Early RRC Library Tech. retiree marries passions and repurposes skills in antiquarian, out-of-print, used numismatic & philatelic mail order book business, Richard Stockley Books
What does any self-respecting library technician do upon early retirement to keep himself out of trouble? Why, buy a used and antiquarian numismatic and philatelic (i.e. literature specializing in coin and stamp collecting, respectively) mail order book business, of course! All 3,000 lbs. on 3 pallets from its original location in Montreal! I’ve been the proprietor of Richard Stockley Books since April 29, 2019, took delivery of the material on May 7, 2019 and then moved it from the storage facility to my home by May 3, 2020, all the while buying, selling and trading at shows (until March 8, 2020) and exclusively online ever since. In the absence of an online inventory, I send out personalized fixed price lists to my customers upon their request which number 140+ worldwide. I herewith attach my business card.
Out of the Blue
By the fall of 2018, after 14 years working at Red River College Library, it became clear to me, in no small part due to the nudge I received from my wife, Esther G. Juce, that my then increasingly frail 90-year-old father needs me now and not in the 4-5 years I had originally planned to retire. Thankfully, at age 57, I was eligible to take early retirement and so I began to make my plans…
On Nov. 14, 2018 while minding my own business at work as a library technician with Red River College Library (16 days after I had announced on Oct. 30 to my supervisor that I planned to retire by Jan. 2, 2019 after more than 14 years’ service, but before I made this announcement public to my colleagues, which did not occur until Nov. 19) I received what turns out to have been an exclusive offer from Richard Stockley to purchase his antiquarian and out-of-print numismatic and philatelic book business. He and his wife, Deirdre Crevier, had decided to retire to “warmer climes” (as Richard put it; to Belize, as it turned out) by the fall of 2019. Interestingly, he had no prior knowledge of my imminent plans to retire. Here is the core of his message:
“Since the two of you are active in the local numismatic & philatelic communities and avid bibliophiles, my thoughts turned immediately to you. Would you be interested in taking over my hobby/business?
This is not a business where you will get rich but it is a good way to keep busy in retirement. It does have potential and you can build it to whatever level you wish. You will be the only full-time [second-hand numismatic and philatelic] book dealer in Canada.”
As you might imagine, I spontaneously could not but help but yelp out in delight upon reading Richard’s e-mail message inviting me to take over his “hobby/business”!
I had first met Richard in person at a Torex Show in the fall of 2013. He was the first dealer I always made a bee-line to at all the RCNA Conventions he attended from 2014 to 2017, inclusive, with numerous mail orders in-between and afterwards, even though he could not attend the 2018 RCNA Convention. I made my first contact with Richard through his AbeBooks.com site asking him a question about the annual Royal Canadian Mint reports (which I collect) on Aug. 25, 2013.
I’m thus a relatively newly minted Canadian numismatic/philatelic book dealer, Richard Stockley Books. As of April 29/19, after several months of cordial negotiation (it’s hard to believe I’m already coming up to my second anniversary as the new owner) I purchased this 40-year-old business from its original owner, Richard Stockley, who was domiciled in Montreal and retired with his wife Deirdre Crevier to Belize in the fall of 2019. I have therefore been making the buying, selling and trading numismatic literature a priority (over collecting) ever since, particularly online and, prior to when the pandemic hit in March 2020, at shows. I don’t have a storefront; rather the 3,000 lbs. of books and equipment Richard sent me sat in a storage facility out of which operated until I moved everything to my home in May 2020. This took five loads within a period of a couple of weeks, just ahead of the first anniversary of receiving it on May 7, 2019. Thankfully, the storage facility was within a five-minute drive of my home. One of the good things about this pandemic is that it has afforded me the opportunity to reorganize my home and make enough space to accommodate my inventory and thereby save me $210 in monthly rental costs, or more than $2,500 per annum..
Another very good thing about the pandemic is that it has compelled me to develop the mail-order side of my business, since I cannot (yet) attend any shows and have not gone to one since March 8, 2020. Out of this experience I’ve developed a number of thematic fixed price lists that I send to customers whom I know would be interested because the respective themes cover their collecting interests. In other words, I’ve been sending out customized fixed price lists of materials in my stock to my customers to quite good effect if sales are any indication. Thanks to Wayne Homren, Editor of The E-Sylum, “an electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society”, who recently invited me to offer these price lists to E-Sylum readers, no fewer than 15 more potential customers requested such lists from me. Topics include ancient and medieval coins, Canadian pre- & post-Confederation tokens, Coins of the Far East, world medals, world paper money, obscure and hard-to-find U.S. numismatic literature, numismatic literature relating to Western Canada, etc.
