In terms of backlist sales alone, Scribner made one heck of a deal when it put F. Scott Fitzgerald under contract. The publishing house has issued elegant editions of his work for a century and still it beats on: today, a new set of five “collectible” hardcover editions become available featuring mod dust jacket designs (see above).

The titles include The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, The Beautiful and Damned, The Last Tycoon, and This Side of Paradise, which also happens to be celebrating its centennial this year. This Side of Paradise was the author’s first novel, written when he was just twenty-three. While not a financial windfall, the novel did garner some nice blurbs. No less than the curmudgeonly H.L. Mencken called it the “best American novel that I have seen of late.” Still, The Great Gatsby, published five years later, is largely considered Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. The "first-ever" graphic novel adaptation of Gatsby is also being published today, with an introduction by Blake Hazard, Fitzgerald’s great-granddaughter.

Those looking to commune with the Jazz Age author should visit the Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, which reopens to the public on July 2. It is “the only dedicated museum to the lives and legacies of F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald in the world,” and where he wrote part of Tender is the Night (1934) and Zelda wrote part of her only novel, Save Me The Waltz (1932), also published by Scribner but sadly not reissued in fancy new garb.

A slightly quieter week this week, but still an interesting trio of sales to watch:

An online Livres et Manuscrits at Sotheby's ends on Tuesday, June 30. The 107 lots include a first edition of André Malraux's La Condition Humaine (1933), one of 39 copies reimposed in quarto. This copy is in a remarkable Paul Bonet mosaic binding from 1968, and was inscribed by Malraux in 1972 to the Belgian bibliophile Louis de Sadeleer. It is estimated at €30,000–50,000. A previously unknown Gédéon Tallemant des Réaux manuscript of more than 750 pages (not all in Tallemant's hand) is estimated at €30,000–40,000. François Levaillant's Histoire naturelle des oiseaux de Paradis (Paris, 1801–1806) could sell for €20,000–30,000, and an early manuscript version of Pierre de Ronsard's "Ode des estoilles au roy" (1573) is estimated at €18,000–24,000.

At Binoche et Giquello on Wednesday, July 1, Curiosités Typographiques – Reliures Remarquables: Collection C. L., in 167 lots. A super-deluxe copy of Les Climats, a collection of poems by Anna, Comtesse de Noailles published by the Société du Livre contemporain in 1924 in a Georges Cretté binding rates the top estimate, at €20,000–25,000. A 1561 protestant Bible printed at Lyon by Jean de Tournes in a fancy contemporary Parisian binding could sell for €12,000–15,000. Many more extremely impressive bindings in this sale: I highly recommend looking through the lots.

On Thursday, July 2, Forum Auctions sells Books and Works on Paper, in 260 lots. Scarce second issues of Percy Shelley's The Revolt of Islam and Queen Mab, bound together and signed by Richard Dry (perhaps the Richard Dry who was Shelley's tailor) rates the top estimate at £600–800. The 1894 George Allen edition of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, with the striking peacock cover design by Hugh Thomson, could sell for £400–600. A book from David Garrick's library is estimated at £300–400.

Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, a novel about suffocating social mores set in New York City during the Gilded Age, observes its centennial this year. The author’s twelfth novel, it won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, making Wharton was the first woman to attain that honor.

To mark the occasion, The Mount, Wharton’s house museum in western Massachusetts, is encouraging everyone to “re(read) or (re)watch” The Age of Innocence this summer. Just about any of the many editions out there will do, but there is a brand new anniversary edition out this year (in paperback and ebook) with an introduction by author Colm Tóibín. The 1993 Martin Scorsese film starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Winona Ryder is absolutely worth a second viewing.

The secret to great book design may be akin to an exquisite ballet performance: the experience is nearly perfect when the effort and work put into the creation of the piece is invisible. In A Grammar of Typography: Classical Book Design in the Digital Age, author and book designer Mark Argetsinger compares the work of a book designer to that of an architect--everything in balance and in proper proportion to the project at hand. And though form serves function, it needn’t be dull or an afterthought--great design elevates and enhances the overall experience.

