Books and Bidders

by A. S. W. Rosenbach. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1927. 8vo. xvi+ 297 pp. Illus. $5.00. (An Atlantic Mouthly Press Publication.)
THIS is a remarkable book, written by a remarkable man — one who is at once a merchant, a scholar, and a collector; and in reading him it is sometimes difficult to remember which man is addressing you. What other business man would take you so freely into his confidence? What other scholar would dare enter the markets of the world to hold his own against all comers? And finally, what other collector, knowing the game as Dr. Bosenbach does, would take so pleasantly a heaping dose of his own medicine and ask for more?
For years I have said that Dr. Rosenbach had the distinction of being not only the greatest bookseller living, but the greatest that has ever lived — and my friends laughed at me and said, ‘“Rosy” has you hypnotized.’ But this book proves I was right. No other bookseller has ever been so rich as he, no other bookseller has ever depended so entirely on his own knowledge, and, finally, no other bookseller has ever had a personal library so unique and so valuable. Other booksellers keep some poor devil of a scholar in the background, going to him, like Nicodcmus, by night for information. ‘Rosy’ is his own walking encyclopædia. In buying a book he knows no fear: I should say that the sky was his limit, but that he keeps this limit for his customers — hence his wealth.
Book-collecting is a game; how and by whom it is played this book tells. Everyone will want it — indeed, so keen is the demand that the great purveyor of first editions is himself obliged to fill his orders with the second printing, or is it the third? Caveat emptor.
Books and Bidders is full of friendly anecdotes and reminiscences; no one has had so many and such varied experiences as its author — and these experiences are told with a freedom and ease which distinguish this book from the many similar books which have recently appeared. There is nothing ‘high hat’ about Dr. Rosenbach ; indeed, from the first page of his book to the last he disarms you with his seeming simplicity. If ‘Rosy’ has a pose, it is a pretense of knowing less than he does; his is the simplicity of the Chinaman.
The book is handsomely printed and is crowded with facsimiles of items calculated with cunning to drive the collector mad; for this is the humor in which ‘Rosy himself lives and in which the author likes to keep his clients and his friends — and I am betraying no secret in saying that he does so.