Shakers, Maine, and Everything Else A Visit with DeWolfe and Wood
And everything is what they do. Currently they have 35,000 books for sale online. Few are related to the Shakers. They attend the major national book shows and several regional shows. An extension from their Shaker expertise, they also carry material from other utopian communities. Maine imprints and other material from Maine are another specialty. Wood believes they carry more Maine items than anyone else in Maine. They are heavily into ephemera, with such items as a 10,000-piece postcard collection. They have an extensive magazine collection maintained by Brandy Toomey, who can lead buyers to items of particular interest. It runs from 1830 to the present, though Wood notes they do not buy much after 1950.
Frank Wood also maintains a pre-Civil War newspaper collection. Unlike many other dealers who ignore this type of paper, Wood will actually read through these old journals and if he finds something that he knows will be of interest to a particular collector, he will contact that individual. “I will read them because I don’t have a life,” he jokes.
Another specialty of DeWolfe and Wood is town material. They collect material related to particular towns, heavily those in northern New England, but some from every state in the union. Items from postcards to old town annual reports are available at their store. “Most dealers would say throw the old reports away,” Wood points out. They keep them for the occasional collector looking for anything that pertains to his or her hometown.
Of course, there is also the surprise collections, such as the Judaica or biology works, that they come across as part of another collection or because it belonged to someone in Maine. Not many dealers in Maine are interested in buying complete collections. “We once went to the wilderness of Maine and this guy had a huge collection from Africa,” Frank Wood notes. You never can tell just what they will come up with.
Frank Wood and Scott DeWolfe went into the book business ten years ago, on April Fools day they point out. They purchased an 1867 building which houses the shop. The building had been used as a bookshop since the 1970’s by the two previous owners. Going back before that, it had been a general store and earlier a bank. A few relics, like the store counter and large bank safe, remain from these earlier times.
Most of the first floor and the basement below are devoted to retail sales. Books are stacked on shelves separated according to their field of collecting. Behind the first floor counter is an office, and behind that a large, unheated storage area. Wood notes that people work very quickly when they need to find something in this area during the Maine winter.