This morning I put my online books on vacation, changed my answering machine message, got Maritime List 252 in the can,
and all my stock for Papermania packed (paper doesn’t take up as much room as books).
Now I’m getting ready to drive down to the DC area to look at a collection of rare voyages and travels, with purchase in mind.
Book calls are few and far between for me these days, and the way this one came about was noteworthy, but also typical in a way. So I thought I’d document it here.
A while back I got a call from John Knott, a colleague who deals in science fiction and fantasy. He was in a house looking at books, he told me, but the books were outside his area of his area of specialization. He was calling me because the library appeared to be rich in voyages and travels.
Naturally, I asked him to describe the books in more detail, and he began sending me images. Yes, I recognized that one. Sure, I was familiar with this one, and that other one was familiar too, and I’d had those several times. I told him he was correct, that these were all books I’d dealt with, and that I’d feel quite comfortable assessing the collection.
Then he sent another picture. It, too was of a familiar book, but this one had card in the lower corner of the image – obviously a description of the book.
I zoomed in on the image and saw immediately that the descriptive card was my card. It had been my book, and I’d sold it to Mr. … a fellow with whom I’d been dealing since 1993. I hadn’t heard from him in about four years, and in that interval he’d obviously taken sick and died. Now his family was hoping to dispose of his collection.
Every entity has its life cycle. I imagine the bookseller’s cycle conforms roughly to Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man, and I suppose I’m somewhere between stage 5:
The justice, in fair round belly with good capon lin’d, with eyes severe and beard of formal cut, full of wise saws and modern instances.
And stage 6:
The lean and slipper’d pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side, his youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide for his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, turning again toward childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound.
In any event, a good deal of my business these days is concerned with reselling books I sold decades earlier. Much of my success in business (if that’s not too rosy a term) depends on the fact that I’ve been lucky enough to have outlived my customers, colleagues, and competitors.
Anyway, John Knott and I will be visiting the widow tomorrow morning, and we’ll try to work something out. Then I’ll hoof it back up to Hartford for the 72nd Papermania (I feel as if I’ve done every one of them) show.
Next week’s blog will be a report on both adventures – including a full-page spread on downtown Hartford in August, and the many ways in which it is suggestive of post-zombie apocalypse.
Here’s an image of what may also await me in there – my old pal Tom Stanford,
artist, ephemerist, author, walking tattoo gallery, and genuine character, who has been the source of much material, some of it buyable, some wildly overpriced, but almost always interesting. He’s written a quirky autobiography called “My Life in Shorts” which I heartily recommend.
Come to think of it, I haven’t seen him in a while, either…