It has been some years since I was last in the store of William H. Allen, Bookseller, so I decided to rectify this. I admit, the avoidance was quite deliberate, as I have been attempting to limit both the outflow of cash and inflow of books brought in by regular biblioexcursions. (Also, their hours were terribly inconvenient for me.) I was in the city for a business meeting, and I decided that it had been long enough. I walked over to their location, in the 2100 block of Walnut.
Imagine my dismay: the store is there no longer. I had a chat with the contractor who was waiting impatiently for the owner . . . he knew nothing about a bookstore, and said that he’d been working on the building for five years. Has it really been that long?
William H. Allen was one of my favorites, pecializing in classical, medieval, and Renaissance studies. Not only was the selection mouth-watering, the building was the quintessence of bookstore, with winding back passages and stories of books.
Their website, http://whallenbooks.com, is offline, with a mocking “site coming soon” messag. Refering to the Wayback Machine, I discovered that sometime between April 2, 2002 and June 9, 2002, their address changed from Philadelphia to Sharon Hill. There have been no updates to the front page since around January 6, 2006. A call to their new phone number yielded no answer, and no machine. Google yields only echoes, a hundred out-of-date
Things look grim, but all may not be lost. They have 32,988 books listed under their store at AbeBooks, but their profile links only to the dead website. I’ll be making a few more phone calls, to see what I can discover.