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On Monday, October 15, there were some notable books and manuscripts at the Sotheby’s New York auction of Gallison Hall: The James F. Scott Collection. In fact, it was a copy of the rare first edition of Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia which garnered the top price of the sale at $300,000 (this copy was previously sold at Sotheby’s as part of the James S. Copley library in 2010 for $254,500). Also selling well were a copy of the 1814 edition of Lewis & Clark’s History of the Expedition ($75,000) and an 1826 Thomas Jefferson letter to Robert Mills about a plan for a monument to George Washington ($43,750).

  

swann.pngSwann Galleries sold Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books, including Phillippine Imprints, on Tuesday, October 16, in 276 lots. The top lot was a copy of a 1488 Strassburg edition of Mandeville’s history of the world, the seventh printed edition in German: it sold for $106,250 over estimates of just $8,000-12,000. A 1734 navigation manual printed in Manila fetched $55,000 (pictured). At $45,000 were a 1494 Zaragoza edition of Boccaccio’s De claris mulieribus in Spanish, as well as a 1668 Paris edition of Fontaine’s Fables.

  

Chiswick Auctions sold Travel, Natural History, Sporting & Sciences on Wednesday, October 17, in 289 lots.

  

On Thursday, October 18, PBA Galleries will sell Modern Literature & Poetry with Books in All Fields, in 558 lots. Among the expected top lots are the Black Sun Press edition of Hart Crane’s The Bridge ($30,000-50,000); a first issue of Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, with the dust jacket ($15,000-25,000); and a set of unbound sheets of Lovecraft’s The Shunned House ($7,000-10,000).

  

Potter & Potter sells Houdiniana on Saturday, October 20, in 438 lots. This sale includes the Houdini collection of John Bushey, as well as additional magic-related books, props, &c.

  

Image credit: Swann Galleries

At the end of October, the University of London will host a one-day symposium called Women and the Book, noting that this year, the University of London celebrates the 150th anniversary of women’s first access to university education in Britain with the intake of eight women at Queen Mary College.

  

Tiffany poster.jpgDespite the fact that men have been granted far more access to education than women over the centuries, and have consequently dominated the world of books, women have been writing for at least over 1,000 years, and have been book owners, readers, and publishers since at least the Middle Ages. Therefore the symposium aims to explore the interaction of women and books in Britain from the Middle Ages to the present, from the time that the book left the printing house: as collectors, owners, readers, and mediators, whether curatorial (librarians) or literary (adapting and translating for new audiences). It aims to enable connections across time and across types of engagement with the book, in discussions covering book, literary, and cultural history.

  

Guest speakers include Dr. Katie Halsey from University of Stirling, who will be speaking about women reading Jane Austen. Dr. David Pearson from University of London will discuss the women book owners of the seventeenth century. It’s worth sharing that Pearson keeps an open source list-in-progress of notable book owners in the seventeenth century, a superb resource for research in the history of the book and for building an understanding of who was buying and reading books in Britain. 

  

There are three talks on the early modern period, including a talk about early modern women’s texts by Marie-Louise Coolahan and Mark Empey, a talk on embroidered bookbindings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by Gilly Wraight, and one by Stephanie Fell titled “Women’s Hidden Work: Innovative and Creative Descriptive Practices for the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection at the Rubenstein Library, Duke University.” Fell will be discussing the work of catalogers at Duke to create access to topics of scholarly interest - like women and provenance or women printers.

  

There are three talks themed on the idea of “Women Striking Out” with Stephanie Meek on the censuring of the woman reader, Karin Winslow, who will speak aobut Bella da Costa Greene, and Alicia Carroll on women and the collection of herbal texts in the twentieth century. 

  

Sara Charles will speak about Medieval readership of a text from a thirteenth-century priory, and Sophie Defrance will speak about girls’ use of libraries at the beginning of the twentieth century.

  

There is also tea. Of course. The symposium will be held on October 26, from 9:30 am-6:45 pm, Court Room, First Floor, Senate House, University of London. And tickets can be booked online.

Sotheby’s Paris sells the seventh part of the R. & B. L. Library on Tuesday, October 9: First Editions, Reviews, Autograph Letters, and Manuscripts, in 313 lots. One of the very rare 1869 copies of Isidore Lucien Ducasse’s Les chants de Maldoror is estimated at €100,000-150,000, while six Mallarmé poems in manuscript could fetch €80,000-120,000. An 1891 letter from Rimbaud to his sister Isabelle is estimated at €80,000-100,000. A number of other Rimbaud and Mallarmé manuscripts also rate high estimates.

  

On Wednesday, October 10, Chiswick Auctions holds a sale of Autographs & Memorabilia, in 314 lots. Among the expected top lots are a December 1948 letter by Wallis Simpson (£5,000-7,000); a letter from Lord Nelson to Sir William Hamilton (£4,000-6,000); an original typed indictment from the Nuremberg Trials (£3,000-4,000); and a Charles Darwin letter to his cousin (£3,000-4,000).

  

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At PBA Galleries on Thursday, October 11, PBA Galleries sells Rare Golf Books & Memorabilia, in 234 lots. The rare 1891 Duffers’ Golf Club Papers, in original wrappers, is estimated at $20,000-25,000. An 1873 volume of “golfing verse,” Blackheath Golfing Lays, could sell for $10,000-15,000. Also on offer is the only known copy of the program for the 1910 U.S. Amateur Championship ($7,000-10,000), and a wooden measuring device from the Manchester Golf Club (also $7,000-10,000; pictured above).

  

Image credit: PBA Galleries

Lyon & Turnbull sells Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs on Tuesday, October 2, in 419 lots. A complete copy of Baschieri and Gazzadi’s Zoologia Morale (1843-1846; pictured below) is estimated at £5,000-7,000, while a 1565 Venice edition of Mattioli’s Commentarii could fetch £4,000-6,000. At the same estimate is a special copy of J.K. Rowling’s Tales of Beedle the Bard, inscribed by Rowling.

  

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At Dominic Winter Auctioneers on Wednesday, October 3, Printed Books, Maps & Prints, in 536 lots. Saint-Non’s Voyage Pittoresque de Naples et de Sicile (1781-1786), nearly complete, could sell for £5,000-8,000. An album containing forty-three caricatures by Cruikshank, Gillray, Rowlandson and others is estimated at £3,000-5,000. Some other notable lots include a collection of about 150 “Baxter prints” (£600-900), and a copy of the marvelous 1900 satirical political caricature map “John Bull And His Friends” (£2,000-3,000).

  

There are a few books among the 309 lots in Creating a Stage: The Collection of Marsha and Robin Williams, to be sold at Sotheby’s New York on Thursday, October 4. See Rebecca’s post from last week for an overview.

  

Also on Thursday, PBA Galleries sells Americana - Travel & Exploration - World History - Cartography, in 517 lots. Note that lots 365-517 are being sold without reserve. A mixed set of the octavo edition of Audubon’s Birds of America rates the top estimate, at $30,000-50,000. A copy of the first octavo edition of McKenney & Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America is estimated at $10,000-15,000. A couple other interesting lots include a manuscript volume of Gold Rush-era songs and an 1852 Gold Rush diary (both estimated at $3,000-5,000).

   

And Saturday sees a special, inaugural auction of Music & Dance: Rare Scores, Books, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters, Signed Photographs, Prints and Drawings hosted by antiquarian booksellers J & J Lubrano.

  

Image credit: Lyon & Turnbull

Next week the eclectic collection of the late Robin Williams and his wife, Marsha, goes to auction in New York. The offerings range from artworks by Banksy (five of them!) to film props; fancy watches to toy figurines. And, like fellow actors Charlton Heston and Sylvester Stallone, Williams accumulated a handful of rare books, too. Fifteen are included in this sale, some with neat backstories.  

Godot.pngThe most poignant might be the lot containing three first editions (the true first from Paris, a first UK, and a first American) of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, estimated at $1,500-2,500). In 1988, Williams starred in a production of the play at Lincoln Center, alongside Steve Martin and F. Murray Abraham, directed by Mike Nichols. According to the auction house, “It was this role that helped expose Williams’ performative breadth and established his place as a serious actor capable of moving beyond the comedic and into more dramatic roles.”

Stanis.pngAlong the same lines is this inscribed, presentation copy of Konstantin Stanislavski’s 1936 book, An Actor Prepares, bound in half purple morocco over floral cloth boards. It is estimated at $2,000-3,000.

Tenny.pngCould it be that this collection of illustrations from Tennyson’s Idylls was a keepsake from his Dead Poets Society days? This “book” is really an album containing eight illuminated vellum leaves, c. 1862. According to the catalogue, “A note accompanying the volume suggests that these leaves were used for making color-lithograph plates, and that they were later mounted and bound into this album, which was then presented to Tennyson as a memento.” It is estimated at $4,000-6,000. (Of related interest: Williams’ own Dead Poets Society vest!)

Walden.pngNo, there’s no Whitman (“O Captain! My Captain!”) here for DPS fans, but there is a first edition of Walden. As the Sotheby’s cataloguer reminds us, “In Dead Poet[s] Society (Touchstone, 1989), Thoreau was one of the writers that Williams’ character, Mr. Keating, quoted to his students as he inspired them to lead lives marked by individualism and self-reliance, tenets at the heart of the transcendentalist movement.” The volume shows some wear. Its estimate is $10,000-15,000.

Twain Inscript.pngIt’s no surprise to find Mark Twain among Williams’ special books, and here is a pirated Canadian edition of his Sketches with a fantastic contemporary inscription on the endpaper that reads, “This book was published in 1880--one year before entered so it says--see title page--It means that the thieves never entered it at all does it not?” Under that, in Twain’s own hand, is an addendum: “Pirate edition, I suppose. Mark Twain.” It is estimated at $2,000-3,000. The next lot is 25-volume autograph edition of Twain’s works, bound in maroon morocco, and estimated at $3,000-5,000.

Moby.pngAnd then there’s the Arion Press edition of Moby-Dick (1979), with woodcuts by Barry Moser, printed on handmade paper. The San Francisco-based Arion Press sets the standard for fine press books in America, and this folio is estimated at $6,000-8,000. According to Sotheby’s, “Robin and Marsha were avid supporters of the Arion Press and Grabhorn Institute.”

But that’s not all -- the remainder include a first edition Oxford English Dictionary, a W. Heath Robinson-illustrated Shakespeare, and the 1847 edition of Euclid’s works.   

Images via Sotheby’s

Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” Turns 30

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“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea.” That quote and many others extolling the virtues of reading great books comes from Roald Dahl’s Matilda. Originally published on October 1, 1988, Dahl’s now-classic tale of a gifted girl cursed with horrible parents and a tyrannical headmistresses was an immediate success. Receiving the Children’s Book Award in 1989, becoming a major motion picture in 1996, and inspiring the 2010 musical adaptation, Matilda is perhaps Dahl’s best-selling book, with over 17 million copies in print.

  
Collectors should head to British rare bookseller Peter Harrington who is offering six first editions of Matilda. “In recent years, Matilda has become our top-selling book,” explained Peter Harrington’s son and current owner, Pom. “Matilda is a fabulous spirited girl and the book is loved by adults and children alike.”

  
Among the six copies offered for sale are two inscribed first editions, one being a presentation copy with, “To all the Briggs, with love, Roald. 9/4/88” at the front. Michael Briggs had operated on Dahl’s spine in 1978, after which the men became good friends. This copy is available for £4,000 ($5,300). The second inscribed copy, available for for £3,500 ($4,630) reads: “Camilla, love Roald Dahl.”

  

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Additionally, Penguin Random House will be releasing special editions of the book on October 4 with new cover images by the book’s original illustrator, Quentin Blake. Each of the three covers features a grown-up Matilda as an astrophysicist, a world traveler, and Chief Executive of the British Library. These 30th anniversary editions are available for pre-order starting at $17.99. 

  

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Images: (Top and Middle) Courtesy of Peter Harrington; (Bottom) Courtesy of the British Library Shop.

Coming up on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 18-19, at Sotheby’s London, The Erwin Tomash Library on the History of Computing, in 942 lots. I’ll have more on this sale in the next print issue, but an expected highlight is a presentation copy of Galileo’s Difesa (1607), inscribed by Galileo to Girolamo Cappello, a riformatore at Padua University. It is estimated at £300,000-400,000. A copy of the second issue of Galileo’s first published work, on the operation of the geometrical compass, rates an estimate of £60,000-80,000.

  

Quite a few other lots of interest in this sale, including Ada Lovelace’s translation of L. F. Menabrea’s report on a series of lectures delivered by Charles Babbage in Turin. From the library of the Lovelace family at Horsley Towers, it is estimated at £6,000-8,000. A 12th-century Arabic arithmetical manuscript (pictured below) by Mubashir Ibn Ahmad al-Razi could sell for £20,000-30,000. The Macclesfield copy of William Pratt’s Arithmeticall Jewell (1617) is estimated at £15,000-20,000.

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On Thursday, September 20, PBA Galleries sells Rare Books & Manuscripts from the Library of James “Ted” Watkins, in 309 lots. A 1647 letter from Louise de Merillac de Gras to Vincent de Paul (both future saints), and a Sangorski & Sutcliffe illuminated manuscript of James Russell Lowell’s The Vision of Sir Launfal (1908) share the top estimate of $10,000-15,000. A copy of the Lakeside Press Moby Dick, signed by Kent on the title page with a pencil sketch of the whale-tail motif used on the covers of the volumes, could fetch $7,000-10,000. A partial set (14 of 25 volumes) of the 1957-67 Robert Speller & Sons edition of Hough’s American Woods is estimated at $2,000-3,000.

 

At Ader in Paris, also on Thursday, Livres de Photographies, in 289 lots. Top lots are expected to include Germaine Krull’s Métal (1928), estimated at €8,000-10,000; the first four numbers of the photographic quarterly Camera Work (1903), edited and published by Alfred Stieglitz (sold separately as lots 2-5); and a 1930 edition of Gérard de Nerval’s Le Valois with photographs by Germaine Krull (€3,500-4,500).

  

Image credit: Sotheby’s

A quill pen that belonged to the Victorian artist and publisher William Morris is headed to auction at Forum Auctions in London on September 27. The antique writing instrument resides in a wooden frame alongside a metal plate that reads: “This pen belonged to William Morris.” A label on the back indicates that the pen passed to Emery Walker, a printer and engraver who worked with Morris at the Kelmscott Press, and thence to John Drinkwater, whose ‘critical study’ of Morris was published in 1912.

Morris Pen.jpgIt’s an understatement to say that Morris looms large in the world of book collecting, which is why the auction estimate of £300-500 ($400-660) seems rather conservative. As Reynolds Price once said to Nicholas Basbanes about his association copy of Paradise Lost, “I was touching the hand that touched the hand that touched the Hand,” it is this direct association with Morris, the visionary of the Arts and Crafts movement, that would compel a devout collector to bid on this piece of realia. 

The lot includes two other pens owned by Drinkwater, as well as a copy of his book on Morris.

Image via Forum Auctions

A quiet auction week, with just one sale to preview:

  

On Thursday, September 6, PBA Galleries sells Literature with Books in All Fields, in 607 lots. The top-estimated lot is a copy of Herbert Childs’ biography of American physicist Ernest Orlando Lawrence, An American Genius (1968). Inscribed by the author and signed by more than forty scientists (among them ten Nobel laureates) and Lawrence family members, the volume is estimated at $10,000-15,000.

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An early American edition of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, with the publisher’s printed dust-jacket, is estimated at $3,000-5,000, while an inscribed first edition of Stephen King’s Carrie could fetch $1,500-2,000. The rare final section of Richard Wright’s autobiography, Black Boy, is estimated at $1,000-1,500, as is the first printing of Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” (in Miscellaneous Poems and Translations). The original typescript of Lawrence Block’s Ariel, with the author’s set of galley proofs, rates the same estimate; there are two other Block manuscripts and typescripts on offer as well.

  

A first edition of Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (1912) is estimated at $600-900, and an inscribed copy of Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) is rated at $400-600. 

  

Lots 367-607 are being sold without reserve.

  

Image credit: PBA Galleries

The books-to-film genre amps up its bookishness with “The Bookshop,” a new drama directed by Isabel Coixet and starring Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, and Patricia Clarkson. Based on Penelope Fitzgerald’s slim but affecting 1978 novel, the film is a period piece set in a small, coastal English town in 1959. A young widow named Florence Green decides to open a bookshop there, much to the consternation (and later condemnation) of residents.

Florence Green .jpg“This quiet woman, in a quiet village, in very quiet post-war England, is a call to everyone to grow up and claim responsibility for making life better for us all. This is an allegory for the underdog before there was someone there to root for them or make them believe in themselves,” the director commented in a release.

Brundish.jpgGreen comes to understand that this town may not be ready for a cultural awakening. One of her only allies, it seems, is Mr. Brundish, a reclusive bibliophile.

Of special note is the attention to detail in bookshop scenery. A New York Post article from last week reveals how the director “found tons of vintage rare books” to use in the film. For example, she needed 250 copies of the first edition of Lolita. Fascinating!

Having just read and enjoyed Fitzgerald’s novel first the first time earlier this year, I’m on the lookout for showtimes near me (it is now playing in NYC & LA, and wider distribution begins on August 31). Until then, the trailer must suffice:



Images: (Top) Florence Green, played by Emily Mortimer; (Bottom) Mr. Brundish, played by Bill Nighy. Courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment.

Here’s what’s coming up this week on the auction front:

  

Forum Auctions holds an online sale on Tuesday, August 28, of the second part of A Bibliophile’s Bibliographic Library, in 376 lots; the books are available for viewing in Rome. Much will be of interest here to the Italian-reading bibliographer, bookseller, or book historian, and the starting prices are mostly in the two-three-figure range, so bargains may be quite possible.

  

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On Thursday and Friday, August 30 and 31, Keys Fine Art Auctioneers holds a two-day sale of Books & Ephemera, in 1309 lots. Among the top-estimated lots are a 1532 edition of Durer’s Institutiones Geometricae, with the final leaves supplied in manuscript fascimile (£1,800-2,200); a copy of the second issue of Darwin’s Descent of Man (£1,500-2,000); Bowen’s Atlas Anglicanus with the prospectus laid in (£1,500-2,000); and the first issue of The Beano Book (£1,200-1,500; pictured).