And now, it seems that Argetsinger has created what will be considered the definitive work on the subject of the history and application of  book design. Released May 5 by Godine, A Grammar of Typography is no lightweight; my bathroom scale registered the volume at a precise five pounds. From the mathematical roots of typographical classicism to the transition to digital book design, there is plenty to engage everyone from the casual typophile to the professional designer.

Perhaps, to my mind at least, two of the most engrossing chapters (if only two could be chosen) are those exploring the transition to digital design. Chapter three heralds the new dawn of digital printing by providing a brief chronology in the history of desktop publishing (including a fascinating look at the so-called “Font Wars” between Adobe and Apple in the 1980s) while chapter eight examines what Argetsinger calls the restoration of a typographer’s powers with the advent of OpenType, a digital typographic tool. Over 425 images, many in color, round out this impressive work.

As exhaustive as A Grammar of Typography may be, Argetsinger encourages eager readers to further their study by examining other typographic and design manuals in his excellent annotated bibliography.

What font was selected for this book? Dutch Type Library (DTL) Fleischmann, a robust, digital font developed in the 1990s that Argetsinger calls “charming” and “sculptural.”

Classic book design didn’t disappear with the arrival of the digital revolution--it is alive and well, which Argetsinger adroitly proves in this handy, hefty compendium.

The trade edition of A Grammar of Typography is available for $65, while a deluxe slipcased version--in an edition of 123 copies--only available through Godine, is $95.

Among the exhibitions that agile curators have successfully adapted for online consumption is the excellent The Art of Advertising, at Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries. It covers more than two centuries of advertising, from black and white letterpress trade cards for coffins and packing cases, to colorful 1930s chromolithographic posters extolling the delights of the new Morris Oxford Six cars for female drivers.

The exhibition heavily mines the library’s John Johnson Collection, one of the world’s finest archives of printed ephemera, described by the eponymous Oxford printer as “everything which would ordinarily go into the wastepaper basket after use, everything printed which is not actually a book.” The online incarnation of the exhibition broadly traces the history of printed advertising from the 1740s to the 1930s.

Well, the verdict is in: antiquarian bookseller John Schulman of Caliban Book Shop and former Carnegie Library archivist Gregory Priore were given light sentences for stealing about 300 rare books from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library over two decades. In addition to paying $55,000 in restitution, Schulman must serve four years of house arrest and twelve years of probation. Priore received three years of house arrest and twelve years of probation.

Replacement value for the rarities, which included a book signed by Thomas Jefferson, is estimated at $8 million. Book theft is seldom taken very seriously from a legal point of view. However, the judge, Alexander P. Bicket, did suggest that the sentences might have been more harsh if not for Covid-19.   

The charges against the two men were first announced in 2018. Though both plead guilty, Schulman sent an email to supporters in January proclaiming his innocence, a move that dismayed the judge.

On a rare books electronic mailing list, one well-known and outspoken collector commented, “In a sense, the sentences to the pair of confessed thieves are unimportant. Their careers in rare books are gone.”

The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA), for its part, put out a statement condemning the actions of the two individuals and reasserting that Schulman ceased to be a member of the ABAA within days of his indictment. ABAA President Brad Johnson wrote, “As antiquarian booksellers, we are the custodians and caretakers of cultural materials. This incident is not only a violation of that responsibility and our rigorous Code of Ethics, it is also a tremendous loss to scholarship in the Pittsburgh community and beyond. When we were alerted to the thefts, the ABAA published lists of the stolen and missing material. Our members continue to assist the authorities and collectors around the globe in identification and recovery activities. We co-sponsored an international seminar on provenance at the Grolier Club in 2019 and as a result, bolstered our communications efforts and stolen and missing books blog. We are continuing to work with our colleagues and law enforcement agencies throughout the world and our counterparts in special collections libraries to develop a more robust international stolen books database and increase awareness on the importance of security and provenance.”

