Not long ago, I received an e-mail from a reader who had enjoyed The Bookman’s Tale but who especially connected with one of the acknowledgements (please always read an author’s acknowledgements—they are often the most revealing part of a book). In this case, I had thanked, among my book collecting mentors, Stan Marx. My reader wrote to me: “I was a friend of Stan’s and member of the Long Island book group which he was instrumental in forming. He was a good, kind and intelligent man.”
Stan not only founded the Long island Book Collectors but also the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, which he began in 1974 with just 17 members. It was through our mutual interest in Lewis Carroll that I first met Stan. Early in my collecting, I started reading the acknowledgements of bibliographies and other reference books. When the authors thanked collectors, I wrote to those collectors asking if they might have any duplicates to sell. I had not yet discovered the various Lewis Carroll Societies, and this seemed a good way to meet other collectors. Imagine my surprise when Stan wrote back and asked if I would like to buy his entire collection.
A few months later, after our first trip to Long Island to look over the remarkable collection that Stan had put together over more than twenty-five years, my wife and I loaded his boxed up books, papers, and ephemera into a truck and headed south. Since then, I constantly refer to the books I bought from Stan, and his collection remains a cornerstone of my collection.
That was in about 1985 or 1986. We became friends and saw each other at least twice a year at Lewis Carroll Society meetings. Stan, who ran a bookshop together with his son, was generous with advice about collecting, books, running the society (I became president in the late 1980s) and so many other things. I remember the day that Adolph Green came to speak to the Society. Stan had been a big fan for decades, and the two of them had lunch across the table from me, Stan beaming the whole time.
I last saw Stan shortly before he died when he came (for the second time) to my hometown of Winston-Salem for an international Lewis Carroll conference. We sat together one morning and spoke in depth about future projects for the Society.
Stan was exactly the sort of person you hope to meet in the book collecting world—the sort of person I hope every collector out there has the chance to meet and befriend. He was a lovely man, a true gentleman collector of the best type, and is still missed not just by me but by all of us in the Society who had the honor to know him.
If I hadn’t read the acknowledgements, I might never have met Stan. I’m glad I did, and I’m glad another of his friends read my acknowledgements, so we could both remember Stan together.