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Bancroft, Hubert Howe (05 May 1832–02 March 1918), businessman and historian, was born in Granville, Ohio, the son of Azariah Ashley Bancroft, a farmer, and Lucy Howe, a teacher. His formal education stopped short of college, and at age sixteen Bancroft left home to learn the book trade from his brother-in-law in Buffalo, New York. Sent to California with a valuable consignment of books, Bancroft opened his own bookstore in San Francisco in December 1856, with capital supplied by his sister and credit from several New York firms. Efficiently run, and favored by a margin between California gold and depreciated eastern currency during the Civil War, Bancroft’s store proved phenomenally profitable. Within a decade, H. H. Bancroft & Co. supported extensive European travel for its proprietor and permitted him the luxury of semiretirement at age thirty-seven. In 1869–1870 he built a five-story building for his business, which expanded to include stationery, office supplies, printing, and bookbinding. He turned over the day-to-day operations to his younger brother, Albert, while he moved into the fifth floor and devoted himself to the study of history....

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Deinard, Ephraim (11 May 1846–24 June 1930), Hebrew author, bibliographer, and bookdealer, was born in Shossmaken, Courland, Russia, the son of Jekuthiel Gerson Deinard and Leah Cohen. In addition to attending traditional schools of Jewish learning, he also studied secular subjects with private tutors. By age eighteen he was contributing articles on current issues to the Hebrew weekly ...

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Drake, Samuel Gardner (11 October 1798–14 June 1875), bookseller and historian, was born in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, the son of Simeon Drake and Love Muchmore Tucke, farmers. Drake was a slender and delicate child who loved the woods near his home more than he did the local school. In 1816 he joined his older brother John Drake and worked as an underclerk for his uncle Samuel J. Tucke, an importer of paints and oils, in Boston. Following a six-month stay in Baltimore on business for his uncle, Drake returned to New Hampshire and taught in a school in Loudon, New Hampshire. This was followed by a schoolteaching stint in New Jersey (1819–1820), a study of medicine in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, and then a return to teaching (1820–1823). Although he did not “find himself” in these endeavors, Drake brought the purposefulness that he had developed to what would become the great passions of his life: collecting antiquarian materials and bookselling....

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Rich, Obadiah (1783–20 January 1850), diplomat and book dealer, was born in Truro, Massachusetts, the son of Obadiah Rich, a ship captain, and Salome Lombard. About 1789 his family moved to the Boston area, where Rich resided until 1816. Although the details of Rich’s schooling are not known, an acquaintance described him as “a gentleman by birth and education” and “really learned” (Henry Harrisse, ...

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Rosenbach, Abraham Simon Wolf (22 July 1876–01 July 1952), antiquarian bookseller, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Morris Rosenbach, a soft-goods merchant, and Isabella Polock. As a child, A. S. W. Rosenbach, the youngest of seven children, spent many hours in the bookshop of his uncle Moses Polock, a well-known antiquarian bookseller. There he learned to love old books and manuscripts and absorbed much about history and literature. He was the only one of his family to attend college, receiving his Ph.D. in English literature in 1901 from the University of Pennsylvania....

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Sabin, Joseph (06 December 1821–05 June 1881), bibliographer and bookseller, was born in Braunston, Northamptonshire, near Oxford, England, the son of Joseph Sabin and Mary Shirley. He studied in the common schools in Oxford but did not attend a university. At age fourteen he was apprenticed to Oxford book dealer Charles Richards, who taught him bookbinding but transferred him to sales when his bibliophilic interests began to emerge. Thus immersed in books and prints, Sabin grew to be effective with customers and was promoted to general manager, a position that allowed him to buy books. His increasing responsibilities included the preparation of library sale catalogs, which drew him into the art of bibliographic description. In 1842 he left Richards to form a partnership as a bookseller and auctioneer with a man named Winterborne, whose father was an architect and builder in Oxford and whose sister, Mary Ann, Sabin married in 1844. They had two children....