Friday, November 30, 2012

"Can" B. Worth - Epilogue - Part Eight

"Can" B. Worth
Epilogue - Part Eight

            From this moment of “first book purchased” begins, by …long practiced routine ritual… a “mud run” or “field dressing” of this dealer’s whole “The Rare Book Room” stock.  Simplified:  I buy.
            For most of the next hour (at least), the procedure is the same.  I select old books from the shelves and buy them.  I specifically pillage any and all odd, old, not Americana and neglected “stock” (old books for sale).  It is actually a fish-in-a-barrel setting.  I’m in the room that is full of priced old books for sale …with no outside interference “probable” INCLUDING that the old Tyrolean has JUST STUFFED HIMSELF with his own cheese and shrimp plates so “LUNCH”, the usual “shut this buying down” “issue” is COMPLETELY NEGATED “I can go until DARK” if I need to but… do not for there are… not THAT many “old books”.
            “MANY OLD BOOKS”.  That, here, is the deciding rub of this that separates ME from my book scouting peers.  It’s a -vision of context- point.  THEY perceive themselves to be “scouting” “another dealer’s stock”, one of many “dealer’s stocks”.  I see it more singularly.
            Noted has been the “got my ass up here to this room etc.” opportunity.  This I expand to notice that… I go into private homes buying antiques and rare books ALL THE TIME.  Lots of PRIVATE HOMES all the time.  The NUMBER ONE FEATURE of ALMOST ALL of the private homes I go into to buy antiques and rare books is …they DO NOT have any antiques and rare books to buy.

            NONE.  Especially rare books.  MOST HOMES have NO RARE BOOKS in them.  Maybe they have “books”, “old books”, “some books” or ONE BOOK… but THESE BOOKS are NOT rare books.  I am, therefore, very well aware that, in this case, if I went HOUSE TO HOUSE up and down the streets surrounding this “The Rare Book Room”… I WOULD NOT find another “The Rare Book Room” in an upstairs front bedroom of a private residence filled with carefully curated (an action taken) “rare books”, priced for sale.  I KNOW THIS as I stand there.  This feature, combined with “got my ass up here etc.” and “probably will not be here ever again (?)” plus “careful assessment of the current working conditions (the lunch factor) means “specifically pillage” this “The Rare Book Room” “NOW”.

            I take off the “off topic” and “on the edges” inexpensive stock first, exploring every shelf and very nearly “pulling and pricing” EVERY book.  I mean EVERY BOOK and… THEY DID feel that EVERY BOOK was worth including on THEIR shelves so “go with it” and assume they are right.  When I “pull” a book, title page it, price it, quick view the condition and go to put it back… IF there is a chance I might buy that book, I leave it sticking out on its shelf so that, very quickly, whole shelves of books have books “sticking out” on them that I can see and… the old Tyrolean can see.  Too.
            About every fifth book I actually BUY a book by taking it over to where I had set the little pewter book down, setting it there TOO and SAYING NOTHING AT ALL.  Being a crafty old rare bookseller, the old Tyrolean QUICKLY determines that I AM buying these books, that this appears to be very fine and he… begins “check out” procedure of tallying the purchased books to HIS accounting satisfaction WORDLESSLY.  A little slip of paper with penciling AND the occasional ACTUAL REVIEW of a purchased book, now amounting to about fifteen selections, ON THE INTERNET inclusive of an over shoulder glance at me while doing that where he also sees the “pulled” “shelf stock”… “WE” …square dance… together to the background music of DEAD SILENCE from all, all, all the other homes on the surrounding streets that have NO “rare books” “for sale”.

            Within this silence and at the “been at it” about forty-five minute range this tranquility is nuanced by Mrs. Old Tyrolean ascending the stairs and appearing in the doorway to “see if we we’re dead?”.  HE says to HER “need a couple of boxes I guess”.  SHE sees the books purchased pile next to HIM and… vanishes.  She, wordlessly, returns with THREE cardboard boxes, placing them next to the workstation AND then “eyeballs” WITHOUT TOUCHING the purchased books AND turns the penciled paper toward her “to see”.  Aside from a turn my head and smile, I continue my shelf pillaging and say noting.  She leaves.  The old Tyrolean, sitting turned toward the room and I, surveys, fusses, surveys again, looks at the books purchased pile, looks over the room again and says:
            “Thank you”. I say and keep working.  Each purchase from then on I set in a new pile.  The old Tyrolean adjusts his paper and penciling to this enhanced “dealer discount”.  Another short half hour passes to HIS satisfaction.  Having completed the sleuth of the “all-most-all” of the shelves, I tackle the large “wall” of Americana; the area of “specialty” so, for I, the least “of opportunity” I expected.  It is “as expected”.  A couple of spine ends DO stick out.