  

Image credit: Keys Fine Art Auctioneers

Lovecraft’s legions of fans may be interested to hear that his family’s 1881 bible, which contains his birth record and his parents’ certificate of marriage, is currently on offer at Heritage Auctions. The now tatty leatherbound bible was gifted to his mother, “Miss S. Susie Phillips. From her Mother. March 22nd, 1889.” As is typical with family bibles of this era, decorative leaves offer places to record marriages, births, and deaths. In this one, someone, presumably his mother or father, penned: “Howard Phillips Lovecraft born Aug. 20th, 1890. Providence, R. I., 94 Angell Street.” A later inscription, in a different hand, notes the deaths of both Sarah and H.P.

Bible 2 copy.jpgLovecraft’s fame as a writer of short stories in the horror and fantasy genres was, sadly, posthumous. (He died in 1937.) Today, he is beloved by fans, including Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King, and collectors--in 2016, a typewritten manuscript of a story he is believed to have ghostwritten for Harry Houdini sold for $33,600.

Bible 1 copy.jpgThe bidding for the bible opened at $500, and will continue online until the live auction of rare books on September 13 in Dallas.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Chiswick Auctions holds their Summer Books sale on Tuesday, August 22, in 192 lots. Some interesting lots of bibliographical texts in this one (lots 20-38), as well as a first edition of Watership Down inscribed by Richard Adams to his friend Randall Thornton (£800-1,200) and a ready-made collection of forty-one Tauchnitz editions of Wodehouse novels (£300-400).

  

Also on Tuesday, University Archives sells Autographed Documents, Manuscripts, Books & Relics, in 298 lots. A July 1863 Abraham Lincoln letter to Freedmen’s Inquiry Commissioner Robert Dale Owen is estimated at $50,000-60,000, while a fragment from the shirt Lincoln was wearing when he was assassinated could sell for $25,000-30,000. A life-size wax mold of Albert Einstein’s head, signed by Einstein, is estimated at $15,000-20,000.

  

PBA Galleries sells Americana & the Mexican-American War - Travel & Exploration - Cartography on Wednesday, August 23, in 739 lots (with lots 563-739 being sold without reserve). The 1866-1868 diary of a mining engineer in Montana rates the top estimate, at $6,000-9,000. A very large world map printed on cloth, used to advertise revival meetings around the turn of the twentieth century, is estimated at $3,000-5,000. At the same estimate, and being sold separately, are two photographic order books from the San Francisco firm R. J. Waters & Co., offering photographic prints of sailing ships and of the city of San Francisco.

  

thurston.png Last but certainly not least, Potter & Potter holds their Summer Magic Auction on Friday, August 25, in 467 lots. Among the expected highlights are a three-sheet color lithographic poster from 1916 for Thurston the Great Magician ($15,000-25,000; pictured). A metal kettle designed to allow the magician to pour any of four drinks could sell for $10,000-15,000, and at the same estimate is Isaac de Caus’ 1659 treatise New and Rare Inventions of Water-Works. Many books, tricks, scrapbooks, &c.

  

Image credit: Potter & Potter

Love language and wordplay, puns and palindromes (you know, those words and phrases that read the same backwards and forwards)? Well, you’re not alone. Following a popular 2015 short film called A Man, A Plan, A Palindrome, documentary filmmakers Vince Clemente and Adam Cornelius decided to continue following--and filming--the world’s greatest palindrome writers. Today they launched an Indiegogo campaign to finance the final phases of post-production of a feature-length documentary titled The Palindromists.

Starring New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz, children’s author/illustrator Jon Agee, entertainer Weird Al Yankovic, and actress and author Danica McKellar, The Palindromists delves into “the history of palindromes while following the world’s greatest palindromists as they prepare for the 2017 World Palindrome Championship.” You can preview the trailer here:



Say the filmmakers, “With the necessary funds, this film will find its rightful place on the shelf next to the other great ‘geek’ documentaries of the past 20 years.”


Doyle will hold an online-only sale of Hunting Books from the Collection of Arnold “Jake” Johnson on Tuesday, August 14, in 215 lots. John Cyril Francis’ Three Months’ Leave in Somali Land (1895), a privately-printed edition issued after the author’s death, is estimated at $1,000-1,500, as is another privately-printed account of a hunt in Alaska in 1930 by Harold Keith. As of Sunday afternoon, a book estimated at just $80-120 was leading the sale: Henry Job’s The Shadow of the Jaguar (1983), noted in the lot description as being a possibly unique copy, had been bid up to $3,200.

  

On Wednesday, August 15, Dominic Winter Auctioneers will sell Printed Books, Maps & Documents, in 335 lots. Very much a mixed bag here, with most lots estimated in the double or low-triple digits. Lots 148-165 comprise bookbinding tools and equipment, and lots 254-335 are “quantity” lots, where it looks like some good bargains might be lurking.

  

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Addison & Sarova sells Rare Books & Ephemera on Saturday, August 18, in 422 lots. Some hefty shelf lots are expected to lead the way, including a 247-volume lot of theological works from the sixteenth-eighteenth centuries ($3,500-5,000). Among the single-lot items are a copy of the 1524 Aldine Odyssey ($1,200-1,800; pictured above).

  

Photo credit: Addison & Sarova

Best known for his novels like Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut also created visual art, mainly in the form of drawings and prints, as early as 1969. He made sculptures too, though they are “rare” on the market, according to Case Antiques, who sold this c. 1980 aluminum piece, titled “Wasp Waist,” at auction in Tennessee last month for $5,040. Signed and numbered 6/9, the aluminum silhouette is clearly reminiscent of his famous felt-tipped drawings.

WaspWaist 2.jpgAs Peter Reed wrote of ‘Vonnegut as artist’ in 1999: “His fiction struggles to cope with a world of tragi-comic disparities, a universe that defies causality, whose absurdity lends the fantastic equal plausibility with the mundane. Much the same outlook pervades the graphic artworks that have increasingly occupied Vonnegut in recent years.”

Image courtesy of Case Antiques

On Thursday, August 9, PBA Galleries holds a 613-lot sale comprising Fine & Rare Books (lots 1-184); Books in Early Jackets - The Bret Sharp Collection (lots 185-385); Art & Illustration, Children’s Books (lots 386-457); Asian & Asian-American Art & Illustration (lots 458-534); the final section (lots 535-613) are being sold without reserve.

  

Osvald Sirén’s four-volume work Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century (1925) is estimated at $10,000-15,000. An interesting copy of Leaves of Grass, believed to be an undated printing issued in 1896 with an unrecorded publisher’s dust jacket, could fetch $7,000-10,000. At the same estimate is an 1819 topographical and statistical account of Nuremberg, Neues Taschenbuch Von Nürnberg in original dust-jackets and cardboard slipcases.

  

A very rare copy of the “joint-stock novel” An Object of Pity, created by Robert Louis Stevenson, his family members, and visitors in Samoa in 1892 and privately printed at Sydney (but with a false Amsterdam imprint), is estimated at $5,000-8,000. This copy is from the Stevenson family library, and contains a list of the authors and notations by Stevenson’s stepson and collaborator Lloyd Osbourne. The bookplate is signed by Stevenson’s stepdaughter, Isobel Osbourne Strong. Also included is the response, Objects of Pity, written by Mr. Haggard, the British Land Commissioner and the “hero” of the original work.

birds.pngAn early printing of F. O. Morris’s A Natural History of the Nests and Eggs of British Birds, published in 1864 and featuring early plates by Arthur Rackham, very scarce in the printed jackets, could sell for $4,000-6,000 (pictured).

  

Also among the lots are a collection of printed invoices and receipts to bookbinder William J. Roy of Lancaster, Pennsylvania from around 1897-1908 ($300-500); a first edition of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring ($300-500).

  

Image credit: PBA Galleries

Late last week the UK’s Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, Michael Ellis, announced a temporary export ban on a study table once owned by Charles Dickens. The round mahogany table with a revolving drum top covered in green leather was made around 1835 and was used by the famous author for most of his career, according to the Minister’s office, “first in his London home at Devonshire Terrace; then his offices on Wellington Street where he published Household Words and All the Year Round; and finally in his library at Gad’s Hill Place in Higham, Kent.” It remained in the possession of Sir Henry Fielding Dickens’ descendants until its recent sale at Christie’s London for £65,000 ($87,000). Presumably the winning bidder wished to ‘take it home,’ as it were, prompting Ellis to issue the export ban.

Dickens Table.jpgEllis commented in a press release, “As one of Britain’s most famous novelists, it is only right for there to be great expectations on us to protect Dickens’ study table for the benefit of the nation.”

A decision regarding the buyer’s export license has been deferred until October 26, giving UK institutions a chance to raise £67,600, the amount needed to keep the table in the country. Readers may recall a similar snafu with some Jane Austen jewelry years ago, which was resolved when an anonymous benefactor stepped forward with £100,000, thus keeping Austen’s turquoise and gold ring out of the hands of American singer Kelly Clarkson. (It is now in the collection of the Jane Austen House Museum.)

The pending sale of Dickens’ table also calls to mind several writers’ desks that have gone to auction in recent years--one of which was owned by Dickens and was “saved for the nation” with a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. 

Image: Courtesy of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Not a particularly busy auction week, but much to look at if posters or comics are of interest!

  

On August 1, Swann Galleries sells Vintage Posters, in 608 lots. A group of four Art Nouveau decorative panels by Alphonse Mucha, representing the times of the day, rates the top estimate at $40,000-60,000. Leoneto Cappiello’s 1911 Carnaval poster (pictured) could fetch $20,000-30,000, while a 30 x 20-inch copy of the (now) iconic “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster from 1939 is estimated at $12,000-18,000.

  

carnaval.png Heritage Auctions holds a Comics, Comic Art & Animation Art Signature Sale in Dallas, August 2-4, with a whopping 4,675 items offered. Expected highlights include an original 1972 Frank Frazetta painting which was used for a 1974 reissue of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Escape on Venus (with a reserve of $500,000); a copy of The Incredible Hulk #1 (Marvel, 1962); and original cover art for Amazing Spider Man #55 (Marvel, 1967).

  

Image credit: Swann Galleries

At Bunch Auctions on Monday, July 23, Books & Works on Paper, in 269 lots. Top-estimated lots include an engraving of Marcantonio Raimondo’s “Massacre of the Innocents” from around 1515 ($5,000-7,000); some signed William Gibson volumes ($1,200-1,500); and a 1490 Augsberg edition of the sermons of Robertus Caracciolus ($800-1,000). A wide-ranging sale, with estimates mostly in the three-figure range.

  

On Tuesday, July 24, Doyle New York sells Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold “Jake” Johnson, in 344 lots (this is a timed, online-only sale). Highlights could include Richard (or Charles) Bowlker’s The Art of Angling Improved in All Its Parts ($700-1,000) and Eric Taverner’s Salmon Fishing (1931), estimated at $1,200-1,800. Lots 111-113 comprise three photograph albums of fishing trips taken by Zane Grey in the 1920s (each is estimated at $700-1,000).

Call Wild.jpg PBA Galleries sells Modern Literature on Thursday, July 26, in 563 lots. Seven lots share estimates of $3,000-5,000, including a first book printing of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a first edition of The Call of the Wild in a very well-preserved dust-jacket, a full set of the 63-volume James Joyce Archive, and an inscribed first edition of Catch-22. Lots 440-563 are being sold without reserve.

  

Finally, on Saturday, July 28, Potter and Potter Auctions holds a Fine Books & Manuscripts sale, in 619 lots. A copy of the Peter Force facsimile engraving of the Declaration of Independence is estimated at $15,000-20,000, while a 1917 “Destroy This Mad Brute” World War I enlistment poster could fetch $12,000-18,000. Other lots include a collection of Hugh Hefner’s correspondence with a high school friend ($10,000-20,000); Emil Orlik’s Aus Japan ($10,000-15,000); and a 1958 Fidel Castro letter to arms smuggler Pedro Luis ($8,000-12,000).

  

Image courtesy of PBA Galleries

Ada_Lovelace_portrait.jpgA rare copy of Ada Lovelace’s groundbreaking first computer program turned up at a regional auction house, Moore Allen & Innocent, in Glouchestershire, England, today and sold for £95,000 ($125,000) after an intial estimate of £5,000-6,000 was increased to £40,000-60,000.

  

Bound in burgundy leather with tooled and gilded “Lovelace” on cover, this copy of Sketch of The Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babage Esq. by L F Menabrea of Turin Officer of The Military Engineers, with notes by the translator, who is identified in a handwritten note as Lady Lovelace, also contains extensive reading notes on Lovelace on the flyleaf, and a typed memo attributing the notes to physician William King, a friend and advisor of hers, who published a paper called The Cooperator. (Lovelace also married a different man named William King, strangely enough.)

  

Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron and Annabella Milbanke, was born on Dec. 10, 1815, in London, England, and was taught math by her mother. Her mother also surrounded her with the best education and tutors and introduced her to scientist Mary Somerville. It was that introduction that led Lovelace to know the work of Charles Babbage at 17, soon after she made her society debut. He showed her a large brass calculator and she became obsessed with it. 

  

Not long after she translated Menabrea’s academic paper on Babbage’s analytical engine, she added a section that extended the length of the paper by three times. This section is simply titled, “Notes.” In “Section G” she published her algorithm, a method for calculating a sequence of Bernoulli numbers with the engine, which would have worked had it been built. Additionally she mused about the role of computers in society, described how they would be faster than humans at computations, and dismissed the concept of artificial intelligence, explaining, “the Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform. It can follow analysis; but it has no power of anticipating any analytical relations or truths.” 

  

Lovelace died of uterine cancer at age 36. There is disagreement about the importance of her contribution to science and math, and whether or not her contribution can indeed be considered the first computer program or simply an enhancement to Babbage’s work. Recently, she was finally given an obituary by the New York Times in its record-redressing “Overlooked” women of history special section, along with Sylvia Plath and other female luminaries.

  

Image via Wikimedia

Coming up next month at Swann Galleries is a selection of vintage posters -- political, circus, travel -- but the one that caught my eye is “Librairie Romantique,” pictured below.

Librairie Romantique.jpgDesigned by Eugene Grasset in 1887, the poster advertises a series of books on the history of romanticism. The blank space in the lower left would have held the table of contents for that particular volume. As Swann’s cataloguer notes, “The image itself is an homage to Gothic romance, featuring a young woman, clad in 1830s attire, sitting on a pile of old books, a skull at her feet, absorbed in her reading. In the background, the gothic façade of Notre Dame (perhaps a tribute to Victor Hugo) glows in the twilight.”

The poster’s estimate is $700-1,000.

Image courtesy of Swann Galleries

A calmer auction calendar this week, which will give us a chance to look back at some of the remarkable results from last week’s sales.

  

On Wednesday, July 18, Bonhams London sells Entertainment Memorabilia, in 299 lots. One of just two known copies of a Czech poster for the 1933 movie King Kong rates the top estimate, at £50,000-70,000. Other printed and manuscript items expected to do well are a poster for a November 2, 1964 Beatles concert at King’s Hall in Belfast (£25,000-28,000, pictured); and a birthday card to Pattie Boyd hand-drawn by John Lennon (£8,000-12,000). Lots 172-232 comprise the Mark Jay Collection of Punk Memorabilia, and lots 259-299 focus on the Beatles.

  

beatles.png  

Skinner, Inc. sells Early English Books: A Single Owner Sale on Friday, July 20, in 198 lots. The Roderick Terry copy of the Shakespeare Fourth Folio (1685), in a Riviere binding, is estimated at $65,000-80,000. A 1556 English edition of More’s Utopia could fetch $40,000-60,000, while the first appearance of Galileo’s works in English is estimated at $35,000-50,000. An incomplete copy of the 1495 Wynken de Worde edition of Higden’s Polychronicon, the first at auction since 1976 according to the catalogue, could sell for $40,000-50,000. Anyone with an interest in early English printing will want to give this sale a close look.

  

Last week’s Sotheby’s sale realized £4,167,764, with the Darwin manuscript leaves and several E. H. Shepard drawings selling particularly well (the Origin leaf made £490,000, and the map of the Hundred Acre Wood sold for £430,000, a new auction record for a book illustration). Darwin and Shepard combined for the top nine lots of the sale, totaling more than £2 million. The copy of Spenser’s Faerie Queen with Charles I provenance sold for £106,250. Several lots sold by the descendants of Sir Charles Lyell also brought high prices: an album of scientific letters reached £93,750 over estimates of just £5,000-7,000, while a presentation copy of Lyell’s Principles of Geology to his father-in-law sold for £50,000 (est. £3,000-5,000). Lyell’s own well-worn copy of the first volume of Principles fetched £40,000 over estimates of just £700-1,000.

  

The Christie’s sale on Wednesday made a total of £6,200,375, with the Plantin Polyglot Bible leading the way at £488,750. The Fall of Princes manuscript sold for £392,750, and a 1482 Venice edition of Euclid fetched £284,750.

  

Image credit: Bonhams

Sometimes a book is as much about its provenance as the item itself. For example, this eighteenth-century encyclopedia of China, finely illustrated by the Osaka artist Tachibana Morikuni owes much of its interest to the fact that it came from the collection of James E. Fagan.

Fagan1.jpgFagan (1926-2011) was an American collector with a special interest in the introduction of Western culture and technology to Japan’s closed Edo-era society (1603-1868), also known as the Tokugawa period. He studied Japanese language and history at Stanford University, and served as a US Naval officer in the Pacific theatre. He then lived and worked in Japan as an attorney in the 1950s and 1960s.

During this time, Fagan assembled and researched his collection of rare Edo-era
woodblock and manuscript maps, prints and books not available outside Japan. Highlights include Nagasaki-e (showing the Japanese fascination with the Dutch East
Indies (VOC) outpost at Deshima island), early Rangaku examinations of Western
science and languages, the evolution of Japanese cartographic knowledge, and the
study of English and Russian military might and technology. Imaginative illustrations
and maps, from Japanese castaways reporting back to the Japanese Court, also provide a glimpse of how the Western world appeared to the first Japanese to circumnavigate the globe. The collection demonstrates Japan’s keen curiosity about the Western world during its long isolationist period, and the artful way the Japanese perspective captures the impact of European contact.

