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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Schulte's Book Store Catalogue

A few years ago, I acquired a cache of old letters written to Schulte's Book Store in New York City during the 1940s to 1960s. Most of the letters were from authors, artists, and collectors of varying degrees of note, such as authors Rose Wilder Lane and Stefan Lorant, and woodcut illustrator J.J. Lankes. These are just three I've written about from the two-dozen-plus letters in the collection. 


I've been hoping to add a store catalogue to the collection to gain more insight into Schulte's stock and anything else about the business it might offer. Now I have one--Catalogue 81.

There is no date, but an online search of the phone number (Stuyvesant 2550) turns up a few Schulte references dating from 1918 to 1924. So this catalogue is probably circa 1920s, a few decades before the correspondence mentioned above.

But it does reveal on the cover some information that clearly shows Schulte's was a well-established book store long before the correspondence in my collection took place. The front cover boasts that Schulte's is the largest second-hand book store in New York and one of the largest in all of America with an inventory of more than 100,000 books. Their stock consisted of Americana, Art, Costumes, Curiosa, Facetiae, Fine Sets of Standard Authors, and miscellaneous books for the book-lover, collector, and librarian.

Additionally, the cover ad goes on to state, "we have a large outlet for fine editions, standard subscription sets and rare books." It then reiterates the size of the inventory and expands a bit on the subject matter one is likely to find there: Americana, Art, Belles Lettres, History, Philosophy  Sociology, Travel, Biography, and a separate department for Theology. Something for everyone. Inquiries and correspondence about selling books to Schulte's are encouraged.


With so much to offer, the catalogue jumps right into it with double-column listings that start immediately at the top of the inside cover page and run without a break to the bottom of the rear cover. No images, no ads--a no-frills, workman-like catalogue.


Nine-hundred and five entries comprise the 36-page catalogue, which was apparently well-read, used, and abused. This beat-up, stained, worn copy is exactly how a catalogue should look (particularly of this vintage). Had it been in fine condition, it's purpose for existing would likely have gone unfulfilled.

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