June 2015 Archives

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, Guernsey’s will auction the World War I poster collection of Colonel Edward H. McCrahon, a Brooklyn-born soldier so passionate about the Allied cause that he joined the French Army as an ambulance driver before his enlistment once America entered the war. McCrahon became enamored of the patriotic posters produced during wartime by the likes of James Montgomery Flagg, Theophile Steinlen, Ludwig Hohlwein, and Howard Christy and spent the next sixteen years collecting what is, according to the auction house, “the most extensive collection of war posters known to exist.” Roughly half of the 2,000-piece collection was produced in the U.S. Here is a sampling:

Leyendecker.jpgUSA Bonds by Joseph Christian Leyendecker, estimated at $2,000-3,000.

Walker.jpgDivision for Foreign Born Women by Howard Walker, estimated at $2,000-3,000.

Booth.jpgHow Much Will You Lend to the Boys Who Are Giving All by Franklin Booth, estimated at $2,000-3,000.

Bibliotherapy - The Healing Power of Books

Talk therapy is nothing new, but how about bibliotherapy? I’m not talking about self-help publications, but rather using literature as a means to physical and psychological salvation. And really, who else but the French, the beneficiaries of a literary patrimony that dates from the 9th century, would be at the vanguard of such a movement.

Régine Detambel, award-winning author of more than thirty books and a Chevalier of Arts and Letters, is also a licensed physiotherapist, and she maintains that bibliotherapy, in some form or another, dates back to antiquity. Many of her books (La Splendeur, Opéra sérieux, Son corps extrême,) explore the aging process and how to live (and die) with grace.  As a writer and as a physiotherapist, she is a healer with her hands, and Detambel believes that literature can be found everywhere - in the air we breathe, in our bodies, and in the various liminal moments of our lives (birth, marriage, death). “Everything is literature if we know where to look,” Detambel graciously wrote to me, explaining bibliotherapy in detail: “I didn’t create bibliotherapy. It existed in ancient Greece and Rome, and was revived after World War I to heal soldiers who had experienced psychological trauma at the front.” Poetry and literature became part of her “creative bibliotherapy” (bibliocréativité as Detambel coined it), and has found immense success and personal satisfaction through her efforts. “I think that working with the energy of an author, with poetry and metaphor, with stylistic and textual arrangements and so forth is extremely effective to revitalize the psyche,” Detambel continued. “We are all beings of language, and so it is necessary to move and to shift the language that resides within us so that our efforts are rewarded positively.” *

image provided by Régine Detambel

Detambel has played with the idea of bibliotherapy for as long as she has put pen to paper, but it was after writing a short story about skin (Petit éloge de la peau, Folio, Gallimard, 2006) that she recognized an analogy between skin and paper. “Books are caresses, in the strongest sense of the term!” she wrote.  Hosting daylong seminars from her hometown nestled in the southern region of Languedoc-Roussillon, Detambel teaches aspiring bibliotherapists -- nurses, doctors, psychologists, booksellers and librarians -- how books can help people better understand themselves and to reconnect with the world. “There’s more to bibliotherapy than just handing a book to someone and leaving them alone. There’s a certain rapport between the text and the body that must be considered too. Even before one’s eyes settle on the text, we must consider body posture, breathing, voice, and other physical considerations. I teach my trainees how to renew the dialogue between words and the body.”

Some of Detambel’s most rewarding work happens at retirement facilities, where she meets people whose psyches are often “abandoned, because culture is so rarely allowed to pass through the doors of establishments set up for the elderly,” she explained. “I don’t want these people to be left without words that could help them reestablish contact with their internal world. These people live in a sterile, naked, even cruel world. And unfortunately, they’re not alone.” Books themselves aren’t the cure, but they can be part of a curative program where literature nourishes the body, mind, and soul.

An invitation to learn about the healing arts with books. (image provided by Régine Detambel)

*All translations are my own.


Scholars at Cambridge University have uncovered an alternate ending to Austrian dramatist and novelist Arthur Schnitzler’s 1925 novella Traumnovelle or Dream Story. The erotically charged story - one of the most risque published in European fiction by the early 20th century - was later adapted into the film “Eyes Wide Shut” by Stanley Kubrick in 1999. It follows the psychological transformation of a Viennese doctor who attends an orgy after his wife confesses to sexual fantasies involving another man.

