Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2008 Issue

Phillip Gennuso Purchases Zobel Inventory

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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 Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

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