New York City Bookshops in the 1930s and 1940s:
The Recollections of Walter Goldwater

Walter Goldwater was a veteran antiquarian book dealer who owned and operated the University Place Bookshop at various locations in New York City from 1932 until his death in 1985. During his career in the book business, Goldwater specialized in books relating to black studies, Africa, the Caribbean, chess, radical literature, and incunabula. These recollections were transcribed and edited from tape recordings Goldwater made on an unknown date, probably in the early 1980s. The unidentified interviewer functions more as a prompt and audience than an interviewer. This is not a strict transcription, as the recollections were edited for readability. The recordings were made available to the DLB Yearbook through the help and permission of Waiter Goldwater’s daughter, Dr. Linda Gochfield, and antiquarian book dealer Joseph Felcone of Princeton, New Jersey. Information about names of book dealers and the location of bookshops was provided by Marvin Mondlin of the Strand Book Store in New York City. His information is initialed M. M. within brackets. Names that remain unclear are also bracketed.

GOLDWATER: I’ve made a list, which I sometimes do when I can’t sleep at night, of people who were in the book business when I started and who died. Each one of these, I think, had some interest. I’ve put them down quite at random; therefore, there is no order. I’ll say a few words about each. If I say more than a few words, it will go on forever.

Rabbi Heller, as we called him, was a man who was very literate and very interested in Judaica, and so on. He went into partnership on Fourth Avenue with a man named Mankoff who was interested only in D. H. Lawrence. The two of them thought they might make a go of it. This was in the middle 1930s. The shop was at 110 Fourth Avenue.

They thought they might get along very well, because they were both intellectuals. But Mr. Heller was not able to stand the way Mankoff did things. I remember that one day he came to me and said, "You know what that man said? He came in in the morning and he said to me, “Lawrence has conquered death.” How can you work with a fellow like that?" The shop broke up. Mankoff went to work for Concord Book Shop, which was one of the shops on Forty-second Street which handled new books, mainly semierotica. Later on Heller went into business for himself a little further down Fourth Avenue at number 84 and was there for a number of years, then went to New Rochelle, where he was for a long time. He finally died. He was one of the more amusing people in the book business.

Peter Stammer was one of the oldest on Fourth Avenue and was famous for being anticustomer. He is the one about whom the stories are told, about how he said, "I will charge you five dollars for this," and, if the person demurred, he said, "If you come back, it will be ten dollars." And if the person demurred again, he simply tore up the pamphlet and threw it away. The general lot of these stories is apocryphal. Probably in each case, it happened once, or something like that.

INTERVIEWER: Is he the one who used to tear up presentation copies?

GOLDWATER: I don’t believe he actually did. He much more likely pretended to. However, my experience with him, which was quite extensive, led me to believe that, although some people looking at him from the outside might think he was an affable old codger, actually he was a scoundrel from the very beginning. If he did anything like this, it was most unusual. He might even have three or more copies of the same item still available. However, this has never been established.

INTERVIEWER: Did he start on Fourth Avenue?

GOLDWATER: There was some question as to whether he did. He and Schulte were the earliest on Fourth Avenue, as far as we knew.


INTERVIEWER: It was a general bookshop?

GOLDWATER: Yes. All shops that I have anything to do with, unless I mention it, are general secondhand and out-of-print bookshops. And they made their living by people coming in from the street and buying books at a price which generally low, but which represented a very, very substarttial profit. The question of the rare book as a specialized business did not come in until much later, and I was partly responsible for that. I said yes, I have a general bookshop, but I specialize in Africa or the Negro, whereas most people on Fourth Avenue said, "We hare a general bookshop," and did not add anything. Later on, one would say that such and such a shop specialized in fiction, such and such a shop in Americana, and so on. But when I first started in this business, there was no such thing. Everybody was a general bookshop.

INTERVIEWER: Was Stammer’s a big shop?

GOLDWATER: Stammer’s was very, very big, from floor to ceiling, and cellar, and upstairs. It was absolutely tremendous. It was probably one of the largest stocks in the country.

INTERVIEWER: When did he die?

GOLDWATER: Probably in the mid forties or so. And then the shop was taken over by his son-in-law and by Noy Berenson, who was his employee. Noy was dishonest and was known throughout the trade for being dishonest. Since it was known, the probability is that Stammer knew it, because Stammer was not a person who was anybody’s fool. However, again, he may have figured it was worth the trouble and it was a small matter and that, considering the amount of books he had, and so on, and the amount of dishonesty, it probably was just a question of some books being sold without being paid for. Later on, after his death, Noy and the son-in-law became what we thought was partners but probably was not. It was probably that the son-in-law owned the shop that employed Noy.

INTERVIEWER: So, what finally happened to the shop?

GOLDWATER: Just a year ago he sold it out to an antiques place. He owns the building. He had been running the shop in a very old-fashioned and tired way for twenty years since Stammer died, or


the fifteen since Noy left him. Noy went to work first to The Seven Bookhunters and then, being found dishonest there, went to AMS, Abraham’s Magazine Service. He’s a very nice fellow, and we’ve always been good friends. But I wouldn’t want him to work for me, although at a certain point it looked as though I was going to have to employ him, because nobody else was going to. But, fortunately, I got out of that. In the case of his being fired from The Seven Bookhunters, it was a case of where Louis Scher, who just recently died, found out he was dishonest and made sure that he left, not at the end of the week, but at that very moment, giving him pay till the end of the week and a few more weeks, just to make sure he got out.

Next to Stammer’s was one of the other two big shops on the avenue, run by Abe Geffen. This was as big as Stammer’s but didn’t have the space in the cellar and the upstairs. It was, however, also absolutely tremendous. Mr. Geffen was a little man who was also quite unpleasant and generally wasn’t known around the avenue. People didn’t go in there much. He had two employees, however, Sy Silverman and Milton Applebaum, who took over the shop after he died, very early in the 1940s, I believe that was, and kept it up for quite a while. I think that it must have been early in the forties because I think both the boys went to the army. I know that Sy did and, later on, Sy went into business for himself, became Humanities Press, Hillary House, and a great many other names, and is very successful now as a publisher as well as a bookseller. Milton Applebaum continued the shop on Fourth Avenue for as long as he could legally keep it open when the building was supposed to be torn down. He fought them tooth and nail for several years after it was supposed to go, but eventually had to leave and took a shop on Broadway, where he now is. He calls himself the Arcadia Bookshop. He and Sy were always, however, called the "Geffen boys." Nobody ever called them anything else except the Geffen boys."

On Fourth Avenue, just below here, between here and Schulte’s, was a place which is now part of the Grace Church, which owns the whole thing and at that time also did but kept that as a shop, was Frank Bender, who specialized in art books. He was one of the few specialist shops. He also had a general shop, but he was interested in art books. Our old friend Leonard Sachs, that I mentioned previously was one of the first persons I met in the book business, was working for him. He thought Leonard Sachs was dishonest. We don’t believe he was. Eventually, however, he did get rid of Leonard, and Leonard worked for a man on the opposite side of Fourth Avenue, whose name was [Schoenberg], I believe, but we always called him "Schoenpants" I don’t know just why. He specialized in music, actually, and later on moved uptown and became a music shop. Bender moved uptown, also, and had an art shop until he died.

On Fourth Avenue also was a well-known little man named Max Breslow. I think he was rather nice. He had a large shop, and he was quite literate, was interested in little magazines, and he had the corner shop at Ninth Street in the Bible House, which was a very, very large, rambling building, taking up the whole block from Fourth to Third Avenue, and from Eighth to Ninth Street, that is Eighth Street being Astor Place there. It was a very, very large shop, and Leon Kramer had some of his stock there sometimes. Argosy had his main big shop in the building on Fourth Avenue, at number 45, and also a place upstairs, where I met John Kohn first, which was the loft or storage room that Argosy kept. Argosy’s shop there at number 45 was tremendous, and, when he moved away to Fifty-ninth Street to become a big man, he offered me the chance of taking over the shop. But I preferred to be away from Fourth Avenue and didn’t take it. It was then taken over by an old socialist labor man, who kept the place open mostly as a propaganda thing for his Socialist Labor party, although he kept the stock that Argosy had left. He made some sort of living by staying open till ten or eleven at night also. He died later on, and also his hanger-on, Max Sparber, who was a scout and whom I knew quite well, used to hang out there.

Breslow employed one or two people, one of whom, Steve Seskin, had worked for Schulte. However, during the late 1930s Schulte’s, which was a very successful shop, had a strike of its employees, and Steve was one of the movers in the movement. Three of the employees out of four joined the picket line and picketed for many, many weeks. But Mr. Pesky, who was then the owner of the shop, and his son Wilfred, and one employee who refused to go on strike kept the place going perfectly well. Nothing ever came of it, and the boys had to find jobs elsewhere. After Steve left Breslow, he went into business for himself downtown (Eureka Bookshop -M. M.], was unsuccessful, and later on was employed by Harry Gold, who I will mention later. But when he demanded part of Harry Gold’s business, Harry Gold let him go, and he then went to work for Benny Bass at the Strand Bookstore, but he suddenly died at an early age (we would consider it an early age), three or four years ago of a


heart attack. He was probably in his early fifties. [Older, I believe. I worked with Seskin at Strand in mid 1960s. — M. M.] Downtown there were two important and good bookshops. One of them was called Thoms and Eron at 89 Chambers Street, which was a very old shop, having started perhaps in the 1870s or 1880s, possibly later, but not too much later. The other shop on Anne Street was the shop established by Isaac Mendoza and later given over to his three sons. It still exists but is, in my opinion, quite moribund. The Thoms shop was the place that we would always go that Sugarman [Abe Sugarman, the uncle of Ethel Goldwater, Goldwater’s first wife; he was Goldwater’s first partner in the book business] first taught me about. "Always go to Thoms and Eron; they have very good volumes on their tables." It was a shop which was very big, with table after table of cheap books, ranging from ten cents up to thirty-five cents. There were always specials, so many for a dollar. There were always sections which were especially cheap, [Mayne] Reid’s first editions were a dollar each. Besides that, Mr. Thoms was always ready to make a deal on any large quantity. I would go down there and listen to him and take his advice. I remember him judiciously saying, "If you don’t buy, Walter, you can’t sell." I’ve always remembered this great thing, and I guess we would have to say it was true enough. However, Mr. Thoms was not completely pure in the matter, because what he meant was, "If you don’t buy these particular books that I am offering you, then you can’t stay in business." That was not the case. Later on I found that, in spite of all his knowledge of the books, he had feet of clay, because Heinz [Heinz Maienthau, Goldwater’s second partner in the book business] and I had not been in business more than two or three years when Heinz found a sleeper in a Dauber and Pine catalogue, the Petit Plus, which was a large atlas, a nineteenth-century atlas of the world, and particularly of the Arctic regions, which Dauber and Pine had in their catalogue for about $25. Heinz ran over early in the morning and bought it and sold it to Frank Walters, I think, for $175. Later I mentioned the book to Thoms, and he looked it up in the Book Prices Current and found it at an auction price of $25 and said, "I guess that’s what it’s worth." Of course, it isn’t that I blame anybody for not knowing an individual book. It is simply that the question of looking up books and Book Prices Current from that moment to this has always seemed to me a matter which does not teach anybody much, unless he knows something about books in general. And, although it was sort of a well-known fact within the book business that the more bibliography you had the better bookseller you were, and, although it was also known that it was very important to have Book Prices Current from the beginning to the day that you were working, I have always found it a very unimportant part of my business, and I believe it should be an unimportant part of anybody’s business. There are many good booksellers who don’t agree with me. But I believe that I can hold my point and indicate that, throughout our career, the importance of having Book Prices Current on hand did not make an important difference in a dozen cases. And, in some of those cases, it made a negative difference.

There’s no other reason why you should want it, except how much you should pay for a book and how much you can sell it for. If you will look at such things as Uncle Tom's Cabin, you will find with the same five-year period a difference between $25 and $500, and you cannot tell anything about that, unless two things: you see the book and you had ex-


perience. Nothing else will do, and it will simply not do you any good to know such a thing. There are, of course, cases of a book coming up three times and ranging from a $100 to $125. Then you might have some idea, but cven that might not do.

What happened was that Thoms died, and the business came up for sale. By that time it was bought by Mr. [Benjamin] Rosenzweig, the auction [City Book Auction] man, who had decided to extend his tentacles throughout the city and to buy up every shop that was available. He also bought G. A. Baker and Company, which was Hartzof’s shop uptown; at the time Edward Lazare, Jack Kebabian, and a colleague owned the place since Hartzof died. Rosenzweig would simply go to these places, realize that he could get such and such an amount out of the auction, and keep the rest. So what he did with Thoms was simply that. He bought the place for a price which we would now consider extremely low, made an auction gallery out of it, sold week after week at auction, and then had a bookshop besides. In the case of C. A. Baker and Company, he knew that he could sell the sets at auction for a certain price and the first editions for a certain price, and then would sell out the rest for something else. He continued to do that, but he was so active. He was a very fat [and diabetic — M. M.] but very hardworking man and simply died of a heart attack, right at the peak of his earning power [at fifty seven —M.M.].

INTERVIEWER: He had the auctions at the shops that he bought?

GOLDWATER: He had the auctions at the shop, but he also had auctions other places. He wanted them to be varied, depending on where he was. When he had a shop on Fourth Avenue, he had the auction shop on Fourth Avenue. But he did it at Thoms and then he did it at C. A. Baker. But he also had a place which was at Meadowville, just an auction house. He called it City Book Auction, and City Book Auction was the place at which I put up these incunables and had to buy them back or leave them and the place at which I had bought all those seventeenth-century things for fifty cents apiece. He was the person, also, who discovered that one of the important parts about having an auction was how many pieces you could get done with in a given period of time. So he simply had the catalogue, a very brief cataloguing of them. But then, instead of naming the piece each time, he simply named the number and looked in the audience to see if there was a bid. If there was, he recorded it. If there was not, he simply recorded what the mail order was and went on. This way, he was able sometimes to get through with a thousand pieces in one day, whereas the normal person wouldn’t get through more than three hundred. Since he was getting paid by the piece by the people who put the things up, he always knew he was ahead. This idea was later on taken on by Swann, who became the only remaining medium-priced auction in the city, who charged so much for cataloguing and for extras that he simply made money whether or not he got any price on the book.

Isaac Mendoza had three sons, each one of them stupider than the one before, but the first one, Aaron, not too stupid. They kept the thing going. They specialized in Americana, particularly New Yorkiana, but had a general bookshop which was quite good.

It was a very good shop. We used to go down there, but these things were a little bit more expensive than they were at Thoms, but they weren’t too expensive anyway. And they were always very friendly. I actually never knew Isaac; I only knew the three sons.

I was always able to buy. They knew something about books. They knew first editions, and they knew Americana very well. They cared about some things and didn’t care about others.

To get back to Fourth Avenue, the Green Bookshop was started by Harry Carp in the thirties. He first was on [number 11] Astor Place and then came over to number 108 or 110 Fourth Avenue. After he died of cancer five or six years ago, Mrs. [Ruth — M. M.] Carp continued the shop and still is there. He specialized to some extent in fiction, particularly translations of fiction. He never knew anything about books, and she doesn’t, either.

There was a book scout called Stanley Grant who used to go around buying and selling first editions. He was not very interesting and was not very honest. And then there was another Grant named Charlie Grant who was both a very good book scout and very honest and was very well known. They both died at a fairly early age.

