July 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Charles B. Wood

Catalogue Review: Charles B. Wood, Bookseller, No. 150

Charles B. Wood III is an antiquarian bookseller in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who stocks an eclectic selection -- from architecture to book about books to trade and commercial ephemera. In this catalogue #150: Rare Books and Manuscripts, the browser will be consistently surprised. I was. Every page I flipped offered something new, different, "intrinsically interesting," and illustrated with full-page colorful, glossy images too.

I run the risk of filling this review with item after item that caught my eye. I'll try to contain myself. Let's start with one of the many pieces of trade/commercial art. A huge Victorian scrapbook containing forty-nine mounted chromolithographs created as advertisements or shop displays for various companies in the U.K. ($6,500). The compiler was surely "on the inside of the color lithography business." Other interesting commercial items include a restored folio broadside featuring Waltham copper weather vanes, circa 1875-1885 ($2,500) and a Victorian house furnishing catalogue for the Simmons Hardware Co. of St. Louis, Missouri ($1,000). 

There are several sample and pattern books from various trades. The Lowell Textile School pattern book from 1895 is a unique manuscript work book kept by a student ($950). It contains notes, fabric samples, dyed cotton threads, and is lovely. An 1874 printed type specimen book for Farmer, Little & Co. is complete and rare (not in OCLC, notes the catalogue) for $2,250. A large sample book containing 257 mounted and identified samples of dyed wool, swatches of felt, and woven fabrics with penciled notes by its creator, a New Hampshire dyer, is very cool ($1,750). That's something you just don't see often or ever.

In the 'books about books' or printing arts category, Wood has several rarities. A first edition of the first printer's manual, printed in 1818 by C.S. Van Winkle is so neat ($13,5000) as is a first edition of Edward Walker's The art of book-binding, its rise and progress; including a descriptive account of the New York Book-Bindery ($1,750). I'd love to peruse that one.

Two other superlatives that need to be mentioned -- the publisher's dummy of Henry Whittemore and Edward Bierstadt's Homes of the representative men of America, with the title partly in manuscript ($13,500); and a set of ten original blueprints for the lighting scheme of Lincoln Center ($4,000).   

Thank you Charles B. Wood for making this catalogue review so exciting! A treasure on every page.