February 2012 Archives

The Water Babies in the 100 Greatest Books for (Victorian) Kids

Guest Blog
by Catherine Batac Walder

A recent blog post on this site linked to the 100 Greatest Books for Kids. It made me think of children’s books that were extremely popular during their time and wonder what had caused the decline in their status such as Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies.

Around the time this list of 100 Greatest Books for Kids was published, we nipped into an antique shop in Eversley, a village close to ours, and were drawn to St. Mary’s Church right beside the antique shop, where Kingsley had been rector from 1844 until his death in 1875.

St. Mary’s Church in Eversley, the view from Charles Kingsley’s grave.

The Water Babies is the only work of Kingsley that I’ve read so far. I personally couldn’t grasp the idea of Tom, the young boy in the story, turning into a water baby as I thought this new life in the water was even lonelier at first and more unsafe than the cruelty and danger he had faced as a chimney sweep. The idea is for him to learn from his adventures but then it wasn’t his fault that he was born poor and didn’t know much as a chimney sweep. To become a water baby was, I thought, an unfair way to be taught lessons in life. At the end of the tale, he was restored to being a human again. That he didn’t remain a water baby, to me, seemed to have defeated the whole purpose of his transformation and just proved that it was better to be a land baby after all. The first few chapters were strong but it appeared as though his transformation into a water baby was only to keep the adventures going, somehow to create excitement out of the author’s desire to impart a moral fable. Tom’s adventures aren’t as fantastic as those of the hobbits or that certain boy wizard for today’s readers. There didn’t seem to be enough “action” whenever he met someone new. Kingsley (as the narrator addressing a young boy, presumably his youngest child, to whom he dedicated the story) wrote like a firm school teacher. I did enjoy the references to pop culture of that time. His thoughts I didn’t find out of date but there was just a lot of information and he dwelt too much on a single subject, almost sounding too defensive about his arguments.
Many are of the opinion that the decline in popularity of The Water Babies roots from the inclusion of the common prejudices of that time period and insulting references to other races, cultures and religion.* Apparently, most modern editions of the book have an inscription on the copyright page stating that “references that would have little meaning or purpose for the children of today have been omitted.” I haven’t read a modern edition of the book so I’m not sure which parts had been edited out. But then the tale is satirical and as in any such work, the author uses irony that in the end we’re not quite sure if he’s dismissing others or his kind. Undeniably, Kingsley had wit and humor. And if I would think of other things that were admirable about him, I would put on top of the list his niece Mary Kingsley (1861-1900) who was considered to be a woman who belonged to the twentieth century in her desire to affirm the value of different cultures. She was an explorer in West Africa and was a champion of the traditions of indigenous peoples. She challenged the prevailing assumptions of her generation through her passionate concern to understand and safeguard the tribal societies she encountered (Fuller and Fuller, The Story of Eversley Church, 2004, p.19).

Kingsley Centenary Window, the south window of the chancel, designed by Christopher Webb.

Eversley Church was listed in the Domesday Book as a possession of Westminster Abbey. What singles it out among typical English churches is its connection to Charles Kingsley. As you explore the church, you see many memorials, stained glass windows, etc. all relating to Kingsley. The crèche is called “The Water Babies Creche.” There is a stained glass window in the chancel that marks the centenary of Kingsley’s arrival in Eversley as a curate. Installed in 1942, the window shows the figure of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, the heroine of Kingsley’s poem “The Saint’s Tragedy” and the figures on each side are reminiscent of the water babies. My favorite part of the church is the Sarsen Stone that was discovered there in 1940. Geologists identified it as one of the Bagshot series from about 50,000 years ago.

Grave of Charles Kingsley and his wife Fanny at the St. Mary’s churchyard. The Latin epitaph at the base reads “Amavimus, amamus, amabimus” (We loved, we love, we shall love).

Although I’m not a huge fan of The Water Babies, I now associate Charles Kingsley with St. Mary’s Church, the great changes he had made for the parish and the legacy he had left in Eversley, something that the villagers are undoubtedly proud of even to this day.

*I couldn’t find evidence of this theory about its decline in popularity. Even the “studies” I found on some sites point to Wikipedia, which doesn’t suffice. Perhaps FB&C readers could shed some light...

Many thanks to Catherine Batac Walder, a writer living in the UK, for this photo essay. She has previously written for us about Sherlock Holmes and ex-library books.

Kate Carlisle is the author of the Bibliophile Mysteries, featuring a bookbinder who has a tendency to stumble across murder while restoring old books.  The fifth entry in the series, ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE, was released earlier this month.  We recently spoke with Kate about her mystery series, old books, and publishing in digital vs physical format.

NP: Could you tell us a little bit about the new Bibliophile Mystery, One Book in the Grave?

KC: I’d love to! For readers who aren’t familiar with the Bibliophile Mystery series, the books center on pre-eminent bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright, who brings rare books back from the brink of death in her San Francisco workshop. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, every antique book she restores seems to be linked to a modern day murder. (Her guru is trying to help her understand why the universe has chosen her for this peculiar “honor.”) The books have a lot of humor, and I work very hard to give readers a true insight into the art and craft of book restoration.

In ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE (February 2012), Brooklyn has been called in to restore a badly weathered, illustrated copy of Beauty and the Beast. As soon as she sees the book, she recognizes it as the treasured possession of a friend who died under mysterious circumstances. The book was stolen shortly after her friend’s death. Why has it reappeared on the marketplace now, years later? When she goes to the bookstore where the book first reappeared, she discovers the owner lying in a pool of his own blood. Dead. Brooklyn must figure out who is killing people linked to this rare book, before she becomes the next victim.

NP: Could you also tell us about your new Bibliophile novella series?  I know the first volume, Pages of Sin, is available to download now; are there plans for future novellas as well?

KC: PAGES OF SIN is a Bibliophile Mystery novella that came out in January of this year as an ebook exclusive. It’s not a separate series, but more like a bonus Bibliophile Mystery. At the moment, there are no plans for another novella, but I’d love to write another.

NP: As an author with an obvious interest and love of the book as a physical object, how do you feel about the publication of your novella in digital form?  Are there plans to release paper versions?  Does that matter to you?

KC: The irony hasn’t escaped me! (Much like the irony that the first Bibliophile Mystery, HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER, was published in paperback.) The truth is, the books I love as physical objects are those which transcend their “bookishness” and become works of art. I’m talking about the beautiful leather-bound, gilt-edged, illustrated books that one feels honored to hold. The fine books that are celebrated in Fine Books & Collections, to be precise.