I think I mentioned before what a scout was. A scout generally is a person who buys from one bookshop and sells to another bookshop. A scout is always a bookseller without a shop and usually goes from one bookshop to another. But sometimes he goes from a bookshop to a library, sometimes has a private clientele, and once in a while buys a book from a private person and sells to a private person. In general, however, the definition of a scout is that


of a runner in England, which is a person who buys from one bookshop and sells to another bookshop.

Alfred Goldsmith is one of the people who is best known in the world as a bookseller. He had a tiny shop on Lexington Avenue and called it The Sign of the Sparrow, between Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth streets, in the basement. It was considered the locale for Christopher Morley’s book The Haunted Bookshop, which is a terrible book, and was frequented by Christopher Morley, Carolyn Wells, and a few other of the other semi-intelligentsia of the period. He wrote a bibliography of Walt Whitman and another of Lewis Carroll. These were both people in whom he was mainly interested, and he was supposed to be an expert in both these subjects. I am willing to accept this as so. Although there were considerable errors in both the bibliographies, still they were the best thing up to the time.

He was personally a very nice person. He was the person I think I mentioned before who hated Heinz and who always referred to Heinz as "that horrible creature." He never referred to him as anything else except "that horrible creature" and beseeched me never to send Heinz up to him with books to sell but always, if I had them, to come to bring them myself. His wife was an Englishwoman who was Cerberus sitting at the door, hating everybody who came in and trying to keep them for fear they might bother her husband. I think she made the exception in the case of such people as Carolyn Wells, but she did not make the exception in my case or the case of any other book scout who went there. Most of us knew that, at some price or another, Goldsmith would buy a book. How in the world he could do it, since it didn’t seem to us as though he ever sold anything and he certainly was very cheap in price, we never could understand. But he always would buy a book at some price or other. If we were broke during those early thirties, we would go to Goldsmith and be able to get fifty cents or a dollar, because he would buy. He was famous for having his great books in the back room. That was where the first editions of Leaves of Grass, Alice in Wonderland, and so on were all supposed to be. After he died, the back room became open, and it was discovered that there was no such great thing in the back room after all. The material turned up in auction at Swann’s, went for nothing, and there were no good Carrolls at all, and the Walt Whitmans were of a medium sort, such as Goodbye, My Fancy; the third or fourth or fifth edition of Leaves of Grass; After All, Not to Create Only, another medium-priced thing. They were perfectly good and not too common, but they didn’t amount to anything. November Boughs he would have four or five copies of, and so on. It was all right and, if they came up at auction nowadays, they would bring something. But at that time, they brought nothing at all. Even I, who was not at all a specialist, was able to buy a few lots. They sometimes put as many as four or five things in one lot, which went for a few dollars. She, later on, got a job at NYU and was there for many years. But I don’t know what happened to her; she is probably dead by now. I remember Goldsmith and his illness. Goldsmith never sat down; he always stood behind his little counter and made cute remarks to people who came in, usually the kind of things where you’d have to say, "When you say that smile." He always did smile, so nobody took it quite to heart. In fact, even Heinz, knowing that he referred to him always as "that horrible creature — and in fact when he went in there, he would say, "Oh, here’s that horrible creature again" — even Heinz could never really believe that he really meant that he was a horrible creature, but he did. He said it in such a sweet way that nobody could really believe that he really meant these terrible things that he said. He was famous for having made a mot about the book business. He said that the book business is a very pleasant way of making a very little money. That was true of him, and it has been taken for granted up to this time. Actually, it was just that the way he was running it was a very pleasant way of running a business and a way of making very little money. Other people who were handling Whitmans or Carrolls even said that he would have made a rather good deal of money, but he did not. I remember that, later on, I would come there and find him grimacing in pain. I said, "What’s the matter?" and he said, "That damn sciatica that I have." A few days later I came, and he wasn’t there. They said he was in the hospital. A few days later after that he died. The sciatica which he had turned out to be cancer, and terminal. He had never been told, and he had never realized it.

He was a friendly soul, but he wasn’t able to give really good advice. He was a bookman, and he had his catalogue which he would bring out once in awhile. It was a kind of cute catalogue of first editions. In general, the downtown people, as I have mentioned, were general booksellers, and in general the uptown booksellers were first-editions people, not specialists. I’ll mention a number of those to show what they were like.

Max Hartzof was the doyen of the uptown scoundrels. He had his office in what was called the Grand Central Terminal Building, or Grand Cen-


tral Building, I’ve forgotten which it was, at Forty-sixth Street and Park Avenue. In the same building, was Frank Walters, who was a wonderful man and knew everything. Hartzof’s office was called G. A. Baker Company; the G. A. Baker name was completely arbitrary. There had never been anybody named G. A. Baker. Hartzaf employed there or gave office space to a great many booksellers who later on became something in the book business; the main people remembered are Edward Lazare and David Randall.

It was quite large, a long shop, beautifully arranged, and with a lot of sets, and so on. He sold furniture in that way, as sets, but he also was a very good first-editions man and also had his eye out for the main chance. He was a good general bookman. He knew a great deal, I assume, from what Edward Lazare says. He was very difficult to work for, difficult to work with, difficult to buy from, difficult to sell to, a difficult man altogether, and generally a scoundrel, I believe, and certainly dishonest. He was sort of, as I say, the doyen of the uptown scoundrels.

I knew that he was dishonest, that is dishonest in the sense that he would not hesitate to state a book to be right if it was not or to sell it for more than it was worth on the basis that it was something which it was not. Also, he certainly would simply pocket money and would lack reference to keeping any track of it or anything like that. Of course, that’s not too uncommon in the book business, generally. I imagine that not too many people are completely pure in the book business, actually.

When he died, it was taken over by these three employees: Edward Lazare, John Kebabian, and a third person whose name I know but have forgotten who has now disappeared. They bought it and kept it going until they had to go into the army. The other man’s name was Otto. Otto didn’t have to go into the army. He was the one who was the bookkeeper, or something, and knew least. So, when Edward and Jack had to go into the army, they sold it out to Rosenzweig, and it went out of business. That would have been a good buy for anybody at that time. I was interested in it, but Rosenzweig was able to do a good deal more. It had moved to the place on Forty-sixth Street, over to 3 West Forty-sixth Street.

Lathrop Harper was the doyen of rare-book dealers. He was the only person in town who really knew anything about incunabula and was the great specialist in that field and had been for many years. His shop was a large and beautiful one, on the second or third floor of a building opposite the public library on West Fortieth Street. He was helped there by several people who did know a great deal about incunabula. Harper was known to be the great incunabula man, but the fact was that he didn’t really know much about them at all, strangely enough. He was a very wealthy man who had made his money in other fields, mainly real estate, and who liked rare books. He was not pompous about his knowledge or lack of knowledge, however. The fact that he did not know any foreign languages at all, while rather unusual for a European dealer, to learn about all the European dealings, being quite acquainted with at least four or five languages, and the incunabula dealers being usually acquainted with still more than that, Harper didn’t know Latin or any language, in fact, except English. But when Harper came back from Europe with his usual quota of several hundred incunabula and people asked him how he got along without knowing any foreign languages, his answer was this: "I know how to say “imperfect” in every language."

He was married to a woman who had a column in hundreds of American papers, called "Seeing Europe with Helen and Warren" or "Helen and Warren Visit Europe" or something like that. And she was a very wealthy woman in her own right. After Harper died, the firm came upon evil days. She sold it first to a Latin American man, who bought the shop and continued it for a while, bringing in [Otto H.] Ranschburg to assist Douglas C. Parsonage, who had been there for a long time. Miriam Lone, who had been Harper’s right-hand woman and who, I think, was an aunt of Douglas Parsonage, by that time was dead. With the advent of Ranschburg, it had a new lease on life. However, when this Colombian man died, the whole thing was sold to Indiana University, or given to Indiana University, and they took all the good incunables, and, for a moment, it seemed as though the shop would not continue. However, shortly after that, somebody else put in some money, and so it continues on now.

David Randall took all the incunabula which he wanted for the Lilly Library at Indiana, which was practically everything, plus all the general books which he wanted. But he left most of the Latin Americana which was there. The Colombian man’s name was Mendel; of course, he wasn’t entirely Colombian.

Parsonage was really an Americana man, but he had learned something about incunabula from the period there. But Otto Ranschburg really is an incunabula man. It was Miriam Lone who knew the most things about incunabula, but Harper sur-


rounded himself with people who knew something about things and always got along and put out perfectly wonderful catalogues, particularly a series in 1926 which remains a standard work with prices and with discussion of each book and the place and date. Harper was particularly interested in incunabula from the point of view of places published, and was very proud when he would find something from a little town, the only one published there, or he would say, "This is the first book printed in Traviso" or in some even smaller town that that. That would be a great thing. However, from the way prices are nowadays, we would consider his catalogue prices quite cheap, although in some cases it’s surprising how little difference there is between the price in those days and today. It is true, however, that up until 1946 or even 1950 fully half of the books which were available in the 1926 catalogue were still present and were still available for the prices.

At the point of Harper’s death, I think that Yale was permitted to buy anything that was in the catalogue at a substantial discount, I think one-third, and Yale did avail itself of this opportunity. If I had known it at the time, I would have bought a few, but I didn’t know anything about it.

INTERVIEWER: Did you ever buy anything from him?

GOLDWATER: From Harper himself, I don’t think I ever bought anything. I mentioned previously that Harper was my friend and very kind to me, and that in one catalogue of mine he did allow me to borrow from him two seventeenth-century American imprints, just to sweeten up the catalogue, but neither of them sold. Aside from that and his putting me in touch with [Chavional] in Paris, we didn’t have too much contact. He sort of liked me, but we never had much to do with each other.

INTERVIEWER: What do you think about the future of that shop?

GOLDWATER: Well, I think the future of the shop ... it’s a crazy business. They’re paying twenty-two thousand dollars a year rent in the new place, something like that. It was something quite fantastic. The new place on East Fortieth Street is one of the most beautiful shops there is. It’s simply beautiful, but it costs to make it beautiful.

INTERVIEWER: Do they put out any catalogues?

GOLDWATER: They put out one or two absolutely wonderful catalogues. But, unless they have a regular sale of things, they cannot possibly make a go of it. Neither Parsonage nor Ranschburg is a merchandiser. They are both rare-book people. And, if they are not, then obviously the employees are not going to be. However, they’ve got some new money in from people who apparently can afford to lose it, so I think it will go on until the death of one or both of them. Ranschburg is now well over seventy, and Parsonage is in his mid sixties. It seems unlikely that anything will go on with the place after they go.

They don’t know anything about merchandising; they never cared about merchandising. They wanted to sell a beautiful book for a beautiful price. Of course, they have customers; but if they had real customers, they wouldn’t be able to put out such beautiful catalogues, because the material would be sold before they put out the catalogue.

Over on Park Avenue were two people, both of whom were so similar that I always get them mixed them up. One of them was called Harry Stone, and one was called Harry F. Marks. They both made their primary living out of erotica and fine bindings. But both of them disappeared during the Depression, because their fine customers disappeared, also. One of them, I don’t know which [Stone, I believe — M. M.], went down to Florida and had a shop there and disappeared. The shop of the other one continued for quite a while under somebody else’s sponsorship. Not too long ago, although I guess it is a long time ago now, possibly ten years, the remains of the shop became available there before they lost their lease. I bought from them a vast number of Black Sun Press imprints. That must have been Harry Marks, not Harry Stone. Harry Marks apparently was the contact of Edward Titus and Caresse Crosby here [Marks was an agent for Black Sun Press — M. M.]. I bought this vast number of Hart Cranes, Henry Jameses, Archibald MacLeishes, and so on. It was a very shrewd maneuver on my part, as these things so often are. I went immediately to the Gotham Book Mart, Seven Gables, and other places, and sold them to them for a dollar or two profit each, including thirty copies of the Ezra Pound and a number of the Joyces. After a year I discovered that if there had been one mistake in my life, it was exactly selling these books which I had sold. I did make a very substantial profit within a few days at that time, and I thought I was very clever. But the only cleverness that I would have had in that time would have


been to forget the whole thing for about three or four years or ten, at which time I would be now quite wealthy. I still have one copy of the Henry James letters to Walter Berry and perhaps one copy of something else, but that’s the entire stock which remains to me. In the meantime these things have simply skyrocketed. My usual shrewd maneuver.

There were two Friedmans downtown who were fairly interesting — three Friedmans, really. One of them was Maurice Friedman on 147 East Twenty-second Street, who had a little shop there which was about as filthy and jammed as any shop in the city. I think that it compared favorably with any shop that I’ve had anything to do with in that one can simply go in there and only had to squeeze his way by piles of books and everything if he wanted to find anything. Mr. Friedman was interested in radical things, but it didn’t matter much, because when you went in there, you couldn’t find anything anyway. On Twenty-third Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues on the South Side, was the shop of the brothers Friedman, Ira and Harry. They had been in business quite a while before I started and had a very good shop, a very big one, very deep. The two of them got along quite well, but they were very different, and specialized in Americana, also in remainders, but had a good general shop. They got along quite well until a quite extraneous matter turned up: the question of parking. At some point or other during the early fifties, it was decided that there should be no parking on Twenty-third Street. As soon as there was no parking on Twenty-third Street, they lost their entire clientele, shut up the shop, and Harry Friedman opened a shop in White Plains; and Ira Friedman went to Port Washington. Harry Friedman’s shop in White Plains closed about three or four years ago, but he still does business from his home. He’s a man now in his very late seventies. Ira Friedman died a few years ago but, before he died, left to his son-in-law his whole business. The son-in-law, realizing that he knew nothing about secondhand and out-of-print books, went into the publishing business and became the Kennikat Publishing Company, which has done very well, indeed, on Americana and other, particularly New Yorkiana, reprints. That still exists out in Port Washington, and it’s partly called Ira Friedman and partly Kennikat Book Company.

I knew Merle Johnson only very slightly. Merle Johnson is, of course, best known as the author of American First Editions and other books, such as You Know These Lines and High Spots in American Literature. You Know These Lines was, of course, a book of quotations and which books they came from, I think entirely American.

Johnson was a bookseller as well as being an illustrator as well as being a bibliographer. He worked from his home, a little place in the East Twenties, and sold first editions, mostly similar to Whitman Bennett, mainly what Randall calls "sophisticated copies." He found out what the first issue of a thing was and then would either insert the page with that issue point on it, or sometimes have a facsimile of a title page made with a date very carefully inked in — something like that. He was involved in those days with Kelleher and with Jake Blanck, who were, of course, much younger than he. I didn’t know him well; I just became acquainted with him through Sugarman, and then he died not too long after that, during the thirties.

Another man who only recently died but was very much involved with the sophistication of copies for all his life was George Van Nosdall. He was the man who was the member of the Fritz Kuhn’s bund [Kuhn was head of the American Nazi Party before World War II — M. M.]. Some of his catalogues said on the top, "Buy American." He was very anti-Jewish, and this was not the thing to be much during those days. So he was not generally liked. However, he was involved with Gabriel Wells, who was one of the most Jewish people that there ever was. His original name, as we know, was not Wells but Weiss. Van Nosdall claims to have sold as many as 150 or 200 sets of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom's Cabin and many, many copies of the Melvilles and other things, which were rather plentiful around town.