Traumnovelle was first published in installments in the magazine Die Dame between 1925 and 1926.  In the story’s original ending, the doctor confesses to having attended the orgy, however the wife tells him not to worry and they move on from the transgressions. However, in an alternative ending, discovered recently by scholars at Cambridge University amongst the novelist’s papers, the wife chases the doctor out of the house after his confession. The alternate version also suggests that the doctor participated in - rather than simply observed - the masked orgy.

The discovery was the first breakthrough in a new international project, involving researchers from Cambridge University as well as institutions in Germany and Austria, to decipher Schnitzler’s 40,000 sheets of handwritten notes held at Cambridge. Schnitzler’s papers were almost lost in WWII, however were saved by the intervention of a 23 year old Cambridge graduate who happened to be in Vienna on the eve of the Anschluss. A British seal was placed on Schnitzler’s door and his papers were spared burning in the Nazi book fires. Schnitzler had, in the meantime, fled to America, not returning to Austria until 1959.

Bronte Cabinet copy.jpgDeborah Lutz’s The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects (W.W. Norton, $27.95) landed on FB&C’s list of “8 Beach Reads for Bibliophiles.”    

As Paula Byrne did with The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, published in 2013, Lutz shapes her narrative not as a ‘cradle to grave’ biography of the Brontës, but instead targets nine objects that reveal, through facts and extracts from the sisters’ fiction, something meaningful about their lives and passions. For example, Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell, all obsessive scribblers and crafters, used whatever paper scraps they had on hand to create tiny manuscript books. Lutz writes, “these children wanted to be bookmakers.” Their little magazines were not only communal play, but creative rehearsal for future novels. Branwell’s walking stick is the focus of a chapter on the Brontës’ “near-daily” engagement with their physical environment, the Yorkshire moors, and Emily’s wild side. An engraved brass dog collar, a seemingly unlikely artifact to mine in a literary biography, provides the fodder for an enlightening chapter on the family’s pets, the “cult of the pet” in Victorian England, and bizarre incidents of dognapping at the time. Desks, sewing “workboxes,” mourning jewelry made with hair--Lutz allows her research to bloom from each object in such an engaging and intelligent way that one hopes this archeological approach to biography, akin to material culture, flourishes.   

What other titles made our list? Check out our summer issue, which will begin arriving in mailboxes and at bookshops next week.
M31554-94_2 copy 2.jpgAt Swann Galleries’ June 17 sale, this first edition of Agatha Christie’s Murder in Mesopotamia (1936) set an auction record when it sold to a dealer for $7,250. And it’s not even her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), or her best known--of her 66 detective novels, either And Then There Were None (1940) or Murder on the Orient Express (1934) might best stake that claim. But Murder in Mesopotamia is a “Poirot” novel, referring to the character Hercule Poirot, who debuted in The Mysterious Affair at Styles and went on to appear in 33 novels, numerous short stories, and a long-running British television drama.

To read more about the Queen of Crime, check out antiquarian bookseller Vic Zoschak’s recent blog post, “Agatha Christie: Unrivaled, Record-Breaking Crime Novelist.”

Image: Courtesy of Swann Galleries. 
On June 30, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, will open A Renaissance Man: The Art of Fred Marcellino. Faithful readers of FB&C will recall our 2012 feature on Marcellino, a book jacket designer turned children’s book author and illustrator. The Carle’s exhibit will showcase 90 pieces that span Marcellino’s career, from early works of Abstract Expressionism and album covers to the sketches he finished just before his death in 2001.

Marcellino’s most famous book covers include Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist. Having acquainted myself with Marcellino’s style, I picked up a copy of Tobias Wolff’s Back in the World, correctly guessing that he had designed its jacket, featuring a cool, blue, empty swimming pool with a bicycle parked at the bottom. (Original art for the jackets Marcellino designed has been spotted at auction, too.)

Marcellino.jpgIn special focus at the Carle exhibit will be the original art for Puss in Boots (1990; seen above), Marcellino’s first attempt at picture book illustration, which won a Caldecott Honor. He went on to illustrate Hans Christian Andersen’s The Steadfast Tin Soldier (1992) and E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan (2000). He also wrote and illustrated I, Crocodile (1999).  