            Beginning my “retreat”… I go back over ALL the pulled spine ends on all the shelves… IN REVERSE ORDER… for I know that EVEN I “get whoosey” “as I go along” so “start fresh” on “the last ones” as best as my “getting old booked out” eyes and brain “can take of it”.  “Going backwards” DOES “freshen” a little.  MORE of the effort is to …graciously …acquire …more “old books” …NOT… for his sales pad but for ME who reminds myself that “opportunity… and the seizing of it” IS the directive “understood” at the onset.  By the last shelf with the last book the THREE boxes are FULL.  All of the protruding spine ends I have pushed back flush.  “That’s it?” he says.
            “Almost” I say, noting the “couple of spine ends DO stick out” Americana wall.
            “You know:  You have bought books today that should have gone out of here YEARS AGO.” he says.
            “Thank you.” I say.
            The old Tyrolean looks at me for more but I turn to the Americana wall and reach for a protruding spine end.  I remind myself to “let it come to you”.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Can" B. Worth - Epilogue - Part Seven

"Can" B. Worth
Epilogue - Part Seven

            At the top of the stairs, “WE”, a team of rare booksellers, released our stresses of the stair climb, noted the wife vanish, turned to face the front of the house and proceeded forward to the …front left room… that once housed a child but now was “The Rare Book Room”.  A store.
            Entering the room behind the old Tyrolean, I scanned the walls lined with book shelves while he scooted diagonally across the room to a table topped with an old computer and… turned it on.  Besides this …workstation… and its box store grade five tine footed black plastic faux leather rolling big-ass accommodating with cushioned arms “office chair”… AND the walls of books on shelves, the room contained an old …as-if-a-dog or cat-had-long-LIVED UPON its seat cushion… upholstered chair AND an old floor lamp with the extra long “you may drag that around if you need to” floor lamp.  The books on the shelves were neat.  The shelves were neat.  The shelves had subject labels classifying the shelved books.  The old Tyrolean sat down in the office chair and settled directly into watching the old computer …boot up.
            I was either “left alone” or “ignored”, take my pick.  This was within the realm of HIS probable expectation; “MAYBE might buy something”, “hope so”, “could use the cash”.  Booted up, the computer screen jumped on the internet with an old mouse click and a Home Page of … the number one used & rare book internet listing service FLASHED “on screen” and, with jabbing finger tips, a password opened a “my account”.  This I captured by roving eye as I also reviewed the “shelf stock” poise.  Clearly, HE was ready to handle ANY of MY rare book interests for the …books were perfectly displayed on their shelves and I could assume… that… “most of the good ones… are listed”.  He said.
            NOW what do I do… GENIUS?  Again I find myself in another… introspective crossroad intersection moment… “in the trade”.  Route one; the easy one, the common one, the expected one, the classic one and …the …wasteful, dumb, irresponsible to one’s OWN business… one… is the “dismiss”, “grab (a book), pay and go” “get out” built up by allusion earlier.  “MOST” “WOOD” “THAT ROUTE”.  “Have a nice day”.
Let us, now, SEE this intersection of route choice through MY EYES, mind and …grabby dealer dexterous diffidence.  Somehow… in the course of my normal rare bookseller affairs I have… managed to get my own ass… WITH the old Tyrolean rare bookseller’s big ass… ALL THE WAY UP from the ground floor… of his private residence… on a side street… of the largest city in Maine… to an old front bedroom of that home… that he and his wife have made into a “The Rare Book Room” by lining the walls with shelves and filling those shelves with “rare books” THEY “found”, “gathered”, “lucked into” but “WE NEVER BUY THEM” and… “cleaned”, “shelved”, “inspected”, “researched” (read “looked up on the internet”) and “PRICED” “for sale”.  I stand there… looking upon these shelves, the back of the old Tyrolean AND his peering-at-an-old-computer screen.  An opportunity found be route two?
“YES”:  “What do you think?”  “SOMEBODY COMES HERE?”  “LIKE:”  “WHEN DO YOU THINK the LAST rare book dealer STOOD HERE… in this room?”  “WHEN?”  “In the MEMORY OF MAN.”  “DO YOU THINK?”
“DO YOU THINK?”  I better THINK… this through… very carefully and ACT because… I am not going to be standing here… ever again(?).  I do that, this and now right NOW right before the turned back and stuffed with shrimp and low expectations woozy old “MR.” rare bookman himself “HERE WE GO”.  I don’t explain it, I JUST DO IT.  Book by old book.  DEDUCTION by my mind applied.
The “good ones” are “listed on line”.  He is an “Americana specialist”.  Those then are the books “listed”.  For the most part.  Good ones.  But …cannot possibly have too many of those ACTUAL good ones because… THOSE ARE ACTUALLY RARE… books.  So I TURN to …any… NOT AMERICANA shelf tag and start looking at those and… start “pulling” “stock” to “check it” (affirm what it is as a rare book and price it) AND:

