Sometimes a book ends up posing questions which you, as a bookseller, simply cannot answer. I enjoy the research aspects of what I do, but I recognise that I cannot know everything, and also that the books I offer for sale must provide further possibilities for research for the customer, whether private collector or special collections library. Here is an example:
This binder’s stamp is at the back of a standard nineteenth-century Russian binding on a standard nineteenth-century edition of Koltsov’s poems, and reads: ‘American binding workshop. James Steinsberg [“Dzhems Shteinsberg”], Simferopol, Politseiskaya St.’ I can find nothing on him, or his bindery. Was a Russian binder simply calling his bindery ‘American’, and using an American-sounding name? Whatever the answer, it’s a fascinating piece of cross-cultural evidence, and certainly worthy of further research.