Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2010 Issue

Rose City Used Book Fair (Portland, Oregon June 11-12): "An Unpretentious book Fair"

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Another woman was there with her children - teenagers at least - and looking casually through the ephemera. She spotted a brochure for the Wolf Creek Inn (Oregon - the original stage coach stop on the old highway south from Eugene and now a B&B - very nice: I have stayed there) and decided to buy it for her husband for Father's Day, since they own property quite near the Inn.

A young woman from Troutdale found an odd little piece on an oak tree - I had two of them in a dealer estate I bought years ago (and I loved the story) and listed one online. She said that she lives in and is collecting history of Troutdale (Oregon) and that she had never heard of this tree, even though she worked (or was it researched?) at the local historical society. She was going home to find out more about it.

My preparation was so last-minute (I found and priced the books I took on Wednesday - and we left Thursday morning - and just scooped up whatever was "on top of the piles" and into which I had already inserted tentative price slips - ready to list, but......). They consisted of some Native American, Western Americana - all pretty common. Also a batch of books on chickens - I have decided to sell off my 40-year collection. Again, these were the more common "how to" books that I had sorted out for a local customer who wanted to buy a few references for his son-in-law who was starting to raise a few chickens. Then I had some nice color-plate books that I had been saving for the fair, and some other odds and ends.

There was no end of comment on the chicken books - people seemed amazed by the number of them, and it was hard to explain that it was the tip of the iceberg (I had also added a lot of poultry ephemera to my Agriculture box). I took them because of the current interest in backyard poultry - just to see if they would "fly." Wrong venue, wrong neighborhood, I guess. One fellow did spot them and identified himself as a Baum collector, and did I have Baum's chicken book? That would be The Book of Hamburgs, and no, I never had it and have never seen an original copy (I think Baum did a couple of little pamphlets or something on chickens too - before Oz, that is). Finally a gent came along whom I mentioned before - my old poultry club acquaintance from 35 years ago. He was interested in the books but admitted that he was winding down his collecting, too. One other person expressed a similar sentiment. I guess I'll list the "practical" books online, and dig out the special ones for the next show. Considering the amount of nagging I have been getting, it looks as though I'll be doing Seattle in October.

A dealer from Washington spotted the "Gay Johnny Texas Vegetables" can label I had laid out on the table - beautiful bright graphic, and I just wanted to see a reaction to it. She said that she had a "double entendre" section in her shop and had to have it. We seemed to have similar interests - such as technical books, of which I took very few. However, she came back later and bought $200 worth and when I looked at her check, I remembered that we had been in her shop when she first opened 10 years ago. Smart, sharp lady - I also recall that when we left her shop (with nothing in hand) I commented to Gary that she might be "new" but that she certainly knew her stuff. No sleepers, pretty stiff prices. I speculated whether she would last in business, given her prices. Well, ten years later she said that there is a LOT more inventory than when we were there, and she is still sharp and a real wheeler-dealer, but I like her. We'll probably be in Anacortes this year for a gathering of climbing friends so we'll pop over for another look (Well, float over - have to take the ferry, which I LOVE!).

I sold a lot to dealers. Well, it has been seven years since I did a show and they knew it. And I always keep my prices reasonable and they know that too. I'd rather sell things than hang on for the last penny, although of course with the "better" books I pay pretty well and have to price in the market.

A FEW MORE RANDOM OBSERVATIONS AND OPINIONS:

Phil Wikelund, who lost his Great Northwest Bookstore to a fire in May, was on hand to visit with colleagues. Having known Phil for donkey's years, and knowing what he had - well, the agony cannot be expressed. We had a good hug and some conversation. Right now he is trying to gather funds to clear the site - a property he owns. He says he won't quit - once the property is sold he'll try to buy a house somewhere and start over "when I figure out what direction I want to take." He did manage to salvage some stock from the building. I can't imagine what all was lost. They had a collection jar prominently displayed at the show - since I couldn't get any books up to Portland for the big sale held to collect funds, I popped a check into the jar. Normally I try to donate a little something to ABAA’s Benevolent Fund when I can, but this is close to home and heart. Ha! I knew Phil couldn't quit. Old booksellers never quit, they just disintegrate. Wait - that's not quite right.

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