AS SOON I POSSIBLY CAN… choose… A BOOK… to BUY and put that next to …the old Tyrolean… at his work station.  HERE on site TODAY I begin with a quick eye, quick hand, under the shelf label of “BOOKS OF INTEREST”, tiny, thin, red cloth bound… self published… “NOTHING”, neat hand penciled WITH NO personal dealer CODE NUMBER price marked “$7.00” titled “POCKET BOOK OF AMERICAN PEWTER  THE MAKERS AND THE MARKS.
The old Tyrolean stops staring at the computer screen, looks down to his left at the tiny book, picks it up, looks at it, looks at me… who has now turned away and gone back to exploring THAT SAME SHELF… opens the book, looks at the price, looks at me again, closes the book and looks at it, sets the book back down and… resumes looking at the computer screen.
I KNOW that HE KNOWS that …the book I AM BUYING… is NOT listed on his internet offerings.  It was “too cheap” and had “no code”.  I KNOW that HE KNOWS… that he’s never paid any attention to that book ever AND he remembers EXACTLY where he “got that book” probably TWENTY-FIVE PLUS years ago AND:  That NO ONE has EVER EVEN SLIGHTLY “touched that book” on his shelves “EVER” including HIM …and his WIFE, EVER.  “And now he just BOUGHT IT?”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Can" B. Worth - Epilogue - Part Six

"Can" B. Worth
Epilogue - Part Six

            “Perfunctory” “visit” to a “dealer’s stock”.  I do not do?
After the last Dead Can click-bang it was time to “get out”.  This could only be done by completing the ritual, summarial and perfunctory visit to inspect, review and BUY SOMETHING FROM… this venerable old information uttering and cheese gobbling rare bookman’s “old books for sale” “stock”.  “Perfunctory” and most dealers will express their disdain, avoidance maneuverings and curt inspection techniques.
I, on the other hand, am the one who is actually HERE; in this …old Tyrolean mountaineer of a bookseller’s house of business.  Beer bellied, stuffed with shrimp and cheese, addled by alcohol, amiably sedated by his own oratory, graciously respecting me as an equal …and superior… rare bookman and:  Carrying an old wife in the other room who “could use some money” from THIS very rare bookseller visit… I had LONG BEFORE I LEFT HOME that morning reckoned that “I” “must buy something” “too”.
This is not a problem?  By regular practice, interactive buying between rare booksellers from their stock to each other is more myth than actual commerce.  Most do not visit… and are not visited… let alone have cash exchanged.  “Exhibiting” “at a show” is the most common “caught you in the open with your stock displayed AND PRICED so that I, a great dealer, may quickly throttle it for a loose change of an error you old fool of a bookie has made”.  How could my “to the homestead visit” be a door of opportunity?
An old bookseller is most often out-of-corner-of-mouth described as “having nothing”, “looks everything up”, “sells anything good to so and so”, “hasn’t had anything new in years” and “the LAST TIME I was there HE HADN’T BEEN OUT IN YEARS”.  Added is a… perfunctory… acknowledgement of “feel sorry for his wife.  I don’t think they have much money”.  Nothing is ever done about this last by any bookseller for… any bookseller.
So here we find ME standing up in the living room of the private home of this sort of bookseller… and know that I know that I must make a “perfunctory” and “BUY SOMETHING” and:  JUST HOW DO I FEEL ABOUT THIS MOMENT and WHAT DO I ACTULLY DO with these… not too common …opportunities?
Do I “blow it off” and “get out” with my booty bag of verbal legend gathered?  Do I whisk up, in and out scanning the “old books for sale” spine ends with razor sharp eyes to “pull” “something out” “quickly” then fuss with my checkbook after pushing for a “dealer’s discount”?  Do I NOT know that THAT is exactly what this old Tyrolean expects as a best case solution but is so cornered by aging and circumstance that even this hacking of his stock and the pocket change garnered… would be welcome?  Do I …fall back… to be but an equal amongst my bookish braggart peers dismissing and ..dismissing the embraced action of …dismissing of the stock and this bookseller as… “dismissing” as “the obvious thing to do”?
No… and I would not be here if it were not for me personally going “No.” already to… destroying Dead Can’s boxes.  AS I ROSE the wife appeared in my peripheral eye at the dining room to kitchen archway as I SAID “May I please visit your stock before I leave?”
“Of course you may.” said the old Tyrolean who rose too …and wavered… and moved forward to the out door of the living room into the front hallway of the home  and turned toward the base of the stairs… to “upstairs” as I followed …and was followed by …the shadow of the wife… who, when I glanced back communicated a “help me” AND “Thank you” and… about a three volume set more of novelette prose wordlessly …that I read cover to cover (all three volumes) for I am NO FOOL and have been prowling as a picker too long to …stop this poignant reading.
At the stair bottom the accent to the “rare book room” began with the old mountaineer moving slowly up and upon each step with his arms spread to the railing and wall, his old buttock lifting to each next step and leaving the wife and I plenty of time to “Don’t worry.  I’ll watch him” I said.  I followed very closely behind with my own accent so that… should “he fall” he must “take me out too”.  The wife remained vigilant at the stairs bottom, standing in the light from the front door and her eye sharply focused when I looked back and smiled downward to her.  She smiled back.

