Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2018 Issue

Bill Reese: In Memoriam

62f254c3-265d-4ec2-bdb6-935439b5328a

Bill Reese, left, with Joe Felcone in the last year

In the rare book business a few names resonate down through the ages, their quotes, collections, statements, catalogues and books so substantial that even their ephemera and paraphernalia become collectible.  Often their hard edges and hard truths dissolve in the alchemy of death that transforms careers into dirges of praise.  Bill Reese is the latest of such men, one of the very few who can be mentioned in the company of Streeter, Eberstadt, Rosenwald, Rosenbach and Huntington.  As collectors and/or dealers they had their strengths and weaknesses but in the fullness of time have emerged as transcending luminaries among the frequently well-educated and always gifted who pursue not just books, but also their relationships and stories that illuminate the field.  For them, as for few others, authors, material and circumstances have danced in their imaginations to become original insights and perspectives that today are orthodoxy for others.  Bill had that gift, that magic that will live on through his choices, clients, catalogs and quotes.  It has been said of others but it is no less true here today; he belongs to the ages.

 

He built collections and he built mine.  The first one was about the new world before 1625, and ten years later, the opening of the American west.  He was an intellectual raconteur offering insights and objectives, illuminating possible paths but never cluttering them with irrelevant choices because he had them in stock.  He offered perspective and always took my calls.  I had questions and he often had the answers.  And he offered, when called for, unvarnished truth. 

 

Since 2000, building the Americana Exchange Database and its successor has been complicated.  He suggested the first database structure we employed, was the first to subscribe, subscribing at the highest level, and maintaining his membership every day since.

 

In 2009, the rare book field swooning from the recent financial decline, I sent to auction 81 items to test the market recovery and he, without ever saying he would, broadly supported the sale ensuring its success and signaling that the bottom was in and recovery for the field at hand.  We had no understandings, he and I.  After the sale I sought to thank him and he simply said, “it was good business.”  It was also extraordinary friendship and while I live, my gratitude will neither decline nor diminish.

 

We will all go on, but there is now an irregular piece of the collecting puzzle missing, that will stand empty, not to be filled or replaced, simply in its shadowed emptiness a space uniquely his that will remind us of who we lost and what we miss.   


Posted On: 2018-07-01 05:08
User Name: mairin

Lovely homage to Bill Reese, Bruce, pleased to see this, and nicely written.
(I mailed to your office, last week, a paper copy of the NY Times obit.)
He and Bob Barry were two of my best contacts in CT. Reese was always
helpful, and such a gentleman. He couldn't find an Anne Bradstreet for me,
but when I ment'd an upcoming guest lecture of mine on Mary Shackleton Leadbeater,
he put in the mail, at once, a useful catalogue of his which included some good context
on abolitionist material, one of Leadbeater's subjects. He shall be missed and remembered
by many. / Maureen E. Mulvihill / Guest Writer, Rare Book Hub (2016 / 2018).
____


Posted On: 2018-07-03 22:06
User Name: psyxprt@aol.com

I am one of many far down "the chain" who came to value his honesty, guidance and trust. To have known him was an honor and inspiration.


Posted On: 2018-07-27 14:35
User Name: pine12

Bill Reese was chosen to be the Honored Guest Bookseller at our first Gold Rush Book Fair here in Nevada City. In a telephone call, he quietly explained that he would have been happy to attend, but that on the date we had chosen he would have to be in London at one of the most important book fairs in the world. Nevertheless he sent Nick Aretakis representing the Reese Company with some California gold rush treasures of jaw dropping scarcity and value. It was a generous thing to do, yet typical of Bill Reese. We were very grateful. There will never be such another. John Hardy for Hardy Books


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions