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Oral history interview with George Goodspeed, 1987 Apr. 24-June 3

Goodspeed, George, 1903-



Collection Information

Size: Sound recording: 4 sound files, digital, wav file; 45 Pages, Transcript

Summary: An interview with George Goodspeed conducted 1987 Apr. 24-1987 June 3, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art.
Goodspeed speaks of his business from the 1920s through to the present as a rare book, manuscript and print dealer; the antiquarian and topical (as opposed to aesthetic) emphasis of Goodspeed's print department; important clients; trends in taste; the market for prints.

Biographical/Historical Note

George Goodspeed (1903- 1997) is a book dealer from Boston, Mass.


These interviews are part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.

Language Note

English .


Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.



The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with George Goodspeed on April 24 and May 6, 1987. The interview took place in Boston, Massachusetts, and was conducted by Robert Brown for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

The Archives of American Art has reviewed the transcript and has made corrections and emendations. This transcript has been lightly edited for readability by the Archives of American Art. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.


ROBERT BROWN:  Now, this is April 24—

[Audio Break.]

ROBERT BROWN:  Well, this is an interview with George Goodspeed, in Boston. It's April 24, 1987. Robert Brown, the interviewer. Mr. Goodspeed, I want to talk with you about your years in the Goodspeed's Bookshop, and particularly if we could talk and recall that aspect of the business dealing with art, at least with forms of art. When did you begin? Maybe you can describe your earlier memories of the shop, even as a child, and describe your father's interests.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, I remember the shop. I can't sort out what I remember, what I remember from before, from long before, I went to work. But the old shop, of course, was in the basement of Park Street, where the [inaudible-Palace Fathers?] is now. It was, it was a basement shop, you've seen pictures of it. And then, underneath the shop, there was a sub-basement, and the sub-basement, I remember, had no light in it. My father used to—they had to use a candle in the—we were living in Wollaston at the time. This is—this I remember only from hearsay, but I don't remember—

ROBERT BROWN:  Because you were very small, yeah.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  —but my father was working in the—one evening, he was working in the sub-basement, and he took—he finished, late for him, I suppose—I don't know how late, but anyway—and he went home to Wollaston. [00:02:00] Went to bed, and he woke up. He said, "Oh, thunder, did I put out the candle?" And this was about three o'clock in the morning. He said, "I wouldn't have done anything about it, except that I know there was a widow living upstairs in the building." So he got out of bed, got out of bed, three o'clock in the morning, and how he managed to get to Boston—this is before he ever had an automobile or anything like that. The trains must have run all night in those days, I suppose they did. Anyway, he came back in town, went down the basement, and of course he had put the candle out. It's the thing we all do in apartments. [Laughs.]  

ROBERT BROWN:  This is one of your first vivid memories—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  One of the first stories I remember.

ROBERT BROWN:  He had already started a print department, or at least working with—


ROBERT BROWN:  Fairly early.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I think I told you before, there was no so-called print department. In fact, there were no departments in those days. Um, he sold everything of an antique nature, except furniture and postage stamps, I think, and was quite natural that prints and autographs would come into the picture. He did very well, and you've the read books, so you'll see—

ROBERT BROWN:  Yes, his autobiography.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  You'll see reproductions of some of the early American engravings and Washington portraits, things like that.

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. He said that he got in ahead of the art dealers very often, in terms of historical portraits, prints.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Prints, yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  And he would recognize their value, at least their potential value.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, that's right. But anyway, he—so he did quite a lot with them. [00:04:00] And was a good deal of an authority, in fact, on this subject. I think that he and Fridenberg in New York, I suppose, knew more about early American engravers than anybody else who was around.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did he begin teaching you a bit of that as—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, now, by the time I came along—oh, I was supposed to know everything. I went to college. [Laughs.] I didn't know anything, but I was supposed to. But anyway, by the time I came along, Louie Holman—and I suppose you—did you talk to Dick Holman—


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  —before he died? Well, I don't need to tell you—

ROBERT BROWN:  No, but he didn't say very much. I wish you would talk a bit about Louie Holman.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Louie Holman had come down from New Brunswick, and he was a great student of—wouldn't say authority. He wasn't much that, but he was a great student of Keats, Keats's biography. If you haven't looked into Keats and His Boston Friends, which was published by the Harvard Press about 40 years ago, you should. At any rate, he was a sort of minor artist himself. He illustrated one or two books. How he happened to come to work for my father, I don't know, but he was quite interested in getting into a print business in an art sense, which my father had never done. He never cared about prints as art, only as artifact, I would say.

ROBERT BROWN:  Yes, he had more of an antiquarian interest in prints.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  That's right. That's right. And Holman did not. At any rate, there was a little sort of back garden, as I recall, behind the basement shop on Park Street. [00:06:03] That's my recollection. I may be wrong. But at any rate, there was a little area there which was developed into a print department, and Holman, Holman, um, was something of an educator of students himself, and he always used to—he would much rather have—he didn't care about rarities. He didn't care about—a Rembrandt, for example, to him, would be—if it was a beautiful etching, he'd be perfectly happy with a 19th-century restrike that had been properly fixed up. He didn't really care about it—in fact, if there was a lot of value involved, he sort of shied off. And so after he'd been with us for—that was in Park Street.

ROBERT BROWN:  And he wasn't—he didn't like to sell very pricy things, or he was—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  He wasn't particularly interested, no.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was he particularly a salesman, even? Was he more interested in educating and talking?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, I think—well, he was—yes, to that degree, he was, but not in the way we think of salesmen now. He used to encourage young students, and he'd much rather sell a young student something for $5 than a great collector for $1000. That didn't interest him so much.

ROBERT BROWN:  How did your father feel about that?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  My father hung onto the—he hung onto the things which interested him. The Reverses, the herds, the rest of the 18th century—

ROBERT BROWN:  Very early things.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. At any rate, uh, my father was always—he always gave people a head and gave them a chance to develop their own talents. [00:08:06] The result of that was that, about that time, we published those series of little books about printers—about artists and engravers. You've seen them—catalogs. He wrote them himself. He was quite good at publicity of this kind, and it was he who thought up The Month at Goodspeed's. We have a file of it down there. The idea was that he and my classmate, Norman Dodge, who was working for us at the time, would edit this thing together. Well, it never got beyond the first number, because Dodge took over after that [laughs]. Holman was only doing the first one, one or two. That went on until—I'm probably repeating myself now.

ROBERT BROWN:  Well, Holman continued there for some years, and you knew him quite well then, while he was still with your father.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Of course I knew his son well, because his son was almost a roommate of mine at college.

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Your father indicated that, I guess partly through Holman, you'd handle certain contemporary printmakers. George Wales, for example.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  That's right. That's right. That's right. Holman did develop that one, yes.

ROBERT BROWN:  Wales mainly did maritime things, didn't he?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  No, no. It was Sam Chamberlain. Sam Chamberlain. We published Chamberlain. Heintzelman. We published Heintzelman.

ROBERT BROWN:  There's Hans Kleiber.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Hans Kleiber. That was a little later. Um. Then we had people who did—Waldo Murray did linoleum cuts. [00:10:05] Now, there are quite a few of those contemporaries that Holman was involved with. The most successful, of course, were Heintzelman and—

ROBERT BROWN:  Chamberlain?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  —Chamberlain, and Wales. Oh, and then there were people like Sears Gallagher. I remember him. They were a cut—most of these people, originally, they were either beginners, or they were a cut below the, the, uh, Hall—who's—Hall, you know. Toby Hall's grandfather.

ROBERT BROWN:  Frederick Garrison Hall.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, Freddy Hall.

ROBERT BROWN:  Or John Taylor Arms, or people like that. But they sold well, did they, through the '20s, I would suppose?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. Oh, yes. Then, of course, later on, when we got over to Ashburton Place, when Charlie Childs came along—Charlie, of course, was always a great—good businessman, great promoter. It got to the point where we were Chamberlain's publishers, and that meant that if Chamberlain did a new plate, people had to buy it from us. He took a leaf out of the book of this guy out in Cleveland—what was his name? You know, who published with Benson for years. Gage.

ROBERT BROWN:  Gage, yeah.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  If Chamberlain brought out a new print, why, people wanted them, had to buy them. He'd do 75 impressions, let's say, and we'd have a list, and so on. So I had to take 25. It didn't matter whether it was any good or not. Of course, they were good, most of them. Anyway, you were stuck with them. Otherwise, you got cut off the list. [00:12:01]

ROBERT BROWN:  That, you found, was a good way to do it?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Sure. Well, that was developed, I think, by Gage. You had to be—you couldn't get any Bensons, except through Gage, you see? The trade couldn't get them, except through Gage.

ROBERT BROWN:  And so you began doing that with Charlie Childs?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Charlie developed that to a degree, and then—

ROBERT BROWN:  Holman had left by then, had he, starting his own shop about that time?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, no, there was an overlap there. Charlie came—Holman came—Holman had a lot of young fellows working for him. He had a staff of about six or seven of them, and Charlie was one of them. Then Charlie, Tally, and Holman came to a parting of the ways, because Charlie was interested in the commercial aspect of things, and he wasn't interested in something that really didn't have any value. So he was, I think, largely instrumental in building up this aspect of it, and Charlie got more into the rare things, the early things, expensive things. Where Charlie and Holman really came to a parting of the ways—this was in the '20s, late '20s—I was here at the time, of course. I came in '25. Charlie got into corinaise [ph] . This was the heyday of corinaise and Holman had no use whatsoever for that. You know, this was rubbish and all that sort of thing. I think what he did—I don't think Holman quite appreciated the positive value of some of the corinaise prints. Some of them are good, you know. [00:14:00] There are a lot of bad corinaise but I think, for Holman, they were all part of the same kettle of fish. And so that part of the business boomed soon after we got over to Ashburton Place. We had a big gallery there. You've seen pictures of the gallery, I'm sure. Oh, yeah, it was quite a good show. We made—well, it's kind of a—we started serving tea there in the afternoon, and people on the staff used to hang around, and customers would wait. I remember one of those afternoons, tea, when we had this big show of Homer. Did you ever hear about that?


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, I don't know why—I have a feeling they just wanted to store the things, but at any rate, at one point—I think it must have been about 1928 or ['2]9, the Homers, Homer family, probably were closing the place [inaudible]. But they landed on us. It makes me shudder to think of it now. They landed 15 to 20 oils, and some of them were huge. There was one oil—you're probably familiar with it. I don't know where it is now. But it would fill that wall.

ROBERT BROWN:  Huh. It's just immense.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  At least that alcove part of it.

ROBERT BROWN:  Six or seven feet long.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, Climbers on Mount Washington. It makes me shudder to think, because we used to say, "Goodness, he's expecting to get $2,000 for this picture?" [They laugh.] I'm not even sure we had any authority to sell them.

ROBERT BROWN:  Oh, they were just on view?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Maybe it was just an exhibition. I can't remember. I don't think we—I think there was some indication as to what they would take for some of them, but I don't think we sold any. [00:16:06]

ROBERT BROWN:  Did this get quite a lot of—draw quite a lot of attention, this show of Homer?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Can't remember. I can't remember.

ROBERT BROWN:  But—who had put that together, your father or Charlie?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  No, they just—I suspect Charlie was involved. I think they just brought them down. I'm not sure. Homer had a niece—or he had a brother who lived in Quincy, and we—a couple of brothers, I think, who lived in Quincy, where we lived, and I think maybe there was some connection through them, why they were brought in. I don't know. We used to get—did I tell you about the Childe Hassam before?


