Swann Galleries’ June 7 auction of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books offers nearly 400 groundbreaking maps, atlases, manuscript travelogues, naturalist plates and ephemera from every part of the world. Landmarks in the history of mapping the United States include the first representation of the country as an integrated landmass: John Melish’s Map of the United States with the Contiguous British & Spanish Possessions, 1816, with an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000. Also on offer is A Map of the State of Virginia Reduced from the Nine Sheet Map of the State, in Conformity to Law, 1827, by Herman Boye, the first official map of the state to delineate its geography with accuracy — it has not seen at auction since 1963 ($20,000 to $30,000). The first printed map of the Mississippi River based on first-hand exploration — the result of Louis Jolliet’s expedition to the region in 1673 — carries an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. Works by cartographical legends Lewis Evans, Henricus and Jodocus Hondius, Gerardus Mercator, Abraham Ortelius and John Reid will also be offered.
Another highlight is Nicolas de Fer’s L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties, 1713, colloquially known as the “Original Beaver Map.” The large decorative wall map of the Americas was the first major map to include an engraved cartouche of a beaver in the wilderness, a motif emulated and popularized later by Herman Moll in in his World Described atlas ($10,000 to $15,000). The original carries an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000, and features California as an island on the west coast.
An engaging selection of maps of Manhattan that reveal the island’s shoreline before its development include an extremely rare hand-colored composite map of the city compiled in 1873 by Charles Kinnaird Graham for the Department of Docks, showing the original high and low watermarks around the southern tip of Manhattan overlaid with the projected development of piers, slips and bulkheads into the Hudson and East Rivers, estimated at $5,000 to $7,500. Also available is Egbert Viele’s “Water Map,” or Topographical Atlas of the City of New York, 1874 ($3,000 to $5,000).
Fascinating examples of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Japanese cartography will be offered. Highlights include a large folding manuscript watercolor map of the port city of Shimoda, 1858, one of the earliest cities to allow foreign diplomats after Commodore Matthew Perry opened the island to trade with the west ($3,000 to $5,000). A contemporary archive of material relating to Perry’s 1853 visit, including a charming sketch of him, is valued between $2,500 and $3,500.
Highlights from John James Audubon’s Birds of America, 1830, include the hand-colored elephant plate of Fish Hawk, one of the most dramatic compositions in the work, with an estimate of …more
From dragons, unicorns, and other fabled beasts to inventive hybrid creations, artists in the Middle Ages filled the world around them with marvels of imagination. Their creations reflected a society and culture at once captivated and repelled by the idea of the monstrous. Drawing on the Morgan Library & Museum's superb medieval collection as well as loans from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders — on view beginning June 8th — examines the complex social role of monsters in medieval Europe. It brings together approximately seventy works spanning the ninth to sixteenth centuries, and ranging from illuminated manuscripts and tapestry to metalwork and ivory.
The show explores three key themes: “Terrors” demonstrates how monsters enhanced the aura of those in power, whether rulers, knights, or saints. “Aliens” reveals how marginalized groups in European societies—such as Jews, Muslims, women, the poor, and the disabled—were further alienated by being depicted as monstrous. The final section on “wonders” considers the strange beauties and frightful anomalies such as dragons, unicorns, or giants that populated the medieval world. The show runs through …more
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 expatriate Israeli historian Ilan Pappé’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 relating to the “Israel Lobby” by such writers as ex-Congressman Paul Findley and more recently by academics John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) and Stephen Walt (Harvard).
With this as a backdrop, it’s refreshing to read a book that places the Palestinian experience within a broader context. …more
Handwriting works magic: it transports us back to defining moments in history, creativity, and everyday life and connects us intimately with the people who marked the page. For nearly half a century, Brazilian author and publisher Pedro Corrêa do Lago has been assembling one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind, acquiring thousands of handwritten letters, manuscripts, and musical compositions as well as inscribed photographs, drawings, and documents. Opening on June 1, The Magic of Handwriting: The Pedro Corrêa do Lago Collection features 140 items from his important holdings, few of which have ever been publicly exhibited. Among the items on view will be letters by the future Queen Victoria (as a child of seven), Lucrezia Borgia, Vincent van Gogh, and Emily Dickinson; annotated sketches by Michelangelo, Jean Cocteau, and Charlie Chaplin; and manuscripts by Giacomo Puccini, Jorge Luis Borges, and Marcel Proust. The show runs through September 16.
From an 1153 document signed by four medieval popes to a 2006 thumbprint signature of physicist Stephen Hawking, the items on view convey the power of handwriting to connect us with writers, artists, composers, political figures, performers, scientists, philosophers, rebels, and others whose actions and creations have made them legends. “In this digital age there is a remarkable pleasure in engaging with works that were penned by hand,” said Colin B. Bailey, director of the Morgan Library & Museum. “Pedro Corrêa do Lago shares the passion of the Morgan’s founder, John Pierpont Morgan, for collecting letters and manuscripts that bear the handwriting of some of the most influential figures in Western history and culture. The Morgan is grateful for his generosity in sharing some of the finest pieces from his extraordinary collection.”
