September 2011 Archives

The Twelfth Enchantment, the newest novel by David Liss, author of A Conspiracy of Paper and others, could inspire an amazing collection. That was the thought that kept occurring to me throughout this enjoyable but flimsy story.

The setting and the premise are interesting. It’s England in 1812, and young Lucy Derrick is almost without a friend in the world, and she’s being forced into marriage. That is until she learns how to cast magic spells from a neighbor who is--not to spoil the story--an otherworldly being. The Luddites are just beginning their uprising against industrialization, and Lucy gets swept up into an implausible good versus evil narrative in which she must save England from Luddites and the Undead by finding a magical book--“There is no book on earth so dangerous as the Mutus Liber. It secrets are devastating.” All the while Lucy, a strong heroine, must preserve her heart and her virtue from the rakish Lord Byron. He plays a major role in the novel, which at first seems promising, but rather quickly dissolves into thin fantasy. William Blake also pops into the narrative a few times.
Conan Doyle portrait via Wikipedia.
Something’s in the air lately. Lost manuscripts are turning up all over the place. Last week, we profiled a soon-to-be-published James M. Cain manuscript that was missing for many years. And the literary finds continue this week with the publication of Arthur Conan Doyle’s long lost first novel, The Narrative of John Smith.

Conan Doyle wrote the novel when he was 23 years old, working as a doctor in Portsmouth. Doctor salaries in 1883 being slightly lower than doctor salaries in 2011, Conan Doyle looked for a way to supplement his income to support his ailing father and fund his younger brother’s education. His short stories met with early success, however Conan Doyle grew frustrated with the Victorian practice of omitting the author’s name in magazines. (A practice of equal frustration to collectors today). So Conan Doyle wrote a manuscript, The Narrative of John Smith, about a man stricken with gout and confined to his room for a week. He promptly sent the manuscript off by post and the postal service promptly lost it.

It never turned up again.
Guest Blog by James Thomas, Jr., collector and bookseller at Every Other Book in Ft. Wayne, IN.

Have you seen the recent Kindle commercials? In one commercial, you see a young woman reading a traditional book, and in the other she’s carrying a large bag on her way to shop for books. In both commercials a young man shows her the advantages of the Kindle. Not to be outdone, she tells him the advantages of the traditional book--things like being able to bend page corners to mark her place, or lug around a heavy bag of books! Now, those of us viewing one of these commercials probably get a laugh from this, but the young man in the commercial doesn’t. Being the calm, rational type, which is the point really, he remains silent until the young woman realizes the absurdity of her preference for traditional books. In one commercial, she drops her book bag, grabs her friend’s Kindle, and starts to read it like it was her own.

The commercials are simple and direct (with a subtle touch of “dumb blond” humor), and the obvious message is that the smart people forget real books and switch to e-book devices. After all, who wouldn’t be impressed by their capacity to download and store hundreds of titles, and their ability to adjust print size? And of course, traveling with e-books is so convenient and light. Yes, the advantages are undeniable to any reasonable person, but is there something to be said for real books? I believe there is, and it has nothing to do with bending page corners.
In an effort to help young antiquarian booksellers connect with the global trade in rare books, ILAB (the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers) has launched an internship program. The first two participants completed their internships this past summer and the organization is eager to continue the course.

The idea for the internship program came from Norbert Donhofer, an Austrian bookseller, and Eric Waschke, a Canadian dealer, who visited Moscow in 2009 to welcome the newly formed Russian Association of Antiquarian Booksellers into ILAB. While in Russia, Donhofer and Waschke visited the Moscow State University of the Printing Arts where they actually have a department of antiquarian bookselling. (How cool is that?) The head of that department, Dr. Olga Tarakanova, (a familiar name to collectors of Russian imprints) lamented the lack of opportunities for her students to gain experience outside of Russia.
Back for its sixth year, the NY Art Book Fair, presented by Printed Matter, will be held this upcoming weekend from preview night on Thursday, Sept. 29 through Sunday, Oct. 2. This fair, held at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, is NYC’s premier event for artists’ books, contemporary art monographs, and art zines. (This picture is from last year’s NY Art Book Fair. Courtesy of Printed Matter, 2010.)