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Childe Hassam was in once. We had a show of his things. That's right, we had a little show. I don't think they were very expensive in those days. As I recall it, after one of them had been sold, Hassam said, "Let's have a piece of paper." He took one of our letterheads, and he went out, and half an hour later, he was back with a pencil sketch on our letterhead of the Common, Boston Common, and he said, "There." And he put it up, and he marked it $500. [They laugh.] It sold. He was a great promoter of himself.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was he? Was he very talkative? What was he like?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  As I recall, yes. But you know, I was—we had, at that point, become departmentalized to the extent that if you were working in books, why, you only knew about these things peripherally. [00:18:04] You weren't involved with them. I was in books, yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  Right, yeah. Do you recall, however, any of the other printmakers that were being promoted? The living ones. You met Sam Chamberlain. Did you get to know him?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah, Sam we knew very well. I was in at the desk when we finally had to let Sam take his stuff back. That was—when Sam finally left us, I think it was after the war, and we hadn't been doing very much with his things. And in fact, there wasn't that kind of market, as I recall it, for contemporary American etchers and engravers. At any rate, we certainly hadn't been doing very much of it, and when Sam came back from the war, Doris Adams had just taken over the print department about the same time. I remember she and I, we had lunch with Sam down at the [inaudible] I guess. Sam used to say, by the way, he wanted to be the one original [inaudible]. He wanted to etch things that would sell. That was the idea. But at any rate, we found that the market—I don't know whether you've heard this from other sources, but certainly after World War I—no, this is World War II, I'm sorry—um, the market for that kind of thing was very, very slow.

ROBERT BROWN:  Yes, I have. Throughout the '20s, it was prosperous, and even into the Depression, I believe, it continued at a fairly good pace.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. But around the '40s—


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  —there wasn't much of a market for these things. [00:20:02] So Sam lost—I think, to a degree, he lost interest in them, because they weren't profitable. He got into photography. And I—we tried to buy his stock from him at—or we tried to get him to lower his prices, and he wouldn't lower his prices. [Inaudible] that—anyway.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was he otherwise quite easy to work with?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah. Sam was a very attractive person. You've heard that, I suppose. I remember when I was in Paris with a friend of mine, in, I think, 1930 or thereabouts, and Sam was over there at the time, and Sam took us over around to see Decaris, who was—you know his work, of course. We were—as a result of that, as a result of that, we had a show or two of Decaris. We sold quite a lot of his things, too. But it was through Sam that we got to know him. Sam was a very popular man, and properly so. He was a very nice guy. He was a natural mixer. People liked him. Wales was the same way, but not quite as, not quite as outgoing, in general, as Sam was. Sam was—Sam got around. He knew the right people. Not that he cultivated them particularly, but everybody liked him. Of course, Sam, like Wales, was a product of MIT. I don't know how many of—you've probably run into—you may have run into others, other artists of that period who went in for—through an interest in architecture. [00:22:08] Of course, that was Wales's beginning.

ROBERT BROWN:  Or even engineering. Charles Woodbury was an engineer. Granted, a bit older. What about Stow Wengenroth? Did he come around just a little bit later, or about that same time?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, he was a little later, and I think that he—I can't give you the—well, the work would show. I don't know. I wouldn't take a long time putting things up, but—

[Audio Break.]

ROBERT BROWN:  So Wengenroth began about 1930 you think? Okay.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  It might have been a little later.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was he quite a popular seller—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah, he was very popular [inaudible] with him. [Laughs] I had a funny experience with Wengenroth. It was—well, I think we'd been handling Wengenroth for 15 or 20 years. My wife and I took a holiday in Nova Scotia one summer, and we stopped in—where the boats go from Nova Scotia.

ROBERT BROWN:  Yarmouth?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  No. No, from—to Nova Scotia. It went from Bar Harbor. Bar Harbor There was a gallery in Bar Harbor, and they had a lot of Wengenroths, a lot of early Wengenroths. I didn't—I never—I tried to stay away from other departments, so I'm not involved with them, but I took a list of everything this guy had, and I came back, and we bought everything he had. [00:24:00] He had this gallery in Bar Harbor—had bought these prints from Miller, who was Wengenroth's printer.

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. George Barrow Miller.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  We bought practically the whole lot. Having made ourselves certain that Miller knew—I mean, that Wengenroth knew Miller was selling these things. That's always a problem, you know.

ROBERT BROWN:  The printer selling on his own?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Printers. Printers. Again, I—maybe you ought to turn this off when I say this, but at one time, many years ago, Benson's printer, or the estate of Benson's printer, brought in a whole slog of Benson's stuff, printed, that he had kept—that he, the printer, had kept. We have never dared to do a thing with them. We've still got them, and we never sold any of them. I suppose time will—we could—we didn't like to destroy them. It was this feeling, you hate to destroy them. We knew that if we publicized them, sold them and publicized them, there would be trouble, particularly when Benson was alive. Then his daughter—is Sheila still living, his daughter?

ROBERT BROWN:  I'm not sure. Up in Salem?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, yeah. But any rate, so there they are. We've still got them.

ROBERT BROWN:  In other words, printers would hold back on their artists?


ROBERT BROWN:  Some might. Yeah. Did you get to know Benson at all?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  No. We never did any business with him, I don't think.

ROBERT BROWN:  Gage did most of that, in Cleveland?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I guess so, yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you get to know any of the print sellers? [00:26:02] You weren't in prints, but nevertheless, did you get to know Gage or some of the print sellers in New York and—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  No. The only ones I knew were the people like—this is a little later—people like Harry Newman and—because we didn't—the old days, we didn't travel very much. You'd go to New York. That's about all you'd do, you didn't go out to Cleveland. No, I didn't know—I do remember Fridenberg, just slightly, who—and then the man that Harry Newman bought out. Oh, dear, what was his name? I can't remember now.

ROBERT BROWN:  But Newman, you got to know a bit?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I got to know him, because Newman, he came along after I did. We had very good relations. Of course, we never were very close with Newman in the way that Charlie was, because Charlie was Newman's partner, of course.

ROBERT BROWN:  Charles Childs?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. They'd buy things together all the time. But Harry and I are very friendly.

ROBERT BROWN:  You never worked directly with Charles Childs?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  No. He left, you see, because he wanted us to get into paintings, and we didn't want to get into paintings, my father didn't. For one thing, Charlie, I don't think, knew anything about painting in those days, but that wouldn't [laughs] trouble—

ROBERT BROWN:  He was a very—he was willing to wade into anything, was he?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. You've got to admit, he did very well. Very successful. Anyway, we didn't want to get involved in paintings. Charlie went in—Charlie was offered a partnership by a guy named Nelson Goodman, who was a customer of ours. And wasn't the name of the firm Charles and Goodman or something like that? [00:28:01]

ROBERT BROWN:  There was that—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Briefly, briefly, very briefly. That didn't work out. I think Goodman went out to Kansas City or somewhere, or Minneapolis, I think.

ROBERT BROWN:  Then he came back here as well.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Anyway, so then Charlie, of course, after having been with Goodman for a very short time, a year or two, then he opened his own shop.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was he about the same age as you, Charlie?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, Charlie is a couple years younger than I am.

ROBERT BROWN:  His training was all on the job, with your father, and with Louie Holman?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. Charlie was self-educated. He went to high school in Needham or Natick or somewhere out there. He was very smart. He was a good learner. But there was that difference of attitude and technique and whatnot between Charlie and Holman. I don't say they didn't get on. They didn't rub each other the wrong way or anything like that, but they were interested in different facets of the trade.

ROBERT BROWN:  When Holman went off on his own, how would you characterize his print shop?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, it's like what he'd had in mind all the time. He took—what he did was to—I must have told you this before. In the old days, we had some people work for us, and they wouldn't take all their salary. They'd take what they needed to live on, and they'd leave the rest of it on deposit. Holman had been a widower for many years, and a man of very simple taste. All he took was enough to buy his cup of coffee and whatnot. [00:30:00] So when we left Park Street, that's where the—won't call it a rupture—where the division took place. When we left Park Street, having taken another shop on Milk Street, we left Park Street, and Holman wanted—came to my father and said that he would like to buy all our cheap prints, and take over the shop. Well, nothing pleased us more than to get rid of the cheap prints, and so he bought those things. I've forgotten what the arrangement was, whether it was at cost, or it may have been a substantial markdown over from retail, and there was all this money that he had on deposit with us, $25,000, something like that. It was a lot of money in those days. So he just worked on—he just offset that money that we owed him for the prints. It was a very good arrangement for both of us. He was delighted to have the things, and we were tickled to pieces to be rid of them, and also to get the debt out of the way. So then he ran away from before. He never went in for Americana and all. He never went in for rare things.

ROBERT BROWN:  He went in just for what, rather average—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well. The kind of 17th, 18th-century engravings that—well, the late impressions of van Dyck, and that kind of thing, you know. He did, however, he did a lot with maps. He was the one—he popularized maps to a great degree. Has anybody talked to you about Dr. Leary, Timothy Leary? [00:32:01]


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  No connection with the—

ROBERT BROWN:  Later, notorious—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  —the drug Leary. Timothy Leary was a very attractive man. He was a pathologist, and his principal job was working for the Commonwealth. He was medical examiner for the—or was it for the city? He was a medical examiner for the south sector of the area. The other one was Jake McGrath. You've heard about Jake Magrath, of course. George Burgess Magrath. He was a great raconteur. He was a very popular man, Magrath was. He used to hang out at the Botolph Club. Dave McCord has got a wonderful poem about—

ROBERT BROWN:  Jake Magrath?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  —About Jack Magrath. He used to come in at one o'clock in the morning and demand a steak or—just barely, just barely warmed, you know. [They laugh.] But anyway, he had a great following and a great reputation.

ROBERT BROWN:  Leary, this is now?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  No, Magrath. Anyway, Dr. Leary used to come in our place all the time, and he and Holman were very good friends. Very good friends. He was a very good customer of ours. He and Holman were very friendly. But—I don't know how I got into Dr. Leary, but anyway, he was a very interesting man. [00:34:03]

ROBERT BROWN:  But you were mentioning Louie Holman, because he became a good friend.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  They were very friendly, yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  I take it your father and you didn't want to fool around with rather average things. Was your general theory to try to hone down to the best? Whereas Holman—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  My father was always interested in quality. I don't know that he and Holman, uh, parted ways and this sort of thing as much as that, with Charlie there, who was quite aggressive, Holman wanted to go the old route, and my father was certainly more sympathetic than, than, than Charlie. My father was much more sympathetic with selling the good things, the fine things, and the Americana. Holman wasn't interested in Americana at all, you know. A thing like—things like these, for example. He wouldn't give a hoot about those, you know.

ROBERT BROWN:  No. The views.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Those are the Annin & Smith views of Harvard. I'm not wild about them, but they're after Alvan Fisher, and they're—well, they're rare engravings, but Holman didn't care about that kind of thing, and my father did. It was more that Holman left, you see, because he felt more should be done with the kind of thing that interested him than we were doing. It wasn't that we wanted to do something else rather than what he was doing. It was what he wanted to do, the thing that we were—my father was not terribly excited about.

ROBERT BROWN:  Yeah. Holman had in mind making prints available to everyone, and not worry so much as a connoisseur. [00:36:04]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  But again, my father's interest was primarily in English and American things, not in the Rembrandts, the Dürers, and that kind of thing.

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Do you recall customers from—who were some of the leading clients you had in the '30s for prints, and did you have drawings ever? You had drawings, I suppose, time to time.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yes. We knew everybody has a few drawings.

