Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Untrodden Paths in Book Collecting



A recent visit from collector and bookseller Kevin Mac Donnell resulted in a wide-ranging conversation meandering down many paths including an untrodden one.  His recollection of my brief book collecting guide written over two decades ago gave me pause.  The essay originally appeared in the February 1997 issue of Firsts: The Book Collector’s Magazine.   I had forgotten all about it.  I wrote the piece while working at Butterfield & Butterfield auction house.  My effort was inspired by a combination of sorting thousands of estate sale books, a particularly encouraging book department staff, and a then recent reading of New Paths in Book Collecting (1934).  My guide was surprisingly never reprinted, nor has it been available online.  A re-awakened combination of guilt and angst over this situation calls for rectitude.  Who am I to be so selfish, to hoard such knowledge from the greater book world, to prevent future collectors from drawing on the bonanza of my experience?  So, here it is as written with the original illustrations.  Timeless wisdom needs no revision.