Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2018 Issue

William Dailey: known by the friends that he kept

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William Dailey: a meaningful friend

    

It is okay, even fine, if as a life ends, few mourn.  Most people are neither well known, nor well understood.  Hell, we often don’t know ourselves very well so thinking that others understand us can be a stretch.  And because we now live longer, have multiple marriages, live in many places we now also have developed multiple identities.  People forgive slowly.  With new people, we start fresh.  Life goes on.

 

But it also happens less often that heart-felt grief is felt with the passing of a meaningful friend with whom friendships have lasted decades.  William Dailey, the book dealer, mentor and friend, who passed away recently, has been remembered and memorialized by men he encouraged, who found him interesting and his perspective, on life and books, valuable.  These men in the trade today speak to us about him.

 

Stephen J. Gertz

In 1999, William Dailey took in a dog that’d been hanging around his shop and provided the mutt with shelter and sustenance.

That dog was me.


I am devastated by his sudden, untimely death.


I’d known Bill since the mid-80s. I bought some books from him for my personal collection and resale as a budding dealer. As a dealer I turned out to be a great collector. In those pre-internet days I feared I’d never see those books again and was reluctant to sell them. I was so naive and ignorant.


1999 was the nadir of my life. I was unemployed, miserable, and in the midst of yet another financial crisis, this one truly dire. With painful reluctance I began to sell my collection to Bill, who I knew wouldn’t screw me. Soon, he asked me to catalog part-time; I knew the books I sold to him better than he did and he wanted that knowledge.


Not too long afterward, his two employees quit and he hired me full-time. It is no exaggeration to declare that he saved my life. Finally, I’d found employment that suited my temperament and interests. The depression that had been plaguing me lifted. I felt like a solid citizen again. More to the point, I’d finally found my place in the world and that world opened itself to me. I was at home.


The pay was not great but Bill was otherwise generous. Early on, he slipped me $100, telling me to get myself some new clothes. When I needed a computer, he fronted the money to me, an interest-free loan I did not ask for; he volunteered. There were many other kindnesses. He was free with his knowledge; I learned so much from him. Bill allowed me to grow in the trade, encouraging me to express myself, meet everyone, and become an associate ABAA member. He introduced me to local trade colleagues, not the least of whom was Michael R. Thompson who, over the years, became a close friend, mentor, and champion. It was because of MRT that the ABAA SoCal chapter was saddled with me as Vice-Chair and Chairman, a four year administration informally known as The Years of Living Dangerously Bookish.


We got on extremely well, our cultural tastes similar, our personalities complimentary. We took to calling each other, “Mr. Gertz” and “Mr. Dailey,” a wry tongue in cheek tip o’ the hat to British formality between employer and employee. We developed an arch code as running gag. Bill would declare that he was “going aloft,” which meant that he was going to take a nap in the loft in the shop’s back room. “I’ll be at my tailor’s” meant that he was leaving the shop to run errands. I’d inform him that “I must consult with my alienist” and he’d know I had an appointment with my shrink. Of course, I’d say that in answer to almost any personal question he asked. We laughed a lot.


A few years into my employment we needed an extra hand. One day, Ari Grossman walked in. Instant hire!


Bill bought the Hacienda in Desert Hot Springs. He trusted me to take care of the shop and business while he pursued his dream of becoming an upscale innkeeper, a squire in the sand.


When he decided to sell the building the shop was housed in and work out of his home, Ari stayed with him. I accepted an offer from David Brass. It was the end of an era in my life. We stayed in touch and sight but were on different tracks. We didn’t see each other often enough. I have nothing but precious and fond memories of Bill’s shop. I spent seven of the best years of my life as his employee. 


I have nothing but precious and fond memories of Bill, always much more than an employer. He was a great friend.

 

 

John Windle

 

It’s much too soon to eulogize him but I will say this, and you can quote me. “Bill had an eye for the unusual, the strange, the weird even, in books, art, and people. He wasn’t much of a shopkeeper but he filled their bookshop W & V Dailey (later Dailey Rare Books) with some of the most interesting books and artwork I’ve ever seen. He loved quirky stuff and quirky people and he totally lacked any filter that might cause the rest of us to exercise caution. His collections, his printing press productions, his yoga vegetarian Buddhist retreat motel, his home under a mountain in the desert, on and on all reflected someone utterly unconcerned with other people’s taste or judgments. He had a natural fascination with who or whatever came into his space without being especially attached to anything. He was also notoriously cheap... We were very close and I miss him more than anyone I’ve ever lost in my life.”   

 

Ari Grossman

 

I’m in the book trade today because of the opportunity and encouragement he provided.

 

While the encouragement and mentorship in the “arcana” of the book trade which William so freely offered was the foundation of my own ongoing antiquarian project, it was his friendship and example which have touched me most. Throughout a difficult and transformative time in my life, during which both my parents died, William helped me to continue the always uncertain movement in the direction of the Unknown. I found his ongoing quest for deeper understanding, and a renewed commitment to ‘that what is most important’ (Plotinus) both refreshing and inspiring. I always came away from our many talks with something to think about. I will miss him greatly.   

 

 

He was a man to remember and his life, one to celebrate.  To hear his voice a final time call his office:  323.658.8515.  The great currency of the rare book field is spirit.

 

His website

 

William Dailey Rare Books Ltd.

www.daileyrarebooks.com/  

323.658.8515     

 

Please add your comments 


Posted On: 2018-01-01 19:20
User Name: peterhay

Thank you, Bruce, for commemorating the passing of a great bookman and of a gentle spirit. Bill Dailey was generous with his knowledge and advice, and especially with his friendship. Having spent time with him in his and my shop, in the desert, in restaurants, and on some buying expeditions, the very last word I would think of in describing him is 'cheap'. Some dealers may deliberately overprice their wares to invite bargaining. Bill always put value on the relationship not just on the books. Along with all the others who remember him fondly, I shall miss 'sweet William' for the rest of my life.
Peter Hay
retired from Book Alley in Pasadena, California


Posted On: 2018-01-12 00:49
User Name: JohnWindle

For Peter and other readers: my comment about Bill being cheap was a JOKE. He was a free and generous spirit but he did hate to pick up the check. In the 45 years I knew him I don't recall him ever picking up the check when we went out! But that's just a way to lighten the grief so many of us feel at his loss.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
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    <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>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
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    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750

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