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

  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: U.S. / European Shipping Archive 1800-1814. The Widow Bermingham & Sons Collection. €7,000 to €10,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Bunreacht na hÉireann. Constitution of Ireland. An important copy of the First Printing of De Valera’s new Constitution, approved in 1938. Signed by the Constitution Cabinet. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: A Rare Complete Run of the Cuala Press Broadsides. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Grose (Francis). The Antiquities of Ireland, 2vols. folio London (for S. Hooper) 1791. Magnificent Hand-Coloured Copy - Only 25 Copies. €3,000 to €5,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Cantillon (Richard). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, Traduit de l'Anglois, Sm. 8vo London (Fletcher Gyles) 1756. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Gregory, (Lady Augusta). Spreading the News: The Rising of the Moon: The Poorhouse (with Douglas Hyde). Being Vol. IX of the Abbey Theatre Series. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Lavery (Lady Hazel). A moving series of three A.L.S. and a Telegram to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O'Higgins. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Dampier (Wm.) Nouveau Voyage Autour du Monde, ou l'on descrit en particulier l'Isthme de l'Amerique…, 2 vols. in one, Amsterdam, 1698. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Howell (James). Instructions for Forreine Travel Shewing by what Cours, and in what Compasse of Time…, London, 1642. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1999, First Edn., First Printing of Deluxe Collectors Edn. Signed. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: James (Wm.) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of The Late War Between Great Britain and The United States of America. 2 vols. Lond. 1818. €650 to €900.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: The Laws of the United States, Published by Authority, 3 vols. Philadelphia (Richard Folwell) 1796. €600 to €800.
  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900

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