Wiliam Reese, Leading Seller of Rare Books, Is Dead at 62

Historians in the News
tags: obituary, Wiliam Reese



William Reese, whose encyclopedic knowledge of historic American books and manuscripts made him a towering figure among rare-book sellers, died on June 4 at his childhood home in Havre de Grace, Md. He was 62.

His wife, Dorothy Hurt, said the cause was prostate cancer.

For nearly 40 years, from his treasure house of a by-appointment-only store on a quiet block in New Haven, Mr. Reese shaped tastes, cultivated collectors, advised museums and libraries, and made and moved markets. Many of the nation’s leading collections of Americana bear his stamp.

Mr. Reese relied on the breadth and depth of his scholarship to grasp the import of all sorts of seeming arcana.

“I always had a concept as a person dealing in Americana that I was selling evidence in one form or another,” he told an interviewer in 2010. ...


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