A Renaissance Man will be up through October 25.

Illustration © 1990 by Fred Marcellino. Courtesy of the Eric Carle Picture Book Museum. 

Munari’s Books

Italian artist Bruno Munari (1907-1998) made significant contributions to advancements in graphic design, photography, painting, and even teaching, and is recognized throughout the art world as a pioneer in modern visual expression. Munari spent much of his seventy-year career on book design and illustration, employing various bindings, materials and typesetting techniques, to the point that Pablo Picasso even called him “the Leonardo of our time”.

On June 23rd, Princeton Architectural Press will release the first English-language monograph on Munari’s book designs, showcasing the artist’s gift for multi-sensory storytelling, with books as his preferred medium. Written by art historian Giorgio Maffei, the book focuses on Munari’s work in the publishing industry, which ranged from illustrated books, artists’ books, and educational materials full of design and illustration theory. All are part of the mix, and presented in chronological order alongside detailed notes.
Abecedario de Munari.jpg
Abecedario de Munari Image Credit: Rome: Emanuele Prandi, 1942

In the 1920s, Munari was a major proponent of the futurist movement, exhibiting at various art shows dedicated to this youthful, vibrant movement. Soon enough, he began manipulating how books communicate ideas and can exist as an art form and as a teaching tool. Perhaps the most accessible culmination of his book experiments can found in his works for children. With unusual formats, layouts, and striking images, Munari’s books appealed immediately to young readers, and encouraged young, preliterate children to delight in all the ways of engaging with a book, and to discover their own creativity in the process.  Despite reenergizing the world of children’s publishing, Munari remained surprisingly humble on his contributions, and in the June-July 1975 edition of Italian art magazine Le Arti said that his work was simply meeting a need: “There is nothing utopian about this; it is just a real social service.”


Bruno Munari’s Zoo. Mantua: Graziano Peruffo, 1963

Munari’s Books is a visual treat from start to finish; printed and bound in Italy with hot pink wrappers, the book maintains a modern European layout with wide right-hand margins. It is a thorough and glorious examination of this innovative artist, whose work continues to inform multiple domains today.

Munari’s Books, by Giorgio Maffei; Princeton Architectural Press, $40.00, 288 pages. (June 23)

MunarisBooks Cover.jpeg

If you’ve ever dropped a book in your bathtub, this new Kickstarter campaign is for you.

Jasper Jansen hopes to create waterproof books made out of synthetic paper. He will publish waterproof editions of classics such as Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, and W. B. Yeats. Jansen hopes to encourage readers to engage with the classics in a stress-free, relaxing setting, without the usual worries about dropping your paperback, or worse, your eReader, in the tub.

Of course, the water-resistant books will be just as useful in other settings, such as an afternoon by the sea, or a canoe trip down the river.

Jansen will start by producing four books in waterproof bindings and paper: Short Stories by Mark Twain, Selected Poetry by W. B. Yeats, Macbeth by Shakespeare, and The Art of War by Sun Zi. Collectors out there might want to support the campaign just to acquire an unusual edition for their collection.

At time of writing, Jansen has raised almost 1/3 of his goal with 27 days left in the campaign.
LC Poster copy.jpgLast week, the Library of Congress unveiled its 2015 National Book Festival poster and official blog. Artist Peter de Sève, known for his many New Yorker magazine covers, was chosen to illustrate this year’s poster, which features a young girl contorted in several positions on an armchair, completely absorbed by a book. In a press release issued by the Library of Congress, de Sève said the poster was inspired by his two daughters. “They are both voracious readers and, frankly, my heart swells every time I see one of them curled up with a book, which is basically always. More specifically, the girl on the poster is Fia, whom I have found reading in almost every position you see on the poster. For her, reading is practically an Olympic sport.”

According to the blog, a record 150 authors have signed on for the Sept. 5 event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., including Kate DiCamillo, David McCullough, Louise Erdrich, Ishmael Reed, and newly appointed Poet Laureate for 2015-2016, Juan Felipe Herrera. De Sève will also be there to discuss and sign his book, A Sketchy Past: The Art of Peter de Sève.

