Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2022 Issue

Fifty Years a Bookseller: or, The Wolf at Your Door

Ecd45cf3-6498-4692-bdcd-bc377ef168b8

Rare books of all kinds can be found online, at libraries and at fairs somewhere, some place every minute of every day around the world.  What were once called rare books has evolved into collectible paper and now subsumes every manifestation of paper and ink, into a single field and today databases aggregate most of the offers into an answer proffered in a fraction of a second.  Presto everyone with an iPhone is an expert.

 

So what happens then when someone who has spent his life, over the past 50+ years working in the trade and now, ambling into his dotage, remembering the many interesting people, their approaches and styles, their preferences and peculiarities, and recalls them in clear and canny detail.  What did he learn, now leaving us to wonder, was life in the world of old books better then or better now?  Taken together, this is what Clarence Wolf has done by telling us a series of stories relating his experiences.  Chapter by chapter his account brings to life his life lived in the company with and in the pursuit of great books. To those lucky few who embrace the challenge to be competent in the field it’s required reading.  Rare paper requires intelligence, commitment, luck and perspective.  Clarence’s vignettes have created a stage full of memories against which we who love to collect, can understand ourselves and the changing world through which our passion carries us on to the next opportunities.

 

And this book is needed.  It used to be that book collectors needed only two sources of help, a great dealer and a psychiatrist.  If you’re collecting you may not have known this although your wife, husband or partner have long suspected.  The psychiatrist is to help you recover once you take a hard hit.  A great dealer can help you to avoid the many pitfalls.

 

And how has he done this?  He tells us his story and gracefully lets us imagine ourselves in the world he describes.

 

He was born of a family with a history of exceptional bookmen and it seems to have been almost inevitable, he would join the line.  Not many of us have that history but to the energetic and intelligent with the gift to imagine possibilities, we can sense in his stories how collectors and dealers have navigated through the ever changing possibilities he encountered over his career.

 

To bring that world alive, after explaining his own history he introduces and remembers many of the extraordinary personalities he encountered and in many cases worked with, seven chapters remembering the styles and approaches of those who in time emerged as the snowcapped mountains on his youthful plains.  And ah yes, he is of Philadelphia, the Nazareth, if not the gethsemane, of American book collecting.  It’s always been a good idea to plant in strong soil.

 

In time, his perspective broadened as he reached out to distant metropolises; Washington, D.C. Baltimore, New York, and Boston, subsuming wholes states and regions in single bounds, turning a map of America into a plan to visiting the trade, shows and collectors.  In that way, over the decades what was once a local business, MacManus would become a mecca for serious collectors.

 

Among the memorable and remembered, Mabel Zahn, the Queen of Sessler’s and doyen of books; Gordon Block, exceptional collector and distant relative; Mrs. Julia Rush Biddle Henry, heir; Frederic Farrar, collector of newspapers and pamphlets; Frank Siebert, the brilliant and irascible collector of Americana who bought from Henry Stevens, Ernest Wessen, Lathrop Harper, Wright Howes, Charles Heartman, Peter Decker, George MacManus and Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach.

 

As his book gets into the 7th inning, he then remembers friends whose help and support both made a difference and whose knowledge and personalities gave texture and substance to his life:

 

Jack Freas, a friend and a dealer; Ricky Jay, prestidigitator; David Holmes, friend, cohort and fellow adventurer in the world of collectible books; and Bill Reese, who instilled order and logic in the field of Americana.

 

Over the past two hundred years it’s been a commonplace that book dealers would regale their literary friends with their stories.  And such accounts are all worth reading, if not only to confirm that not all book dealers can tell a compelling story.  In Clarence’s account, the highest standard is reached and when you have your copy you’ll reread it many times.

 

To order a copy:

 

Copies are available at $25.00 + shipping and can be ordered from G.S. MacManus, 12 Water Street Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania 19010.  Their telephone number is (610) 520-7273.

