Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2015 Issue

A New Man on the Left Coast

Nick Aretakis has moved back to the west coast and is establishing himself as a bookseller in the Bay Area.  He grew up in northern California and now expects to grow old there.  He is 48.  Nick, for fourteen years, was a cataloguer, salesman, and trade show representative for the William Reese Company.  In 2008 he married Maria and now has a son who will soon be eighteen months old.  “It was time.  With Bill I had the exceptional opportunity to learn the book trade.  At 48 I’m the age of the next generation of book, manuscript, map and ephemera collectors.  I hope that I can have a thirty-year career as a dealer on my own, helping to build private and institutional collections.  I’ve been apprenticing for almost twenty years and bring to my enterprise an up-to-date perspective on appropriateness, value, and rarity.”

 

Others who have similarly worked for Bill Reese have gone on to distinguished careers.  Joe Bray, who worked for the Reese Company for 6 years, 1994-2000, has become a published author and is now back in southern California and working for UC San Diego's Special Collections & Archives department.

 

“When I first worked for Bill some twenty years ago the Internet was becoming an important source of sales.  Dead stock suddenly found buyers. And at the high I saw collector strength that translated into formidable rare book collections that have since, in some cases, come back into the market via the auction rooms. At times collections have also been donated to institutions. The field has a sense of movement.” 

 

“For myself I have transitioned from the selling side into research and collecting. Some people can sell.  My strength is in identifying exceptional material.  Nick brings both the research and sales skills to his enterprise.  I expect he’ll do very well.”

 

Joe Newman worked for Bill for four years, 2000-2004, and describes his years there as a wonderful experience, “one of the most valuable I’ve had.  Working with Nick was a great pleasure. He is extremely smart, kind, and generous with his knowledge. He’s passionate about Americana, and will make a tremendous bookseller. With a strong academic background, and more than a dozen years on the front line of the book trade, his clients will benefit from long and fruitful collaborations with him. I wish him all the best.”

 

And they are not alone.  Bill Reese speaks of Nick in warm and flattering terms.  “He’s solid and thorough, and, in the trade there is a real vacuum in strong dealers on the West Coast.  He brings great skills to the area.”

 

His continuing association with Bill will soften his transition to independent dealer. “I hope he’s associated with me for years to come.”

 

And he of course has a background sufficiently complex for a character in a Dickens novel.  “Early on I wanted to be a diplomat and then a scholar.  But while I was obtaining a masters degree at George Washington University I took a part-time job in a bookstore.  A few years later I worked at the Strand in New York, and really loved working in a used bookstore.  When I was accepted to the American History Ph.D. program at the University of Virginia, I went back to school, but the lure of bookselling was strongly felt.  A year later I’d left graduate school and was back in Washington, trying to figure out what to do with my life.  I found myself spending a lot of time in used and antiquarian bookstores, and eventually noticed that I was looking out much more than I was looking in.”

 

For the next few years, while working at C-SPAN television he moonlighted at Bartleby’s Books, ABAA in Georgetown and became drawn to antiquarian bookselling, and especially Americana.  In 1999 he interviewed Bill Reese during C-SPAN’s coverage of the first Siebert Sale.  A year later he went to New Haven and was hired.  Fourteen years later Nick is on to the next stage and will become an important dealer.  It’s only a matter of time.

 

Bill Reese is of course in the ABAA and in the future Nick hopes to be.  But there is a four-year waiting period for a new dealer that seems inappropriate for Nick who manned Bill’s booths for fourteen years.  He’s hardly a new face.

 

Today in California he is building his inventory, developing e-lists, and reaching out to clients.  Later this year he’ll have a website.  He’ll be very good at this but there is a reason so few of the highly skilled join the fray.  It’s a tough and very high stakes game.  Asked about it Bill said, “He’ll make it.  He’s good.”

 

Here are links to his e-lists:

 

New Acquisitions in Western Americana

Mid-Winter Miscellany

 

Friends and prospects can reach him by email at naretakis@mindspring.com.  His phone number is 203-584-3469.

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000

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