Pedro Corrêa do Lago is an autograph collector very much in the tradition of John Pierpont Morgan and Stefan Zweig. The son of a Brazilian diplomat, he started collecting at the age of twelve, when he …more
PBA Galleries will offer an exceptional, complete copy of the 1788 first edition of The Federalist in their May 31st Americana auction. The Federalist is the single most important book published in North America with this copy being an exceptionally clean copy, a rare example printed on thick superfine royal writing paper.
The first edition of the seminal work on American political theory and a cornerstone of American constitutional governance, called by Wright Howes “the most famous and influential American political work.” Only 500 copies of the first edition were printed, and the present copy is one of the rare examples printed on thick superfine royal writing paper. These copies were advertised by the publisher M’Lean in contemporary periodicals as the more deluxe version of this seminal document: “A few Copies will be printed on superfine royal writing paper, price ten shillings.” The importance of the Federalist to the early development of the great political experiment that was the United States cannot be overstated. The work comprised 85 political essays, all but the last 8 of which were first published in newspapers in New York, in an effort to convince New York to approve the Federalist Constitution. Alexander Hamilton wrote 51 of the essays, James Madison 14, and John Jay 5; the authorship of 15 of the essays is in dispute between Hamilton and Madison. They were all published under the pseudonym “Publius.” The first thirty-six numbers of The Federalist were published in book form in March 1788, with the remaining forty-nine, together with the text of the Constitution, in May of that year. Upon its publication George Washington noted to Alexander Hamilton that the work “will merit the Notice of Posterity; because in it are candidly and ably discussed the principles of freedom and the topics of government, which will always be interesting to mankind” (George Washington, letter to Hamilton, Aug. 28, 1788). The present copy has an early and bold ink ownership signature at the top of p. of each volume, “Lawr. Stuart” or possibly “James Stuart”; the very top of each of the signatures was slightly shaved when the volumes were bound, likely prior to 1820 or so. Church 1230; Evans 21127; Grolier 100 American, 19; Howes H114; Printing and the Mind of Man 234; Sabin 23979; Streeter 1049. Provenance: Helen A. [Doolittle] and George R. Sanders.
With some rubbing to covers and spines, corners a bit worn, joints scuffed and tender; only a few instances of minor foxing within, overall very clean and fine internally, the stitching quite tight. It has been in the same private collection for at least the last fifty years. The estimate is set at $80,000-$120,000.
The complete entry and several images are available online at …more
The Morgan Library & Museum announced today that is has received the gift of one of the foremost private collections of works by the iconic Irish author James Joyce (1882-1941). The collection was assembled by noted New York gallery owner Sean Kelly and his wife, Mary Kelly. Totaling almost 350 items, it includes many signed and inscribed first editions of Joyce’s publications, as well as important manuscripts and correspondence, photographs, posters, publishers’ promotional material, translations, and a comprehensive reference collection.
Among the many highlights are Joyce’s first stand-alone publication, the broadside The Holy Office (1904); four copies of the first edition of Ulysses (1922) on three different papers, one of which is inscribed; a fragment of the Ulysses manuscript; Joyce’s typed schematic outline of the novel; and photographs of Joyce by Man Ray and Berenice Abbott. Also of note are a selection of publishers’ prospectuses from England, America, and France, including one annotated by Sylvia Beach; one of the twenty-five published copies of Joyce’s poetry collection, Pomes Penyeach (1927), with decorations by his daughter, Lucia; an advance copy of Finnegans Wake (1939); and …more
NeglectedBooks.com is an interesting website that your readers might enjoy exploring. The Book Trail is like a very long wagon train, and it's easy to lose sight of the predecessors who have come before us. . . (and) expanding the Letters to the Editor column might be a way for bookdealers to strengthen their ties to the trade, swap ideas about what works/what doesn't work in a rapidly-changing marketplace, and give potential bookdealers more perspective on what they might be getting into if they pursue the profession.
Back in the days when cities had book rows, book "hounds" could ramble practically door-to-door, browsing their way through tables of books set up in front of shops. But with most of these book rows gone – victims of gentrification and skyrocketing real estate costs – a new generation of potential book collectors and bookdealers have a harder time getting a sense of the trade as a "field," with a rich past and a viable future. The shops have scattered in their flight from exorbitant rents, isolating bookdealers and weakening their sense of being members of a storied professional community.
Michael Ginsberg and Taylor Bowie have interviewed exhibitors at the ABAA shows and posted the interviews on the Net, going bookstall-to-bookstall, asking each dealer the same questions: how did you become interested in bookdealing and who are the people/shops that have influenced you? By asking them why and how they entered the field you get a strong sense of some of the major players of the past, where the profession has been, where it is today, and where it might be headed, going forward.
An afterthought about Neglected Books: it is a reality check on the history of literature. Anyone who only reads the landmark prize-winners – the best of the best – loses their context, to make comparisons and get a sense of WHY they are prizewinners. What made them superior to the also-rans of their time, and how/why did yesterday's important writer or book fall from grace?
