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July 04, 2013


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Joe Marchione

The ARM collection of jackets. There was nothing like it... I think every bookseller has a file of jackets waiting for books but Allan’s was distinguished both by its size and the nearly complete disregard for scarcity (or lack thereof) and condition of the jackets he saved. I’m both embarrassed and proud to admit I’ve fully bought in to his philosophy with regard to scarcity and condition... What is seen as trash today may well be treasure tomorrow and I, for one, won’t hazard a guess as to what will happen tomorrow.

Pristine Grosset & Dunlap jackets of common reprints daring you to find the correct G&D book to slap it on. Trade edition jackets liberated from both ex-lib copies and later printings. “Allan, did this come off a flawed first or a later printing?” “I think it was a second printing.” “Is the jacket the same as the first?” “I think so.” And on and on to the point that you’d be scared to match a book with the jacket until you actually saw the correct first jacket.

Tell-Tale flaws, as subtle as a faded spine everywhere but where the Library sticker was removed, as blatant as the entire heel of the spine ripped out in a petulant frenzy when the sticker removal surgery failed.

He had a ‘high spots’ folder of jackets that was decimated both in his scramble for cash in the last years of his life and in the free-for-all after his death. The lesser jackets made their way through various sellers. A goodly chunk returned to 2141 Mission (via RM and JL) a couple of years after his death. I look through them at least twice a year, before the big Friends of the Library Sales, in hopes of matchmaking success. They are alphabetized now so each time I get a jacketless book in, I can do a quick check... “Oscar Montague -- Paranoiac” by George Lincoln Walton... 1919. No luck. Ah, well. Maybe next time.

I’ll leave for another time and place the question of matching jackets with books. That such ‘marriages’ take place is well known and mostly accepted... in the old days in a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ kind of way, now, perhaps, better documented by reputable sellers. Suffice to say, it is not enough to match book and jacket... they should ‘deserve’ each other in terms of condition. Allan and I talked about that as he was searching for books to match his jackets. He’d include ‘jacketed copies’ in his searches, pointing out that his nice jacket deserved a copy of the book that had at least some jacket protection over the years. As the search became tougher and the wolf crept closer to his door, he’d compromise but you could tell it hurt him to do so.

(By the way, welcome back! :-)

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What I'm Doing Here

  • Allan Milkerit was a good friend and a great bookman. After his unexpected death I ended up with hundreds of the books in his shop and apartment. One at a time, I am unearthing them and deciding which to keep and which to sell or give away. Often, I read the book first, or try to. In the process, I think about Allan and the changes the rare book world is undergoing. This blog's only regular reader is Joe Marchione, who shared a shop with Allan for several years. Joe's reflections are too good to leave as mere comments so I hoist them into their own posts.