More than two hundred exhibitors will feature their work to browsing attendees, who might also pop in to the “Classroom,” a curated series of informal conversations and workshops led by artists and organized by David Senior of the Museum of Modern Art. More serious folks will join the two-day contemporary artists’ books conference, focused on emerging practices and debates within art-book culture. Tauba Auerbach will give the keynote. A new addition to the fair this year is the “Schoolyard,” an international selection of more than sixty zinesters and independent artists under a big tent in the MoMA PS1 courtyard. Exhibitors there include Cinders, Fluens Forlag and Flâneur (both Brooklyn); Goteblüd, Needles & Pens (both San Francisco, CA); and ZINE’S MATE (Japan). Of these, twelve will continue the tradition of Friendly Fire (politically-minded artists), curated by Max Schumann. AA Bronson, the fair’s director and president of Printed Matter, told me he expects this feature to be “super popular and busy.”
Judith Krug founded Banned Books Week in 1982 to honor and promote Americans’ right to read whatever we choose, a right guaranteed by the First Amendment. (For an alternative view of Banned Books Week, click here.)

But why set aside the last week of September for this purpose? Was it to honor the Bill of Rights, proposed to “the Legislatures of the several States” by the First Federal Congress on September 25, 1789? (A resolution urging ratification of such a proposal had been passed on March 4, 1789, although only ten of the original twelve amendments were eventually ratified by the states.)

Krug was a very smart woman. While I can offer no proof whatsoever, I like to think she might also have had something else in mind--for the last week of September is also the week that America’s very first multi-page newspaper was published ...

... and banned.
Catalogue Review: Page Books, #47

Page Books of Hillsboro, Ohio, specializes in fine children’s and illustrated books. So a look through its recent catalogue is a bright, fun, memory-triggering experience. What struck me first about this catalogue is that it isn’t full of the same-old favorites -- e.g., there is Clement Hurd (illus.), but it is his woodcut-illustrated Wildfire, not Goodnight Moon ($45); there are lesser-known Steig volumes, such as Yellow & Pink ($60) and Roland the Minstrel Pig ($150).  

Even those of us who know Sendak primarily for Where The Wild Things Are will see a handful of other interesting titles of his. One that caught my eye is A Hole is To Dig, written by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Sendak in 1952 ($350). In our fall issue of FB&C, which went to the printer today, we have a lengthy profile of author-illustrator Jules Feiffer, who named this particular Sendak title as a turning point in his career.

Another highlight of the side selection here are six volumes in the Doctor Doolittle series by Hugh Lofting, 1920-1928. All in beautiful pictorial cloth with intricate design, they range from $85-$125. Pop-Ups are well represented, some printed in London, even a couple from Moscow. About ten titles illustrated by Tasha Tudor are also here, including the interestingly titled Edgar Allan Crow from 1953 ($350).

And one can’t but smile over the Go-To-Sleep Book of 1936 ($45). “Lovely soft pictures of animals yawning or sleeping.” Hmm. What does it say about us in 2011 that our “version” of this title includes an expletive? And will it be collectible one day?!

See Page’s #47 here:
Image via Wikipedia
[Correction: Charles Ardai, publisher of Hard Case Crime, spent the last nine years tracking down the lost Cain manuscript. My blog entry incorrectly attributes that effort to Max Alan Collins, who alerted Ardai to the manuscript’s existence. See comments section for more detail.]

Noir collectors will soon have a new book to add to their shelves: a lost novel by James M. Cain, author of the classics Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice, was recently discovered by Max Alan Collins. Collins, an impressive crime writer in his own right (author of Road to Perdition) has spent the last nine years tracking down the manuscript and arranging for the publication rights.

How do you handle your rare books and collections? Like Harvard, of course.

For any of you that collect old guide books, you must occasionally wonder what it would be like to try traveling with just an antiquated guide book in hand; i.e. showing up in Florence with your Baedeker and seeing what restaurants or pensiones are still open, how much the Uffizi is now charging for admission, and how inaccurate the maps are.

