George R. Allen, dead in 1998, was the son of William H. Allen, the famous bookseller of Philadelphia. In 1997-1998, he wrote a history of the firm, in which we can read :

" In the course of the years we have had many customers and a few stand out for their oddness. One was W. M. Voynich who used to visit us in my father's day. He was a bookseller of Polish origins who worked variously in London and New York. My father claimed he spoke six languages, all of them with an accent. I recall seeing him sitting in a taxicab outside our store, chatting for a long time with my father. Although he lived in metropolises much larger than Philadelphia, he always took a taxi to our place because he claimed the crossing at 22nd & Woodland Avenue was the most dangerous in the world. We used to cross it as a matter of course. In the early part of the century he used to issue catalogs with books printed prior to 1500 (incunables) at prices varying from $5.00 to $10.00. ".

(The life of William H. Allen deserves to be read. Staff sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division during WWII, he was the first member of military intelligence to enter Adolf Hitler's hideout at Berchtesgaden and the first soldier to interrogate Hitler's sister, his secretary and his chauffeur. During cold weather in Philadelphia, he walked in Goering' socks and just felt warm).

Source : http://www.english.upenn.edu/~traister/george.html

May 24, 2003