When my mother died at the age of 91 I was left with the task of liquidating a lot of books and ephemera that had been collected by my grandfather whom my mother always called Jack. He was a lawyer who’s name appeared in Who’s Who and he loved books and items of ephemera along with Asian art, prints and many other items.
For two years I had no idea what to do with all this stuff. I had been given an edict not to trust dealers. And a good thing too. I had brought in two different book experts who took a look and declared that these books were not worth much at all.
One fellow took an interest in one book. A first edition of a Virginia Woolf title with an intact dustjacket.
One book? Just one?
These were books that had come into my childhood home in my teen years.
They were objects I was afraid to touch, enclosed in Globe Werneke bookcases that lined the walls of our house in Levittown, NY.
And then, one day as I sat in my childhood home waiting for the oil burner man to fix the burner on the coldest day of the coldest winter in a decade, I sat with a tiny space heater that belonged to my mother, I opened one of the glass doors and took a look at the forbidden books.
Inside of each book I opened, I found there was a note on a small scrap of paper from my mother telling me about the book.
Right there. I said “sh*t”.
Shift Happens. I knew I had to take this task on. I had to Free the books and find them good homes.