April 2009

Via Boing Boing, I discovered this brilliantly bibliolicious make-believe map of "The Land of Books." As the Strange Maps blog described it:

"This map by German illustrator Alphons Woelfle (1938) shows the extent and the divisions of Bücherland (the Land of Books). The Land consists of about half a dozen distinct territories, most of which are explicitly named: Leserrepublik (Reader's Republic), Vereinigte Buchhandelsstaaten (United States of Booksellers), Recensentia (a realm for Reviewers), Makulaturia (Waste Paper Land), and Poesia (Poetry) [...] This map was possibly commissioned by the Heimeran Verlag (publishing house) of Munich, a frequent employer of Mr Woelfle's artisanship - although no information could be found relating to the specific circumstances of this map. One can only presume that it illustrated a book about books, or more precisely, a book about publishing. The look and feel of the map is definitely older than its mid-20th-century age; in a positive case of antiquarianism (i.e. lending something respectability by increasing its age), it has been made to resemble the maps of earlier times (17th, 18th century, I'd say)."

Click through to see the full image.  Someone really needs to track down the copyright holder because this needs to be a poster.
Verunglückte Hoffnung, 2008. Lead and pottery. 51 1/4 x 67 x 78 3/4 inches

The Rome branch of the Gagosian Gallery is currently featuring an exhibit of new work by German artist and Book Patrol favorite Anselm Keifer. The exhibit is titled "Hortus Philosophorum"

The exhibition includes a group of eight sculptures that "evoke some of the central themes in his work deriving from his assiduous study of poetry, mythology, and cultural history." Each of the sculptures incorporate Kiefer's signature lead books.

Danae, 2008. Lead, gold granules and aluminum sunflowers. 53 1/4 x 63 x 149 1/2 inches

"By constructing elaborate scenographies that cross the boundaries of art and literature, painting and sculpture, Kiefer engages the complex events of history, the ancestral epics of life, death, and the cosmos, and the fragile endurance of the sacred and the spiritual amid the ongoing destruction of the world."

More images here

Previously on Book Patrol:
The Book , Anselm Kiefer and the Universe
Anselm Kiefer and the Book
Searching for a German Identity: Anselm Kiefer's Homage to Paul Celan
Anselm Kiefer Moves into the Louvre

A fine copy in near fine dust jacket of the first edition of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie was appraised at $10,000 by the members of the Southern California Chapter of the ABAA this weekend at its Rare Books Round Up - Free Appraisal booth during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the largest book event in the United States with attendance routinely at 100,000+ for the weekend.

Why the high appraisal? The copy was signed by Williams, plus each member of the original Broadway cast (including the immortal Laurette Taylor), as well as the composer of the original production's music.

Who, you may ask, composed the music for the original production of The Glass Menagerie and what's the big deal about the composer's signature to this copy? Two words: Paul Bowles, who, before embarking on his career as a novelist, was a successful composer of theatrical incidental music. A student of Aaron Copeland, Roger Sessions and Virgil Thompson during the 1920s-1930s, Bowles' first visit to Morocco - so closely associated with him through his writings - occurred in 1931 when, traveling with Copeland in Europe, Gertrude Stein suggested that they visit the North African country.

Upon his return to New York, Bowles rose to prominence as a composer of theatrical music, working for Orson Welles and John Houseman, and others, becoming the go-to composer for literary dramas of his era. He composed the music for plays by Saroyan, Hellman, Koestler, Werbel, and Rostand as well as productions of Shakespeare. By the early 1940's, he had also added respected music critic to his resumé.

This copy of The Glass Menegerie is, without question, the collector's dream for this book; they don't get any better.

Other noteworthy books were offered for appraisal, one of which is rarely seen: A first American edition, first printing, first issue, in the publisher's full sheep binding, of Huckleberry Finn. The bibliographical nightmare that is this book is well-known. Copies are usually seen in a mixed issue, so to have a "pure" copy is quite extraordinary. In the original green pictorial cloth binding, "pure" copies can fetch upwards of $50,000 - $75,000 and more. Less desirable in sheep, similar copies can go for $25,000 -$35,000. The copy presented for appraisal was, alas, in poor condition. Estimated value: $6,000-$8,000.

A fine copy of the signed, limited Presentation Edition of Charles Lindbergh's The Spirit of St Louis flew in below the radar, estimated value: $2,000-$3,000. And, finally, an inscribed, fine copy in very good dust jacket of Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March goose-stepped up to the Rare Books Round Up booth. Bellow didn't sign very many books. Estimated value: $2000.