Van Nosdall never really had a shop, as far as I know. When I got to know him, he had a place up in East 126 Street, and he sold from that. It was a filthy place and smelled terribly, and it was just full of first editions — all bad first editions, but first editions. He cared about first editions, and he always complained about how things used to be, and so on. He used to come down to the shop and buy some things from me, from which I learned that he would buy a real first edition. It didn’t have to be a fake; he would just rather have a fake than nothing at all. Later on, he became interested in a few authors only: Gertrude Atherton, because she was the only right-wing author that we ever had in America; and, for some reason not explained, also Theodore Dreiser. But he was also interested in, among the English, Rider Haggard, Swinnerton, and he was interested in Mayne Reid; and then he was interested in Anthony Hope. The only reason I really got to like him was about the Anthony Hope: he was the only


person who really cared about the first issue of The Prisoner of Zenda, which had to have seventeen titles on the first page of the advertisements instead of eighteen titles. He was the only person besides me who knew that, and the only person besides me who cared. Whenever I came back from England with a copy with the seventeen titles, he was always right there to get it from me; and he appreciated that.

INTERVIEWER: Then he sold to other dealers?

GOLDWATER: No, he didn’t, because no other dealers generally would buy from him anyway. He still had this mailing list, and he would send out mimeographed lists. He did very badly, and he died with a vast number of books, probably a hundred thousand or more, many of which were in Wappinger’s Falls, others which were in Queens, others which were on Twenty-second Street. Fortunately, or unfortunately, a lot of them were destroyed by fire and water. He had also given a large number of them, perhaps ten thousand, to Rosenzweig to auction. When Rosenzweig died, Mrs. Roscnzweig denied everything; and so he never got anything out of it at all. It was sort of a case of where everybody was pretty amused by this sort of go at woman, go at bear. Nobody cared, so long as they were quarreling with each other. Each one of them was crooked as the other one. He also claimed to be swindled by several other people, which was probably true, although if anybody could swindle him, we always felt good luck to him.

John [Kohn] always hated him the worst of all, but I never could really hate him enough because I couldn’t take the Nazi business seriously. I did know that he liked books; he really cared about books and really cared about first editions.

This reminds us of Gabriel Wells, of whom I didn’t know anything because I never met him. Stories of Gabriel Wells would have to be heard from somebody else who’s been in it longer than I. He was, and is, known, as the only competitor that Rosenbach ever had. The two of them used to bid things up at auction against each other during the period when nobody else was around, except a man named George D. Smith, whom I also didn’t know, except that I was at his place once. I did not know Wells at all.

Captain [Louis H.] Cohen; Nobody really believed that he was a captain. In joke they would always say that he was captain of the horse marines. It is probably true, however, that be had become some sort of a lieutenant, at least, in the army during the First World War. But he was connected with the French army at that time. Whether he was in the American army, nobody knew whether he was in the First World War, of course. He was a man who had waxed mustaches and was very old-boyish. He was really Colonel Blimp, our own Colonel Blimp.

Yes, and he was the one who cared about Hemingway and put out a bibliography of Hemingway in 1932. His wife was Margie, and she had to take at least second place whenever he was around. He would always say, "Shut up, Margie; Don’t be snotty, Margie"; or, "Get out of here, Margie," when anybody else was around. Whether he did that when they were alone, we don’t know; but he always did it when somebody else was there. And she always did shut up, or not be snotty, or get out, as told.

They were in the East Fifties; that was called the House of Books. And they had two or three different places there, but they were always within one or two blocks of each other. They were always up one flight and very fancy. He would buy first editions, but they had to be in mint condition, and she kept that standard after he died.

They got with private people of a fancy type. Also, they had some money; anyway, they were a very modest business up until he died. He apparently must have left a good deal of insurance, and she apparently has never lacked for money since and has always bought anything she wanted, even just for prestige. I think that, in the long run, she got to know a good deal more about the business than he did. At the time she was considered, I think, nothing at all. But now she certainly knows a good deal about her business, and she also knows how to do business, which I don’t think he ever did. In general, he wasn’t particularly liked, and he wouldn’t attract people much.

He was a first-editions man, and they did the printing of these various limited editions, and so on, with Saroyans and other stuff. That was all done by him. He was all right in the main. He never was mean or anything. It was just that he was kind of obnoxious.

He would buy first editions. If it were in fine condition, he would buy; and he was not so bad. There were a few other people who were in the first-editions business in midtown at that time. One of them was called Ernest Dressel North, who had a large beard. Another one was called Barnet B. Byer. They were all very expensive first-edition people, and most of them disappeared at the end of the De-


pression. I don’t know what happened to them all. Barnet B. Ryer’s shop continued for quite a while later — after the war, in fact. John Kohn was called in to appraise it, and I think to liquidate it finally. But I never knew these people. They were quite out of my sphere.

George Kirk was a very nice man who had a shop called Chelsea Bookshop. It was first opened at 365 West Fifteenth Street in Chelsea but, just about the time I went into business, moved down to Eighth Street and had a very nice little shop on the south side of Eighth Street near Sixth Avenue [58 West Eighth Street]. He was there for many years. His wife worked; she was at Parents magazine. So he was able to keep the shop going, even when business wasn’t terribly good. He had a circulating library, mainly, but he was also interested in first editions and remainders. His shop was taken over by somebody who could pay four times as much rent — that was in the days just when Eighth Street was starting to boom — either Marboro or some other kind of shop took over his place and paid some fantastic rent, which he could not possibly touch. So he had to go out of business. And it was just at that time when I put my brother into the auction business, and George became his partner. It was probably through George that Robert Wilbur came into that circle, because Robert Wilbur used to hang around in the shop too, as I did at that time.

Later on, after the business of the auction disappeared — apparently he drank a good deal, which I hadn’t known — his wife continued with her job, and it became better and better. She was quite well-off with her job, and he got a job in a defense factory and continued that throughout the war. But he died either toward the end of the war or a little bit after that. She’s still alive.

There was a man named Maurice Sloog, who was a French dealer, whom we got to know fairly well after a while because he became a member of our group. After he never paid either the dues in the group or anybody else that he ever bought any books from, eventually he sort of dropped out. He was a real scoundrel, but a very lovable one. People liked him very much, but he never paid for anything.

He had an office, I guess, on West Forty-eighth Street. He knew the French book business very well and early books quite well. I guess he was a pretty big shot. He certainly talked awfully big and was always looking for big things. But I didn’t know him too well. I used to kid a lot with him, because we’d speak French and so on, but I always knew that he had the advantage of me in whatever we were doing.

On Sixth Avenue — I think between Tenth and Eleventh — [161 Sixth Avenue] there was a very large shop called Pratt’s which had been there since at least the 1890s, possibly before. It was a wonderful shop to go into, if you didn’t have to have anything to do with Mr. or Mrs. Pratt, who were rather horrid people. It was similar to [Weyman] Brothers in that it specialized in pamphlets or little paperback material on how to fix your house, or how to play chess, or something like that; and that was the main thing that they did business with. But he did have a complete shop of secondhand books of all kinds, and a very large cellar also piled up with stuff. It was there when first Mr. Pratt died and finally when Mrs. Pratt died that I bought some thousands, possibly as many as ten thousand, little magazines, that is the English ones called Dome,Yellow Book.

I found perhaps a thousand Black Cats there, for instance. Black Cat had been considered very rare. Suddenly here was this vast number of Black Cats. With all of that, I had a great deal of difficulty selling them, and Black Cat was the one that I tried to sell to Princeton, because he was very anxious to have them. When I asked him twenty-five cents, he


said no; he wanted me to give them to him for fifteen cents. This was in the late forties or early fifties. Well, he was no good. And then there were vast numbers of the Philistine and the other thing which was similar to the Philistine...

Bibelot. There were a tremendous number of things. I bought them for one or two cents apiece at that time, but I never made much off them. I did all right with them, but I didn’t make a great deal of money on them. I sold to Yale and the University of Connecticut, and some other people, and probably even sold to Princeton.

The Pratts didn’t like anybody there much, so a book dealer didn’t go. After they died, it was taken over by a man named Edward Weiss, who wasn’t particularly likable but who liked to sell books. So, at that time, we did go over and buy a good deal from Eddie Weiss. He later on sold it again to an Englishman who wasn’t particularly liked but who was interested in bicycles. If you’d go there and talk to him about bicycles, then you could buy some books at a low price sometimes. Eventually the shop disappeared, and the bookshop became an art-supply shop, which it now is.

In New Brunswick, New Jersey, there were a couple of shops at given times. The oldest one was run by a man named Perry Kaiser. Kaiser was an old anarchist who had been involved in the Stelten, New Jersey, experiment and in others. He got into trouble with stolen books and was actually put in jail for them.

It was a very long time ago. Later on, after he got out of jail, he ran a bookshop there for many, many years. I was always quite friendly with him; I liked him quite a good deal. And I would buy batches of books from him quite often at low prices.

It was a general shop. Eleanor (Goldwater) would buy Edgar Rice Burroughs and cookery and whatever she was interested in at the moment. After the war he got involved with a man named Rizick, and that was a great error on his part because Rizick was, of all the people we knew in the book business, probably the most crooked. He never did anything honest at all. If he had been able to make more money being honest than dishonest, he still wouldn’t have done it. Because what he really cared about was doing something crooked. So, suddenly Kaiser found himself in a position where Rizick had done something wrong but Kaiser was responsible. And this was great trouble for Kaiser, because he already had this criminal record. I remember going in there when this was going on and Kaiser saying to mc, "You know, Walter, I really admire that Jim. Listen to this." And then he told mc the story about how Rizick and he had gotten involved in this thing, which was doubtful, but how Rizick had carefully arranged it so that Kaiser would be responsible. He said, "You know, you really need to be smart to do that. I really admire that." And he was perfectly serious.

It wasn’t the stuff from Lehigh, and it wasn’t the stuff from this other place in Pennsylvania, and it wasn’t all the money that he had gotten from those doctors and lawyers who didn’t dare to say anything because they had kept them in a crooked way themselves, and it wasn’t the question of the records which he had gotten on consignment and then suddenly went bankrupt. It wasn’t any of those things. It was something quite else which he was involved with. Kaiser died after a while.

Fourth Avenue even now has as many as twenty bookshops right there or around the corner. But in that time it must have had thirty or forty. Right up from Eighth Street to Thirteenth Street, on both sides of the street (of course, on the West Side, it was only from Tenth Street up because Wannamaker took the whole block from Eighth to Tenth Street), it was all secondhand bookshops. I have mentioned already the Bible House, which was at Eighth Street to Ninth Street; I’ve mentioned Breslow and Argosy and Schoenpants and Leon Kramer up in the building. . . . On these blocks, some of them I remember and some of them I forget just where they were. Between Ninth and Tenth streets, there was a man who called himself the Astor Bookshop, and that was Abe Klein. He was always trying to maneuver, but later everything went bad with him. He sold out, and his place was eventually taken over by Biblo and Tannen. He became a salesman for Abraham and Strauss, and he may still be alive. He was never involved, as far as I knew, with the real crooked things which were going on on Fourth Avenue, which were mainly the activity of Charles Rohm, who was on the other side of the street, Ben Harris, and Harry Gold. These were the ones who were really involved with books being stolen from libraries, which was different from the sort of run-of-the-mill kind of things being stolen from new bookshops and sold on Fourth Avenue. Harry Gold went to jail, and I guess Robin did also. And I guess Harris did also. The stuff that they stole, or had stolen for them, was so important and was so professional that the people wanted to make an example of them. Actually, stuff stolen from the New York Public Library, Edgar Allan Poes and things of that sort, was really big stuff.

There were many things stolen, and eventually Mr. [Bernquist] of the library and other people


got the goods on these people and sent them to jail. Even after they came out of jail, they continued to traffic in stolen books, but only in a very minor way. They didn’t certainly make a business of it; that is, they trafficked in it only in the same way, only to perhaps a larger extent than most of the other booksellers on Fourth Avenue; namely they would not inquire too deeply into the stolen books. Perhaps this is the time when I should mention my tale of Benny Bass, who at that time was a poor little thing and had this bad bookshop.

He’s the one who has the Strand Bookshop, and it’s a great success. At that time Benny Bass was a poor thing on Fourth Avenue trying to make a go of it. At one time during this period, I’ve forgotten the exact date, I was quite friendly with him. I used to lend him five dollars, which he would give me a check for, and the check wouldn’t be any good. It was always that small a situation with him.

In the long run I would get paid or take books, or something like that. Whenever it was something like that, you knew you could always get books that were worth that much. If a check weren’t good this time, why, it would be good the next time, or something like that. It didn’t ever amount to anything.

One day he came to me and said that he had been indicted for the theft of a large collection of law books in new condition, which he had bought. If he hadn’t sold them himself, he was accused of receiving these stolen goods. And would I come down to the court and testify to his good character. I said I would. Well, I went down, and, when the case came to trial, the city prosecutor produced the evidence, showed the books, and Ben said that he hadn’t known that they were stolen. The city’s case was that these books being new, and being in quantity of this sort, and being expensive, and being only published the year before, would normally have to be understood to have been stolen, and that a man of this sort should know that they were stolen. So I was put on the stand and, apparently, was there both to testify to his good character and also to be as a witness about this matter. The prosecutor, as it turned out, foolishly asked me did I not think that a person who had been in business as long as Mr. Bass would recognize these books as stolen books — to which I was able to say "no," because during that period books were remaindered very quickly, and a book a year old could very easily be a remainder, and the price he had bought them at was not zero but a price which would be a normal remainder price for that kind of thing. Therefore, it was perfectly possible that Mr. Bass would not know that they were stolen but would think that they were remainders.

He was acquitted. It did not come to jury trial. The judge acquitted him at once after the witnesses had testified. He was supposed to return the books, but there was no turpitude involved. Bass was very pleased, of course, about all this, and the two of us came up on the subway together. We got to the subway, and he turned to me and said, "You were just wonderful. After you finished talking, I was almost convinced myself that I hadn’t known that those were stolen."

In the same building, or the next building to Lathrop Harper on West Fortieth Street, was one of the most respected firms of rare books, particularly first editions, in the country, James F. Drake. Mr. Drake I never met; he was already quite old at that time. The two sons continued the business during my period, and I got to know them fairly well. They were pretty much stuffed shirt kind of persons, but they were both members of my book club, so I got to know them all right. Their names were James H., instead of James F., and Marston Drake. Marston was also called "the colonel" in the same way that Captain Cohen had been called "the captain." I imagine he had been a colonel somewhere at some time. They were both rather dull people, in the same sense that most of these booksellers were dull. Their stories were always about what book they had bought at such and such a price and sold at such and such. They were interested only, really, in first editions, and mainly in modern first editions. They didn’t know anything about early books at all and, I don’t think, too much about other things. But they were considered quite expert in their field and were great purveyors of Galsworthy, Kipling, Stevenson, and others. They apparently had some very good customers for Kipling, at least, and had sold some great collections of Kipling. After Marston died and James was pretty moribund, I used to go there fairly often and see the stuff. It looked like a pretty bad collection of stuff, but it was always supposed to be, as in the case of Goldsmith, that somewhere or other there were wonderful things. After they both died and the shop was liquidated — they moved first over to East Forty-first Street before liquidation — it was sold to University of Texas, having been appraised by Laurence Gomme. Laurence Gommc would never say how much he had appraised it for. Laurence Gomme is one of the doyens of the book business, and he’s still alive at the age of eighty-eight, or something like that. He was with Fred Thoms for a long time and in business for himself. He is another man who is a good bookman


but a terrible bookseller. And he was never able to make a go of it himself. He’s one of the people that we always feel that... Eleanor always felt that he didn’t know anything anyway. Actually, the only thing was that, since he had an English accent, which he had preserved for sixty years, that having the English accent and being old, people assumed that he knew something, when actually he didn’t at all. I’ve never discovered whether it was true or not, never will discover it.

