James A. Fisch, a leading Allentown antiques dealer and an authority on jazz guitar, died Wednesday in Roswell Park Cancer Institute after a brief illness. He was 54.
Mr. Fisch owned Eaton Galleries on Elmwood Avenue near Allen Street, which he co-founded with William J. Eaton in 1973. Mr. Eaton died in 1998.
Born in Buffalo, Mr. Fisch grew up in Kenmore. He attended St. John the Baptist School and graduated from Kenmore West High School. He earned a degree in art education from Buffalo State College.
Though he was primarily a purveyor of English and American antiques and fine arts, he wrote extensively about classic guitars and produced festivals devoted to the instruments in California and on Long Island. Over the past several years, he was a consultant to Eastman Strings, a Maryland manufacturer, on the design of jazz guitars and mandolins.
In the 1990s, he and L.B. Fred, an Ohio guitar aficionado, wrote "Epiphone: the House of Stathopoulo," a book about a pioneering New York City guitarmaker.
In an autobiographical sketch for Music Books Plus Web site, Mr. Fisch attributed his love of music to his late father, Edward J., and late brother, Edward J. Jr., and to "the stacks of old 78 rpm records that resided in our basement when I was a boy."
His brother, he wrote, "introduced me to the allure of vintage instruments back in the 1960s, when they were still considered 'used' and provided an affordable alternative to the new offerings which hung in our local music store."
He was a senior contributing editor to Twentieth Century Guitar magazine, which carried his monthly column, "The Jazz Box." Mr. Fisch recently produced "Blue Fool," a compact disc of music by his musician-friend, Jeffery Arthur.
He is survived by his mother, Gertrude of Kenmore, and a sister, Mary Kay Patrick of Los Angeles.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Saturday in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 1085 Englewood Ave., Town of Tonawanda. Burial will be in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Town of Tonawanda.