ROBERT BROWN:  I think you mentioned the—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Golly, I'm trying to remember. Because, again, I think of the old-timers whose interests were more in American things or marine things. It was Charlie Barnes, Charles B. Barnes, the late Charlie Barnes's father. He used to—was an old frequenter of the shop. A lot of these people used to come up to the Union Club for lunch, and they'd come in next door to the—and Philip Spalding was one of them, but he was a little before my time, too. The Hollingsworths, of course. Really, the Hollingsworths were perhaps the most important of the earlier era. Now, that's the kind of thing that Holman had no interest in at all.

ROBERT BROWN:  They're interested in antiquarian and very important Americana?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. He was interested in the artistic aspects of that time.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you work closely, or did your print people work closely, always, with various local—and other institutions? I mean, with curators?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  With the museum, the MFA, for example?

ROBERT BROWN:  Yes, or the Athenaeum, or the—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  The MFA, yes. I don't think the Athenaeum was buying that kind of thing in those days. [00:38:03]

ROBERT BROWN:  The public library, presumably, when—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yes, the library.

ROBERT BROWN:  —Heintzelman was there.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  The man of the public library, Otto—names are so bad with me now.

ROBERT BROWN:  But Heintzelman went there fairly early, didn't he?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, Heintzelman was there early, yeah. Oh, yeah. My father had very close relations with—good relations—with the library, up to about the time when Salton Horaste [ph] came along. You don't remember him?

ROBERT BROWN:  No. About when was that?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  This would be in the '30s, I guess. He was a wild Hungarian.

ROBERT BROWN:  What, was he in charge of prints and drawings?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  He was the rare book man.

ROBERT BROWN:  Rare book man. And he was very difficult to work with?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  He was kind of [laughs] once I had a copy of the 1481 Dante. Are you familiar with that? Well, the 1481 Dante had six or eight—I've forgotten how many—engravings by Botticelli. It really was a wonderful book. We had a copy of it, which we bought from a bank in Providence. It had been through the great flood in Providence, back in the '30s. We bought a number of books which had been in the vault of the bank. One of them was this Botticelli. We cataloged it in The Month at Goodspeed's. Find it easily enough. I think it's reproduced there. [00:40:00] I had—when I first got it, I—say, what was [inaudible]. When I first got it, first got it, we sent it to Sam Gostin [ph]. We had it cleaned and put in shape, and we cataloged it. Description, perfectly good description in the catalog. Horaste called up. Great excitement. He was, he was, uh—wanted to see it. So we sent a boy up for him to look at it, and he looked at it, and opened it very quickly, and he referred again to the catalog description. He said, "Well," he said, "it has been washed. We do not buy washed books." He didn't even look at it, really. So he—the boy brought it back, and I was totally crestfallen. A little later, I took it up to show it to Phil Hofer, who was then at Harvard, and Phil said, "Well," he said, "that's pretty nice." He beat me down. Phil was quite a trader. We used to trade in those days. We haven't for [laughs] years, but we used to trade a little bit. Anyway, Philip beat me down. I said, "All right." I said, "Now, Phil, I want to tell you something." I said, "Horaste turned this down because it was, because it was—had been cleaned." So Hofer said, "Well, if you like, you can tell Horaste that I am very proud of having this book, and it's the finest copy of it I've ever seen." [00:42:03] Anyway, a little while later, I was talking to Horaste, and—sometime later, I was talking to Horaste, and I was—he came in and he said, "Have you got any Dantes?" I had a Dante or so, nothing great—not much. He said, "Well," he said, "this I do not want." He said, "After all, I have seen great Dante, 1481-dated Dante." I said, "Oh, really?" He said yes. He said, "I have seen Hofer Dante." I said, "Oh, that's the one that you turned down when I tried to sell it to you a year or so ago because it was washed." "Oh, no," he said, "No, this is the Hofer. It has marvelous decorations." So I got out the catalog and I opened it. I said, "Is that"—"It's the same Dante!" I said, uh—so he was a little bit put out. He said, "Well, what did you"—he said, "What did he pay you for it?" and I said—it had a price right against it, whatever it was. I said, "No, he didn't pay me a thousand dollars," whatever the price was. "He beat me down to $750." He said, "You sold this to Mr. Hofer for $750?" I can find out the amount. I don't know the exact amount. That's not important. "You sold it to him for that?" I said yes. I said, "What did he charge you for it?" and he ran out of the shop with his tail between his legs. [00:44:02] [They laugh.] It was a dirty trick, but he'd annoyed me so much. He'd actually spoiled the book, because in my innocence, I said, well, gee whiz, if Horaste is going to talk this book down, it isn't all that good [laugh]. Anyway, Hofer turned out for a nice profit, I'm sure.

ROBERT BROWN:  Hofer he knew what he had [laughs].

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah. Philip was a trader, of course. He bought and sold.

ROBERT BROWN:  You must have gotten to know him very well.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah, sure. Oh, yeah. I just finished appraising his library, you know. No, I'm sorry. The correct—I appraised what he left. What he had not given away when he died, what was still his.

ROBERT BROWN:  What are some of your early memories of him? Did you get to know him back in the '20s, even?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  No. He'd been in New York. I don't remember him back. He came back about—let's see, Jackson came back in the '30s. Came up here in the '30s, '36. I can't remember exactly what.

ROBERT BROWN:  You mean Jackson, the librarian at—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  At the Houghton, yeah. He was the one who brought Hofer back. He got Hofer up here.

ROBERT BROWN:  I'm going to flip this over.

[END OF TRACK AAA_goodsp87_4103_r.]

ROBERT BROWN:  —interview with George Goodspeed, Boston, Massachusetts. Robert Brown, the interviewer. May 6, 1987.

[Audio Break.]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  —places concerned in the print department. There was a very nice gal by the name of Sobo [ph], Anne Sobo. Did you ever hear of her?

ROBERT BROWN:  Yes, yes, I have.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  She worked for Charlie Childs. Charlie left. I tried to get a couple of people to come in and succeed him, and I couldn't, and she—Anne Sobo had hung on for—you know, practically doing it. So after trying a couple of people, I said, well, we probably better give her a shot at it. She did very well. She was a very thorough person, and very nice person, very fastidious person. When the war came along, she married a guy who was in the navy that she'd known—she'd known him when she was at Ohio State University. But anyway, so—

ROBERT BROWN:  What were her special interests, do you recall?



GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, prints.

ROBERT BROWN:  Prints in general?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, general, Americana, among other things. Anyway, so her husband—after the war, her husband went to work for Sears Roebuck, so she left. I think he had a job in Toronto or somewhere. I think it was Toronto, yeah. So anyway, she was out, and Ms. Doris, whom you've met, was her assistant.

ROBERT BROWN:  Doris Adams.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Doris Adams, yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  She'd come right after high school, didn't she? [00:02:00]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Right out of high school, yeah. Anyway, so—

ROBERT BROWN:  Would Doris Adams—what work would she have done when she began? Sort of helping sell things?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, the first place—I said, when Anne went, I said, the hell with it. I'm just not going to have a print department anymore. I'll buy a print when I feel like it, and otherwise—so when I found out pretty soon that she was learning to do the job pretty well, I thought I didn't need to do this, really. Then she got married, and her work was punctuated by the arrival of two children, a year and a half apart. So she was really, originally, after Anne Sobo left us, she was really just—became a sort of consultant for picture framing. You know, order the molding, keep track of that sort of thing. But then, in 1962, her husband died, and gradually she got back to working full-time, and she was a great success, which you know. I was thinking of one thing that—do you know anything about—have you done anything about the Iconographic Society?


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, you want to hear something about it?


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, the Iconographic Society started back—oh, I should think, about 1910. I can verify that. It was a small, a very small, club within a club. There were members of the club Odd Volumes. My father was a member of it. [00:04:01] They used to—they published one etching by Chamberlain of the, of the—well, it's that place on Franklin Street. What's the name of it? You know, they call it the—it's sort of an archway.

ROBERT BROWN:  Oh, yes, it was called the Tontine Crescent.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  The Tontine Crescent. Then they did a print of King's Chapel by somebody pretty good—Cameron, I think. Three or four of those. They used to do them by subscription. There were only half a dozen members of it. Well, then, about that time, the Massachusetts—the biggest one of the lot belonged to a man named Shillaber. I'll put that there. Shillaber estate—

ROBERT BROWN:  Your father bought it—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  This is an estate of Mr. Shillaber, W.G. Shillaber, who was one of the old-time guys who was a member of the Odd Volumes and whatnot. Harold Murdock—you've probably heard of Harold Murdock.


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Harold Murdock bought it from us, and then, as was Murdock's wont, he used to buy things and then he'd sell them. He wasn't in the business at all. He was a very good, he was a very good connoisseur of books and prints. He was really tops in the revolution. Anyway, he bought this thing, and decided he wanted to sell it.

ROBERT BROWN:  This Remick [ph] view?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  This Remick view, yeah. It was a big, wide one. It was made in three pieces, and pieced it together. [00:06:04] It's a manuscript. It was about as big as the frame on the one I've got in here. It's the one—the Odd Volumes. It's much bigger. So Harold Murdock decided that he, after a while, he'd like to sell it, so of course he made a good profit on it. He sold it through us to a man named Herman Clark [ph], and you must have heard of Herman Clark. So Clark bought it. Then I can't remember whether it was when Clark died, or whether he just decided that he wanted to turn it into money, but at any rate, he did put it for sale again, and at that point we sold it to Harry Shattuck [ph]. Harry Shattuck eventually died, and left it to, uh—yeah. Now, before Shattuck—we sold it to Shattuck, but in the meantime, the Iconographic Society, which the original members have mostly died, and I was one of the successors—we got Harold Hugo to reproduce this thing.

ROBERT BROWN:  At Meriden Gravure.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Meriden Gravure. Well, it was kind of early on in Harold's career at the Meriden Gravure, and the result was that the woman who colored it—and I think it was—what's the name? Berian [ph]—not the—I'm not sure whether it was the Berians. I think it was the Berian sisters that did a lot of coloring for him. But when they—they made each panel separately, and then when they colored them, they didn't color them posted together, so they didn't match quite. [00:08:11] So we had a little trouble selling the copies of it. I think we did 50 copies, 60 copies. Finally, Philip Hofer, who was one of the members of the society—the new members, you might say—it was Carlton Richman [ph], Philip Hofer, Wydell [ph]—I've forgotten two or three more. It didn't go very well, because it didn't match right. So Hofer was quite upset, and Hofer said, "Well, I put the money up for this thing, but I never got my money out of it." Well, it's a lot of nonsense, because I said—I was partly responsible. I had some responsibility for it. I said, "I will buy enough copies to bail the thing out." We left a half a dozen copies still at the club. Philip used to grouse about that, but he—anyway, they're all gone now. Then it went to the—then, I think, was that Harry Shattuck bought it, and left it to the MHS, where it is now.

ROBERT BROWN:  Would that have been in the '40s or so, all this took place, or the final—the Meriden—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, this is—

ROBERT BROWN:  —something like that?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  —hard for me to tell, but I think so. I can look later and see when Shattuck died, but I think it was before Shattuck died, before we sold it to Shattuck. I think it was still in our hands. Anyway.

ROBERT BROWN:  Would a reproduction like that, say, in the '40s, bring a fairly good price? [00:10:02]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. Well, I think we sold them for about—not too much. Twenty-five dollars, I think. Looks cheap now.

ROBERT BROWN:  But the print department, after World War II, began coming into its own again, right?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. Yeah, that's right. It was a little gradual, but yeah, we did—Doris was largely responsible for the revival and the conditions. Of course—and today, we're doing more, a good deal more, in the print department in a year than we used to do for the whole shop. The early '30s—this is the thing that you have to remember about the '30s. Perhaps you don't care, because it's not primarily prints. But from 1931, we didn't show a profit until 1940. We were losing money steadily. Other people were in the same boat. Nobody who, nobody who, nobody who is alive now, anybody in your generation, for example, has the faintest idea about what the world was like during that Depression era. It was a long, hard road. Everybody suffered. We all did. Fortunately, there was no inflation, but it was dreadful.