INTERVIEWER: What happened to Drake? Texas bought it?

GOLDWATER: Yes, Texas bought it. There was no possible point in Texas buying it, since there wasn’t a single book in that whole thing that they didn’t have. It was completely crazy. He did have one Gutenberg leaf that everybody wanted because it had either the Ten Commandments on it or the Sermon on the Mount, or something like that. It was one of the leaves which, if you wanted a particular leaf, that was the one you wanted. I offered him a thousand dollars for it and was rejected. I don’t know eventually what he got for it. That was simply packed up as a whole. Boy, was that a bunch of junk! By the time they died, there was nothing left really. They hadn’t been buying for many years, really. They had just been sort of living on it. The Galsworthys still remained, and the Kiplings still remained, and some of the Stevensons still remained. A few late Cathers, and that stuff, John Masefield... there were fifty John Masefields, and they had them on the shelf at a dollar and half. But nobody bought them, even at a dollar and a half. These were mint first editions in dust jackets. I think I did buy a batch of those. I think when he said I could have them for half price I did buy fifty of them, or something like that.

INTERVIEWER: Texas paid a lot of money for that shop. I don’t know how much.

GOLDWATER: Well, we don’t know. Unless we find out some day, we’ll never know. But, whatever they paid, it was too much. It was just crazy. I don’t think the stuff was worth five thousand dollars, except maybe for that leaf.

Schulte’s Bookstore, number 80 Fourth Avenue, was one of the largest shops in the city, and also one of the older ones, started about in the 1890s or early 1900s. Theodore Schulte was a vestryman or member of the Grace Church, and the Grace Church owned the Schulte Building. It had a very large basement, very, very large main floor, and balconies. It still does. It was generally a good secondhand bookshop. It’s the kind of place where, if you were coming to New York and just had time to go to one place, this was the place you’d go, because the prices were reasonable, and the quantity of material was very large, indeed. Schulte died during the thirties, and the shop was taken over by his main employee, whose name was Phillip Pesky, who was a horrible man. Well, of course, that was very offensive to me, but nowadays I wouldn’t mind that so much. It was just the way he was. Anyway, he was a fairly good bookseller and kept the thing going quite well. After he died it was taken over by his son Wilfred, who was one of the nicest people there ever was in the book business, but he didn’t know anything about books at all. He was a very good salesman and was always able to convince people that, whichever Britannica he had, whether it was the eleventh, thirteenth, or fourteenth, was the very best Britannica. He never looked inside of them, but he did have the proper salesmanship approach. I think he may have gotten it from the original Britannica salesman himself. The shop continued for many years and is still there, but it went downhill after the older Pesky’s death.

It was mainly that Wilfred didn’t understand the question of cost accounting and didn’t understand how much wasted effort he was putting into very small things, that every book that was sold didn’t need to have any special record of that particular book, but simply that the book was sold for such and such a price. But his bookkeeping was meticulous. He had a full-time bookkeeper, just to keep record of each book that was sold, and made sure that, after a book was paid for, it still had its line underneath it, showing that particular account was finished.

If he didn’t sell it or didn’t have it or didn’t have it on hand, he kept a record for everybody. This was really very good. Everybody liked him for this, and, at the beginning, most of us also did this because we felt that was the way the book business was. In a sense, as a social work, that was what the book business was for, namely to help somebody who wanted an out-of-print book find an out-of-print book. But, since we were buying these books for, say, fifty cents or a dollar and a half, and selling them for two and a half to five dollars, the amount of time which was involved in finding these things never at all compensated us. Most of us discovered this after a while and simply wouldn’t do it. Wilfred never discovered it, to the day of his death. Even after I explained it to him a few years before his


death, he simply said that it was impossible for him to change this. He just wouldn’t and couldn’t do it.

The way Wilfred was able to keep going during the 1940s and 1950s after his father’s death and into the early sixties was by a very peculiar kind of bookkeeping, which showed that he was still perfectly solvent, when the fact was that he was bankrupt. He had very good contacts which had been built up by Schulte and his father with Ivita Van Doren as the reviewer for the Herald Tribune, and reviewers for other magazines, and with Time magazine, and so on, which was very good for him. He also had great contacts with large libraries with duplicates and many places. But, when it came to getting cash or having cash available, he would borrow from the Pesky estate, which was substantial, or from relatives, or from the bank, or from friends like myself.

We would be supposed to take our money out in buying books from him at half price, or something like that. Well, for a while, one would be able to do that; and, after a while, one wasn’t, because there wasn’t enough good stuff to do it. He would always have some big deal in the offing, which was going to pay for everything, and sometimes they would come through. Eventually, however, the way he was able to keep going was by simply not paying Ivita Van Doren and these other people, but simply owing it to them. Ivita Van Doren, fortunately for him, died about this time, and nothing ever happened about that. So he continued to think that he was solvent. When I got a chance to look at the books later on, when the estate was asking me to see if I would take it over, I discovered that the way the thing was solvent was that, although he owed forty-odd thousand dollars in actual debts for book purchases or for actual loans (in most cases loans) and only $125 in the bank, or even less. The way the situation was made to show solvency was that he had goodwill worth $20,000 and books on the shelf worth $30,000. Actually, the books on the shelf weren’t worth more than $5,000 or $6,000, in my opinion, and the goodwill wasn’t worth anything at all, since what goodwill means is ability to make money in the book business. And that wasn’t proved. The money was also borrowed from his employees, who would either take part of the salary and be owed the rest — their whole salary wasn’t very much; as a matter of fact, I don’t think he ever paid anybody $100 a week, including himself — but sometimes he would actually borrow money from them which they had saved or gotten from other sources. He himself tried to take out $50 a week and was successful in doing that most of the time. But sometimes he was unable to and simply lived on what his wife made as an employee of Stuyvesant Town.

This is in the late fifties and early sixties. The final situation with the Schulte business, or almost final, was that, still thinking he was perfectly solvent, he made his one and only trip to Europe in the early 1960s and bought a great deal on credit there, including a very large batch of bindings at about a dollar and a half apiece, which he was going to sell for two and a half to three dollars when he got back. He got back, and the books came. They weren’t in such good condition as he had hoped. During the unpacking of the books, which took a considerable number of weeks, Wilfred suddenly died and left the problem of paying for these books to his successors.

The estate cast around to see what was going to happen to the shop and, among others, approached me to see if I would first buy it and later on take it over for nothing. Although I was tempted to do this, I, fortunately, with the aid of my wife, was able to reject it, because I saw that the whole thing was a losing proposition. I did gather some ideas about who else might take it over, such as Eugene Schwab, who was a great entrepreneur, or Argosy, or Haskell Gruberger, all of whom might have been able to put something over on libraries or something of that sort. But they all rejected the idea, and eventually it was taken over by the employees and lately bought by Dave Butler, one of them. Within the last few weeks, however, things have come to such a state that he is offering the shop for sale at $50,000 for the alleged 120,000 books, which I suppose is a true case, which is less than fifty cents apiece. But, in my opinion, they aren’t worth more than five or ten cents apiece on an average. However, a library still might be able to buy them and make a good thing of it. Just a few days ago, Dave called me very urgently and asked me first to lend him $1,500, then a $1,000, both of which I rejected, and finally $700, which I foolishly, I think, lent him, with the understanding that I could take books that I wanted at half off marked prices. However, I went with great care with Bill yesterday, and we chose all the books in the shop that we could want at all. They only came to $133, so I still have a good deal of money to get out of this, and I don’t know what the future holds.

They’re paying $700 a month rent. Well, it’s worth it for the space. It’s just that they can’t afford it. They’ve got these five employees, all of whom are getting paid almost nothing, but still something.


And then there are other expenses which they can’t do, so the situation has not improved. It’s simply going on in the same way as before. It is the only one which is still surviving in the same place that it started. It may have started just after 1900.

The people uptown were Ernest Gee and the Gannons, both of whom specialized in sporting books. Gee died in the late fifties, I think, but I never knew him. The main Gannon, Thomas Gannon, I didn’t know; I knew the sons William and Ambrose. I don’t know what eventually happened to them.

E. Byrne Hackett may have originally been uptown, but when I knew him, he was at 55 Fifth Avenue, the same building opposite Dauber and Pine’s, which also housed Baker and Taylor Company. Byrne Hackett had been a very expensive and very high type of bookseller. He had started shops in Princeton and in New Haven, both of which failed. He was asked to leave one of the places or the other (I’ve forgotten which) because of his technique of getting the youngsters to buy expensive books and then suing the parents for payment. This apparently he made a good thing of at either Princeton or New Haven — I’ve forgotten which — but it was frowned upon by the authorities because apparently there was a good deal of high pressure involved. He was asked to leave, but I think, actually, he would have failed in either of those places anyway, and maybe did. He came to New York. He was a member of the Old Book Table, but that was before my day, and was considered one of the old scoundrels, along with Wells and Rosenbach. When I met him, it was during the Depression. I went up there and was astonished at what beautiful books he had. There may still have been employed there at that time Michael Papantonio and someone else, but I wouldn’t have know them then.

INTERVIEWER: What was this place called?

GOLDWATER: The Brick Row Bookshop. I do remember going along the shelves and seeing among the Lewis Carrolls first a copy of The Hunting of the Snark for ten dollars, then a reprint of Alice in Wonderland for a dollar and a half, then the correct first edition of Alice in Wonderland for sixty-five thousand dollars, which he had bought at the Kern sale in 1929 and had paid so much for it that he was never able to dispose of it. That is what it was marked. I don’t doubt that he would have taken less, but that was what it was marked. I think he had paid twenty-odd thousand dollars or more for it. I remember that quite well at that time. I always remember that I was able actually to buy some books from him at that time — books on Haiti or Negro or something like that — because he had other books which were perfectly reasonable in price. His shop was taken over by somebody else, who simply moved it from New York down to Texas. His name is [Franklin] Gilliam.

A man that was quite nice was Gabriel Engel, who was really a violinist by profession. He was never a great violinist and eventually decided he would like to be in the book business instead. So he went into first editions very modestly and had an office on Union Square, up in the building there, with his wife, and made first-edition catalogues, always at low prices. His first editions were always honest, and he was completely honest about his materials. He was interested in the posters of the l900s and 1910s period and was one of the main purchasers over at the Pratt store when Pratt went out of business, because Pratt had a lot of those things. Besides little magazines, he also had first editions of Harold Frederic and people of the 1890s and early 1900s, particularly these posters and all kinds of broadsides and throwaways for Stephen Crane and people like that of the period. Engel was very nice indeed, and we were all sorry when he died of a heart attack some years ago. His wife continued the business and may, for all I know, still have some of the books left. If she does, she works from her house instead.

Dauber and Pine — Sam Dauber and Nat Pine — started business a good many years before me, probably in the early 1920s. They may have been on Twenty-third Street earlier —I think that they had been somewhere else before they moved to Fifth Avenue — but the whole time I knew them, they were at number 66 Fifth Avenue, between Twelfth and Thirteenth streets. They had the rather nice shop which was small and a very large basement, which was well arranged, and they also for quite a period of time had another basement around on Thirteenth Street, which could be reached only by going around into the street. They had a very, very large stock, and they always knew their business quite well. They also knew something about it, which was to hire good people. So, for a very long time, they hired a man named Charles P. Everitt, who was, aside from Wright Howes, the best Americana man in the country, or was known to be. Also, sometimes along with Everitt, they had as a cataloguer a man named Sam Loveman, whose job was entirely that of cataloguing. He had a flair for description and for exaggeration and for inserting erotic overtones into almost any book, which


 was very, very successful. And their catalogues were notorious for this kind of description. Everybody would say, "Oh, that’s a Dauber and Pine catalogue" or "That’s Sam Loveman’s descriptions."

It was a big business, and they are famous for the case of having found an Edgar Allan Poe Tamerlane and had given somebody a dollar for it, later on having sold it, I think, to Owen D. Young for seventeen thousand or twenty-seven thousand dollars, whereupon the man who sold it to them came around and complained. They told him to go chase himself, and he went and committed suicide. They are famous for this adventure. I’m not sure of the exact figures in these cases, but I’m not far off.

Dauber lived to a ripe age but died a few years ago. Pine is still alive and is running the shop, along with a woman who has been there practically forever. Dauber’s son Murray, who didn’t want to be in the book business, went over to the Spanish civil war, came back, and seems to be a little bit touched, but not much. There’s something a little bit wrong, although it’s a little hard to place it. I suppose you could possibly place it as shell shock or something like that. He’s quite nice. He didn’t want to be in the shop at all and, while his father still kept it, he went into business for himself and sold books by mail from an office in the Broadway Central Hotel down on Broadway. After his father died, he was persuaded to go back to the shop again. He had been down there even before his father died, doing cataloguing and staying out of the way of everybody. After his father died, he went back there and is now the full-time person in the basement.

Yes, their contacts were always very good. They got the Joel Spingarn library, and they got a lot of stuff that we would have said they had no business to get. I have been calling the place moribund for quite a while now, but it’s the longest moribundity that I’ve ever seen. Every once in a while, there will be an infusion of a new library having been bought. They do have plenty of money, and they can buy stuff, and they do buy stuff.

Their catalogues are all right. I always think that this is the last gasp, but actually they are keeping going. There were many times when they didn’t have any money, and at those times they were left first by Everitt and then by Loveman, each of whom went into business for himself — Everitt quite early, during the Depression actually.

Everitt continued for many years. He first had a shop of his own upstairs on Fifth Avenue and later a shop of his own upstairs on Fifty-ninth Street, above where Swann was having his first book auction. It was during that period that I got to know him fairly well. I always liked him, and I would listen to what he had to say a great deal. One of the things which he had to say was, "My shop is in my head." People would know that he was a great Americana expert, would go to his shop, and would find 150 books, and would say, "Where’s your stock?" He would point to his head and say, "Right here. I don’t need a stock, because I know where to sell the books." It was due to this that I was always able to say, "All these books on the shelf are mistakes," because that’s what he would have considered them. Only a mistake was on the shelf; every other book was sold.

He had a fabulous memory, and he also just knew where to sell everything and knew everything about everything. His book, Adventures of a Treasure Hunter, is not terribly interesting because, again, he tends to emphasize, "I bought a book for such-and-such a price and sold it for such and such." But, in general, that was the way he was. It was he who, during the 1930s, probably about 1937 or 1938, after he had left Dauber, had no money, actually no cash, and came to me, a poor, miserable creature; because somehow or other it was known that I did keep cash on hand. I always kept cash on hand, and he borrowed from me whatever I had, which couldn’t have been very much, I suppose — two or three hundred dollars. While it was pretty astonishing — of course, not many people knew about it — but it was astonishing to anybody that Everitt would have to come to me for money. But yet he did, because he had no cash, and I did have cash.

It was slow paying, but he did pay me back. Later on I became very good friends with his employee. He had an employee a little later called Harry Alper, and it was from Harry Alper that I learned how to whistle trills using my epiglottis. He’s the only person who ever knew about that, because I thought that you had to whistle a trill with your tongue. But he said no, if you can get to learn it, you’ll be able to do it this way. He was able to do it beautifully, and after I had some practice, I was able to do it too. But I can only do it within a certain range. On the other hand, I can only do the other with a certain range too, so one of them had to supplement the other. But it was very good, and it opened up a new vista of whistling to me.

