October 31, 2008

George S. MacManus Co.

I'm back from a several day business trip to the Philadelphia area which included a side trip to Gettysburg on the front end and a visit to the absolutely amazing George S. MacManus Co. (est. 1937) bookstore at the very back end. In between, it was a non-stop Phillies Phever feeding frenzy. Since Tampa Bay was the American League rep, which is where my Detroit Tigers are stationed, and since I lived in Florida for most of my life, well, you can imagine who I was silently rooting for. Needless to say, I laid low in the sports bar on Wednesday night.

The trip to the MacManus shop was simply breathtaking. Never in my life have I seen such quantity and quality of rare Civil War books within the walls of one shop. As is mentioned in their current Civil War catalogue, MacManus acquired a significant portion of the inventory of the famous Chapel Hill Rare Books when its owner, Douglas O'Dell, passed away last year. Much of that stock has now been incorporated into their own offerings. 19th-century regimentals in pristine condition filled an entire bookcase. Multiple copies of scarce and rare Neale titles, some in jacket. Fine first editions from the 1940's and 1950's, all in crisp dust jackets. I could go on and on. I ended up digging deep into my pocket to buy a beautiful first edition 2-volume set of The Long Arm of Lee in the original slipcase. It was the only one of the four first edition sets in stock that had the slipcase.

I make it to Philly about three times a year for business purposes. This shop will be a standard stop going forward. Civil War bibliophiles visiting the City of Brotherly Love should do likewise. But be forewarned - this store can be dangerous to the thickness of one's wallet! :-)

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