I would love, someday, for the Bibliophile Mystery books to be bound so beautifully. In the meantime, I’m happy that my stories, in whatever format, are introducing so many readers to an appreciation of the art form I adore.

There are no plans at this time to publish PAGES OF SIN on paper, but readers who don’t have an ereader can get free software to read the book on their computers. You can email me via www.katecarlisle.com for links to where to get the free software. While on my website, sign up for my mailing list for a chance to win a 513-piece jigsaw puzzle featuring the cover of ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE. It’s gorgeous! You can also read a free excerpt of each of my Bibliophile Mystery novels.

NP: Have you always been interested in rare books?

KC: Always. My father had a small collection of old books, and I remember spending hours looking in awe at the copyright pages of the books. Then when I grew up, I loved to haunt the antiquarian book shops in my town. Each book told two stories - the story on its pages, and the story of who had touched it during its long lifetime. Who read this book? Where did it go? Who wrote it, and who bought it? Did another girl just like me stay up late a hundred years ago, straining her eyes to read by candlelight because she couldn’t bear to close the book?

NP: Do you moonlight as a book restorer, like Brooklyn?

KC: I’ve never restored a book professionally, but bookbinding has been an avocation for years. I’ve taken classes in the book arts for years, and I work hard to get the details right in my books.

NP: What books do you personally collect?

KC: My collection is rather eclectic. I have a beautiful leather bound copy of Walt Whitman poems, which I treasure. I have a 1922 edition of Toto the Bustling Beaver - because no collection would be complete without Toto the Bustling Beaver! I love the illustrations in fairy tales (which is why Beauty and the Beast is the featured rare book in ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE), and I have a lovely edition of fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson.

Book artist (and our book art columnist) Richard Minsky has just unveiled his latest collection -- The Book Art of Thomas Watson Ball. Following in the footsteps of his three highly successful collections of American publishers’ bindings, he assembled this single-artist collection of more than sixty books, dating from 1897 to 1905. Ball was a designer for Harper’s and other turn-of-the-century publishers, and his work was often unattributed (and copied). Writes Minsky, “Ball was a master of silhouette and skyline, and excelled at landscape and marine subjects. His abstract landscapes on book covers predate Kandinsky and other modernists’ ventures in that direction, beginning in 1897.” The exhibition is up now at Minsky’s Hudson, New York, studio, and some of it can be seen online.

Minsky-Ball.jpgThough not intended to be definitive, Minsky’s exhibition will guide scholars and collectors in this area. To that end, Minsky has also produced an exhibition catalogue. Until February 29, a pre-publication discount in in effect for both the limited and deluxe editions. The deluxe edition of twenty-five is signed and numbered with color photos of all books in the exhibition, printed in archival high resolution inkjet, in a hardbound cloth binding by Minsky, based on a T. W. Ball cover design.The limited edition of one hundred is printed in full color on an Indigo 5000 digital offset press and housed in a flexible cloth cover with a gold-stamped panel adapted from a T. W. Ball design, an archival inkjet printed dust wrapper, and polyester protective overwrap

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If you haven’t had the chance yet, now’s the time to see The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which just won the Oscar for Best Animated Short.

OFFICIAL PHOTO - 2012 AD Greenroom at Academy Awards®.JPG
Architectural Digest’s 10th Annual Signature Greenroom at the 84th Academy Awards®. Credit: Roger Davies for Architectural Digest

Every year Architectural Digest designs an exclusive backstage lounge for Oscar presenters and honorees. This year, that greenroom has a designer library, too.

Thatcher Wine of Juniper Books in Boulder, Colorado, was called on by this year’s AD Greenroom designer, Waldo Fernandez, to fill the room’s empty bookshelves. Fernandez’s overall design evokes the Hollywood of the 1930s and 40s, with references to the glamorous parties of director George Cukor. Wine ran with that idea, imagining shelves of books that look like vintage film reels.

Juniper Books Oscars Green Room Library.jpg
A portion of the library prior to installation. Courtesy of Thatcher Wine. 

“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences gave me access to their archives,” he said. “I picked out classic film scenes, then printed them on book jackets.” All of the photographs he chose are recognizable, fit to a new medium. As anyone who has seen Wine’s custom dust jackets (FB&C profiled his work last fall) can attest, the effect is incredible. “There is no one else in the world who does what I do with the book jackets, so this was the perfect project for me to come up with a never-before-seen idea ... I am so honored to be a part of it,” he said.

Wine flew out to Los Angeles earlier this week to personally install the library backstage at the Kodak Theatre in anticipation of Sunday’s 84th annual Academy Awards.

While it’s not the first library in an AD Greenroom, it is certainly one in which the books don’t just blend into the background. “The idea being that books are relaxing and help calm the presenters before going on stage. My library calms and also inspires with a dose of film history and nostalgia,” Wine said.

What’s underneath the jackets? A selection of entertainment biographies and books about film, he said. When Wine works on a project like this, he leaves it up to the client whether they want a curated collection or just props behind the art.

Our series profiling the next generation of antiquarian booksellers continues today with Brooke Palmieri, a young American working in London for Sokol Books.

brooke.jpgNP: What is your role at Sokol Books?

BP: The ends of the job are to catalogue our stock in pre-1640 English and Continental books, but the means are paved with e-mails, InDesign, VAT returns, auction catalogues, etc. etc. I do whatever is necessary to keep day to day business running. It’s great to learn how to run a business, and the added bonus is, I’m serving my time in Admin in order to play with the old books later on in the day.

NP: How did you get started in rare books?

BP: I was an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania, and I had this idea that dealing with original materials would give me a better sense of why Literature is sometimes written with a capital “L”. So before the start of the year I went to the Rare Book Library and asked for a job. John Pollack gave me one, and I’ve been gratefully losing sleep at night and waking up in the morning for this stuff ever since. From day one, John told me that the cardinal rule was that if you saw a book that interested you, you should stop what you were doing and spend time with it. You don’t often find that kind of generosity with 400 year old books at age 19, and it’s an experience I value more as time goes on. So now I’m a little closer to unlocking the mystery behind that capital “L” for Literature, and when I go back home to Philly now, visiting the library is as essential as visiting my parents.

Favorite or most interesting book (or etc) you’ve handled?