Morokoshi kinmo zui, illustrated by Tachibana Morikuni and published in Japan in 1719, is a good example of Fagan’s interests. It is an extensive encyclopedia on China, profusely illustrated with depictions of Chinese customs, astronomy, maps, landscapes, architecture, mythology, martial arts, weaponry, farming practices, flora & fauna. In fact, all that you would expect from an encyclopedia. In 15 volumes, it is printed from woodblocks, and comes with the original blue paper covers and title slips (under later yellow covers).

Fagan2.jpgTachibana Morikuni, from Osaka, was a leading eighteenth-century painter, illustrator, and writer, and he was a master of both Kano and Tosa styles. A student of
Tsuruzawa Tanzan, Morikuni lived and worked in Osaka. His major illustrated books
include Ehon Koji-dan (1714), Morokoshi Kimmo-zui (the work listed here)
(1719), Ehon shaho-bukuro (1720), Gaten tsuko (1727), Honcho gaen (1729), Utai
gashi (1732), Ehon oshukubai (1740) and Unpitsu soga (1749).

This work has recently been consigned to the Catawiki “Old & Rare” auction, and will be available for bids through approx. 8 p.m. (Central European Time) on Friday, July 13.

Images courtesy of Catawiki

Another round of major sales this week:

  

At Sotheby’s London on Monday and Tuesday, July 9-10, English Literature, History, Science, Children’s Books and Illustrations, in 322 lots. Highlights include an autograph leaf from Darwin’s Origin (£120,000-180,000) and a number of other Darwin manuscripts, several E. H. Shepard ink drawings, including the original map of the Hundred Acre Wood (£100,000-150,000), a copy of the 1916 proclamation of independence of the Irish Republic (£60,000-80,000), and Charles I’s copy of the Faerie Queen (£30,000-50,000).

  

Also on Tuesday at Sotheby’s London, Part VIII of The Library of an English Bibliophile, in 247 lots. Lewis Carroll’s annotated copy of the suppressed “sixtieth thousand” printing of Through the Looking Glass is estimated at £30,000-50,000. Two presentation copies of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, one to Darryl Zanuck (producer of the film adaptation) and one to Steinbeck’s sister, are each estimated at £20,000-30,000. A number of other important association and presentation copies are on offer in this sale.

  

Tuesday will also see the sale of Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures at Dreweatts in London. One reader already pointed our attention to the interesting lot 62 depicting a doctor and two amputees, illuminated manuscript on parchment, c. 1410. The estimate is £5,000-7,000.

  

On Tuesday and Wednesday at Forum Auctions, The Rothamsted Collection: Rarities from the Lawes Agricultural Library. The first 259 lots, to be sold on Tuesday, include a copy of the first printed book on agriculture, Petrus de Crescentiis’ Ruralia commoda (1471), estimated at £60,000-80,000. Leonard Digges’ A Prognostication everlastinge of righte good effecte (1576), containing the first translation into English of Copernicus’ work, could sell for £15,000-20,000. Lots to be sold on Wednesday include a great deal of material in the three-to-four-figure range, so if you’ve any interest in agricultural books, this catalogue will be worth a browse.

  

Polyglot copy.jpg 

Christie’s London sells Valuable Books and Manuscripts on Wednesday, July 11, in 393 lots. A copy of the Plantin Polyglot Bible, one of thirteen printed on vellum for King Philip II of Spain, rates the top estimate, at £400,000-600,000 (pictured). Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s Les Liliacées (1802-1816), the first of his major botanical works, could sell for £350,000-500,000. A mid-15th-century Middle English manuscript of John Lydgate’s The Fall of Princes once owned by Mary Sidney is estimated at £250,000-350,000. I could go on at great length about any number of the lots in this sale, but on we go ...

  

Returning to Forum Auctions for Thursday, July 12, they offer Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper, in 225 lots. A few of the expected highlights include a presentation copy of Charles Babbage’s The Influence of Signs in Mathematical Reasoning (1826), inscribed by Babbage to Thomas Stevenson Davies, secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society (£10,000-15,000); a blue-paper copy of the first Italian translation of Euclid’s Elements (Urbino, 1575), also estimated at £10,000-15,000; and a 1636 copy of Gerard’s Herball, with contemporary hand-coloring (£6,000-8,000).

  

Also on Thursday, PBA Galleries sells Fine Americana - Travel & Exploration - World History - Cartography, in 703 lots. A 1779 edition of Great-Britain’s Coasting Pilot is estimated at $5,000-8,000, as is a copy of a 1792 two-volume work featuring the first French edition of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. A long letter describing the 1871 Chicago Fire could sell for $4,000-6,000. Lots 610-703 are being sold without reserve.

  

Finally, there will be two sales at Chiswick Auctions on Thursday: Autographs & Memorabilia, in 235 lots, and The Library of Giancarlo Beltrame Part III and other Fine Antiquarian Books, in 362 lots. The first sale includes a Horatio Nelson letter to William Hamilton, the English ambassador to Naples (£4,000-6,000), and a Joseph Banks letter concerning the importation of botanical specimens (£2,000-3,000). Highlights from the second sale are expected to include a copy of the 1859 first edition of Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of the Rubáiyát (£15,000-20,000), a set of David Copperfield in the original parts (£5,000-8,000), and the Roderick Terry copy of Thomas Gray’s Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard, bound by Riviere (£5,000-8,000).

  

Image credit: Christie’s

Enid Marx working on flower and shell designs c1946.jpg

Enid Marx working on flower and shell designs c. 1946. Courtesy of the House of Illustration.

  

I first came across Enid Marx’s work because of a fondness for the King Penguin titles, a series of pocket-sized books that was published by Penguin between 1939 and 1959 on a variety of subjects. Many of the titles have decorated jackets and endpapers, and one of the first that caught my eye was Marx’s cover for Some British Moths. Her designs for the King Penguins are on display amongst the designs for prints, books, London Transport posters, and fabrics in a career-spanning exhibition of her work, Enid Marx: Print, Pattern and Popular Art, at London’s House of Illustration

  

Cover for Some British Moths, King Penguin © Estate of Enid Marx.jpg

Cover for Some British Moths, King Penguin © Estate of Enid Marx  

  

It turns out that Some British Moths was the first of five covers Marx designed for the series, after complaining to the series editor about the quality of the covers that preceded hers. Since moving to London, it’s more obvious to me what an impact Marx and her group of friends from The Royal College of Art (where she was not allowed to graduate for being too “modern”) including Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden, and Barbara Hepworth had on British design. Her birds and flowers and striking geometric designs are still commonly referenced on pillows and home designs in big box stores, and her printed paper can be bought by the sheet for gift wrap. I can recognize a print inspired by Enid Marx now from a mile away.

  

Marx used traditional hand-carved woodblock techniques to print on paper and fabric, and volunteered to design textiles for the wartime Utility Furniture Scheme, creating joyful, affordable printed fabric for the home to those returning from war. And she was first ever female engraver to be awarded the title of Royal Designer for Industry.

  

Pattern - 'Municipal' patter paper for the Little Gallery, from wood engraving, c1930 © Estate of Enid Marx.jpg

‘Municipal’ pattern paper for the Little Gallery, from wood engraving, c. 1930 © Estate of Enid Marx.

  

But she still remains a rather obscure name, overshadowed in her afterlife by her contemporaries. The House of Illustrations retrospective presents a strong argument for her place in history, highlighting her impressive and meticulous contributions to design and presenting her design aesthetic as responsible for setting the tone for mid-20th-century design. 

  

Enid Marx: Print, Pattern and Popular Art is on view at The House of Illustration until September 23.

Rare books and jewelry are a perfect pair, and a new, collaborative exhibition launched by UK rare book dealer Peter Harrington and jewelry designer Theo Fennell puts them together splendidly. The exhibition features rare first editions from Harrington’s stock, such as Goldfinger, The Secret Garden, The Arabian Nights, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and The Complete Pooh Series, alongside stunning, handcrafted rings and brooches. Here are a few examples:

Oz.pngA first edition of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by Frank L. Baum (£775) shown with the Emerald City Ring by Theo Fennell.

Fleming skulls.pngThis first edition of Goldfinger by Ian Fleming (1959) is the seventh book in the James Bond series (£2,000) and is shown with four 18ct yellow gold skull rings by Theo Fennell.
 
Milne.pngFirst editions of The Complete Pooh Series by A.A. Milne of all four Pooh books (1924-8) are shown with some pieces from the Bee Collection by Theo Fennell. Only 5,175 copies of the first book When We Were Very Young were published so the Series is rare (£3,750).

Fennell commented in a press release: “I have really enjoyed this collaboration with Peter Harrington as it has allowed me to indulge in one of my greatest passions and a source of endless inspiration, books. Harrington’s always have such an eclectic selection that it is one of my dream places to gather ideas. I believe that, as well as being original and beautifully made, jewellery should be thoughtful, sentimental and provocative.”

The exhibition is on until July 12 at Theo Fennell gallery, 169 Fulham Road, London.

Images courtesy of Theo Fennell

There may be just one major auction on the calendar for this week, but it’s quite a sale. Sotheby’s London offers Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and Continental and Russian Books on Tuesday, July 3, in 188 lots.

  

The Breviary of Marie, Duchess of Bar (1344-1404), written and illuminated around 1360, rates the top estimate in the sale, at £500,000-700,000. Marie was the daughter of Bonne of Luxembourg and King John II of France and the sister of King Charles V of France and John, Duke of Berry (known for the Très Riches Heures). The breviary includes several full-page miniatures depicting Marie in prayer, and the Sotheby’s catalogue suggests that it was likely commissioned by her father in the years prior to her marriage. The manuscript previously sold at Sotheby’s in 1932 for £450.

  

A manuscript containing the first forty-four homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel of Matthew, identified through paleographical analysis as being written in Constantinople in the late ninth century, could sell for £200,000-300,000, while a mid-thirteenth-century Paris Bible illuminated in the style of the Leber Group rates an estimate of £80,000-120,000. A ten-volume, uncut set of the work known in English as Complete Heraldry of the Noble Families of the Russian Empire, from the Year 1797, published at St. Petersburg from 1798 through 1840, is estimated at £50,000-70,000.

  

blockbook.pngMost the lots in this sale are worth noting, but just a few other examples will have to suffice: the 1491 Vicenza second edition of Euclid’s Elementa Geometriae could fetch £40,000-60,000, while a single leaf from a fifteenth-century block book printed in the Netherlands (pictured) is estimated at £15,000-20,000. A copy of the first translation of Seneca into Castilian (Seville, 1491), in a contemporary binding of blind-stamped half calf over wooden boards, is also rated at £15,000-20,000.

  

Image credit: Sotheby’s

Would Honest Abe approve? At Julien’s Auctions in Las Vegas on June 23, a selection of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia was sold to benefit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, which has been in a tight spot since its 2007 purchase of the Barry and Louise Taper Collection of presidential relics. According to Smithsonian, to avoid selling the Lincoln artifacts, the foundation that runs the library approved the sale of some Monroe prints and objects also acquired in that 2007 purchase, including a terra cotta bust of poet Carl Sandburg once owned by Monroe (estimated at $20,000-30,000, but didn’t sell) and one of her little black dresses (estimated at $40,000-60,000, and sold for $50,000).

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 2.13.05 PM.pngDuring the same sale, Julien’s offered three Monroe-owned books, including E.M. Halliday’s The Ignorant Armies (1960) and A View of the Nation, An Anthology, 1955-1959 (1960), each of which realized $576. But a third book, Monroe’s prayer book for Jewish worship (pictured above), with the cover stamped “Marilyn Monroe Miller,” made $16,000.  

That last lot reminded me of a book offered at Doyle in 2017: her “somewhat worn” personal copy of The Form of Daily Prayers, According to the custom of the German and Polish Jews (1922). That one, however, estimated at $4,000-6,000, failed to sell.

Image courtesy of Julien’s

A new exhibition at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper, features the exquisite life-size trompe l’œil paper fashions of Belgian designer Isabelle de Borchgrave. The exhibition actually encompasses four distinct collections of hers: Papiers à la Mode (Paper in Fashion) looks at three hundred years of fashion history from Elizabeth I to Coco Chanel; The World of Mariano Fortuny focuses on twentieth-century Venice; Splendor of the Medici accents ceremonial dress in the streets of Florence; and Les Ballets Russes pays tribute to Sergei Diaghilev and his ballet company. Pictured below are a few highlights. 

SL-3-2018-1-41_Cosimo-I-de-Medici_7905 copy.jpgPhoto: Andreas von Einsiedel; Isabelle de Borchgrave, Cosimo I de’ Medici, 2007, based on a portrait by Ludovico Cardi in the collection of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence.

SL-3-2018-1-45_Lorenzo-il-Magnifico_7895 copy.jpgPhoto: Andreas von Einsiedel; Isabelle de Borchgrave, Lorenzo il Magnifico, 2007, based on the painting Journey of the Magi by Benozzo Gozzoli in the Medici Chapel in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence.

SL-3-2018-1-52_Flora_7900 copy.jpgPhoto: Andreas von Einsiedel; Isabelle de Borchgrave, Flora, 2006, based on the ca. 1481-82 painting La Primavera by Sandro Botticelli in the collection of the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Photo: Andreas von Einsiedel

You can also watch the artist at work here:

After quite a flurry of auctions last week, a quieter period this time round.

  

On Wednesday, June 27, Dorotheum in Vienna holds a sale of Books and Decorative Prints, in 497 lots. One major lot to keep an eye on in this one: a 1592 Plantin edition of Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, with a starting price of €50,000.

  

Also on Wednesday, Libros Antiguos y Contemporáneos de la Colección de un Bibliófilo at Morton Subastas, in 260 lots. Rating the top estimate, $130,000-150,000, is Don Antonio Del Rio’s Description of the Ruins of an Ancient City Discovered Near Palenque (1822). Athanasis Kircher’s Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae (Rome, 1646) is estimated at $125,000-140,000. García de Orta’s Aromatum, et Simplicium Aliquot Medicamentorum apud Indos Nascentium Historia (Antwerp, 1574) could fetch $60,000-80,000, while a Limited Editions Club copy of Octavio Paz’s Sight and Touch is estimated at $50,000-60,000.

256092_0.jpgPBA Galleries sells Art & Illustration, with Asian & Asian-American Material on Thursday, June 28, in 364 lots. Sharing the highest estimate at $15,000-25,000 are Osvald Sirén’s four-volume treatise Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century (1925) and a sixteen-volume set of Toyo Bijutsu Taikwan (“The Collection of the Eastern Arts”), published in Tokyo in 1919 (pictured). Lots 263-321 comprise the Richard Harris Smith Collection of Asian-American Literature and Illustration, while lots 322-364 are being sold without reserve.

  

Image credit: PBA Galleries

Initially released to theaters last year, Pressing On: The Letterpress Film becomes available on DVD & VOD today. Pressing On is a feature-length documentary that begins with a simple question: “Why hasn’t letterpress died?”

PressingOn_DigitalPoster_ExclusiveSmall copy.jpgPressing On is artfully composed and includes some great interviews with ‘old-timers’ and the new generation of printers that is benefiting from their knowledge and putting it to work. It is reminiscent of the 2009 film Typeface, which focused its attention on the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum (whose director, Jim Moran, is also interviewed in Pressing On). Pressing On is broader in scope -- spotlighting, for example, the Platen Press Museum in Zion, Illinois, and Nashville’s Hatch Show Print -- yet shares the sensibilities and sympathies of Typeface, and, well, letterpress lovers everywhere.

See for yourself by watching this trailer:

Pressing On: The Letterpress Film - Trailer #2 - Exclusive VOD from LetterpressFilm on Vimeo.



Image courtesy of Bayonet Media

very busy auction week coming up.

  

First, a quick survey of the five Aristophil sales this week: on Monday, June 18, Aguttes sells Beaux-arts, œuvres et correspondances, in 324 lots. Highlights are expected to include an illustrated Van Gogh letter (€250,000-300,000) and a second Van Gogh letter at the same estimated price, and Henri Matisse’s 1947 Jazz (€100,000-150,000). Tuesday sees two sales of nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature, at Drouot (96 lots) and Aguttes (116 lots). In the first, a collection of Paul Éluard’s letters to his first wife could sell for €300,000-400,000, and the manuscript for Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s Maudits Soupirs pour une autre Fois (pictured below) is estimated at €250,000-300,000. At Aguttes, the top-estimated lot is a manuscript of Victor Segalen’s Stèles (€100,000-120,000).

celine.pngTwo music sales on Wednesday, June 20: Musique, de Jean-Sébastien Bach à Boulez at Ader (151 lots) and Musique, de Lully à Stravinsky at Aguttes (176 lots). At Ader, anticipated highlights include a manuscript fragment of a Bach cantata and a complete Beethoven signed manuscript (both estimated at €150,000-200,000). In the final sale of the week, a Mozart youth serenade manuscript could sell for €120,000-150,000.

  

Also on Tuesday, Lyon & Turnbull sells Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs, in 432 lots. Richard Bowdler Sharpe’s monograph on birds of paradise rates the top estimate, at £15,000-18,000. Quite a few other interesting lots of ornithology and natural history more broadly. 

  

On Wednesday at Bonhams London, Fine Books, Manuscripts, Atlases & Historical Photographs, in 296 lots. Henry Popple’s twenty-sheet engraved map of North America could fetch £30,000-50,000, a notebook containing drafts of several Edward Thomas poems is estimated at £30,000-40,000, and a particularly fine copy of the first impression of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone rates a £25,000-35,000 estimate.

  

Dominic Winter Auctioneers sells Printed Books, Maps & Documents on Wednesday, in 535 lots. Items to watch include Bloch’s Ichthyologie (the first six parts bound in three volumes), estimated at £15,000-20,000, and an album containing 216 Hogarth etchings and engravings (£5,000-7,000).

  

A third sale on Wednesday is University Archives’ auction of Autographed Documents, Manuscripts, Books & Relics, in 266 lots. As usual with these sales, a fascinating array of notable things, but a large archive from Disraeli’s secretary Algernon Turnor is estimated at $40,000-50,000, and a ledger containing records of mail sent and received from Fort Bridger in 1860-1861 could sell for $30,000-40,000.

  

On Thursday, Swann Galleries sells Revolutionary & Presidential Americana from the Collection of William Wheeler III, in 229 lots. This catalog is definitely worth a browse for anyone with an interest in the field. Potential top lots include a May 3, 1776 pay order to express rider Jonathan Park and a Thomas Jefferson letter as Secretary of State to the governor of Maryland relating to the Genét affair (both estimated at $20,000-30,000), and a February 26, 1780 letter from George Washington to Nathanael Greene ($15,000-25,000).