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Can" B. Worth - Epilogue - Part Five

"Can" B. Worth
Epilogue - Part Five

            What happens now is an about an hour and fifteen minute conversation where I endeavor… without knowing  “how” or “what” let alone “where” and when”… to extract and gather “information” about Dead Can.  I don’t know WHY I’m doing this for the intersection of “rape and pillage” and the “whose in a hurry” curiosity is just behind me and …I find myself in a common predicament whereby “someone” “knows” “something” “I need to know” and to get that something I must extract it verbally from them usually having to go around the LONGEST BACK SIDE of that bush; feeling myself verbally along and capturing iota and tidbit and… skillfully having to verbally work my ass off the whole time for these precious dew water droplets of information gleaned GOLD… that here is all qualified by “Why am I doing this; why don’t you just go to the sorting table and finish Dead Can off like a good rare bookseller would?”.

            I have to do this dance often in the course of “business”.  I am used to doing it.  I don’t have to think too hard when I am doing it.  I move the conversation through the hunter – gatherer maze and “click-bang”; the old flintlock musket firing adage, the golden dew water droplets on to a mental list as the conversation dances along.  When I reach an “end”, a “satisfied” or a “hopeless”… I “get out”.  Here I am engaging a classic old duff rare bookseller; out of the trade by fact, still with his hand in by his account, “don’t get out much” domestic status, wants to sell me rare books financial interest only in me and a “probably actually DOES KNOW SOMETHING(S) about Dead Can but “WHAT?” and …is that “what” an “anything.  I will record our chat by bulleted click-bangs of gathered dew drops about Dead Can.  The rest of the chat is too BORING to record.

