Shakers, Maine, and Everything Else A Visit with DeWolfe and Wood
The second floor is divided into several smaller rooms, each with its own purpose. In one, Wood keeps a collection of bibliographies. This is another of his specialties. He points out that he doesn’t use them as much as he used to. Online bibliographical sources, such as the Americana Exchange Database, are major timesavers. He looks at this development with mixed feelings. He understands that the speed afforded by technology is necessary to compete these days, but misses the long hours he used to spend with these books about books.
Another room houses old newspapers. This is where Wood reads through them to see if anyone he knows will want that issue. This is particularly a wintertime activity.
Finally, there’s a third floor, reached through a separate outside exit. A long, narrow spiral staircase reaches up to a large, mostly open space. Great seals are located on the walls. This was once home to the Masons. In 1869, they signed a 100-year lease for the space. True to their word, the Masons moved out in 1969. Wood notes that the stairs were getting to be too much for some of the older members. Today there are a few piles of books waiting to be sorted in the open space. Otherwise, the hall is awaiting renovation. A leaky roof caused some damage, and while the roof has been fixed, the space itself still needs some repair.
The major event for DeWolfe and Wood came when they picked up the collection of the late Francis O’Brien. O’Brien had been the major bookseller in Maine and was well known nationally. He had a barn filled with books. “You couldn’t move in it,” says Scott DeWolfe. They picked up around 150,000 books from O’Brien’s collection. Today they will buy two or three large collections (20,000-30,000 books) a year. The largest percentage of their books are sold to fellow dealers, sometimes entire collections.
The average price of the books they sell is $20-$25. The least expensive items will be sold in the store or at flea markets. The most expensive items are sold at shows. Their most expensive item outside of Shaker material was a Gold Rush diary picked up in a large collection. It went for $20,000. Most items online are priced between $10 and $50.
To learn more about DeWolfe and Wood, and to check out some of the Shaker and Maine titles they carry, go to their website: www.dwbooks.com (You can also find Elizabeth DeWolfe’s (Scott’s wife) Shaking the Faith, written about Mary Marshall Dyer’s anti-shaker campaigns from 1815-1867, on the site.) Their phone number is 207-490-5572. Better yet, pay them a visit. To find Alfred on a state map, think of two words rarely associated with Maine: south and west. Alfred is located in the southwest corner of the state. It’s an easy 15-minute detour off the main Atlantic coast highway, Interstate 95. That’s less than 2 hours up I-95 from Boston, 6 hours from New York, or 24 hours straight up the interstate from Florida. Detailed directions are available on the website.