also many maps and signed association material, and all of it displayed in the nicest frames, bookshelves, clam shell boxes and upscale bindings.

 

Of particular interest is a small book of sketches and water colors done by Rear Admiral Lewis Kimberly in 1887-1888. At that time Kimberly was in command of the US Naval Fleet in the Pacific. The small book is filled with charming views of ships, as well as Hawaiian landscapes and native people. Kimberly also wrote illustrated letters back to his young daughter, Elsie. Along with words he filled the pages with whimsical sketches including one delightful example from the same period that has pig, poi and paddle along with a sketch of a traditional thatched native building.

 

"In my collection of 1000+ items," Weinstein said, "about five percent are post-1900, for it would be unwise to exclude some 20th century classics. Additionally, when the Hawaiian Monarchy ended (in 1893) and the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898 a new era in history began. An ambitious collector could easily accumulate material from 1900-1950, but it would lack the voyages and missionary history. These are the strength of my holdings."

 

Asked about his collecting goals, he replied, "I have the luxury of not having to decide. Good health keeps the urgency away."

 

Weinstein also works occasionally as a consultant. "I'm still doing some appraisals for old clients," he said. "The need arises in donations and occasionally I advise on acquisitions. I seek no one out, but somehow I am found even though I spend most of my time in the middle of the ocean."

 

He mentioned that recently he visited a university library in Hawaii where he saw a valuable volume that was about to fall apart - yet he could interest no one in taking steps to have the necessary conservation work done. Commenting on that situation he said, "For years I've been encouraging libraries to increase their budgets for restoration of rare books and manuscripts. It is important that they don't over invest in items that can be replaced at less than the cost of restoration. Thus, a good relationship with a local bookseller is always helpful. If budget restrictions are a problem then consider releasing some duplicates to cover the restoration. Again, find someone you trust and work with them."

 

And what happened to Ben?

 

According to Lou, "Heritage and Ben are still very active in Beverly Hills: small staff, nice store, great books."

 

"Everyone now knows that retail bookshops are disappearing," he said. "The only ones that survived in both the new and antiquarian world are the creative ones who diversify and the specialist dealers. Owning your own property is also the only way to protect yourself against inflation."

 

"I believe the future in reading and learning will never die," he continued, "but booksellers’ methods must adapt to the new technology. Books - as objects - will remain for generations to come, but they too will be replaced by the tablet. Bottom line … too early to give up on book selling as a profession, but do encourage your great-grandchildren to be open to other professions."

 

Lou Weinstein - “Straight Outta Compton”

 

To read more about Lou Weinstein’s first year as a dealer in Compton, Ca. please click to the next page (below) which leads to his article published in 1982 recalling the brothers’ first year in business ca. 1962-63. This piece was originally published in the ABAA trade journal, “The Professional Bookman.”

 

Booksellers with material appropriate for Mr. Weinstein's collection may reach him at 

lweinsteinconsultants@gmail.com

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>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Cartwright (George). <i>A Journal of Transactions and Events, during a Residence of nearly Sixteen Years on the Coast of Labrador...,</i> first edition, with A.L.s. from the author, 1792. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Swift (Jonathan). <i>Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World,</i> 2 vol., first edition, Teerink's "A" edition, Printed for Benj. Motte, 1726. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Fourier (Jean Baptiste Joseph). <i>Theorie Analytique de la Chaleur,</i> first edition, Paris, chez Firmin Didot, 1822. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Boccaccio (Giovanni). <i>Genealogiae Deorum,</i> additions by Dominicus Silvester and Raphael Zovenzonius, Venice, Vindelinus de Spira, 1472. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Mary I. Letter signed at the head "Marye the Quene" to Lord Paget, 1 page, 7th June 1556. The recall from exile of nine persons opposed to the Marian regime. £10,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Nelson (Horatio). Autograph Letter signed "Horatio Nelson" and written to Francis Drake, British Minister at Genoa, discussing the disposition of his "Cruizers" near Genoa. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Darwin (Charles). Unpublished Autograph Letter signed to Walter Raleigh Browne, playing down his scientific knowledge of comparative anatomy, 1881. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Murphew (J.). <i>The fair in an uproar, or, the dancing-doggs.</i> As they perform in Mr. Pinkeman's New Opera in Bartholomew Fair, 1707. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Chaucer (Geoffrey). <i>The Workes,</i> by [Nicholas Hill for] Thomas Petit, dwellyng in Paules churche yarde at the sygne of the Maydens heed, 1550. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Austen (Jane). <i>Emma: A Novel,</i> 3 vol., first edition, 1816. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>Stamboul Train,</i> first edition, first issue, 1932. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Churchill.- Fearon (Percy Hutton) "Poy". “Eat More Beef,” pen and ink cartoon with shading in blue pencil, [July 1928]. £400 to £600
  • <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].
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    <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
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    <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
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    <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
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  • <center><b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII :<br>XIXe siècle (1840–1898)<br>First editions – Reviews – Autograph letters and manuscripts<br>Auction in association with Binoche & Giquello on October 9th.</b></center>
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> LAUTRÉAMONT. <i>Les Chants de Maldoror.</i> 1869. First edition, unbound, one of the rare copies dated 1869. €100 000 to €150 000
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    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> STÉPHANE MALLARMÉ. <i>L’Après-midi d’un faune.</i> 1876. Inscribed to Paul Gauguin. €30 000 to €40 000
    <center><b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII :<br>XIXe siècle (1840–1898)<br>First editions – Reviews – Autograph letters and manuscripts<br>Auction in association with Binoche & Giquello on October 9th.</b></center>
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> CHARLES BAUDELAIRE. <i>[La Cloche fêlée,</i> 1851–1855.] Signed autograph manuscript of one of the poems of Les Fleurs du mal. €25 000 to<br>€35 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> STÉPHANE MALLARMÉ. <i>Le Tombeau d’Edgar Poe.</i> Circa 1889. Signed autograph manuscript inscribed to Edmund Gosse. €40 000 to €60 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> GÉRARD DE NERVAL. Manuscrit autographe. 1855. Rare manuscript fragment of Aurelia with corrections. €20 000 to €30 000
    <center><b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII :<br>XIXe siècle (1840–1898)<br>First editions – Reviews – Autograph letters and manuscripts<br>Auction in association with Binoche & Giquello on October 9th.</b></center>
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> PAUL VERLAINE. <i>La Bonne chanson.</i> 1870. First edition. One of 20 copies on Hollande paper in a mosaic binding by Noulhac. €15 000 to<br>€18 000
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    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> CHARLES BAUDELAIRE. <i>Les Fleurs du mal</i>. 1857. First edition, unbound.<br>€15 000 to €20 000
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    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> OSCAR WILDE. <i>The Ballad of Reading Goal by C.3.3.</i> 1898 First edition, publisher’s binding, one of 30 on Japan paper. €10 000 to €12 000

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