BP: I try to keep a blog about the things that interest me most: http://eightvo.wordpress.com.  But I’m very impressionable and so it’s usually the book I’m cataloguing at the moment. There is a copy of one of Jean Bodin’s (many) works on witchcraft: Le Feau des Demons et Sorciers on my desk at the moment. It’s the latest of several books on witchcraft and magic we’ve acquired, including Reginald Scot’s Discovery of Witchcraft, a book that argues with Bodin. The 16th century has always been a draw for me because the disciplinary boundaries are very supple.  Bodin draws together everything from folk songs to medical recipes, psychological studies, astronomy and theology to make his point about the evils of magic, and in this case, with serious legal consequences he a hand in determining. It’s just goes to prove that in the 16th Century, you’ve got to be a Jack-of-all-trades, an ambition of mine which I think resonates with anyone in the book trade. Plus if all else fails I can make some money moonlighting as a palm reader.

NP: What do you personally collect?

BP: I don’t think I am rigorous or wealthy enough to call it collecting so much as “giving stuff a home”.  In addition to the clutter of books on books and poetry, the latest things under my roof are: 1) in-house newsletters by a Bristol stationary company, E. S. A. Robinson, about type and design and marketing paper bags (printing paper bags with logos is apparently “their idea” and it made them a fortune), and 2) After reading a book Television Horror Movie Hosts I have been on the lookout for any ephemera related to the regional American phenomenon that often found news anchors and weatherman pretending to be vampires on TV at night, especially John Zacherle. Finally, I have been trying with minor success to keep up with the Occupy movement. It’s the most exciting and important thing to happen to politics, and aside from the vitality of its message and the dialogue it’s created, much of the forcefulness comes from striking design. When content and form are unified in such bold ways as that, it’s important to start paying attention as well as to start archiving.


What do you love / hate about the book trade?

BP: Love: the sprawling community of experts in very diverse & strange fields. Hate: that the community is so sprawling, I only see some of my top 100 favorite people in the world once a year!!

NP: As an American living in London, what do you notice about the difference between bookselling in Britain and bookselling in America?

BP: The book trade here has a very rich dynastic history. Maggs, Quaritch, Sotheran, Pickering & Chatto all originate in the 18th and 19th centuries, and all have killer reference libraries and the benefit of accumulated wisdom, which gives quite a magnetism to the city when combined with the British Library and the major auction houses. In America the trade really smacks of Manifest Destiny: I have met many booksellers striking their own path from very diverse backgrounds. We all have a story of how we stumbled upon the book trade, and it’s usually stumbling that does it, but the influence of London makes for very distinct common ground (& work experience) between booksellers here, as opposed to in the States.

NP: Any expatriate American bookseller stories to share? 

BP: Rule Number One: Your Visa is Precious. Thanksgiving Day 2010: I’m all grown up & on the Eurostar to Paris to pick up a book we’d acquired. Having done an MA at Oxford the year before, I was traveling on the (now defunct) Tier 1 Post-Study Visa. It was otherwise a great day wandering around Pere Lachaise, the Gustav Moreau museum, Christmas shopping, and picking up the book. What could feel like more of an arrival into the glamorous world of antique bookdealing than this? Imagine my shock-horror later, when I was detained & interviewed for 4 hours at the Gare du Nord. In official terms I was ‘refused re-entry into the UK’, a serious catch-all term for many kinds of transgressions, some criminal, although in my case it was a bureaucratic mix-up.
Did I mention the book was a second edition of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili? So I was stuck in Paris with a hundred thousand dollar book in my bag. Two things kept me from total meltdown that night: collating the book (I will never forget: *4 a-y8 z10 A-E8 F4) and trying to figure out the plot of a French-dubbed episode of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman with special guest star Johnny Cash. It was very dramatic. By the end of the weekend my partner had rescued me (actually maybe that’s what kept me from meltdown) and was headed back to London to deliver the book to Sokol. I was headed back to Philly to sort though piles of paper to send to the Border Agency. It took three months and lots of legal advice to fix things. Who would have thought the pursuit of one of the beauties of early Italian printing would have taught me so much about immigration law?

NP: Do you want to open your own shop someday?

BP: Yes, but the gestation period for my ambition in that area has years to go, so there’s no knowing when or where it’ll happen. I have a lot of ideas, one is pairing artists’ books and fine press with older books. Mother books and daughter books. I am frequently struck by contemporary works that make me think: cite your sources! So that’s what I’ll do: I’ll take issues in intellectual history and render them visual.  I’ll be very heavy-handed and persnickity in the way I curate, using the order of the books to add new context and value to each of the individual titles across many time periods. Marc Jacobs does it with handbags and fashion books, I’ll do it with new books and old books. That’ll be Brooke’s Books. Or whatever I’ll call it. Community is important, so there will also be very many worthwhile parties, as often as possible.

NP: Thoughts on the future of the book trade?

BP: The quality and quantity of other young booksellers you’ve interviewed on this blog answers this question much better than I.

Published to accompany an exhibit this spring at Yale’s Beinecke Library, Remembering Shakespeare (Yale University Press, 2012) is everything a good exhibition catalog should be: short, but thorough; well-designed, and pleasurable to read and to look at. If I can, I certainly hope I’ll be able to get to New Haven and view the show in person, but this excellent catalog will serve as a good stand-in should that prove impossible. 

David Scott Kastan and Kathryn James have encapsulated the exhibit well, highlighting not just the major themes, but also the fact that this is an exhibit about Shakespeare at Yale, not just Shakespeare at the Beinecke. Items from the collections of the Elizabethan Club, the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, the Lewis Walpole Center, and the Yale Center for British Art are also on display, and their inclusion makes for a much richer, more satisfying experience. 

The short chapters are well-written and crisp; there’s not a superfluous word, and as it should the text continues to return to the main theme, on the very different ways Shakespeare has been “remembered” over the centuries. The illustrations are reproduced very well, and the overall design is attractive. A great success; if the exhibit comes anywhere near the high quality of the catalog, I’m sure it’s just as much worth viewing as the book is worth reading.
While we are always told not to collect books based on assumptions of future value, all of us make the occasional purchase with an eye to future profit.  Collecting based on your personal interests remains the best policy.  But when you’re around old books long enough, you can hardly deny yourself the occasional speculative purchase. And thus buying rare books is similar to buying stocks.