            Click-bang:  “Oh for YEARS AND YEARS”.
            Click-bang:  “IF IT WAS GOOD; very good, he’d go all over it and the next day he’d know more about it than anyone would.  But he’d never buy it; didn’t have the money.  But he’d always buy a little something else”.
            Click-bang: “I LIKED HIM; he knew his books better most who came in the door”.
            Click-bang:  “No he never sold anything that I know of.  And I never saw the things I sold him ever again”.
            Click-bang:  “No, no, he NEVER talked about his collection.  I just knew he had to have things.  He prowled around everywhere.  AND NO ONE NOTICED HIM doing that too.  I did.  He was one of those ones who was ALWAYS around.  I’d see him in Boston.  On the street here in Portland.  In the back of a bookstore.  At ALL the auction previews.  I don’t recall him ever actually attending an auction though.  Never did I’d say”.
            Click-bang:  He ALWAYS had a book with him.  Always had a little thing he’d just found somewhere.  It was GOOD too.  Always.  NOTHING GREAT but always good enough.  I liked what he showed me.  Always liked it.  A lot of times it would be the best thing I’d see all day.  I always assumed he kept all of it”.
            Click-bang:  “Oh yes, yes.  LOTS OF TIMES.  Yes, yes; ABSOLUTE MESS.  Boxes and boxes just like you say.  NOT ALWAYS that WAY.  But getting fuller by the minute.  I thought it ODD at first but over the years it became HIM.  Just him; the way he was; holed up in there.  He always had a book or two; something NEW he’d found, right at the desk.  I’d see it there one day but never see it again.  He could never FIND anything in there.  I’d occasionally ASK to see something again.  He NEVER could find it.  Always promise to look for it.  Never FOUND it.  At first I thought he took it home.  I never knew WHAT happened to the things he found.
            Click-bang:  “NO, no:  Fairly often.  WE’D go to lunch together fairly often.  HE’D take me into the Facility Club.  It was our little secret.  I don’t think he’d go there ALONE.  So he got to sneaking me in there.  I think they knew but didn’t care.  We did it for years.  Anyway, I’d always meet him at the office before we’d go over and then we’d go back there.  During lunch he’d always mention something he’d found and we look at it after.  That was his way; always a soft landing me on something good he’d found.”
            Click-bang:  “No, no; I never bought anything.  Wanted to but assumed he kept it all.  Like I said; I’d see it once but never again”.
            Click-bang:  “OH THAT was the nasty part.  HATED HER.  Absolutely HATED HER.  She didn’t like his books you see.  Never liked them he claimed. Hated his books.  Hated him.  Funny all that.  I didn’t take it seriously at first.  For years.  No.  Just figured it was just him talking.  But he was right.  I found that out.”
            Click-bang:  “Well before I got to that; went there, I’d started selling him Timothy Dexter.  You know Dexter and his “PICKLE”.  You know Dexter hated HIS wife TOO.  Shrew.  Said he’d married a sweet young thing but she’d run off and now his house was haunted by the ghost of an old shrew who nagged him relentlessly.  Hated this ghost and said he could never find the girl he married.  Oh Can JUST LOVED THIS.  ‘Pepper and salt as you PLEASE’ you know.”
            Click-bang:  “Well that was quite an eye opener.  There WASN’T an old book in SIGHT.  NOTHING.  That woman had it SPOTLESS.  Not a thing there at ALL.  He told me how one day he’d brought a box of books home and put them in the basement.  THE NEXT DAY, he said, he FOUND THEM in the TRASH CAN in the garage!  ‘NEVER’ he said, did he DARE bring an old book home.”
            Click-bang:  “OH THOSE OLD THINGS.  YES.  Funny but he was RIGHT to do that.  ‘SHE WOULDN’T KNOW’.  It was his way of mocking her.  After I’d been there I understood it completely.  I actually sold him a few of those in that case.  Never got him a good title but if the binding was slick he’d buy it.  Most of those he’d buy in Boston at the shows.  He spend the whole show hunting down the cheapest one.  He’d tell me to keep an eye out.  I found him a couple.  SHE doesn’t KNOW.  Never will.”
            Click-bang: “Yes that was where he sat.  HATED THE TELEVISION.  She’d WATCH IT there.  Make him SIT THERE; in the room, and watch it TOO.  HATED IT.  Made her keep the sound turned way down.  He had that little table with the lamp.  And he’d put his books there and read from them; little piles he’d bring home from the office.  ‘His WORK’ he told me he told her.  ‘HATED IT’ he said: ‘MOST UNSIGHTLY SPOT IN THE HOUSE’ she called it.  But he kept THAT.  That was all he had in that whole house.”
            Click-bang:  “OUTSIDE that window he once had a bird feeder.  She hated that too.  SEEMS she didn’t like that he’d watch the birds and not the television.  SHE had two birdfeeders in the other rooms.  BUT THAT ONE was his feeder.  He watched the birds there while he sat with her.  WELL ONE DAY; I remember him telling me about it at lunch, SHE TOOK HIS FEEDER AWAY.  Just the pole left.  He left it there forever.  Probably still there.  OH DID THAT break his camel’s BACK.  From then on I KNEW.
            Click-bang:  “From then on he really DID live in that office”.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Can" B. Worth - Epilogue - Part Four

