Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 5, Number 2, Fall, 1993 Page: 35
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The Personal Touch
Bookselling in Dallas, 1920 - 1955
By David Farmer
WHTEHEN TALK AMONG CURRENT book collectors
and antiquarian booksellers turns to the
sources for interesting books, Dallas is rarely mentioned.
Yet, until well past the mid-twentieth century,
there was a remarkable set of bookshops known
for their diversity and their excellence. An examination
of the Dallas City Directory for the first half of
the twentieth century reveals times when between
eighteen and thirty bookshops were in business.
Indeed, this period of time represents a golden era of
personalized bookselling in Dallas that is now long
passed, with names like Schmalzried, The Beacon
Bookstore, The Little Bookshop, Whitmore & Smith,
Cokesbury, and McMurray's now gone and largely
forgotten as the "superstore" concept of bookselling
marks the latest trend.
Adolph L. Schmalzried's Book Shop at 911
Main Street contained the kind of antiquarian stock
that drew booksellers and collectors alike to peruse
his shelves.' His network of book buyers extended
far beyond the borders of Texas to include such
people as Edward Eberstadt, the noted Western
Americana dealer from New York, who first stopped
by while on a book-buying trip in the 1930s.
Schmalzried knew that Eberstadt was a ready buyer,
and when unusual examples of Texana remained
unsold after a reasonable period of time, he would
offer them to Eberstadt.2
Jeff Dykes, who worked for the U. S. Department
of Agriculture and became a noted book col
lector, bibliographer, and bookseller, had vivid recollections
of Schmalzried's. One of Dykes's earliest
collecting interests was the Texas Rangers, and it
was at Schmalzried's that he bought the first book
that started him down this notable path.3 He recalled
that Schmalzried was "good on Texana and had a
large stock of old books, including some rarities."
Emma Schmalzried worked in the store with her
husband, and on occasion he mildly complained
about her practice of going through all their recent
acquisitions looking for rare Texana to upgrade
copies at home, the condition of which she felt
needed to be improved.4
Still later, Franklin Gilliam, a native Texan
who established the Brick Row Book Shop in Austin
in 1954, enjoyed stopovers on his frequent buying
trips by train in and out of Texas. He knew any visit
to Schmalzried was likely to result in interesting
finds and good buys.5
The Little Book Shop, founded around 1923
and situated in a triangular rental space at the corner
of Ervay and Pacific, was a favorite of Stanley
Marcus, Everette L. DeGolyer, Jeff Dykes, and
other serious collectors.6 In the early 1930s it also
had a second location in the lobby of the Adolphus
Hotel. Its founder, Kate W. (Mrs. Wirt) Davis,
whose husband was a principal figure in the Republic
National Bank, preferred to keep a low profile in
day-to-day operations of the store. Its driving force
was the manager, Mrs. Polly Harvey Lobdell, who
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Dallas County Heritage Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 5, Number 2, Fall, 1993, periodical, 1993; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35115/m1/37/: accessed June 17, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.