ROBERT BROWN:  By '31, it had come to a standstill, and you were losing.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I remember we used to say—this is about 1930 we were grumbling. Somebody said, "It's going to be known as the Depression of 1932." Well, actually, it was. That was the bottom, was '32. [00:12:01] But a business like of the sort of that ours was I was doesn't feel the disaster until a year after everybody else does, but you don't recover until three or four years after everybody else is recovered. So—

ROBERT BROWN:  I've heard a similar comment from art dealers as well. It was a very long and slow recovery. As you've said, people were buying art, or books, or prints, for a year or two after the—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Did you get some cream?


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. But the market was sluggish, prices were low, and of course, about that time, all these old collectors I've talked to you about, people like Percival Merit [ph] and Ned Wheeler [ph]—you run into Ned Wheeler?

ROBERT BROWN:  No, I haven't. Tell me about him.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Ned Wheeler was an amiable fellow. He was an awful dull guy, but he, um, he used to buy prints for the Shawmut Bank. I think he made a little out of it. He wasn't a dealer—no, he was a gentleman dealer, you know. He got his suits from F.L. Dunn [ph] and all that kind of thing. He had no sense of humor at all, but he was a pleasant guy. He used to hang around the shop all the time and buy books. I'm not even at all sure that he made a profit on them, but anyway, he did find these things, for the Shawmut Bank particularly.

ROBERT BROWN:  What were they looking for, historical prints, things like that?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Views, Boston views, primarily. [00:14:00] As I say, he used to hang around the place. He would come in almost every day. I'd see him. I think he hung out at the Union Club, I think.

ROBERT BROWN:  What about the Forbes's at State Street? Did they come around looking for marine subjects?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, Forbes. Of course. He didn't buy much from us. He was also before my time, I think, but he used to buy these things to use in their publicity these State Street brochures, you know.

ROBERT BROWN:  Yes, I've seen those.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I guess the prints are still there, I think. Bill Osgood could tell you more about those.

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Bill Osgood is someone who came around as a very young man, didn't he—


ROBERT BROWN:  —and began looking.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Didn't I talk about Bill the other day?

ROBERT BROWN:  No. Tell me about him. I know he [inaudible].

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Bill used to come in when he was 15, before he went away to Exeter. He was a very impressive boy, because he never wanted to see—he never cared about seeing anything he couldn't afford. So many people would come in and say, "Well, of course I don't have any money, but I'd love to look at these wonderful things," you know. Bill, if he couldn't afford them, he wasn't interested. At one point he said to me, "You know, I buy a lot of junk, but if somebody wants to put on an exhibition of the Boston Police Department, I've got it." [00:16:00] That was the way he went after things, specific things. It's typical of Bill—well, I'll say, parenthetically, I got Bill into the Club of Odd Volumes very soon out of college. He was much the youngest member we've ever had. It's typical that a couple of years ago, a bookseller out in Cambridge brought in a collection of Boston Common views, views of the Common, around the Common. They were cut out of Harper's and whatnot. They were interesting, because my father's unmistakable handwriting lettered them all. But anyway, so I thought—reminded me of what—Bill used to buy things when he was a boy. So I asked him to come in and look at them. He said, "Oh, yeah, they're very interesting." He said—I said, "Well, I thought you might want to buy them for the Bostonian Society sometime." "Yeah," he said. "Well," he said, "I'll keep them for a while, anyway." He was very pleased with him. About six months later, he got around to giving them to Bostonian Society. He said, "I'm giving them to the Bostonian Society in your honor, and I'm making that clear in the minutes of the society, that they're in honor of George Goodspeed." This is Bill. It's typical of Bill in many ways, that he would appreciate the little bits and pieces that make something together mean something, and this strong attitude of affection that he had developed for people. I'm not the only one. He was one of those people. [00:18:00] Thank God he's still around. He's living out in Brookline, you know. One reason he—he had a house right diagonally across the street here, which he gave up because the walls weren't enough for—couldn't put all his pictures on the wall. He had a lot of oils, too.

ROBERT BROWN:  [Laughs.] He's been a collector for a very long span in his life. I suppose that's unusual. Or did you have some other people who came in as very young persons?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I think he must have been coming in to us as early as 1935. We didn't see much of him while he was at college, but he used to come in while he was at Exeter, and then after he got out of college, of course then he went to the army. Somebody was—oh, Bill said he'd like to be a member of the St. Botolph Club a while ago, and I've been a member of it three times in my life. But anyway, so they called me up and said would I like to propose Bill, and I said sure. So I wrote a letter proposing him, and I said, "The last time I proposed Bill Osgood for a membership in a club was 33 years ago, so perhaps it's appropriate that I'm proposing him for another one now." [They laugh.]

ROBERT BROWN:  Speaking of the St. Botolph Club, you've told me once it has been quite important in your life. You first became a member in 19—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  —thirty-one, that's right.

ROBERT BROWN:  Could you explain its importance? Or can you describe it?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  In those days? In those days, the Botolph Club, which was supposed to be authors, and artists, and gentlemen interested in literature and art, I used to say, well, actually, it was authors, and artists, and employees—no, it was actually lawyers, doctors, and employees of Houghton Mifflin. It was largely—a lot of doctors used to be—this was in the old house on Newbury Street, which is opposite the Ritz. [00:20:06] It was the Ritz parking lot years afterwards. Yeah, there were all the classic old-timers. Ted Weeks [ph], of course, was very active in it. Ted was secretary when I joined it. Then Jake Magrath. Did you ever heard of Jake Magrath?


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  George Burgess Magrath. Was one of the two medical examiners for the city of Boston, and he used to come into the club with—he had long, white hair, which was not fashionable, you know, and big, flowing, uh—big, flowing scarf tie, you know. He'd come into the club late at night and want a rare steak. McCord wrote—somewhere in McCord's—

ROBERT BROWN:  Dave McCord, yeah.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, Dave McCord's—somewhere in McCord's verses, there's a poem to Jake Magrath. You'll find it somewhere.

ROBERT BROWN:  You found, in time, there were a lot of your—you developed a lot of good friendships through that club.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, quite a lot there. You probably know Bill Bennings [ph] Smith.


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  He's not been a member for years, but he was a member quite early. But mostly, the people you saw were doctors, because—well, they came in. It was reasonably near to the hospital. But all the artists, the artists of the day—um, Wilbertine Hamilton [ph], and—

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you know him a bit?


ROBERT BROWN:  What was he like?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, he was pleasant—rough sort of guy. But very pleasant, yeah. Then there was Willy Chase. [00:22:00]

ROBERT BROWN:  Willy Chase? This is William Merritt Chase?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Uh, no, the other one. William C. Chase. He was an artist.

ROBERT BROWN:  What do you recall about him and any of these artists?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, he was, he was kind of a bumbler. He wasn't a terribly interesting person. John Lavade [ph] was a member. You know his work, of course. What's the other guy I was trying to think of at the moment? Uh.

ROBERT BROWN:  You did say you knew—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, Bill Paxton was a member, of course.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was he quite talkative, or what was he—well-spoken?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Paxton? There was an older group who tended to keep to themselves, somewhat. There was a round table at the Century, where nobody else wants to sit down. But then there was a guy named Les Thompson. You must know him.

ROBERT BROWN:  Oh, yes, Leslie Thompson.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. Les Thompson used to be a great fisherman. He used to fish for carp in the Charles River, and he had very elaborate recipes for preparing carp so that you could eat it. [Laughs.] They were an older generation. And I remember I went in there once while my wife had just had our child, and I didn't dare to eat with them. This was dinnertime, and I didn't dare to go with these old fellows to the table. I'd sit by myself. I remember one night specifically that Fred Field, who was then chief justice of the supreme judicial court, came in, and they all—they were sitting at a table by the side, and I was all alone at a side table. They said, "Come on, sit down, Fred." Fred looked around. He said, "No." He said, "I'm going to sit with George Goodspeed. He's just had a baby." Before the evening was up, the rest of them had all moved over. [00:24:02] [They laugh.] And so we closed the place up at a reasonably late hour. That used to be a place more for night people. I remember I closed the house up one night after a Twelfth Night [ph] show with Carl Gilbert, who was later—you wouldn't know him, but he was president of Gillette at one time. He was a partner at Ropes Gray. It was quite a gathering place, and it was a little more homogenous than it is now.

ROBERT BROWN:  So you would go there, but sometimes it would last fairly late. Did you live in Boston then, or had you—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I lived in Concord. Well, no, beg your pardon. No, I lived in Boston until 1937, or '36, because we went to Needham. When I was first married, I was a bachelor, and then I was married, and my wife and I lived in the same apartment that I'd had on Spruce Street. We stayed there for a year or so while we were looking for a place to build, and eventually we built in Concord, and we stayed there until my wife died in '81.

ROBERT BROWN:  So your nightlife—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Eighty-three, I'm sorry. Eighty-three.

ROBERT BROWN:  Your nightlife in Boston, then, you had to husband that a bit, didn't you, since you had, then, to go further to home, to get out to Concord?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah, yeah, that's right. But then, of course, there were—at that point, that's one reason—one of the reasons—that I gave up the Botolph for a while. I usually managed to get a ride home from the Odd Volumes, I was a member of the Odd Volumes, before we went to Concord. So I used to get a ride home with somebody else. [00:26:00] Everybody were night owls in those days. I remember we'd get out to my house in Concord. There would be a half a dozen of them that had driven out, and they'd all come to my house for another drink. [They laugh.] That sort of thing is all gone now, fortunately [laughs].

ROBERT BROWN:  Because you then had to get back to the shop fairly early the next day, didn't you?


ROBERT BROWN:  [Laughs.] Did you see big changes—well, what about during World War II? How was business then?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, business was good then.

ROBERT BROWN:  It picked right up?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh yeah, it picked right up. Oh, yeah. No question about it. It was a boom. It was a real boom during the war. Some of the good sales, you know, were during the war. Frank Hogan's [ph] sale was in '42, when the war was on. Just as World War I, of course—business had been very good in World War I, after the first six weeks were panic.

ROBERT BROWN:  Then following the war, was there a let-down, or was it—it was still better than it had been during the '30s?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  World War II, you mean?


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. I'm just trying to think. '40—well, yeah, business was good, and we were getting some—we were getting pretty good stuff. I got a lot of—this is books, not prints. I got a lot of Frank Bemis's books. Frank Bemis had the best library—greatest library. It was put together, I guess, in Boston. It was all turned over to Rosenbach for sale, and he sold a good deal of it. [00:28:06] I must say he did a bit of a job on the estate, but—

ROBERT BROWN:  Huh. You mean [inaudible]—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  If you have not read it, you'll find a good account of that in a paper I wrote for the book collector, about seven or eight years ago. That particular sales—but anyway. Clarence Brigham, who was the trustee for the estate, after Rosenbach wasn't selling anymore, called me in to buy what was left, and I bought a lot of, uh—well, $50,000, a little more, which, in those days, was money. Just money now, but in those days, it was money. That was one thing that gave us a little bit of a lift up.

ROBERT BROWN:  Because you had good things, then, to offer, beyond—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  That's right. So in general, we grew pretty substantially, very steadily, until we just got thrown out of our shop on Beacon Street. There was quite a let-down then. Now our problem is expenses, of course. Business expenses.

ROBERT BROWN:  But you have less room now than you did further—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Nearly as much. We had a basement there. No, it's just the rents are so much higher.

ROBERT BROWN:  You staged—according to Doris Adams, occasionally you would have exhibitions of prints.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. We do even now, once in a great while, if we can think of the right thing to do.

