Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2003 Issue

Shakers, Maine, and Everything Else A Visit with DeWolfe and Wood

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Shelves full of books on two levels greet the visitor to DeWolfe & Wood.


“I grew up on a New England farm,” Wood explains. “We never threw away anything.” And while Wood is the accumulator or buyer, DeWolfe is busy trying to sell it all. Of course this isn’t possible. There’s too much. So while there are 35,000 books online and around 100,000 in the store, they give about 10,000 titles to libraries annually for their book sales. Occasionally they will hold $1 sales where all of their lower priced items are marked down to a dollar. Other material is taken to flea markets. And some material has to be thrown out, a fact of life even Frank Wood has come to accept.
The Shakers

While DeWolfe and Wood handle anything that is printed, you can’t talk about the business for long without coming around to the Shakers. Both worked in Shaker museums when they were younger. Scott DeWolfe started collecting Shaker material when he was twelve. His wife has written a book about an anti-Shaker crusader. And Alfred was once home to a large Shaker community.

First we need to digress a bit for those not familiar with the Shakers, or for those who know them only as makers of very utilitarian and very expensive furniture. The Shakers, earlier known as the “Shaking Quakers” and officially as “The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing,” came to America as a small group in 1774. Lead by Mother Ann with her eight followers, they practiced an austere, communal lifestyle, punctuated by an ecstatic type of worship from which they were given the name “Shakers.” It is not our aim to go into their theological beliefs, other than to say they varied significantly from other branches of Christianity. Perhaps most notable was their feminist side. In a male-dominated world, women were every bit their equal in the Shaker community, a natural consequence of their belief that Christ’s second coming was as a woman.

Their simple, communal lifestyle appealed to many two centuries ago, and the Shakers at one time grew to as many as eighteen communities. They spread as far as Ohio, Kentucky, a little while in Indiana (then far west) and even Florida. An African-American community of Shakers existed in Philadelphia for about twenty years. Membership reached its peak in the mid-nineteenth century. However, communal lifestyles generally have limited appeal, at least in America, and old-fashioned no-nonsense hard work is not that appealing either, particularly in a world busily developing new creature comforts. Add to this the doctrine of celibacy, never helpful for increasing membership, and you don’t have a society optimized for survival. Much of the story of the Shakers in the 20th Century is that of their decline and near demise.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Shakespeare’s Sonnets, In Two Parts,</i> limited Saint Dunstan edition, Oxford University Press, 1901. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. $18,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b><br>Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b><br>Ian Fleming, <i>The Man with the Golden Gun,</i> first edition, first state with the dust jacket, London, 1965. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Virginia Woolf, <i>The Voyage Out,</i> first American edition of the author’s first book, in rare dust jacket, NY, 1920. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Gabriel García Márquez, <i>Cien años de soledad,</i> Buenos Aires, 1967. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Mary Mapes Dodge, <i>Along the Way,</i> first edition, author’s copy, annotated in her hand, NY, 1879. $1,800 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> <i>The Dial: A Monthly Magazine for Literature, Philosophy and Religion,</i> first edition, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s copy, Cincinnati, 1860. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Gaston Leroux, <i>The Phantom of the Opera,</i> first American edition, first printing, New York, 1911. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 14:</b> Walt Whitman, <i>Leaves of Grass,</i> signed, Camden, 1876. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <center><b>Bonhams<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>New York | June 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Faulkner, William. <i>The Sound and the Fury.</i> New York: Jonathan Cape, [1929]. First edition in dust jacket. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Trautz-Bauzonnet bindery. Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Thompson, Kay. <i>Eloise at Christmastime.</i> New York: Random House, [1958]. First edition. In custom binding by Asprey. $2,000 to $3,000
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>New York | June 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. $2,000 to $3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. $6,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 11:</b> Taylor, Deems. <i>Walt Disney’s Fantasia.</i> New York: 1940. In custom binding by Asprey. $2,500 to $3,500

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