Well, Brian Thacker, a popular British travel writer, recently did just that with a copy of Lonely Planet’s first ever publication. Lonely Planet has become a global powerhouse in the guide book field, but their first publications were geared toward young hippies traveling overland from Europe to Asia. Their first book, South East Asia on a Shoe String, was published in 1975 and has been nicknamed the “Yellow Bible” for its original popularity.
TableOne.jpgOwn a piece of New York’s famous restaurant, Elaine’s, by bidding this Tuesday at Doyle NY’s auction of the estate of Elaine Kaufman. There are 250 lots of books, art, and restaurant memorabilia, such as the bar stools, barware, and yes, the entire table-and-chair set of Table One (seen above; estimate $400-$600). Regulars will recognize some items, while others were privately held in Kaufman’s penthouse apartment.

Warhol-Shoe.jpgKaufman’s art collection is impressive. The Andy Warhol print seen above is a signed 1956 lithograph of a shoe and long (estimate $10,000-$15,000). There’s another Warhol print, a David Hockney etching, a photographic collage by Wallace Berman, and a watercolor by Reginald Marsh. Kaufman also owned several French Art Nouveau posters; works by both Alphonse Mucha and Toulouse-Lautrec are on the block.

Elaine'sDJ.jpgThis 59” x 48” framed poster is an enlarged dust jacket from A.E. Hotchner’s Everyone Comes to Elaine’s (estimate $100-$150). In books, an oversized folio of Helmut Newton’s Sumo (Taschen, 1999) on a stand designed by Phillipe Starck leads the lots (estimate $3,000-$5,000). Avedon’s Autobiography (estimate $150-$250) and Warhol’s Exposures (estimate $800-$1200) are highlights. Then there are several lots of books, grouped by subject, such as Fashion, Food, and Hollywood, many of them inscribed, and several lots of “Signed Books” together with associated framed dust jackets. These books don’t seem terribly special until you peek at the photos -- the signatures are not mere scribbled names, the inscriptions are long and personalized in many cases.

Looks like a fun auction for art collectors, book collectors, foodies, and New York-ophiles. Bon Appetit!

Catalogue Review: Up-Country Letters, #16

Well, Dear Reader, if you’re a frequent follower of this blog, you will understand that I could not pass up the opportunity to review a catalogue titled Transcendentalism. Thoreau and Emerson being longtime favorites (and in that order). Coincidentally, I am just finishing Eden’s Outcasts, the 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner about Louisa May Alcott and her father. So when Up-Country Letters Fine and Rare Books of Gardnerville, Nevada, sent this catalogue to my inbox, ‘twas fate.

Oh to have the four-volume facsimile of the Transcendentalists’ magazine, The Dial, together with two additional volumes of George W. Cooke’s Historical and Biographical Introduction to The Dial ($200)! Another intriguing find is a typed letter signed by Julian Hawthorne, Nathaniel’s son, from 1901 ($90). That alone is mildly interesting, but the content is fantastic. In it, Julian is promoting P.F. Collier’s “World’s Greatest Literature” series, precursor to the Harvard Classics. Several autographs letters of Rev. Theodore Parker are here, of particular interest one written to Emerson introducing a minister ($900).

Norman Kane photograph by Lorne Bair, used with his permission
In September’s digital issue, we featured an interview with Norman Kane. Due to popular request, we have posted the remainder of the interview on the blog in two installments. The first, covering the rest of our book related questions, appeared last week. This second and final installment primarily covers Norman’s experiences in America and Europe preceding his 50+ years as an antiquarian bookman.

In Norman’s own words:

I was born in 1924 during the Consulate of Quiet Cal and grew up in Southeastern Pennsylvania (Delaware & Chester Counties). The first school I went to was a one-room school (although it had a 2nd floor as I remember) and one teacher. The alphabet on large printed cards went around the walls above the blackboards.