As someone who has dabbled in both speculative book and stock purchases, I enjoyed Jeff O’Neal’s piece on “picking literary stocks” over at BookRiot.  O’Neal rated a handful of contemporary authors with Buy, Sell, or Hold ratings.  His judgements:

Buy: Philip Roth, Alan Moore, Suzanne Collins

Sell: Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Safran Foer, Joan Didion

Hold: Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, George R. R. Martin

O’Neal is, of course, discussing the literary futures of each author and not necessarily commenting on their present or future collectability.  (Although the two are often bound up together).  But it’s similar to the judgement call that rare book dealers, or even special collections libraries, try to make all the time.  (See the recent article in the Atlantic about this kind of speculation at the Harry Ransom Center). 

LawrenceBettmannCorbis4.jpgA visionary librarian, or collector, would have done well to build a D. H. Lawrence collection, for example, around the time of his death.  Lawrence’s reputation was mostly in ruins and his obituaries were borderline hostile, with the notable and lasting exception of E. M. Forster’s notice in the Nation.  Forster described Lawrence as “the greatest imaginative novelist of our generation;” comments which would spurn a critical re-evaluation of Lawrence’s work and pave the way to his current status as one of the great writers of the 20th century.

In short, you just never know.  But it’s fun to play the game.

So, what authors, dead or alive, would you rate as Buy, Sell, or Hold?

Later this week Swann Galleries will auction the libraries of two American private press collectors. Expect to see books from Ashendene, Bird & Bull, Doves, Golden Cockerel, Gregynog, Kelmscott, Nonesuch, as well as more contemporary printers like The Limited Editions Club, Janus, Arion, and many more. It is a great opportunity for those who are actively collecting private press books--there is both a variety of printers and price points (estimates range from the low hundreds to the tens of thousands).

Among the highlights in the 281-lot auction is this Kelmscott Chaucer, regarded as the most famous modern private press book. It is one of 425 copies printed by William Morris in Hammersmith in 1896. Estimated at $30,000-50,000, this one is in original holland-backed boards.
Catalogue Review: Aleph-Bet Books, #100

Screen shot 2012-02-16 at 10.49.27 PM.pngEarlier this week Scholastic’s Parent & Child Magazine ranked the “100 Greatest Books for Kids.” How and why? You can read about their methodology here, but in essence, they winnowed down a selection of five hundred considering “literary and/or illustration excellence, popularity, and longevity or innovative freshness.”

As I happened to be perusing the newest catalogue from Aleph-Bet Books of Pound Ridge, NY, a long-time specialist in fine children’s and illustrated books, it was interesting to note the overlap.

For example, No. 1 on Scholastic’s list is Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. It should come as no surprise to see this book in the top spot, and it was one of the most collectible children’s books. Aleph-Bet has an inscribed first edition ($28,500). No. 17 on the Scholastic list is Dorothy’s Kunhardt’s Pat the Bunny, still a favorite seventy-two years after publication. Aleph-Bet has a fine copy in the publisher’s box from 1940 ($5,000). No. 20 on the Scholastic list is Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. Aleph-Bet has a signed first edition with an original poem by Silverstein on the endpapers ($2,500). You see what I’m getting at here!

But the other great thing about this catalogue is the extensive variety. So while the high spots are here, there are also some wonderful surprises. I, for one, was glad to see Elizabeth Coatsworth’s Night and the Cat, this copy with laid-in handwritten note from the author to a fan ($950). I enjoyed being introduced to a Bauhaus children’s book, Mein Vogel Paradies by Carl Ernst Hinkefuss, published in Berlin in 1929. A limited and signed copy with incredible modernist illustrations ($12,000).  And the limited edition copy of Gertrude Stein’s The World is Round signed by both the author and Clement Hurd, the illustrator, is also a treat ($1,800).

With 600 items to see in this 100th catalogue, all in full-color, you are bound to miss something great. So go back and look again: http://www.alephbet.com/catalogs.php.
Our series profiling the next generation of antiquarian booksellers continues today with Rob Fleck of Oak Knoll Books in New Castle, Delaware. Rob’s father, Bob, founded Oak Knoll Books in 1976.

NP: Considering your father owns Oak Knoll, you must’ve grown up around old and rare books.  Did you develop an interest in rare books early in life?  Or did you come to it later?

RF: I actually wasn’t a big reader when I was a child. However, my interest for antiquarian books came with the subject matter. My grandfather was a war veteran from World War II (navigator on a B-24 based out of southern Italy) and I was lucky enough to have my grandparents move from Chicago to New Castle, DE when I was born. I was always around them as they only lived two blocks down the street. Anyway, because of him and his experience in WWII, I became fascinated with the history of the war. I started to read personal memoirs, historical accounts, and interviews which helped me build my (extremely small) library of books concerning WWII. I even have all 18 missions of my grandfather’s navigation logs, including a few training missions, which caused me to visit a few flea markets to see if any WWII memorabilia was for sale. Even though the official date of the war was from 1939 - 1945, not many books survived from that time period, making it that much more exciting!

NP: On a related note, did you always plan to go to work at Oak Knoll or did you consider other options / fields first?

RF: Well, I graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Psychology because I was interested in the way people formed relationships and how those relationships affect them throughout life (my favorite psychologist to study was Erik Erikson). I always viewed myself as a ‘people-person’, so why not make a profession of it?


What do you personally collect?  And did you start collecting at a young age?

RF: Going back to my Grandfather, I love collecting WWII memorabilia. However, I am definitely interested in 17th and 18th century art, particularly portraits. I also enjoy Howard Pyle and John Schoonover, however who doesn’t like those talented Delaware artists?

NP: Favorite book (or etc) you’ve handled?

We had a lovely copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer in pig-skin and boards. I always found Kelmscott titles to be beautiful not just because of the extravagant woodcuts, but wanting to make the book more than just a reading object affected the book trade entirely. However, if you were to ask my father, I feel that he may say his page of the Gutenberg Bible that he had over 20 years ago would be pretty high up there as well.

NP: What do you love about the book trade?

RF: For me the one thing that I love more about the book trade more than anything else is simple: the people. Going to book fairs is one of my favorite tasks to do for Oak Knoll. Many members of the ABAA/ILAB are extremely caring, nice, interesting individuals that all share the same interests. Very few of them don’t go out of their way to help you if you have a problem. Not to mention the countless amazing stories about bookselling and book collecting that are told around a shared bottle of wine.

NP: Do you plan to take over Oak Knoll Books one day, or to start your own venture?

RF: Absolutely! I feel that Oak Knoll will always have a place in antiquarian bookselling because of the subject matter in which we deal in. However, I have always been an avid home chef, and while some booksellers think that antiquarian books and food don’t mix very well, I think that it would create the ultimate ‘comfort food’ to have an antiquarian book store and a restaurant in the same establishment. However, this could just be some crazy idea from a young bookseller!

