Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2015 Issue

A New Man on the Left Coast

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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

  • <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 14. [CRIMEAN WAR] HAMLEY. <i>The Story of the Campaign of Sebastopol.</i> 1855. £150 to £200
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 17. JONGH & D'ALMEIDA. <i>L’armee Russe...</i> c.1898. Colour plates and many illustrations. £500 to £600
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 18. [RUSSIA] LE PRINCE. <i>Oeuvres. 1782.</i> Rare folio format with 80 etchings and 74 aquatints. £4000 to £6000
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 21. [RUSSIA] MORNAY. Set of 8 hand-coloured aquatints of carriages, sleighs and occupants. c.1825. £1200 to £1800
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 33. BOWDICH. <i>Excursions in Madeira and Porto Santo.</i> 1825. A fine copy. £800 to £1200
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 37. QUIN. <i>An Historical Atlas.</i> 1836. 2nd edn, 21 hand-coloured maps revealing civilisation. £800 to £1200
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 39. LE BRUN. <i>Voyages [...] par la Moscovie, en Perse...</i> 1718. 300+ engravings, panorama. £4500 to £5500
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 48. BRIERLY. <i>The English and French fleets in the Baltic.</i> 1855. Colour lithographs. £7000 to £9000
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 60. DELLA VALLE. <i>Reise Beschreibung... in Turckey, Egypten, Palestina[...].</i> 1674. £1500 to £2000
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 77. MURRAY, Mrs. Watercolour Album of Heaths. c.1860. 55 original watercolours. £750 to £1000
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 91. ADDISON. <i>Works...</i> 1721. 4 vols, large paper copy, English red morocco. £2500 to £3500
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 96. HOLBEIN. Imitations of original drawings. 1792-1800. Exceptional copy. £4000 to £6000
  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. Sold for $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Joseph Brant, Mohawk Chief, ALS, writing after pledging support to King George III against American rebels, 1776. Sold for a record $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sonia Delaunay, <i>Ses Peintures</i> . . ., 20 pochoir plates, Paris, 1925. Sold for a record $13,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Diana, Princess of Wales, 6 autograph letters signed to British <i>Vogue</i> editor, 1989-92. Sold for $10,400.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alexander Hamilton, ALS, as Secretary of the Treasury covering costs of the new U.S. Mint, 1793. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. Sold for $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> George Barbier & François-Louis Schmied, <i>Personnages de Comédie,</i> Paris, 1922. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Ilsée, Princesse de Tripoli,</i> Paris, 1897. Sold for a record $13,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ralph Waldo Emerson, <i>The Dial,</i> first edition of the reconstituted issue, Emerson’s copy with inscriptions, Cincinnati, 1860. Sold for a record $3,250.

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