  

Finally, also on Thursday, Dominic Winter Auctioneers holds a Modern Literature & First Editions sale, in 366 lots. This sale includes a number of children’s, fine press, and illustrated books, as well as toys, games, and film posters. A first issue of Casino Royale is estimated at £10,000-15,000, and a near-complete run of Matrix could fetch £2,000-3,000.

  

Image credit: Drouot

At auction in New York earlier today, the Portland Audubon -- the double-elephant folio of Audubon’s Birds of America once owned by the dukes of Portland -- sold for $9.65 million.

Screen Shot 2018-06-15 at 1.31.19 PM.pngOne of only thirteen copies left in private hands, the Portland Audubon was last seen at auction in 2012, when it sold just shy of $8 million. Because of its vibrant illustrations and full morocco binding, it is considered “undoubtedly among the very finest” copies of Audubon’s masterpiece, according to Christie’s. The bidding today started at $6 million and proceeded cautiously to $8.3 million, selling with premium for a total of $9.65 million. Thus is does not break the record for Birds of America, still held by the Hesketh copy sold in December 2010 for the equivalent of $11.5 million.

-To read more about how the proceeds of this sale will be used: https://www.audubon.org/news/a-rare-copy-audubons-birds-america-heads-auction-benefit-conservation

-To read more about John James Audubon’s personal history: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-ca-cm-audubon-birds-america-20180531-story.html

-To read more about the birds featured within: https://www.christies.com/features/Little-citizens-of-the-feathered-tribe-Audubon-Birds-of-America-9171-3.aspx

Image courtesy of Christie’s

A big week in the book-auction world, with a set of Birds of America on the block this Thursday.

  

At Bonhams New York on Tuesday, June 12, Fine Books and Manuscripts, in 287 lots. Top-estimated lots include an autograph manuscript of Beethoven’s “Emperor Concerto” ($250,000-350,000); a c.1489 Basel edition of Aesop, the first printed in Switzerland ($60,000-80,000); a first edition of Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum ($50,000-80,000); and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, extracted from the First Folio ($50,000-80,000). Audubon’s autograph manuscript of the description of the Crested Titmouse for his Ornithological Biography is estimated at $10,000-15,000.

  

PBA Galleries sells 205 lots of Rare Books & Manuscripts on Thursday, June 14. Among the expected highlights are a signed copy of the 1972 George Allen & Unwin edition of The Lord of the Rings ($8,000-12,000); the 1858 volume of The Zoologist containing the second printing of Darwin and Wallace’s first papers on natural selection ($8,000-12,000); and a complete set of Dickens’ Christmas Books, all first editions ($7,000-10,000).

audubon.png

Christie’s New York will sell The Portland Audubon on Thursday, June 14, at 2 p.m. This is a truly great copy of Birds of America, being sold by the Knobloch Family Foundation; it last sold at Christie’s on January 10, 2012, for $7,922,500. It is estimated at $8-12 million this time around. For the many Audubonophiles out there (myself included), this will be the one to watch this week. Following the Audubon set are 212 additional lots of Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana, and there are definitely some great lots in this part of the sale as well: a 1468 illuminated portolan atlas on vellum ($1.2-1.8 million), a first edition of Audubon’s Quadrupeds ($200,000-300,000), one of just six known proof copies on wove paper of the Stone facsimile of the Declaration of Independence ($200,000-300,000), and a Shakespeare Second Folio ($150,000-200,000). There’s also a copy of the first issue of MacWorld, signed by Jobs and Wozniak ($40,000-60,000).

  

Image credit: Christie’s

angel3.jpgWhen Barbara Slate was breaking new ground as a woman writing and illustrating comic books she wasn’t aware she should be saving the associated drafts and paperwork that went into creating her work. Then she met Center for Book Arts founder and distinguished book artist Richard Minsky, and he encouraged her to save everything. Now he is releasing a catalogue in preparation for the sale of the archive of her work, a project 30 years in the making that documents a crucial and often overlooked history in comic books -- the work of women artists in mainstream comics and the history of girl readership.

  
Minsky said of Slate’s relevance, “From her creation of Ms. Liz, the liberated woman character who first appeared on greeting cards in 1976, to her recent political cartoons on social media, Barbara Slate has been in the forefront of communicating strong role models to girls and women of all ages.”
  
Now, because of careful stewardship, Slate’s archive takes up 35 cubic feet of space, includes copies of her published comic books and work including scripts, layouts, editorial comments, drafts, revisions, original art, press clippings, ephemera, and digital materials. It also includes many unpublished works, screenplays, and commissioned projects, and even a pair of roller skates.
  
Before Slate’s groundbreaking Angel Love, a comic that ran in DC Comics from 1986-87, comics marketed for teen girls and women were focused on traditional values and aspirational lives like Betty and Veronica, which Slate also wrote and drew, and superheroes like Batgirl and Wonder Woman.
 
But Slate’s Angel Love was an unusual comic; it was, she explained, “full of drugs, sex, and rock and roll. When it came on the scene there was nothing like it that dealt with things going on for real in girls lives.” Unlike Betty and Veronica, Angel Love didn’t avoid sex, tragedy, abuse, difficult family relationships, divorce, or other challenges facing young women growing up. The series was the first by a mainstream comics publisher to tackle these topics, and, as a result, Slate’s work faced both condemnation and critical acclaim, and was labeled for mature readers without the Comics Code Authority Seal. One of the results of Angel Love was honest fan mail from teens telling her that it had made a difference in their lives, that she represented their lives, and that they’d found an honest storyteller in her, and therefore a friend -- this fan mail is a part of the archive.
 
Even a quick scroll through Minsky’s preview of Slate’s archive demonstrates what a significant piece of comics history Slate’s work represents, particularly since Slate worked both in alternative and mainstream comics. She drew traditional characters as well as girls and women who represented women that hadn’t been seen in comic books before -- a refreshing addition when so many women featured in comic books are a kind of dreamgirl stereotype and the representation of a male comic book artist’s fantasy. 
  
A limited edition of the Barbara Slate catalogue is available for pre-order. And those lucky enough to live in New York and want to learn how to make graphic novels can take her course at Cooper Union this June. 
  
Image courtesy of Barbara Slate

Readers of our summer issue were treated to a history of the Little Blue Books, written by Steven Cox, the curator of special collections and university archives at Pittsburg State University (PSU) in Pittsburg, Kansas. A full-length biography of the Little Blue Books’ complicated creator, Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, was also published this spring. And now, in a bid to keep the momentum going into the series’ one hundredth anniversary in 2019, PSU has put out a call for papers for a two-day symposium called The Little Blue Books at 100: Haldeman-Julius’s Revolutionary Publishing Venture. It is scheduled for March 29-30, 2019.

Little Blue Books.jpgHaldeman-Julius, long a proponent of socialism and free thought, took over the nation’s largest socialist newspaper, The Appeal, in March 1919. Soon thereafter he began publishing inexpensive and immensely popular little books on a variety of topics.

As Cox explained in a recent email, “During the course of his career, which spanned over thirty years, Haldeman-Julius printed and sold an estimated 500,000,000+ Little Blue Books, with over 2,000 different titles..... Haldeman-Julius, with help from his wife Marcet, revolutionized, if not created, mass-market publishing, making his products affordable to all. He also pushed the boundaries of publishing norms by being one of the earliest publishers to publish sexual education information. He popularized the self-help/improvement book, and was among the earliest to decry racial segregation and was the first to publish African-American literature anthologies.” 

PSU invites proposals for individual papers (including undergraduate and graduate-level papers) that explore the phenomenon of the Little Blue Books, and Emanuel Haldeman-Julius. These topics include, but are not limited to:

  
    •    Emanuel Haldeman-Julius
    •    Marcet Haldeman-Julius
    •    Haldeman-Julius’s Publishing and Marketing Measures
    •    The Socialist Press of Girard, Kansas
    •    Little Blue Books as Textbooks
    •    The Writers of the Little Blue Books
    •    Series found within the Little Blue Books
    •    The Legacy of the Little Blue Books
    •    Publishing Aspects of the Little Blue Books
    •    Little Blue Books as Literature
    •    Little Blue Books: Socialist Literature or Open-Minded/Free-Thinking Literature?
 
For more  information, visit: http://libguides.pittstate.edu/Haldeman-Julius_Symposium.
  

Image courtesy of PSU

An upcoming auction in New York on June 5 has an incredible selection of original book cover art -- eleven by my count, an unusually large number to be offered at once, and a few superlative pieces to boot. Highlights include Russell Tandy’s watercolor and gouache on board for the beloved Nancy Drew title, The Secret in the Old Attic (1944), several Edward Gorey watercolor illustrations, and some neat pulp cover art, including one by “King of Paperbacks” James Avati.

Nancy.jpgRussell Tandy’s illustration, “The Secret in the Old Attic,” for the book of the same name by Carolyn Keene, published as Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #21 (1944). Estimate $15,000-25,000.

Gorey Origins.jpgEdward Gorey’s “Origins of the Medieval World,” watercolor and ink illustration study for the cover of the book of the same name by William Carroll Bark (1960). Estimate $2,500-3,000.

Gorey SNow copy.jpgAnother of Gorey’s watercolor and ink illustrations -- “The Masters,” for the cover of a book of the same name by C. P. Snow (1951). Estimate $2,500-3,500.

Avati c.jpgAccording to Swann, this is the “King of Paperback’s First Published Cover:” James Avati’s “A Southern White Girl gets the Shock of her Life,” an oil on board used for the cover illustration for The Other Room by Worth Tuttle Hedden (1949). Estimate $5,000-7,500.

Barr Sharp.jpgKen Barr’s gouache on board used as the cover illustration for The Sharpshooter #6: Muzzle Blast by Bruno Rossi (1974). Estimate $500-700.

Eastman 1 .jpgNorm Eastman’s oil on board, “See How they Run,” used for the cover of a Pocket Books publication in 1970. Estimate $400-600.

Peyton copy.jpgAnd another from Eastman: “A Nice Girl from Peyton Place,” gouache and tempera on board, used as the cover illustration for the book of the same name by Roger Fuller (1970). Estimate $400-600.

Tombstone copy.jpgMorton Engle’s oil on board, “The most dangerous man that ever rode into Tombstone,” used as the cover illustration for Powder Burn by Bradford Scott (1957). Estimate $800-1,200.

Summer copy.jpgDarrell Greene’s oil and gouache on board, “A Summer Place,” used as the cover illustration for the Cardinal Giant edition of the book by Sloan Wilson (1959). Estimate $2,000-3,000.

Gorey sketch.jpgEdward Gorey’s ink sketch for the cover illustration of Stendhal: On Love (1957). Estimate $1,200-1,800.

Gorey Goth copy.jpgAnd one more from Gorey: Pen, ink, and marker cover design with transparency overlays for Ladies of the Gothics: Tales of Romance and Terror By the Gentle Sex... (1975). Estimate $5,000-7,500.

Images courtesy of Swann Galleries

On Tuesday, May 29, Christie’s Paris sells Livres rare et manuscrits in 95 lots. An impressive set of the Description de l’Egypte (1809-[1830]) from the library of Jean-Marie Dubois-Aymé, a contributor to the work, is estimated at €300,000-500,000. Maxime Du Camp’s photographic book Égypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie (1852) could sell for €250,000-350,000, and a Debussy music manuscript rates a €120,000-180,000 estimate.

   

Bonhams London sells Wassenaar Zoo: A Dutch Private Library on Wednesday, May 30, in 234 lots. Expected highlights include John Gould’s Birds of Australia (£100,000-150,000) and his Mammals of Australia (£50,000-70,000), Edward Lear’s Illustrations of the Family of Psitticidae (£40,000-60,000), and Daniel Giraud Elliot’s A Monograph of the Phasanidae (£35,000-45,000). Watch a future issue of Fine Books & Collections for more on this sale.

  

Modern First Editions, Illustrated Books & Limited Editions are the order of the day at Chiswick Auctions on Wednesday, in 226 lots. A first edition of Hemingway’s In Our Time (1924) is estimated at £15,000-18,000, with a first edition, first printing of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1901; pictured) rates the second-highest estimate, £12,000-15,000. Some interesting editions of classic fiction, &c. available in this sale.

peter.pngOn Thursday, May 31, PBA Galleries holds a sale of Americana with Manuscript Material, Travel & Exploration, and Cartography, in 438 lots. A copy on “superfine royal paper” of the first collected edition of The Federalist (New York, 1788) is estimated at $80,000-120,000, while an early copy of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn later owned by Sir Hugh Walpole could sell for $15,000-25,000.

  

Skinner begins an online sale of Fine Books & Manuscripts on May 31, which runs until June 8. The two lots with the highest starting bids ($25,000) are an 1858 oversized map of the Mississippi River, and the May 9, 1754 issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette, which featured the first appearance of Franklin’s “Join or Die” cartoon.

   

Image courtesy of Chiswick Auctions

Swann Galleries offers 19th & 20th Century Literature on Tuesday, May 15, in 310 lots. The top-estimated lot is a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s first book, Three Stories & Ten Poems (Paris: Contact, 1923), printed in just 300 copies ($20,000-30,000). A set of three first printed editions of Emily Dickinson’s poems could sell for $10,000 to $15,000. A copy of the first printed edition of Anne Frank’s diary (Amsterdam, 1947) in the third-issue dust jacket is estimated at $7,000-10,000. Also included are unbound long galley proofs for Philip K. Dick’s VALIS ($4,000-6,000) and Charles Dickens’ Bleak House in original monthly parts ($2,000-3,000).

  

At Toovey’s in West Sussex on Tuesday, Antiquarian & Collectors’ Books, in 354 lots. Luigi Mayer’s folio volume with aquatint plates Views in the Ottoman Empire (London, 1803), rebound, is estimated at £1,000-1,500. Mathias Koops’ Historical Account of the Substances which Have Been Used to Describe Events, and to Convey Ideas from the earliest Date to the Invention of Paper (London, 1800), printed on straw paper, could sell for £300-500. A number of lots in this sale are from the collection at West Horsley Place, the historic house inherited by Bamber Gascoigne in 2014.

  

Rounding out the trio of Tuesday sales, Sotheby’s London offers Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History Including the Library of Colin and Joan Deacon, in 419 lots. A set of eleven works by John Gould, in forty-three volumes in near-uniform green morocco bindings, could sell for £700,000-900,000. A volume containing a complete set of the Indian Tracts of Bartholomé de las Casas, in contemporary limp vellum binding with manuscript annotations and ownership notes recording that the volume belonged to Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (1539-1616), early historian of Peru, is estimated at £100,000-150,000. Fifteen albumen photographs of Mecca from the 1880s could fetch £80,000-120,000. A copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle rates a £25,000-35,000 estimate, and a copy of Audubon’s “Carolina Parrot” plate is estimated at £20,000-30,000.

  

Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 7.53.14 AM.pngOn Wednesday, May 16, Dominic Winter Auctioneers sells Printed Books, Maps & Documents, in 578 lots. Among the top-expected lots are John Speed’s 1676 A new and accurat map of the world (£5,000-8,000); a 1698 second edition of John Ogilby’s Britannia (£3,000-5,000); and James Bruce’s Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile (£1,500-2,000). If your library needs a set of steps, there’s a Victorian gothic oak set available, from Exeter College, Oxford (pictured right; £300-500).

  

PBA Galleries offers a Spring Miscellany on Thursday, May 17, in 455 lots. The highest estimate, $6,000-9,000, goes to a copy of Jean Charlot’s Picture Book (1933), this is one of five special sets containing progressive proofs for the 32 lithographs. (If this sounds familiar, it’s because it was offered last month with a higher estimate.) Lots 199-380 are being sold without reserve and lots 381-455 are shelf lots, also sold without reserve. Many lots related to Merle Armitage, John Henry Nash, and the Grabhorn Press will go under the hammer.

  

Image via Dominic Winter Auctioneers

In 1870, the eccentric American transportation entrepreneur George Francis Train took a trip around the world in eighty travel days (with a two-month stopover in Paris), so when Jules Verne published his bestselling Around the World in Eighty Days in 1873, Train was quick to claim, “Verne stole my thunder. I’m Phileas Fogg.” Ever the competitor--and self-publicist--Train undertook a total of three trips around the world, each time attempting to beat the record. His final trip clocked in at sixty days.

JC_TrainPassport_18.jpgNo doubt he was a well-traveled man, and here’s one of his passports to prove it. Train’s 1857 passport is one of many such documents that went on exhibit last month in Passports: Lives in Transit at Harvard’s Houghton Library. Issued to Train by the American Delegation in Great Britain, but written in French, which was at the time the language of international relations, this passport records his jaunts to Tuscany, Florence, and the Papal States. (This was long before he ran for president, published an obscene newsletter, or bankrolled Susan B. Anthony.)  

JC_TrainPassport_06.jpgCurated by Lucas Mertehikian and Rodrigo Del Rio, the exhibition also follows the paper trails of other nineteenth- and twentieth-century travelers, émigrés, and refugees like Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, physicist Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, and author/activist Shirley Graham Du Bois, and calls attention to larger geopolitical issues.  

“I realized the weight of what we were doing when we first opened George Train’s passport,” commented Del Rio. “This 19th-century American businessman claimed to be the inspiration for Around the World in Eighty Days. He basically could travel anywhere he wanted. Differently from the case of Leon Trotsky, who was continuously fleeing, or W.E.B. and Shirley Du Bois, who renounced their American citizenship due to pressure from the government, finally finding home in their ancestral Africa. Freedom of movement was thus unevenly distributed. The cosmopolitan desire of making the whole world your home was a dream only some people could have.”

The exhibition remains on view through August 18.