ROBERT BROWN:  Does that go way back? You must have had—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, that goes back to Holman's day. Yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  To Holman's time.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Have you ever seen—you should look at our file of print catalogs, because they go back, as I say, to Holman's day, and they look like the early numbers of the month, very old things. Have you seen a file of them?


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  When we see a chance—a couple of years ago, Ben Weinreiber [ph] was showing at—a lot of Piranesis on the West Coast, and Easterman [ph] said, "Don't you want to show these Piranesis here before they go back to London?" [00:30:17] So we did, and we did quite well. Sold quite a few of them. When we find something that fits and is right, we do it.

ROBERT BROWN:  Yes, Doris mentioned a Mark Catesby show in the '70s as having been a high point in the 1970s. Various collectors that—particularly of prints. You mentioned, though, Osgood. I think you mentioned also, at some point, Middendorf.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Bill Middendorf, yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  What was his area that he was looking for?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  He started—he came into the shop one day. One of the first times, I think, that I'd seen him. He wanted to get some revolutionary painting, so I called Bob Vose up. This was a Saturday morning. Didn't I tell you this last time?


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  One Saturday morning. Middendorf said, "Who has got some revolutionary paintings around?" I said, "If anybody has, it will be Bob Vose." He said, "I wish you'd call him up and tell him I'd like to come up and see them." So I did. Monday morning, Bob called me up [laughs] and said, "Well, it was a pretty good day we had." I said, "Oh?" He said, "Oh, for God's sake, you can"—remember to cut this out. It's part of the story, but I don't want it—Bob called up and he said, "Yeah, he bought $1000." I said, "What do you mean, $1000? That doesn't sound like very much to me." "Oh," he said, "that's your cut." [00:32:02] I said, "No, I'm sorry, but I—if I recommend somebody to go to your place, I do it without—completely disinterested. Because if people realize that I was taking a cut on what you sold, my, my—they'd have no confidence in me." But that's normal in the picture business, I think.

ROBERT BROWN:  They even go shares on things. But Middendorf became—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, that's a different matter.

ROBERT BROWN:  But Middendorf became a good customer.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. He was—yeah. Oh, yes, he was a very heavy customer at one time.

ROBERT BROWN:  He had very decided ideas, and—


ROBERT BROWN:  He had very decided things he wished to have?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, he was a speculator. He was a speculator, no doubt about it. But he had all the Reveres. He had a sense of when the market was going to go up, and he had a set of the Doolittle Battles. Oh, actually, I don't think I mentioned, incidentally, the Doolittle Battles—this was when Anne Sobo was with us. There was a set of the Doolittle Battles, the originals, in the old Harrington House in Lexington, that were supposed to have been there ever since they were made. There was a guy, whose name I remember but won't repeat here, was advising the old ladies in the Harrington family, and selling these things. He said he would sell them for them, and I think he put a price of $15,000—$12,000, I think, something like that. [00:34:00] And when—

ROBERT BROWN:  This would have been back in the '30s?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. He went down to see du Pont in Wilmington. Du Pont showed a lot of interest in them, and he showed so much interest that this agent for the owners said, "I guess I won't let them go for that. I guess we want [$]25[000] for them now." So du Pont said, "I will never buy those from you or anybody else at any price."

ROBERT BROWN:  It so burned him up?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I don't blame him. He was quite right. So then they were on the market again, and that agent went out of the picture, and Anne Sobo and I went out there, and we took them on consignment, took this set on consignment, and I think at $10,000 net. Harry Newman said he had a customer for them. Well, he did, and the customer was Mr. Havemeyer. It seems silly, the amount of work we used to do for peanuts in those days. We had to pay the owners $10,000 for them, and Newman was going to sell them—Newman was going to pay us $12,500, I think." Yeah, I think—yeah. Anne had to take these things down to New York, these four prints down to New York, and show them to Newman, because they were still—they were not our property, you see. I'm not even sure that we made $11,025, and that Newman made the other $11,025, so that Havemeyer—and I think it's Havemeyer's daughter who, with her husband, started the Shelburne Museum up in Burlington, you know. [00:36:12] But I don't remember seeing those prints there.

ROBERT BROWN:  But he got a good price at that time, Havemeyer did.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well actually, yeah, it was a good price. I don't know what that would bring today.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you know the Hollingsworths a bit? Your father writes about them.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Sure. The first generation was Sumner, and Amor, and Zachary. I never knew any of them. They were before my time. Then there was the younger Amor, who was—well, he would be maybe 10 years older than I—and Valentine. I think Valentine's daughter was here on West Cedar Street. Sumner and Valentine—who was the third one? Anyway.

ROBERT BROWN:  They were all book collectors, were they?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Book or prints, yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  Historical prints.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  We bought Sumner's—Sumner had the biggest collection of books of all, and they lay foul for many, many years, and Mrs. Hollingsworth called us up one day, for some reason or other, and wanted—oh, we called Mrs. Hollingsworth and asked her about a particular book that was in the library. She said, "Well, come up and see it." So my father went up there, and she produced this book. One thing led to another. She wanted to know if this collection would be salable. My father said, "Well, rather." So, he called back the shop, and Mike Welsh [ph] and I got a station wagon and drove out to the Hollingsworth House, which was on—I guess on Marlborough Street. [00:38:06] I'm not sure which house. It was in the Back Bay. We loaded this thing up with this wonderful library of books. There were—the station wagon was full. Eventually, we paid her—we took a lot of it on sale. We didn't have too much capital. Anyway, she got out of it about $65,000‑$68,000. The funny thing is that she said, "Now," she said, "my shelves, they look so empty." So my father said, "Well, that's all right. We can fill your shelves up. It's no problem." So we took them up, and they were putting the shelves in the library, and she said, "Well, now, Mr. Goodspeed, you're not keeping any track of these things that you're leaving here for me." My father said, "Mrs. Hollingsworth." [Laughs.] She said, "Oh, that was rather silly of me, wasn't it?" She had given us nearly a $100,000 worth of books without anything, not even a piece of paper, and she was afraid, because we'd brought up $500 worth of books, that we weren't taking care of ourselves. [They laugh.] Anyway.

ROBERT BROWN:  But the Hollingsworth, or younger Valentine Hollingsworth, for example, and Amor, continued to collect prints into the '50s or '60s?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  The generations get confused. I think the younger Valentine Hollingsworth was a guy who was in World War II, who came out with a wooden leg, I think. He was the son of the Hollingsworth, the Valentine that we knew. I don't think he was ever a collector. [00:40:00] He and his brother, his brother Schuyler [ph], who works for Harvard now, were the last generation, and bit by bit, because those things were—as the families drew the—bit by bit, they sold them off. I doubt very much they're still.

ROBERT BROWN:  Doris Adams also mentioned important collectors of Audubon that—


ROBERT BROWN:  Of Audubon, who have come your way.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah. Did you say collections or collectors?

ROBERT BROWN:  Collectors.


ROBERT BROWN:  And collections, too.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I don't remember—

ROBERT BROWN:  Do you recall. She mentioned somebody from Canada who was a—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. Well, this was—

ROBERT BROWN:  It was probably more recent.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  She's thinking of—there were two lots of Audubon, incomplete sets, and I'm trying to think, be sure, which was earlier. I think the first one was one that turned up in Montclair, New Jersey. I was in New York, and I wanted to see Dave Randall, who was then—Dave Randall was then the rare book man at Scribner's. He said, "I looked at some Audubons down in Montclair." He said, "They're wonderful." He said, "There's a whole first volume, and they've never been bound. They're just fresh as the day they were"—and he said, "I offered $4,000 for them. I think that's a pretty fair offer, don't you?" I said, "Yeah, that sounds all right." [00:42:00] So I got home, and on my desk was a letter. He'd been waving this letter around so carefully so that I couldn't see any name or anything on it. Here on my desk was a letter in the same stationary, saying that she had this for sale, and wouldn't we be interested? So I called her, said "Yes, I'd be down, I would be interested." Of course, Randall always talked too much, and this was one thing—I said, "Well, now, these are very nice." I said, "Would you take $5,000 for them?" She said, "Yes, I would." [Laughs.]

ROBERT BROWN:  So you had him [laughs]?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  So I lugged the—I got into a taxi and I drove—I took a taxi back to New York, I guess, and I stopped at the Harvard Club for lunch, then got them—got this volume of prints down to Grand Central Station, and then I got on the one o'clock for Boston, and the conductor wouldn't let me on. They were all Pullmans, you see, in those days. You didn't have any—so finally, I got hold of the porter on the club car, and I paid him a couple of bucks to let me take it on there. Then, the next one that turned up—if I haven't [inaudible] these, and I don't think I have. The next one that I turned up was when I was in New York, talking to Harry Newman. Harry said, "You know, that gal up in Toronto, she's got a wonderful run of Audubon prints."

ROBERT BROWN:  Is this someone you knew of, or he—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  He knew all about her. He had seen them. [00:44:01] He said, "She wants too much for them." I think there was a volume and a half. He said, "She wants $13,000." He said, "I can't pay that for them."

ROBERT BROWN:  Let me stop.

[END OF TRACK AAA_goodsp87_4104_r.]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I can't remember where we spent the night. In Toronto, I guess. I guess we went through on the same day. And—so, these prints were being stored at the university library in Toronto. They didn't belong to them. They were stored there. At any rate, I hadn't met too much difficulty in agreeing on a price. So I said to my wife, "I think we ought to try to get home with these, not have them on the road." Which we did. I remember very well, it was the Fourth of July, and we got to the customs at Buffalo, and of course the place was deserted on account of the holiday, and the customs officer said, "Well, now, how long have you been in Toronto?" I said, "Twenty-four hours." "Did you buy anything?" "Uh, no, not for myself." "Did you buy something for somebody else?" I said, "Yeah, for the company I work for, I bought something." He said, "What were they?" "They're in the trunk of the car." I said, "Just old prints." "Oh," he said, "well, what did you pay for them?" And just as fast as I could, I said, "Fifteen thousand dollars." He said, "Wait a minute." [They laugh.] If I had said $500, that would have been it, you know. He didn't even want to see them. But no, so long as I mentioned the price—we had to get a customs broker, on a holiday, and we waited about three hours around the customs house in Buffalo. I never lied to any customs people. I know everybody else used to do it, but I never did. [00:02:04] I don't think—smuggling is something that, if you're in the trade, you better not get caught doing it [laughs].

ROBERT BROWN:  It would be an added complication. [Laughs.]


ROBERT BROWN:  Audubon. This would have been in the '40s, maybe, or '50s?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I'd have to find out. Doris was with us then, so I would think it was in the '40s.

ROBERT BROWN:  Of course, the prices of those escalated tremendously since then.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah, yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  And even then—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I get bored with them now, they're so damn expensive.

ROBERT BROWN:  But even then, they were fairly substantial for the time, weren't they? Fairly substantial?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  We had sold them for 40 years, just prints. There's another thing that came up last week. There is a great, big portfolio of a—with prints of a giant water lily, and it's known as Victoria regia, and the Essex Institute had a small remainder of it. We bought two or three of these remainders. They're very popular as breakers [ph] although there are only five prints, and only three of them are much good. But the last one we bought, I think, was from somewhere out there, where all the—in Essex County. And I think we paid $500, which was a good price in those days. I don't know if you followed this last auction sale at Christie's, but a copy of that set brought 15,000 pounds last week. [They laugh.] Which is crazy, of course. They're not worth it. Shows what's happened and that kind of thing. Well, we got—[00:03:50]

[Audio Break.]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  So he said the trouble is if I—

[Audio break.]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  —all I've cooked up—

ROBERT BROWN:  Yes, we want to talk a bit—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  —as far as collectors are concerned, in this post-World War II era, I don't say there weren't many collectors, but we certainly didn't have many. We had print buyers. It was distinguished from collectors, and those are the ones that I remember.

