Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2007 Issue

A Specialist Inventory to be Sold as a Single Lot at Auction

Available: a life with books.


By Bruce McKinney

On October 6th the remaining stock of Zobel Book Service, a specialist in scholarly and out-of-print materials, will be sold at auction in Kingston, New York by JMW Auction Gallery. The auction will be simulcast on eBay. Their entire 90,000 item inventory will be sold as a single lot. The opening bid will be $1,000 with no reserve. For 66 years Zobel has provided material to thousands of students, educators and collectors.

The imprint dates span most of the 20th century. Almost every "ology" is represented. Psychology, sociology, education, some technical books, medical books, mathematics, history, literature, some law books, and a large dose of miscellaneous generally describe the stock.

Zobel was founded in the early 1940's in upper Manhattan by David Zobel and in 1960 relocated to Ulster County in upstate New York. In New York City the business was walk-in retail. In the country it became mail order. In the 1960's the firm issued as many as two catalogues a month and continued to issue catalogues periodically. Mr. Zobel died in 1990.

In the years following his death his wife and long time partner Miriam, with the help of their son, continued to issue catalogues and to conduct the business as Mr. Zobel had. "These were his books, his ideas and formulation of what comprised a valuable life and I sought to honor his memory by continuing his enterprise" Mrs. Zobel recently explained. She did this for ten years. Turning 71 in 2000, she issued their last catalogue and set about the serious business of wrapping up a sprawling book business that is, as book businesses often are, as orderly as dandelion seeds cast into the wind. And so for the past seven years she has focused on sales rather than accumulation. The inventory, that once approached 200,000 volumes, is now estimated at 90,000 books. It is this material that will be sold on October 6th as a single lot. The terms of sale require the buyer to take possession within 45 days.

At 78, Mrs. Zobel is looking forward to the day when the last of the books have gone on to new places, perhaps to a dealer or collector.

A link is provided to a video narrated by Miriam Zobel and created by Robert Fagan of New Paltz which shows and describes the material. [link to video]

A second link is provided to JMW Auction Gallery which will conduct the sale. [link to JMW]

A third link is provided to the description of the lot. [link to lot description]

Those wishing to view the material in person are encouraged to contact Miriam Zobel by phone, 845.883.7426, or email, zobelbook@optonline.net, for information or to arrange an appointment. Zobel Books is located in Clintondale, New York, 4 miles from Exit 18 at New Paltz on the New York State Thruway.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD

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