Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2008 Issue

Rosemary Sullivan Rare Books to Disperse at Auction

Rosemary

Rosemary Sullivan: dispersing an inventory


By Bruce McKinney

"All my life I've been a book collector and, for four decades, a bookseller." Thus are you introduced to Rosemary Sullivan, who in her three score and ten, is about to dispense a substantial portion of her inventory at the first of two sales to be conducted by the Three Rivers Auction Company of Washington, Pennsylvania. The first sale is November 16th. The second is planned for next spring. Mrs. Sullivan describes the first sale as 400 lots and more than 5,000 books. A detailed catalogue will be available online by or before November 7th. Many lots are large. Her primary focus has been genealogy and local Americana. The upcoming sale presents a dilemma for ABAA dealers who plan to exhibit at or attend the Boston Book Fair. It's scheduled for the same weekend. Material will be available for inspection, at the auction house, on Thursday, November 13th, from Noon until 7:00 and on other days and at other times by appointment.

All material is offered without reserve.

In speaking of her books and career recently she described a life at home with children where she also found time to identify, acquire, catalog and sell books and pamphlets. She sounds very satisfied with the ordeal as does her daughter Pat, who is helping her in this transition. She is well known in the regional trade and enjoys a good reputation. Ed Hoffman, in speaking of her said, "I've known her for twenty-five years both as a great friend and bookseller."

Marc Selvaggio, now of Berkeley, California, but once a PA guy, for years bought and sold genealogy and western Pennsylvania history with her. "She was always good at scouring the market for interesting material and I often found things to buy."

John Thomson of Bartleby's Books of Washington, D.C.: "In my experience women in the Americana field have been a rarity themselves. Years ago I would regularly travel through western Pennsylvania into Ohio to see what dealers had turned up. Rosemary had great local access, judgment and fair ideas about pricing."

John Ezra Schulman of Caliban Books of Pittsburgh speaks of her in the highest terms. "I would visit her two or three times a year - I can see her old Victorian with its wrap-around porches, the house full of books, her ferrets on the loose. She was well-connected in Washington County, a place steeped in history - The Whiskey Rebellion, local writers, local history. She had good taste. Visits were always interesting."

Charlie Bishop of Wheeling, who today does business as the Bishop of Books, speaks of Rosemary and her husband Sully, who has passed away, as very good friends whose door was always open. He remembers traveling to auctions with them - the sense of anticipation, the success and the steak dinner on the way home. "Somethings you can't buy, you can only experience." He was laughing as he spoke.

As to the material itself this is how Three Rivers has described it for the upcoming sale -

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Adam Smith, <i>Wealth of Nations,</i> first edition, descended from William Alexander, London, 1776. $70,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> George Gershwin, photograph signed & inscribed with autograph musical quotation, <i>An American in Paris,</i> 1928. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Friedrich Engels, <i>The Condition of the Working Class in England,</i> first edition, NY, 1887. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> <i>Bury St. Edmunds Witch Trials,</i> first edition, London, 1682. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Robert Rey, <i>Estampes,</i> complete portfolio of 12 wood engravings, Paris, 1950. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Archive of 47 letters by Enrico Caruso to a lady friend, 1906-20. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Books of Hours in Flemish, Netherlands, 15th century. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Jack Kerouac, <i>Doctor Sax,</i> deluxe limited edition, signed, NY, 1959. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Walt Disney, signature on title-page of Ward Greene’s <i>Lady and the Tramp,</i> first edition, first printing. $3,000 to $4,000.

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