This is the fifteenth annual book festival hosted by the Library of Congress, and since 2010, its lead benefactor has been philanthropist and book collector David M. Rubenstein.
Bloomsday.jpgJames Joyce fans partake in annual celebrations on June 16--Bloomsday--and what better place (in the U.S.) to celebrate than at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia, which hosts a weeklong series of events and programs for Ulysses lovers. You can still catch the finale to this year’s Bloomsday Festival today at a daylong reading of Joyce’s infamous novel, spread across Philadelphia: at Parkway Central Library, from 9:30-11:30 a.m.; in Rittenhouse Square from 12:30-1:30 p.m.; and, finally, on The Rosenbach’s steps from 3:30-7:30 p.m.

A related exhibition, Deciphering Ulysses: A Playful Introduction to Joyce’s Novel, just opened as well. According to the Rosenbach, “This exhibit offers a playful and interactive introduction to cracking the code of Ulysses ... visitors are invited to learn about the famous novel as they decode Leopold Bloom’s clandestine letters, explore his recreated desk drawer, read what the United States Court of Appeals had to say about Joyce’s enigmas, and glimpse an early reader’s arsenal of maps and charts for understanding the text.” The exhibit is on view through September 6.

Image: Reading Ulysses from the steps of The Rosenbach Library. Courtesy of The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
On June 26, the British Library will host “The Written Heritage of Mankind in Peril: Theft, Retrieval, Sale and Restitution of rare books, maps and manuscripts,” a conference focused on the illegal trading of priceless cultural materials. The full-day seminar, open to dealers, librarians, collectors, auction house staff, security experts, and interested others, may be a response in part to the Girolamini Library thefts that rocked the rare book world in 2014 and more recent suggestions that Middle Eastern regimes are profiting from plundered books and antiquities. (A report last week claims that ISIS is selling ancient Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts online.)

Next week’s conference includes a panel discussion devoted to the perspective of the rare book trade, featuring Richard Aronowitz-Mercer, head of restitution Europe at Sotheby’s, Norbert Donhofer, president of International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, and Stephen Loewentheil, founder and president of 19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop in Baltimore. View the full schedule of events here.

The conference’s organizers hope that participants and attendees will begin the process of developing solutions to combat global rare book trafficking. A proposed follow-up program in New York in 2016 would then assess progress and continue the effort.

Everything’s Brighter in Technicolor

Everything’s better in color, and this summer, Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is celebrating a century of film in Technicolor with a film exhibition called “Glorious Technicolor: From George Eastman House and Beyond”. Through August 5, the museum will be showing American films made during Technicolor’s heyday from 1922 to 1955. Included among the 60 full-length features and snippets are gems such as the silent film Red Hair (1928), Clara Bow’s only movie in color, and The Pirate (1948), a swashbuckling musical comedy starring Judy Garland, Gene Kelly and Walter Slezak, with a score by Cole Porter. There’s also 35 mm dye-transfer prints of The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and Singin’ in the Rain. (To digital natives: a 35 mm dye-transfer print was Technicolor’s multistep technique of creating color prints.) Many of the prints on display are loans from director Martin Scorsese’s personal collection.

The Pirate. 1948. USA. Directed by Vincente Minnelli. Image courtesy Deutsche Kinemathek

Bring the kids for the last week of the exhibition, when MoMA will screen classic Technicolor cartoons, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, Fantasia, and Melody Time. All movies are shown in their original celluloid format and hail from the Eastman House Museum’s massive Technicolor archive.

While a far cry from giving off a natural look, these super- pigmented moving pictures are a lasting testament to the deft work of filmmakers who created vibrant explosions of color, shadow and light for generations to enjoy.  

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. 1937. USA. Directed by David Hand, William Cottrell, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen. Image courtesy RKO Radio Pictures/Photofest.

Glorious Technicolor: From George Eastman House and Beyond
June 05, 2015-August 05, 2015
More information, including admission and film times, at Moma.org


earhart wiki.jpg
A private film of Amelia Earhart made shortly before her doomed final flight has surfaced 78 years later. The three-and-a-half-minute film shows a smiling Earhart climbing aboard her Lockheed Electra L-10E. 