Everitt isn’t still alive, but he didn’t die too long ago. It was probably eight or ten years ago, I guess. But Loveman, of all people, is still alive. He is very old. I saw him just yesterday on Fourth Avenue, looking at the stands to see what he could pick up as a sleeper. He’s still in business. He calls himself the Bodley Bookshop, and he has always called


himself that when he was in business for himself. He continued the business of putting out catalogues with these descriptions which were sexy, but that sort of failed lately because he had to make a non-sex book sound like a sex book. Nowadays it wouldn’t matter much. He’s a homosexual, a very famous homosexual, and was always surrounded by these young boys. But, as he got older, they took advantage of him and did terrible things to him. They would steal everything from him and eventually took his name. There’s a Bodley Gallery now which is run by some of his ex-boys. They’ve taken his name, and the little Negro boys would just steal from him right and left and take advantage of him. They would treat him terribly, simply kick him around and do any old thing.

Maybe eight or ten years ago he started a little shop on one of these streets — on Sullivan, I think it was — not McDougal, but one of the ones east of McDougal. They would simply steal him blind, he would simply not have anything. It was just terrible. He was a friend of Hart Crane’s and wrote at least one book on Hart Crane. Then he had some letters of Hart Crane which were published. But he did all sorts of things. He was a swindler in many unusual, very amusing ways, and I was involved with him in some of these. I don’t deserve any credit for my part in this, although, since they were more amusing than they were crooked ... I’ll tell at least one or two of these.

When I was in England in the late fifties, I bought a hornbook which was made of leather. It had a leather cover and sort of transparent horn over the piece of paper which had the hornbook material on it. It looked very old. But the man who had it, which was Mr. [Howes], wanted only three pounds for it. So I knew that it was not a real, original hornbook. I said, jokingly, "I assume this is original." And he said, "I’m not saying anyting about this at all, the price is three pounds." I brought it back to America and found out somehow or other later on that there was a man near Hastings who was making these. When Loveman came around, as he did very often, looking for material to put in his new catalogue, I showed him this hornbrook. I said, "Maybe you’d like to catalogue this." He correctly did not ask whether it was real or not. He simply said, "How much do you want for it?" And I said, "$75." He thought that was all right. He wouldn’t buy it outright, of course. He only catalogued things and later on paid for them if he sold them. So he took it from me, and in due course I got his list in which he had catalogued it as "eighteenth-century American bornbook" for, I think, $175 or $250. Well, in the first place, we didn’t know what date it was. And, in the second place, we certainly had no idea that it was American. An American hornbook for that period would be worth not $150 or $175 but almost whatever you could get — for it might be worth in the thousands. In fact, I’ve never even heard of one. I don’t doubt that they exist and that the New-York Historical might have one. So I said, "Gee, Sam, you say eighteenth century? You don’t know what date it is." He said, "Well, it doesn’t have any date on it, does it?" I said, "No." And he said, "Well, couldn’t it be eighteenth century?" I said, "I suppose." He said, "Leather certainly could be eighteenth century." And I said, "Yeah, I suppose." He said, “That horn — you can’t tell how old that is." I said, "No." He said, "And, after all, you didn’t open it up to look at the paper, so you don’t know how old." He said, "I don’t know why it can’t be eighteenth century." So I said, "All right, but American, Sam? I bought it in England." He said, "You mean it’s not possible for a hornbook to have come from America to England?" So I said, "Yes, I suppose so." He said, "Well, then?" He sold it. I don’t pretend any great virtue in this transaction, but I thought it was pretty amusing just the same.

Then there was one thing that I got from Thorns’s employee Vanover when Vanover was getting very old. He sold me a lot of little odds and ends of things. His name was Charles Vanover. He was an employee of Thoms and Eron, but later on, after Thoms and Eron disappeared, he was a scout by himself. He still had a few of Thoms and Eron’s customers; he became very broke toward the end. I bought up some of his stuff, and one of the things he had was a poem printed on toilet paper by Rudyard Kipling. There was an original poem written by Kipling and printed on toilet paper, and you couldn’t be sure that this was not right. The only thing was that the chances were very little and, again, I gave that to him to catalogue.

There were some fancy things of that sort. There were a good many facsimiles of things which looked right. In one of the sets of Stevensons, for instance, there was a facsimile of one of the pamphlets he printed in Samoa. That is very scarce, and the facsimile is quite good. The only way you can tell it’s a facsimile, I think, is not on account of the paper but on account of the fact that it has a place for stitching where they’ve stitched it to sew it into the book. So this sometimes is palmed off by Loveman and others as the original.

That’s the kind of thing he does. Also, I think that he once came into possession of a great batch of


John Keats bookplates, or Shelley, I’ve forgotten which. And so, whenever he gets a book of that period, he always catalogues it and says either, "with the John Keats bookplate" or, more likely, "from John Keats’s library." I’ve forgotten which he says, but he always does that. That’s been going on for years. He’s a good old scoundrel, and we all really like him a good deal.

Well, not too many more. Carol Cox was a man who was a very good merchandiser. His original shop was 125th Street. Later on he moved downtown and had a large place on Park Avenue at Thirtieth Street, between Thirtieth and Thirty-first streets. Then he had a big shop on Fifty-ninth Street, opposite Argosy. He was a man who also didn’t like Jews very much, but he liked the Negroes even less and felt very unhappy about having to move from Harlem, which had been his home. He became a wholesaler and supplier to libraries, and I bought great quantities of books from him. He also had regular books, first editions. And, whenever he had a collection of fifty or a hundred cookery books, he would call Eleanor up and she would come and get them. After he moved out of Fifty-ninth Street, the building was pulled down. He moved to a loft at Twenty-fourth Street, which went all the way through on Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth streets, an absolutely tremendous place. But something happened to him both physically and financially, and his place was taken over by an idiot who, however, had a lot of money, and who continued to call himself Carol Cox Book Company. Carol died in hospital under circumstances which I don’t know, and the man simply owned the business. I never knew what the circumstances were. He eventually sold a large proportion of them out and moved, first over to Ninth or Tenth Avenue and then eventually to Jersey. The Carol Cox business still exists, but it’s a wholesaling business to libraries.

Arthur Swann had a bookshop, a high-class bookshop, in the mid fifties in the same building or nearby with Gabriel Wells and other people of that sort. I think I visited the shop once, but I don’t remember for sure. Later on he went out of business, probably failed, and became the manager of the book department of Parke-Bernet, or at that time with the American Art Anderson Galleries. He was supposed to be a scoundrel. I never liked him, and he certainly must have been a scoundrel because of the cases that are known about his collusion with Rosenbach and so on in selling the famous Tom Jones to Owen D. Young.

It’s a rather long story which is hard to make brief. This copy of Tom Jones was sold to Young for a very high price as being original boards, uncut, and so on. Young found out about it’s being wrong and demanded his money back. Rosenbach wouldn’t take it back; he never would do anything like that and always tried to put everybody else in the wrong. But the position of Rosenbach was such that either he was ignorant about the situation, which he would have denied with both hands, or he was crooked, which he would also deny with both hands. There was no third way out of it, because he had sold this thing as being perfect, although it was known where the book came from, exactly how it had been doctored, where the missing leaves had been put in, exactly where the boards came from. The whole story was known from beginning to end — whose set it had been, how much it had brought at auction, and so on. Swann was in collusion with Rosenbach in this matter, I believe. Other similar cases were known.

Arthur Swann died in harness at the Parke-Bernet Galleries, and then his material came up at sale later thereafter and brought a high price, strangely enough partly because it was called the Swann sale, even though everybody knew that he was the wrong guy. Still, it was known also that he cared about books and that, whenever he saw a copy of a book of which he already had one, he would always keep the better copy. This finally was the best copy which came up, and that was true. This was quite late — late fifties or early sixties. It was a quite recent sale.

Max Sparber was a book scout. He used to go along Fourth Avenue daily and pick up sleepers. He was interested in Judaica primarily but would buy everything, and was a great quoter in the AB or before the AB, the Want List, and before the Want List, PW. He had a club foot, and he never had a shave. He was sort of a fixture on Fourth Avenue, going along there day after day with his club foot and without a shave. He lived in Brooklyn with his mother. Nobody was ever invited to his house, and nobody ever saw his stock. Everybody resented very much the prices that he would quote things at. He would sometimes quote things as high as four or even five dollars when other people were quoting them at only a dollar or a dollar and a half. People would say, "Max, does anybody ever buy them?" And he’d say, "Well, not very often, but I always do feel that, if I sell one-fourth as many and charge this much, why, I’ll be just as well off as anybody who sold four copies at a dollar." Well, he was right, but he was a little before his time. So he never really made much of a go of it. Later on he was in the hospital, and his sister didn’t know what to do


with him. I was then interested in getting some money from the Antiquarian Booksellers Benevolent Fund for him, but I was not shrewd because they came to the hospital — Haskell Gruberger, who was disliked by everyone, including by Sparber, but who persuaded Sparber to sell him his books in case he died. He did die, and Haskell Gruberger got his stock of books. We always felt rather bad about that. As a matter of fact, this Antiquarian Booksellers Benevolent Fund, which was mainly Mr. Wormser’s brainchild, has been fed until it now has tens of thousands of dollars in it, and it is administered by some very high-class types like Mr. Walter Schatzki, Mr. Harold Graves, and Mr. Richard Wormser; but they administer it to such a degree that they never give out any money at all. I have gotten money from them [for destitute booksellers] about five times, so I shouldn’t be the one to talk. But I believe that almost nobody except myself has ever gotten anything from it. I got money for Sparber, for Harry Carp, for Bill [Barnette] of New Brunswick who had been victimized by Mr. Rizick in some of Mr. Rizick’s early days, for Max Besant of Haiti and of New York, and for one other person whom I don’t remember just now. But I don’t think that, outside of those people, the fund had given money to half a dozen other people in the whole twenty or more years of their existence. They keep on building up the fund, for some purpose as yet unannounced, hoping that someday there will be some holocaust in which they will be able to use it — maybe hoping that or maybe hoping not. The idea is simply to have a fund. I said that this is ridiculous, and so for the past years I haven’t given anything to them, and I think anybody else is crazy to give it to them, too. They’ve been able, actually, even with my things and the other few things they’ve given, to live entirely on income and never touch the capital at all, which was not the original intention.

There were two Robertses in the book business — R. F. Roberts, who was John Kohn’s first partner, except they weren’t quite partners, when John had a shop at 37 West Forty-seventh Street, after he left Argosy, which he called The Collector’s Bookshop. On the top of the letterhead there was "John S. Van E. Kohn." Then there was a line, and underneath the line there was "R. F. Roberts," so that you could see that there was quite a differentiation between the two partners. He was a very good bookman but a terrible bookseller. He was all right as an investigator and as a checker-up of things.

He would come down and look over those tens of thousands of playlets that I had, and he would finally pick out twenty-one as being of interest. Then he would take them up to 37 West Forty-seventh Street, and he would work on those. He would find that three were possibly by American authors. Then he would find out that one of them really was by an American author and who it was. This was very important, and, therefore, you could charge $17.50 for it instead of $3. It would have taken him maybe a week of time to get this, and it would be very much worthwhile, except in a business way. Later we tried to get him jobs at various places where this wouldn’t make any difference. John got him a job at Scribners to work on the, I think, Hemingway or other material which was in the Scribners archives — the proofs and that sort of thing. I think he worked with Randall there, and that was fine because he didn’t have to account for his time; it was all research, and the business aspect of it didn’t matter. He was a real drinker. He was always in a fog. He was one of the people who had the greatest sense of humor of anybody we ever knew in the book business. He was very, very funny with sort of a dry, cynical humor, and about himself, as well, when he was in Riker’s Island, whichever island he was kept in where he still probably is or is again. He would write amusing letters about himself. I think he’s still there, if he’s still alive, which I think he is. John sort of gave him up. John lets people go more than I do. He’s more like Eleanor — what’s the use of my being made unhappy? I think John tends to feel like this. When he gets a letter from Roberts, he doesn’t really feel he has to go and see him, whereas I would feel, "My God, I’m involved; I’ve got to go and see him."

The other Roberts ... I don’t think his real name was Roberts, but he was always called Roberts. He always called himself "Nostradamus, Jr." He had a shop down on Canal Street, and he was one of the earliest ones to go into this silliness of horology and occult, foreseeing, and so on. He published an edition of Nostradamus and was always involved with language of the hand, phrenology, and so on. He had a big shop there, was very cheap, and it was good fun going down there. Eventually the thruway coming out of the Holland Tunnel kicked him out. I guess he died; I never heard from him later on.

Moe [Murray] Gottlieb originally worked for Dauber also. Dauber had a good many people working for him as cataloguers. He had a fellow named Joe Levine, also, who came and worked there. I guess Ben Swami also worked for him for a while. Gottlieb then went into business for himself


at number 69 Fifth Avenue, which was between Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets, and had quite a good business there in Americana. He was a good bookman and a good bookseller. Later he discovered that he could make more money by being in the medical business. He never had any medical training whatever, but he simply discovered that nobody was doing early medical books. He went into it and made a great success of it.

Something should be said about Simon Gould and his son Raphael. Simon Gould was a man who never did anything honest in his life. He became quite wealthy during the early 1920s by being the one who promoted Coué with his "Day by day in every way I’m getting better and better." He published that and promoted it. He also was a vegetarian and ran for president on the Vegetarian party several elections. The American Library Service was so well known as being crooked that somebody going to Europe and coming from America would not be able to get any credit because of the name of the American Library Service. I had that experience more than once, somebody saying, "No, I cannot do any business with you, since the government itself does not pay its bills." Upon inquiring what this was about, I discovered that it was the American Library Service which had ordered material and simply not paid for it. Mr. Gould had more systems of not paying for something than anybody you can possibly imagine. I will give a few. He would order books and then not pay and, when being pressed, would simply not answer. If the amount was small, eventually the seller would give up. Sometimes he would do the same thing and would continue not to pay until he was sued. He then would still not do anything until the final moment came when he might have to pay, and in that case he did. He would order books from people and then, when they would ask for payment, he would say he had not received them. Since most people did not insure books, there was no proof of this, and he never had to pay in this way. He would send out books to people with a bill, even if they had not asked for them, and then dun them. A certain number of people would pay in this way. His rule was never pay until you have to. Something might happen. There might be, for instance, a world war which would take place. Or the person might die, or the person might lose his accounts, or the person might think that he was wrong. In this way, he was able to accumulate a vast stock, paying almost nothing for it. After he died, his son Raphael took over the business and still is in it. Raphael became a great power in the Ethical Culture Society, which we always thought was kind of amusing, and moved up to New City in New York, where he continues to run the business, but not in the same way his father did. Not long ago I was called up to New City to look at some material and found it was Raphael Gould’s discards. But among this we found correspondence from his father’s day verifying all the things I have just said.

One thing which infuriated Leon [Kramer] particularly, although it could have infuriated anybody else who had the same situation, was that one day one of Leon’s customers called him up and said, "I’ve just received a very interesting list from American Library Service. It seems to be very similar to your material, although the prices are about three times as high." He read the things off to him over the phone, and Leon discovered that what Mr. Gould had done was to take Leon’s catalogue and simply triple the prices in them and offer the books to this man as if they were his own stock. He had all sorts of things. He was a very imaginative person.