If you would like more information about my new business venture, I invite you to click on a number of articles that have appeared in various trade publications about my early major trade show experiences, plus some updates after my first year in the business:
In The E-Sylum
HOWARD R. ENGEL ACQUIRES RICHARD STOCKLEY BOOKS, The E-Sylum: Vol. 22, No. 21, May 26, 2019, Article 8: https://www.coinbooks.org/v22/esylum_v22n21a08.html
RCHARD STOCKLEY BOOKS AT 2019 RCNA SHOW, The E-Sylum: Vol. 22, No. 32, August 11, 2019, Article 21: https://www.coinbooks.org/v22/esylum_v22n32a21.html
RICHARD STOCKLEY BOOKS OFFERS PRICELISTS, The E-Sylum: Vol. 23, No. 37, September 13, 2020, Article 2: https://www.coinbooks.org/v23/esylum_v23n37a02.html
ENGEL’S ANGLE ON NUMISMATIC LITERATURE: SANDHAM’S COINS, MEDALS & TOKENS OF CANADA (1869), The E-Sylum: Vol. 23, No. 41, October 11, 2020, Article 14: https://www.coinbooks.org/v23/esylum_v23n41a14.html
In short, I’m gratified that the library skills I originally acquired at Red River College and then put into practice over a 30+-year career in the field (nearly the last half of which were served at Red River College Library) are now re-purposed into my antiquarian, used and out-of-print numismatic and philatelic book business. “The business” itself marries a number of my own passions of coin, stamp and book collecting and my sense of vocation “to help provide people with access to information, knowledge and the accumulated wisdom of the ages”—an exciting new venture/adventure and career to be sure to keep me interested and occupied when I’m not looking after my Dad, Roland R. Engel!
My father Roland (a.k.a. “Rollie”) Engel is an astute businessman who served as the President and C.E.O. of his family-owned trucking business, Atomic Transportation System Inc. He purchased the then struggling company with his father and five brothers in 1954 from the original owner, World War II veteran A.J. Kellner. Founded in 1946, the company operated on the rough roads chiefly between its Winnipeg headquarters and Yorkton, Saskatchewan. With his one brother remaining in the business, and no obvious successor, my Dad sold Atomic to another expanding transportation company in 1998 for a tidy sum. At its peak, Atomic employed 600 people and operated with a thousand pieces of equipment (i.e. mostly tractors and trailers). Operating out of 20 terminals in every province west of Quebec and two states (Washington and Oregon), it made both LTL (less-than-truckload lot) and TL (truckload lot) deliveries of goods throughout most of North America.
He naturally always wanted me to get at least as actively involved in the family business as he was in terms of a career (opportunities abounded to work with or for the company in accounting, human resources, law, logistics or marketing to name but a few), but my vocation lay elsewhere. Apart from working at the Winnipeg headquarters (located at 2070 Logan Avenue, a stone’s throw north of RRC’s Notre Dame Campus) a few summers as a teenager, I never did, nor did I ever, get into any kind of business… until now. I therefore find it most satisfying to be able to confer with him regarding my experiences and to ask his advice, which I know gives him great pleasure. Serves him right for getting me involved in the numismatic hobby in the first place! At the tender age of 5, in Canada’s Centennial year of 1967, he gave me a cigar box of his travel change from the U.S., Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, and some George VI Canadian coins. That captured my imagination because they were sufficiently different from the Elizabeth II coins I was used to seeing in circulation. Little did we know that this would lead me into a business venture in my retirement years that would afford me a new-found appreciation and respect for my father’s business acumen while he is still alive. What a wonderful and mutual blessing between a father and his son!
Howard R. Engel is a Red River College (RRC) alumnus with a Library Technician Certificate (1986) and a Diploma in Library Technology (1992). He is now a RRC retiree and RRC Heritage Group member since Jan. 2, 2019. He served as a RRC Distance Education Instructor for Library Programs from 1995-2014, a Library Help Desk Technician at RRC Princess Street Campus from 2003-2004, and a Library Technician at both the Notre Dame & Exchange District Campuses of RRC from 2004-2019.
Editor’s note: This is Howard’s first contribution to our “Celebration of (Retired) Life“ series, and we hope there’s more to come. We welcome any uplifting, funny, inspiring, or otherwise simply interesting story, profile, or bit of whimsy. To share with our other retirees, simply email your 500- to 1,000-word piece to HG-Editor@RRC.CA.