NP: Any thoughts to share on the future of the book trade?

RF: It will get tougher, that’s for sure. I can see many of our bibliography titles migrating to free online databases, but many of our books aren’t necessarily about the content, it’s about the collectability. However, we have very good customers of ours whose collecting interests are strictly bibliography. Other subjects including bookbinding, printing, and typography, are collectible on their own. Books like these could have illustrations of bookbinding and printing tools, or big bold woodblock lettering that gives them that sex appeal.

NP: Tell us about your new catalogue, your involvement with it, and how to obtain a copy:

RF: Our newest general catalogue 298 actually came out in late January, 2012. We had some large (and very exciting) collections that came in during 2011 that we had to split up into multiple catalogues. Our newest special catalogue, #18, features a lovely collection of private press material that we got from a retired, but still practicing, lawyer from Washington, D.C. However, catalogue 299 will be completely designed by myself, typography and all, as I am somewhat familiar with typesetting programs such as Adobe InDesign. You can actually write an email to us at oakknoll@oakknoll.com requesting a physical copy of a catalogue, or you may visit the catalogue section of our website.

Thinking about taking a course at Rare Book School this year? I am! The 2012 course schedule is up, and there are so many to choose from. Our very own columnist, Joel Silver, of IU’s Lilly Library is teaching a new course this year, Reference Sources for Researching Rare Books, which sounds fantastic. I took Alice Schreyer’s Special Collections course several years ago, and it was life changing. RBS also has a certificate program now for those of us who can’t get enough RBS. Speaking of which, have you seen this short video, filmed during last year’s summer session?

153307484.JPGIf you enjoy novels with bookish characters and antiquarian themes, have I got a recommendation for you! Bookseller Stuart Bennett’s debut novel, A Perfect Visit, is the story of a modern-day librarian and graduate student who get involved in a time travel project aimed at acquiring books and manuscripts to bring back to the future for profit and preservation. The American librarian, Ned Marston, travels to Shakespeare’s London to rescue lost quartos and ends up befriending the Bard, while the Canadian student, Vanessa Horwood, hopes to score a Jane Austen manuscript but gets sent to jail soon after meeting the dying author. If you can put aside your misgivings about a time travel plot (and you should, despite Dickens biographer Peter Ackroyd’s statement that “If a late-20th-century person were suddenly to find himself in a tavern or house of the period, he would literally be sick -- sick with the smells, sick with the food, sick with the atmosphere around him” ), Ned and Vanessa’s experiences among famous authors and book collectors make for a perfectly delightful read.

In the postscript, Bennett, formerly with Christie’s rare books department and more recently past president of the ABAA, writes that the working title of this book was “A Bibliographical Romance” -- less creative than the final title, taken from Austen’s Emma, but more descriptive. He goes on to say, “If I have tinkered a little with history, I have done my best not to tinker with bibliography...Every reference to books, authorship, texts, publisher’s imprints, and prices is, as far as I know, accurate.” It brings to mind the PBS slogan, “entertainment without the guilt.”

With big book fairs come big books.  This year in Pasadena was no exception.  Fair highlights included the three volume first edition of Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen’s first novel, offered by Biblioctopus for $65,000.  Biblioctopus also had to hand an impressive copy of Shakespeare’s fourth folio, offered for $180,000.

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Douglas Stewart, a young dealer from Australia, brought along a first edition of The Lord of the Rings inscribed by Tolkien in the Elvish language he invented for the book.  The book sold quickly in the first day.  Stewart also had a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, which he offered for $85,000.

In the realm of the truly unique, Lorne Bair had a personal photo photo album from Adolf Hitler, showing a variety of casual (and mostly unknown) images of Hitler and his lover on holiday.  The album was priced at $65,000.


A special exhibition on display at the fair was entitled “A Love Affair with Books: Personal Stories of Noted Collectors.”  Select items from the collections of Tony Bill, Mary Murphy, and Sarah Michelle Gellar amongst others, were proudly exhibited in glass display cases.  Gellar’s collection of children’s books focused in particular on the works of Arthur Rackham.  She has almost acquired all of Rackham’s illustrated books.

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I had the pleasure of attending Mark Dimunation’s excellent lecture “Jefferson’s Legacy,” about the building of the Library of Congress’ rare book collections.  Dimunation, the head of rare books at the LOC, spoke about the nation’s library as being a “collection of collections.”  The first collection acquired by the nation, of course, was Thomas Jefferson’s famous personal library.  Jefferson sold his truly outstanding collection of books to the US government in 1815 for $24,0000.  The 6,487 volumes in Jefferson’s library became the basis for the Library of Congress.  Two-thirds of Jefferson’s books, however, were subsequently lost in a fire.  One of Dimunation’s goals in his tenure as Chief of Rare Books has been to reconstruct Jefferson’s library exactly as it was in 1815.  Thus, he set about on a multi-year quest to track down the exact editions of some 4,000 books from the original Jefferson library that were lost in the fire.  Dimunation has almost achieved this ambitious and noble goal.  As of early 2012, there are only 275 books - from three centuries of printing and in nine different languages - left to acquire. 

Dimunation also spoke about some of the other key collections that have become cornerstones of the national library: the personal collections of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Harry Houdini, as well as several major private collections of Americana and Lincolniana.  Two of Dimunation’s favorite acquisitions, from two separate Whitman collectors, are a copy of Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, inscribed to Walt Whitman, and a copy of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, inscribed to Thoreau.  The two giants of American literature met each other once in Brooklyn in 1856, where a walk in the park saved a stalled conversation.  Whitman and Thoreau exchanged their books at the end of their walk before they parted, never to meet again.  The books are now happily reunited, facing each other, on display at the Library of Congress.

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Day two just wound down at the California Antiquarian Book Fair in Pasadena and the general mood amongst booksellers remained upbeat and positive.  John Crichton of Brick Row Book Shop in San Francisco, said that overall the fair had gone “exceptionally well.”  Lorne Bair, of Lorne Bair Rare Books in Virginia seconded the opinion as he discussed the “really pleasant venue, packed with a lot of people.”  Crichton chuckled when he said that the whole experience remained “unstressful” despite “the [onsite] bar closing too early.” 

The busy crowd included a wide variety of ages.  I spoke with two members of the Canadian punk rock band Terrorist, who are playing a show tonight in Los Angeles.  This was their first antiquarian book fair, which they stopped by on a whim.  They called the fair “eye-opening” and “kind of surreal,” as they expressed surprise at seeing such expensive books -- especially those that “you can just check out for free at the library.”