Images: Houghton Library, MS Am 2763 (12). Courtesy of Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Tomorrow the Philadelphia Museum of Art opens its new exhibition, Biting Wit and Brazen Folly: British Satirical Prints, 1780s-1830s. Sixty prints showcasing the brilliance of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century graphic satire, especially the work of George Cruikshank, James Gillray, William Heath, and Thomas Rowlandson, will be on display. Organized thematically, the exhibition considers how these caricaturists portrayed the art and fashion of their day. Of particular interest to me is the section devoted to prints of medical subjects, including, for example, Thomas Rowlandson’s The Hypochondriac (1788), a dark depiction of mental illness. According to the exhibition’s description online, “The preoccupation with disease was an inevitable subject for artists, as illness was prevalent in a modernizing London where medical procedures were still primitive and people were understandably skeptical of the state of knowledge and skill of medical practitioners.” Here are three examples that catch the eye and send a chill up the spine:

Rowlandson.jpgThe Amputation, 1785, by Thomas Rowlandson. Hand-colored etching and aquatint, published in London, England. Purchased by the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the SmithKline Beckman (later the SmithKline Beechman) Corporation Fund, 1982.

Heath.jpgA Little Rheum-Atick, 1828, by William Heath. Hand-colored etching, published by Thomas McLean, on 26 Haymarket Street, London, England. Purchased by the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the SmithKline Beckman (later SmithKline Beecham) Fund for the Ars Medica Collection, 1968.

Gout GIllray.jpgThe Gout, 1799, by James Gillray. Hand-colored etching (soft-ground), published by H. Humphrey, 27 St. James’s Street, London. Purchased by the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the SmithKline Beckman Corporation Fund, 1949.

The exhibition will be on view through August 22.

Next month, PBS will premiere an eight-part television series that asks, “What is America’s favorite book?” Hosted by Meredith Vieira, The Great American Read puts the focus on fiction and intends to “to get the country reading and passionately talking about books.” Episodes will feature authors, celebrities, and notable American book lovers. The idea is to “book club” the novels on the list with its viewers and then to get everyone to vote for their favorite via social media throughout the summer until the series finale, which will air in October.   

Great America.jpgIn preparation for the debut, PBS has posted its list of “100 most-loved books.” This list was created using the public opinion polling service YouGov, “to conduct a demographically and statistically representative survey asking Americans to name their most-loved novel.” About 7,200 responded, and the list was then winnowed according to criteria (e.g., each author was limited to one title, the book had to be published in English, etc.) set forth by an advisory panel of thirteen literary professionals. The result is an eclectic list -- a mixture of usual suspects like The Catcher in the Rye, Little Women, and The Great Gatsby, plus some high school curriculum classics like The Grapes of Wrath and Things Fall Apart, and then there are contemporary selections like Stephen King’s The Stand and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. By my count, 33 were written by women.

The two-hour premiere debuts on May 22. Until then, get reading! And check out the trailer here.

Image via PBS

If you have an inkling that you might want to pursue a career in the antiquarian book trade, and you haven’t yet heard of or checked out the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, stop what you are doing and get thee to the CABS website!

Now in its forty-first year, CABS provides an opportunity for leading specialists to share their expertise and experience with prospective booksellers, librarians, and collectors in a comprehensive survey of the rare book market. This year’s seminar will be held July 15-21 at Colorado College, in Colorado Springs. And there are many full scholarships available -- two for applicants from underrepresented groups that we’d like to draw attention to:

Both the Belle da Costa Greene Scholarship and the David Ruggles Scholarship, funded by collector and CABS faculty member Lisa Unger Baskin, provides to the successful candidate $2,000 to cover the cost of tuition, room and board ($1,646) with an additional $354 intended for travel or incidental expenses. According to the CABS website, these scholarships are “intended for a bookseller or a librarian from an historically underrepresented community. We encourage applications from booksellers and librarians from the African American, Latino/a/x, Asian American/Pacific Islander, LGBTQ+, working class, persons with disabilities, or other self-identified communities of booksellers or librarians who might benefit from this scholarship.”

Don’t delay: the deadline for these two scholarship applications is Friday, April 27.

We at Fine Books are big fans of CABS. To read more, see bookseller and CABS instructor Brian Cassidy’s 2009 post and his 2012 follow-up; see also bookseller Megan Bell’s 2014 essay about her experience, “My Week At Bookseller Hogwarts.”

On Monday, April 23, Australian Book Auctions sells Books and Documents, in 182 lots. The catalog is available as a PDF file. Three issues of the London Chronicle from March 1789, containing the first printed account of the settlement at Sydney (Lot 3), are estimated at AU$8,000-12,000, while Watkin Tench’s 1793 Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson in original boards (Lot 5) could sell for AU$10,000-15,000. 

  

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Doyle New York hosts a sale of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps on Wednesday, April 25, in 604 lots. See Rebecca’s post from last week about the items from the estate of Dr. Leo Hershkowitz coming up in this sale. Other lots include a first edition of The House at Pooh Corner signed by both Milne and Shepard and including an original Shepard drawing ($40,000-60,000) and a number of items from the estate of Arnold “Jake” Johnson.

  

At Swann Galleries on Thursday, April 26, Fine Illustrated Books & Graphics, in 278 lots. Copy No. 103 of Das Werk von Gustav Klimt (1918), the artist’s only monograph published during his lifetime, could fetch $25,000-35,000. Fernard Léger’s 1950 portfolio Cirque is estimated at $20,000-30,000. Among the other notable lots are a 1974 “Doubtful Guest” doll, one of an edition of fifty numbered copies signed by Edward Gorey ($4,000-6,000; pictured above), a copy of the Kelmscott Press Defense of Guenevere ($2,500-3,500), and a three-volume facsimile of the Book of Kells ($600-900).

  

On Saturday, April 28, Potter and Potter holds their Spring Magic Auction, in 705 lots. The lot to watch here is a two-volume scrapbook related to spiritualism and “spirit debunking,” kept and annotated by Harry Houdini and later owned and added to by Joseph Dunninger, a magician and friend of Houdini’s. The auction house has placed an estimate of $30,000-40,000 on the scrapbooks. A second lot of much interest to the Houdini collector is an extensive archive of material collected by Elliot Sanford, Houdini’s secretary and assistant ($10,000-15,000). Ed Marlo’s archive of magic trick manuscripts could sell for $5,000-8,000. Potter and Potter’s catalogs always make for interesting browsing, so do have a look through this one.

  

Image credit: Swann Galleries

Coming to auction next week is a small collection of New York City books, maps, and ephemera that belonged to Dr. Leo Hershkowitz, a professor, urban archaeologist, and inveterate collector. Hershkowitz, who died last year at the age of 92, was well known as an “archival scavenger,” as likely to be found sifting through hampers full of deaccessioned documents or digging up artifacts in construction sites. As the New York Times wrote in his obituary, “From bundles of papers earmarked for disposal by the city comptroller’s office, he saved coroner’s records from the late 18th and early 19th centuries that recorded infanticides, suicides, drownings -- and the killing of Alexander Hamilton by Aaron Burr in a duel across the Hudson in Weehawken, N.J.”

Just over thirty lots from his estate head to auction at Doyle on April 25 -- most of Hershkowitz’s collections were donated to institutions before his death, namely the N-YHS, the American Jewish Archives, and NYU’s Tamiment Library. He also sold material at auction; what is on offer next week is “what remains of a very quality and scholarly New York collection,” said Doyle’s executive director of books, autographs, and photographs, Peter Costanzo. “He would stumble upon something New York and he would buy it.”

Ratzer.jpgThe famous Bernard Ratzer map of New York is one such item, the choicest of the lots. It is the 1776 edition, reissued just as the Revolutionary War was getting underway and maps were in great demand. Today it is seen infrequently at auction, thus the estimate of $80,000-100,000. This was not one of his dumpster finds, Costanzo pointed out. Hershkowitz bought it at auction decades ago and cherished it. “It was just the one thing he wouldn’t part with throughout his life,” he said.

Eddy.jpgAnother favorite is the first edition of Thomas Eddy’s Account of the State Prison, or Penitentiary House, in N.Y. City, 1801, with two folding engraved plates, and two folding letterpress tables. The estimate is $600-900. This book is rare and very desirable to Greenwich Village collectors, said Costanzo. Only one copy can be traced at auction in the last twenty years.

DT.jpgA rare, chronologically complete run of D.T. Valentine’s Manual of the Common Council of New York, 1841-1870 is notable for its “wealth of maps, plates and information about the growing city during the 19th-century.” The estimate is $1,500-2,500.

Picture Book.jpgA first edition of The Picture of New-York; or the Traveller’s Guide through the Commercial Metropolis of the United States, 1807, with a map engraved by Peter Maverick shows contemporary hand-coloring. According to the catalogue, “Mitchill’s Picture of New-York is the first New York City guide book of its kind and was the inspiration for Irving’s Knickerbocker’s A History of New York (1809).” Interestingly, said Costanzo, the map is an update of the 1803 Mangin-Goerck map, and it used “fanciful projection” to show the city not as it actually was, but as it might be one day, perhaps to lure tourists. The estimate is $600-900.

Images courtesy of Doyle NY

Three auctions I’ll be watching this week, all on Thursday, April 19:

  

At Swann Galleries, The Knowing Eye: Photographs & Photobooks, in 332 lots. An inscribed Ansel Adams photo, “Winter in Yosemite,” and Alfred Eisenstaedt’s “Premier at La Scala, Milan, Italy” share the top estimate at $40,000-60,000. A poignant group of five Dorothea Lange photographs of displaced Japanese-Americans could fetch $30,000-45,000. Good selections of works by Edward S. Curtis, Walker Evans, Eadweard Muybridge will also be sold, as well as a collection of more than 1,500 NASA photographs ($9,000-12,000).

  

Livres Anciens & Manuscrits at Aguttes in Neuilly-sur-Seine, in 276 lots. A set of 18th- and 19th-century manuscript maps and plans relating to the Château de Bois is estimated at €20,000-25,000, while a second lot of documents about the castle rates a €10,000-15,000 estimate in its own right. A François Masson du Parc manuscript relating to seabirds (pictured below), dated 1721, could sell for €12,000-15,000. Also included are a group of six Charles Dickens letters to his friend and publisher Francis Dalziel Finlay (€4,000-5,000), several Paul Verlaine manuscripts, and a wide range of other material.

   

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At PBA Galleries, another wide-ranging sale, in 350 lots: Illustrated & Children’s Books, Art, and Photography (Lots 1-201), Fine Press Books (Lots 202-277), Books about Books (Lots 278-324, with 295-324 sold without reserve), and twenty-five lots at the end sold without reserve. An original E. H. Shepard drawing of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, dated 1932, is expected to lead the way at $40,000-60,000. One of five special sets of Jean Charlot’s Picture Book, containing progressive proofs for the 32 lithographs, is estimated at $10,000-15,000. A composite binding made in 1999 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Religious Tract Society, created over fifteen volumes to make a scene from Blake’s “Good and Evil Angels,” is estimated at $1,500-2,500. Grabhorn Press collectors may want to keep an eye on this one, too.

  

Image credit: Aguttes

On Tuesday, April 10, University Archives sells Autographed Documents, Manuscripts, Photos, Books & Relics, in 254 lots. A 1726 Mohawk land deed signed by Hendrick Theyanoguin and eight additional Mohawk leaders is estimated at $25,000-30,000, as is a signed copy of Thomas Jefferson’s 1821 letter to Dr. Samuel Brown at Transylvania University in which Jefferson argues against recent tariffs placed on imported books. A July 1861 letter from General Robert Anderson immediately following the first Battle of Bull Run could fetch $10,000-12,000. The letterbook of Revolutionary War commissary Minne Voorhees is estimated at $12,000-14,000. Also up for grabs is a piece of a mahogany bed presented to John Quincy Adams during his service as minister to England ($1,000-1,200) and a data recorder from NASA’s Apollo program ($500-600).

  

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Dominic Winter sells Printed Books, Maps & Documents on Wednesday, April 11, in 586 lots. Benjamin Franklin’s Experiments and Observations on Electricity (London, 1769; pictured), is estimated at £5,000-8,000, while a copy of the c.1690 second edition of John Seller’s pocket celestial atlas could sell for £4,000-6,000. The sale includes a selection of bookbinding equipment, tools, and reference books (lots 421-450), and lots 500-586 are group lots, some of which have a great deal of potential.

  

Thursday, April 12 sees two sales: Printed & Manuscript Americana at Swann Galleries, in 323 lots, and Rare Golf Books & Memorabilia From the Collection of John Burns and the Library of Ron Muszalski, with additions at PBA Galleries, in 431 lots. Top lots at Swann could include the copy of Paine’s American Crisis (highlighted in a previous post), a copy of the Nauvoo Neighbor Extra broadside of June 30, 1844 which contains the first official account of the killing of Joseph Smith, and a 1566 Mexican imprint (all three estimated at $50,000-75,000). A volume of business records from a Mexican silver mine covering the years 1576-77 could sell for $25,000-35,000, while a copy of the unauthorized second edition of the “Reynolds Pamphlet” rates a $10,000-15,000 estimate.

  

At PBA Galleries, the signed, limited first edition of Down the Fairway: The Golf Life and Play of Robert T. Jones, Jr. is expected to lead the way, at $10,000-15,000. A number of other lots will be of much interest to the Bobby Jones collector. A copy of the 1566 issue of the acts of the Scottish parliament which contains the first mention of golf in print (in a 1457 law to discourage it) is estimated at $1,500-2,000.

  

Photo credit: Dominic Winter Auctioneers

In 1932 the famed art historian Kenneth Clark, the director of the National Gallery in London, and his wife Jane Clark, commissioned Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant to produce a 148-plate dinner service for his personal household. They were not specific about what the theme or subject the plates should be, and Bell and Grant decided together upon representing famous women through the ages from England and from across the globe, with both London stage actresses Ellen Terry and Sarah Siddons, to more farflung historical women like the Queen of Sheba and Sappho. Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell’s portraits are included in the plates, as was one man (lucky fellow) artist Duncan Grant. The artists traveled to Stoke-on-Trent and toured pottery factories, selecitng Wedgwood creamware blanks that have a homespun quality resembling the plain arts-and-crafts styling of the Omega Workshop artists.

  

Plates.jpgThe plates were a part of the private estate of the Clarks, and then were inherited by Clark’s second wife, who then left them to her daughter, who years later sold them at an auction in Hamburg. The auction house closed and records weren’t available, and the plates disappeared from view. The plates were known for decades only from a photograph of the Clark’s dinner table. 

  

Through a lucky series of events involving the clearance and sale of a flat in London, the plates were discovered again by Dr. Robert Thomas, the founder of Piano Nobile, who only saw a glance of a few and didn’t at first realize what he was looking at. It was only later when a purchaser of the flat and its contents decided to sell the plates that Thomas realized what he had first spied. 

  

The bold and provocative feminist aspect of the plates, and the fact that it precedes Judith Chicago’s similarly themed dinner service, “The Dinner Party,” has only just become recent news. Matthew Travers, a director at London’s Piano Nobile gallery, told Artnet, “All of the women they depicted did something interesting and powerful, and often were quite scandalous--the Bloomsburys might have said ‘liberated’--in the way they lived their private lives, and often did not conform to the patriarchies they were living in.”

  

“This is the holy grail of Bloomsbury ceramics because it was lost for a generation,” said Thomas, who acquired them and is hoping the plates will go to Charleston, the estate of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Until that happens, they are on view through April 28. 

  

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Speaking of which, this watercolor plate design (above) for Bell’s Charlotte Brontë plate, 1932, sold last year at Forum Auctions for £8,125 ($10,480).

  

Images: (Top) Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, The Famous Women Dinner Service, 1932-34. Courtesy of Piano Nobile; (Bottom) Courtesy of Forum Auctions.

Three auctions I’ll be watching this week:

  

At Dorotheum in Vienna on April 4, a sale of Antique Scientific Instruments, Globes and Cameras, in 636 lots. A c.1500 sundial known as a “navicula de Venetiis,” or “little ship of Venice,” and a c.1400 brass astrolabe quadrant rate the joint top opening price, at €10,000. An armillary sphere from around 1840, identified as probably the work of Charles Dien in Paris, starts at €2,400. Among the globes, a celestial example from Vienna, c.1845, has an opening price of €1,500.

  

The following day, PBA Galleries holds a sale of Fine & Rare Books, in 459 lots. At $5,000-8,000, the top-estimated lot is Coleridge’s Christabel, Kubla Khan, The Pains of Sleep (London: John Murray, 1816). A copy of the 1534 Aldine Tacitus could fetch $3,000-5,000. An elaborately-bound copy of William Blake’s (not that William Blake) 1670 charity publication The Ladies Charity School-house Roll of Highgate is estimated at $1,500-2,000. For the printing historian, there’s a copy of the 1650 publication arguing that Johann Mentelin should be credited as the developer of printing rather than Gutenberg ($1,000-1,500). Lots 355 to 459 are being sold without reserve.

  

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Finally, on April 7, Potter & Potter sells Entertainment Memorabilia, in 856 lots. An unrestored poster for Casablanca (1942; pictured) opens at $20,000 and is estimated at $40,000-60,000. Also on the block are Greta Garbo’s monogrammed mink coat ($9,000-12,000), Cole Porter’s backgammon set ($4,000-8,000). A few books are include, among them a copy of the Southern Treasury of Life and Literature inscribed by Margaret Mitchell to producer David Selznick $3,500-4,500).

  

Image courtesy of Potter & Potter

Only four copies of the first edition of Thomas Paine’s morale-boosting pamphlet, The American Crisis (“These are the times which try men’s souls...”) were known to survive, but a fifth has come to light and heads to auction in New York on April 12, estimated to reach $75,000.

Where did this Revolutionary War-era rarity turn up? In a garage in Mount Pleasant, Utah.

Am Crisis.jpgIn the summer of 2015, Lynn and Joan Varah decided to tackle some old boxes that had been taking up space in their garage for years. One box contained “hundreds of aging letters and documents,” according to a local news report. So they called in a friend, David Foster, who has some expertise with documents and genealogy. With a bit of online research, Foster soon realized what they had, and they decided to sell it and split the profits.

744346_view_03.jpgPublished in December 1776, this copy of The American Crisis was first owned by postmaster and tavern owner Thomas Wallin (1754-1835) of New Jersey. According to Swann Galleries’ cataloguing, it then passed to his granddaughter Margaret Wallin Ivins McKean, a Mormon convert who moved from New Jersey to Salt Lake City sometime before her death in 1886. From there, the next known owner was Donald Drake, who had acquired a box of McKean family papers before he moved to Mount Pleasant, Utah, in 1976. Drake apparently left the papers in the corner of a garage on his sister’s property. When he died in 1991, the papers were inherited by his wife, who may not have known of their existence, and upon her death in 2015, they became the property of her sister, Joan Varah, and her husband Lynn.  