I had the great good luck to grow up in Christopher Morley's home town on Long Island, saw the now-obscure Big Man once, and went to his sparsely-attended funeral, so became aware early on of the transitory nature of literary fame and popularity. …more
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 makes a practice of meddling in the internal 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 manage to keep people's eyes off the ball. By comparison, American oil companies were paying Venezuela and Saudi Arabia 50%, the going rate at …more
Hay-on-Wye established itself as the first book town in the world and remains the most famous thanks to the pioneering efforts and promotional talents of Richard Booth. Other rural villages have tried to emulate that model but few have had lasting success. Book towns are essentially cooperative efforts and the fact that many have been launched to great fanfare and later faded to oblivion points out the obvious – initial passion needs to be sustained by dedication and hard work. One success that was featured in the Guardian delves into the interesting back story about how the Hobart Book Village came to be and how, after more than 10 years, it continues to thrive. The village was also recently featured on the NBC morning television program Today – if you didn't view the piece when it aired on April 23rd, we have provided a convenient link so you can have a look.
Rose City Book & Paper Fair
The Cascade Booksellers Association has announced the 12th annual Rose City Book & Paper Fair. This year more than 60 dealers will be offering the best in used, rare and antiquarian books and ephemera at the DoubleTree Hotel in Portland, Oregon the weekend of June 15 & 16.
In addition to booksellers from Oregon and Washington, there will be exhibitors from …more
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.
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 …more
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. …more
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 …more
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 …more
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. …more
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. …more
Leslie Hindman's May 1, 2018 Fine Books & Manuscripts Auction
The May 1 Fine Books and Manuscripts auction at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers included a collection of over 400 manuscripts from the collection of Robert L. McKay, many of which were among the top performing lots in the sale. The sale had strong bidding activity in the room, over the phones and online, and realized over $531,000, with a number of highlights exceeding presale estimates.
The top lots from the Robert L. McKay collection include a fine autographed musical manuscript signed by George Gershwin to his friend and music journalist Hyman Sandow, which sold for $27,500 against a presale estimate of $6,000 to 8,000. An autographed letter from Albert Einstein to American journalist and diplomat Herman Bernstein sold for $25,000 against a presale estimate of $3,000 to 5,000. A George Washington autograph letter signed to Samuel M. Fox regarding the collection of a debt and written from Mt. Vernon sold for $16,250 against a presale estimate of $8,000 to 12,000.
Additional highlights from the collection included an autographed letter signed by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky to Czech composer Eduard Frantsevich Nápravnik, which sold for $12,500 against a presale estimate of $8,000 to 12,000; an autograph letter signed by Benjamin Franklin to his great-nephew sold for $11,250 against a presale estimate of $8,000 to 12,000; and Joseph Stalin's annotated copy of Leon Trotsky's The Problems of the Civil War, which sold for $16,250 against a presale estimate of $4,000 to 6,000. Competitive bidding on the phones drove the final price for an autograph manuscript signed by Salvador Dali with twelve original pen sketches to $10,625 against a presale estimate of $600 to 800.
In addition to the McKay collection of manuscripts, the sale included a rare copy of Conradus de Halberstadt’s Concordantiae bibliorum, printed by Mentelin in Strassburg before 1474. It sold for $27,500 with a presale estimate or $10,000 to 15,000 after active international bidding.
Following a Chicago reception, Francis Wahlgren, took the gavel. This was his first auction following the announcement of his new role as exclusive consultant. Visit lesliehindman.com for additional information.
Strong Results for Americana on April 12, 2018
Swann Galleries’ auction of Printed & Manuscript Americana on April 12 was the department’s highest-grossing sale in four years, continuing an upward trajectory as each offering of Americana and African Americana becomes more curated. Highlights of the sale included historic bibles and a broad selection of unique and manuscript material.
Religious texts constituted many of the highlights of the sale, including an unusually well-preserved first-edition Book of Mormon, which topped the auction at $77,500, going to a collector. Additional highlights included a first edition of the Aitken Bible, the first complete Bible printed in English in the United States, which brought $47,500 despite missing 6 text leaves, and a rare Pony Express Bible that was purchased by a collector for …more
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 …more
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 rare books, broadsides, early pamphlets, letters, historical documents, and so forth. I'm sure we had the smallest exhibit at Cooperstown that day, which made packing up a matter of minutes.
Another highlight was the wonderful Friday evening dinner that book fair organizers Mary Brodzinsky and Will Monie had arranged at Origins Cafe, located inside a redesigned greenhouse on the grounds of a family-owned nursery about a mile from the village. Tables for four surrounded by citrus and other tropical and sub-tropical vegetation, water fountains, and after dinner readings by Charles Plymell, one of the last of the Beat poets, all made for a memorable occasion. God willing and if the creek don't rise, we plan on being there next year. …more
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, …more
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. …more
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 …more