Boston’s Biblio Highlights

Courtesy of Justin Croft

One of the original Fortsas library catalogues will be offered at the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair this weekend.

Looking ahead to the Boston book fairs this weekend, we’d like to share a short list of items that show the breadth of material on offer at the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair.  

In the booth of Justin Croft Antiquarian Books, for example, you may encounter the rare first edition catalogue of the notorious Fortsas library catalogue. I first heard about this infamous 19th-century literary hoax in Joel Silver’s Winter 18 column, “Fake (Book) News.” In short, a prankster issued an auction catalogue of remarkable, unique books. When bidders arrived to the sale, however, they were surprised to find it was all a practical joke. One of the original 132 copies, this one contains a leaf of early manuscript describing the affair and the original “Avis” sheet that announced its cancellation.

If a Second Folio is in your sights, get thee to Raptis Rare Books, where the luxuriously bound Bishop-Stockhausen copy of the rare first issue of Shakespeare’s Second Folio (1632) will be waiting. It is estimated that no more than 1,000 copies of the Second Folio were printed, and it is believed less than 200 copies are still in existence today, according to the bookseller.

Courtest of Productive Arts

The Ohio-based Productive Arts, purveyors of Russian & Soviet art, design and photo related books, journals, magazines, posters, publications, and ephemera, intend to showcase a set of Suprematist bookplates, “Biblioteka P.V. Gubar.” The design is attributed to Ilya Chasnik, circa 1925.

Bookseller John W. Knott, Jr. is bringing an archive of typed and manuscript signed letters from the business files of London publisher J.M. Dent, c. 1920s-30s. Correspondents include the leading literary lights of the era, e.g., Max Beerbohm, Arthur Conan Doyle, Joseph Conrad, T.S. Eliot, Ford Madox Ford, E.M. Forster, Thomas Hardy, James Joyce, A.A. Milne, Arthur Rackham, George Bernard Shaw, J.R.R. Tolkien, H.G. Wells, Virginia Woolf, W.B. Yeats, and others.

And, finally, if the first edition of the 1611 King James Bible, aka the “Great He Bible,” referred to as such due to a printer’s error in Ruth 3:15, seems like a fit for your collection, look for bookseller James Gray, who specializes in early printed books.