Some staining and soiling betrays the book’s long journey. As Rick Stattler of Swann Galleries told KSL.com, “It looks like it was carried on a wagon train out west -- which, apparently it was ... That’s probably the most interesting thing about it. It was carried across the country and I think that’s just a very compelling artifact.”

This first state copy contains parts I and II (lacking the third) and is bound in waste-paper wrappers made from an 1831 advertising broadside selling books. A first state copy of The American Crisis was last seen at auction in 1955. Swann sold a second (but complete) edition in 2014 for $125,000.

As the author of Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places, I can’t help but be thrilled by a discovery of this magnitude. As David Foster put it to KSL.com, “Who knows what’s in anybody’s garage, right?”

Images courtesy of Swann Galleries

Sure, we all know Hay-on-Wye, but how many other book towns can you name? How about forty-four more? In his new book, Book Towns: Forty-Five Paradises of the Printed Word, author Alex Johnson outlines the world’s biblio-havens, from Hobart, New York, to Featherston, New Zealand, to Borrby, Sweden. This copiously illustrated guidebook offers travel tips and insightful details about each location -- taken as an itinerary, it could make for one heck of a biblio-tour!  

9780711238930 Book_Towns copy.jpgJohnson, also the author of Bookshelf, Improbable Libraries, and another new book, A Book of Book Lists, chatted with me about Book Towns and some of his favorite literary spots around the globe.    

RRB: How did the idea for this book come about? Are you an avid ‘literary tourist’?

AJ: I’ve written several ‘books about books’ and each time I did the research, I kept coming across more and more book towns around the world that were doing really rather well. But nobody had written anything substantial pulling the various parts of the movement together, other than an occasional article online. So basically I wrote the book about them that I wanted to read, which I realize is a bit selfish.

Yes, I’m afraid my sons would confirm that our holidays tend to be a bit book-dominated. That’s partly my upbringing. My father was an English teacher and librarian, and my mother ran a mobile bookshop, so wherever we went on holiday we spent about half of it in secondhand bookshops and always came home with our titchy car crammed with new purchases. I still make a point today of looking up where the nearest good bookstores are once we’ve booked wherever we’re going (though I do it quietly when nobody is looking to avoid my family’s hurtful scorn). There’s also an element of literary pilgrimage too to our vacations, so, for example, when I dropped my son off at an activity camp near Dorchester recently, I made an immediate beeline for the cottage where Thomas Hardy grew up and then the house in which he lived in later life. I think a lot of people are like this though. Well, I hope so.

RRB: How many of these book towns have you been to? Where to next?

AJ: I’ve been to the ones in the UK and a couple in Spain where my in-laws live. They’re remarkable places, spots in the world which give you a bit of hope for the future of civilization after all the terrible stuff in the news grinds you down. The people who have set them up and kept them going are so impressive - none of them have massive funding and they all rely hugely on volunteers. I’d like to go to a lot more but I’ve still got young children to look after so it’ll have to wait until they’re off the payroll and I can escape. I think the likeliest next one will be Hobart -- we’ve got various friends living in that part of the world that we’re planning to visit in the very near future. Obviously, I’ve not told my kids the real reason for going. I have to say that I’m not short of invitations to visit these book towns -- without exception, everybody I spoke to about what they were doing was extremely friendly and insisted that I come to see them, and indeed stay in their houses. That’s quite something to offer a stranger from a different landmass who’s interrupted their day with some idiotic questions.

RRB: Which is your favorite -- or, if that’s impossible to answer, perhaps your top three?

AJ: I’d really like to visit Fjaerland in Norway. The photos of it look absolutely spectacular and one of my best friends who went recently said it was amazing. It was also the book town which really gave birth to the book as it was the one I used to convince the publishers that it would be a subject worth going into in depth. It’s a bit of a cheat, but it would be very pleasant indeed to do a slow mini-tour of all the French ones and compare how different each one’s take is on the concept. And finally, Paju in South Korea. It’s not the typical book town which is usually very rural and beautiful, but there’s something magnetic about a town which is 100% devoted to the production of books.

RRB: I particularly enjoyed reading about Bellprat, Spain, and its Sant Jordi celebration. Tell our readers about it.

AJ: Sant Jordi is marvellous. My father-in-law lives in Catalonia so I’ve been privileged to see plenty of regional celebrations (I nearly broke my glasses taking part in a human pyramid a few years ago), but this is certainly one of my favourites. Every World Book Day on April 23, couples exchange gifts, or more precisely, books (historically it’s a book for the men and a rose for the women, but now it’s books all round really). It’s like a literary Valentine’s Day with bookstalls everywhere, in tiny villages as well as Barcelona, and a lot of literary events are held. A huge number of books, well over a million, are sold in the days running up to it. Booksellers in other countries would do well to copy it! It doesn’t surprise me that Catalonia is home to perhaps the most up and coming book town organization. Within a few years, I think there will be lots more dotted around the region.

RRB: Another surprise was Wunsdorf, Germany, the former headquarters of the German Armed Forces, now dubbed the ‘book and bunker’ town. It sounds intriguing!  Have you visited?

AJ: Sadly not, but my German mother-in-law was amazed to see it in the book when she was reading it because while it has a remarkable military history, it gets very little coverage. That somewhere which was the centre of the Nazi war machine, and then became a virtual enclave of Russia after the second world war could just disintegrate into near oblivion and then be reborn as a book town feels like a plot for a novel that nobody would believe. My eldest son is very keen on German so perhaps I should suggest we all go there for a holiday...

Image courtesy of Quarto

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Mark Dion. The Library for the Birds of London (detail) 2018. Mixed media; steel, wood, books, zebra finches, and found objects. Installation view of Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World at Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2018. Photo: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire

  

At Mark Dion’s new exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London (through May 13) visitors can step inside The Library for the Birds of London, a giant birdcage, library of sorts, and aviary -- a temporary home to 22 zebra finches as well as 600 books devoted to ornithology, environmentalism, literature, and the natural sciences. It is a thought-provoking and joyful bombardment of birds and historically important books about birds that challenges viewers to engage with the social finches (their chirps are projected with help of microphones suspended from the cage).

 

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Mark Dion. Hunting Blind (The Librarian) 2008. Mixed media, 522x180x180cm. Installation view of Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World at Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2018. Photo: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire

  

Although the books aren’t rare themselves, the overall effect is to create a discussion about the role and history of the naturalist, scientist, and explorer as communicator and processor of nature. Dion’s artwork is usually comprised of often large-scale installations that play with our cultural ideas of the natural world and how we attempt to make order of it in personal and institutional collections. In this latest exhibition, a retrospective of installations since 2000, Dion continues to plumb his obsession with cabinets of curiosities, natural specimens, and the books about them and how nature is organized, managed, controlled, and exploited by humans. 

 

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Mark Dion. The Library for the Birds of London (detail) 2018. Mixed media; steel, wood, books, zebra finches, and found objects. Installation view of Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World at Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2018. Photo: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire

  

The majority of the installations are oozing with books; there are books in an installation set up like a naturalist’s study, as well as a hunting blind raised off the floor that serves as a library. Each installation provokes and pokes fun at our attempt to understand and classify our natural world. Dion’s work both brings nature closer to us, and to our attempts to understand what nature is -- the pursuit of knowledge can simultaneously honor and harm our environment, the desire for understanding can be beautiful and enriching, and it can also be disturbing. There are many ways to interpret Dion’s newest work, but for the book-and-bird obsessed, it may approach the ecstatic experience of spotting a rare species in the wild.

Five auctions to watch this week, leading off with a Wednesday, March 21 sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts at Bonhams London. The 408 lots include items from the collections of Charles Benson, Esq. (lots 45-65), Capt. J.D.G. Fortescue (lots 110-154), art dealer Kenneth John Hewett (lots 155-202), and Frieda Hughes (lots 301-408), as well as a private collection of ferns, seaweeds, and mosses (lots 218-249). Sylvia Plath’s own copy of The Bell Jar is estimated at £60,000-80,000, and her Hermes 3000 typewriter could sell for £40,000-60,000. An 1871 Charles Darwin letter to his son George is estimated at £30,000-40,000.

  

On Thursday, March 22, Swann Galleries sells Autographs, in 260 lots. Leading the way are a 1778 George Washington letter to Gen. James Clinton (estimated at $25,000-35,000), a secretarial manuscript of Walt Whitman’s last poem with the poet’s corrections and signature ($20,000-30,000), and a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Gen. Nathanael Greene written in February 1781 ($15,000-25,000).

  

Quite a mix at PBA Galleries on March 22, with a sale of Americana - Travel & Exploration - World History - Cartography, in 435 lots. A rare Mormon pamphlet, The Voice of Truth (1844), containing the last sermon delivered by Joseph Smith, is estimated at $30,000-50,000, while two early letters by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. could fetch $20,000-30,000. Lots 377-435 are being sold without reserve, so bargains may well be a possibility.

  

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Also on Thursday, Forum Auctions sells Fine Books and Works on Paper, in 601 lots. Among the projected top sellers are some 125 drawings of Irish lighthouses and islands by lighthouse commissioner Robert Callwell (£6,000-8,000), a collection of the works of Col. Henry Hope Crealock (£5,000-8,000) and a rather worn copy of the first edition, first printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (£6,000-8,000).

  

Finally, on Saturday, March 24, Addison & Sarova sells Rare Books & Paper, in 186 lots. Items to watch include a 1578 Gerard de Jode world map ($10,000-15,000) and a 1502 Milan edition of John Mandeville’s travels ($30,000-40,000). 

  

Image credit: Forum Auctions

Nobody ever says “men artists.” Females in the creative arts, however, are often described as women painters, women cartoonists, or women illustrators. Why not just call them artists, illustrators, or cartoonists? 

   

Drawn-to-Purpose-Book-Cover copy.jpgThat question came up at a panel discussion yesterday at the Library of Congress honoring the publication of Drawn to Purpose: American Women Illustrators and Cartoonists by Martha H. Kennedy (University Press of Mississippi, 2018). The book complements and expands on an exhibition of the same name currently on view at the library and curated by Kennedy, curator of popular and applied graphic art in the library’s prints and photographs division. 

   

“When we say ‘women illustrators,’ we create a separate category that’s problematic,” said panelist Whitney Sherman, illustrator and director of the MFA in illustration practice program at the Maryland Institute College of Art. 

   

The “Drawn to Purpose” exhibition and companion book can be seen as part of a larger push to make the work of female cartoonists and illustrators more visible. In the commercial publishing sector, identity has become more and more marketable--which gives some artists pause.

   

“It’s a burgeoning industry of recognizing women,” Sherman said. “I don’t want to be a trend. I want to be part of the whole.”

   

Barbara Brandon-Croft, creator of the strip “Where I’m Coming From,” talked about her experience as a black female cartoonist. “Where I’m Coming From,” a groundbreaking strip that featured a group of African-American female friends talking about their lives, made its first appearance in 1989 in the Detroit Free Press and ran until 2005 in national syndication. When Universal Press Syndicate was trying to sell the strip, Brandon-Croft recalled editors would say “But we already have ‘Cathy,’” as though there was room for only one cartoon about women and their lives--even though it was fine for the same papers to run both “Heathcliff” and “Garfield.” 

   

Being black and being female, Brandon-Croft said, makes a historically uneven playing field even harder to get traction on. “If you want your point of view heard, you have to make yourself heard, and nobody likes a loud woman, it seems,” she said. 

    

Jillian Tamaki, illustrator, comic artist, and co-creator of “This One Summer,” graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 2003. Working in the largely female field of YA and ‘kidlit’ illustration, she said, she still sees gender bias play out in who gets book deals, money, awards, and the kind of attention that builds high-profile careers. “It’s a matriarchy in some ways, but inequalities persist, especially when power comes into it,” she said. 

   

Tamaki said, “There’s a reason the canon is the way it is and looks the way it does. I think you need to aggressively reshape it.” Publishing, she said, needs “to be more intentional and more aware” of existing power structures that promote some artists at the expense of others. “There’s a lot of questioning of those structures” now, she said, especially by up and coming artists and readers who want to see their own experiences valued and reflected by the industry.

      

Social media has accelerated that process, and boosted careers, by building communities and putting illustrators and cartoonists directly in touch with people who appreciate their work. The Internet has its dangerous corners--stories of online abuse directed at women abound in almost every field--and raises some complicated arts-versus-marketing questions for artists of any gender, who can feel pressure to brand themselves as part of their work. 

      

“It can be really scary,” Tamaki said. “But I can’t imagine my career without it.”

   

Many cartoonists and illustrators use Instagram and Tumblr as platforms for sharing their work now, the panelists said. That’s where a lot of the action is--and it’s one of the biggest challenges for curators thinking about how to present and preserve the contemporary work being created by cartoonists and illustrators of all genders.

   

-Jennifer Howard is a writer based in Washington, D.C. She wrote a feature story on the “Drawn to Purpose” exhibition for FB&C’s spring 2018 issue. Follow her on Twitter: @JenHoward

   

Image: Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Well, it’s officially Rare Book Week in New York! As we’ve done for the past few years now, we’ve put together a handy guide to the book fairs, auctions, exhibitions, and other eating/drinking/browsing opportunities available to those who make the annual biblio-pilgrimage. It’s all here.

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 7.39.31 PM.pngBut that’s not all. There are two more events worth putting on your literary itinerary.

On Thursday, March 8, at 2:30-3:30 pm, just prior to the NYABF’s preview night, antiquarian bookseller Justin Croft will be delivering the 2018 Grolier Club Rare Book Week lecture: “Published without Publicity,” a personal view of the privately produced manuscript book.

And on Sunday, March 11, at 10:00 a.m., the ABAA Women’s Initiative will host Collections and Women: A Panel Discussion at the Park Avenue Armory. Panelists Elizabeth Denlinger (curator, NYPL), Sarah Gordon (postdoctoral fellow in women’s history, New-York Historical Society), and Molly Schwartzburg (curator, UVA) will address some of the many facets of women and collecting, in a wide-ranging discussion moderated by antiquarian bookseller Nina Musinsky.

Opening this weekend at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is an exhibition titled Beyond Words: Book Illustration in the Age of Shakespeare. Curated by Caroline Duroselle-Melish, it includes more than eighty rare books and prints from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century and features woodcuts, engravings, and etchings, some even in color. According to a press release, “The books and prints are from England and a number of European nations, bringing to life the circulation of ideas--both verbal and visual--in Shakespeare’s day.” Here’s a sneak peek at some of the extraordinary illustrations on display:

smPinder_152966 copy.jpgHand-colored images of urine flasks from a 1506 medical guide, meant to diagnose illnesses based on different colors.

smLutherSermon_009416 copy.jpgThe title page of a sermon by Martin Luther printed in Wittenberg in 1522, packed with images of animals, people, and a printing press.

smAbbaGregory_152797 copy.jpgAn intriguing 1691 portrait of an Ethiopian abbot, a rare image of an African scholar of the time.

Beyond Words remains on view through June 3. You can also follow on social media via the hashtag #FolgerBeyond.

Images courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

In 1921, T.S. Eliot took leave from his banking job and went to the seaside town of Margate in Kent, England. It was meant to be a period of convalescence, but Eliot spent his time working on what would become his most famous work, a long poem called The Waste Land. “On Margate Sands./I can connect/Nothing with nothing,” he wrote. It was published a year later and has inspired countless writers and artists ever since.

Journeys with 'The Waste Land' at Turner Contemporary, photography Thierry Bal (12)(1) copy.jpgThe connection between Eliot’s poem and the art it inspired--and, indeed, the landscape at the root of it all--is explored in a new exhibition titled Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’ that opened earlier this month at Turner Contemporary in Margate. A group of locals who comprise the Waste Land Research Group curated the exhibition.

Journeys with 'The Waste Land' at Turner Contemporary, photography Thierry Bal (5)(1) copy.jpgSpotlighting the work of more than sixty artists, including Berenice Abbott, R. B. Kitaj, and Edward Hopper, the exhibition has been hailed as “a lively, imaginative and evocative show that by revelling (just as Eliot did) in the collage of our culture with its vast cast of characters, dense overlay of references and polyphony of voices, captures the atmosphere of the poem to which it pays visual tribute.”

Journeys with 'The Waste Land' at Turner Contemporary, photography Thierry Bal (3)(1) copy.jpgJourneys with ‘The Waste Land’ remains on view through May 7.  

Images of the exhibition’s installation. Credit: Thierry Bal.

A quick update on last week’s sales first: at Lyon & Turnbull, that album of early photographs of India sold for £40,000 (over the estimate of £5,000-8,000). At Swann Galleries, an 1873 album of photographs from an Army Corps of Engineers project in Louisiana fetched $93,750, over estimates of just $15,000-20,000.

                                                                                                                                                                  On Wednesday, February 21, University Archives sells Autographed Documents, Manuscripts, Books & Relics, in 248 lots. A map of Cuba consulted by President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, known as the “Victory map,” is estimated at $30,000-35,000, while an archive of letters and other documents written by Elizabeth Bacon Custer could sell for $20,000-25,000. A varied sale with a number of very interesting lots.

                                                                                                                                                                          PBA Galleries offers Fine Books, Science & Medicine, Art, Illustration & Children’s Literature on February 22, in 492 lots. The top estimate goes to Johann Friedrich Dieffenbach’s Surgical Observations on the Restoration of the Nose (1833) at $10,000-15,000. An inscribed first edition of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas is estimated at $1,000-1,500.

                                                                                                                                                                           Heritage Auctions in Dallas holds a pair of sales toward the end of the week:

                                                                                                                                                                                    - From February 22 to 24, a Comics and Comic Art Signature Auction, with 1,415 items up for grabs. An original Frank Frazetta painting, “Tree of Death” (1970), has a $300,000 reserve, while original cover art for Amazing Spider-Man No. 100 has a $190,000 current bid at time of writing. An issue of Batman No. 1 (pictured) currently stands at $160,000. 