ROBERT BROWN:  Now, the buyers, by that, you mean buying for someone else?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  No, for their house and so forth. In other words, they were buying for decoration, or buying what amused them. A couple of exceptions. Going back a little, you heard all about Charles Taylor, of course, Charlie Taylor.

ROBERT BROWN:  Well, I've heard something about him, and your father did write a bit about him.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, that's right. Well—

ROBERT BROWN:  But perhaps you could tell me something that you recall.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  He was sort of a—he came from—there were two branches of the Taylor family, two brothers, William O. and Charles H. And William O. was the brains of the operation, really. Charles H. was his brother, was still part owner, but he didn't have too much authority there.

ROBERT BROWN:  This is of the Boston Globe newspaper?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, the Globe, yeah, surely. But Taylor was a great collector of lithographs, and he had—his collection, I think, main collection of lithographs, is at the American Antiquarian Society. Those oils, those marine oils, at the Club of Odd Volumes, which you've seen, those all came from Charlie Taylor. [00:06:07] He and my father were very good friends, but I just mentioned him in—

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you get to meet him at all, or did you know him?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah, I knew him. Oh, sure.

ROBERT BROWN:  What was he like? Was he a—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  He was a very nice guy. He was kind of a—he was kind of a—he had a classic sense of humor. I told you the story about the—didn't I?—about the, about the history of the Ancient & Honorable Auxiliary Company?

ROBERT BROWN:  By him or—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  No. I'll make it as brief as possible. It's not important, but it's typical Charlie Taylor. There was a stupid bookseller around—this goes back long before my time. There was a stupid bookseller around who got hold of a book called the Ancient and Honorable Artillery —Total History of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. You saw them marching in the street the other day, of course. He went in to see Charlie Taylor, this fellow did, and said, "Mr. Taylor, I've got a book"—you can turn the light off if you'd rather—said, "Mr. Taylor, I've got a book I think you would want." Taylor looked at it, and he said, "Hmm, who wants that?" But he said, "I'll tell you, if you found the history of the Brighton Artillery Company, that would interest me." You know what the Brighton Artillery Company was?

ROBERT BROWN:  Uh-uh [negative]. What?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, they picked up the sewer all around through the South End. [They laugh.] The sewer dumps, you know, from the houses. So this guy went down, this bookseller, to a friend of his, and [inaudible] said, "I want a history of the Brighton Artillery Company." This other bookseller said [laughs], "What the hell do you mean?" "Well," he said, "that's what I want." He said, "I've got a customer who wants one very badly." [00:08:00] Finally, this other bookseller does a double-take. He said, "I'll get you one, but you've got to tell me who your customer is." So, after some fussing, the man said, "Well, it's for Mr. Charles H. Taylor." The guy said, "All right, you come back in 10 days. I'll have a book for you." So he reappeared, and didn't even look at the book, but he took it back up and he showed it to Taylor. He said, "I've got that book you wanted, Mr. Taylor." Taylor said, "What book? I didn't want any book." "Oh, yes, you did. You wanted a history of the Brighton Artillery." "Let's see it." So there it was, History of the Brighton Artillery Company, especially printed for Charles H. Taylor. This guy hadn't even looked at it [inaudible]. That was bound up with a copy of Lemuel Shattuck's History of the Boston Sewers and whatnot. [They laugh.] He laughed like hell and paid him the $25, whatever it was. That particular book is in the Odd Volumes right now, in one of those glass cases. Well, anyway [inaudible].

ROBERT BROWN:  So he was an interesting man.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah. Well, then I was going to ask you, I'm really going to talk—what I've got to say to you is mostly about people rather than—I mean, prints rather than people, but still.

ROBERT BROWN:  Well, that's fine.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Did you know Harold Hugo?

ROBERT BROWN:  Yes, the Meriden Gravure Company.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. Well, Harold had a lot to do with what happened in the way of prints, you know, once he got going, because we passed the time to get enough original material, and Harold, as you know, was very good at reproductions. [00:10:03] So he—if you were in prints at all, Harold Hugo was sort of part of the operation, and all these reproductions that we've got in our shop, Harold made. And then—

ROBERT BROWN:  Was he trained in the trade of engraving, or how did—what was his role?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  He went to, he went to, um, Northeastern—I'm going to save you time. I'm going to—you see those? I'll show you. He was—his parents were born in Sweden, and he got a job at Meriden Gravure. Of course, I've got the wrong volume, didn't I? Oh, here we go. Yeah, he was born in 1890—1910. His parents came from Sweden. He was born in Stamford, and he went to work for Meriden in 1924. Then, after he got through—part-time. Then, after he got through high school, he went to Northeastern for a year, and then he—

ROBERT BROWN:  Up here in Boston.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. Then he went back to Meriden in '29. He became very much interested in offset, and he developed the production of offset. He didn't invent anything, but he developed the process which they used, by just being very, very careful, and very, very fussy. So he, really just by his performance, made offset a first-rate reproductive process. [00:12:03]

ROBERT BROWN:  By the '30s, they had a reputation, then, did they? He came in '29. Fairly soon, he—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, yeah, I think it goes back to—I think it—maybe '45, '50.

ROBERT BROWN:  His was a company, one of the very few?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  It wasn't his company. He was an employee.

ROBERT BROWN:  Yeah, but it was one of the very few companies which could provide such excellent reproductions.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  That's right, that's right, and he got all the people, like Walter Whitehill, and the Massachusetts History Society, and all those people, to—he used to load his car up with things of priceless value, and even park in the Cowan [ph] Garage sometimes, all locked up, but he never lost a thing that I know of. He was taking these things down to Meriden.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did he become quite a friend of yours?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah. Well, he was a friend of everybody he knew. He was a very friendly person. He was a member of the Botolph Club, and the Odd Volumes, and the Grolier in New York. He got two or three honorary degrees. He had quite—

ROBERT BROWN:  Did he print things for Goodspeed's, for you?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah, he did a lot of those. Most of our reproductions you see around—

ROBERT BROWN:  Were done by him?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  —were done by him, yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  So you were continuing your father—what your father had begun, really, because—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. We were doing—

ROBERT BROWN:  He had done things like that early in the century.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  He used better methods, but we didn't have engravers and lithographers to do that sort of thing later on. They weren't around.

ROBERT BROWN:  They were gone, weren't they? So you had a more mechanical process.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, that's right.

ROBERT BROWN:  So it had to be done very carefully.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. Well, I might get back some of these people. I'm going over very, very quickly. I've only got four people written down here, and you've heard two of them. Did you ever hear of Ham Bail? [00:14:01]

ROBERT BROWN:  No. Ham Bail?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Hamilton Vaughan Bail. He did a book called, uh, Views of Harvard, and it's a very good book. There's a copy up there. You've probably got one down at the Colonial Society. He was a good collector of Harvard prints, but he didn't have a lot of money. He's still living. I think he must be 95, I guess. Down in Connecticut. He had a brother, Malcolm. Malcolm works into some of the rest of this. Malcolm, his younger brother, collected World War I posters, recruiting posters, Liberty Loans, that kind of thing, which he gave to Harvard, and he was made an honorary curator of the collection. We used to laugh at Malcolm's collection a little bit, because we said, "Who the hell wants these things?" They were very big. They were printed on lousy paper. But nevertheless, he was assiduous in getting his collection together. The thing that amused—the reason I write him down is that, suddenly, there's a renaissance in interest in those posters, which, you know, those days, nobody else would take them, probably, as a gift.

ROBERT BROWN:  You didn't have them at Goodspeed, for instance?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  No, we didn't have any. We wouldn't buy them. Now we have some. We haven't got a big stock, but we'll get anywhere from $75 to $750 for some of those things.

ROBERT BROWN:  Well, the artwork on some is quite good.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, there are good people. James Montgomery Flagg. There were popular people, of course, and all that. Anyway, um, I will get in, a little bit later, why it seems that things which never were worth anything are now in demand. [00:16:14] I think it's—I don't know why it is, but it seems—I've been involved in the beginnings of a lot of these things, which today we think a lot of, but we get involved with them more because nobody else wanted them than anything else, you know.

ROBERT BROWN:  Can you give some examples?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, I'm going to give you a few examples. Partly it's just a matter of luck, but I'm going to take these things in the order I've got them down. Partly it's a matter of luck, but I was in London once, and I bought some things from Sabin, a print dealer in, uh—I think it was in Albemarle Street at the time. I bought a little stuff from him and brought it back, and I got a letter from him later and he said, "Have you any interest in the watercolors of ships done by the Roux,"—R-O-U-X—"Family of Marseilles?" I said, "Well, certainly. What do you got?" So, he sent me over half a dozen of these Rouxs. You didn't see Rouxs at all. For some reason, he just produced them. [Laughs.] Then, another year, I was over there, and he had a couple of rowing prints, and I bought them. He said, "You got customers for rowing?" and I said, "Yeah." He said, "You know, I've got quite a collection of those at home. I think maybe I'd let them go." So I came back a couple days later, and he brought them up to the shop. It was a wonderful collection of rowing. Well, people hadn't been asking for rowing. [00:18:01] This is the point I'm trying to—

ROBERT BROWN:  In London, but you knew you—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  We had some—we had one or two people who wanted them, and one of them was this man that used to be president of Smith, and now he's living down in the Vineyard.

ROBERT BROWN:  Mendenhall?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Mendenhall, yeah. Yeah, Mendenhall.

ROBERT BROWN:  Tom Mendenhall.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Tom Mendenhall. He was quite a collector at that time. Then—I'm jumping around here, you'll have to put up with it. You know who Edwin Whitefield was?

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  In fact, there's one of mine in the other room.

ROBERT BROWN:  Yes, did views particularly.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. Well, that big view over my fireplace. They were all views. I got a phone call from one of his nieces. These two old ladies lived down in Wellesley Hills, and they said would we be interested in some Whitefield lithographs, and maybe a drawing or so? I said, "Well, certainly." So I went out, and I bought—I can't remember how much, and it doesn't matter, but it was a reasonable amount of stuff. There wasn't a great deal. About a month later, they called up and said, "You know what, we found one or two more things. You might like to see them." So I went out and I bought some more. Charlie Childs got wind of it, and he'd been out there, so he told me, he said, "They keep calling me up and I'll go out. They found—they've looked in another corner of the attic and something's turned up." [Laughs.] So Dick, who was—they had a string of dealers, including Charlie, myself, and Dick Holman. [00:20:00] We all had the same experience. Dick, I don't think, got so much, because Dick was more careful with his money. It was the same old story: "Well, we found a few more things." They had found this bottomless stock. I'm sure their technique was, if they gave it all to one person, then it would go too fast, but if they needed a little money for something, they'd call me or Charlie or somebody up. And we got a lot of those things that way. But Whitefield, again, hadn't been terribly popular.

ROBERT BROWN:  Why not? Was he—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, I don't know. He had been admired, I guess, but he hadn't been that popular. Popular is putting too much. I remember going into—in this sort of thing—going into the old print shop several times, and Harry Newman would turn up watercolors of, of, um—you know, the art—Cozens. F.S. Cozens. The prices he was asking for them were very, very modest. It always struck me as odd that Harry would sell things so much cheaper than I would. But I got—I did quite a little with Cozens. Now, of course, any—the Cozens go into four figures, almost any of them. The lithographs.