"Can" B. Worth
Epilogue - Part Four

            Perplexed and disturbed by my discovery, I stopped “sorting” (“destroying”) Dead Can’s boxes.  I even visited the storage area and stared at the remaining mound.  The conclusion from that eyeball usage was that I had already “destroyed” by having been insensitive AT the office so when I “boxed up” and dollied out, I… destroyed.  I stood before the stored boxes putting myself mentally back to when I had stared INTO the whole office; BEFORE I had slipped my ass around to the right of the desk, peeked into the test box and… assaulted the desk drawers.  The history professor was there.  HE said Dead Can “lived in there at least a century”.  He had been right.  I, cocksure, had been wrong.
            I HAD been right all perfectly on my read of him, his, the… book collector collection.  A PERFECT READ, in fact.  I “I KNOWED” myself “ACE” and trump card PERFECT dealer-on “calculate the RISK” and “give ‘em the money”.  PERFECT.  Even Mr. Lawyer on his cell phone PERFECT.  Even the box up and intimidate the help PERFECT.  EVEN the broom clean PENCIL NOTE ON the furniture PERFECT.
            But:  “your such a dump ass”.  This went to “this guy was smarter than me”.  That went to “a great book collector”.  Then “had a better idea about all this than I DO.”  Finally the “now what do I do?”.  There were two routes at the crossroads:  “Forget about it” and plow forward with the rape and pillage.  OR:  “poke around” and “buy yourself some time”.  WHY a second route?  Guilt merged with respect merged with curiosity merged with… “whose in a hurry” and “estates like this don’t grow on trees”.
            “Poke around” was easy.  Already “word” of I having “got an estate” of “rare books” had come back to me as a murmur.  The two “help” teams “talk” at the back of weekly auction halls about “what” they’d “been doing” and that Longstreet and “FAMOUS FLIES” were enough in THEIR eyes to “assure gold” “he’s got one”.  I… was already being POKED myself.
            Within this little murmur came little “stories” titled “Oh I knew that guy”. “HE bought a *** from ME”, “A queer duck but at it FOREVER” onward to “No never been to his OFFICE”, “Didn’t know WHAT happened to him” and… “No never been to his office TWO”.  For this last, one person had, I heard, by murmur… and “I know that guy”.  He was an older “good”, not “GREAT”, local “highly regarded” legacy Maine “bookman” (dealer) “retired”.  I had not had contact with him since he’d gone after me (bid hardball against me) on a very scarce Arizona Territory map “at (a remote rural Maine farm) auction… “twenty years ago?”.  So I called him up and said “HEY:  DID YOU KNOW THIS DEAD CAN GUY?”

            “Yes” he said after he’d greeted me at his front door, exchanged pleasantries with his wife, went into the living room, had the wife bring …cheese and shrimp plates… a beverage and seated use to her satisfaction and then LEFT US ALONE for several hours.

            Our …ever getting more focused on Dead Can …chat… began with him being a little too “it’s a honor having you visit ME” (hence explaining the over the top food and drink coffee table buffet)… that also attached a mental “these people don’t get out much” qualifier from my mind to me… footsteps around the edge of the Dead Can pond of my visit.  This included a brief summary of where he was at in the trade including the …not miss-read but deflected adroitly “view my books for sale?” “I HAVE A” and:  We relived the entire rare map of Arizona Territory at auction “How much did you GET for that ANYWAY” “Twenty-seven fifty” over his “last bid” of “nine hundred fifty so I “got it” for one K “I KNEW IT WAS GOOD”.  “WHO WERE YOU BIDDING FOR?”.  He still wouldn’t say.
            Then I had to swim the river several times about local in trade current events, persona, collectors rising, dealers dying, “the internet” and “Do you know her?” (a new, young woman custom book binder).
            “She’s VERY GOOD.”
            “I don’t rebind anything”.  (Americana, like that Arizona Territory map, is NEVER rebound because it DECREASES ITS “original as found state” CASH VALUE.  A map like that, at best is “placed in a custom slipcase” and THAT is commissioned by the high end rich collector to THEIR specifications at THEIR expense and of THEIR bad taste excepting TOP TIER dealers who… “do it for them” and “tell them what’s “good” (a good taste slipcase).  Making expensive slipcases for rare Maine Americana “material”… hasn’t “caught on yet” (TOO EXPENSIVE in addition to being BEYOND the world rare book view of a “MAINE” collector.  Don’t worry, eventually the outside world will arrive in “rare Maine books” and “take everything that’s good” away.  I know this because it’s already happening).  ANYWAY:
            WE, with me eating as little cheese and shrimp as possible to offset my host’s gobbling, eventually made the rounds and river crossing to Dead Can.  “OH YES I KNEW HIM.”
            “How’d he die?”
            “OH YES HE DIED RIGHT IN THAT CHAIR.” in the office.
            “OH YES:  THEY FOUND HIM DEAD BEFORE MIDNIGHT.  Called his wife and told her.  Didn’t know WHAT TO DO.  TOOK HIM OUT OF THERE and SECURITY LOCKED THE DOOR”.  And… except for the Department Office somehow (“The Mystery Of”) getting Can’s can after “NO HE’D ALREADY GIVEN THEM THAT SET”  the gifting by Dead Can of the Can’s “handsome copy” history set to the department… I, looking over Mr. Lawyer’s head and having that history professor (“HE’S HARMLESS.”) breathing on my neck… was, remarkably, the “it” from there on.
            “Tell me about him.”
            “WELL:  I’D SELL TO HIM”.
            “A lot?”
            Finally, we got down to the business.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Why Does This Blog Look Like It Does