The film was shot at an Oakland airfield in1937 before Earhart attempted to fly around the world. Scholars are currently debating whether the film was shot in March 1937, before Earhart’s crash in Hawaii, or in April 1937 before her final flight where she disappeared.

The film is presumed shot by John Bresnik, brother to Earhart’s personal photographer Albert Bresnik. The film was found by John Bresnik’s son (also named John) after his father died.

You can watch a clip from the poignant footage at Time’s website.  

A book about Earhart’s final photoshoot by Nichole Swinford, entitled Amelia Earhart’s Last Photo Shoot, will accompany the release of the film in July from the Paragon Agency.

A Gutenberg Bible for sale? Well, not entirely. What Sotheby’s New York will offer next week is an eight-page fragment of the book printed by Johann Gutenberg and Johann Fust in 1455. Single leaves of the famous 42-line Bible occasionally turn up at auction--one recently sold at Swann Galleries for $55,000--but a complete copy hasn’t been seen at auction since 1978, so this sizable section is estimated to make at least $500,000 for its consignor, the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York City.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 12.13.50 PM.pngThe eight consecutive leaves comprise the Book of Esther from the first book printed in the West with movable type, of which only 48 (or 49, according to Sotheby’s) exist in complete or substantially complete condition. This particular set of pages was extracted from an incomplete Gutenberg Bible in 1921 by New York book dealer Gabriel Wells, who sold leaves ($150 each) and sections separately, accompanied by an essay by author and book collector A. Edward Newton, as A Noble Fragment. Banker and book collector Mortimer Schiff purchased this one and donated it to JTS in 1922.

In an email today, a JTS spokesman commented on the sale, “Over the past century, the Library, as part of its core mission, has implemented an acquisitions program to purchase general collections that include the kind of Hebrew and Judaic material that comport with its core mission. As a byproduct of those purchases, the Library has found itself in possession of a number of important non-Hebrew incunabula, Latin Christian works which have a significant and intrinsic value but do not contribute to the Library’s core mission. Because scholars rarely turn to JTS for these non-Hebrew materials, they have lay dormant on library shelves for the 90 years they have been in our collection. It has become clear that these volumes would better serve as scholarly resources in other collections and in keeping with best practices among academic libraries, and after due consideration, The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary has chosen to deaccession these important non-Hebrew incunabula.”

According to the spokesman, the JTS Board of Trustees approved the sale, and “No objections have been raised.” He added, “Any proceeds from the sale will support the ongoing operations of the Library.”

A May 16 article in the Forward stated that JTS has consigned fourteen additional early printed books to the auction as well; the only one specifically noted in the auctioneer’s provenance records is a 1545 Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a gift from famous book dealer, Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach. 

Image via Sotheby’s.
The Nancy Drew Sleuths, an organization of collectors, fans, and scholars, is celebrating the popular book series’ 85th anniversary this year. To that end, the group has held two mini-conventions--one in Iowa City from April 30-May 3, the other in Toledo, Ohio, from May 28-31--and will embark on its third mini-con in Maplewood, New Jersey, this week from June 11-14.

NancyDrew.jpgThe Nancy Drew series debuted on April 28, 1930 with three mysteries, The Secret of the Old Clock, The Hidden Staircase, and The Bungalow Mystery. It was the brainchild of author and book packager Edward Stratemeyer, who was responsible for other immensely popular juvenile series like the Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, and the Hardy Boys. The Nancy Drew series, ghostwritten under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene, was the publishing guru’s last major launch; he died two weeks later.     

Series book collector James Keeline’s mini-con presentation, “The Secrets of the Stratemeyer Syndicate,” and artist/illustrator Tricia Zimic’s program, “A Painter’s View of Nancy Drew,” are scheduled for Saturday, June 13, at the Maplewood Public Library from 11:00-12:30. (This portion of the convention is open to the public.) At this event, the Sleuths plan to donate a full set of classic Nancy Drew books to the library. Keeline, who contributed an article about the Stratemeyer Syndicate to our Spring 2010 issue, will also narrate a bus tour through Stratemeyer’s Garden State locales for convention attendees. Stratemeyer was born in nearby Elizabeth, later lived in Newark, and is buried in Hillside. After his death, his daughters ran the Syndicate from an East Orange office.