I went overseas in 1944 after an interval of various jobs. I was called up for the draft several times but was rejected for poor eyesight and worked in a shipyard, in a paper mill, and as a truck driver but the patriotic bug got me and I signed up to drive an ambulance in the (British) Eighth Army, so I was in Italy for the winter campaign up the mountain chain.
There is surely enough overlap between the book collecting world and the antiques world to make Maureen Stanton’s new book, Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America, a worthy read. Having “embedded” herself with a mid-ranking antiques dealer for several years, Stanton travels to fairs big and little--from Brimfield to second-rate yard sales--seeing both the exciting and the darker sides of antiquing.

The dealer Stanton shadows, Curt Avery (a pseudonym) is a brash character, extraordinarily impressive, if a little rough around the edges. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of antiques, learned in the trenches. Stanton picked well; Avery is great fun to listen to, and viewing the business through his eyes keeps the pace of the book brisk.
Myrna Loy photographed by Ruth Harriet Louise
A touch of Hollywood glamour comes to the Grolier Club tomorrow (September 14) for an exhibition of vintage Golden Age photography. Entitled “Silver Screen / Silver Print” the exhibition will trace the invention and development of the Hollywood glamor photograph. The exhibition will demonstrate how glamour shots were a central part of the star-making apparatus for Hollywood studios, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s, when MGM boasted it had “more stars than there are in the heavens.”

The exhibit will be divided into ten sections, each dedicated to a particular photographer, star, or theme. The stars with their own sections include Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Ramon Novarro, and the last great star of the studio system, Elizabeth Taylor. Photographers George Hurrell, Clarence Sinclair Bull, and Ruth Harriet Louise will each have their own cases. Themes to be covered include Hollywood fashion as promoted by photography and the development of a discernible Paramount Studios house style.

“Silver Screen / Silver Print” is drawn from the collection of Grolier Club member Robert Dance and will be curated by Anne H. Hoy. The exhibition will be on display from September 14 through November 12. While the exhibition is free of charge, a fully-illustrated catalog will be available to purchase.

The Grolier Club is located at 47 East 60th Street in New York City.
Yes, it may only be Monday, but surely you are making bookish plans for next weekend, right? If you’re anywhere in the NY/NJ/DE/MD/PA area, the mid-Atlantic chapter of the ABAA is hosting a mini book fair and sale at the Bookshop in Old New Castle in New Castle, Delaware.
    Thirteen ABAA booksellers have signed on to showcase their books, including Antipodean Books, Between the Covers Rare Books, Black Swan Books, Brian Cassidy Bookseller, Certain Books, Hammer Mountain Book Hall, The Kelmscott Bookshop, Bruce McKittrick Rare Books, Oak Knoll Books, the Old Bookshop of Bordentown, Willis Monie Books, Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts, and Wellread Books.
    And if that weren’t enough, Lilly Library curator (and FB&C columnist) Joel Silver will be there to sign copies of the new trade edition of his Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly: Book Collecting in a Golden Age, just published by Oak Knoll.
    The fair runs from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday the 17th and is sure to be a fantastic time.
Watch and listen as artist Werner Pfeiffer constructs and discusses Out of the Sky: 9/11, his World Trade Center artist’s book/ sculpture. A beautiful work. If you are in/around Princeton, NJ, next weekend, a discussion and reception with Pfeiffer will take place on Saturday, September 17, 2011, at 3:00 in the Chancellor Green Rotunda on the Princeton campus.

Catalogue Review: David M. Lesser, Fine Antiquarian Books, #119

David Lesser’s catalogue is titled Rare Americana, and the subtitle is: a catalogue of significant and unusual imprints relating to America. True, true. Though if he had wanted to, he could have used a more sensational lede like: Murder! Slavery! Adultery! Disease! For the titles that popped out at me were of indelicate (and thus very interesting) subject matter.

