Or you could read the poem, here.
September 2010 Archives
Or you could read the poem, here.
The auction will be held in Los Angeles (and simulcast to New York) on October 4th. Another piece of Jefferson will be on the block for a much smaller sum. His signature, clipped from a larger document, is estimated at $800-1,200.
- The British Milkman
- Beach Huts and Bathing Machines
- Peat and Peat Cutting
- The Archaeology of Rabbit Warrens
Worth reading (and not replicating) is the New York Times review that ran last week. National legal correspondent John Schwartz surveys the evidence, pronounces a good verdict, and interviews the witnesses. From the article: “Tons of lawyers are collectors,” he said. Like Mr. Zaid, they might have read and collected comics as children but let the hobby lapse as they made their way through college and started their working lives. “They come back to it once they settle into a career and a family and they have disposable cash,” he said -- though he added that many are “closet collectors” who ask, “Can I be a professional and still play with comic books?”
Good question -- but I won’t comment without my attorney present.
The exhibit runs through December 16.
- Plan to spend the whole day there because you’ll be mad at yourself if you stroll in late. I suspect I’ll arrive a little before the official opening at 10 a.m. and organizers will have to throw me out at the 5:30 p.m. closing time.
- Study the official Web site from the Library of Congress in the first paragraph above so that you can decide which of the some 70 authors you most want to see. Buy the books of highly popular authors long before you need to get in their line for an autograph.
- Determine your purchase transportation strategy: I put saddle bags on my bike and can carry many pounds of books there, plus more on my back. If you’re taking Metro, bring a backpack and know how much weight you can carry.
- Bring your smart phone and follow my Tweets from the event. You can follow me on Twitter @chrislancette. If you’re not coming to D.C., live the event through me vicariously. I expect to send no shortage of Twitter missives about #NBF.
- Be kind and patient with the authors and volunteers. Organizing the National Book Festival is no easy trick.
In less than a year, I’ve lost two of my favorite bookseller colleagues. Jean Marie Parmer of Parmer Books, San Diego, California, passed away November 27, 2009 at age 72, much too young at heart to leave us so soon.
She was a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA), the San Diego Booksellers Association, and founding member of TomFolio, an international co-op of independent dealers. She was often seen at antiquarian book fairs, buying and selling, frequently triumphant with a mountain of rare first editions in hand, she wrote articles for various bibliophilic websites, and participated as panel member of the Antiquarian Book Seminar in Denver.
Jean started her own rare book business, Parmer Books, which husband Jerry and later, Robin Nosan, joined full time within a few years. Her interest in polar books was ignited by a visit to the Old Globe Theatre where she saw Ted Tally’s play, Terra Nova, the tragic story of Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole in 1912. Parmer Books specialized in polar, travel and exploration, nautical, and Americana.
Early on, Jean and Jerry embraced the rapidly developing technology, the computer and the Internet and created Book Stacks, an inventory software for the Macintosh. Because my mind was stubbornly closed to the encroaching powers of the Internet, they offered to help me find books and are responsible for opening me up to the great possibilities of finding the huge variety of gem and jewelry books that I have since accumulated for my own business. This selfless act of friendship is just a hint of the deeply generous spirit that I was so privileged to know.
Jean’s warm and gracious spirit nurtured her garden, her family, and her friends with her very big, loving heart. She was a bookseller’s bookseller, fair, knowledgeable, honest, and brought that same gift to her creation, Parmer Books.
Henry Polissack, antiquarian bookseller and antique jewelry seller and specialist, in Northampton, Massachusetts, died May 5, 2010, just short of his 71st birthday, too young, too soon.
He was a member of the Massachusetts & Rhode Island Antiquarian Booksellers and the British Society of Jewellery Historians. His passion for collecting beautiful things started with his early collection of antique pens, and within ten years, built one of the largest collections in the United States, which when completed was sold, en bloc. While searching for these beautiful pens, he became fascinated with antique jewelry, which he ultimately turned into a business where he was well known and loved as evidenced by the moving tribute by Diane Singer in the Newsletter of the American Society of Jewelry Historians. His passion for the jewels led him to build a library on the subject and his book business was a natural result of his soon overflowing collection of books on jewelry, gems and related topics. Henry pursued books with a passion, and found me listed in a book trade directory as a specialist in books on gems and jewelry, and was usually the first caller when my yearly catalog was mailed out.
He formed the La Prima Jewelry-Book Collectors’ Club specializing in books about jewelry, gems, history of jewelry, engraved gems, crown jewels, noted jewelers and goldsmiths, travel and adventures related to them, and created twelve catalogs between 1999-2007. During our many long telephone conversations about our books of our special interest, he confided his decision to build the finest, most comprehensive collection of books in the field in the United States and vigorously pursued them nationally and internationally, building a collection of over four thousand volumes. He loved building collections, and when satisfied that he had the best, the scarcest, the rarest, the most significant and important books in the field, he offered them at auction with Swann. They advised him that because of its size, there should be two auctions, and so there were, the first on March 20, 2003, and the second scheduled for May 27, 2004. The first took place the day after the United States bombed Iraq; nevertheless, though sparsely attended, there was much phone bidding activity and the auction was successful. The two catalogues of Books on Gems and Jewelry, The Henry Polissack Library are a great source of reference and are in my own reference library, together with all twelve catalogues issued between 1999-2007.
Another remembrance of Henry written by Mary Murphy Hammid in the Journal of the Geo-Literary Society tells of her visit with him at his home in Northampton, where she saw the enormous volume of books in his private collection as well as the inventory for his book business, evidence of the overflow of his obsession, his “splendid addiction,” his “gentle madness.” Henry was honest, knowledgeable, a lovely man, a wonderful friend and colleague who I admired and respected with deep affection.
--Thanks to Lillian Cole for this homage to two great bibliophiles.
Inspired by the likes of John Ruskin and William Morris, Stickley’s eminently recognizable furnishings are synonymous with Arts and Crafts, Craftsman, or Mission decor, i.e. plain, well-made, and anti-ornamental. They include tables, desks, and chairs, but also light fixtures, metalware, and textiles. Illustrated here: a linen chest designed by Stickley in 1902 that showcases his reverence for oak and iron (from the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art, which organized the show). While Stickley did not start the Arts & Crafts movement, he is one of its most famous proponents, due, in part, to his Craftsman magazine.
If you happen to be in the area now through January 2, it looks to be a beautiful exhibit. On November 20-21, a woodblock printmaking workshop that coincides with the exhibit might give you just the impetus you need! And if that’s the case, be sure to make a day trip of it -- drive west about 25 miles to see the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms in Morris Plains, NJ. It is a stunning log house that Stickley used as a home and furniture-making commune. I can vouch for it, having visited about six or seven years ago. It is lovely, even more so during the holidays.
Amazing finds in the trash -- it’s a story that gets recycled every so often. I asked Pat to tell me more about his adventure with these books and how he helped reunite them with the DOJ Library. Here’s what he wrote:
In general, people come to my store store with their books to sell. Often people are moving, cleaning off their shelves to make room for more books, or finding a good home for books from a relative who passed away. Sometimes there is a story involved: with this batch of books the gentleman was selling them to raise money for a church mission trip to Romania.
In general, as a used book dealer I don’t deal in ex-library books. The reason I turn library books away, besides the poor condition, is that I don’t want to encourage people removing items from libraries as a moneymaking venture. In this particular instance, I recognized these books as from a rare book room, from the Department of Justice Library, and not withdrawn or deaccessioned. I researched the Department of Justice Library - who was not publicly accessible on the web. So I contacted the Library of Congress and briefly described the issue and they steered me to a contact in the Department of Justice Library. They did a significant amount of research, checking previous catalogs and asking me to describe specifically how the articles were stamped and marked so that they could determine when and how the books could have left the library. Many conversations and e-mails later, they determined that these particular books were indeed missing from the library.
Is it plausible that the books were found in the trash? I do believe the story of the person in possession of the books: he says that he obtained them from a widow, who in turn was left them by her husband. How did her husband get ahold of them? He’s passed away, so I’ll leave it to thriller writers to conjecture.
Good idea! To read more, see “Justice Served” from Saine’s local paper, the Winchester Star.
From the Heritage Bookshelf: Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and an Old Spanish Civil War Buddy
Ernest Hemingway was the prototypical man’s man. He hunted big game. He punched other writers in bars. He loved a good bull fight. And he ran to wars when most people were running away from them. It was during one of these wars, specifically the Greek-Turkish War in 1922, where Hemingway met Col. Charles Sweeny, another rock-‘em-sock-‘em alpha male. Charles Sweeny was the perfect type of companion, idol, and perhaps father figure for Hemingway. Legend has it that Sweeny fought in seven wars for five different countries, and knew military history and tactics like no one else Hemingway had ever met before. Hemingway once wrote that Sweeny possessed “one of the most brilliant military brains I have ever known.”
The two became fast, close, and lasting friends, and would often see each other in war zones, at the bicycle races in Paris, on hunting expeditions & fishing trips, and later in life, they would sit and trade old war stories and compare their collections of battle scars. Hemingway even used Sweeny as the model for one of his characters in the novel Across the River and into the Trees. The two old war horses spent a lot of time together in Spain during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, where Hemingway drew the inspiration for his novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, which he wrote largely in Cuba in 1939, and was published by Scribner’s in 1940.
Hemingway. Sweeny. For Whom the Bell Tolls. Cuba. 1940. All of these bits of information are important to me as I sit at my desk, staring at a copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls, affectionately inscribed and signed by Hemingway to Sweeny, with Sweeny’s ownership signature dated “Habana, 1940” on the front pastedown. Additionally, Sweeny has inscribed it to a lady friend of his, mentioning Hemingway in the inscription.
It is a rare sight to see such an intimately inscribed Hemingway title with such a personal connection from the author to the receiver. Hemingway writes on the front free endpaper, “For Charley with / the same affection and the / same admiration as always / Ernest.” I doubt there were very many men for whom Hemingway would have had both affection and admiration, much less write down for posterity that fact, which makes this book an even more impressive rarity to me.
It’s also fascinating to try and connect the dots on an item like this when cataloging it. Just from the information on the book, we can assume that Hemingway gave the book to Sweeny in Cuba in the year of publication, where Sweeny wrote his name, the place, and date inside. Sweeny was probably in Cuba specifically to see Hemingway, presumably to motor out into the Gulf of Mexico and pull some Marlin out of the deep blue sea. Or perhaps Sweeny was on his way to another battlefield, and simply stopped off at Hemingway’s house for a shot of tequila.
I’ve had an absolute blast researching the connection between Hemingway and Sweeny, and have come to think of the book as mine in a certain way. That always happens with a few books in every auction. You spend so much time and effort discovering new information (at least new to you) about some of the books that you can’t help falling in love with some of them. Alas, every love story ends. The book will soon leave our hands here at Heritage. It is lot 36506 in our Rare Books Auction #6048 in Beverly Hills, October 14-16. It was a pleasure to live with for awhile, and I will miss it. Much like Sweeny missed Hemingway after the latter’s suicide in 1961, when the ole colonel was an honorary pallbearer at the great author’s (and better friend’s) funeral.
This article (and image) appears in Heritage’s September Historic News e-newsletter (vol. 6, no. 9). Reposted with permission of the author. Thank you, Joe!
I am delighted to report the publication of two books that I have been eager for some time to see appear between hard covers, having had the opportunity to know a bit about them beforehand, and to have had communication with each of the authors as they were works-in-progress. Happily, they are everything I expected they would be, gracefully written in both instances, wisely reasoned, and a genuine pleasure to read.
Hamlet’s BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, by William Powers; Harper, 267 pages, $24.99.
A former staff writer and media critic for the Washington Post, William Powers
has written extensively on every manner of communications technology, developing the premise of this book--and coming up with the splendid title--while a Fellow at Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press in 2006. Powers is exceedingly savvy when it comes to navigating his way about the digital world, and while he is not about to abandon its wondrous applications in any way, shape, or form, he has chosen to step back a bit, take a deep breath, and pay attention to the wisdom of our cultural forebears. “The interior struggle” of “information overload,” he writes--the phrase was presciently coined in the 1970s by Alvin Toffler--“is having a dramatic impact in our personal and family relationships.” Constant connectivity with the entire world--text messages, cellphones, video streams--leads him to ask the fundamental question: “What is the point anyway?” This is neither a preachy polemic nor a boring diatribe, and while he calls on Plato, Shakespeare, Thoreau, and others for guidance, he does so with style, humility and elan. “Every space is what you make it,” he concludes. “But in the end, building a good life isn’t about where you are. It’s about how you decide to think and live. Place your index finger on your temple and tap twice. It’s all in there.” Links to various reviews and broadcast interviews are available on Powers’ website.
The Groaning Shelf and Other Instances of Book Love, by Pradeep Sebastian; Hachette India, 295 pages, 12.99 GBP ($20 US).
A well-known literary columnist in India whose many pieces for major publications are available on the Internet, Pradeep Sebastian has entered the books about books genre in impressive fashion, with a very nice collection of his erudite pieces on a striking variety of subjects, many of them previously published in different form, though a few--including a generous profile of yours truly he calls “The Collector of Collectors”--appearing here for the first time. How can a reader of the Fine Books blog not be simpatico with someone who makes this admission: “Holding a book but not actually reading it gave me time (and put me in the mood) to reflect on the act of reading and the physicality of the book; the book as material object.” Or someone whose favorite Sunday afternoon ritual is take volumes off his groaning shelves and rearrange them in a new order? “Should I abandon the by-author arrangement and categorize them by subject matter?” Very heavy concerns, indeed. The book has just been released by the India division of Hachette, parent company of Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt. It should be available in U.S. outlets shortly; for now it can be ordered through Amazon.UK.
Impressions of Nature is a beautiful book, brimming with full-color illustrations. Cave impressively relays the early history of nature printing, its spread through Europe, the work of major printers, and its applications in photography and graphic design. There seems to be something for everyone in this splendid volume.