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Related FAQs: Collecting Aquatic Literature Freshwater Books, Magazines,

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Collecting Aquarium Literature & Other Content

By Bob Fenner

Witness for your beliefs!

Along the way, from goldfish, to freshwater community, to specialized/oddball; to forays of collecting & possibly breeding cichlids et al., through attempts at saltwater, back (if you live

long and well enough) to goldfish and plants, the sojourn of aquarist life comes full circle. This path is strewn with the tools and materials of everyone's trials and semi-triumphs; glass bowls, razor scrapers, broken heaters and diaphragm (why do they have to be so noisy?) pumps.

For those fortunately smitten with a love of the printed page, this itinerary is particularly rich. The knowledge, opinions, art and etchings of aquaria-philes who have gone before remains long after they have departed for that big tank in the sky. Yes, dear friends in fish, I'm referring to the books, magazines, posters and other ephemerea; heck, I'll even mention videos, compact disks and other upcoming electronic media. The stuff which is the cataloged history of our hobby; Literature, that which is read/written.

Of all the ways to learn, share, enjoy and improve our field, the written word (plus images) is the sure fire fastest and least expensive. And indeed, there is so much to be had. But where? Most retail outlets have but a paltry showing; their justifiable position: people don't buy enough to warrant carrying a larger selection... Or the public libraries with their few older beginner mainstream offerings. Even college/university holdings are typically scant on "pet-fish" archives, as if only ichthyological and fisheries works are worthy of their shelves. Oh, fellow aquarists, but their is a rich legacy in printed material in our interest, and it's not impossible to get your hands on. In this article I will share with you, the hobbyist loyal some of my favorite haunts and techniques for collecting aquarium literature.

Do You Have A Business Card?  

Yes, I'm seriously suggesting you have them made up, stating your name, how you can be reached and listing the fact that you're a pet fish fanatic. Oh, and that you're interested in acquiring books, magazines, whatever. In a broader sense, being pro-active, advertising through your hobbyist Society by mouth or bulletin classified, the pet section of the local newspaper, specialty periodicals (like this one!) are some very productive means of having people find you who have these works for sale.

Fishy Book Sales!  

Many public library systems have "Friends of..." organizations. These outfits and others have periodic sales of older, otherwise unwanted media that they sell. To my experience, a lot of this material is just what you want, and at a tremendous discount. Call your local library branch to inquire about such matters, and mark your calendar.

If you've got the time, some estate and administrative sales can be productive. My advice is to get on the mailing list of the companies that handle these affairs. You can find them in the weekend and "Yellow-Page" classifieds. Similarly, used bookstores are good folks to make your desires made known to. Many are adopting a computerized network for matching up what becomes available with who has stated interest in acquiring the same. The future may be very bright for the all-planet-encompassing 'electronic nets' and such searches. I can't wait.

What About Specialty Book/Magazine Sellers? 

Are there any? You betcha. The following are my three most favorite, though there are others (some probably in the classifieds in the magazine in your hands). They will gladly send you a copy of their most recent offerings with terms and conditions of sale, ordering and delivery. If you like fishes, aquaria, aquatic natural history, aquarium humor and more call/write these folks; what they have to share is incredible.

The Aquatic Book Shop:  

Jim Forshey, (916)-622-7547 (7:00-9:00 PM) and weekends (916) 622-7157 ans. machine and fax. Compuserve 72763,214. Jim offers the full gamut; many new and used books (hundreds of titles) and dozens of fish magazines, foreign and domestic. Even video sales and rentals, posters and a few staple drygoods. I don't know how he does it, but this catalog is updated every month. Just to give you a flavor, the March issue offers a copy of Kingsford's classic (good and long since out of print) Treatment of Exotic Marine Fish Diseases, and a few tempting works by Boulenger. Now where'd that wife hide my checkbook?

Raymond M. Sutton, Jr. FISH BOOKS

P.O. Box 330, Williamsburg, Kentucky 40769. Catalog IV FISHES (New Series) dated October, 1994 is the most recent gathering of books on Marine and Freshwater Biology, Algae and Invertebrates. Mr. Sutton confines his interests to antiquarian (fine and illustrated works) and other recent/used bound works. His catalogs are a work of art and beauty in themselves; with interesting, useful brief reviews and notes on wear and rarity. Mr. Sutton offers titles in the same register on scientific travel, marine mammals, history, bibliography, biography and more. Unbelievably, this same gentleman produces catalogs in Botany, Landscaping and Garden History Birds, Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians, Geology... et alia; most all categories dealing with human involvement in natural history.

Are you sitting down? There is a listing for the only edition of Petri Artedi (the father of the science of fishes), Ichthyologia, from 1738 (not a misprint), along with more recent Axelrod volumes, and most every important name in pet-fish and scientific aquatic life; all at reasonable prices.

Gary Bagnall/Bookseller

Yep, the same guy who owns and runs the herp livestock and drygoods manufacturing company, Zoo-Med Laboratories. You can reach Gary @ 805-542-9295, 3100 McMillan Rd., San Luis Obispo, CA 93041. He has an amazing accumulation of old aquarium magazines, books, and other printed arcana; even aquatic business materials. And for a gift for the pet-fish type who thinks they have everything, collector fish bowls and aquaria. Including fabulous brass reproductions of the Jewel "Fish Queen" glass aquarium with a woman/dolphin on each corner.

All these dealers buy books/collections and encourage customers to list specific titles they are seeking but don't see.

A sad note in passing; Mr. Ross Socolof has ended his Socolof Enterprises business in this field. And informs me that our user-group Collectors of Aquarium Literature is at a standstill for now. Contact Dave Hopp, the keeper-of-the-faith to help breath some life back into this organization. 3604 Agate Drive, Modesto, CA 95356, 209-577-3596.

Personal Glimpse/Close: 

Forget counting, I have a few tons of aquaristic books and mags; treasured for their informational content, often talented artwork and photographic attempts, as well as the link they grant me with other aquarists, near past and gone. You say you like aquariums? Collecting, using and enjoying aquatic literature is for you.

Collecting Aquarium Literature Bibliography/Further Reading:

Appel, William. 1988. Sure Beats Shopping at Barnes & Noble. FAMA 11/88.

Behme, Bob. 1989. Historic Aquarium Magazines. Pet Business 11/89.

Finley, Lee. 1991. Some Notes on Care of Books. AFM 2/91.

Glodek, Garrett, 1991. Building A Working Library. FAMA 2/91.

Lucas, Gene A. 1986. A Treasure Trove of the Literature of Fish es: The Aquatic Sciences & Technology Archive of the Aquatic Research Institute. FAMA 10/86.

Maurus, Walt, 1990. I Love Fish Magazines! You Too? FAMA 11/90.

Speirs, Dale. 1986. Collecting Aquarium Literature. Calquarium Jan. 86/ Calgary A.S., reprinted in FAAS 1/89.

Stewart, Steve, 1983. Collecting Back Date Aquarium Magazines for the Aquarists Library. FAMA 9/83.


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