ROBERT BROWN:  Perhaps his market in New York was different from your market here.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I think he was green. I think it's another thing, though—there are a couple of others I'm going to come to which do catch on. Now, there's a neighbor of mine—he's still living out in Concord—a very nice fellow—who decided he liked Bradford.

ROBERT BROWN:  William Bradford? [00:22:00]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, William Bradford. In his house, he had an etching by Bradford of a whaling fleet. Personally, I don't like Bradford's etchings. I didn't like that one. I thought it was terrible. So he said, "Well," he said, "if you see any more Bradfords, I wish you'd let me know." So I called up, I called up, um, Bob Vose, and I said, "Have you got any Bradfords?" He said, "Yeah, but why do you ask?" Intimating who the hell wants them, you know. This is kind of what I'm saying. There's so many things that nobody seems to want. So I bought, oh, before I got done, four or five of them from Bob.

ROBERT BROWN:  These were paintings then?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Paintings, yeah. There was—you know, they were not very expensive. Two, three hundred dollars, $300-$400 kind of thing. This guy, who, at that time, lived up in Portland—now lives in Concord—became quite a collector of Bradford, and he made the market. Then, a few years later—in fact, I think he's given the lot to Bowdoin, or he's going to leave it Bowdoin, I don't know which. But at any rate, uh, they—now, of course, everybody wants Bradford.

ROBERT BROWN:  And there was an exhibition, then, of Bradford, in the early '70s.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah. He's very fashionable now, very fashionable. And a similar kind of thing—the same thing happened. One year when I was in London, we had somebody—I guess we decided we'd like to try Hogarth prints. You got the same answer. "You got any Hogarths?" "Well, yes, but why do you ask?" You know. [They laugh.] In those days, you could buy these Hogarths for—contemporary impressions—for nothing almost. [00:24:00] Well, you know, a few dollars apiece. The same thing happened with Rollinson [ph]. I went into Ben Weinreib's place one year—this was soon after Ben had opened up, I think, down near the museum—and he had a whole stack of Rollinsons, and they were—Douma, his then-partner, I think, had brought those in when he joined the firm.


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Douma, yeah. D-O-U-M-A. I bought a whole slew of these things, and they didn't think all that much of them when they were selling. You see what I mean? Today you'll fight over one or two, when I was buying those a dozen at a time, or more.

ROBERT BROWN:  About how long ago might that have been? In the '50s, maybe, 1950s?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, I think that was in the '50s, probably.

ROBERT BROWN:  Same applied to the Hogarths then, right?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  About the same time, yeah. Now [laughs] we look around, we can't afford these things anymore. And the same thing happened, of course, with Piranesi. Nobody wanted Piranesi at one time, and now, gosh, if you have a couple of Piranesis to show, you're rather pleased with yourself. [Laughs.] So I don't know. That's the—

ROBERT BROWN:  Would you say that this kind of thing, of finding something fairly cheap, that appreciates gradually, this is a good way to do as a businessman?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, if you have the imagination to do it. I don't think I had the imagination. I think I was just somebody who would ask closely [ph]. By the way, are you hot? You can open that window if you are. The window on the—

[Audio Break.]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I may have told you about Joe Rosenau. Did I ever mention Joe Rosenau?

ROBERT BROWN:  Joe Rosenau?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Rosenau, R-O-S-E-N-A-U. Joe was a feature writer for the Boston Herald, and I guess he was at the Transcript at one time. Joe started cutting up, cutting up Harper's Weekly for the Winslow Homer woodcuts. [00:26:05] He persuaded us to put on an exhibition, and had marked $5 apiece, something like that. They didn't sell all that well. We didn't think very much of them. Hell, now they bring—some of them bring in $200-$300, some of the best ones. It's just that—whether people no longer can get the things which were considered very fashionable in the old days, or whether it's just that tastes have changed. I think it's, I think it's the latter as much.

ROBERT BROWN:  Taste has changed?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, taste has changed, I think.

ROBERT BROWN:  Do you think that, generally, Americana has got a much bigger market than it did, say—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yes, there's no question about that. Then, of course, as far as—I was going to mention another guy that's also, that's also very popular now, of course, and that's Edward Lear. Now, Lear's lithographs of scenes in the Middle East—you know, there are several volumes of them, and his pictures of birds—nobody paid much attention to those until Philip Hofer came along, and Philip made them fashionable. And in those days, you could buy the Lear watercolors for $100 apiece, $200, something like that.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did Phil Hofer have quite an impact on other collectors?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, he did, sure, by going around to the trade and looking for certain things. Then the dealers got interested, and developed stock in them. Now, McCord has got a couple of very nice Lear watercolors.

ROBERT BROWN:  David McCord?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  David has, yeah. [00:28:00] Incidentally, David, I never think of as too much of a collector, but he, uh, he's got a lovely Benson watercolor—

ROBERT BROWN:  Frank Benson.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  —of crows to go with his book. I was looking before you came to see if he used it as a frontispiece. I thought maybe he had, but he didn't. Maybe he bought it after he published the book, I don't know.

ROBERT BROWN:  Were people like Hofer and McCord fairly steady customers, or would they come around—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, no, McCord was not at all.

ROBERT BROWN:  But Hofer may have been?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Hofer was, sure. Hofer was a, Hofer was a—he was a steady customer. He always was—you know his history. He started in at the New York Public Library, and he had a row with them. Then he moved to the Morgan Library, and he had a row there. Everywhere he went, he was kind of shaking his will, because he had this big collection of his own that would go with him, and the understanding that was it was going to be left to somebody. Well, of course it ended up at Harvard, because it's a great collection.

ROBERT BROWN:  But he had a nose for things that others weren't collecting, didn't he?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, he developed new people, yes. We all knew about Peter Newell, for example, but Philip was the first one who took him seriously as an illustrator. No, he would look for fields that he felt were neglected. For example, the whole field of Baroque engravings, which I don't really go for myself very much, but he made them fashionable, because he just—nobody was doing it, so he went ahead and got into it. There was one another guy that was around, who died recently, Charlie Wyzanski. Did you know him?

ROBERT BROWN:  No. I met him once.


ROBERT BROWN:  He was a judge, wasn't he?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, he was a federal judge, and he—Charlie wanted very much to be on the supreme court, I'm sure, but he never made it. [00:30:04] But at any rate, uh, Charlie said to me once, he said, "I'm going to buy"—he said, "I don't suppose you've got any of them, but I'm going out, and make a collection of Dürer and Rembrandt. The Old Masters. I said, "Well, fine." He said, "You haven't got anything?" I said, "No, not really much." So I don't know what ever happened, but he was quite frank with me, and he said, "These, I consider an excellent hedge against inflation." I think, before he died, he unloaded them, but I'm not certain. I don't know. But he was not, in that sense—he was purely a—he was an inquisitor rather than a collector. He never had a feeling that he had to hang onto something.

ROBERT BROWN:  Did he—did you do some business with him?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, little. Not very much. We were friends. He used to—I was a member of the Botolph Club at that time, and so was Charlie, and this was when Charlie was still active. Frequently, I'd go up there for lunch, and Charlie would be—Charlie used to walk up to the courthouse every day to get some exercise between—and he'd have a jury waiting for him back there, back in the courthouse. So we got walking back together, so we became friendly in that way. But I don't think of him as a customer. You see, uh, you see what's happened now. We can't get enough decent Boston prints. We just can't get them. [00:32:00] It's the explosion in office building that's caused it.

ROBERT BROWN:  Really? They've soaked them up to decorate?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  They're in every day. Somebody's opened a new office down by the South Station. "Well, what have you got in Boston views?" A good Boston view—you know, like take that one Whitefield of mine. You couldn't keep that in stock overnight, practically. Of course, they mostly need restoration and renovation, and that takes a lot of time, because you—so there's quite a lag in selling them. Of course—well, you know—do you know Charlie Mason?

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Of course Charlie is one of the greatest collectors we've had in prints. But it's all topical—it's all topographical prints. And, well, yeah, some of them most entirely. He likes lithographs. So there are a few collectors now. Even they, mostly, like Charlie, and like Sinclair Hitchings, they were collecting for institutions rather than for themselves. But Monk, yeah, Monk used to buy for himself.

ROBERT BROWN:  [Charles] Monk Mason.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. He had a—it was a Waziri [ph] drawing that Charlie Childs had—have you ever seen the Waziri view of Boston? [Inaudible.] It's a magnificent, big presence. I think it's [inaudible] but very heavily colored by hand. It's awful rare. Awful rare. Charlie Childs had the original drawing for it at one point. [00:34:00] Monk Mason took it on approval one time, and—from Charlie—and he decided against buying it. Turn off the machine for a minute [laughs].

[Audio Break.]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  —anyway, after Monk returned it to Charlie, um, I bought it from Charlie, and sold it to Monk. [Laughs.] And—you better turn it off again [laughs].

[Audio Break.]

ROBERT BROWN:  Did you work with Charles Childs, or were you generally in competition? Or occasionally?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  We were not—once in a while, we were in competition, but Charlie was more interested in paintings, and we were not. Charlie was into painting—it's very hard in this business to keep anybody, to keep anybody who's really developed a clientele. They have a way of leaving you, that's all. We've been lucky. We haven't lost many people. Charlie was one.

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Would you, likewise, only occasionally work with the Vose Galleries? Because they mainly dealt in paintings. But would they occasionally have drawings or prints that they—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, I told you, I bought—

ROBERT BROWN:  You told me the one case.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I told you I bought some Bradfords from him. I think, at one time, we had a little—there was a little run of interest—still a run of interest, but it had a more modest price—of Jacobsen's steamships. I was able to get—when I needed one, I could get those from Bob Vose.

ROBERT BROWN:  But you've always been—you've been quite close to him, haven't you, through a number of years? [00:36:05]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah. Yeah, that's right. And Charlie, of course. I'm very friendly with Charlie now.

ROBERT BROWN:  What about some of the other dealers who—for example, John Castano. Did you ever know him or know of him?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I know who he was, that's all. He had the building that Charlie bought, I think, later—Charlie Childs bought. There was a guy named Gus. He was a restorer, and I forget his last name.

ROBERT BROWN:  Oh, Gus Kleeman?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Gus Kleeman, yeah. The only trouble with Gus was, if you offered—if you sent Gus something to be restored, first thing he would try to do would be to try to sell it for you. [They laugh.] He would know—"I just know somebody who would like that," you know. Of course, the best painting restorer around—I suppose he's still working—is Bob Bradford. Is he still working?

ROBERT BROWN:  Bob Bradley, yeah.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Bradley, I mean, yeah. Is he still working?

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. But you mentioned earlier, with prints and drawings, you would very often have them restored before you would put them out for sale?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, sure. We do still. There was one wonderful, quite modern painting. I got a call from a furniture dealer down in the South End. Said he had this picture, and the name of the artist will come to me later. [Inaudible.] I've forgotten what he wanted for it. It wasn't all that much. Two or three thousand dollars. It was a huge thing. It was a wonderful, big thing. This dealer, whatever he said he wanted, he said, "Well," he said, "you see, I've got—here's Bob Vose's check for $1,000." [00:38:09] Which is the down payment, you know. I said, "Well, I don't know." I said, "If Bob thinks he's bought it, I don't want to get in between you and him." "Oh, well," he said, "I haven't made any promises to him at all," and so forth. So I called Bob up and I said, "I feel very badly about this." I felt if he hadn't sold it to me, he'd have got somebody else in on it [laughs]. Bob said, "Well, you win some, you lose some." [They laugh.] That went out to Bob Bradley. He did quite a job on it. I sold it to Pat Harrison, who was then up at the Fruitlands, you know.

