On the morning of Oct. 2, a man walked through the doors of the Davenport Public Library's Eastern Avenue Branch with a box of books to donate to the library's used book sale.
The box was the first of many.
Over two days, the man dropped off more than 1,000 books, classical literature, lush coffee table art books and volumes about nature — flowers, plants and birds. Especially birds.
Because of the quantity and quality of the books, Friends of the Davenport Library is hosting a special Estate Book Sale on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 17-18. Prices will be higher than the 50 cents customarily charged for used hardbacks.
Volunteers with Friends spent much of October researching book titles on Amazon.com to find online list prices, then reducing them by one-third or one-half, said Carol Wagner, a Friends volunteer.
The most expensive offering will be a 16-volume set titled "Birds of the World" for $2,000, she said. A book of colored drawings by John James Audubon is priced at $180. The least-expensive books in the sale are $2.
The library has received other large donations in the past, but this one is unique in subject matter and condition and is among the largest library director Amy Groskopf can remember.
Before the books were priced for sale, library personnel with expertise in various areas picked through the offerings to see if there were any they'd like to put on the library's own shelves. There were. The library kept about 10 percent of the total number of titles, Groskopf said.
The books belonged to John A. Marshall, 78, of Davenport, formerly of Peoria, who died Sept. 30.
Marshall was a hospital and retail pharmacist who loved botany, bird-watching, literature, learning different languages and travel, according to his obituary. He traveled to Europe and Asia and especially loved Paris and Italy.
For several years, he was chairman of the board of Community Health Care, Davenport, and executive director Tom Bowman remembers him fondly.
"He was a voracious reader," Bowman said. "He was always sending me magazine articles of things he found on the internet about public health. He kept up with the community. He kept up with the world. And he was a world traveler."
Marshall experienced kidney failure. When the Quad-City Times asked readers in 2015 to send in their wishes for Christmas, Marshall wrote that he wished for a new kidney. He urged people to sign up for organ donation.
Any of Marshall's books that remain after the sale will go to Matthew Bullock Auctioneers, an Ottawa, Illinois-based company that specializes in collections such as antiques to artwork, Wagner said. Eventually, all the books will be sold.
In a normal year, the Friends group raises $30,000 to $40,000 for the library through the operation of used bookstores at the Eastern and Fairmount branches, she said. For fiscal 2017, the amount was $38,103. In addition, the group raised $3,497 from Birdies for Charity, the fundraising effort of the John Deere Classic, and $7,206 from the annual fund drive, she said.
The Friends group does not host big annual or bi-annual sales, as does Bettendorf, so the estate sale is something unique.
"What a windfall this is for us," she said.
Money raised by Friends is used to buy materials and fund programs, especially the summer reading program, and to use as matches for grants such as the Big Read program.