In November of 2010, I headed to the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair as a bookseller for Bauman Rare Books. I stayed with my old friend Meredith, effortlessly capable Harvard Business School grad, and her family in Cambridge.
After dinner, at the kitchen table, I talked about dealing for myself one day, a goal that seemed laughably distant. “How much money will you need to start?” No idea: I’d never made a budget or read a balance sheet. I had to ask Meredith to define “revenue.” She poured us some more wine, opened a worksheet, and knocked out a business plan in two hours: a foundational document (Meredith’sModel.xlsx) I will never, ever delete from my hard drive.
The next November I came back to Boston, and Meredith’s kitchen table, having just left my position at BRB, with a temporary checkbook and a stack of “coming soon” Honey & Wax business cards to hand out at the fair.
Every fall I’ve returned, with real checks and business cards now, exhibiting at the Boston shadow show and logging the four years of independent operation required to apply for membership in the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America. Tomorrow night, I’ll be back at Meredith’s kitchen table, and the ABAA will vote on Honey & Wax. On Saturday, I’ll be exhibiting at the shadow show at the Back Bay Events Center (booth D49), maybe the last shadow show for a while.
It’s been an incredible four years. Thanks to everyone who made Honey & Wax possible . . . but especially, this weekend, give it up for Meredith.
The site’s been quiet for a couple of weeks. I’ve been away, gathering books and inspiration for this fall’s Honey & Wax catalog. Here are some travel slides, for those who like to follow along at home.Bookseller and Buckinghamshire native Simon Beattie gave me a tour of some local literary highlights. This is the churchyard in Stoke Poges where Thomas Gray wrote “Elegy in a Country Churchyard” (1751).And this is the cottage in Chalfont St Giles where the blind John Milton completed Paradise Lost in 1667. The Indian takeaway across the road from Milton’s cottage, where the great poet got his weekly vindaloo fix. The petrol pumps on Great Missenden High Street, the inspiration for the filling station in Roald Dahl’s Danny, The Champion of the World (1975), my favorite of all his novels. Photographer Simon is visible in the reflection.Simon in the field behind Roald Dahl’s house. The woods in the distance inspired Victor Hazell’s poaching grounds in Danny, The Champion of the World. Roald Dahl’s private writing cottage, constructed behind his house in Great Missenden. He claimed that savage wolves lived there to keep the family away while he was working. This plan would not have deterred my child. After our whirl through Buckinghamshire, Simon and I teamed up with Elisabeth Grass (late of Quaritch) for the journey to the first ever PBFA book fair in Bristol.There were singers! dancers! mimes on stilts! And scores of PBFA dealers. I was lucky enough to land the plush guest bedroom at the headquarters of Bristol bookseller Steve Liddle.Then on to Oxford, to pick up Lily and spend a night in Jesus College, the only college at Oxford founded during the reign of Elizabeth I. The queen was an imposing presence over our breakfast table. Lil ate Rice Krispies, unfazed, under her imperial gaze.We continued on to Paris, where we moved into the Hotel du Vieux Paris on the Left Bank. Once known as the Beat Hotel, it was home to Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs decades ago. Now it’s full of modern comforts, but the old raftered ceilings remain.We visited Shakespeare & Company a few blocks away, where Lil befriended the bookstore cat, Kitty.And I visited the rare book room (hello, Ben Brown!) and the Sylvia Beach Memorial Library, where a young Englishman noodled on a piano dating back to the Lost Generation:The bookstore window scene in Paris was aspirational.And we enjoyed running into the greats every time we turned a corner. I give you Montaigne, outside the Sorbonne. Students rub his right shoe for luck before their exams:
And Voltaire, quietly amused in the Panthéon:I’ll be back in the bookroom next week, and Honey & Wax will resume regular business hours — until then, bon voyage!
New Yorkers! It’s Rare Book Week in New York City, with book fairs around every corner — but only one will have Honey & Wax.
You’ll find us in booth 207 at the New York City Book and Ephemera Fair this Saturday, April 11, from 8 to 4, at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue at 83rd Street. Come say hello!
Just returned from a wet weekend of book-buying in Oakland, at the California International Antiquarian Book Fair, to a frozen week of book-cataloguing here in Brooklyn. New acquisitions are up every day now at Honey & Wax.
Do you need a complete set of embossed Shakespearean valentines, circa 1907, for this weekend? Probably. Pick them up here.
Or come see the new books for yourself next weekend at the Greenwich Village Antiquarian Book Fair, February 20-22!
And in happy local news: this Saturday, December 6, jump-start your holiday shopping at the Third Annual Brooklyn Holiday Book Fair, featuring rare, vintage and out-of-print books from independent booksellers all over Brooklyn.
Cara Schlesinger of Faenwyl Bindery will run an all-ages bookmaking demonstration at 12 PM. And at 2 PM, the brilliant Maira Kalman will be on hand to sign her new book, My Favorite Things, a tribute to the power of special objects, and the ideal holiday gift for the collector (or hoarder) on your list.
Hope to see you all Saturday!
Just home from a packed, rushed expatriate Thanksgiving in London, where I spent 72 hours shopping for holiday gifts (yours, mine, everyone’s) and restocking the Honey & Wax shelves. Keep an eye on the website as the new books arrive!
On the flight home, I settled in with Vanity Fair’s 2014 holiday gift guide, featuring our signed variorum edition of Yeats.Honey & Wax: standing by, for all your seasonal poetry needs.
Why am I formatting show cards and updating the Honey & Wax blog at 3:25 AM? There can be only one reason: the Boston Shadow Show, officially known as the Boston Book, Print, and Ephemera Show, is happening this Saturday, November 15, from 8 AM to 4 PM at the Back Bay Events Center. Come say hello! I’ll be drinking coffee in Booth D42.