When Colonel Henry A. Siegel (ret.) got out of the Army in 1955, he "fooled around" with sales work for a number of years, but his happiest times were spent fishing for trout and salmon and collecting books on angling. As his library grew, he started swapping his duplicates with other collectors. Yet no matter how many books Colonel Siegel traded away, the collection kept swelling. Last year, "just looking for something to do," he issued a catalogue of fishing and hunting books and mailed out 2,000 copies.
Orders poured in from all over the U.S., Canada and Bermuda, and within 10 weeks 80% of the books were sold. Moreover, the catalogue caused a real stir among other collectors. Instead of listing the tattered old dogs that clutter most catalogues. Siegel offered any number of elusive items, such as the first edition of Emlyn Gill's Practical Dry-fly Fishing, the first American book on the subject ($15) and Louis Rhead's American Trout Stream Insects ($25). Siegel also had a fair representation of the magnificent Derrydale Press books, the rarest of which was Joel Barber's Wild Fowl Decoys, No. 3 of a signed edition of 55 copies. Priced at $425, it drew four orders.
Two of the authors most in demand were George LaBranche and Edward Ringwood Hewitt, giants of the past generation. A presentation copy of The Dry Fly and Fast Water fetched $15. Hewitt's Secrets of the Salmon, the limited first, went for $20, and his A Trout and Salmon Fisherman for Seventy-five Years for $15. A few angler collectors deemed the prices a bit stiff, but most felt that if anything, Siegel's prices were low. Out-of-print angling books are a shrinking commodity in an expanding market. Siegel himself learned this the hard way with some books published comparatively recently: Claude Kreider's The Bamboo Rod and Bow to Build It, 1951, and Art Flick's Streamside Guide, 1947. Until a few years ago, it was possible to pick up either for a few dollars. "Now," Siegel says, "I have difficulty finding copies."
With the first catalogue depleted, Siegel reinvested in more books. Indeed, he bought so many that he, his wife and two children were crowded out of their Manhattan apartment and into a country house. "I'm convinced," Siegel says, "that I can make a living doing something I like to do and still have time for hunting and fishing." A second catalogue with 900 items has just been issued. Anyone interested should write to Angler's & Shooter's Bookshelf, South Street, Goshen, Conn. 06756.