Tucked into a row of buildings at Garrison Landing, Antipodean, a shop featuring old and rare books, maps, prints, ephemera and photographs on myriad subjects, is operated by David and Cathy Lilburne of Garrison.
“Some people think we just deal in expensive books,” David says. “Actually, we have offerings in a wide range.”
The name Antipodean comes from “anti” and “pode,” meaning “opposite pole.” Born in England and raised in Australia, David gravitates toward articles featuring Antarctica and the South Pacific. He has not lost his distinctive Australian accent since coming to the United States in 1982. His wife is a Cortlandt Manor native.
The Lilburnes stock their wares by visiting book fairs and from private collections. A typical year might mean attending book fairs in Hartford, Conn., Boston, San Francisco, New York City, London, Australia and Hong Kong.
The couple belongs to the 450-plus-member Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, which David served as president of from 2006 to 2008. The organization prides itself on its slogan, “The Buyer Need Not Beware.”
Right now, the Lilburnes take pride in owning a second edition of “The North Pole” by Richard E. Peary, bound in the original pictorial blue binding. “It is not a valuable book, but has a pleasing provenance,” David remarks.
David recalls a pleasant surprise when summoned to a Westchester home by a woman seeking to sell a large book collection. By accident, he found the woman had a large collection of old maps. Her father had used small portions for decorative lamp shades and screens. She was left with the remains, which turned out to be of some value.
The Lilburnes find that about a third of new inventory moves quickly; another third moves over a 15-year period, “and the rest stays with you forever.”
Currently, the couple is coping with the water damage done by Hurricane Sandy to books stored in their lower level and have installed additional display areas in their ground-level space, offering the books at $5 each. “We’re not going to use that space again,” David declares. “If it flooded once, it could again.”
The Lilburnes met at Victoria Station in London when David was representing the Youth Hostel and Cathy was vacationing with two female friends from studies at The Sorbonne in France. They married in 1976 and gravitated into business when David’s Australian father, a medical doctor and book collector, asked his son to buy books for him in London.
Despite demands of their business, the couple is active in local community and professional endeavors. David is president of the Cold Spring Lions Club, vice president of the Garrison Ambulance Corps and is winding down a term as president of the Old Book Table at the Grolier Club on 60th Street in Manhattan. Cathy is vice president of the Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES. They have three sons in their 20s.
Challenging Careers focuses on the exciting and unusual business lives of Hudson Valley residents. Comments or suggestions may be emailed to Catherine Portman-Laux at email@example.com.