                                                                                                                                                                          

batman.jpeg                                                                                                                                                                                     - On February 24, Heritage offers the second part of The David and Janice Frent Collection of Political & Presidential Americana, in 659 lots. As with the political memorabilia sale noted last week, this auction offers a very wide range of material types, and the catalog (like that for University Archives sale above) makes for an excellent browse. There are some neat campaign broadsides--including one for an 1864 Lincoln-Johnson meeting--and textiles, plus notable campaign items like a rebus-style stickpin for Winfield Scott Hancock and an exceedingly strange-looking 1912 Bull Moose/Elephant “fusion” button.

February 16 marks the 150th anniversary of photographer Edward S. Curtis’ birth. Curtis, a middle-school dropout who died in relative obscurity, is best known now for his visionary (and budget-breaking) twenty-volume set of photographs and ethnographic descriptions called The North American Indian. Volume one appeared in 1907, with the support of Theodore Roosevelt and J. P. Morgan. (Read more about Curtis’ life in our 2011 feature.)

OasisInTheBadlands.jpgSupport for Curtis’ project waned as the project dragged on--the final volume was released in 1930--and he was largely forgotten until the 1970s when increased interest in Native Americans and fine art photography edged him back into the spotlight. With originals scarce and many negatives destroyed, Curtis became collectible. It was right around this time at Christopher Cardozo, in his twenties and doing a mixture of photography, ethnography, and musicology in Mexico, discovered Curtis. As he remembers it, someone mentioned the photographer to him, and he took off for a bookstore, traveling twenty miles. “I remember where the book was on the shelf ... that moment I saw my first Curtis photograph,” Cardozo said, adding that he soon went into debt buying vintage Curtis prints.

Cardozo was more than smitten and spent the subsequent 45 years buying and selling Curtis books, portfolios, and photogravures. His personal collection now numbers around 4,000 prints, and yes, he does own an original set of The North American Indian, which has been known to sell for $1 million+ at auction. His is a (deluxe) tissue paper set that he collected in parts over a 5-7-year period. “I really wanted an all-tissue set, because that’s what I love,” he said.

Then, about four years ago, he upped the ante and decided, in “a moment of temporary insanity,” to undertake a fine art republication of Curtis’ entire North American Indian. He said he had several clients over the years who wanted to own a vintage Curtis volume but could not afford it (they can run $10,000-50,000 each), and the only reprint that exists is a poor-quality academic facsimile from the seventies. So began a 35,000-hour project that culminated earlier this year in a contemporary copy of Curtis’ magnum opus that can be an “attractive alternative” for collectors and institutions. Each set contains 20 volumes, 20 portfolios, 2,234 photographic prints, 5,023 pages of text, and over 2.5 million words. (Here’s a short video on the production.)

Curtis Repub.jpgThere are two editions. The 150th Anniversary Custom Edition, which Cardozo believes is “the largest republication project in North American publishing history,” includes a full-size recreation of the original with photos printed “one sheet at a time,” and bound in gilt-decorated three-quarter leather. It sells for $28,500. The Complete Reference Edition is a less expensive reproduction featuring the same content and offered pre-sale for $5,200 until May 15, when the price increases to $6,500. For both editions, Cardozo and his team digitized and refined the original letterpress, which featured small and often degraded type. The reproduction is thus easier to read, while retaining the “essential character of the original,” according to the prospectus.

“We wanted something that we felt would be respectful to Curtis,” Cardozo said. “I didn’t wanted to publish something where the sequencing or the text was changed. We knew people would prefer that.”     

The guiding mantra of this project was supplied by Curtis himself, who once wrote, “It’s such a big dream, I can’t see it all.” But he eventually did--and now so has Cardozo.

To further celebrate Curtis’ 150th, several exhibitions and lectures are planned this year.
   
Images: (Top) “Oasis in the Badlands,” 1905, by Edward S. Curtis, courtesy of Christopher Cardozo Fine Art;  (Middle) The Custom Edition of Cardozo’s reproduction, courtesy of Christopher Cardozo Fine Art.

Should your travels bring you to Cambridge, Massachusetts, this spring, chart a path toward Harvard’s Houghton Library, where Landmarks: Maps as Literary Illustration opened last week. Curated by Peter X. Accardo, the exhibition showcases sixty literary maps that bring to life such imagined places as More’s Utopia and Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood. Here are a few highlights:   

Baum Tik Tok of Oz copy.jpgProfessor Wogglebug’s Map of the Marvelous Land of Oz, attributed to L. Frank Baum. From: L. Frank Baum, Tik-Tok of Oz (Chicago, 1914). “This first printed map of the Marvelous Land of Oz presents its four counties in their official colors, but reverses the position of Munchkin and Winkie Counties. The inconsistency is also reflected by the map’s compass points, where East unusually is to the West, and West is to the East.” Credit: Houghton Library, Typ 970.14.1955 - Presented in honor of Dennis C. Marnon, 2018.

Cervantes Quixote copy.jpgA double-page copperplate map of a Portion of the Kingdom of Spain by Tomas Lopez. From: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, El Ingenioso Hildalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha (Madrid, 1780). “Their route is delineated in red; the numbers added along the way are keyed to thirty-five episodes listed in an elegant cartouche surmounted by loyal Panza and Quixote’s empty suit of armor.” Credit: Houghton Library, *SC6.C3375.B617d 1780 (B) - Gift of William Carmichael, 1782.

Scudery Clelie copy.jpgFold-out, hand-colored “Carte de Tendre,” attributed to François Chauveau. From: Madeleine de Scudéry, Clélie, histoire romaine (Paris, 1654). “Multiple suitors cause the novel’s heroine Clélie to create a Map of Love, originally conceived by de Scudéry as a society salon game. Three paths to spiritual love emanate from the city of New Friendship, leading in the west to Recognition, in the north to Esteem, and in the east to Inclination.” Credit: Houghton Library, *75-193 - Amy Lowell fund, 1975.

The exhibition remains up through April 14.

Images courtesy of Houghton Library

When Caleb Carr’s historical thriller, The Alienist, was published in 1994, it quickly became one of my favorite contemporary novels. Set on the dark, gritty streets of fin-de-siècle New York, the novel follows a group of amateur detectives, led by forensic psychiatrist (or, “alienist”) Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, as they search for a serial killer. It has, inevitably, been compared to the Sherlock Holmes books.

It seemed certain that The Alienist would be adapted to the big screen. According to the New York Times, “movie rights were sold for half a million dollars before the book was even published.” But it’s a dense book with many characters, and no producer could get it right. “It’s been 25 years of battling against really bad interpretations of this book,” Carr told the New York Times.

Alienist.jpgUntil now. On January 22, when the TNT network debuts a ten-episode series that takes the book from beginning to end, starring Daniel Brühl as Kreizler; Luke Evans as newspaper reporter John Moore; and Dakota Fanning as NYPD secretary Sara Howard (pictured above). The Times reported that it is the “most expensive series in TNT’s history,” which appears to have paid off. The Hollywood Reporter reviewed the first episodes, calling them “full of solid performances and gorgeous, creepy visuals.” Watch the official trailer here.

The good news continues. While Carr followed up with a sequel, The Angel of Darkness, in 1997, and has written several other books since, he hasn’t returned to the world of Dr. Kreizler and his crime-fighting cohorts. That changes this fall, when a new novel, The Alienist at Armageddon, is scheduled to arrive.

If you’re just getting caught up on Carr, a TNT tie-in paperback was just published by Random House that has a pretty cool cover (pictured below).

9780525510277 copy.jpgImages via IMDB and Penguin Random House

Bibliography Week 2018

Bibliography Week is coming back to New York later this month. Here are the day-to-day highlights: 

 

Festivities kick off on Tuesday, January 23, when the American Antiquarian Society opens a special viewing of the exhibition, Radiant with Color and Art: McLoughlin Brothers and the Business of Picture Books, 1858-1920, on Tuesday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Grolier Club. Later, Georgia State University professor John McMillian speaks at 6 p.m. at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library about the underground press and the rise of alternative media in America in the 1960s.

 

Wednesday is another busy day, also at the Grolier Club, with a conference dedicated to the disposition of collections. Collectors, librarians, legal experts, and other members of the book trade will discuss all aspects of collections dispersal from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

 

Thursday’s events are led by the ABAA at the French Institute Alliance Françoise (FIAF), directly across the street from the Grolier Club. Over 30 ABAA members--including Rabelais, Bromer Booksellers, Les Enluminures, William Reese, Abby Schoolman, and others--and will be showcasing their specialties to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Next, check out an assortment of fine press books from around the world at Brooklyn’s Fine Press Salon at 37 Greenpoint Avenue. (Contact Felice Teebe at felix@booklyn.org for further details.)

 

The Cosmopolitan Club hosts the annual meeting of the Bibliographical Society of America on Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., and the New York Academy of Medicine (1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street) hosts its annual bibliographical lecture on Saturday, January 27 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This year’s speaker is Amherst College’s head curator Michael Kelly, who will be discussing medicine and scientific racism.

                                                                                                                                                                               Finally, the week concludes at the New York Public Library (Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, Trustees’ Room), with the annual meeting of the American Printing History Association from 2 to 5:30 p.m. 

 

The whole bookish enterprise will be, as in years past, a fitting warm-up (pun intended) for the California International Antiquarian Book Fair at the Pasadena Convention Center, February 9-11. 

New Year’s Eve for Booklovers in Pittsburgh

Though not necessarily known for being a bookish time of year, literary-minded Pittsburgh residents have compelling reasons to brave the elements this New Year’s Eve: Amazing Books & Records is hosting the 3rd annual Booklovers Bash at its three stores throughout the city. Blues band Chillent will perform at the Carson Street location, and the Squirrel Hill stores will serve free libations and spin the turntable. The store will also open its new cafe to customers as well. Festivities start at 8:30 p.m. on December 31. RSVP here.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Will you be ringing in 2018 with a beloved book in your lap or at a lit-themed soirée? Let us know on Twitter @finebooks

                                                                                                                                                                                           Happy New Year to all, and may it contain many great books. 

In a few days, we’ll be raising a glass to bid farewell to 2017 and toast the arrival of the new year, which will certainly bring all sorts of bibliocentric events with it. One Philadelphia-based soirée to put on your calendar in 2018 is the Rosenbach Library’s Bibliococktail hour. The event on Friday, January 12, will honor the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. (Be sure to check out Jonathan Shipley’s cover story in the winter issue dedicated to the bicentennial.)


Held on the second Friday of each month, the Bibliococktail series is dedicated to celebrating great literature while quaffing light libations created especially for the occasion by local distiller and distributor Quaker City Mercantile.


This 21+ event is free for Delancey Society members, and tickets (available here) start at $15 for Rosenbach members, $30 for general admission. 

“Home” For The Holidays

For many of us, the next few weeks will be a flurry of holiday parties, last-minute gift runs, and the chance to see family and friends. In a bid to remember why we go through so much trouble to be with loved ones this time of year, consider picking up the third literary anthology in the Freeman’s collection entitled Home (Grove, $16). Thirty-seven writers from around the world focused on the idea of home, each bringing a new perspective and interpretation.

 

In the narrative nonfiction piece “Vacationland,” author Kerri Arsenault returns to her hometown of Mexico, Maine, which sits on the banks of the Androscoggin River. Now a derelict relic of a bygone era, the townspeople’s former prosperity came from toiling in the paper mill in nearby Rumford. “That’s money coming out of those smokestacks,” Arsenault’s father used to say, but there was plenty else coming out of those stacks, too--dioxin, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, and other by-products of contemporary mass-produced papermaking, slowly poisoning the surrounding environment and its inhabitants. (Read “At the Crossroads” in On Paper for a look inside the modern commercial papermaking experience.)

                                                                                                                                                                  By 1970, oxygen levels in the Androscoggin were zero, choking out the fish, while the toxic brew spewed from the plant plastered the riverbanks with rainbow-colored foam. Esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, and leukemia cases skyrocketed in Rumford and Mexico, yet the mill kept churning out the high glossy paper demanded by its customers, ironically like the National Geographic Society. Though a boon for the town’s coffers, a century of mismanagement had its price.

 

As she deals with her father’s slow demise from asbestosis of the lungs cultivated from forty-three years of work in the paper mill, Arsenault contemplates the contradictions between how the rest of the country sees Maine--as a pristine wilderness filled with pine trees--and the one she experienced growing up in a town that smelled like eggs and where the tap water made her gag. Indeed, she wonders whether the Maine so beloved by E.B. White and Henry Thoreau has even existed since the Abenaki Native Americans managed the land as their own.

 

“When we leave home, we leave behind our past and encounter a version of home when we return, built of legends true and false,” Arsenault concludes. Perhaps the contradictions ring louder for her than for others, but “Vacationland” is a clear-eyed meditation on what happens when the place you grew up is suddenly unrecognizable. At once unsentimental yet surprisingly nostalgic, “Vacationland” and other stories in Home refuse to be forgotten.

 

Maine_state_coat_of_arms_(illustrated,_1876).jpg

Mitchell, Henry (1876) The State Arms of the UnionBostonL. Prang & Co.

The big news at Sotheby’s forthcoming Judaica sale on December 20 may be the 14th-century illuminated Hebrew Bible from Spain, estimated to sell in excess of $3.5 million, but there are some other sterling (pun intended) lots in the sale, including more than two dozen silver (and gold) bookbindings, from the 17th-19th centuries, mostly of Italian or German make. Almost all come from the collection of Jack Lunzer, the late diamond merchant and creator/custodian of the Valmadonna Trust Library. Here are a few highlights:  

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 9.48.49 AM.pngLot 83: A German silver small bookbinding from the late 17th century by Christiana and Magdalena Küslin (the granddaughters of Mathias Merian, whose engravings were the basis of the famous Amsterdam Haggadah of 1695), and fitted with a book of prints from the Old Testament. The estimate is $7,000-10,000.

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 9.45.17 AM.pngLot 90: A rare gold binding, c. 1780-1800, of either Dutch or German make, fitted with Sefer Keritut, printed by Francesco Rossi, Verona, 1647. The estimate is $12,000-18,000.

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 9.25.00 AM.pngLot 92: An ornate mid-18th-century Italian silver binding, crafted by either Giovanni or Bendeto Teoli and fitted with a 1742 Venetian prayer book containing the bookplate of the late Iowa book collector Oliver Henry Perkins. The estimate is $20,000-30,000.  

Images courtesy of Sotheby’s

A rare, complete “museum set” comprising 75 gelatin silver prints of Ansel Adams’ iconic images, signed by the photographer, is slated for auction at Doyle in New York on December 14. Being sold on behalf of the College of New Rochelle, which received the set as a donation in 2012, the set “is among the most comprehensive known to exist,” according to the auction house. It features the photographer’s most famous pictures, including Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico; Winter Sunrise, the Sierra Nevada; and Bridal Veil Fall, Yosemite Valley, California.  

Ansel_Adams_04 copy.jpgThe set will be sold in seventy individual lots, all priced in the four-to-five-figure range, plus one group lot featuring the five-image Surf Sequence. The original wooden shipping case is available, too. Pictured here is The Tetons and Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 1942. It is estimated at $30,000-50,000.

Image courtesy of Doyle

Earlier this month, the CODEX Foundation announced a new and forthcoming publication focused on contemporary book arts called The CODEX Papers. According to the announcement posted by bookseller Gerald W. Cloud:

    Our editorial brief is to publish papers that promote a clear understanding of the enormously complex and historically rich field of the book arts, including:
 
    -Scholarly, bibliographical, and historical perspectives
    -Research, reports, and critical articles on contemporary book arts
    -On the future development of the codex
    -Photo essays documenting studios, ateliers, and libraries
    -Interviews and profiles
    -Book and exhibition reviews and publishing perspectives
    -Collecting contemporary book arts
    -Letters to the editors, opinion, and travel
    -Dispatches from the global perspective
    -Codex Antipodes
    -Codex Mexico
    -Codex Nordica

With its biennial book fair and symposium, the California-based CODEX Foundation promotes the art of the book. The Foundation has also published two books, Book Art Object and Book Art Object 2, as well as a series of monographs. The CODEX Papers will be a welcome addition to its list of publications.

The inaugural issue will be published in the fall of 2018. Interested writers may submit proposals including title and subject to gwcloud@codexfoundation.org by December 15, 2017. Copy deadline is February 1, 2018.

A research visit to the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale last week afforded me the opportunity to see its current, magnificent exhibition, Making the Medieval English Manuscript: The Takamiya Collection. Drawn from the Beinecke’s collection of manuscripts, as well as from the collection of Japanese collector Toshiyuki Takamiya, on deposit at the university since 2013. “With a rare combination of scholarly and antiquarian expertise, Professor Emeritus Takamiya of Keio University in Tokyo assembled an unrivaled collection of medieval manuscripts over four decades,” said curator Raymond Clemens in a press release earlier this year.

IMG_0107.JPGTakamiya’s Chaucer manuscripts have starring roles in this exhibition, including the beautiful deluxe Devonshire Chaucer and the “unprepossessing” Sion College copy of the Canterbury Tales, written as early as 1460 and relatively unadorned. But my personal favorite from the Takamiya collection was the fifteenth-century English prayer roll. According to the exhibition notes, the long, narrow scroll was intended as a “birth girdle,” to be worn by a woman during childbirth. Containing illustrations of the Passion and a series of prayer texts, it was meant to provide “heavenly aid” when worn prayer-side in. Illuminated manuscript as physic; who knew? Another favorite was the Beinecke’s Latin-English illustrated vocabulary manuscript, made in England between 1400-1500 (pictured above).  

The exhibition remains on view through December 10.

Image credit: Rebecca Rego Barry

Next weekend it’s Boston’s turn to host rare book collectors, dealers, and librarians. These bibliophiles will have their choice of two book fairs -- the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair (Nov. 10-12) and the Boston Book & Ephemera Show (Nov. 11) -- one auction, and numerous exhibitions. On the blog this week, we’ll be previewing some highlights.

Capping off this ‘year of Thoreau,’ today we feature three manuscript survey maps by Henry D. Thoreau, all of which head to auction at Skinner on November 12.

Skinner 113.jpgHere is Thoreau’s “Plan of a Woodlot in Lincoln and Concord Mass.,” from April 30, 1857. In brown ink on heavy wove paper, this survey marks out a three-acre piece of land and is docketed on the verso in Thoreau’s hand. The estimate is $3,000-5,000.

