My favourite moments as a bookseller, are those times when I feel that a book has gone to the right home. The “About Us” on our website reads partially - “Our passion for books and collecting enables us to provide advice that can help our customers build their collections. Whether you wish to find a hidden literary treasure, create a personal library, start a small collection of first editions, or give a gift to a loved one, we can assist you in discovering the world of book collecting and the enjoyment of fine books.”
So here are some examples of books moving to where they belong followed by two examples of helping to build collections.
The first time we had a booth at an event, was at the November 2018 Christmas at the Forum. Two young ladies, university students I figured, stopped at the booth. They looked at the books laid out on the table and then one of them made a beeline for the bookcase and pulled out The World of Marc Chagall a beautiful, sizeable art book. She spent five minutes poring over the $40 book and then, somewhat deflated said that she couldn’t afford it right now. Do we have a shop, where is it, maybe in January? And then she and her friend left. Five minutes later she was back with two twenty dollar bills and pulled the Chagall back out of the bookcase. As I wrapped up the book and placed it in a bag, she was positively bubbling over with excitement, the likes of which I have not seen before or since. My guess is that this was the first “collectible used book” that she has ever bought and likely not her last.
In May 2016, I found a very rare book in a shop at the other end on the Province, Album of the Yiddish Theatre, New York, 1937 by Zaime Zylberzweig. I knew that many would be interested in this book that featured photos from both the Old World and the New. But, I was somewhat at a loss of how to market it into the Jewish community. I put it up on the internet and put it in a bookcase. This past summer a couple who live in New York, but got stuck in Nova Scotia in the pandemic, visited the shop. Turns out she used to work in The Strand Bookshop in New York. A mecca kind of place. She was very thorough in viewing the bookcases and then she pulled this book out of the bookcase and held it up for her partner to see. I said “this book really belongs in the Jewish Community” and she looked up at me, smiled and said “Yes, it does”.
Windways of the Navaho, Colorado, 1962, by Leland G. Wyman, presents a thorough treatment of two related Navaho chants, Navaho Windway and Chiricahua Apache Windway, along with reproductions of the appropriate sandpaintings. It was bought half a century later by a professor in Denver who specializes in aboriginal, rock art documentation projects.
That made sense to me!
Happy Times, New York, 1973, by Brendan Gill & Jerome Zerbe. This book has hundreds of candid photos of the Who’s Who Celebrity List, having a fun time back in the mid-Twentieth Century primarily in New York City. In May 2020 with New York City a COVID-19 disaster zone, a resident ordered this book.
Sadly, that made sense to me, too!
Just two weeks ago, we got an inquiry from a chap in New Brunswick, about our copy of The Siege of Beausejour in 1755, A Journal of the Attack on Beausejour, written by Jacau de Fiedmont, Artillery Officer and Acting Engineer at the Fort; translated by Alice Webster; edited by Dr. J. C. Webster, C. M. G., Member of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Honorary Curator of Fort Beausejour Museum; Historical Studies No. 1, Publications of the New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, N. B., 1936; Printed by The Tribune Press, Sackville, N. B., 1936. Done deal on that one. Then we had some back and forth on his collecting interests that turned out to be the Isthmus of Chignecto. I mentioned that I had two copies of Will R. Bird’s very scarce first book A Century at Chignecto, The Ryerson Press, Toronto, 1928. We had two copies; a pristine copy in its original glassine wrap for $200 or a near-fine copy for $100. A little while later his decision – the $200 one. A sign of a true collector – go for the best! So I sent them off and he got them in about 2 days, and here is his response, that gave me that feeling of satisfaction, helping a novice collector:
“What a treat it is to hold an original work of Webster and call the book my own. I just received the books and could not help but read through Fiedmont's journal right away. Thank you so much for expediting the shipment, and for the care which you took in wrapping the works. I have yet to unwrap the first edition and am honestly hesitating to do so because it's so well done! Very appreciated, and you will certainly be getting a visit from me next time I am in the area!”
Two years ago, we received an order for the very first printing of Salems’ Lot, New York, 1975, by Stephen King. This was King’s second book and I had bought it when it was first out in the bookstores. The purchaser was in the American Navy. About a year later he contacted us looking for help in finding King’s third book, The Shining, New York, 1977. I was able to find a very acceptable copy at a decent price, and the deal was done! And here was his response to receiving the book:
“The Shining came today and it looks amazing! Thank you again for your help in finding these books! I have attached two pictures of my collection, hope that you enjoy them. Thank you again. Also, I know in time I will be looking for another and if I am unable to find it you'll be the first to know.”
And, here is one of the photos he referred to, the one showing the high end King books that he has, and we provided two of them! This truly makes the extra effort so very much Worth While!