And this wasn’t the only disappointing denouement in a book theft case last week. As Travis McDade, curator of rare books at the University of Illinois College of Law and author most recently of Torn from their Bindings, pointed out on Twitter, a former University of Illinois employee who plead guilty to stealing two rare books from the UI library (although more than 25 are missing) was sentenced to two years of probation.

As an object of desire for book collectors, it would be hard to top this replica of rare book dealer John Fleming’s 57th Street Gallery, where he bought and sold in “baronial splendor” according to the New York Times, from 1952 to 1987. Encased in a leaded glass enclosure, the dollhouse-sized library setting features oak bookshelves full of book models, including six “real” miniature books, as well as a silver tea service, a globe, and other plush furnishings that will make some bibliophiles swoon — one of whom will no doubt bid on it at auction on June 23, when it is estimated to reach $1,500-2,500.

Fleming (1910-1987) has been hailed by colleagues as "the dean of American antiquarian booksellers,” whose storied career began at age 15 when he apprenticed himself to Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach, the "Napoleon of Books,” trader in Gutenberg Bibles and First Folios. When Rosenbach died in 1952, Fleming bought his boss’s rumored $2-million stock of rarities and continued in the same high-end style in Rosenbach’s former townhouse. (He also co-wrote a biography of Rosenbach.)

A 1969 New York Magazine profile of Fleming reported that he preferred "buying to selling and has been known to refuse handsome offers from those he considers unworthy of the distinction the particular book confers. The result is 6,000 or 7,000 volumes housed in an apartment/office so large that a Rolls-Royce parked in one corner would be about as conspicuous as a footstool."

Our Bright Young Things series continues today with Spencer W. Stuart, a collections advisor and book historian in Canada.

How did you get started working with rare books?

My experience with rare materials began with two positions I occupied during my dual undergraduate degree in Art History and Film Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. The first was with the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography and the second was with a photograph repatriation project entitled “Views from the North”, which sought to ensure that archival images of Northern communities were returned to community members and properly presented and contextualized by Elders. Both experiences brought about an awareness of the way in which collections are amassed and interpreted. 

But it was really in the Winter of 2014, at the age of 24, when I was hired by Bonhams Auctioneers in their Toronto office that I was able to dedicate my focus to fine books. Having recently graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art, where I received a Master’s in the History of Art, I began the position as business manager with the thought that I would transition into one of the Visual Arts departments. This thought decisively changed, however, with exposure to a rapid succession of quality book collections in the Greater Toronto Area that had me dealing directly with material related to Modern Irish Literature, Travel and Exploration, and finally the Natural Sciences, including a selection of the books and manuscripts of Charles Darwin.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to handle and examine these rare items and was then that I began developing working relationship with the UK Director of the Book Department, Matthew Haley, and NY Director, Christina Geiger (now with Christie’s). Following a client visit up to Toronto, Christina invited me to work with the Book Department on their up-coming sale in September of 2015 that featured the collection of a prominent figure in the Bay Area Rare Book community, Barbara J. Land. It was there, and with the subsequent two-week visits to work the auctions, that I was introduced to colleagues who have taught me to catalogue and evaluate rare books as well as provide me with opportunities to develop auctions alongside them. (It was during those visits that I would first hear of the Rare Book School as well.)

During my time with Bonhams I was able to work with colleagues on some fine collections such as the Andrew Caren Archive, the Harry E. Gould, Jr. Autograph Collection, and rare books and manuscripts such as first editions of James Joyce, letters of Charles Darwin, and, perhaps most notably, the first known printing of Aristotle’s De animalibus.

Please introduce us to your work as a collections advisor. What does that entail? How did you get started?