Next year, the Sleuths will return to a less hectic schedule, with one annual conference slated for April 2016 in New Orleans.
H3257-L73266393.jpgComing to auction in California later this week is a “Horrors of War” trading card collection--Hitler and bubble gum for the kiddos, c. 1938. Produced by the Philadelphia-based Gum Inc., the graphic cards depict brutal scenes from the Japanese invasion of China, the Spanish Civil War, the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, and Germany’s annexation of the Sudetenland.

H3257-L73266394.jpgAccording to the auctioneer, Profiles in History, a complete set of these collectible cards in mint condition sold for over $700,000 a few years back. This lot contains 196 cards (out of a total issue of 288), most in (graded) mint or excellent condition. The estimate is $8,000-12,000.

H3257-L73266391.jpgThe June 11 auction also features less controversial historical fare, such as:

-Lot 116: Sir Isaac Newton signed rare document, estimated at $30,000-50,000.

-Lot 98: Abraham Lincoln autographed letter, estimated at $30,000-50,000.
-Lot 137: A third (New York) printing of “The Star Spangled Banner,” estimated at $40,000-60,000.

-Lot 155: Fourteen WWII maps owned by Major General Geoffrey Keyes, General Patton’s Deputy Commander.

You can see more at Invaluable’s collectibles page.  

Images Courtesy of Profiles in History/Invaluable.
New-York Historical Society is the place to be this summer with a blockbuster installation sure to enthrall Picasso aficionados and history buffs. The museum recently acquired the largest painting by Pablo Picasso to be found this side of the Atlantic. At an astounding 20 by 19 feet, Le Tricorne (1919) was originally commissioned as a curtain for a Spanish ballet of the same name created by art critic and Ballets Russes founder Serge Diaghilev. Over the course of three weeks and wearing ballet flats while standing on the canvas, Picasso created the massive bullfight scene by applying traditional Spanish tones of orange and yellow with paintbrushes attached to broom handles and, for detail work, repurposed toothbrushes. Complete with toreros, matadors, and fashion-forward men and women known as majas and majos, Le Tricorne served as an appropriately Iberian backdrop for the ballet.

Pablo Picasso, Curtain for the Ballet “Le Tricorne,” 1919. Tempera on canvas, ca. 20 x 19 feet. New-York Historical Society, Gift of New York Landmarks Conservancy, Courtesy of Vivendi Universal, 2015.22. © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

In 1957 Diaghilev sold the piece for $50,000 to Phyllis Lambert, daughter of Seagram Company CEO Samuel Bronfman. Its new home became the entry to the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building, where it hung for 55 years until 2014. The New York Times ran a piece last year examining the various reasons behind the curtain’s removal as well as the conservation issues involved with moving the massive Tricorne. When the curtain’s destiny was finally resolved, New-York Historical went to great lengths to transport it to its current location, and even filmed the process. (See a time-lapse video of the event here.)

Once again, the curtain fills a great wall, and now is surrounded by masterpieces that influenced Picasso’s work - paintings by El Greco and Goya (on loan from the Hispanic Society of America) - as well as Spanish-themed objects that were trendy in the early 1900s.

Le Tricorne was gifted to the New-York Historical Society by its owner, the Landmarks Conservancy, and is on long term display on the second floor Dexter Hall Gallery. More information about the piece can be found here.

It pays to work in recycling in Silicon Valley.

Last month, a woman dropped off a box of electronics at Clean Bay Area, a Silicon Valley recycling firm. Included in the box was an Apple I computer, hand-built by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in Jobs’ garage in 1976. These extremely rare computers are highly collectable. In 2013, an Apple I sold at auction for $671,400.

The recycling firm discovered the Apple I two weeks later when it sorted through the donated box. The company promptly sold the computer for $200,000 to a private collector. Clean Bay Area is now looking for the woman who dropped off the box. Per company policy, they would like to share half of the proceeds with her. In other words, they have a check waiting for her for $100,000.

The problem? She didn’t leave a name or take a receipt for her material. The hope is that she hears about the money through media channels.

In the meantime, take an extra glance through your box of castoffs before you make your next donation.

