Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2008 Issue

Interview with a Classic Bookman

Glaser

Ed Glaser of Edwin V. Glaser Rare Books.


By Karen Wright

Ed Glaser is the owner of Edwin V. Glaser Rare Books in Napa, California. Ed has held a well-respected place in the book business for more than forty years. If I had a question about the book business, Ed is one of the first booksellers I would call on for advice. Even if his eyes rolled back in his head in desperation, I know he'd answer with good advice. He's incredibly knowledgeable and fun to talk to; an old-fashioned gentleman, but not a bit stuffy, and he has a great sense of humor. He's not one of those crotchety old codgers who peers over a pair of half-spectacles when you walk into their shops, growls and then sticks his head back in a dusty tome. Ed has been in the rare and antiquarian book business since about 1964, but he had a couple of other careers before that. We asked Ed to tell us a bit about how he got into the business.

"Bookselling is my third career," he related. "I started as a newspaper man and when that didn't work out, I went into the family business for a few years. That was manufacturing industrial fasteners - you know - nuts and bolts. I didn't like peddling nuts and bolts, so I said; what do I want to do? I want to be my own boss, I want to handle a commodity I like and respect...what is that? I said: Books. I didn't know which area of the book business I wanted to go into, so I joined American Bookseller's Association. In their packet, was a copy of A.B. Bookman's Weekly. I looked at that and the lights flashed, the bells clanged, and I said; this is what I want to do. This is great. I can go to the Salvation Army, the Goodwill and pick up books, what fun! So I started at that level in 1964 then graduated to a book shop that I ran part time while I still had my day job. This was on the Lower East Side, in New York, in the East Village, during the "hippie" thing.

"I made pretty quick progress. I bought someone else's stock and so forth. But I soon decided that selling books for 75 cents a book didn't cut it so in 1969, I quit my day job. By that time I had become somewhat of a specialist in out-of-print scholarly books on the humanities. The business grew nicely until the mid-1970s, but because of a divorce and the need to maintain the ex-wife, two kids, their house, my shop, and my own residence, I gave up the shop and decided to specialize. I didn't know quite what I wanted to specialize in since I liked almost everything - literature, history, and so on, but by a stroke of good luck, I stumbled on a world class collection on the history of science and medicine. Of course, that was something in which I had the least background. My education was in the humanities, but the collection had belonged to two Viennese born and educated psychiatrists and contained all the invoices from whom the books were bought, what they paid for them, and all the bibliographic references for the books. I sequestered myself for three months and came out with quite a nice catalogue which was well received. Voilá, I was an instant specialist."

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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