Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2015 Issue

Susan Heller: The Road to Retirement with a Detour

Introduction by Bruce McKinney

 

Some people have the book bug and Susan is one of them.  She had been a book dealer for some fifty years.  Over those years she has raised children, built a business, lost a loving husband and found another relationship late in life.  Many years ago, struggling to close her book business and sell her home, we met and discussed her predicament and I wrote about her.

 

In time she disposed of some 20,000 of her books while keeping some high spots, autograph material and art.  She said she wanted to keep a stake in the game.  And she has.  Years ago she met Gerry and he has become the detail man that manages their life on eBay.

 

A few months ago she mentioned her interest in Marvin Getman’s new show in Brooklyn.  They had the desire to exhibit but also 160 years of lived-life between them, enough to trace their combined age back to the administration of James Buchanan.  Thinking it through they decided they could make the two-day [each way] trip from Ohio so she could “do a show” once more.  “I’m looking to seeing old friends” and no doubt they are looking forward to seeing her.

 

The following is a piece she submitted to RBM. 

 

The Road To Retirement With A Detour

By Susan Heller

Fifteen years ago, newly widowed with some 20,000 books and a large house, my friend Bruce McKinney urged me to sell the books, sell the house, move to an apartment and find a boyfriend. I took his advice with a few exceptions. I kept some of the more enticing material and found a friend – not exactly a boy, now 84. However, I got a prize with my “boy”. He turned out to like my ephemera and types with non-arthritic fingers each day sending well-researched items to Ebay and jump starts my every day with a smile and an “I love you”. However that is not the point of this essay. My point is that a wonderful opportunity came for me to consider sending out to the world anything among my paper collectibles I was not going to read or hang on my walls. This opportunity is The Brooklyn Rare Book, Art, Photo & Design Fair, September 19th & 20th and we’ll be exhibiting.

I had been reading the ABAA chatline [as a former member] on how efficient and enjoyable Marvin Getman's Shadow Shows are, so when the announcement came that he was doing the Brooklyn Fair, I jumped on the bandwagon. Good thing I did, as it filled up quickly many months before his deadline. Now I'm authenticating, researching and pricing all those enticing items that didn't get away in my major sell off. A little out of practice, I'm sure some prospective buyers will be gleeful in getting away with a bargain and others will say, “Did she go into outer space to arrive at this price?” but it's all part of the game and I look forward to seeing some old friends, new characters and beautiful material.

How can I entice other dealers, collectors, scholars and novices to be attracted to our material at this fair? I'm hoping to quicken their heartbeats with artwork, autographs and ephemera that have been shelf bound for years. Among the art work are 25 signed drawings of Lynd Ward, 5 of Willy Crumbo, several prints from the Cleveland Print Club, some enticing collages of philosophy and music by Audra Skiodas, a Kessler photograph of and signed by Norma Talmadge and original water colors of illustrators of children's books. Autographed works includes Einstein, Steinbeck, Queen Victoria, Margaret Mitchell, Tenzing Norkay, Charles Lindbergh, Mussolini, Ghandi, and for variety - June Havoc (Gypsy Rose Lee's younger sister) to Walter Winchell, many film stars, directors and composers plus many others in many fields. Books signed by John Steinbeck, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Ernie Pyle, H.L. Menken, Thomas Alva Edison, Vincent Minelli, Willa Cather, Maya Angelou, etc. A front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 6, 1968 with the headline “Nixon, Humphrey In See-Saw Battle” signed by Ronald Reagan, Hubert and Muriel Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Richard Schweiker and others. Ephemera are contained in notebooks devoted to world and political leaders, scientists, Afro-American material (including an autograph of Muhammad Ali) and for levity, original cartoon and comic drawings. Some of Gerry's (man friend) offerings includes the first edition, first printing of Walt Whitman's first novel, Franklin Evans as printed in The New World and the first appearance of Edgar Alan Poe's Pit and the Pendulum appearing in The Gift; A Christmas and New Year's Present for 1843 (1842). And the piece de resistance for all book lovers – Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, both warmly inscribed by Hanff offered with 2 typed signed letters and 2 handwritten notes from Hanff, plus a program and tickets for the premier performance of the film 84 Charing Cross Road and 4 additional enclosed articles by and about Hanff. I almost wish I were on the buying, instead of the selling, side of this. And so goes “retirement”.

Thank you Bruce, Marv, old friends and new! 

 

Catch up with Susan at pages4sages@gmail.com

 

Link to The Brooklyn Rare Book, Art, Photo & Design Fair

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
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    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
  • Manuscript Masterpieces from the Schøyen Collection
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    BROWSE NOW
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Holkham Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, decorated manuscript on vellum [Toledo, 2nd quarter 13th century]. £1,500,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Crosby-Schøyen Codex. In Coptic, manuscript on papyrus [Upper Egypt, middle 3rd century / 4th century]. £2,000,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Geraardsbergen Bible. In Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Southern Netherlands, late 12th century]. £700,000–1,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now : Jean de Courcy (fl. 1420). The Chronique de la Bouquechardiere. In French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1480]. £200,000–300,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The ‘Catherine de Medici’ Hours. In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]. £120,000–180,000
  • 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
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    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
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    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
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    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
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    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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