May 2014 | Nicholas Basbanes

In Memoriam, Bookseller and Author Patricia Ahearn

Pat and Allen 2 copy.jpgThe antiquarian book world lost one of its nicest, most beloved figures this week with the passing of Patricia Ahearn, the wife of Allen Ahearn, her partner for close to forty years at Quill & Brush booksellers of Dickerson, Maryland, one of the nation's leading dealers of modern first editions and literary collectibles, and now in its second generation of family management and ownership. Together, Pat and Allen were the authors of seven books on book collecting and rare book values, most famously, perhaps, four impeccably researched editions of Collected Books: The Guide to Values, the successor to Van Allen Bradley's groundbreaking series of the 1970s and '80s, Book Collector's Handbook of Values. The photo of the couple reproduced herewith graced the dust jacket of the 1991 edition, their debut effort, and in the years before the Internet arrived so explosively on the scene, was pretty much the only game in town for determining issue points and comparable values.

On a more personal level, some of my earliest and fondest memories of the rare book world have involved the continuing good cheer and companionship of Pat and Allen Ahearn. My first ABAA fair as a published author, in Washington, D.C., in October 1995, had as an unqualified highlight a sumptuous crab feast at Quill & Brush, and the beginnings of a long and lasting friendship with these two very classy and decent people. For me, a book fair in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, or Boston didn't start until I went over to the Quill & Brush booth and got my big hug from Pat, and it wasn't over until we all got together somewhere for spirits and dinner in a group that always included Allan and Kim Stypeck, the owners of Second Story Books, and lifelong friends of the Ahearns. These were special moments for me, and I treasure them.

Connie and I extend our deepest condolences to Allen and their four children, thirteen grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Mary's Church in Barnesville, Maryland. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a donation be made to a local non-profit hospice of choice, or the Alzheimer's Association.

Photograph 1991 by Robert Kalk.