Biography of William H. Schaberg



William Schaberg spent two years at St. Thomas Seminary studying to be a Roman Catholic priest and three years at Fairfield University where he graduated in history and philosophy in 1966. After three years in the US Air Force at Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts, he joined the family business in 1969, working in a blueprint shop in Norwalk, CT. In 1999 he sold the family firm to the American Reprographics Company (ARC), and served the new company as Vice President of Corporate Development and Communication until 2006.

After retiring from ARC, he began to devote more time to his rare book business, “Athena Rare Books”, which he had started in the mid-90s when the Internet first made trading in rare books a relatively easy “at home” business. His activity in Athena had progressively increased and accelerated significantly after he became a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America in 2004.




William Schaberg developed a keen interest in philosophy and history, and specifically the history of ideas, while at Fairfield University, with a special interest in the classic modern philosophers – Descartes, Locke, Hume, Nietzsche and Sartre. This interest continued in the 1970s, when he took courses on Aristotle given by King Dykeman. His friendship with Dykeman led to collaborative teaching at Fairfield University on philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche (Twilight of the idols) and William James (The Moral Equivalent of War).



In 1984, he attended a meeting of the American Philosophical Association in New York City. In one corner of that hall was a small booth selling used and rare books. It was there that he experienced a feeling of awe as he picked up a first edition of Nietzsche’s Götzen-Dämmerung [1889] and thinking to himself: “Could Nietzsche have held this very copy in his own hands?” He had never even heard of rare book collecting before, and this temptation was just too much.


He pursued other Nietzsche first editions and as that collection grew it expanded to buying other important philosophers, followed by books on science and some important works of literature. His current collection of rare books focuses primarily on “The History of Ideas” and includes many important and beautiful copies of works by those who have made a substantive contribution to the growing body of human knowledge in the past five centuries. Among important works by Hobbes, Spinoza, Berkeley, Hume, Adam Smith, Kant, Wittgenstein, Einstein and Heidegger.





During the early years of collecting, William Schaberg’s primary focus was on Nietzsche. As he tried to expand that collection he constantly encountered complications and confusions regarding the publication history. No one really seemed to know much about the subject.


In October of 1989, he bought a first edition copy of Nietzsche’s four Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen [1873-1876] that he had inscribed to a woman named Louise Ott. Shortly afterwards, he discovered that there had been letters written between these two and that a new edition of Nietzsche’s complete correspondence had recently been published. Living near to Yale, he visited Sterling Library and copied out the thirteen letters they had written to each other – and then translated them into English with a skilled translator.


With the letters and further research in libraries all over the USA and Europe, he wrote The Nietzsche Canon: A Publication History and Bibliography, which the University of Chicago Press published in 1995. The German translation became a reality and was published by Schwabe and Co. of Basel, Switzerland in 2002.




William Schaberg is currently undertaking research for his second book, with the projected title: Writing the Big Book: The Creation and Publication of ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’.