Days of Whine and Snowses | Page 49 | Newberry

Days of Whine and Snowses

So I would just like to say one more thing about the Grabowskis out there who have lifted Chicago out of the snow in such a speedy fashion. Sure, there are streets left unplowed and people hunting for their cars, but in other places a storm like ours would have meant at least a week of chaos, business at a standstill, and complete disruption of the daily routine. And I would like to make one last remark to the hard-working, nothing-stops-me folks who made that possible.

What were you thinking?

The day after the blizzard, a mother and daughter hauled books in for the Book Fair. That Friday, someone called to ask if I could finally get around to picking up her books, “now that the blizzard’s all over”. And on Saturday, a very nice couple brought me 583 art catalogs. No boxes or bags: just 583 art catalogs piled in their trunk and back seat. The three of us loaded these into boxes at the Library and hauled them indoors. Say what you will, these folks put in a lot of work to haul that many art catalogs to the Fair.

It’s an interesting collection, too. Most collections of art catalogs that are fairly generic, just whatever Christie’s or Sotheby’s was sending out. But this collection had a focus: I think it included every catalog of prints—Old Master, Victorian, Contemporary—that had been published by Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Leslie Hindman’s, and a couple of auction houses in Vienna over the last fifteen years. It is practically a library of the trade in valuable prints in this century.

A lot of them, too, were what we called “priced”. It’s another book dealer term you can add to your list: it refers to an auction catalog which includes a printed sheet showing the price realized for each item. This is what really makes an auction catalog a reference tool. (In earlier days, “priced” also meant a catalog where one of the people who attended the auction wrote down the prices as the auction went along. Now that you can buy the sheet of prices realized, you don’t see that as often.) We used to charge more for catalogs that were “priced” but we gave that up the year a cheerful volunteer went through and took the sheets out of every catalog so they’d be “tidier”.

So this collection of catalogs will, in the right hands, provide information and entertainment to those who buy or sell prints, as well as those who can’t afford that but would like to look at the pictures all the same. The value these will provide far outstrips the mere dollars—practically pennies!—you’ll pay for each one this July.

Even though a few banana boxes might have made life easier. I guess that’s not what Grabowskis are about. 

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