Purchase Story

William Reese Company Has New Owners

The William Reese Company, the world’s leading antiquarian bookseller of printed and manuscript Americana, has been sold to new owners. James Cummins Bookseller, based in New York City, and London bookseller Peter Harrington have acquired the company, which will continue to operate at its existing premises at 409 Temple Street, New Haven, Connecticut.

For the last four years the William Reese Company, founded in 1975 by William S. “Bill” Reese (1955-2018), has been run by Reese’s widow, Dorothy Hurt, with its literature department led by longtime Reese company specialist Terry Halladay and the Americana department by Nick Aretakis. After working with Reese for a decade, Aretakis had established his own business in California, but he returned to the William Reese Company in 2018.

Two townhouses on Temple Street in New Haven and a 25% stake in the inventory were bought by Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, bookseller Clarence Wolf, whose business is the George S. MacManus Company. Wolf and Cummins’s father often partnered with Reese.

“The world of Americana needs the Reese company,” said Wolf. “Nick Aretakis has been running the Americana department successfully for the last four years. Young James Cummins III and Pom Harrington represent the next generation of booksellers and will assure its future.”

In 1978 James Cummins III’s father founded James Cummins Bookseller, which now includes the main store at 699 Madison Avenue (between 62nd and 63rd Streets) in New York City and two locations in New Jersey, where the ?rm o?ers ? ne and rare books, autographs, manuscripts, and works of art.

Kensington, London. Peter passed away in 2003, and the ? rm that still bears his name has grown under Pom’s ownership to be the one of the largest booksellers in the world. With a variety of stock and a team of more than 60 experts, it has more than 20,000 volumes and 6000 works on paper displayed over four ? oors, along with items from the Peter Harrington Gallery, which o?ers modern and contemporary art.

“We are very excited; it seems like a win-win,” said James Cummins. “The Bill Reese tradition continues to be a force. With all the chaos in the world, the book business is going along quite well.”


Originally published in the December 2022 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2022 Maine Antique Digest

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