He would write to the various embassies and say that he had a collection of material on their country. He didn’t have anything at all at the time, but, as soon as they answered, then he would go out and get them. This, of course, is a perfectly legitimate kind of thing. He would do legitimate things if that was the only way of managing, but he was very imaginative and quite successful indeed. Eventually, not having paid his bills at the New York Times, at the Want List, at the Antiquarian Bookman, at the Publishers Weeklv, and so on, he was not able to adveruse in any of the normal outlets and had to keep on finding new outlets — the New Republic, or the Nation, or the Progressive, and so on. Finally, I believe no single place would take his ads. Although he saved a great deal of money because he had been advertising them for some months and in some cases for years without paying, eventually he had no exact place to advertise which would reach any large audience.

In my early days I was introduced to [Guido Bruno] — I keep forgetting whether his name was Giovanni Bruno or Donald Bruno — anyway, he wasn’t burned at the stake. He had a bookshop on Fourteenth Street, and he was one of the first introducers of the little magazine into the Village and was a typical Village character. When he died, his stuff came up for sale; that was the early 1930s, and it was one of the bases I had for building up my little magazine collection. A lot of the stuff which he published, which was done, for instance, by Djuna Barnes and others, is now very rare and expensive, but we don’t find it around very much. He had a publication which was called Bruno's Weekly and then Bruno's Magazine, and then he also had a great many little monographs which were published there. One of them was a John Reed thing. He was one of the ones who did publish and be a bookseller at the same time. He was typical of Greenwich Village for that period.

Downtown there were a couple of bookshops which specialized in Judaica, Hebraica, usually in Yiddish, in Hebrew, and in Russian. Of these, the very largest was Max Meisel down on Grand Street, who had an incredibly vast stock and continued on for many years. I didn’t have too much to do with him because I didn’t speak Yiddish, and I wasn’t really handling Russian books at that time. But Leon Kramer was down there all the time, and when he died, his stuff came on the market. It was mostly bought by a [Biederman] who was over on Second Avenue, and when Biederman went out of business, I bought a good part of the Russian material. This was a case where I found a great many Russian pamphlets published in 1905 and 1917, which were just wonderful. I had three hundred of them in my car and left them overnight. When I came there in the morning, they were gone. They were things which were worth many thousands of dollars to the right person, who in this case was me — nothing at all to anybody else — and the person who took them probably was greatly disappointed when he found what he had. We scoured the trashbaskets in the neighborhood but couldn’t find any, and they never appeared on the market, as far as I know. This was fairly late; this was only about ten years ago.

In midtown there were a couple of people who lasted for more or less a great length of time. One of them was named [Leitendorf], whom everybody called the Manados Bookshop, manados being the old Indian name for Manhattan. He specialized in first editions. He and I got on the outs for some reason which I don’t remember, and we didn’t speak to each other for several years, but eventually we made it up. Usually I got on the outs for something which some people wouldn’t have considered very strong but which I was very bitter about. That was usually something like the one I got on the outs with Peter Smith of the National Bibliophile Service. I think that Manados did the same thing, and I think one other person did the same. Peter Smith phoned me and asked if I had a certain book in stock which was in my field, Negro. I did, and I said it was $7.50 and he could have 20 percent off, which was $6. So he thanked me, and he bought it from me. Then later I found that he had sold it to my customer at $6, having taken no profit for himself. I wrote an article about that in the AB under my pseudonym C. Emptor, in which I bitterly excoriated this kind of thing. I had already explained to him over the phone what the trouble was about this, namely that he takes my book, which I have given to him at $1.50 less than I would normally sell it for, and sold it to my customer at a price which I would not have sold it to him for at all, makes me out to be too high, makes himself out to be a great guy, and, at a cost of $1.50 to me, spoils my sale and makes himself fine. It is understood in the book business that, when you give a discount to a dealer, you give it to him so he can make a profit, and only so he can make a profit — not for any other reason. He didn’t see this, so we were on the outs for a great many years, until finally he moved away to Gloucester. Since that time we’ve been on perfectly good terms, since I’ve never seen him again.

He’s a reprinter. He was the first one who made a business of being in the out-of-print-want. list business. He’d send around his employees, usu-


ally employee, to every shop in town with his long list of wants, pick them up, and then ship them out. He advertised in all the papers, saying that he could get books. Now, of course, this is a very well-known kind of thing, although lately it’s been going down somewhat because the profit isn’t sufficient. He was the first one to really make a big thing out of that. He was a very good bookseller in that respect.

It was in the thirties; it would have been after the thirties. One of his employees,Jack [Weiss], became disaffected with him and came to work for me for a while and then went up to Syracuse or Rochester — I always get those mixed up — and has a book-shop there even now that he’s had going there for almost thirty years.

Uptown also there was David Moss, who, with Martin Kamin and Martin Kamin’s wife, ran a bookshop which mainly specialized in first editions and then in dance and later on became the Kamin Bookshop. David Moss was, I believe, a sweetheart of Miss [Frances] Steloff long, long ago and is supposed to have committed suicide by diving off something and hitting a rock. The reason I say supposed to be a suicide is that it seems like a strange way to commit suicide, and it may have been an accident. This, I don’t think has ever been established. The Kamin Bookshop lasted for years and years after that, and Sally Kamin was the great dance expert until quite recently. All the people are dead now, but I think the shop still exists in some form or other as a mail-order business.

J. Ray Peck was a rather nice man who had a shop on East Fifty-first Street near the subway station, a beautiful shop. He cared about first editions, and he had two daughters, each of which was stupider than the other and each of which was nicer-looking than the other. After he died, the two daughters kept it going for a while, and then the one daughter. Eventually it petered out. There were a few places in midtown that you could go and find sleepers or first editions at low prices. I never quite found out how he made a living out of it, but most of these people had some small income besides which kept them going in some way.

The Staegers, father and son, had the shop called the Cadmus Bookshop. The older Staeger was a horrid man and very, very good Americana man. The Cadmus Bookshop dealt entirely in Americana. You could go into his shop, first in the Fifties and later on on West Forty-sixth Street where they moved, and you’d find both father and son [Samuel] there. He always called his son "Son." The father would always have his hat, and usually his coat, on — no matter what the temperature outside, no matter what the conditions. The reason for this was a strange one. He had hurt himself at some time years before and had insurance on which he was collecting. It was for complete disability. The consequence was that he was not supposed to be working, but, actually, he was the one who was in charge of the shop. However, he always kept his hat, and usually his coat, on in case the insurance company should send an agent in and find him there, at which time he would always have just come in to visit the son. He did this, I should say, for fully twenty years that I remember, possibly even longer. He was always there and always had his hat and coat on. I don’t think that the insurance company did ever catch him, because the place flourished for all this time, in spite of the fact that the son was a very horrible person also. It was about then, the story goes, after the older Staeger died, they went to the burial and said that they couldn’t bury him until somebody said something good about him. Everybody stood around and stood around until finally a person was able to say that, compared to the young man, the old man was a lovely person, at which time they were allowed to bury him. The young man continued in business for quite a while, but he apparently drank a lot and eventually is supposed to have had to go to an institution and, for all I know, may be dead. The shop disappeared from Forty-sixth Street, having gone downhill little by little and stuff being sold at low prices until it simply petered out.

Whitman Bennett was the man who was a real expert in American first editions and wrote a book called American Colorplate Books, a bibliography. Strangely enough, he came from a good old American family and in a sense was very intelligent and very well read. He was quite illiterate as far as writing is concerned, but he managed to put this book out, which is about the only thing that’s been done on it. He had two sons, Josiah and another whose name I don’t remember, who used to work with him. It was both a bindery and a repair place and a first-editions place. He also made a great collection of aeronautics. The son Josiah went to work for Scribners later on and is now the second in command in the Lilly Library at Indiana University under David Randall. The other son, I think, disappeared. The father finally died at a very, very old age, just a few years ago, having been senile for quite a while, however. The bindery still exists, and I think it’s called Bennett Book Bindery. If I didn’t mention this before, Bennett is the one who used to joke with me about first editions which were in fine condition. Bennett is the one who got hold of me


one day in an expansive mood and said, "These collectors want Tom Sawyer first issues in mint condition. There are no Tom Sawyer first issues in mint condition, yet these people want it. They are rich, they are my customers, they have a right to have them. Very well, then, I will give them Tom Sawyers in mint condition." So he would take a fine copy of the second or third issue or a later edition, take the binding off it, put it on the insides of a first issue, and produce a mint copy of Tom Sawyer for them as they wanted. Some people felt this was reprehensible, and, in a sense, I do too. But I feel it’s a very mild kind of reprehensibility, and I am perfectly willing to survive it.

INTERVIEWER: You could tell it had been rebacked.

GOLDWATER: If he did it well enough, it was terribly difficult, but not impossible. Usually the way you tell is that you can look at the binding on the inside and say to yourself, "This binding cannot have come with this, because how did this binding get into this condition when this page is foxed, is dog-eared?" and so on. However, if he was lucky and able to do it, very often you couldn’t tell. I do not doubt for a minute that a dozen of these things are in libraries around the country, supposed to be first issues and first editions in fine condition, which are Bennett copies. In fact the words "Bennett copy" became a sort of well-known thing. John Kohn always used to use that — "That must be a Bennett copy" — sometimes just not "is" but "it must be," because it looks like that. Randall would call it a "sophisticated copy," but a "Bennett copy" had a better connotation.

Louie Scher, who just died only a couple of months ago, was a Frenchman who came over just after the First World War as a young man and started a book business on West Ninety-sixth Street, between Amsterdam and Broadway, which he called the French Bookman. He may not have started until the late twenties. Sugarman introduced me to him, because he was a good book scout and would buy books in English also — first editions and so on and particularly erotica. That was how Sugarman got to know him — partly because certain books at that time were called erotica, as I think I’ve mentioned before, which nowadays we wouldn’t call that at all, particularly books from France entitled "Nu" or pictures of nudes. That kind of thing was not common in New York, but in France it was fairly common. People would use a book of nudes as an erotic book in those days. Scher imported a good deal of material. I don’t think he really knew just how to make a living in the French book business, although he learned fairly quickly. In any case, I remember quite well the day that he changed his style of work. It was quite early in the thirties; I don’t remember just which year. The French franc, which had been at four cents (it had been at two cents in 1926 and 1927 and had gone up to four cents, where it was quite stable for a number of years. In 1933, after Roosevelt came in and closed the banks, the franc, as the pound did for a certain period of time, went up by about 60 percent to correspond to the drop in the American dollar. So the franc for a moment was worth about seven cents. At that time Scher suddenly found that the books which he had purchased at a rate of four cents had to be paid for at the rate of seven cents. Although, as we knew later on, it didn’t last and, in fact, went back to four and then lower in the late thirties, Scher said to me one day, "I’m going to quit this whole importation business. You now have to be not a bookman but an international financier. Everything depends not on whether you can buy a book and sell it at a profit from what you bought but on whether you know how the franc is going to go. I can’t do this any more; I’m not going to do it any more." I think he erred because he did know more about French books than anybody else did, and there was a large market here for them. In a way, it was too much for him, and also, of course, it wasn’t too long from then that 1939 came and importation from France became impossible for six years. So perhaps he was lucky he was in something else. He then set himself up as The Seven Book-hunters and remained The Seven Bookhunters for thirty years until his death just a few months ago.

INTERVIEWER: Did he have seven book hunters?

GOLDWATER: He never had seven, but he did employ two or three people at various times.

INTERVIEWER: Were those French books he was importing erotica?

GOLDWATER: No, just books, just French books. He would import erotica when he could, but that wasn’t his main business. He was sort of like Sugarman, that is, the way to make extra money is sell erotica. So when he was able to import erotica, he did, but it wasn’t his main business. He had a regular bookshop. He later moved away from Ninety-sixth Street and took a large loft on West


Seventeenth Street, I think it is, where he was until just now .... At his death the books were sold to the library. He had several employees during this period. I mentioned already that Noy had come from Stammer’s and that he had fired him abruptly because he found that he was stealing .... Scher later on had a man named [Jeltra] who stayed with him for a long time but who has now gone into another bookshop in Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands.

George Preston was a lovely man who was a fine tennis player and a bibliographer of Thomas Wolfe. He was no good as a bookseller and never could make a go of it. He worked at odds and ends for people around wherever he could get a job or as a bibliographer wherever he could get a job. He may still be alive; I don’t know. I’ve seen him once or twice since our famous tennis match. At a time when I was priding myself very much on my play — I don’t know why — I found out that George played. We decided to play a match. It was one of those hundred-degree days, and our two wives went out to watch. We went out there, and we played 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8. At 12-12 both of us were really in a condition that nobody would have given a cent for our chances of living. Neither of us was giving up, however. Finally I looked at him and saw that he was green. I don’t know what color I was, but my wife said that I was a color which could not be described. The two girls simply marched on the court and stood there so we couldn’t play any more. I believe that was the last time he ever played tennis. He had heart trouble and various things, and his wife said she had to preserve him. So we never played again, and I don’t think he ever did. I’ve spoken to him several times since, but I don’t know if he’s still alive or not. He was a lovely man.

The Rand Bookstore was a bookshop on the ground floor of the Rand School of Social Science on East Fifteenth Street. It was primarily a bookshop for socialist materials and was always run by some member of the Socialist Party, or later on the Social Democratic Federation. Among these was a man who later on ran the Bryant Bookshop up on West Forty-eighth Street. When he started in business, nobody was too surprised to find that his main stock-in-trade was material which had come from the Rand Bookstore. Most people felt that he had not paid for it. Later Charlie Salzman worked there for a long time and then went into business for himself. We also felt that the same thing was the case with Charlie. Charlie is now in business out on the coast, and the Bryant Bookshop has died. There was still a third man who worked there and who we believe did not steal anything, although we’re not sure, and then went into business as a book scout and then went into selling rugs, at which he presumably did much better. The shop had a lot of good material at the time, and then little by little it was stolen, either by the employees or by the customers. It went downhill until it disappeared altogether.

A strange thing has happened to Brooklyn, as I suppose it has to a great many places, particularly on the East Coast. It used to be a very good borough for books. The shops were mainly run by old American families, not by Jews. Of those, I remember three — Niel Morrow Ladd, Reed and Chappell, and [Somerbell]. There were also some further out — one run by the man that I already mentioned long ago as being the one who sold Freddie [Brandeis] his stock. Then there was an old German out on Franklin Avenue. All these shops were very good shops and had books at low, low prices. People who lived in Brooklyn, like Ike Brussel and Rosenzweig, would be in there all the time, picking up the sleepers and bringing them into New York to sell. We would go out there now and then. Sugarman introduced me to the section, and it was a pleasure to go there in most cases. Somerbell was an exception; he didn’t like Jews at all. He particularly didn’t like what he called "New York Jew booksellers." When I went there one day as a young man, he immediately told me about the New York Jew booksellers, because apparently he didn’t realize that I was all those things. I sort of escaped as soon as I could, having said that not all New Yorkers were bad, or something of that sort. I believe he had a sign saying that New York Jew booksellers weren’t welcome there; it was something quite specific, but I’ve forgotten the exact wording of it. I think it actually was "New York Jew booksellers stay out."

Niel Morrow Ladd eventually died, and I bought the contents of the shop. I don’t remember how I engineered the thing. I guess I continued to have a sale there for a while and then brought the rest over to my shop. I remember at that time there were remainders of certain histories of Flatbush, which he was selling for ten cents and later on using for backing on shelves, which now bring $10 to $25 on the market. He had simply a vast number of them, perhaps hundreds. They were either published by him or published by some friend of his, and they were in great quantity. There were a number of things of that sort — histories of Brooklyn — which we didn’t know anything about and didn’t care about. In fact, they didn’t have any market value at the time. There was a history of Harlem by Riker which he had in great quantity which is now


desirable. But those were the old days, of course, and that’s the typical thing that happened.

