Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2006 Issue

de Ville Books vs Katrina

No

New Orleans


By Karen Wright

We interviewed Joanne Sealy, Manager of de Ville Books in New Orleans. She and her Mom, who is a spry 85-year old, are still cleaning books, painting, and renewing the bookstore after Katrina's deadly temper tantrum in September.

Joanne is a great gal to talk to, and she hasn't lost her sense of humor or her good nature in spite of recent difficulties. She has lived in New Orleans, off and on, for thirty years. She went to grad school there and then lived in California for about fifteen years where she keeps her Berkeley ties.

K: Give us a rundown on your bookselling experience, Joanne.

J: I worked for Faulkner House Rare Books in the French Quarter for a number of years. I miss selling rare books. It's such a thrill to sell a book for $7,000! But, I love my job at de Ville Books. The store is owned by Julian Mutter who, I think, has a mission about doing good things; he's a wonderful man. He, however, has other businesses in the area, including a furniture store, and has pretty much turned over running the bookstore to me.

K: Have you been in other hurricanes before Katrina?

J: I've ridden out several hurricanes that have hit New Orleans in the past, and we thought maybe we could ride this one out, too, but late Saturday night before Katrina hit, a friend said, "No, you're coming with me to Houston." So my mom and I loaded what we could, and after a half hour of chasing my cat around the house, I finally got disgusted and said, "You know cat, there are plenty more where you came from." Well, the cat promptly came right out from under the house; we loaded up, and headed for Houston.

K: So you got caught in that terrible traffic jam?

J: No, we were really lucky. We were on the highway about 4 a.m. and we moved right along.

K: Where is de Ville Books located.

J: It's at 736 Union Street, in the Central Business District between Canal Street and Poydras. When the 17th Street Levy broke, it came straight down Canal and Poydras streets. When I heard that, I was afraid that the store would be completely done for, but we were lucky. We had no real damage from the hurricane itself. Like so many other places down here, the damage was from the water that gushed from the levy. Of course, we had insurance that only covered wind damage. They would not cover damage from water or flooding so we might as well have had none at all.

K: That was pretty common for policy holders during this, was it not?

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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