May 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Catalogue Review: John Howell for Books

Catalogue Review: John Howell for Books, #1

Screen shot 2011-05-20 at 8.24.23 AM.pngI couldn't pass up the opportunity to review a bookseller's very first catalogue. John Howell, newly minted ABAA member, recently published Catalogue 1, containing 113 items issued by the Book Club of California. The Book Club of CA, as he notes in the catalogue, was founded in 1912 by a group of San Francisco bibliophiles.

His selection runs the gamut from the Club's first publication, Robert Ernest Cowan's A Bibliography of the History of California and the Pacific West, 1510-1906, published in 1914 ($450) to the latest project, not even available until June, Peter Hanff's Cyclone on the Prairies: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Arts and Crafts in Publishing in Chicago, 1900, designed and printed by Peter Koch ($375).

The Club's 1925 edition of De Bury's Philobiblon--said to be the first book about book collecting--is tempting. This one is No. 204 out of 250, printed at the Grabhorn Press. In good condition for $150, you wouldn't feel too bad about reading it before shelving. Same goes for Christopher Skelton's The Engraved Bookplates of Eric Gill, 1908-1940 ($75).

Another cool title here: The Diary of Patrick Breen, Recounting the Ordeal of the Donner Party snowbound in the Sierra 1846-1747 ($250). It was printed in an edition of 300 by the Club in 1946.

Howell's thirty-nine-page color catalogue is available in PDF format. It is pleasantly designed and clearly written. It's no wonder -- according to the catalogue, Howell is an old hand at catalogues, having worked on them for eight years at Jeff Weber Rare Books prior to striking out for himself in the business.

With prices affordable to most, Howell's books should appeal to any collector with an eye for California, Western books, printing arts, or fine press. Congratulations to him on such a strong start!