Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Favorite Antiquarian Book Purveyor – The Lyrical Ballad

One of my very favorite brick-and-mortar bookshops is the Lyrical Ballad in Saratoga, New York. I visit this charming site every August – during racing season - when we stay at our family's beloved 85 year old Adirondack “camp” at Sacandaga Lake, New York, about 20 miles to the north. This bookshop, owned by John and Jan DeMarco, and named after the Wordsworth poetry title, has been a cornerstone of downtown Saratoga for 35 years.
What is special about this shop is that it is truly a “labyrinth of books”. How I love to wander through the labyrinth of rooms containing SO many wonderful old books and prints! The shop is located at 7 Philadelphia Street, right off Saratoga’s main street, Broadway, in the lower space of a former bank building. The original bank vault remains, but instead of being filled with bags of money, it is loaded with rare and scarce biblio-treasures - this is certainly one place laden with late 19th and early 20th century decorative publisher’s bindings! The front rooms are stunning, lined with corniced wood shelves that frame these precious jewels to great effect. The accompanying photos show the two bookcases I most covet and from which I have purchased many a wonderful tome: an antique revolving bookcase that looks like a castle turret…
… and the glass-fronted bookcase of precious miniature books.
And then, there is the DeMarco’s extensive collection of fabulous old bookends displayed above all the shelves. The Demarcos sell books previously owned by Audubons and by Melvilles - as in Herman of Moby Dick fame! When I ask for more titles illustrated by my beloved Margaret Armstrong, I am told of many still remaining in the DeMarco’s storage facility, which have not yet been transported to the bookshop!

Do visit this treasure of a book shop if you are ever in the Saratoga Springs area (and be sure to sample the waters from the many springs!). The store is open every day, with extended hours during the Summer Racing Season. The DeMarcos can be contacted at (518) 584-8779 or send an email to: lballad@nycap.rr.com for more information

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