Why Does This Blog Look Like It Does?

            Our books (and this blog) are written and produced by ourselves.  We have never bothered to get anyone interested in helping us in anyway.  We know our books (and this blog) are filled with spelling errors, grammatical errors, bad prose and an open treasure chest of other blatant flaws suitable for extensive discussion by… who?

By people who know nothing about rare Americana, that’s who.

            Our books (and this blog) are written and produced fully within the grand tradition of Rare Americana, the rarest, most desirable and most valuable of all rare books in the world.  This is because for over a quarter (now nearly a half) of a century I have been a dealer in Rare Americana.  Do you think I am going to turn my back on the very essence of what feeds my family?  Do you think I am going to sell short the fantastic, vibrant and rock solid traditions of American prose and printing by selling out to the monolithic publishing empire and their stuffed-shirt and dreadfully boring editorial staff?  No!
            After reading this book (and this blog) you will fully understand what those GIANT COPORATE PUBLISHING CONGLOMERATES who KNOW NOTHING about dealing in the rarest Americana (books that were miserable publishing failures) would do to these books, (this blog) and its author.  Turn my back on them is what I have done to assure our readers that they get real Americana.  Real Americana is private sector writing and publishing done in a manor that presents raw rough & tumble prose traditionally in a very low budget format that is most often described as “ephemeral in nature”.  The rarest books in the slip cases on the rich collector’s shelves started life as retched throw-away most often classified as “pamphleteering”.

Common Sense

and every other substantive imprint of Americana was and remains to this day BEST as a production that LOOKS AND READS LIKE THIS BOOK (THIS BLOG) DOES.


            By 1999 I had written four books, numerous short stories and even more vignettes about buying and selling antiques and rare books.   I had written even more than more “rare book catalogs”.  All were ephemerally self published as described above and all eventually needed to have the above “broadside handbill” slipped inside each copy of each production to… clear up and give direction to the confused reader while also …having my word crafting VERY WELL RECEIVED by those “who know”.  My writing is NOT a “written about them”.  It is an “written about us”… and written by an “us”.  I took a hiatus from writing for a decade but I have returned to writing down my antiques and rare books dealer stories  in this “blog”.
            I do not have to be the one who defines or explains Americana.  Many have and do.  For ease, I recommend Charles P. Everitt’s definition in his memoir THE ADVENTURES OF A TREASURE HUNTER.  A RARE BOOKMAN IN SERCH OF AMERICAN HISTORY, Boston, Little Brown & Co., 1952.

"Can" B. Worth - Epilogue - Part Three

"Can" B. Worth
Epilogue - Part Three

            “All good things come to an end”.  One day the sleuthing of the boxes did.  But not before unrecoverable damage had been done.
            Damage?  Yes.  I admit it.  I understand it.  I destroyed something precious.  I destroyed Dead Can’s “boxes”.  I will demonstrate how I did this.  I will demonstrate my method.  I will use a “later, after enlightenment” box and show how I destroyed …Dead Can’s boxes… by sleuthing THAT specimen box.
            Eyeballed by whimsical procedure in the darkish storage unit my eye would alight upon a “that box”… during a whimsical visit to the unit on a …whimsical impulse to “do another box” meaning sort through it to discover all the “good stuff” in it, get that identified, gathered and off toward my commercial gain and… properly prepare the remaining waste paper for eventual disposal.  The boxes in focus for this are from the large “middle period” of Dead Can’s book collecting era.  They are from the time period AFTER he stopped dabbling with old books and became a “serious” book collector continuing along for years and years (decades) and over beyond those years until Dead Can became “too old” “to collect” “anymore”.  Don’t worry; he kept his hand in it to the end; his dying day.  These boxes; this LARGE main mass of boxes… that Dead Can packed up himself, were abundant, obvious to my eye, stacked and pack in a reverse order, sort of, of how they’d been stacked and packed in the office and… super easy for me to …with a “what’s on the menu?” appetizing delight… pull in and “grab one”.  Phrased more crassly; “HAVING A BAD DAY FINDING GOOD STUFF CHEAP?  GO THROUGH DRIVE THROUGH AT THE STORAGE UNIT AND GRAB A BOX OF DEAD CAN’S WHOPPERS TO GO”.  It was that easy to “make money”; a “sure thing”.