Reed and Chappell closed their larger shop, and Mrs. Chappell continued it for very many years on Flatbush Avenue. I used to go there quite often with Eleanor. Eleanor never liked to go there; she never found anything. I’d find something every time I went there, mostly first editions at low prices, also Negro material. She kept it as sort of a modest little shop. She was keeping it because she had some young man who was a protégé; I think you would call him a hippie nowadays. In those days he was simply a hanger-on. She kept that going until only a few years ago. In fact, I thought it was still on two years ago and went out there and found that it was finally gone. I always found things there — first editions, mild people like H. C. Wells or Kipling, or something would always be there for a dollar. Then the place out on Franklin Avenue also closed. That would have closed for a different reason; that would have closed because it became what is called a decaying neighborhood, and all his books would have been stolen and he would have been broken into. There are at present just two bookshops in Brooklyn, both of which are much more recent and both in the Borough Hall area. One of them is run by an old Socialist; he is called the Boro Bookshop. Then there is Irving Binkin, who has been in it for quite a while. He’s sort of a crazy guy and has a great big bookshop with a lot of stuff in it.

One of the Village characters was Bernard Gilbert Guerney, who was a translator of a book called Yama the Pit. He was also a translator of other books from Russia, including one anthology which he did for the Modern Library. He was a very intelligent and erudite man. He may still be alive. First he had Bernard Guerney’s Bookshop and then he had the Blue Faun Bookshop in various places in the Village and on the East Side. He was a great talker and one of the ones who was very resentful about the way things were going: things always used to be better; people are now illiterate; he can’t stand people coming in; they don’t know anything, and so on. He was very difficult to do business with, but we got


along quite well because we used to talk in Russian or talk about Russia. He was always glad to have somebody who knew something about his Kuprin book and other things which he had done. I sort of had some acquaintance with Russian literature, so I was able at least to make a pretense of knowing something about it, which was all that was necessary. I think he is still alive, but he must be quite old by now.

On East Fourteenth Street a little man had a shop down in the basement — Edward Lipton. It was the most modest bookshop of all in New York, really. It was between Second and Third avenues. You could hardly tell it was there at all, except that, as you went past, you would notice that he had a little stand outside with about twenty books on it. Then you could go down the flight and there you would find paperbacks and other things. He had, however, been a bookman for many, many years and would sell books at a reasonable price. I bought a lot of Negro stuff and radical things from him. Later on he moved to West Twenty-third Street and eventually moved to his home in Brooklyn, where he now operates from.

Further on West Twenty-third Street, Felix Cornell, who had been an able seaman, opened a shop which was primarily to be for the seamen who would come off the ships over on the West Side (he was near Ninth Avenue) and buy his books on seamanship and that kind of thing. Then he went into the publishing business. He published a great big book called Encyclopedia of Knots, which we thought was tremendously overpriced at ten dollars, but it was not overpriced. It sold well and is still a standard work. He eventually accumulated tremendous stock in the late thirties but then decided he didn’t want to be in the book business anymore. It was his stock which my brother Harry, when he had his auction license, sold at auction. But after the first half of the day of auction took place and whole lots of twenty books were bringing only twenty-five to fifty cents, they called off the auction. Harry was paid his day’s work but no commission, and the whole lot was sold to somebody else. I think that during late 1939 or early 1940, when this was, may have been the worst time of all for the book business. Simply nobody would buy anything at all. That was one of the reasons why Harry did go out of business; nobody was paying anything for books, and nobody knew, due to the war in Europe, what was going to happen. Cornell is still alive, but I don’t know where he is.

On 125th Street, there were several bookshops at one time. One of those, Number One, was on 125th Street, just at the corner of Fifth Avenue. It was run by two brothers who called themselves the Ideal Bookshop. They stayed there for a while until the neighborhood condition deteriorated. Then they moved one flight up on Amsterdam Avenue and 114th Street, right near Columbia. They’ve been there ever since and still have a very good bookshop there. There was a man named Ben Shaw, a kind of schizophrenic, who went around as a book scout and used to make a miserable living. He didn’t know anything about books and yet was a book scout, picking up books one place and going to another. I remember how modest his prices were from the fact that I bought from him for ten cents a first edition of Harold Frederic’s Damnation of Theron Ware, inscribed by Willa Cather. It was true that he didn’t know it was inscribed by Willa Cather. It was true he did not know it was a first edition. To have bought this book and sold it for ten cents and make a profit indicates what kind of a price he was paying for things. I will admit that at that time I probably sold it myself for two or three dollars, whereas now I would probably charge fifty, seventy-five, or even a hundred. Still it was the kind of thing he was selling and I was buying. Later he opened several shops and became a very big dealer in periodicals. Just after the war, with money from some relative of his, he had a tremendous storehouse near Twelfth Street and Broadway, filled with periodicals, a tremendous place. There was a large fire, and a great deal of material was destroyed. It was a very suspicious fire, and all of us who knew Ben felt that he had set it. The people who were the insurers, Dewitt Stern and Company, were the insurers for most of us around town, and we told Dewitt that this was very suspicious. Dewitt, who was not the insurer himself, of course, but just the agent, said it was up to the insurance company, not up to him, to make the point, and he wasn’t going to do anything about it. Shaw received some tens of thousands of dollars, I believe, for this. But shortly afterward he decided to make a confession and made a statement that he had, indeed, set the fire. By this time it was too late for the insurance company to collect any money. All that happened was that we were able to say to Dewitt, "You see? We told you so." Nothing else ever happened to Shaw or about the matter, and he continued in business and continued to be a crook right to this very day. His crookedness was mostly in a different way from others. He simply gave bad checks wherever he went. Eventually people who dealt with him knew that they must not take a check or that they must meet and go to the bank and get it cashed


while they were with him. Later he did buy some stuff from me, and we always demanded cash immediately and, in those cases, very often got it. He became quite big and at a given moment may always be big. It’s just that at certain moments he’s very small again. He doesn’t have a shop, and he varies from California to New York, back and forth, and varies his name a good deal. But he has dealt with Kraus and particularly with Kamin, who was of the same type, and, of course, with the New Jersey fellow who’s still out of jail for some reason — Rizick. He and Rizick were great pals.

On Eighth Street at that time there were several shops. It astonishes me to think of how many shops there were in the early 1930s. There was Joe Kling, who later moved to Greenwich Avenue and just died a year or so ago. He was also, like Bruno, a publisher of little magazines and a writer of poetry. He published Pagan, but he also published other things. He published his own poetry and was involved in all kinds of little magazine things. There was also Nat Kaplan, who had a shop just east of Fifth Avenue on Eighth Street, in the basement, which was sort of a hangout for the Sugarmans and the Brussells and the other people who dealt in erotica. He was kind of a nut and eventually died a couple of years ago in an institution. Then there was Tim Trace, who also dealt in erotica and was a scout. His idiosyncracy was his way of talking. It was rather a wonderful way; he repeated everything, sometimes two or three times, something like this. He would say, "Walter, Walter, I was down — Walter, I was down — I was downtown the other day. Walter, I was downtown the other day, and I tell you what, tell you what. Walter, I was downtown the other day, and I tell you what happened." We used to sit fascinated with this kind of thing. Eventually he married a girl he was going with whose name was Lorraine. They got along together for quite a while, but eventually there was a rupture in the household, and Lorraine married Robert Wilbur. Trace married a rather nice girl whose father was in the antiques business. They moved up to Westchester, had some children, and have been very successful in both the antiques business and in the art-book business ever since then. They’re still in business.

The two Scheinbaum brothers both ran mail-order businesses, but they also had shops. The older one went into mostly remainders and new books up in the Forty-second Street area. The younger one, Al Scheinbaum, who now calls himself the Colonial Book Service, had a bookshop for a while in the Bible House. In fact, I think he took over the Mosks’ shop after Mosk died. Then Jje went into business, and he’s on East Twenty-fourth Street now, running a very large and successful out-of-print business. The other brother also ran an out-of-print business for a long time, until quite recently. He had his ups and downs; sometimes he was very well-off, and sometimes he was very poor.

Harvey Brewer had a little shop on Eighth Street, also, at the corner of McDougal Street. He was a friend of George Kurtz and ran into the same business as he had, namely a circulating-library business, plus first editions, and so on. Later he gave up the shop there and worked for E. Weyhe and Company at Lexington Avenue and Sixty-second Street, the greatest art-book shop in the country. He worked there for many years. Eventually he claimed that he had a heart ailment, left Weyhe, and went into business for himself in Jersey, where he has now been for many years. Some people wonder how he managed to accumulate the stock which he got. We have no proof of how that happened, so we assume that everything is OK. He is a very shrewd guy, and we all feel that, although he is very nice, he’s not the kind of person to get involved with in a business deal. Weyhe still exists at the age of almost ninety, I guess, and has been there ever since we remember. He has the greatest art books imaginable. What will happen when he dies, nobody quite knows, because his main assistant is also by now quite old. So it’s not certain what the future of that shop is.

There was a shop first over on Bank Street and then on East Twelfth Street and now upstairs on Fourth Avenue called Orientiala, which specialized in books on the East. It was run by a man named Mr. Brown and a woman named Miss Pickering. As each one of the principals died, somebody else took it over, and it’s still in business. It has just recently moved to a place on Fourth Avenue.

On East Tenth Street, just east of University Place, there’s a large building which is now called Stechert-Haefer and Company. At that time it was called G. E. Steckert and Company. They are importers of German and French material, and had a parent body, presumably in Switzerland, although actually we think in Germany. They always denied their German parentage during the thirties and during the war. Although they never employed a Jew there at all; eventually they may have employed somebody who might have been Jewish, but in general the rule was no Jews.

There had been another company which was very similar to that called B. Westermann and Co. on [24 — M. M.] West Forty-eighth Street which im-


ported material from Germany and during the war was shut down by the government. At that point Stechert claimed its Swiss ancestry and was let alone. Therefore, they became practically the only people that were importing material from Germany during the 1939-1940 period. It’s a large building there, about ten stories, of which Stechert themselves occupied the first lowest five, later on six. Most people didn’t know about this, but the fourth and fifth floors were entirely given over to used books. So, even though it was a comparatively small part of their business, it was one of the largest and best secondhand bookshops in New York. Since it was rather close to us, we were able to go there quite often and buy material. Their prices were usually reasonable. They had whole sections on any subject imaginable. Once in a while I would buy out the whole African section. Sometimes I would buy out the whole radical section, and so on, American Negro. As their prices went higher, I wasn’t to do that any longer. This went on until quite recently. They kept on expanding and expanding and taking the building next door, and so on. Within the last year they finally were bought by Crowell-Collier or somebody and have gone out of the secondhand business altogether and generally out of the book business. Just what the future holds there, I don’t know.

When I first started in, all the major publishers in the forties had their own bookshops, which were primarily new books but all of which had a rare books section. That included, I definitely remember, Putnam, Dutton, Brentano’s (which, of course, was a publisher at that time, as well as a bookseller), and Scribners. Brentano’s actually had a fine shop at the corner of Twenty-sixth Street and Fifth Avenue. That went out of business during the depression. There was a great sale there, at which everybody made a great deal of hay. Putnam’s also went out of business. They were on West Forty-fifth Street, Dutton’s on Park Avenue, and, as you know, Scribners’ is the only one of these which still remains. Lou Cohen, who I mentioned before, had the shop at 45 Fourth Avenue in the Bible House, quit that large place, and went up to Fifty-ninth Street, becoming part of the Fifty-ninth Street complex, which at that time had about half a dozen shops. However, just about the time that he moved up there, all the other ones went out. Although Mr. Cox came from 125th Street down there for a while, eventually Lou Cohen remained the only one on street level. Mr. (David] Kirschenbaum’s Carnegie Bookshop up one flight at a near corner — The Cohn shop has always been called Argosy. As you know, this has become one of the largest shops in the city and perhaps in the country, and very successful. He first only employed his family and friends, and he had a very large number in the family. Even now, I guess he still has the three daughters there and some various cousins. But he’s gotten up to an employee group of perhaps thirty or forty by this time, and he is largely taken up, not only with books, but with prints, maps, and even paintings and has bought the building there. He is very wealthy by this time.

Frances Steloff you know about. She has always had a fine shop on Forty-seventh Street, but she did move once down a few doors from her former shop. She is still alive, as you know, and is in her eighties. The shop has recently been bought by a young man named Andreas Brown.

Of the booksellers who are still in business, I may not have mentioned Biblo and Tannen, who started business just before I did on East Fourteenth Street as poor little creatures and who have since then become quite large, substantial, and have bought their building on Fourth Avenue, and also are publishers. Mr. [Thomas J.] Gerald had a shop called the Friendly Bookstore, which was notorious for buying stolen books and who also specialized in music books. He moved away from Fourth Avenue for a while and now is back on Fourth Avenue again..... It’s still called the Friendly Bookshop. Harry Gold, I may have mentioned, who was involved in the theft of very good books from the New York Public Library, including Edgar Allan Poe and other important works, having served his time in jail, came back to Fourth Avenue and later on became quite big again, mostly by the sale of his shop at the corner of Thirteenth Street and Fourth Avenue. He has just in the last month sold his shop on Fifth Avenue for a very high price, and his books, also, which went to Pennsylvania State University.

The brother of David Kirschenbaum of the Carnegie Bookshop is Louis Kirschenbaum, who is not on speaking terms with his brother and has not been for thirty or forty years. They were the sons of a former Kirschenbaum whom I did not know who was the original person in the book business. Louis Kirschenbaum had a small bookshop on Ninth Street for a long period of time, but he eventually went into the auction business, which he continued for a dozen years or more, but he never made a great success of. He did, however, continue to buy and sell sets and made a living of sorts. Even now, in semiretirement, he continues to do something of this sort.


Ben Swann originally worked, if I remember correctly, for Dauber and Pine for a while, then went into the Americana business for himself — I think in some other place first and then on Fifty-ninth Street in two places. He had two very fortunate fires — I think maybe only one very fortunate fire, but I certainly remember that one — which made him a great deal of money. Eventually he went into the auction business and is now the only other auction place in New York besides Parke-Bernet. He’s been extremely successful, and he calls himself Swann Book Auction. His place, however, has moved a couple of times and is now on East Twenty-fifth Street.

The following people I have listed as being retired, semiretired, or not in the book business any longer, who were in the book business when I started: Laurence Gomme, now probably in his late eighties, who came over from England in about 1910, and worked sometimes for himself and sometimes for Brentano’s. He is considered the doyen of the old book trade and is now doing some appraisal work. He, in my opinion, has a reputation for knowledge which is not justified. I am not sure about this, and some people may know more about it than I do .... He specializes in first editions, and I don’t think he knows much about them. Then what does he know about? Let’s say he knows about English literature, because I don’t know anything else about that.

INTERVIEWER: I was just curious, because everybody seems to think so very, very highly of him. Is it just because he has survived longer?

GOLDWATER: I think it’s because he’s very nice. I don’t really know this for a fact. I think that some of the other people might be able to tell more about it than I. As far as I can see, there’s no proof that he does know anything, but I don’t know.

