Some Days You Get the Bear- Part 2

A sweltering good morning to you, bookies! In response to the thousands of requests I get for a peek inside the life of a bookseller, I thought I would elaborate on yesterday’s scouting trip. I don’t do a lot of book-scouting these days, mostly because I’ll be going through the collection I bought back in April for most of the summer. But yesterday I made an exception and hit two estate sales, one of which was held by a company I had sworn never to buy from again because they are too expensive. Yeah, well…

At the first one I bought a bunch of books on North American Indians. It happened this way. Before the sale I asked a lady who worked there if there were really thousands of books, as advertised. She went inside to check and said they didn’t know, but told me there were books in the den downstairs and also some Indian books upstairs. She said this to everybody, but apparently I was the only one listening. Anyway, when the sale opened most of the book dealers and collectors were milling about the fairly modest quantity downstairs, and when nobody was looking I ducked upstairs where the Indian books were in a separate bookcase. By and large such books are not worth much on the secondary market, unless they deal with very specific topics. Some of these did, such as Bob Blankenship’s self-published two volume history of the Cherokee titled Cherokee Roots. I priced the set at $13.95. I would tell you that this puts it lower than any other set on the market right now, but you already knew that, because that’s what I do. I found some other nice general stock items on Indians and Cherokee, but the other nice find upstairs is a lovely copy of William G. McLoughlin’s The Cherokee Ghost Dance, first edition hardback. I was excited because this is a fairly scarce book to find in such nice shape. I put $23.95 on this one, which is probably too cheap, but what the heck. If you feel guilty buying it for too little you can leave me a tip.

At the same sale I found a beautiful copy of Kathy Moses’ reference book for art collectors published by Schiffer and titled Outsider Art of the South. Once again it’s a beautiful copy, only this one is signed and inscribed by the author. I put $29.95 on it, and at that price it won’t last long. Schiffer is known for making elegant and expensive books that are built to last a lifetime and this one is no different.

I almost did not attend the second sale. The morning was in the low 90’s by 9:20 or so when I left the first one, I was hungry and really needed another cup of coffee. But at the last moment I decided to drive the ten miles or so and see what was up. This sale was also in a nice area of Memphis and lemme tell you, the place was mobbed. The online ad had shown some Nazi memorabilia (see yesterday’s blog entry for details) and I had thought there could be some WW2 books there. And there were. But there were other books, too. I cleaned up.

First, I wound up keeping 20 or so of what I bought for myself. (I’m a collector too, you know.) Among these was Nathaniel Chears Hughes’ The Battle For Belmont: Grant Strikes South, first edition hardback, signed and inscribed by the author, as well as a beautiful signed, inscribed copy of Harold Leinbaugh’s The Men of Company K. Winston Grooms’ Shrouds of Glory, From Atlanta to Nashville, The Last Great Campaign of the Civil War, first edition with signed bookplate tipped in. But the big prize was a nice copy of Donald Brownlow’s Panzer Baron: The Military Exploits of General Hasso von Manteuffel, hardback in a nice jacket. There was even a reprint copy of Conquer: The Story of the Ninth Army. Gads, what riches. And that’s just the stuff I kept.

The books up for sale are a virtually pristine copy of Kemmons Wilson’s Half Luck and Half Brains, first edition, signed and inscribed by Wilson. I put $29.95 on that and frankly even I think that is too low. A Fine signed first edition hardback of Pat Summit’s Reach For the Summit, $37.95. And a really cool privately printed memoir from Charles C. Jacobs, Jr., signed hardback in gorgeous blue cloth with gold lettering, titled Memoirs of a Country Lawyer. The beloved Mr. Jacobs died in, I think, 2009, aged 90. I almost kept this one, because Mr. Jacobs was a Marine artillery officer in such battles as Saipan and Iwo Jima. I put $37.95 on the book, which seems too low to me, but if it doesn’t sell I may wind up keeping it.

It was a fun day alright, but don’t get the idea that’s how it usually happens. It isn’t. My pile of common stuff that I won’t list is pretty deep and wide. I am wrong frequently. However, the good news is that I’ll be having a huge garage sale soon and all of those beautiful books will be priced to go quickly, probably a buck a piece. So keep your eyes open and, in my meantime, check out my website if you haven’t lately. http://www.billthebookguy.com

ADDENDUM: So, I went back to the second sale from Saturday this morning, Sunday, for half price day. The stuff that was left was great, really great. A second copy of Charlie Jacob’s memoirs, which solves the problem of me wanting to keep the first copy. His mother or grandmother’s ultra-rare work The Master of Doro Plantation, of which not one copy is available anywhere on the internet, several more rare and expensive WW2 books. One was a very rare copy of We Were the Line, A History of Company G, 335th Infantry, 84th Infantry Division by Clifford H. Matson, Jr. & Elliott K. Stein. There are no copies of this book on the net either, but since I’m keeping it for my own collection I’ll value it at $50 for replacement purposes, although I don’t know if that’s accurate. Last, but surely not least, a book printed in Berlin in 1940 describing the composition of a German infantry division. That’s right, printed in 1940 Berlin, capital of the Third Reich. Cool stuff.

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