Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2008 Issue

Phillip Gennuso Purchases Zobel Inventory

Z3

The Zobel Book Service Inventory Sold Again


By Bruce McKinney

The remaining general stock of Zobel Book Service was recently sold to the Phillip Gennuso Book Company of Cornwall, New York. The company is located at 246 Main Street. The number of books included in the sale has been estimated at between 40,000 and 90,000 volumes. The material has, for decades, been stored in the Zobel's bookbarn, double-shelved on planks extending ten feet into the air. Because of the large quantity of shelves no one is quite sure of the exact number of books. Mr. Gennuso estimates it as north of 50,000. The price was $3,250 and the material advertised on Craig's List. Within an hour of its posting Mr. Gennuso's inquiry was received, within a day the sale completed. Several other inquiries were turned away.

For Miriam Zobel who recently turned 79 the essential requirements were that the books both "move out" and "live on." "This is the remaining inventory of my husband's business. He loved books and I have needed to place them in the hands of a bookseller who will value them." Mr. Gennuso is a computer programmer with a passion for books. His plans for the purchase have not yet been worked out.

This inventory was offered at public auction in October, 2007 and sold to a California entrepreneur who later walked away when confronted with the daunting task of packing and moving the material. For Mr. Gennuso, the issue is more about storage and cataloguing. The distance between Clintondale and Cornwall is only 21.9 miles.

Mrs. Zobel has agreed to rent her barn to Mr. Gennuso for sufficient time to permit him to organize and move the material. She then plans to sell her home and retire.

The method of advertising was unusual. Craig's List is a central network of online communities featuring free classified advertisements. A one-page explanation of the Zobel inventory with a video link, asking price and contact information was posted on the evening of August 4th. A certified check for the full price was delivered on August 6th after an examination of the material on the 5th.

Craig's List has become a staple for the purchase and sale of used cars and increasingly real estate. It appears to have applicability for books as well. Here is a link to Craig's List for the Bay Area: click here. On the right side of the screen are other places in the United States and abroad that are activity hubs. As well, in a separate article Tom McKinney explains how to set up an ad on Craig's list. It's free and, as Miriam Zobel recently learned, effective.

Posting to Craig's List: click here for instructions on posting to Craig's List.

There is a third article on this sale - The Zobel Inventory Sold on Craig's List - a Perspective. The book business is in flux and some of its problems have been exposed and solutions tested in a small town far from the maddening crowd.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.

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