Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2006 Issue

An Upstate New York Perspective

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History is alive in the eye of the painter.


We drive over to Dove & Hudson, a second hand bookseller. Dan Wedge, the owner, is helpful but doesn't handle older material. He explains that he sells used books -- often to college students but offers useful advice on who to contact for old and rare material. Unfortunately most dealers are closed on Saturdays. We decide to drive to Troy and find in the "antique district" a few shops, a bookstore, two or three art galleries and the Illium Cafe which serves a nice lunch. It's only 3:00 pm so we head north on 87 to Saratoga Springs to visit Lyrical Ballad Bookstore at 7 Phila Street. I've bought from them on the internet and found them firm about prices. I expect this to be a brief visit and am soon proven wrong. They have a very good eye for stock and the inventory is deep. You can not always tell what condition standards are for a seller and it's quickly apparent here they're high. I look through their New York inventory and ask about Munsell. They direct me to a second set of shelves and in time to a third. Someone has been through the early Munsell pamphlets because there aren't any. Nevertheless they have some rare and unusual material that is reasonable: a pre-Munsell 1844-5 Albany directory in superb condition and an 1851 Munsell printing of a library catalogue with no identifiable connection to Munsell but which I remember as one of his printings. I borrow the house copy of Munselliana to confirm and bingo -- we have a match. I'm very happy to find an example of an unmarked Munsell imprint. This will be useful for identifying similar printings.

The owners John and Janice DeMarco are very nice. They can't get many requests for Munsell but they know exactly where such material is. They have about 75,000 items in open stock and a great sense of organization. The next wave of inventory waits in the back for space on the retail floor. In a separate warehouse new arrivals receive pre-induction physicals. The material is well chosen. This is an exciting find, the kind of bookstore that changes the direction of weekend jaunts.

At 6:30 we're having dinner with the Lenny Tantillo and his wife Corliss, both high school classmates of mine at New Paltz in the 1960s. Lenny is today a leading American painter of historical and marine scenes and focuses on Albany and the Hudson River. His gallery on Broadway in Albany is a step back in time. Lenny and I were neighbors in the early 1950s, both residents of Ohioville, a tiny footnote on only the most detailed local maps and the potential answer to the million dollar question on Do you want to be a millionaire? The question: Where did the artist Lenny Tantillo grow up? For a few minutes we sit outside the hotel continuing to talk. We have compressed forty years into a few hours and part company at midnight.

On Sunday we return to San Francisco refreshed and aware the book business is in transition but that some dealers are riding the big waves off Maui. No dealer we spoke to had more than a third of their stock on line and the average is 25%. In total they have 570,000 items for sale and a large but indeterminate quantity of additional material that will be put out for sale over the next 2 to 3 years. For collectors this suggests that visiting dealers can be very worthwhile. The net gives the impression almost everything is on line. This trip and my visit with Ohio dealers two months ago confirm this is not the case.

Links and Contacts

Old Editions Book Shop
74 East Huron St.
Buffalo, NY 14203
Tel: (716) 842-1734
Fax: (716) 332-6949
Email: service@oldedition.com
Internet: www.oldedition.com

Rockland Bookman
P.O. Box 429
Orchard Park, NY 14127
Tel: (716) 662-2082
Email: tomcat@adelphia.net

Willis Monie Books
139 Main St.
Cooperstown, NY 13326
Tel: (607) 547-8363, (800) 322-2995
Fax: (607) 547-7128
Email: wilmonie@wpe.com
Internet: www.wilmonie.com

American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, Massachusetts 01609-1634
Tel: 508-755-5221
Fax: 508-753-3311
Internet: www.americanantiquarian.org

Lyrical Ballad Bookstore
7 Phila St.
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Tel: (518) 584-8779
Fax: (518) 584-6815
Email: lballad@nycap.rr.com

Leonard F. Tantillo
488 Broadway
Albany, New York
Tel: (518) 689-1212
E-mail: cooperkeel@aol.com
Internet: www.lftantillo.com

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