It has become axiomatic that the first life-sucking, brain-pan par boiling, walking on the sun sweltering weekend of the year in Los Angeles will occur during the Festival of Books. Providing further evidence of global climate change, this year visitors (and exhibitors, to be sure) to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, held annually on the UCLA campus during the last weekend of April, were spared. With sunny skies and temperatures in the mid to high 60s, it was a two-day dream, particularly for the man who left the Festival with a million mega-watt smile, his copy of The Glass Menagerie carefully tucked into his briefcase.


Three brief notes for budding collectors, based upon routine appearances at the Festival of Books ABAA Rare Books Round Up: Never store your books in plastic storage bags, zip-lock or otherwise. If the publisher is Grosset & Dunlop, don't bother bringing the book for appraisal; it's a reprint. And that copy of Gone With The Wind? The copyright page has to state: "Printed May 1936" for it to be a first edition, first printing, and the dust jacket has to have GWTW listed as an upcoming book in the right column on the rear panel for it to be a first state DJ.

I would just list to pick up where Chris left off and recommend that anyone reading this - whether dealer, collector, librarian, or humble bibliophile - consider attending this year's Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. I graduated in 2006 and quite simply my business would not be anywhere close to where it is today without my having attended. It is no exaggeration to say that the Seminar easily saved me two or three years of effort and learning on my own. Between the advice given, information bestowed, contacts made, and inspiration received it is an investment in time and money well worth making. Indeed, in the years since I attended I have made back what I spent on my trip many times over simply through the books I've sold to people whom I met via the Seminars. What I wrote shortly after returning from the Seminars, I still agree with and re-post here for anyone thinking about registering:

I'm a bit overwhelmed at the thought of coherently summing up the experience of this year's Annual Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, which I was lucky enough to attend. So much is packed into the week. So I'm just going to kind of list my thoughts in the order they occur to me -

- The most common question I've gotten from other booksellers is "Was it worth it?" To which the simple answer is, you better &%$#@(&%-ing believe it was. Every penny, every hour, every bit of lost sleep was worth it.

- The seminar struck a difficult balance between being useful for the newbie while not boring the more experienced sellers. They managed, in my opinion, to engage both the more advanced attendees as well as those just beginning. This is, of course, a testament to the faculty.

- Was a surprisingly diverse group. Many attendees were literally just starting out. Others had been working at it for years. A few open shops. I was also interested to see that there were a fair number of librarians and pure collectors in attendance. I was also struck by the number of (like me) younger students. Still a minority (about ten of about fifty), but as someone who's used to usually being the youngest person in a group of booksellers, a nice change. I think part of the liveliness of the discussions stemmed from what was a reasonably eclectic group.

- In a strange strictly-speaking kind of way, the information given during the seminars was in some ways the least of the entire experience. Which is not to say the information wasn't invaluable, or that this alone wasn't worth the price of admission all by itself. It was. But for me, two other elements are what really made the seminars outstanding...

- The first was how what the faculty taught told you at least as much about what you DIDN'T know as what you did, and in this way sketched out the boundaries of your expertise while simultaneously inspiring (at least me) to continue to learn more.

- And second, the other amazing part of the week were the other attendees. I think I learned more from the other "seminarians" than anyone else. In addition, it was wonderful to finally be able to talk with other people who know what you're talking about. We all basically work alone in a business that most people don't understand. What a relief then to talk books and not have to explain what you're talking about. Haven't laughed so hard as I did last week in a LONG time. In addition, the other students are, of course, the people who will be your colleagues for the foreseeable future. Good people to know.

- Highlights? Faculty member Terry Belanger. Erudite, engaging, a bit eccentric and with the driest sense of humor I think I've ever encountered, he made what were often fairly dull topics (bibliography, collation, etc) utterly fascinating.

- Also: good bookscouting. Paid for my plane ticket with a few finds from our various field trips. Huzzah!

In short, one of the best week's of my life. Can't recommend it too highly. Beg, borrow, or steal but go go go. You won't regret it. Happy to answer other questions for anyone who's interested.

As Chris pointed out, there are many scholarships available (indeed more than ever before). But even without scholarship support, any bookdealer or bibliophile looking to expand their knowledge, grow their business, or meet their colleagues would be well advised to attend.
In the spring of 2007, only a few months after I had established Book Hunter's Holiday, my mentor encouraged me to try to attend the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar.  He'd taken it himself several years earlier and highly recommended it because of the diverse amount of topics covered by the faculty:  buying books, selling books (both brick and mortar and online), pricing books, auctions, how to judge condition, the traditional terminology for bibliographic description, technology for bookselling, marketing one's business, taxes and accounting, appraisals, and book conservation.  

"Sounds interesting," I remember telling him. "I'd like to go, but I don't see how I can possibly be away from home for five days. What will I do with my kids while I'm gone?  And I've only just started my business. I'm not exactly pulling in the big bucks. How am I going to pay for it?"

"There are scholarships, you know," he told me.

I went home and checked the Seminar's website. Sure enough, there were several scholarships and partial scholarships available. After looking over the list of faculty, which includes booksellers of all types and even a Librarian of Congress, I decided to apply for the Seminar and a scholarship. Though it would take a lot of logistical coordinating, with a little help from my husband and our parents, we could get care for the kids during the week I would be away.  "That's it," I decided.  "If I'm going to be taken seriously as a bookseller, I have to do everything I can to learn the trade, and the best people to learn from are those who are already in the trade.  I'm going to that seminar, no matter what it takes."  

And the rest is history. I did get a partial scholarship and I worked hard to sell enough books to cover the rest of the costs. There's nothing like the reward of a week in book heaven to motivate a person to sell more books!

The week spent at the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar was nothing short of fantastic.  Though there are other rare book schools at UCLA and University of Virginia that teach about rare books and their history, the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar is the only one of which I know to teach people about the various types of bookselling available (open shop, online, specialist dealer, generalist dealer, catalogue-only, etc.), about what is needed to be considered professional, and about how to get established in the trade.

I came away from my week in Colorado energized, inspired, and ready to make plans for my business. I also left having met and gotten to know about 60 other booksellers with whom I still keep in touch. I've shared booths at book fairs with a few of them, bought books with a few of them, and sold books to a few of them.  It's nice not to be the only new person trying to establish an antiquarian book business, and this network of colleagues has been a helpful and reassuring presence more times than I can count in the past two years.  Moreover, the excellent faculty is always available to answer questions during the seminar and are very generous with their time.  They even have an email list that is open to all alumni of the Seminar, a place where one can go to ask (or answer) questions.  I remember being impressed by the faculty's ability to satisfactorily address both those students (like me) who were brand new to the trade and those who already had some experience.

With the shrinking of the US economy, you may find your book business shrinking as well.  You might be thinking, as I was in 2007, that now is not the time to spend money on something that does not involve selling actual books.  You might be thinking that the last thing you need to do is take five days away from your business.  If your life situation is like mine, you're might also be thinking that it is near impossible to arrange for kids and family members to be taken care of so you can travel to an antiquarian book seminar.

I'm here to tell you that such thinking is just plain wrong.  Investing in your knowledge of the trade is necessary to your future success in the trade.  When I've been confronted with seemingly unanswerable bookselling questions, that seminar has saved me from re-inventing the printing press -- on many occasions.

Now is the perfect time for booksellers, whether aspiring or new in the trade or just wanting to learn more than what you already know, to sign up for the 2009 Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. Among the many already available, there are three additional scholarships being offered this year, so there's no excuse not to try for one of those as well.

Whether you're already a bookseller or you're just wondering how to start selling books, click here to see the list of faculty, topics to be covered, housing and travel information, scholarships available, and applications.  You can also read comments from alumni on their experiences at the Seminar. This year's seminar will be held from Sunday, August 2 - Friday, August 7, 2009.  The deadline to apply is July 1, but there is a $100 discount to those who apply by May 1.  

If you want to be taken seriously in business of selling antiquarian books, the Seminar is a very worthwhile investment.

Go on. Apply. You never know how far you can go until you try.

See you at the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar!

The Silk Road, sex and World War II, both behind closed doors, and fascinating curiosities of literature--what could be better for a week that begins in the satisfying aftermath of a three-game sweep  of the New York Yankees by the Red Sox at Fenway Park. With the Celtics and the Bruins more than holding their own in the playoffs, it's a great time to be a Boston sports fan. Between innings, however, and on travel days for the others, there remains plenty of down time to dip into some really good books.

Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present,
by Christopher I. Beckwith; Princeton University Press, 472 page, $35.

EmpSilk.jpgA region often overlooked in the grand continuum of world history--a huge, landlocked part of the world between Europe and Asia that has been home to such empires as those of Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan and the Mongols, Tamerlane and the Timurads, the Anatolians, the Tibetans, and the Scythians--is given its just due in this majestic work that spans a sweep of five thousand years, from the Bronze Age to the present. In the process, Christopher Beckwith, a professor of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University, tackles a number of misconceptions, not least among them that the peoples of an international trading network in Central Eurasia known collectively as the Silk Road were primarily nomadic, warfaring, barbarous and generally slothful groups. Indeed, he argues that for several critical centuries in the development of global civilization--and despite incursions by Persians, Greeks, Arabs, and Chinese, among others--Central Eurasia led the world in science, economics, and the arts. In the process of illuminating this essential piece of the human past, Beckwick constructs a scrupulously researched narrative that is wholly accessible, and demands close attention.

Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love, by Thomas Maier; Basic Books, 411 pages, $27.50

MastSex.jpgIf the subject is about how a single book has the power to impact the way people think and comport themselves in intimate relationships, then you have to include the release in 1966 of Human Sexual Response by William Masters and Virginia Johnson, a blockbuster with international consequences that was followed four years later by a powerful followup, Human Sexual Inadequacy. Prior to these books, what people knew about the mechanics of sexual relationships came from text books. Their first-hand reports of human sexuality, reported clinically in their books--Masters and Johnson observed 10,000 sexual acts in pursuit of their data--changed the entire paradigm. Thomas Maier--the biographer previously of another inhabitant of this exclusive group of attitude-changing authors, the baby doctor Dr. Benjamin Spock--has written a compelling profile of the two pioneers that concentrates on their own relationship and working patterns. Altogether a fascinating book.

World War II Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis, and the West, by Laurence Rees; Pantheon Books, 442 pages, $35.

ReesArt.JPGAs creative director for the BBC, documentary filmmaker Laurence Rees has produced several television series on war and the atrocities that usually follow, including "The Nazis: A Warning from History," ""War of the Century," "Horror in the East," and "Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution.'"  He also is the author of five books on the same subjects, and was the recipient three years ago of the British Book Award for History . This effort--which is being released to coincide with a PBS series that will air on three successive Wednesdays beginning May 6--draws on the testimony of more than a hundred witnesses to the events which had been kept secret for decades, only available recently since the opening of the archives of the former Soviet Union. Though not likely to alter prevailing evaluations of the war, the book does offer fresh insights on the relationship between Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill.

Curiosities of Literature: A Feast for Book Lovers, by John Sutherland, illustrations by Mark Rowson; Skyhorse Publishing, 273 pages, $22.95.

CuriosLit.jpgLast--but not by any means least--we have this thoroughly engaging compendium of literary arcania (and plenty of significa as well) to salute. British academic John Sutherland has culled every manner of primary source to unearth such nuggets as the longest novel in the English language (Samuel Richardson's "Clarissa," c. 1 million words), an interesting enough fact in its own right, but for him the springboard for a learned essay that explores the phenomenon of "writing long" in depth, citing Stephen King's "The Stand" (464,216 words) and Vikram Seth's "A Suitable Boy" (591,554) as particularly egregious examples of tomes that require, as a condition of being read, the development of "considerable upper body strength." In a chapter he calls "The Body of Literature," Sutherland tells of the battle among provincial forces for the right to bury the corpse of Thomas Hardy, with a compromise finally being hammered out that provided for the novelist's remains to be divided among home-town loyalists in Stinsford--they got the heart--and Westminster Abbey, which got the cremated ashes of what was left. Similarly, Lord Byron's heart was interred at Missolonghi, where the swashbuckling Romantic died in defense of Greek independence, while his body--too carnal, apparently, for sacred interment in the sanctity of Poet's Corner--was laid to rest in the family vault. This is a really fun book, and smartly written to boot. Highly recommended.

Public Collectors is the brainchild of Marc Fisher. Its goal is to allow "large collections of materials to become accessible so that knowledge, ideas and expertise can be freely shared and exchanged," and is "founded upon the concern that there are many types of cultural artifacts that public libraries, museums and other institutions and archives either do not collect or do not make freely accessible."

Tremendous potential here for the book world. Creates an opportunity for collectors to add their wares to the public domain allowing the gems of their collections to be accessed by scholars, researchers and other interested parties.

Now if we can get some of these collectors or other like-minded souls to partner with libraries and special collections to help them get their backlog processed we would really be on to something.


Documentation of Bibles Stolen From Hotels

Artists' Books: Collection of Anthony Elms, Chicago, IL, USA

Artists' Books & Ephemera Collection of Philip von Zweck, Chicago, IL, USA

Thanks to manystuff.org for the lead