PBA Galleries will offer The Voice of Truth by Mormon founder Joseph Smith and two early letters written by civil rights leader Martin Luther King on Thursday, March 22nd. In addition, the Americana, Travel & Exploration, World History and Cartography sale will include over 400 lots of rare and collectible material, with printed books, original letters, diaries and other manuscript items, photographs, ephemera, maps, views and more. There will be key pieces on the history of the United States and the Americas, revealing the political, economic, social and cultural evolution of the New World. Travels to the far reaches of the world are also present; from the frozen lands of Antarctica to the torrid deserts and jungles of Africa. And the accumulation of geographic and cartographic knowledge over the centuries is demonstrated by a selection of maps from the 16th through 20th centuries.
The exceedingly rare The Voice of Truth contains correspondence between Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints, and General James Arlington Bennett, John C. Calhoun, and Henry Clay as well as an appeal to the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont. In these letters, Smith seeks retribution for the 1838 Missouri Mormon War to no avail. This first edition, printed by John Taylor in Nauvoo, Illinois, also contains Smith’s final sermon, the King Follett discourse from April 7, 1844, less than three months before his death. The discourse is notable in its controversial suggestion that God was once a mortal and that mortals can become gods (estimate: $30,000-$50,000). ůmore
Swann Galleries will offer an auction of Autographs on Thursday, March 22, featuring historical documents spanning the thirteenth to twentieth centuries. Revolutionary Americana makes up a significant portion of the auction’s pre-sale estimate, as do letters by scientists and some of humanity’s greatest luminaries.
Leading the sale is a 1778 letter signed by George Washington, as Commander-in-Chief, to General James Clinton. From his headquarters in Fredericksburg, Virginia, he discusses preparations for the Sullivan Expedition against Loyalists and enemy Iroquois in western New York and Pennsylvania. The letter carries an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. Revolutionary Americana continues with a letter signed by Thomas Jefferson as Governor to Major-General Nathanael Greene, reporting on February 17, 1781 that he has ordered more than 1,000 riflemen to join him against the British General Cornwallis ($15,000 to $25,000), and a 1772 letter by Benedict Arnold, at $3,000 to $4,000.
The earliest item in the sale is a manuscript charter on vellum by William, the Bishop of Coventry, granting a church to an abbey in Cheshire in 1222, replete with the pendant Episcopal wax seal of William Cornhill, carrying an estimate of $3,500 to $5,000. Another early highlight is a 1470 document signed by Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy to Johann IV of Nassau, at the height of his powers and concerning his ongoing military campaigns across Europe, valued at $3,000 to $4,000. Additional European historical autographs include a letter that mentions the burning of Whitehall in 1689, fifteenth-century vellum legal decrees and various royal letters.
An 1878 letter by Thomas Edison contains an early use of the word “bug” to describe a technical issue, a term he coined: “I did find a ‘bug’ in my apparatus, but ůmore
We've received news that several Russian nationals have been indicted for interfering in our 2016 election by using the Internet to spread made-up stories and salacious gossip in order to discredit major party presidential candidates and sow confusion among voters. Fusion GPS, apparently, bought into it, repackaged the product, and sold it to willing members of the press and other political operatives. Badly done. I don't think the United States meddles in the internal political affairs of other nations.
Well maybe just once (Operation Ajax) back in 1953. As informed citizens and students of history, you will remember having read about the MI6 and CIA operation launched in June of that year to figure out ways to get rid of Muhammed Mosaddeq, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran. The Brits thought Mosaddeq a nasty piece of work because he had the brass to push for the notion that Iran should receive a fair share of the profits from the sale of the nation's oil resources, since old contracts made years before between the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now British Petroleum) and corrupt Iranian monarchs (secured by some well-placed bribes) ensured that Iran would receive just 16% of the profits (after all operating costs). Nice work if you can keep people's eyes off the ball. By comparison, American oil companies were paying Venezuela and Saudi Arabia 50%, the going rate at ůmore
Early Aeronautica, Vintage Aviation.Books, sales literature, photographs, flight manuals, log books, uniforms, pilot badges, posters, postcards, fabric aircraft insignia; both aircraft and airships, 19th –21st centuries. Online catalog, ordering and shipping; 50-years in business. (989) 835-3908.
