William Reese, the founder of the William Reese Company who "was universally acknowledged to be the greatest American antiquarian bookseller of his generation" and "widely celebrated as a man of uncommon graciousness, generosity, humor and decency," died June 4, the New Antiquarian reported. He was 62. Reese was known for his expertise in Americana, color plate books, natural history, exploration, literature and the history of the book.
Before he had graduated from Yale in 1977, Reese was already a partner in a rare book firm, Frontier Americana. He founded the William Reese Company in 1979. A longtime member of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, he also wrote a number of books on the antiquarian trade and book history.
In a tribute on the American Book Collecting blog, Kurt Zimmerman observed: "Writing this has become hard now. The memories have me deeply saddened and I'm lamenting the fact there will be no further interactions. There was so much I wanted to tell him and so much more I wanted to hear. We were both big admirers of Charles Everitt's Adventures of a Treasure Hunter (1951), one of the best bookseller memoirs. I prodded Bill to write his own memoirs and he said he was, but I don't think it happened--fleeting time, illness, and life cruelly short. It would have been the best of them all. I know it. But I'm grateful for what he did write and gave to the book world and while he was busy building important collections, buying and selling great books, and becoming one of the finest antiquarian booksellers of all, he took time to be my friend."