Flipping Through Signed First Editions in Manhattan, NYC
The used volumes lining the shelves outside of Argosy Books draw you in; their casual presentation, so trusting of passersby. You inspect a few then step curiously indoors. The gallery is quiet—not so much because it's a rule, but rather out of respect for the work that goes on there. Since 1925, Argosy has dealt in antiquarian books, maps, and autographs and the quirky and high-quality collection now fills six museum-like floors. Under the warming glow of a desk lamp, a clerk inspects the spine of a recently purchased first edition. Inquire about the masterpiece of your favorite author and you'll find yourself ferried to the sixth floor in an ancient elevator. The thin volume is already lying out, waiting for you to inhale the slightly dusty scent and run your fingers along the yellowing parchment. When questions about this book’s history turn toward price, the answer makes you gasp. Retreating back downstairs, a more affordable edition by the same author, one that doesn't require a lock and key—will do quite nicely for now.