Edward Lazare, of course, started very early and worked for G. A. Baker and Company, that is Mr. Hartzof, for a period of time. Then he went into business just before the war, after Hartzof’s death, with two other employees of G. A. Baker. They ran the G. A. Baker business for a while and then an auction business, which was called G. A. Baker Company. But when the war came, they sold the thing out, as I mentioned before, to Mr. Rosenzweig of City Book Auction. One man, Mr. Otto, disappeared; I don’t know what happened to him. Kebabian went to work for H. P. Kraus shortly after that. Lazare became the editor of American Book Prices Current, which was his sole job for some twenty years. Recently he finally sold out his rights in the America, Book Prices Current to somebody, presumably Columbia University. Although he still has his hand in and he is doing some other work as well, he is now doing the editing of the big Streeter catalogue.

Jacob Blanck, as I mentioned before, I think, was a freelance scout for a while and was involved in more-or-less shady dealings with Merle Johnson and with Bill Kelleher. In due course, however, he got the job of editing the Bibliography of American Literature, sponsored by Mr. Lilly and the Bibliographical Society of America, and has made a lifetime job of that. I do believe he has done a very good job. He’s not in good health now, but we hope that he’ll be able to finish it. It is practically finished, I believe.

Also, there was always a question with Merle Johnson of manufactured first editions and things of that sort. I mentioned in that respect William Kelleher who is still alive but very old. He lives in New Jersey and still has some Americana and things like that.

Ike Brussel liked to call himself LOGS — the last of the great scouts. That was a play on words because Buffalo Bill was supposed to be called the last of the great scouts. The great scouts, of course, in this case meant book scouts. He used to go to England and buy things there. He considered that he was well up on all kinds of things. Actually, however, I think he was mainly up on first editions. He wrote the bibliography of James Branch Cabell, which is quite good, as well as two books, one called Anglo-American First Editions: East to West and the other Anglo-American First Editions: West to East, which are books listing the English authors whose first printings were in America and American authors whose first printings were in England. The job has been better done since then, but he was a prime mover in the matter and did a good deal of work on it. I consider him quite a good man as far as this is concerned. He is very noisy!

His brother, Jack Brussel, has been in trouble with the police ever since his earliest days, either for erotica or for stolen books or something else. He has been in jail at least once, I think possibly twice. During the days when something perfectly mild, like Lady Chatterley or other things, was illegal — whenever there was anything illegal, he seemed to get into it. Later on he became quite successful, particularly with his wife, who was a very active woman, and went into the reprinting of color prints and things of that sort. He is still around and still dabbles in these prints and other things. I believe he


has a collection of Aesop’s Fables which by this time should be quite good. Jack Brussel had a shop until very recently. He had a shop right next door here.

Meyer D. Wechsler, who was on Fourth Avenue for years and years and years and who called himself "Wex," Wechsler’s Bookshop, a dozen years ago moved to Third Avenue because his rent was raised so high on Fourth. He was never liked by anybody and never liked anybody. People avoided going into his shop. Once in a while, however, a person could gain his way into his good graces for a short period of time and buy a few books. He mostly had a rather bad shop made up of fiction and textbooks. He was supposed to have good first editions in the back room, but, at a certain point when he announced that he was willing to sell out, I got into the back room and looked it over, and found that there was nothing decent in the back room either. He lasted until very, very recently. It hasn’t been more than six or eight months now that he finally sold out the shop on Third Avenue. In general, I believe that the shop was supported by his wife Connie, who was a schoolteacher on maximum pension, and that he simply had the shop there to keep himself out of mischief.. He also did have coins and stamps.

Dave Randall you know about. He worked first at Baker and Company, then for himself, then for Scribners, and then got the more-or-less sinecure out at the Lilly Library in Indiana. He has told his own story better than I could tell. John Kohn wanted to remind me about A. B. Schiffrin, who was one of the shops on Fifty-ninth Street, but I did not know him well.

The two Eberstadts are, of course, well known. The father, Edward Eberstadt, had started a very good Americana business on Madison Avenue long ago. It became the best-known Americana shop in the country. The two sons were called Lindley and Charles. I knew them slightly, but they generally dealt in material which was different from my own, although I had some connection with them during my period of interest in Haiti. I always found them too expensive to buy from and too cheap to sell to.

One of the shops on Fourth Avenue, when I first started out, was called the Astor Bookshop, which was run by Abe Klein. He went out of business quite early in my period, and I bought some stuff from him. That was the first time I recognized that, when a bookshop goes out of business, there are always little things to be found in the drawers and around which people have forgotten about. It was the ephemera which was interesting in his shop, just as it would be in my own case if I were to give up. Later he got a job as a salesman for Abraham and Strauss and then did freelance work. He’s still around, doing something of this sort now. He was never particularly liked.

There was a man named William Pearce who was quite nice and worked for Barnes and Noble. He was the rare-book and old-book man there for many years. I think he probably started the department, because Barnes and Noble had only been a textbook place up to that time. I was always very envious of him because he had a beautiful girl working for him. I remember that, during the period when it wasn’t considered proper, he went to Europe along with her. I've met him recently. He’s quite old now. He told me that there actually never was anything between them, and that she was always sweet on a certain longshoreman whom she finally married. He’s still alive, in his eighties, and lives in Delhi, New York, which is quite far up in the state.

INTERVIEWER: Did you know Kebabian very well?

GOLDWATER: Not terribly well. I knew him well enough, and I still know him fairly well. He’s the one, you remember, that was a member of our book club for many, many years, long before I was. Eventually he resigned demonstratively because the person that he wanted to get into the club was not invited in. That was Lucien Goldschmidt. What happened was that there were two people in the club who didn’t want Lucien, one particularly that didn’t want him in. Whenever anybody is very strongly opposed to somebody, we usually don’t get them in.. That was Shatzki. In due course Shatzki said he didn’t feel that way so strongly anymore. By that time we were perfectly willing to have Lucien in. Even though Kebabian was then approached and told that we would now do that, he was angry, and he wouldn’t ever come back. So we never got him back, and we never got Lucien in. I don’t think it matters too much.

One of the small people on Fourth Avenue whom I used to visit during my poorer days was Morris Pomarin. The reason I always visited him was that I was able to see directly somebody who was worse off than myself. So I used to go and visit him almost every day. He had a very small shop; the shop still exists here at number 116.

INTERVIEWER: He’s still in business here?


GOLDWATER: No. He went later on to Morristown, New Jersey, and then finally back to Brooklyn, which was his original home, and is doing business from there. Sy Silverman, who was one of the Geffen boys, has become very wealthy and a great success. He calls himself, among other things, Humanities Press, Hillary House, and various other names, mostly publishing and taking over of English books. He has almost a thousand titles on his list.

Bernie Kraus started a shop called the Raven Bookshop here on Fourth Avenue and stayed in business for fifteen or twenty years. He was a partner with Larry Verry, who became the first and possibly the only Jew ever employed by Barnes and Noble. We all felt that Barnes employed him only because they didn’t know he was a Jew, although most of us couldn’t see how that was possible. Later on Verry got a lot of money from someone else to start in business for himself, went into business on Twenty-third Street, had a grandiose affair for a number of years, and went bankrupt, losing all the money of the other fellow. He, himself, however, seems to have done fairly well out of it and is now in business in Long Island, where he is an importer of English books and has some kind of publishing business. I’m not sure just what .... He’s a rather shady character, in my opinion, but, in any case, we don’t have very much to do with him. I mentioned that Kraus at the Raven Bookshop split up with Verry and later went into his own mail-order business, which he still has in a loft building on Broadway and Eighth Street. He specializes in English and American literature mainly.

Howard Mott, fresh out of Harvard, went into the rare-book and first-editions business on Fortieth Street, a rather high-class place right next to where Lathrop C. Harper had his shop. After struggling for a number of years, he finally became quite successful and then moved to Sheffield, Massachusetts, where he has now been for a dozen years or more.

Montague Hankin was a successful businessman, I think mainly in the oil business, in Summit, New Jersey, who became and has been for forty years or more a dealer mainly in Americana. He is generally liked, and I don’t dislike him, but I’ve never been able to stand his advertisements which he had in the trade journal for twenty years or more, saying, "I sell only to dealers," because we knew very well that he does not sell only to dealers. We knew a great many of his private customers, and Rutgers University was probably his main customer, and Princeton his secondary customer. He’s in Summit, NewJersey, and he specializes in sporting books, chiefly Derrydale Press, and in Americana, chiefly New Jersey and eastern Americana.. But he is a good Americana man. He’s now quite old, and we see him very seldom.

I don’t know just where Peter Decker came from or how long he has been in business. We know it’s been a long time, and he, himself, is quite old. However, I understand that he had been in some other business prior to this. He is known to be one of the most knowledgeable of the Americana men, particularly western Americana.

Jack Bartfield worked for a firm in the forties called Himebaugh and Browne. He tells me now that there was never any Himebaugh, that is, that Himebaugh was Mr. Browne’s wife’s maiden name. I knew Mr. Browne quite well. During the Depression the shop simply went out of business, as so many of them did. They catered to a fancy trade, and it simply didn’t work. The only success that came out of that shop was Mr. Bartfield, who apparently got a number of customers and became a good bookman and was able to sell later on. Mr. Browne I remember chiefly as a seedy, poor thing, going around town, trying to pick up a few dollars here and there by being a scout. He disappeared altogether. I don’t know what happened to him.

Leo Weitz was also mainly in the bindings and fine-looking books. He was a stupid man who had no knowledge of books whatever. He did, however, like, as he said, lovely things. He would fondle a binding as he would a woman’s breast, saying, "Isn’t this wonderful, Walter?" He was on Madison Avenue for a long time, and he is mainly known for two things: one, that he won the Irish Sweepstakes, I think a hundred thousand dollars; and the second, when many of the gangsters, possibly including Capone but certainly many others, were brought up to trial for evading income tax, Mr. Weitz was brought in to testify that he sold them large quantities of fine bindings and sets for their mansions. He’s still alive, still loves nice things, like particularly Arthur Rackham’s, which he tries to buy and then have rebound in full Levant morocco, gilt. He has office space in a shop on upper Lexington Avenue with a man named Feldman (Lov Applefeld], possibly the best chess player in the book business, who has been in the business also for about forty years ... and who has one of the few shops in New York which still is a general secondhand shop and does not put out catalogues. He’s up near the YMHA [Young Men’s Hebrew Association] at Ninety-second Street.

[Louis] Schucman and Schwab graduated from library school about 1934 or 1935 and decided


to go into the out-of-print book business.. After a year or two, Schwab left and has since become extremely successful, having become part of the J. S. Canner organization, finally, I believe, superseding Canner as the owner of the organization in Boston. Canner was a very crooked man who was involved with Williams Company in Boston, which was possibly the most crooked place in the country, with the exception of the American Library Service.

He could almost be gotten on the same principle, only he was even worse. The Williams Company still exists there, but with Miss Williams, Williams’s daughter, in charge. She has kept up her father’s principles. Canner may still be involved in Canner and Company. Schwab, however, who sold the firm to some other large company for a price probably over a million dollars and reputed to be as much as two and a half million dollars, is still involved in certain other things ... in Boston or the Boston neighborhood. He, himself, I understand, is in Israel at the moment with a nineteen-year-old girl. But he has various vicissitudes. I gathered this information from Schucman, who still keeps track of him.

Schucman himself had a number of shops, both upstairs and on the street level, after 1935. He never really made a success of it, but he got along all right, considering that his wife was the main breadwinner of the family. Only in this last week, as you know, finally he sold the whole contents of the shop to Penn State. However, at the moment he intends to go to work for somebody, but in the long run I have no doubt that he will go back into the book business again.

INTERVIEWER: What was the final price on that?

GOLDWATER: Thirty-five thousand dollars, out of which I’m to get a commission .... As a matter of fact, when he started to dig up the stuff, it turned out that he had not the twenty-two thousand books which he thought he had, nor the twenty-two thousand plus the four thousand paperbacks he had, nor the twenty-two thousand plus the four thousand paperbacks plus about four thousand other books that he had, but about thirty thousand books, plus about seven or eight thousand paperbacks, plus some ten thousand prints which he found there.

So the people are really getting a rather tremendous buy because, obviously, we’re not in a position to say "you should pay more," although we might. Simply the idea was they were willing to buy as it was, and we obviously wanted to sell it as it was. He wants the paperbacks because he proposes to have a room where the undergraduates can come. At this moment, be intends to have them check them out. But I suggested to him that he simply have them there, tell them that they should bring them back, but that nobody’s going to check over on them. So the people who want to bring them back so somebody else can have them can do so, but, if anybody takes one and keeps it, he’s paying absolutely nothing for them. Therefore, it’s just a very good room altogether, and I think he’s going to accept that idea, which I think is great.

At Stanford they must have actually bought them and bought them for some price. But here is a case where you’re simply getting them for absolutely nothing, and there’s no harm to be done for anything. I think it’s just a wonderful idea. He doesn’t have to do any cataloguing of them; they’re simply there for this purpose.

Peter Lader started in business late in the thirties over on Fourth Street, just west of Sixth Avenue, right next door, or perhaps in the very same shop where Freddie Brandeis had the shop which he called the Bad Bookshop for a short period. Later on Freddie Brandeis sold it to a man named Richman. Richman died, and Ladcr took it over. Lader has been there ever since. He is a very nice man; everybody likes him. We believe that he does not know anything. He has always had a shop in which every book was a good book, so he can’t be so terribly stupid.

He calls it Martin’s Bookshop. It’s the same now as it has been for the last ten, twenty, or thirty years. It is a small shop with not more than two to three thousand books in it, every one of which, however, is an out-of-print, good, scholarly book. He used to go scouting a great deal with Mr. Scher of The Seven Bookhunters; he used to go to the coast and back. His wife worked and works, but the main thing is that he has always lived on a very, very modest scale. He never bought anything and did anything which cost any money. And he’s still there. He has a very lugubrious view. I’ve never seen him smile or laugh in my whole career with him, which is rather a strong thing to say. The world is always in terrible shape, and everything is always miserable and getting worse.

My friend Larry Maxwell, who, after being in the radical movement, decided to go into the book business on Fourth Avenue, had one of the shops here. That was possibly the one which was least successful of any of the shops on Fourth Avenue. He lived on almost nothing, although he came from a


fairly wealthy family. He used to just get along on selling magazines for five cents apiece and so on. I would lend him money from time to time, and I would buy things from him when I could. He married a nice girl from Texas who had come into the shop one day. Her salary from the Girl Scouts kept them going for a long time, until the beginning of the war.

As soon as the war was over, he came back to New York. He then decided he wanted to be in the book business again, so he came to work for me for a while to get his hand in. Then, with a little money he had saved plus some money his wife had saved, he opened up a very nice little bookshop on Christopher Street, which was going exactly the way he wanted, namely, it was going to specialize in ballet, movies, theater, little magazines, and avant-garde literature. He was also going to have teas, and, besides that, a great many pretty girls were going to come to visit the shop. This all happened exactly as he had planned, and, possibly not as he had planned, his wife fell in love with one of his clients and went off and married him instead. But he had a plethora of beautiful girls who used to hang around his shop anyway. Everything went along perfectly smoothly, except for one thing, and that was that he couldn’t meet his bills. He used to borrow money from me rather regularly for given moments, and eventually he stopped answering the phone because every phone call would be somebody asking for money. Finally somebody decided to put him into bankruptcy, which was rather unfortunate for everybody.


SOURCE: “New York City Bookshops in the 1930s and 1940s: The Recollections of Walter Goldwater” [interview], DLB Yearbook, 1993, pp. 139-172.

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