            A box… and I admit to sometimes taking two …or THREE at a visit… was dollied to the truck cab, loaded on to the passenger’s seat, driven to the office, dollied to a sorting table, lifted up on to this table.  And destroyed.
            I would strip the single tape strip off and lift the lid to find, IN EVERY BOX, the very top layer to be …a wasteland assortment of Dead Can’s then current papers.  This wasteland assortment of his papers continued downward to the bottom.  In amongst this paper pile I found… rare books (or rare books related) material carefully “there” between papers of paper piles after papers of paper piles… all the way to the box’s bottom.  “NO PROBLEM!”:  Simply slowly and steadily remove the paper mass carefully downward, uncover the next emerging rare book or rare book ephemeral item and… keep going until I … “reached bottom”.  The paper pile generally was piled in a mound out before me on the sorting table, one mound at a time with the next mound started when that mound started to …spill onto the floor.  The rare books were stacked by themselves.  The ephemeral rare books made their own stack.  Once a box was empty, THAT box was “chucked”, the paper piles were… dumped… into another long-term-storage box and:  I would …whimsically… review my discoveries; my plunder.

            These rare books I would …rare bookseller quick eye nimble finger… “review”, denoting the “good ones” and usually (“does it have the map?”) “collate” “it”.  This is NOT done “up to code” (of ANY rare bookseller’s associations or any library).  It was just as it reads; “rape and pillage”.
            (In the photographs included showing the dissection of a specimen box… I am NOT going to “go over” the books found and photographed.  THE PHOTOGRAPHS are good enough to allow a rare book person to be able to do that… just like I’d do that with my own two eyes described above.  NO:  One does not need ME to tell “Which one is the best book?”.  Get over it; the title of this escapade is “Can” B. Worth”.  A hint?  Maine Civil War.  But that Coos narrative is very scarce while the Eastman – White Mountain guide book is early.  The Lincolnville Maine imprint is unusual as are some others, the Farmington history is good too and “I Go Ah Fishing” a classic “must read”.  The folded map is precious; it shows Small Point, Maine private sector development.  All good, “rare”.  And more.)

            At the end of this quadrille …of mere minutes… the music stopped and I sat down in a chair with “good stuff” beside me.  I rested.  I then gathered up the plunder, scooted that off to rare-book-forever-land in MY “stock” and humped another box of Dead Can’s papers off to “his pile” of “waste”.  Nothing else happened, book after box, except that as I lifted the paper waste out of the box I would usually inspect “rare book” related paper items; business cards, receipts, flyers and …any other “catch the eye” piece of paper such as Dead Can’s car repair bill, his wife’s dentist bill, his kid’s Little League uniform receipt, his dog’s vet bill, his wife’s family’s photographic Christmas card, his church donation summary, his inter facility communications, his lawn mowing bill, his weekend trip to a conference receipts, his brother-doesn’t-speak-to-me stuff, his local PX candy bar wrapper (“Cool!”), his shoe repair, his wife’s telephone number at her sister’s house, his oil furnace repair bill, his used carbon papers for everything he ever typed, his everything he ever typed copies, his every piece of mail he ever got, his hand written notes about anything ever always, his lunch-in-office food wrappers, his…  on and on EVERYTHING gathering of every GOD DAMN PIECE OF PAPER he ever had ever was ever always put into the boxes WITH EVERY GOD DAMN RARE BOOK too and all… in order.

            IN ORDER.  In order of its (any piece of paper including a rare book) arrival in his life.  IN ORDER.  FOR DECADES.  THE WHOLE SHIT PILE OF THE PAPER PILE of Dead Can’s WHOLE LIFE, including the rare books… was … perfectly… time line COMPLETE filed… in those boxes.  When he ate lunch after going to the dentist after giving a lecture and …after that lunch buying a rare book at a local used book store AND picked up the list of telephone calls “missed” at the department office on the way back to HIS office… ALL of this went into the current box-being-filled, in order, until full.  Then the next box was started on top of that one.  Boxes filled, in order, for decades.  That I destroyed in minutes.