[Image of Apple I from Wikipedia]

Coming to auction at Swann Galleries on June 10 are several lots of hand-drawn and colored costume plates from late nineteenth-century stage productions of Shakespeare. Executed by illustrator Robert Bööcke, circa 1895, each gouache study on board is signed by Bööcke and captioned with the character and the play. The lot of 22 for “Twelfth Night” (estimated at $1,000-1,500) includes Olivia and Duke Orsino.
Twelfth.jpgTwelfth2.jpgA group of 30 watercolor and gouache studies for “The Taming of the Shrew” (estimated at $1,000-1,500) includes Christopher Sly and Lucentio.

Shrew.jpg Shrew1.jpgAnother, less colorful lot includes 30 pencil and wash studies for “The Merchant of Venice” (estimated at $1,000-1,500).

Images via Swann Galleries.

15_FOconnor copy.jpgShort story writer and novelist Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964) will be honored by the United States Postal Service (USPS) with this beautiful 93¢, three-ounce stamp to be issued on Friday. The Savannah-born author is perhaps best known for her 1955 collection, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, though she also posthumously won the National Book Award for her Complete Stories in 1972. Her novels include Wise Blood (1952) and The Violent Bear It Away (1960), and her writing is associated with Southern Gothic style, heavy on regional settings and dark humor.    

The 30th stamp in the USPS’s Literary Arts series--which includes Ralph Ellison, Mark Twain, and Ernest Hemingway, among others--it features a watercolor image of O’Connor, based on a black-and-white photograph taken when she was a student at Georgia State College for Women in the 1940s. The vivid peacock feathers surrounding her call to mind the peafowl she raised on a farm in Georgia during the last fourteen years of her life, after she had been diagnosed with lupus. She died at 39 of complications from the disease.

A First Day Cover and a Digital Color Postmark, neat additions to any O’Connor collection, will also be made available from the USPS. The stamp issues from McLean, Virginia.

Image via USPS. The artist for this stamp was Sam Weber. Art director Phil Jordan designed the stamp.

Guest Post by Eliza Krigman

Bookman.jpgThis past Thursday I spent a few hours at the London International Antiquarian Book Fair held at the Olympia National Exhibition Center. This marked my first foray into the world of rare and old books.

Not long after I made my way onto the exhibition floor I came across John Windle, owner of a San Francisco-based shop. Windle was eager to show me a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in which Harriet Beecher Stowe had written her favorite quote at the start of each book and signed it. I was struck by the quality of her penmanship, which remained very good despite the age at which she had written it (in 1894, two years before her death at age 85).

uncle toms cabin.jpgAntiquarian book dealing is “one of the very last businesses that is truly collegial,” Windle told me. Without a contract, people send each other very expensive books through FedEx because there is so much mutual trust, he added. The only way people make money, he continued, is by helping each other. Immediately I felt welcomed in my new environment.

I moved along the conference center, which was busy but not hectic. Given that the fair was competing with the sun outside, I was surprised that the attendance was so high. I next visited the booth of Adrian Harrington Rare Books, a bookseller based in Kent, England. Jon Gilbert, the attendant at the stand, drew my attention to a signed first edition of Towards Zero, an Agatha Christie novel. For a mere £2,500 ($3,800), the book could have been mine.

Christie.jpgAnd since I was in England, and the date of my visit (May 28th) happened to be Ian Fleming’s birthday, I thought it only appropriate that I spend a little time looking at a first edition of Casino Royale, published in 1953. Only 4,728 of them were ever produced, Gilbert told me. He happens to be a Fleming expert and has written an award-winning bibliography of the famous author’s work.

After a quick coffee, a showcase at the booth of California bookseller Biblioctopus featuring a notebook page with handwritten lyrics caught my eye. It turned out to be the scrawl of Bob Dylan. The songs weren’t his--although he did make minor alterations to them--but he had written them down in preparation for some of his initial performances in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1961. A hardcore Dylan fan can own it for £50,000 ($76,000).

--Eliza Krigman is a journalist based in London who frequently writes about culture, gender and technology. Find her on twitter @ekspectacular, get in touch at eliza@elizakrigman.com, or see more of her work here www.elizakrigman.com.

Images: Credit Eliza Krigman.
Auction Guide