Hobart Book Village. A small, but vital book town nestled in the northern Catskill village of Hobart (NY). Five independent booksellers, an art gallery, fine restaurants and coffee shops make this a favored destination for weekenders and day-trippers. More info: (607) 538-9080 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
John C. Huckans Books. A small selection of rare, scarce & unusual books and pamphlets in the areas of Americana, Spanish History, Travel, Polar Regions, Middle East, English & American Literature, Latin Americana, Utopian Communities, Miscellanea. Open by appointment: (315) 655-9654.
J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians LLC. A unique selection of historical items relating to Music and Dance including autograph musical manuscripts and letters of major composers; first and early editions of printed music; rare books on music and dance; and original paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs in our specialties, 15th-21st centuries. Established 1977. Please visit our fully searchable website.
R & A Petrilla Books. Recent catalogues available for browsing in PDF format. New items in various fields are added to listings each week. To view, please visit our website.
Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts. A large stock of early books and manuscripts pertaining to Europe and the Americas. Located in The Arsenal (Bldg.4), at 2375 Bridge St., Philadelphia, PA. Open by appointment: (888) 960-7562.
Quill & Brush. A large selection of important literature and modern first editions.
The 37th annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair returns to St. Petersburg’s Historic Coliseum April 20 - 22, 2018. The book fair is the third largest in the country and features more than one hundred specialist booksellers from all over the United States.
This year the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair celebrates the historical and cultural significance of the written word with its theme of The Art of the Idea. Ever since humans started drawing on cave walls, they’ve been trying to share their experiences and their ideas. We’ve come a long way from the days when ancient Egyptians and Greeks were pressing symbols into soft clay tablets or scratching out their ideas on papyrus. “This year we pay homage to the language artists in our midst who have for centuries been formulating, nurturing, and communicating ideas for the advancement of mankind,” said Sarah Smith, manager of the book fair. The notion embraces the written word particularly in book form, the enduring method of communication we all celebrate at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.
The Book Fair is presented in The Coliseum, a restored 1920s music and dance hall that has been billed as the South’s finest ballroom. Featuring a 34-foot arched ceiling over a polished oak floor, it has hosted such luminaries as Duke Ellington, Rudy Vallee, Harry James, and Paul Whiteman, not to mention Cab Calloway, Guy Lombardo, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, and ůmore
In the late 1980s I taught at a Chicago high school in the old Wicker Park neighborhood, which was then mostly Puerto Rican, immigrant and low-income. Facing the many problems children of this background often bring to school and unwilling to burden my young wife with the day's stress when I arrived home for dinner, I frequently left school frustrated and in search of ways to calm my nerves. One day I was driving down Damen Avenue and noticed a sign on the window of an old white brick two-story apartment building that announced Red Rover Books, with an emblematic red dog underneath. Intrigued, I parked the car and walked up for a closer inspection. Through the small window on which the sign was taped I could see that it appeared to be a one-room used bookstore. ůmore
Now and Forever: The Art of Medieval Time, opens at the Morgan Library and Museum on January 26 and runs through April 29, 2018. Before the appearance of the clock in the West around the year 1300, medieval ideas about time were simultaneously simple and complex. Time was both finite for routine daily activities and unending for the afterlife; the day was divided into a fixed set of hours, whereas the year was made up of two overlapping systems of annual holy feasts. Perhaps unexpectedly, many of these concepts continue to influence the way we understand time, seasons, and holidays into the twenty-first century.
Drawing upon the Morgan’s rich collection of illuminated manuscripts, Now and Forever: The Art of Medieval Time examines how people in the Middle Ages told time, conceptualized history, and conceived of the afterlife. It brings together more than fifty-five calendars, Bibles, chronicles, histories, and a sixty-foot genealogical scroll. They include depictions of monthly labors, the marking of holy days and periods, and fantastical illustrations of the hereafter. The exhibition opens January 26 and continues through April 29.
“Artists of the medieval period could render the most common of daily activities with transcendent beauty, while also creating a strange, often frightening, afterlife,” said Colin B. Bailey, director of the Morgan Library & Museum. “Their work mirrored the era’s intricate mix of temporal, spiritual, and ancient methods for recording the passage of time. The elaborate prayer books, calendars, and other items in the exhibition provide a rich visual history of a world at once familiar and foreign, from the seasonal work of farmers that would not look unusual in today’s almanacs, to apocalyptic visions of eternity that make Hollywood’s futuristic films appear tame.”
The Exhibition is divided into five sections focusing on the medieval calendar, liturgical time, historical time, the hereafter (“time after time”), and the ůmore
Tennessee Williams: No Refuge but Writing opens at the Morgan Library & Museum on February 2nd and completes its three and a half month run on May 13, 2018. The plays of Tennessee Williams (1911–1983) are intimate, confessional, and autobiographical. They are touchstones not only of American theatrical history but American literary history as well. During the period 1939 to 1957, Williams composed such masterpieces as The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, cementing his reputation as America’s most celebrated playwright. By 1955 he had earned two Pulitzer Prizes, three New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, and a Tony. Williams embraced his celebrity even as he struggled in his private life with alcohol and drug addiction and a series of stormy relationships with lovers. Moreover, he was often at odds professionally with critics and censors concerned about the sexuality and other subject matter, then unconventional, explored in his plays. He found his safe haven in writing.
Opening February 2 and continuing through May 13, Tennessee Williams: No Refuge but Writing highlights the playwright’s creative process and his close involvement with the theatrical production of his works, as well as their reception and lasting impact. Uniting his original drafts, private diaries, and personal letters with paintings, photographs, production stills, and other objects, the exhibition tells the story of one man’s ongoing struggle for self-expression and how it forever changed the landscape of American drama.
“It is almost impossible to overstate the impact of Tennessee Williams on theatre as we know it,” said Colin. B. Bailey, director of the Morgan Library & Museum. “His plays are so acclaimed and so well-known that one can conjure his unforgettable characters and their immortal lines almost at will. Yet, behind these great works is an artist who struggled mightily—sometimes publicly—with a host of personal demons. Real life was unsatisfactory, Williams once said in an interview, so he wrote to create imaginary worlds. Writing was his refuge.”
Thomas Lanier Williams III was born in Columbus, Mississippi, on March 26, 1911. ůmore
Remember Peanutgate? Didn't think so, because I just made it up. At any rate, back in 2012 the grandson of a former president and one-time peanut farmer caused a bit of a ruckus by tracking down the source of a secretly recorded video of a meeting between Mitt Romney with some Florida campaign contributors in which Romney made some candid remarks about the 47% who were unlikely to support him in any case. James Carter arranged to have the 'hacked' video leaked to Mother Jones magazine and according to CNN on February 21, 2013 . . .
President Barack Obama expressed gratitude last week to former President Jimmy Carter's grandson, who had a role in leaking secretly-recorded video of Mitt Romney's infamous '47%' comments, James Carter said Thursday on CNN. . . Obama met James and his cousin, Georgia state Sen. Jason Carter, last week when the president was in Atlanta for a post-State of the Union visit. "After (Jason) got his picture taken, he told Obama that I was the one that had found the 47% tape," James Carter said on CNN's "The Situation Room." "Then Obama said, 'Hey, great, get over here.' And then he kind of half-embraced me, I want to say, put his arm around me, and we shook hands. He thanked me for my support, several times," he said. .
Nothing unusual or anything to be really embarrassed about, but network t.v. news people loved it and ran the segment gleefully and endlessly in the days leading up to the election. Even though this single hacking incident may have affected ůmore
One of the things I regret in my exile from Cuba is that I never got to see any of the wonderful little bookstores along Havana's twin bookseller rows of O'Reilly and Obispo Streets. As a nine-year old the experience would perhaps have been lost on me, but I would certainly recall it as the bibliophile I am today. I have a rare postcard photograph of Obispo Street as it appeared in the 1920s (see below), and in that narrow thoroughfare of glass-fronted stores I think I can make out one of these mysterious shops, though the overhanging placards – which throw large shadows over the street and give it the air of a Moorish bazaar – are unreadable in the evanescent light.
Along this street in 1940 the writer Thomas Merton hunted for books before his conversion to monasticism. In his diary he writes that he saw a secondhand bookstore and walked in, “asking not for St. John of the Cross, but for philosophy books.” There weren’t any, so he walked a little further, and the next store did have a couple of shelves of philosophy: “I had to climb a ladder to look at them. I shouldn't have been surprised to be confronted first of all by none other than Nietzche.” For the most part, he says, the shelves were full of Spanish and French nineteenth century liberals and radicals.
This would have been a treat to me, as these writers helped influence Jose Marti and his independence movement.
“The next place I went to,” Merton continues, “was Casa Belga, with its big stock of French and English books, and its specialty in pornography and little editions printed in Paris... Henry Miller, Rimbaud's A Season in Hell...and then things like the Philosophy of Nudism. The idea of a philosophy of nudism gave me a laugh somewhat in a quiet, scholarly way...”
Merton entices even while insulting my sense of Cuban identity (“I had forgotten that Cubans and other Latin Americans are suckers for all kinds of sex books” – as if we had cornered the market on pornography). He next describes a bookstore that looked like a bank and didn’t even have books on display on the counters: “Every book in the place was expensively bound and was locked in behind wired doors.”
He continues: “I had given up hunting for St. John of the Cross and was going up the street when I saw a huge place with a great big sign saying La Moderna Poesia (Modern Poetry) which rather astonished me: what a huge shiny bookstore it was. Only when I looked into the window I saw a lot of straw hats...It turns out La Moderna Poesia was a department store.”
Merton is silent after that, so we do not know whether he found St. John in La Moderna Poesia. But in 1984 I had the good fortune to find ůmore
Same goes for any war. When Gilbert a'Beckett was writing his comic histories (England, Rome, etc.) one has to wonder what was going through his mind. In a comic history of anything, most writers and readers understand it involves a lot of selective historical amnesia, mood-altering tricks and other forms of cover-up. But passage of time softens a lot of things – we remember getting mail from Hastings (Sussex) years ago, with part of the postmark reading “Hastings – popular with tourists since 1066”. Although I could imagine a'Beckett writing that, I doubt if he would have wanted to handle the circumstances surrounding the death of Edward II (father of the great Edward III) whose general ineptitude and poor judgment, unduly influenced by his preoccupation and infatuation with Hugh Despenser (the younger), ultimately led to his execution. In those days ůmore
If life did not imitate art, where would we be? Eyeless in Gaza, like Milton’s Samson. But art affords us limitless life, raining and reigning amongst the thorns and roses. Since I was a child I have loved Italian opera. I was fortunate that besides the Kennebunkport Playhouse – where I grew up on Tallulah Bankhead, Estelle Winwood, Edward Everett Horton, Wilfrid Hyde-White and others of my pre-teen vintage – we had the Arundel Opera Theater, a semi-professional outfit that put on such schmaltzy shows as Blossom Time, Song of Norway, The Vagabond King, Desert Song, Rose Marie, and The Student Prince. As a child I fell in love of course with all the heroines and some of the chorus girls – I remember asking my mother, when I was about ten, how old you had to be to get married; and when I was sixteen I sent a love sonnet to Tallulah Bankhead which, fifty years my senior, she somehow managed to ignore. The opera company also did two or three Gilbert and Sullivan shows each season, and by the time I went away to school I knew all of the patter songs by heart. Or, at least, the words. In my youth I had not yet learned that in order to perform those songs you really have to be able to sing. ůmore
The U.S. Election of 2016 was a game-changer for all sorts of reasons. To say the populist revolt came as a surprise to party regulars across the political spectrum is an obvious understatement, but the resulting emotional meltdown by people still in shock over the shifting loyalty and unexpected response of traditional working class voters (many of whom had supported Democrats since the Great Depression of the 1930s), only shows that it pays to do your homework. People who follow this column will recall that in July of 2016 we explained some of the reasons why Trump would perform bigly¹ in the 2016 general election. What follows is some observation and analysis that may contribute towards an understanding of recent trends. Or maybe not. ůmore
We've attended the Cooperstown Antiquarian Book Fair many times over the years – primarily to promote Book Source Magazine, organize book-signings for BSM writers, scout for books for ourselves, catch up with old friends, and to simply hang out for a day or so in one of the most interesting and attractive villages in the region. It's also close by.
Not having participated in a book fair (as a bookseller) for many years, I wasn't sure how to prepare, since I hadn't personally experienced the change brought about by the public's paradigm shift in buying habits. But thanks to some good advice from an old friend and colleague, we sold more than at any book fair we'd previously participated in, even though we brought a small fraction of what we would have done in the past. Almost everything that could be searched for (and found) on a smart phone was left behind in Cazenovia, much to the visible frustration of browsers with iPhones in hand. Mostly ůmore
Vintage Posters Perform Well at March 1, 2018 Sale
Swann Galleries’ auction of Vintage Posters Featuring Highlights from the Gail Chisholm Collection on March 1 offered premier examples of advertising and propaganda from around the world, and broke several auction records. Nicholas D. Lowry, President of Swann and Director of Vintage Posters, announced, “This was our best winter poster auction since 2013, and our third-best winter poster auction of all time.”
A quarter of the auction was devoted to highlights from the collection of Gail Chisholm, renowned dealer and lifelong poster aficionado. Included in the collection was the largest selection of Erik Nitsche’s designers for General Dynamics ever to come to auction. All of the 19 works found buyers, with two achieving new auction records: the French version of Hydrodynamics from the influential Atoms for Peace series 1955, sold for a record $5,500, while General Dynamics / Atoms for Peace, from the same series, was purchased by an institution for $5,250. ůmore
As we have established the book business is always at heart a “Treasure Hunt”. It's axiomatic that experience will bring success if paired with hard work and a little luck. Remarkably the luck factor tends to increase in direct proportion to the amount of hard work spent, but that's another story. At the annual week-long Colorado Antiquarian Books Seminar (CABS), held each Summer in Colorado Springs, the faculty, all dedicated antiquarian booksellers themselves, advise students to “Look At The Book”! That mantra is repeated ad infinitum throughout the week, yet it is the essential kernel from which all evaluation proceeds. Great advice even for those of us who have been engaged in this business for years. Careful examination of the book speaks volumes, (sorry), in identifying the specifics of the item. Edition, age, in some cases scarcity, provenance, printer, binding designer, watermarks, limitation, importance and value can be largely determined by that initial observation…but sometimes pieces just speak to you.
Often there is just something about an obscure book or piece of ephemera that gnaws at you. It demands more attention and I find myself setting them aside for further review. Recently as I was working through a box of miscellaneous old paper, largely publishing house advertisements for forthcoming books all from the 1890s to the 1920s I saw a small bifolium – a bifolium is a sheet of paper or parchment with writing or printing on the recto and verso of a folded sheet, creating four leaves or pages. There was no indication of ůmore
In Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit, Tom Pinch goes to Salisbury to meet Mr. Pecksniff’s new pupil, and with time to spare he roams the streets:
But what were even gold and silver to the bookshops, whence a pleasant smell of paper freshly pressed came issuing forth….That whiff of Russian leather, too, and rows and rows of volumes, neatly ranged within: what happiness did they suggest! And in the window were the spic-and-span new works from London…. What a heart-breaking shop it was.
Mr. Meador in these pages has already taken up my theme with poignant elegance – nay, eloquence; but here I offer just a few nostalgic notes. When I was young and twenty – like A.E. Housman – there was a used/rare/books and china shop here in Kennebunkport – The Old Eagle Bookshop— under the hand of Copelin Day, whose vintage 1770’s house has alas been re-vintaged. Mr. Day had a prodigious limp and was a curmudgeon of magnitude, but each day, weather notwithstanding, ůmore
The Victorian period, especially in England, was a hotbed for architectural follies. In an article on Victorian follies in the July 2003 issue of The Antiquer, Adele Kenny notes several definitions, including the Oxford English Dictionary’s kindly and understated — “a popular name for any costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder.” Chambers goes a bit further with “a great useless structure, or one left unfinished, having begun without a reckoning of the cost” and the Oxford Companion to Gardens, in case we still don’t get it, says architectural follies are “characterized by a certain excess in terms of eccentricity, cost or conspicuous inutility.” I think the two words “conspicuous inutility” sum it up best, but say what you will a lot of us love them all the same.
Architectural follies began to appear in England during the 18th century but it wasn’t until the early industrial period of the 19th century that wealthy new owners of landed estates were able to indulge their fantasies on a grand scale. ůmore
The literature of the Nakba (expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinian people, starting on or about May 15, 1948) is vast. There are many published personal narratives such as Sari Nusseibeh’s Once Upon a Country (NY, Farrar, Straus, 2007) and Karl Sabbagh’s Palestine, A Personal History (NY, Grove Press, 2007), unsparing historical accounts such as Israeli historian Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford, OneWorld, 2006), and countless books and essays focusing on various aspects of the struggle. There is even a significant sub-genre of literature ůmore
As far as I know, I am one of only two members of the Johnson Society of Australia who are booksellers. I strongly suspect that I am the only one who has ever felt ambivalent, even fraudulent, about his membership. Although I am not, I think, an unclubable man, when I attended my first (and only) meeting of the society, held in the elegant upstairs chambers of Bell's Hotel in South Melbourne, I skulked in the background, feeling like an interloper, an impostor. I was the Great Sham of Literature. Why? For one thing, at the time I had not read more than odd fragments of Dr. Johnson's writings. For another, a lot of what I had read fairly made my blood boil. And yet, and yet. Something about the man, while it repelled me, also attracted me, fascinated me, sucked me in. Enough, clearly, to make me want to join the club, pay my dues and turn up at the meeting. Not as a saboteur or as a heckler but in good faith. Even so, at that Johnson Society meeting ůmore