 

Their website: 

https://www.macmanus-rarebooks.com/

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Graphic Design<br>May 19, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, <i>Triplex,</i> pencil maquette, 1930. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Claude Fayette Brandon, <i>The Chap Book,</i> circa 1895. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Various Artists, a complete set of <i>Das Plakat,</i> set of 10 hardcover volumes, 1912-21. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Javier Gómez Acebo & Máximo Viejo Santamarta, <i>San Sebastian / XI Circuitto Automovilista,</i> 1935. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Ephraim Moses Lilien, <i>Berliner Tageblatt,</i> circa 1899. $12,000 to $18,000.
  • <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Birds.- Gould (John). <i>The Birds of Great Britain,</i> 5 vol., first edition, [1862-]1873. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Canadiana.- Cockburn (Maj. Gen. James Pattison, 1779-1847), After. [Six Landscape of Quebec City and Six Views of Niagara Falls], 2 suites in 1 vol., comprising 12 aquatints, 1833. £30,000 to £40,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Joyce (James). <i>Ulysses,</i> number 218 of 150 copies on verge d'arches, Paris, Shakespeare & Company, 1922. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> first paperback edition, signed by the author, 1997. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Du Maurier (Daphne). <i>Rebecca,</i> first edition, signed presentation inscription from the author to her governess, 1938. £12,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Magna Carta.- An exact copy of King John's Great Charter of 1215, transcribed from the fire damaged but legible manuscript in the Cottonian Library, British Library, J. Pine, 1733. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Woolf (Virginia). <i>Mrs Dalloway,</i> first edition, Hogarth Press, 1925. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Tudor exiles opposed to the Marian regime.- Mary I (Queen of England) Letter signed "Marye the Quene" to Lord Paget, signed at head, titled at head "By the King and Quene", 1556. £8,000 to £10,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> America.- Newfoundland.- Whitbourne (Sir Richard). <i>A discourse and discouery of Nevv-found-land…,</i> second edition, By Felix Kingston, 1622. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Cervantès Saavedra (Miguel de). <i>El Ingenioso Hidalgo Do Quixote de la Mancha,</i> 4 vol., Madrid, Por Don Joaquin Ibarra, 1780. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Stubbs (George). <i>The Anatomy of the Horse,</i> first edition, first issue, Printed by J. Purser, for the Author, 1766. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Cardiology.- Lower (Richard). <i>Tractatus de Corde item De Motu & Colore Sanguinus et Chyli in cum Transitu,</i> first edition, 1669. £5,000 to £7,000.
  • <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>Initial A on vellum, Cologne around 1300. Est: €25,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>J. Androuet du Cerceau, <i> Bastiments de France,</i> 1607. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>E. Cerillo, <i>Dipinti murali di Pompei,</i> 1886. Est: €2,500
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>L. de Austria, <i>Compilatio de astrorum scientia,</i> 1489. Est: €9,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>B. Besler, <i>Hortus Eystettensis,</i> around 1750. Est: €50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br><i>PAN,</i> 1895-1900. Est: €15,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>F. Colonna, <i>Hypnerotomachia Poliphili,</i> 1545. Est: €40,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>F. Schiller, <i>Die Räuber,</i> 1781. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>J. Albers, <i>Formulation : Articulation,</i> 1972. Est: €18,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>G. B. Ramusio, <i>Delle navigationi e viaggi,</i> 1556-1613. Est: €14,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>M. Wied Neuwied, <i>Reise in das Innere Nord-America,</i> 1839-41. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>E. Paolozzi, <i>Bunk,</i> 1972. Est: €25,000
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br> The Library of Henry Rogers<br>Broughton, 2nd Baron Fairhaven<br>Part I<br>18 May 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> John James Audubon and James Bachman. <i>The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.</i> New York: J.J. Audubon, 1845-1848. £150,000 to £250,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Thomas and William Daniell. <i>Oriental Scenery,</i> London, 1795-1807 [but 1841], 6 parts in 3 volumes, folio. £150,000 to £200,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Mark Catesby. <i>The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands...</i> London, 1731-1743, 2 volumes. £100,000 to £150,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Gould and Lear. <i>A monograph of the Ramphastidae,</i> 1854; <i>Illustrations of the family of Psittacidae,</i> 1832. £60,000 to £90,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions