The Rarest Bookstore in Dallas

For the steadfast bookworm, there is no place like Rosedale Rare Books at which to indulge their literary fantasies. Rosedale Rare Books, adjacent to Snider Plaza, is the last storefront antiquarian bookstore in Dallas.

Rosedale Rare Books (Photo by Chloe Pope-Levison)

Rosedale Rare Books (Photo by Chloe Pope-Levison)

That Rosedale is still in business is a testament to the passion and expertise of its founder, Wrenda Coughran. Coughran received a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from Southern Methodist University, but it wasn’t in the classroom that she discovered her passion for antiquarian books.

“About 25 years ago I had a friend visiting me and she wanted to go to a bookstore,” Coughran said. “We wandered into a bookstore called The History Merchant down on Routh Street and it was just one of the most special places I’ve ever been in.”

Coughran managed The History Merchant (now closed) until the owner retired. Ten years ago, she opened Rosedale with her business partner, Forrest Jackson, in the unlikeliest of places – Jackson’s father’s gun shop. In a tiny room directly off the gun shop, the walls are lined with books that range in topic from American history and Shakespeare to natural history, literature, and poetry.

Aesop's Fables, found at Rosedale Rare Books (Photo by Chloe Pope-Levison)

Aesop’s Fables, found at Rosedale Rare Books (Photo by Chloe Pope-Levison)

The oldest book in the store is a 1494 edition of the sermons of St. Augustine. Other notable books include a vellum-bound copy of “Aesop’s Fables,” which was one of only 525 copies signed by the illustrator, and “Roughing It” by Mark Twain signed by Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain).

Coughran estimates there are between 1,000 and 2,000 books in the store. That is nothing compared to her personal library.

Wrenda's Top Book Picks

“Let’s just say years ago I stopped counting at 10,000 books,” Coughran said. “I’ve cut back, but I kept going.”

When asked which book was her favorite, Coughran laughed.

“I’m going to hurt some little book’s poor feelings,” Coughran said. “I think of them all as close friends.”

She eventually decided on an edition of “Pride and Prejudice,” the first with the Hugh Thomson illustrations, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and “The Forgotten Beasts of Eld,” by Patricia McKillip.

Rosedale Rare Books is open Wednesday through Saturday 10:30am to 5:00pm.

 

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