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Thomas J. Joyce And Company

Chicago, Illinois, USA

About Thomas J. Joyce And Company

Joyce And Company has been in business as a professional rare bookseller and appraiser since 1975. Owner Thomas Joyce was the regular book appraiser on Home & Garden TV\'s \"The Appraisal Fair\\\" program, on international broadcasts. Thomas Joyce was the co-discoverer of George Washington's personal copy of William Leybourn's 1679 edition of THE COMPLEAT SURVEYOR, from which young Washington learned some of his surveying skills at age 16. The book had vanished for nearly a century until its re-discovery in 2017. It is now back at Mt. Vernon.

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Thomas J. Joyce And Company

400 N. Racine Avenue Ste. 103-A
Chicago, IL 60642-6041 USA

Terms of sale for Thomas J. Joyce And Company

Inventory is subject to prior sale. Inventory is returnable for any reason within seven days of receipt. Heavier items will be charged at the cost of the shipping fees, as will special requests

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We also have a brick-and-mortar store! Visit us at:

400 N. Racine Avenue Ste. 103-A
Chicago, IL, United States
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Interview with Thomas J. Joyce of Thomas J. Joyce And Company

When did you get started in bookselling?
Officially, in 1973, I was hired to manage the famed firm of J&S Graphics (later known as J.Stephen Lawrence, when it moved uptown to Michigan Avenue in Chicago. I had been doing some private selling, and was finishing a master's degree in English literature when I was hired. A couple of years later, I ventured to open my own business in the western suburbs of Chicago.
Did you have any mentors in becoming a bookseller?
Van Allen Bradley, the author of GOLD IN YOUR ATTIC, was a good mentor. My best friend growing up was Terry Tanner, later renowned as a rare bookseller and author with Hamill & Barker of Chicago and Evanston. Terry andI assisted Van Allen Bradley to complete the first edition of THE BOOK COLLECTOR'S HANDBOOK OF VALUES, the superb one-volume vade mecum of book dealers and collectors.
What are your specialties as a dealer?
Being mildly poly-lingual helps me to sell of lot of the really old book
What's the most amazing book you've ever sold?
Young Virginian and future President, George Washington, was helped to learn the arts of land surveying by being given the 1679 fourth edition of William Leybourn's THE COMPLEAT SURVEYOR, by his neighbor and friend, William Fairfax. Washington continued doing surveying until 1799, shortly before his death. Washington's copy of Leybourn was sold at auction in 1876 for $2.00. Later, in 1891, in fetched $30 at auction. It was auctioned again in 1932 - and then disappeared. It was re-discovered in 2017, nearly a century later. It is now safely housed at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. Finding and selling an original leaf from a Gutenberg Bible was more than a thrill. I recall one young fellow admiring the leaf in its frame. He exclaimed how cool it would be if were translated, to which I replied, "I think it's been done."
What is your favorite part of being a bookseller?
My greatest thrill is to get the material into hands where it will be most appreciated.
Do you have an open storefront or have you in the past?
I had an office in Geneva, Illinois in Kane County. Several years later I expanded by adding the storefront on the first floor. After 8 years I moved to a building in Chicago's Loop. Later I moved a mile west, and five years later to a mixed use condo building a mile north of there, formerly a quick walk to Oprah's Harpo Studio, which is now the site of McDonald's International headquarters. In 1998 I co-founded The Chicago Rare Book Center in Chicago's Gold Coast, a block north of the famed Newberry Library. Years later, and after a dispute with the landlord, we moved the CRBC to Evanston, Illinois, where it thrived until a new owner of the building refused to allow the antiquarians the privilege of a year-to-year lease.
If so, do/did you have any bookstore pets?
My Scottish terrier, Bonnie, used to sit in the display window watching people pass by. While she would leave her post to sniff a visitor, she never was agitated at the window except when the town's one blind lady would scoot past the window with her seeing-eye German shepherd. Somehow that always provoked my terrier into barking.
What is the funniest / strangest / scariest thing that ever happened in your store?
An old cowboy ordered some Charles M. Russell books. For some unclear reason he was unhappy when he came in to pick them up. While discussing it with him, the shop door opened. My assistant went to help the new arrival. His distinctive voice betrayed his identity to me before I had looked over to see him. I looked up and invited the new visitor to meet the old cowpoke. I introduced Karl M. Yost, the co-author of the Charles M. Russell bibliography to the bow-legged man. Yost saw the Russell books on my desk and proceeded to tell the other gent how wonderful they were. Soon the old guy left with the books and with a smile on his face. Minutes later I too left with a smile on my face because Mr. Yost was treating me to lunch !
What is your favorite bookshop (other than your own)?
McBlain's Books in Hampden, CT.
What do you personally like to read? Collect?
I am very partial to a trio of bookish mystery novels by Diane Madsen, a series she calls her Literati Mysteries. The first is A CADGER'S CURSE. The next two are HUNTING FOR HEMINGWAY, and THE CONAN DOYLE NOTES: The Secret of Jack the Ripper. These mysteries take place in Chicago, a place Robert L. Fish ( at Bouchercon VI, at Chicago in 1975) said was so flat and uninteresting that it would be a poor locale for a detective novel. They are very inventive, involvinig but not limited to bibliomysteries, and using a rare bookdealer to help to crack the cases.
What's your favorite book you personally own? Would you sell it, if the price were right?
James Agee, LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN. 1941. First edition in an original dust jacket. I had two copies. I sold one to help a friend. To sell the other one, it would have to be a much closer friend !
What one book would you buy if price were no object?
Meriwether Lewis's personal copy of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could bring three books, what would they be?