April 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Catalogue Review: Between the Covers

Catalogue Review: Between the Covers, #169

BTC Cover.pngBetween the Covers of Gloucester City, New Jersey, is one of the most successful antiquarian booksellers. They have a 15,000-square-foot warehouse of treasures--which I cannot wait to see one day--an absurdly wonderful website, and an extraordinary staff. They also create dynamic, colorful catalogues with the best book images around. I got this spring catalogue just prior to the NYABF three weeks ago.  

Two items jumped out at me right away -- a first edition of Robert Benchley's No Poems or Around the World Backwards and Sideways (1932) that is inscribed by the author, who signed himself "Bobby" ($950). As the catalogue copy noted, "The intimacy of the inscription is telling; we've never before seen Benchley inscribe a book as 'Bobby.'" The other item--on the very same page--is a copy of Henry Beston's The Outermost House inscribed by the author with an eight-page letter to a Mrs. Sweeman enclosed ($5,000). I am a huge fan of Beston's nature writing, and I was thrilled to actually hold this book at the fair in New York and chat with BTC's Dan Gregory about it.

BTC has a particularly strong selection of galleys or proofs. The four Thomas Pynchons they have from the collection of Pynchon's editor Ray Roberts are neat, especially the publisher's dummy of Mason & Dixon ($3,500). It's actually an unprinted text block with a provisional dustwrapper affixed to the pastedowns. There's also a galley proof of Hemingway's Moveable Feast ($4,500) and an uncorrected proof of Brendan Behan's Confessions of an Irish Rebel ($225).

Other surprises that poke out -- the Harvard Class Album of 1932 featuring James Agee ($750), a film corporation stock book associated with producer Harry Aiken ($3,500), and promotional ephemera for Maurice Sendak's I Saw Esau ($350).

But even all this is just the tip of the iceberg at BTC. A new catalogue appeared just days ago -- Archives & Manuscripts, No. 4. All catalogues can be viewed online or in PDF. In print if you request it. You can also visit them at the Bookshop in Old New Castle, in Delaware, where BTC and three other booksellers have partnered in an open shop.