The Georgetown of Jackie Kennedy’s window shopping days is long gone for certain. Based on the Riggs Bank dome in the picture, I figure that Jackie is somewhere around the current location of J. Crew on M Street.
I’m not against change…I do change related work for a living. But I feel every associated little seismic shift I think, more so than others. Whether the change or loss is necessary (thank you Judith Viorst) or not, it’s gonna be palpable in Maxminimus land. Shit, who am I kidding? I feel everything deeply. The photo above is the now empty building that used to house The Pottery Barn. I’m glad they went kaput…serves them right. Why such animosity ADG?
Well you see there was a time when that building housed Larry McMurtry’s shop of rare books…Booked Up. When I first moved to DC in 1989 there was a remnant of it on the back side of that building, then run by folks other than McMurtry himself…but still…a repository of old and rare books none the less. But then came, even before Pottery Barn, that expensive ass…absurdly so…gardening kit store and that was the end of old and rare books at 31st and M.
Georgetown is becoming as homogenized as the I-20 spur in Florence South Carolina. And the latest victim is Bartleby’s books.
After finishing my visit at Sterling and Burke, I walked a few feet over to Bartleby’s only to see the notice above. Yep. Another one bites the dust. There will be in its place quite soon, a new restaurant. If not some kind of chain eatery then surely an adjective-laden high dollar de cuisine goat-rodeo of epic ego.
Bartleby’s wasn’t (their final day was last Saturday—they’ll be selling online from now on) your typical used/discount bookstore. Bargains were there to be had—for sure. But Bartleby’s had higher end stuff and vetted eclectica that won’t now be found in a bricks and mortar locale, at least here in my patch.
The sporting books were enviable and expensive.
I passed on Elliott’s Carolina Sports by Land and Water. It was priced, I’m sure appropriately at around $1,300.00.
Travel and adventure too.
More Sporting tomes.
First editions…appropriately behind glass.
The South Carolina section would have been the envy of even a Charleston based book dealer.
Consistent with my randomness I did buy a few tidbits though. Pee Dee Panorama is an anecdotal meandering through the area of South Carolina where I grew up.
My people settled in the Pee Dee area well over two hundred years ago.
It was fun to see some familiar names in the acknowledgments. James Rogers was still the Editor of The Florence Morning News twenty-five years after the publication of Pee Dee Panorama. I know because I used to deliver his Florence Morning News to his home…at about six every morning. He was very much the archetypical, genteel, small town newspaperman. He called me by my nickname from the time I can remember. He was still buying navy blue suits from me at the hometown Trad haberdashery after he became Editor Emeritus.
So we leave the Pee Dee area and drop in on Gerry Mulligan. I’m going to do a separate post on one of the unique little discoveries in this Mulligan tome.
I generally don’t pursue fine bindings or rare books so valuable that one is reluctant to handle them. I like my library utilitarian and my books full-contact. I already had a Tour of Dr. Syntax illustrated by Thomas Rowlandson but the gift-binding on this one intrigued me.
The good people at Bartleby’s explained to me that one could buy a book and commission from the seller, a decorative binding, often referred to as a gift binding.
So I gifted myself this little first edition version. Published in 1855 and signed I suppose, by the owner in 1857.
Knickerbocker Nuggets…how could I not buy this little fella…partial leather binding…and full of anecdotes about Whist…the popular 19th century card game. The Nuggets series began in the late 1880’s and remained in print, I think, through 1900.
The Prince of Wales, later Edward VII and his minions played Whist incessantly at The Marlborough Club. Here’s the caricature of one Whist playing William Amherst, 3rd Earl Amherst, by Carlo Pellegrini … “Ape” of Vanity Fair fame.
I could give two hoots and a damn about Whist but the piccolo book intrigued me and at eight bucks, why not?
So long Bartleby’s. At least we can look in on you by way of your website. But like my buddy Tim said, “You can’t smell the Internet.”