Does it count as work toward my Dante catalogue if I spent my book time today (read: the hours when the kids are at school and I am not folding laundry, grocery shopping, or driving carpools) making an important acquisition for it? I should have been writing descriptions, imaging the covers of books, compiling a mailing list, and checking out printing costs. Instead, I was shopping.
I had thought I was about done acquiring works for the catalogue, which focuses on illustrated and unusual editions of the works of Dante Alighieri. There were a few other works I wanted to add which just plain eluded me. I’ve talked about this catalogue for so long (about six months) that I just want to complete it to prove that it really does exist. After searching for these few elusive items high and low with no luck, I decided that my acquisitions for this catalogue were done.
However, ten days ago, I found it. The. Perfect. Item. — the one which will really be the high point of my catalogue and bring focus to the collection as a whole. It was offered in an auction, and I bid for it today and won it. I’ve been looking for said item, whose existence I’d heard of but never seen, for close to a year. Finding it was purely serendipity, a word one hears a lot when it comes to book hunting, but which one rarely gets to experience.
The feeling I get when I find a book which I think I will never find is pure elation! Remember that phrase “a hymn to joy” that veteran booksellers Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine Stern referred to in their definition of fingerspitzengefuhl? That’s exactly the feeling I had today. I was ready to break into Symphony No. 9 from Beethoven (Ode to Joy) and tap dance. It doesn’t happen often that I have such a find, but it happens often enough that I want to keep hunting for more. I don’t want to be a tease, and I realize I am being one because I am not revealing what is the item in question. I want very much to tell all of you, but then I won’t have any reason to put together a catalogue. So, please, please, please keep being patient. All will be revealed in good time. The catalogue is coming — as soon as I finish with all of the holiday hoopla, I’ll be right back to work on it.
I apologize for bragging about my find without naming it. It’s just that I’ve shared so many of my past mistakes, I want to let you know when there are some things that go right as well. As soon as I print the catalogue, I’ll post here which item I was referring to.
Thanks for understanding.
While I have your attention, have any of you who are experienced antiquarian booksellers spent six months or longer putting together a catalogue or is it just me that takes so long to complete my catalogue? I realize there is a learning curve the first time one writes a catalogue, and I admit to being a bit on the perfectionist side when it comes to books, but really, is it at all normal for me to take so long to do this? I am a part-time bookseller, but I still feel like I should have this catalogue done. Any and all comments would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance.