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The story behind a new collection

October 11, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Read Bob’s story about how Oak Knoll acquired a new collection of titles expressing the craft of the book. The collection came from from Arnold Leibowitz, a lawyer in Washington, D.C.

Arnold called me up a number of months ago and said that he would like to sell his collection of high spot private press and illustrated books. His children had no interest in his books and he wanted to see them sold and provide money for his family. He had remembered selling me a small group of books on typography ten years ago and was happy with our dealings and thought that his collection would interest me. He also mentioned that four different auction houses had already been to see the books and made an offer to sell them at auction.

Upon arrival in Washington, Rob and I sat down with him and learned that he was an attorney with a niche market – his specialty was legal matters dealing with constitutional law in the different territories of the U.S. He had spent considerable time in Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Island, and the American Samoa.

Then we carefully examined the 300 books in his library and discussed the differences between auction sale and outright sale to a bookseller. Auction houses can give estimates of selling price but, in the end, they can’t commit to a final price or even an actual sale of the item. Arnold wanted a completed deal with no possible surprises. The result of this discussion was the sale of the library to Oak Knoll. His lawyer training came to good use as he drew up the legal contract of sale spelling out in detail the somewhat complicated arrangement we had made. We loaded up the van and drove these beautiful books home.

The next morning I went to work early and checked my email. To my surprise there was an email from some unknown person in Washington, DC, asking if I was Robert D. Fleck and owned a business called Oak Knoll Books. He went on to say that he was a jogger and had just that afternoon found a binder in the middle of the road containing what looked like legal papers. He had left it on the stone wall surrounding the local church in his neighborhood. It was then that I remembered putting the binder on top of the van when loading up the books. I called Arnold and told him the story and he drove over and found the binder with his legal document still on the wall. This acquisition was meant to be.

-Bob

Click here to see the Leibowitz collection.

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