In “murder” we have several highlights. A rare 1846 book printed in Kentucky on the Life and Trial of Dr. Abner Baker, who murdered his brother-in-law, whom Baker believed was having an affair with his “nymphomaniac” wife ($750). A little-known racial crime has its day in court with a good+ 1806 edition of Report of the Trial of Dominic Daley and James Halligan, convicted of murdering a young man and throwing him into the Chicopee River ($600). The two were exonerated 178 years later by Gov. Dukakis, who believed them victims of anti-Irish bias. An 1801 Report of the Trial of Jason Fairbanks...for the Murder of Elizabeth Fales is another in this grouping, and there are yet more ($175).

Norman Kane photograph by Lorne Bair, used with his permission
In this month’s digital issue, we published an interview profile of Norman Kane. Due to space constraints, we were forced to edit the interview down from its full length. Thanks to popular request, we are now posting the rest of the interview on the blog. In part one, we will feature the rest of Norman’s answers to bookseller related questions and in part two (to be published next week) we will feature further details from Norman’s interesting personal biography.

And so, without further ado:

NP: What was the first catalog you issued?

NK: A friend of mine, myself, and our wives wandered down to Arch Street in Philly where there were still a lot of businesses selling type. We bought a little hand-press with drawers and drawers of type. Some of which was pied [mixed up]. Never buy pied type! [laughs] I set to work printing a book catalog just from the stuff I’d collected up to that point. I printed up a catalog on nice stationary of surely less than 100 items and probably less than 100 copies, sent it out, and got a few orders. And that was the first catalog.
Next week Heritage Auctions will sell the Jerry Weist Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy Art and Books. Fans of Wells, Lovecraft, Asimov, Clarke, Dick -- rejoice! This incredibly broad and deep collection has complete runs from nearly every publisher in the genre, high-grade pulp magazines, comic books, sci-fi movie posters, and early fanzines.

Tarzan.jpgThis All-Story from October 1912 is a highly coveted item, as it is the first appearance of Tarzan. Edgar Rice Burroughs had only published one story prior to this one, and that under an pseudonym. The cover was designed by Clinton Pettee. The estimate of $8,000-$12,000 reflects some minor condition issues.

Frazetta.jpgThis framed and signed oil on board by Frank Frazetta graced the cover of Ray Bradbury’s 1966 paperback Tomorrow Midnight. Franzetta is considered “the greatest fantasy artist of all time.” The estimate is $40,000-$60,000.

Weist, who died earlier this year, was the type of enthusiastic, active collector who sought not only books and art, but relationships with authors, artists, and other collectors. In HA’s newsletter, rare books manager Joe Fay described a unique feature on many of Weist’s books -- when Weist asked authors to sign books for him, he asked that they draw an outline of their hand and then sign inside the outline.

HandOutline.jpgThis first edition of Philip K. Dick’s Confessions of a Crap Artist (1975) shows the unique signature. So says the catalogue: “Interestingly, Dick was the only author to question Jerry Weist’s habit of asking authors to sign books with their handprints. True to form, Dick thought it was a government conspiracy.” The estimate is $400-$600, although it looks like the online bidding has already pushed it to $2,200 with five more days to go.

The auction will be held on Sept. 12 in Beverly Hills, CA. The full catalogue is here:

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
1942 poster

A new exhibit, focusing on the “machinery” behind American censorship, opens today at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas - Austin. 

“Traditionally, censorship exhibitions start with John Milton’s ‘Areopagitica’ and then provide a list of banned books,” said Ransom Center Assistant Director and Curator for Academic Programs Danielle Sigler. “This approach gives you perspective on which books have been banned over time, but it doesn’t explain why or how censorship took place. This exhibition focuses on how censorship happens in one country, during a particular era.”

The era in question is the Interwar period in America, when the ugly hand of censorship was at its most formidable. The exhibit seeks to answer the question, “How did hundreds of thousands of books, pictures, plays, and magazines come to be banned, burned, seized, and censored in the span of less than 30 years?”

To illustrate this process, the exhibit will feature over 200 items from the Ransom Center collections, focusing particularly on their Morris Ernst materials.  Ernst was the lawyer who successfully defended Ulysses in its 1933 trial for obscenity.  His papers, owned by the Center, will be open for research in late 2011 at the conclusion of a grant-funded project to catalog their contents.  The exhibit will also feature manuscripts edited for obscenity and pirated editions of works such as Ulysses and Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Pirated edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover

The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, the New England Watch and Ward Society, the Book-of-the Month Club, the Post Office Department and the Treasury Department, will all also make appearances.

