Ten years ago, David Gerstel of Montreal, Canada, a long time collector of travels and voyages, searching for a less costly collecting opportunity began to collect American Stranger’s Guides, books published mainly in the 19th century to help itinerants understand cities they would visit. These are intensely local directories, often with maps, always with advertisements, listing essential details for the newly arrived. In their heyday they provided essential information, and in retrospect, perspective on the rising fortunes of American cities. A dozen years ago, such books were gathering dust on dealer shelves and David simply bought them all. He bought at shows and from dealer catalogues. Often the material wasn’t even catalogued. When he exhausted dealer supplies he shifted his focus to the Internet to search for more. Later he would buy them on eBay – spending a further year and a half building his collection into an almost seven hundred item snapshot of America in the throes of the industrial revolution.
A dozen years later David is moving on, now looking to invest the proceeds of his early adapter perspective on city directories, into further purchases in his primary collection and first love, Pacific exploration books prior to 1700 and books on Buccaneers including Drake and Anson. Selling what he has collected now becomes the challenge.
To do this he has enlisted the help of Bernie [Bernhard] Lauser of Voyager Press Rare Books & Manuscripts in Vancouver. Bernie is an interesting choice as he is one of the few dealers who represent sellers wanting to sell thematic collections as well as archives. Some of the inventory he sells is consigned and he doesn’t make money unless it sells. Most consignment agreements are a year so he brings urgency to what is usually a laid back field.