In the Summer of 2017, I started Spencer W Stuart, Collections Advisor aiding collectors at various stages acquisition, cataloguing, deaccession, and donation.

The decision to start my own collection advisory business stemmed from continual house visits where I was met with a similar scenario, representatives of a collector’s estate left to divest of collections under duress with little information nor time. In addressing this, I work with active collectors to devise strategies for deaccession.

In tandem, as a younger participant in the industry, I work closely with new collectors. This is a demographic that is more technologically connected to their markets of interest and they are participating in the auction room, albeit mostly remotely. I provide advice on where to look and what to look for when developing a collection.

Please introduce us as well to your Lifecycles program. We understand you also have an upcoming Lifecycles webinar:

I built the Programs based on case study research of collections from the past and my personal experience with collectors and collections. Lifecycles focuses on collecting art (prints, photography, and painting) and building private libraries. It covers the complete timeline of a collector and their collections, discussing the initial attractions that move one to collect through to the steps one must take to ensure a collection’s legacy beyond one’s very personal time and place.

The webinar is a condensed version of the three-part program and is intended for a more general audience of collectors, curator/librarians, appraisal professionals, trusts & estates representatives and dealers. I also do specialized versions of the Program to cater to the specific interests of individual groups mentioned above.

And how about your work as a book historian?

My writing and lecturing about book history developed in parallel with the establishment is my advisory practice and has me contributing to a variety of publications including Amphora, Worthwhile and The Book Collector on subjects of interest to me through travels and research of collections I am working with.

In the Fall of 2018 I was invited to become a monthly guest on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (equivalent to NPR) radio show North By Northwest where I lead conversations relating to publishing histories with a particular focus on raising awareness of the conditions that shape the creation and reception of the written word..

Favorite rare book (or ephemera) that you’ve handled?

Recently, it would be inventorying, cataloguing, and stabilizing a 100-plus poster collection from 1965 to present of the graphic designer Milton Glaser.

How about a favorite collection you've helped curate?

I believe a collection provides a unique, kaleidoscopic view onto a topic, simultaneously it reflects a collector and therefore their story to tell. To that point, I don’t curate collections. I assist in cataloguing, stabilizing and strategizing with collectors to achieve their goals.

A collection I recently aided in inventorying and evaluating was a comprehensive collection of material related to Allen Ginsberg, which was a personal pleasure and joy to work with.

What do you personally collect?

I have built a couple collections over the years. The first were typewriter models favored by authors based on examining photographs and primary documents: Royal Quiet Deluxe (Hemingway), Hermes 3000 (Plath), 1930s Portable Royal Standard (Kerouac) to name a few.

The collection was dispersed among friends as I moved from city to city.

The second was a Hard Bop vinyl collection. Also sold in recent years.

At the moment, my interest and resources are directed toward building my reference library.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I sing in choirs (bass), drum, bike, hike, run and farm.

Where can our readers go to learn more about your work?

Today, an exhibition that explores one of Pablo Picasso’s lesser-known talents opens at Tokyo’s Instituto Cervantes. Picasso Escritor (Picasso, the Writer), initiated by Museo Picasso Málaga, celebrates the Málaga, Spain-born painter who was, it turns out, also a poet.

Picasso, the Writer features facsimiles, photographs and publications relating to Picasso’s literary output, along with poems and a documentary specially produced for the occasion, in which Spanish authors and intellectuals, including the director of the Instituto Cervantes, poet Luis García Montero, reflect upon Picasso and his written work,” according to a press statement.

Having traveled first to Beijing and Shanghai in 2019, the exhibition’s stop in Japan will take the opportunity to illustrate Picasso’s relationship to Japanese author Kuninosuke Matsuo and to showcase six original ceramics by Picasso, courtesy of art collector Toshiyasu Fujinawa, president of the Yoku Moku cookie company.

The exhibition runs through September 30. For those who won’t make it to Japan this summer, an exhibition catalogue has been published. For more information on how to see the exhibition, visit:

Another very busy week coming up in the auction world! Here are some of the things I'll be watching:

At Druout on Tuesday, June 16, Aristophil sale 29, Beaux-Arts, in 159 lots. A November 1888 Van Gogh letter to artist Émile Bernard, with an additional note from Gauguin, rates the top estimate, at €180,000–250,000. A Gauguin letter from around 1896 to the "unknown amateur," with a drawing by the artist at the top of the page, could sell for €180,000–200,000. A Bella Chagall notebook of translated poetry which Marc Chagall kept for decades after her death, adding drawings and paintings, is estimated at €80,000–120,000.

Aristophil sale 30 will be held at Artcurial on Wednesday, June 17, comprising 126 lots of Littérature Française du XXe Siècle. A complete autograph version of Céline's Nord, in four volumes, is expected to lead the sale at €300,000–500,000. One of just 25 copies of the original edition of Apollinaire's Case d'Armons (1915) is estimated at €80,000–100,000.

Lyon & Turnbull hold a 392-lot sale of Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs on Wednesday, with an inscribed copy of the first printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone rating the top estimate at £80,000–120,000. Also on offer in Edinburgh are a first edition copy of Fleming's Casino Royale (£20,000–30,000); several Robert Burns letters; and a Thomas Cromwell letter about the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves (£3,500–4,500).

Also on Wednesday, Travel, Natural History, Americana & Sporting Books at Doyle (soft close will begin at 10 a.m. EDT). Among the interesting lots is a poster for the Titanic ($1,000–1,500).

Rounding out Wednesday's sales, Bibliothèque R. & B. L.: une décennie de ventes at Sotheby's, in 274 lots. Sharing the top estimate at €30,000–40,000 are a set of the Marquis de Sade's La Nouvelle Justine and L’Histoire de Juliette and a first edition of Céline's Voyage au bout de la nuit (1932). Even more French literature to choose from in this one!

Ader will host Aristophil sale 31 on Thursday, June 18: Sciences: Archéologie, Savants et Philosophies. The 161 lots include a piece of the Fukang meteorite (€75,000–85,000); a 1929 Einstein manuscript (€70,000–80,000); and a 1610 Johannes Kepler letter to Christian II, Elector of Saxony (€40,000–50,000).

At Forum Auctions on Thursday, Books and Works on Paper, in 245 lots.

Two Christie's sales end on Thursday. The first, Selections from the Library of Lorenzo H. Zambrano: Latin Americana, Science, and Literature, includes 51 lots, among them a very nice first edition of Darwin's Origin ($100,000–150,000) and a copy of the colored issue of Viscount Kingsborough's Antiquities of Mexico ($80,000–120,000).

The second Christie's sale ending on Thursday is The Open Book: Fine Travel, Americana, Literature and History in Print and Manuscript, in 112 lots. Expected the lead the way here with an estimate of $300,000–500,000 is the September 20, 1814 issue of the Baltimore Patriot and Evening Advertiser, containing the first dated printing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" (being deaccessioned as a duplicate by the American Antiquarian Society). Estimated at $180,000–250,000 are a rare copy of Martín Fernández de Enciso's 1519 account of the Spanish explorations in the Americas and an early French compilation of "New World" travel accounts, which appears to be unrecorded in auction records. A copy of Audubon's Quadrupeds is also on the block, estimated at $120,000–180,000.

Also ending on Thursday is the 412-lot PBA Galleries timed-lot sale of Publications of the Arthur H. Clark Company.

Finally, on Friday June 19, Aristophile sale 32 at Aguttes, Littérature Les Années 1920–1930, in 192 lots. An impressive collection of Proust letters, manuscripts, drawings, &c. rates the top estimate, at €120,000–150,000, while a set of 38 Franz Kafka letters to Robert Klopstock could sell for €100,000–150,000. There will be much of interest here to the André Breton fans, as well.