Banned, Burned, Seized, and Censored will run from September 6, 2011 through January 22, 2012.

(Images are courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.)

- PBA Galleries hosts a Rare Books & Manuscripts sale on 8 September, in 185 lots. The top-estimated lot is a complete set of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, each signed by King and the artist (estimated at $15,000-20,000). A first octavo edition of McKenney and Hall also rates a $15,000-25,000 estimate; a “true first” edition of Cooper’s Water Witch (Dresden, 1830) is estimated at $10,000-15,000, as is a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in a fine binding. Lots 137-185 in this auction include an archive of letters and documents from the family of Benjamin O’Fallon (1793-1842), Indian Agent for the United States on the Missouri.

- Bloomsbury’s got a Conjuring & Circus: Books, Prints, Posters and Apparatus sale on 8 September, in 729 lots.

- Heritage Auctions is selling Historical Manuscripts and Rare Books on 13-14 September in Beverly Hills. The key lot in the manuscripts bunch is the 9 May 1754 Pennsylvania Gazette, containing the first instance of Franklin’s “Join, or die” cartoon. It’s estimated at $100,000-200,000. A July 1788 John Adams letter to John Jay concerning ratification of the Constitution rates a $40,000-60,000 estimate. Among the books, there’s a first edition Book of Mormon(est. $80,000+) and an Aitken Bible (est. $40,000+).

- Swann Galleries will sell Part I of Eric Caren’s How History Unfolds on Paper collection on 15 September, in 355 lots. Watch for my profile of this sale in the next issue of FB&C. Highlights include Charles II’s commission to Edmund Andros to take possession of New York (est. $100,000-150,000); a rare first American broadside copy of the famous diagram of the slave ship Brooks (est. $15,000-25,000); a copy of William Hubbard’s A Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians in New-England (1677; est. $25,000-35,000) and two fragments of what may be the first printing job done in New York (est. $8,000-12,000).

- Also on 15 September, Bloomsbury holds a Bibliophile Sale, in 417 lots.

- On 22 September, Bloosmbury London sells the Cetus Library: Food & Drink, Agriculture, Gardening and Social History, 1543-1829, in 425 lots.

- Christie’s London will hold a Travel, Science and Natural History sale on 29 September. More info to follow.
Catalogue Review: Callahan & Co., #220

Callahan & Co. of Peterborough, New Hampshire, specializes in books on hunting, angling, and natural history, so if you don’t collect in those areas, you might not think there’s anything for you here -- but you may be wrong. Hemingway collectors will find a gem or two, e.g., Farrington’s Atlantic Game Fishing from 1939 ($95). A second edition, but it contains a six-page introduction by Hemingway. How about collecting the Roosevelt family? A first printing book of Trailing the Great Panda (1929) by Teddy Roosevelt Jr., signed by brother and co-author Kermit Roosevelt, is an account of their hunting expedition in China ($50). The Yacht Racing Log published by the Derrydale Press is an interesting find for boating collectors ($750). It’s a very good copy of a scarce Derrydale title.

Another Derrydale find is Burton Spiller’s Thoroughbred from 1936 ($45). The copy at Callahan’s is unique -- it seems to be a printer’s or proofreader’s copy; it contains none of the usual illustrations, is bound in stiff blue paper covers, and has pencil markings through the text, such as those printers might make when checking pages.

A collection of reproductions of sixty-nine drypoints by Roland Clark--Roland Cark’s Etchings--features wild fowl and game bird scenes ($400). This copy contains an original pencil signed etching as frontispiece and was published in Derrydale, NY, in 1938.  

For those who read or collect naturalists or conservationist writers, there’s a nice copy in green cloth of John Burroughs’ Locusts and Wild Honey from 1900 ($12).

Explore the great outdoors--and a little bit more--in this catalogue. Check them out at Abebooks.
Auction Guide