Another young reader, Christina Donatelli, was also attending her first book fair.  She will be traveling to Denmark next week and was amazed when a bookseller handed her a copy of a first edition of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales, complete with the author’s signature.  The bookseller told her that hardly anyone in Denmark had ever held a book signed by Andersen.

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As the fair finished day two, most booksellers seemed in a good mood with foot traffic and sales remaining high and steady throughout the day.

I will be posting again about this busy day at the fair covering the excellent lecture from Mark Dimunation of the Library of Congress about the formation of the core LOC collections, the special exhibitions on display, and some fair highlights brought along by booksellers..


fair 1.JPGAfter a late departure, stalled by dense fog (which is virtually unheard of in the high desert of Bend, Oregon), I arrived at the 45th annual California Antiquarian Book Fair around 6:00 p.m, just in time for the last two hours of the day.  This was the first year that the Los Angeles Book Fair was held at the convention center in Pasadena, moving away from its long time home at the Century Plaza Hotel on the west side of LA.  The general mood among booksellers was that the change was a big improvement.  All the booksellers were together in one spacious, open area, a nice contrast from the winding corridors of the Century Plaza.  The lighting - bright and clear - was another improvement commented upon by several booksellers.  Hosea Baskin, of Cumberland Rare Books, in Northampton, Massachusetts, referred to the new venue as “clean and sparkly and delightfully un-antiquarian.”  Teri Osborn, of William Reese Co., and one of our profiles in the Bright Young Things series, said that there was “a lot of foot traffic” and overall sales “seemed alright.”  Tom Congalton, of Between the Covers Rare Books, also mentioned that the there was good amount of the usual pre-fair activity amongst dealers.

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I spoke with a young fair attendee named Caitlin Getz, who at 23 years old was attending her first antiquarian book fair.  She found the experience “amazing” and “mind-blowing” and was clearly enjoying a leisurely stroll amongst the medieval manuscripts, first editions, and signed photographs.

By the time 8:00 pm rolled around, the fair activity had died down considerably, and the book dealers commenced making plans for dinner and drinks in the old town of Pasadena.  Tom Congalton succinctly summed up the mood for day two: “We’re hopeful.”

I’ll be posting again tomorrow with two entries about Saturday at the book fair.

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of ‘going home again’ so to speak. Drew University Library in Madison, New Jersey, has been holding a series of conversations on collecting. Drew is where I did my graduate work in book history, and where I stayed on to work in the library’s archives for several years. This past fall, the library held a talk on collecting Byron and Whitman with collector Norman B. Tomlinson, and another on collecting political ephemera with Dr. James Fraser. This past week, collector and Rev. John McEllhenney, whose particular interests are Methodism, Robert Frost, and Welsh poet R.S. Thomas, gave a wonderful talk that he titled “Evolution of a Bookish Magpie.”

thomas.jpgMcEllhenney recalled a childhood love of books, but credited Fred Maser, a major collector of prayer books, with really sparking his interest in collecting in the 1950s and 60s. When a parishioner gave him a signed copy of Frost’s A Further Range, he was well on the path to bibliomania, but he felt that a real collection of Frost might be beyond his pocket. His advice to collectors, particularly those without an inheritance: “Find something to collect that you think will grow in value.” Then, in 1974, he read a review of R.S. Thomas’ Selected Poems, bought it, and enjoyed it so much, he decided that Thomas, also a fellow clergyman, would be the focus of his collecting activity.

Not only did McEllhenney voraciously collect Thomas in all forms, he made several trips to Wales to meet him during the 1990s (the poet died in 2000). He had the pleasure--unknown to most collectors--of conversing with, exchanging letters with, even touring the countryside with the object of his collecting life. It is a heartwarming story for any bibliophile.  

McEllhenney has given much of his R.S. Thomas collection--including more than 200 books, 100 periodicals, essays, articles, reviews, typescripts, sound recordings, and ephemera--to Drew, as well as his Frost holdings. He surprised the audience this past week by handing over two more Thomas books, signed by the author to his wife with an elegant cross for a signature.
Our series profiling the next generation of antiquarian booksellers continues today with Brad and Jen Johnson, proprietors of The Bookshop in Covina, California.

NP: How did you both get started in rare books?

BJ: At the tender age of fifteen ­ before I knew any better ­ I answered an ad for an “apprentice bookseller” in my high school bulletin. This past December, I celebrated my 19th years in the trade. Jen, a former newspaper reporter and public relations executive, dove in headfirst when we purchased the shop. She was recently accepted as an Associate Member of the ABAA.

NP: When did you take over The Book Shop?

BJ: We purchased The Book Shop in October 2006 from Brad¹s mentor Roger Gozdecki, who now operates Anthology Rare Books in Pasadena, California.

NP: What roles do each of you play within the company?

BJ: We make an excellent team, and collaborate in many aspects of the business. Jen manages the finances and public relations, while I am responsible for the lion¹s share of the buying and cataloguing books.

NP: Tell us about your shop in Covina:

Established in 1981, The Book Shop is located in the heart of downtown Covina, about 20 miles east of Los Angeles. Our shop is open six days a week and houses an inventory of some 30,000 titles, ranging from the general second-hand to the truly antiquarian.

NP: Have you found it challenging to maintain a brick-and-mortar store in the age of online bookselling?

BJ: Like any small business, it can be challenging. However, we have found that as bookstores are closing around us, The Book Shop has become more of a destination for those who hunger for the opportunity to browse the stacks and let serendipity lead the way.

NP: What do you love about the book trade?

BJ: First and foremost, the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge. We also love the thrill of the hunt and the satisfaction of placing a book in the right hands.

NP: Favorite book (or etc) you’ve handled?

BJ: A few years ago, we acquired an early 17th century English law text with a chained binding complete with the iron chain. More recently, we handled a great Edgar Allan Poe collection that included the February 1845 issue of The American Review containing the first appearance of The Raven.

NP: What do you personally collect?

BJ: We have a small collection of books either personally inscribed to us or handed down through generations. Brad tends toward ancient history and European noir, while Jen likes quirky books, such as “Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods” (1910), a fantasy field guide to the mythical creatures of North America.

NP: Any thoughts to share on the future of the book trade?

BJ: Early in my bookselling career, I spent countless hours combing the pages of AB Bookman¹s Weekly. Now my days are web based. The trade is constantly evolving, but much remains the same. As booksellers, we are locating materials and constructing narratives around them that reflect their significance and scarcity. I feel as though my generations of booksellers are telling original and dynamic narratives that are inspiring new collectors while also respecting the traditions of the trade. As such, I am
bullish on the future of the trade.

NP: Tell us about your new collective catalogue and how to get a copy:

BJ: Our friends in the trade are like family to us, and we really look forward to every opportunity to come together and share our experiences, knowledge, and passion for what we do. It is in that spirit that The Collective came together.

As I recall, the idea was formed during a conversation I had with my brother Josh Mann of B&B Rare Books in New York during the 2011 Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair. The concept was to feature a small selection of books representative of each firms¹ inventory, while also generating excitement for the California book fairs this February. It was a lot fun working collaboratively and thanks to Jen¹s design skills, the final product looks fantastic.

You can obtain a copy of the collective by emailing brad@bookshopllc.com and let him know if you would like to be mailed a hard copy or would like a PDF.

(Photo Credit: Teri Osborn)
Nearly a year after bookseller Peter Howard’s death, Bonhams is holding the first of many auctions to dissolve the store’s stock this Sunday. This first auction is chock-full of amazing books and art, John Steinbeck material leading the pack with a typed manuscript of “The Pearl of the World,” the original version of his novel, The Pearl, estimated at $15,000-20,000. Another highlight is James Joyce’s rare self-published broadside poem, Gas from a Burner. Its estimate is $12,000-18,000.

whitman.jpgBut surely there is room for serendipity at this auction, as a peruse through the catalogue verifies. How about this portrait (seen above) of Walt Whitman looking like Rip Van Winkle by the Philadelphia artist Gladys Logan Winner, c. 1910. The estimate is only $600-900.

welles.jpgOr these original gouche on paper sketches of costume designs for an unknown production, unsigned but attributed to Orson Welles -- one of the figures clearly resembles him. The estimate for these bold and beautiful sketches is $3,000-5,000.

jeffers.jpgThere’s also a wonderful collection of Robinson Jeffers books and letters spread over fourteen lots. Having just learned about Jeffers’ Tor House and Hawk Tower from our winter issue’s article on literary spots in Big Sur, I can better appreciate the warm inscription and architectural sketch he placed on the front flyleaf of this copy of Roan Stallion, Tamar and Other Poems.

To view the full auction catalogue and experience the serendipity for yourself, click here.

To read more about the heyday of Serendipity Books, here’s an article from our winter issue about one writer’s encounter with the legendary bookstore. Kurt Zimmerman also posted an appreciative essay about Peter Howard on his American Book Collecting site.

In addition to shelf sales at the store in Berkeley, Bonhams intends to sell other material from Serendipity Books within these scheduled 2012 auctions: Fine Photography in New York on May 8, Period Art & Design in San Francisco on April 15 and May 20, Made in California in Los Angeles on May 21, Fine Books and Manuscripts in New York on June 19, and Entertainment Memorabilia in Los Angeles on June 24.
UPDATE: Since the post was originally published, the window to become a book giver on World Book Night has closed.  Keep an eye on their website or follow them on Twitter in case they put out another call.

In a move calculated to warm the cockles of any book lover’s heart, April 23, 2012 has been dubbed World Book Night.  In theory, 50,000 volunteers across the United States and Britain will each hand out free copies of twenty books.  That’s 1,000,000 free books being released into the world on a single night.

Anyone can sign up to be a book giver.  The requirements are simple: you must pick up twenty copies of a book of your choice (from a generous list of thirty titles) at a local library or bookshop and give them away to people who either don’t read, or read very little, over the course of the evening.  The idea is to inject some of the joy and enthusiasm of reading into the non-reading population.

The list of titles selected for World Book Night is impressive, containing massive bestsellers (such as The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Stand by Stephen King), popular literary fiction (including The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving), and genre standouts (such as Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton).  Each copy will be released by its publisher in a special World Book Night edition, not intended for re-sale.

Well, I’m not so sure about the “not intended for re-sale” part.  It will be interesting to see how these World Book Night editions fare on the antiquarian market in the years to come.

In the meantime, it’s a noble idea and I applaud the idealism behind it.  I hope April 23, 2012 is the first of many successful World Book Nights in the years ahead.
Coming up on Thursday of the week, Heritage Auctions will hold a large auction of rare books and manuscripts in Beverly Hills, where the heavy hitters will be a first edition of Hemingway’s Three Stories & Ten Poems inscribed to Margaret Anderson, a Pony Express Bible in its original binding, a complete set of first editions of Dickens’ Christmas books, some Poe, some Melville, and a few others.

Pockets.jpgAs I perused the collection, one of the lots of greatest interest to me is a collection of Pocket Books, including a complete run of the first 1,257 titles, published in New York between 1939 and 1960. These little paperbacks with their vibrant cover illustrations for novels like Lost Horizon and The Maltese Falcon are incredible cultural artifacts, and to see them as a group must be stunning. Another collector had all the fun of acquiring this incredible collection, but someone else can now have the pleasure of it as a standing collection. Much as I’d love to have them--and enough bare bookshelves to shelve them--it would be best for them to end up at an institution with an interest in mid-twentieth-century reading habits, publishing, and print culture. I can imagine great projects that could arise from such a collection in such a complete form. The estimate is $1500--a bargain, in my opinion.

Pockets2.jpgAnother fun find is a first limited edition of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 that has been signed by the author a total of four times to the same owner, “Ted.” Signed once upon publication in 1953, again 1969, then in 1982, and finally in 1990. What a neat story that book has to tell.

I feel at odds to pluck a few items here and there to highlight from this big and varied sale, but others that caught my eye include an early Virginia imprint of Peter Cottom’s The Whole Art of Book-Binding...(1824), a first edition of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land from Margaret Anderson’s personal collection, and a set of of The Book Lover’s Almanac from 1893-1897.

You can view the catalogue online and begin the bidding straight away, as Heritage has already opened the auction to online bidders.
A reader wrote in to us to ask for help in gathering information about some Redoute rose prints (chromolithographs?) she has. I’m posting a picture in the hope that someone out there might have some information about the publisher, Henry B. Sandler of NYC (printed on its verso).

Screen shot 2012-02-05 at 8.35.40 PM.png Our reader has done some Googling and found the same rose print in brighter colors, with the words “Bouquet No. 3” printed below the image. Hers lacks that, having only “P. J. ReDoute” under the image. I’m also showing below the more colorful version offered by J. Manley Gallery. Comment below or email me at rebecca at finebooksmagazine.com if you can help solve this mystery!


