Last week Nick McCrea and I went over to chat with Gerald Winters, the exceedingly interesting purveyor of Gerald Winters & Son, the new bookstore set to open at 48 Main St. in downtown Bangor. Winters will specialize in rare and used books and manuscripts, as well as offering a small handful of trade and mass market paperbacks, mostly from Stephen King and other popular authors.
Now, I could speak at length about how I think it’s nuts that no one has capitalized on the obvious need for a Stephen King-centric bookstore in downtown Bangor — at least, since Bett’s Books closed years ago. But rather than do that, I’ll let the small selection of books, letters and other ephemera that Winters showed us last week speak for itself. If you love books, pop culture or fabulously rare items and antiques, then this place is going to be a must-visit for you.
1. This uncorrected proof of “The Fellowship of the Ring,” once owned by J.R.R. Tolkien himself
I love Stephen King, and I love George R.R. Martin, but I have an all-consuming and lifelong obsession with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. So to hold a book that the man himself likely held in his own hands is a true thrill for me. This copy of “Fellowship” is an uncorrected proof that contains some pre-publishing lines that were later revised for the final edition. It was lost at some point after Tolkien had it and went into the library of a hospital in London, until some wise person realized what it was and sold it for many, many times more than the library probably thought it was worth. One of those revisions is pictured below:
The final published version reads “One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.” Tolkien apparently preferred “shadow,” but his editor said there were too many shadows in the ominous rhyme, and suggested one be stricken from it. Can you hear that? That’s me weeping with nerdy joy.
2. What is believed to be the last known signature of Michael Collins, one of the leading figures in the Irish Revolution.
Winters bought this small notebook containing the signatures of many of the figures from the Irish Revolution of 1920, including what’s believed to be one of the last known signature of Michael Collins, before he was assassinated in 1922. History in your hands. Pretty amazing.
3. Early 1990s Stephen King letter
Love that letterhead. I didn’t catch to whom King was writing or what it was about, but judging from the era, maybe “Gerald’s Game” or “Dolores Claiborne”?
4. A copy of the Stephen King newsletter from the 1980s.
For a time, an official King newsletter was printed, right here in Bangor. Here’s a copy. There are probably more out there, but here’s one.
And then finally, the coolest one…
5. One of 26 copies of Stephen King’s “Firestarter” that was bound in asbestos.
Does it get much cooler than that? Not sure if it does. Maybe don’t lick the cover.
There’s surely more cool things to be seen at Gerald Winters & Sons when it opens in a few weeks.