ROBERT BROWN:  In Harvard, Mass[achusetts], yeah. Well, a good many of your steadiest buyers of prints and drawings have been from institutions. You mentioned earlier the Boston Public Library. Did you work with Arthur Heintzelman when he was keeper of prints?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  No, not particularly. We never did much business with BPL. I don't know why.

ROBERT BROWN:  But now that Sinclair Hitchings has been there since the early '60s—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  We've done, we've done we do quite a lot with Sinclair, yes. They've always had budgetary problems, and they still have. If you read the newspapers, you can see they're having one—incidentally, this new director, Curley.

ROBERT BROWN:  Curley, Arthur Curley.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Have you met him?


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Very nice guy. But I think he must be finding it a little frustrating just the same dealing with Boston politicians.

ROBERT BROWN:  Even though he's a native. [They laugh.]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, I know, but even though he's been away for a while, that's true.

ROBERT BROWN:  But Sinclair has had to buy rather selectively, then? [00:40:00]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, I think so. Of course, what happens is they—it happens in not just BPL, many places. Harvard won't do it, but in many places, what they'll do is to buy ahead of their budget, and say, "Well, you won't be getting paid for quite a while. We got our new budget." That can happen.

ROBERT BROWN:  That can be a little risky for you, couldn't it?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, no, you know. You better wipe that off, actually. I wouldn't want Sinclair to get in trouble.

ROBERT BROWN:  What about Massachusetts Historical Society? Have you done business with them?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  They've got everything in the way of prints. I don't think they're active—of course, they've got some wonderful prints.

ROBERT BROWN:  Were they in the past? Were they customers of yours occasionally?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  For books, but not for prints.

ROBERT BROWN:  Not for prints.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  By the way, you know this William Loring Andrews book on the Burgess view of Harvard and this print?


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  You know that book?

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  You know the story on this? There was a Price view on top of it, and some years ago—a couple of years ago—they wanted to restore the Price view, and they started to take it off, and there was a Burgess—the original was underneath it. So now they've got them both.

ROBERT BROWN:  Uh-huh [affirmative]. But they were primarily customers for books?


ROBERT BROWN:  Early volumes on Massachusetts history.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, that's correct, and early imprints. Mostly, they depend on gifts, I think.

ROBERT BROWN:  Was the same true of the American Antiquarian Society?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, they're more active. They're very active in buying. Again, not as much in prints now. [00:42:01] When Brigham was there—

ROBERT BROWN:  Clarence Brigham.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. He used to like prints. They've got a good print curator there, but I don't think they're as active in acquisitions, in prints, but Mark is extremely active in books.

ROBERT BROWN:  Mark [inaudible] the director.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Very active in books. As Brigham was, of course. Brigham's wife had some money. If Brigham saw something he wanted, he would buy it. Then he'd start calling up his members to raise the money. In those days, a lot of people did that. You didn't have the money to pay for it, but you knew you could whack it out of somewhere.

ROBERT BROWN:  Goodspeed has been a principal supplier of early imprints and rare imprints to the Antiquarian Society?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I couldn't tell you. No, he buys from everybody.

ROBERT BROWN:  From everywhere.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  As you know, there were a lot of small dealers around, living and working out of their houses and whatnot, and do very, very well, and they all know—that's why the comp—and certainly I mentioned this before—competition is so fierce, because you run into a customer, and the next thing you know, he's a competitor It's happening all the time.

ROBERT BROWN:  And without your overhead. At least—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah, no overhead.

ROBERT BROWN:  What about the Museum of Fine Arts, the print department there? Did Henry Rossiter require things? Eleanor Sayre, maybe?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I don't know who is in charge of prints there now.

ROBERT BROWN:  It's Clifford Ackley now.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah. Well, you see, I'm not—

ROBERT BROWN:  But Eleanor Sayre for years. Did they, in the past, occasionally, in—[00:44:00]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  We didn't do very much with them, no. One of the troubles in the art field, I suspect, with—particularly if the things aren't terribly expensive—is that dealers have to think nothing of having them sit on something for four or five months, but deciding to make up their mind whether they want it. This is not meant as a criticism. It's just a fact that that's the way museums have always operated. You never bought anything in a hurry. If you were all concerned with your turnover, people much prefer to deal with a private individual than with an institution.

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. So it resolves that problem.

[END OF TRACK AAA_goodsp87_4105_r.]

ROBERT BROWN:  Well one other institution, the Winterthur, the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum. They've been building up that library at a great rate for about 20-some years, and I imagine they—I know they steadily came to you.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  They've bought a lot from us, particularly in fields of architecture and, and—what is—

ROBERT BROWN:  Oh, the decorative arts?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Living—yeah, so the cultural aspect. I think that Frank Summer [ph], when he went—he's going to retire shortly, but Frank—you know Frank, of course.

ROBERT BROWN:  Oh yes. When they indicated they wanted things on architecture, did you have a supply, or did you know where to go to look for such things?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, one thing, Frank would come through a couple times a year, you know, and then if we saw something we thought was appropriate for him, we'd quote it to him.

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Did you do much—I know they acquired many European things. Would you have links with the dealers in London, or on the continent?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, we had never done probably as much as that as we should have done. We have always, in general—no objection to going to somebody else to get something for somebody, but nevertheless, we tended to operate on things that we own, and we buy things that we think we can sell, but we may not have any particular idea of where we're going to sell them when we buy them. Everybody does this, to a degree. We have not had these close relationships with other dealers the way Charlie and Harry Newman had, for example, where they practically were in business together for a while. [00:02:02] I think that the booksellers, generally—the art world is a little different, and it always has been different. I think booksellers tend to be good deal more independent.

ROBERT BROWN:  Than our art dealers?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Than art dealers.

ROBERT BROWN:  The print department and drawings are still a large one at Goodspeed's, isn't it?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah, yeah. It's our biggest department now.

ROBERT BROWN:  And how will it continue, do you suppose, through people bringing things in, through your getting wind of collections?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  A lot of people—a lot of runners, a lot of runners bring things in. I can't mention names, of course, but this one guy comes in almost once a week with stuff. He'll go around from one dealer and sell to another. But it also depends a great deal on your own competence as entrepreneurs, and that's why we're so fortunate having somebody like Doris Adams, because I know she'll buy things that I have no use for at all. I'll make some dirty cracks about them, but she goes—she doesn't—it doesn't bother her a bit. She just goes ahead [laughs]. We all make mistakes, but her batting average is very high, indeed. [Laughs.]

ROBERT BROWN:  She has, apparently, an ability to know what somebody will want or does want.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, and generally what the market wants. Not necessarily for an individual, but the—she has to keep reminding me of the things that I say we ought to be having don't exist anymore, and that's true.

ROBERT BROWN:  The early American imprints?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  They're all gone. I mean, for example, how often are you able to get a set of Doolittles, for example? The answer is no, they're gone, you can't have those. [00:04:01] So, anyway. It's inevitable, the quality—I don't care whether it's books or prints or what it is—that quality has to decline to a degree, otherwise there would be no movement at all of things, because such a large proportion of the really fine things is locked up.

ROBERT BROWN:  In institutions.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Also, of course, if they really sense—if these things have got—things have got very much in demand and very pricy, you can't afford to buy them, because competition has driven the price up. You look at any of these Sotheby catalogs [inaudible].

ROBERT BROWN:  That dimension of competition didn't exist when you first came into the business, did it?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, it probably existed more than we realized, because—well, we know, for example, if there's an auction, we never tried to compete in the New York auctions to any degree. Local auctions, in those days, we could dominate. We can't do it anymore. There's too much, there's too much money around, they are too many people interested. The world has changed tremendously. Incidentally, it's nothing to do with this—that's really what we're talking about. You realize the extent to which we talk about the unemployment rate. Unemployment is a negative number nowadays. I mean, there are more people—if you want somebody to work for you who's got some competence, you've got to hire them away from somebody else. You can't hire somebody that's green and educated, and bring them along. He's not going to do that. [00:06:00] They're just—well, you know, everybody's got a job.

ROBERT BROWN:  Or could have jobs, yeah.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Yeah. Well, most people have. It's a good thing for the beginner, but it's hard for the—it's hard for anybody in an organization.

ROBERT BROWN:  What are your plans? What do you see you'll be doing?


ROBERT BROWN:  Yeah, in your business.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  I don't know. When I go [laughs] it all depends on who's left. I think we—I suppose it will go on pretty much the same as we have been. We've got a very aggressive—Mr. Bailey Bishop. I don't know—him or not. He handles our American history. He's very aggressive. Very aggressive man. But all these sales are getting crowder and crowder and—partly due to the amount of money there is around, that you find that your competitor is independently wealthy, and a guy like that can raise hard with a trade [ph]. You ever heard of Mr. Graham Mirada [ph]?


GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, there's a guy who's got so much money—apparently got so much money—that he could outbid anybody, and some dealers won't even let him in their shop, because he just takes everything they've got away from them. He's not popular anyway, but.

ROBERT BROWN:  And then he turns around and—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, I don't know. He spreads it all over. Now he's over working at a chain. I suppose you could say you could buy anything desirable in Boston or Philadelphia and take it out to California and double your money automatically, because California doesn't understand these things. [Laughs.]

ROBERT BROWN:  Was that always true of it, that you could—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  No, it wasn't always true. New York was the big place for—used to be the place for big money.

ROBERT BROWN:  But now, out West, you can get the best prices?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  The West Coast particularly.

ROBERT BROWN:  Presumably you are aware of that, too, and act on that occasionally. [00:08:03]

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  We know it, but we don't, we don't have the individuals—we don't have the customers out there, don't come to us. We will—likely to find the willy-nilly. We are dealing through somebody else.

ROBERT BROWN:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Do you do much by mail? Do you send out—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

ROBERT BROWN:  Through that, you would have catalog—have customers practically anywhere, or could?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh, yes, we have customers all over. But it isn't—again, the—of course, prints don't—prints are hard to sell from catalogs. They're hard to sell. They're expensive. You've got to have a lot of illustrations, and the preparation catalogs is more complicated. It takes longer. It's partly a matter of time, again, as I say. You see, when we were at Milk Street, when I was—when I came to work, when we first took over Milk Street in 1927, we had a dozen or more people out of there working. Now we've got three. Our print department—I told you, when Louie Holman was with us, he had five or six working under him. Now we've got Doris and one assistant. Partly because you can't get help.

ROBERT BROWN:  And partly, it would be more costly, proportionately, wouldn't it?

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, no. Good assistants will—they'll pay for themselves. The trouble is getting them. Once they get good enough, then they say, "Well, I'm going into business with myself." Because they don't have to have expensive shops anymore, because that was—in the old days, you couldn't do much unless you had a shop. [00:10:00] Now a lot of these people don't have shops. There's one bookseller that comes into my place twice a week, at least. Very nice guy. But he does business out of a post office box.

ROBERT BROWN:  Hmm. You mentioned earlier the runners. Are they an interesting group? You've always had them, haven't you? People who have brought you things.

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Well, we don't have as many of those now as we used to.

ROBERT BROWN:  No. The surprising finds, do they usually come through yourself or your father before you, or do sometimes these runners come into the—

GEORGE GOODSPEED:  Oh they—runners used to bring them in. Sometimes they knew what they had, and sometimes they didn't. No, I think it's a matter of—sure, these things are—there's always a certain amount of luck. And don't forget serendipity also. This is—some of these things, like finding Roux watercolors. Today, we [laughs] wouldn't be able to touch one Roux, let alone a half a dozen. But if you're in another country and there hasn't been any particular amount of activity in the market with the dealer you're talking to, and you—pull things out for you. But everybody is rich now, you know. Even the Europeans and the British.

[END OF TRACK AAA_goodsp87_4106_r.]


How to Use This Collection

Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with George Goodspeed, 1987 Apr. 24-June 3. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.