Christopher P. Stephens, Bookman

Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.

Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world. He has operated appealing bookstores in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, Hastings on Hudson, NY and several in NYC, NY. He is a wholesale dealer to other bookstores all over the world.

Chris loves books.

Stephens now maintains a lively internet operation out of his new home in Scranton, PA.

Friday, May 1, 2009


     One of the greatest pleasures of having a bookshop is the way customers infect one with the enthusiasm of their interests.  Andre Bernard came into riverrun tomorrow.  (I don't want to explain why this tense construction makes sense).  Andre has many interests.  For one thing, he's intrigued by bookplates.
     Before I could catch his enthusiasm my childhood antibodies had to be overcome.  My father despised bookplates.  Someone once gave me some very appealing ones for my own library. I couldn't use them.  As far as my father was concerned I might as well have scrawled out my name in crayon on the endpapers (a crime I did commit against the new Garth Williams illustrated edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder books.)
     Chris showed A.B. a teeny tiny bookplate mounted in a miniature book.
     Chris told him the bookplate story of Samuel Loveman.
     Loveman was the executor of Hart Crane's estate.  Crane had a nice library and he'd pasted his bookplate in each volume.  Loveman sold the books from the library little by little.  He charged a premium because they had belonged to Crane, as the plates attested.  Eventually Loveman ran out of Crane's books.
     He still had the metal block from which the paper bookplates were printed.  "What's the harm?" he thought to himself.   He printed up bookplates whenever he ran out, and continued putting them on books that he sold at a premium because they "were part of Hart Crane's library".
     Hart Crane had died in 1932.  Books published long afterwards inexplicably seemed part of his library.
     Chris bought everything from Samuel Loveman in the mid 1970s, including the ill-used printer block for bookplates.  

     Andre spent the afternoon with books and book plates.  He found some good ones.  His quiet satisfaction made an impression on me.  By the time he left I'd caught the bug.

No comments:

Post a Comment