Catalogue Review: ReadInk Books, No. 3

Cat 3 cover for website.jpgYou can be sure that ReadInk of Los Angeles will be exhibiting at next week’s California International Antiquarian Book Fair in nearby Pasadena. Whether or not you can make it there, you can peruse their latest catalogue -- an exceedingly clever booklet arranged in an ABC format, e.g. A is for Appel, a “hardboiled writer”; B is for Booze; C is for Cowboys.

I, for one, like the W section, with one book falling under each journalistic query, Who, What, When, Where, and Why. What Actors Eat -- When They Eat, a compilation of recipes from the radio and screen actors of the 1930s looks like a hoot ($125). In the Zs, a second printing of Stefan Zweig’s The Tide of Fortune caught my eye ($200). Zweig is, as the catalogue states, “in perhaps permanent eclipse” as a writer, but he was also a major music collector.

One of the great treasures buried in this visually interesting catalogue is a VG+ first edition of Nancy Mitford’s Wigs on the Green, which so distressed her family that she barred reprints until after death ($4,000). So states our friendly bookseller here in the catalogue: “I actually don’t expect to ever see another copy after I sell this one to you, but such is the lot of the dedicated bookseller.” This book, by the by, is under S for Sisters; another Mitford gem, a near fine first of Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Death, is filed under F for Funeral ($50).

This is a fun catalogue, full of neat mid-twentieth-century books usually in dust jackets, that veers (or leers) toward the underbelly of literature -- where D is for Deranged with 1947’s If a Man Be Mad ($250) and Q is for Queer with 1964’s My Son, The Daughter ($50).

Browse it all here, or see them in Pasadena next week!
Charles Dickens turns 200 next week and commemorative exhibitions are already in full swing across the globe.  (Check out the Morgan Library, here in the States, or Dickens 2012 for a variety of events in Britain).  But a particularly interesting bit of news came out yesterday when the Guardian reported that a Cambridge scholar and skilled researcher, Ruth Richardson, had uncovered the real-life inspirations for several classic Dickens characters.

It began when Richardson discovered a four-story workhouse from the 1770s in Cleveland Street, London, which was likely the inspiration for the notorious workhouse in Oliver Twist.  (Read more about that story from the Telegraph).  Richardson then stumbled across a peculiar fact previously missed by Dickens researchers: Cleveland Street was formerly known as Norfolk Street.  Biographers had long known that Dickens lived in an apartment above a corner shop at 10 Norfolk Street, but they assumed the building had disappeared ages ago.  Richardson re-discovered the building, now at the address 22 Cleveland Street. Thus Dickens lived a scant nine doors away from the infamous workhouse.

Richardson then delved deeper into the life and times of the Cleveland Street neighborhood in Dickens’ day, revealing several more surprises:

  • A “William Sykes” sold tallow and wax at 11 Cleveland Street. (Possible inspiration for Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist)
  • A “Mr. Sowerby” owned a nearby pub.  (Possible inspiration for the undertaker Sowerberry in Oliver Twist)
  • A “Dan Weller” cobbled shoes across the street from Dickens’ flat. (Possible inspiration for Sam Weller in the Pickwick Papers)
  • A “Mrs. Corney” sold and repaired gloves nearby and a “Mrs. Malie,” the wife of a local doctor, also lived on the same street.  (Possible inspiration for Mrs Corney and Mrs. Maylie respectively in Oliver Twist).
  • A dancing master was a fellow lodger in Dickens’ building.  (Possible inspiration for the dancing master in Sketches by Boz).
  • A pawnbroker shop was located just up the street. (The plot of Oliver Twist hinges upon a locket pawned from Oliver’s dead mother).
  • Two tradesmen operated a nearby shop under the name of their partnership, “Goodge and Marney.”  (Possible inspiration for “Scrooge and Marley” in the Christmas Carol).

And so the Dickensian Norfolk neighborhood springs to life, thanks to Richardson’s stellar research.  Perhaps these little London lives lived in obscurity have found a lasting immortality in the work of Dickens.

Richardson can be seen on location in London here in a fun little video pointing out the Dickens locations she uncovered on present day Cleveland Street:

Booksellers are packing up and shipping out this week, as many head to California for the San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print and Paper Fair this weekend and the California International Antiquarian Book Fair in Pasadena the following weekend. Last week I reviewed the ‘collective’ catalogue of seven booksellers bound for both fairs. Today I’m taking a look at some other books on their way to the Golden State...

Fleming.jpgBooks Tell You Why, a purveyor of fine first editions and signed books based in South Carolina, is headed to the fair in Pasadena with this stunning copy of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, his first James Bond novel. It is a first edition/first impression in fine condition in first state dust-wrapper. The price is $55,000. Books Tell You Why is also bringing the German translation of the Physica Sacra, in five volumes. The book, concurrently published in Latin, is Johann Jakob Scheuchzer’s famous scientific commentary on the Bible with 762 plates on cosmography, paleontology, zoology, botany, and anatomy. The price is $12,500.

dulac.jpgMoving to booth 221 at the Pasadena fair, you will find fine illustrated and children’s books from Aleph-Bet Books of New York. In addition to a rare inscribed copy of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time ($18,500), they will be bringing the fabulous Edmund Dulac manuscript seen here above. “This is an amazing finished manuscript tale about King Henry, his knights on horseback, medieval lords and a nervous Earl Hugh Bigod and his castle of Bungaye. It appeared as a full page color illustration in the Christmas 1906 issue of the Graphic.” Bound in crimson morocco by Sangorski and Sutcliffe. The price is $40,000.

Beattie-Calif.pngUK-based Simon Beattie is exhibiting at Pasadena for the first time. Among his selection of fine continental books, an intriguing book: Der Orang-Outang in Europa, 1780, the first ‘California’ imprint, though published in Berlin. A satire of life in Poland, it’s anyone’s guess why the printer choose ‘Californien’ as its fictitious place of publication. The price is $3,250. William Godwin, Sergei Diaghilev, and a playbill for Richard Wagner’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen will also be at Beattie’s booth.

Sophie Schneideman Rare Books & Prints of London will be exhibiting at both California fairs. She is bringing a selection of private press books, including some California imprints from the collection of Clarence B. Hanson, Jr. of Birmingham, Alabama. She’ll also have several fine books on food and wine, and an original wood engraving from Lucien Pissarro, Girl Seated on a Grassy Hillside, No. 4 of 20, numbered and signed. The price is $949.
Auction Guide