I was stumbling around the East Village a couple of years ago when I happened on the Pageant Print Shop at #69 East 4th Street between the Bowery and 2nd Avenue. I went in and chatted with the counterperson, telling her I wrote the website Forgotten New York, and she was familiar with the website (this happens wherever I go and I’m always humbled and charmed by this).
I knew the name Pageant. Many years ago I was a patron at the Pageant Lounge and Bar, on East 9th between 3rd and 4th Avenues, which was a callback to the former location of Pageant Books. I was to be found frequently scouring its stacks for ancient NYC maps and prints. Aisle after aisle of dusty tomes awaited book hawks. It was among the last remaining shops of Booksellers Row, on 4th Avenue between Cooper and Union Squares. Except for the Strand, they’re all gone. The Pageant made a go of it on Houston Street for awhile before moving to East 4th Street.
Pageant Books, which now specializes in prints, old magazines and maps, was founded in 1946 by Sidney B. Solomon and Henry “Chip” Chafetz. In its early days the shop published a popular reproduction of the Gutenberg Bible, the first book ever published, in the 15th Century, that employed Johannes Gutenberg‘s new invention,
the printing press mechanical movable type.
Pageant Books gained notoriety and popularity because it was frequently employed in location shots in motion pictures including Neil Simon’s “Chapter Two” and Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters.” Sidney Solomon’s daughters Shirley and Rebecca have continued to keep the shop going, in both physical and online business.
Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”
I remember that bar on 9th St. I seem to remember just by looking from the outside that the floors above were not normal tenement apartments, they seemed to be SRO-type rooms, as if the place was a former hotel. I always wondered about that.
I worked at the Pageant bookstore during spring of 1974, while I was going to NYU. I mostly worked in the store itself, but also sometimes upstairs in their office where IIRC they had some kind of publishing business – maybe reprints? The place definitely had character. 🙂
You’re thinking of Biblo & Tannen, possibly next door, which had Canaveral Press as a publishing imprint. The editor of the Edgar Rice Burroughs hardcover reprints they did was Richard Lupoff—yes, the very same person who comments here.
I remember when the store was on the east side of 4th Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets. But that was more than 50 years ago.
Please forgive me for picking a nit. But — Gutenberg did not invent the printing press, which had been around for a long time before Gutenberg got into the printing
business. Gutenberg is credited with inventing movable type. A brilliant and invaluable invention..
Another point: movable type wasn’t even original, it had been in use in Asia for centuries…but the usual racism and Eurocentric beliefs won’t acknowledge that China and Japan were using a widespread system of printing. Of course there’ll bee the claim that it’s not the same, yet metal and ceramic movable typeface was also used but being more expensive than wood block printing they weren’t as widely used- yet still existed hundreds of years BEFORE Gutenberg was born.
Bless The Pageant and Sidney Solomon and company. When I started my own Three Geese in Flight Celtic Bookshop in Woodstock New York I bought some of my first merchandise there. They reprinted some great scholarly Celtic studies books. I also bought some Nineteenth century Ethiopian Manuscript page seconds from Mr. Solomon. I started my shop with a thousand dollars and still continue on line. G-d bless those great book giants on book row. Unfortunately those days exist in the aisles of our minds.