Thoreau 114.jpgThoreau executed this “Plan of Robert D. Gilson’s Mill in Littleton, Mass.,” on May 9, 1857. In red and brown ink on heavy wove paper, this signed survey shows sketches of stone walls, the buildings, dam flume, and curb wheel. The estimate is $4,000-6,000.

thoreau-henry-david-1817-1862-plan-of-that-part-of-thomas-brooks-woodlot-in-lincoln-mass-which-was-burned-over-in-the-fall-of-1.jpgThe third and most colorful of the lot is this “Plan of that Part of Thomas Brooks’ Woodlot, in Lincoln, Mass, which was burned over in the fall of 1857,” completed on June 5, 1858. This large survey is also done in brown ink, but finished in green and red watercolors. The estimate is $5,000-7,000.

Images via Skinner

Three_Women_Playing_Musical_Instruments.png

Three Women Playing Instruments, by Katsushika Ōi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

                                                                                                                                                                                                  A few months ago, a curator at the Honolulu Museum of Art stumbled upon a rare 19th-century manual on Japanese art that he didn’t even know existed in the museum archives. Stephen Salel had been searching for materials for an exhibition devoted to female Japanese manga artists. Recognized today as a subgenre of graphic novels, manga as an artform dates to the nineteenth century, and Salel was looking specifically for work created by Katsushika Oi (1800-1866), considered by many experts to be the first female manga artist. If the name sounds familiar, that’s probably because she was the daughter of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), whose 1823 woodblock print, The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, has been reproduced countless times around the world.


Finding illustrations by the younger Katsushika proved challenging for Salel, yet he was relentless in his pursuit. Her work is at the Tokyo National Museum and at the Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Museum of Art, but he wanted to confirm whether the Honolulu Museum had any material lurking in its archives. “I felt very confident that I could find one of her books in our own collection,” said Salel recently.


Salel scoured the Honolulu Museum of Art’s holdings until he came across the Illustrated Handbook for Daily Life for Women, published in 1847--the missing link for his show. The publication date and accompanying illustrations led Salel to conclude that this was an example by his elusive artist. “It was one of those times I felt like I might have made the right career choice,” he said.


The book was acquired by the museum in 2003 as part of the 20,000 piece Richard Lane Collection, which includes Japanese, Chinese, and Korean prints, books, and paintings from the Edo Period (1615-1868). 


Salel’s manga exhibition is slated for 2021--plenty of time to continue sleuthing for more forgotten treasures.

MM Prayers.jpgWas Marilyn Monroe the praying type? The blonde bombshell converted to Judaism in 1956, hours before the July 1 wedding ceremony uniting her with playwright Arthur Miller (they had married in a courthouse two days prior). Under the direction of Rabbi Robert E. Goldburg, Monroe had been studying the faith for months in preparation for her conversion. This book, The Form of Daily Prayers, According to the custom of the German and Polish Jews (1922), was her “somewhat worn” personal copy that contains a “few notations in the text in pencil, apparently in her hand,” according to Doyle, which will offer the book at auction on November 7. It last sold at Christie’s in 1999 within the ‘Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe’ sale alongside other books from her library and retains a book label from that auction. It is expected to make $4,000-6,000 this time around.

Image courtesy of Doyle

Guest post by Mark. S. Weiner, co-curator of the current Grolier Club exhibition, Law’s Picture Books: The Yale Law Library Collection.

                                                                                                                                                                                               Museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions today are making sophisticated use of video as a tool for public education. But how should those institutions use film when their subject is books? The answer isn’t obvious.

As a scholar and filmmaker, I recently had the pleasure of collaborating on a well-received exhibition for the Grolier Club with Mike Widener, the rare book librarian at Yale Law Library. Four years in the making, the exhibit was titled Law’s Picture Books: The Yale Law Library Collection (September 13-November 18, 2017), and it examined Yale’s unique collection of illustrated law books, which includes over fifteen hundred items, spanning eight centuries and six continents.

As a rare book librarian, Mike has robust public outreach goals. With that in mind, he and I decided that we would supplement our exhibit with a suite of films displayed on a kiosk in the exhibition gallery, as well as available online. Our conviction was that we could use the special aesthetic resources of film to highlight qualities about books that would be far more difficult to reveal through the text of exhibition labels alone.

Law 1.png“Law’s Picture Books” in the Grolier Club Exhibition Gallery, video kiosk indicated.

And therein lay a challenge!

On the face of it, books are about the least cinematic subject imaginable. For one thing, they don’t move--and the ability to depict motion over time lies at the heart of film as a medium. They also don’t emit much sound. It’s no surprise that in Hollywood, books are often important props. But how can they be the stars?

Our collaboration revealed some principles. They won’t be applicable to everyone, but they’ve come to be guiding principles for the production company that’s grown from our work together, Hidden Cabinet Films, which is dedicated especially to making films about books for the growing field of public humanities.

Law 2.png                           Depict books in their materiality, but with ideas in mind.

Books have a physical presence in human life. They are three-dimensional objects calling out to be touched and handled. Films about books should use the essential elements of cinematography to highlight these tactile qualities.

The use of shallow depth of field in still shots, for instance, can underscore how books reside in space. Likewise, close-ups and macrophotography can highlight a book’s details and imperfections--stressing the uniqueness of each volume--and they can point to its history of human use by showcasing scuffing and marginalia.

Law 3.pngThe use of a shallow depth of field renders the foreground subtly out of focus. From “A Philosophical Question”

Law 4.png                                           From “A Philosophical Question”

Yet films shouldn’t aestheticize books without cause. The depiction of physicality should be in the service of some argument about the book’s meaning or importance. In the case of law’s picture books, Mike and I sought to stress that the books we put on display were practical tools used by lawyers in the resolution of human conflicts. They possess a worldly particularity that stands in stark contrast to the abstraction of legal rules.

Films about books should be driven by ideas.

Set books in motion.

Law 5.png        A shot that opens with a satisfying crackle. From “A Philosophical Question.”

When possible, films about books should show books being opened and their pages turned. Doing so underscores another aspect of a book’s physicality, and it also indicates that books exist in time--and thus have a history.

One way to suggest that a book’s motion is motivated by an idea--and to give books an immediacy of presence--is to film them against a green screen for later compositing. The shot needs to be in close up, and it requires careful lighting, especially with older books whose fore edges are rough.

When capturing images of books in motion, films also should capture their sound. The sound a book makes may be subtle, but it’s essential to how human beings experience it. Failing to capture a book’s sound represents a major missed opportunity to use film’s special power as a medium.

Capture interiority.

At the same time, the absence of sound where expected can be used to suggest the kind of interior experience of aesthetic absorption that’s at the heart of reading.

Law 6.pngAn extended shot of a book dealer shaking his head as he flips through a book’s pages, set only to music. From “Love & Surprise.”

Show that books represent something larger than individual human beings.

Even something as small as a telling camera angle in a consciously composed shot can suggest how book collecting involves collectors in a field much bigger than themselves. Films about books should evoke reverence for the publishing tradition.

Law 7.png                                              From “Two Ways to Work”

Depict human relationships.

People not only interact with books, they interact with each other through books. Films about books should capture the various ways in which books form a third term in a relationship between two or more people.

Law 8.png                                                From “Love & Surprise”

Law 9.png                                                 From “Love & Surprise”

Use visual effects, but not for their own sake.

Films about books can use special visual effects to depict ideas, supplementing or replacing the use of talking heads. Visual effects shouldn’t be used simply for the sake of entertaining--instead, they should be motivated by and harmonious with the underlying argument of the film.

In “A Philosophical Question,” for instance, we show a hand digging into the text of a book with a shovel to reveal an image of Justitia underneath as a way to depict our argument that the western legal tradition contains ideas about visual culture that belie its surface focus on language.

Law 10.png                                          From “A Philosophical Question”

Tell stories, but resist journalistic treatment.  

Films about books should be humanistic documents in themselves. Rather than seeking to depict books in the spirit of journalistic documentaries, filmmakers should strive to have their work be placed alongside the books they depict as permanent companions in the interpretive tradition they initiate.

They should take as their model not journalism so much as literary criticism.

Law 11.png              Offering a strong interpretive frame, from “A Philosophical Question.”

For the first time, English students at Southeastern University (SEU) in Lakeland, Florida, have the opportunity to examine various editions and manuscripts while reading and analyzing John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost by John Milton (1608-1694). English professor Cameron McNabb, happens to be a collector of rare and antiquarian manuscripts, and this semester has opened her personal Milton archives to students to provide fresh context and nuance to Milton’s desire to “justify the ways of God to men.”                                                                     
Professor McNabb spoke with us recently about catching the collecting bug, why Milton has remained a formidable influence in her life and work, and what she hopes her students will learn from working with primary sources.                                          
I understand Milton was your first love--discovered while you were an undergraduate English student at the University of Maryland. Could you talk about what you find so compelling about him and his work? 
                                                                                                                                                                    I actually first encountered Milton in high school. I read Paradise Lost “for fun” and I was hooked. I was already interested in Christian theology, but I had not encountered a writer who was willing to ask the tough questions like Milton was. He introduced me to questions I didn’t even know I should be asking, and he did so in the most beautiful poetry I had ever read. He has been the most formative thinker and writer in my own life and faith.                                                                                                              
What would you say is the highlight of your Milton collection? 
                                                                                                                                                                 My 1738 edition of Paradise Lost was my first purchase, and it is still the highlight to me, even though I now have older and rarer editions. I bought it from G. David’s while studying one summer in Cambridge during grad school. My program provided tuition and accommodations, as well as breakfast and dinner, so I had only brought along enough money for several weeks’ worth of lunches and a little spending money for the weekends. On my second or third day in Cambridge, I found G. David’s and the 1738 edition. I bought it immediately, spending almost all of my summer’s lunch money on it. I skipped lunches for the rest of the term, but Milton was definitely worth it.   
                                                                                                                                                                                Is this the first time students are working with rare books in your classes? If not, what has been student reaction to this kind of work? 
                                                                                                                                                                This is the first time students are getting such a hands-on experience with my books. In previous classes, I’ve brought some items in and used them as examples of printing conventions or book history, and students have always been really drawn to looking at authentic examples. I find that what they’re learning is much more meaningful to them when they can see real examples. Students this semester are very excited to get to work with so many items from my collection. For example, in some of our classes so far, I’ve handed out copies of engravings by Gustave Doré for us to discuss, but I remind them that they will be working with an actual edition of Doré’s Paradise Lost as well!                                                                                                                                                                            
What is the culminating activity for the class? What are the students expected to learn at the end of reading Paradise Lost
                                                                                                                                                                              
Paradise_Lost_13.jpg                                                                                                                                                                                   One of the things I stress with my students is that there are many ways to approach and respond to any text, and the way my Milton class is structured highlights that approach well. Over the course of the semester, we are analyzing not only the text of the poem but also visual representations of it (such as by Doré and William Blake), musical adaptions of it (such as Haydn’s “The Creation”), and the textual and production histories of it (such as those found in my collection). Each of these approaches allows for students to explore the poem through a new lens. Students will be writing short essays on each of the facets I just mentioned, and then they will produce a final essay that combines all of these lenses and produces an original argument about the poem. In particular, there hasn’t been much scholarly interest in the 18th-century editions of Milton, which my collection contains and which are part of the poem’s tradition that extends to the visual and musical artists discussed, so I hope my students’ analyses will begin to fill in a gap in the scholarship. 
                                                                                                                                                                       Image: illustration by Gustave Doré, via Wikimedia Commons

Considering the Nobel Bump

KazuoIshiguro_TheRemainsOfTheDay.jpgWhen I moved to London a year and a half ago, I determined that I would enjoy the novelty of being able to bet on the Nobel Prize for Literature. It has always been one of my favorite times on the literary calendar -- the season is changing to autumn, and there is a fresh bite to the air, and it feels hopeful that people are betting on literature and watching it as if it were a sporting event. It seems so unlikely to me, as an American, that there is any kind of way to bet on books besides to take a risk and buy and read them.

                                                                                                                                                                            So last year I ran two miles in the rain after dropping off my son at nursery to a Ladbrokes betting site and risked everything on the odds-on favorite, Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o. I would have bet on several more people, but there was trouble processing my payment and the betting closed. I lost; Bob Dylan won. I didn’t feel bad about spending money on a form of frivolity even after losing, I continued to feel a form of glee that such a thing could be done. I also had heard Dylan was a contender for years, and had even considered him in my early choices. 

                                                                                                                                                                             I had very little time this week to consider my betting, and like last year I barely made it to the betting parlour on time after bringing my son to school. I bet a spread of authors after reading a few predictions and decided that Margaret Atwood would be my favorite, followed by Thiong’o again, Korean poet Ko Un, and Spain’s Javier Marias. I also thought about Kazuo Ishiguro, but he hadn’t been given a chance in the press, and he seemed too young to me to be a likely contender. Ishiguro is one of my favorite writers. Remains of the Day is one of my favorite contemporary novels, it also happens to have been inspired by a song by Tom Waits, one of my favorite singers. And though I lost today, I was thrilled for the news. 

                                                                                                                                                                              I have worked at several bookstores over the years, and watched with fascination what happens when an author dies, or an author wins a major award. There is an immediate interest and refocusing on the writer’s work and a sales bump. And now that I am a new to the trade as a rare book dealer, I wonder how the Nobel impacts sales of first editions. I have most of Ishiguro’s firsts, plucked over the years from used bookstores, and I know there is a healthy price at book fairs put on firsts of Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go -- he is already popularly collected. It may seem cynical to care about the price of modern first editions, but I see it as establishing and investing in the idea of an author’s having value in a world that makes very little room for the importance of writing. Today, signed first editions available online of Remains of the Day range from $200-600. I suspect by the end of the week that range will have doubled, and copies will be scarce for a while.

                                                                                                                                                                         

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Images: (Top) Remains of the Day first edition via Wikipedia; (Bottom) Kazuo Ishiguro and A.N. Devers at a book signing. Courtesy of A.N. Devers.

Surveyor DVD front cover 300.jpgThis is undoubtedly the year of Thoreau, and to that end, filmmaker Huey Coleman has released Surveyor of the Soul, a 114-minute documentary about the Walden author. Thirteen years in the making, Huey amassed dozens of interviews with scholars, activists, students, and tourists, all passionate to discuss “Thoreau, his legacy, and the impact his writings have on our time.” Featured therein are authors Laura Dassow Walls, Bill McKibben, Howard Zinn, Robert Sullivan, Megan Marshall, and many more. Huey has made a number of films on art and nature, including another Thoreau-themed documentary, Wilderness and Spirit: A Mountain Called Katahdin.

Surveyor of the Soul premiered at the Maine International Film Festival this past July, just days after the official bicentennial of Thoreau’s birth, and it has since been screened at the Thoreau Society Annual Gathering and the Morgan Library, among other venues. Upcoming screenings include:

-October 11 at 7:00 p.m., IMRC Center, Room 104, University of Maine, Orono, ME
-October 16 at 5:30 p.m, University of New England, Biddeford, ME
-October 22 at 2:00 p.m., 51 Walden Theater, Concord, MA, sponsored by Concord Museum
-October 26 at 7:00 p.m., Talbot Hall, Luther Bonney Hall, University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME
-November 2, Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston, Idaho

The DVD is available for $29.95 on the Maine-based filmmaker’s website. Check out the trailer embedded below.

Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul, TRAILER (3 minutes), A Film by Huey, 2017, http://www.filmsbyhuey.com from Films by Huey on Vimeo.


Image courtesy of Films By Huey

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                                                                                                                                               In 2011, French comic book artist Bastien Vivès wrote Polina, a graphic novel about a young Russian girl whose dreams of becoming a ballerina bring to her to the celebrated choreographer Professor Bojinksy. His tyrannical ways take Polina to the top of her profession, but not without consequences. Vivès’s exploration of finding a balance between self-sacrifice and self-awareness for the sake of art was well-received in Europe, and has been adapted into a feature film starring Academy-Award winning actress Juliette Binoche and Mariinsky Theather-based Russian ballerina Anastasia Shevtsova

                                                                                                                                                                

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                                                                                                                                                      Screened at the 2016 Venice Film Festival, Polina makes its North American debut in New York on Friday, August 25 at the Angelika Film Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinema, followed by a national roll-out in September.                                                                                                                                                            

Directed by Valérie Müller and French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj, Polina was shot on location in Russia, France, and Belgium. If the trailer is any indication, Polina will be an exquisite, tantalizing glipmse into the demanding world of professional dance. 


Polina. Running time: 112 minutes. Not rated. In Russian and French with English subtitles.

Trump’s Summer Reading

“I cannot live without books,” Thomas Jefferson famously declared, whose library at Monticello (now at the Libary of Congress) is an enduring testament to one of America’s best-read presidents.


For the past few decades, right around this time, presidents taking a few days of well-earned respite have released their summer reading lists. Former president Obama famously shared his copious and wide-ranging selections  and was often photographed at independent bookstores like Bunch of Grapes on Martha’s Vineyard carefully choosing from among the stacks.


Back in 2006, George W. Bush read for pleasure all year, having made a New Year’s resolution to read one book a week, which eventually led to a spirited reading duel with Karl Rove to see who could rack up the most reads.  Rove barely squeezed out a victory, with 110 books to Bush’s 95. During his summer vacation at his home in Crawford, Texas, Bush was spotted reading The Stranger by Albert Camus between ranch-related duties.


An avowed anti-intellectual, president Nixon proclaimed in his farewell speech to the nation that, “As you know, I kind of like to read books. I am not educated, but I do read books.” Tolstoy was a favorite author.


Lincoln often quoted Shakespeare in his personal correspondence and among friends, showing a preference for Macbeth. He also enjoyed reading and writing poetry--the Gettysburg Address contains many poetic elements no doubt pulled from his reading. 


Of course, this all leads up to what our current president reads for pleasure. When asked in March by television host Tucker Carlson what he likes to read, president Trump responded, among other things, that “I love to read. Actually, I’m looking at a book--I’m reading a book-I’m trying to get started.” Trump went on to say that he doesn’t read much because he’s always facing global emergencies. Yet, a profile in the Washington Post from July 2016 highlighted a presidential candidate who didn’t read, and didn’t much care for it--“I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy, I guess, than ever before.” 


USA Today recently reported that Trump will not be releasing a reading list for his current seventeen-day vacation at one of his New Jersey golf clubs because he’s too busy for such pursuits. 


So, what’s the point here? Trump’s reading habits don’t place him among the top ten in the pantheon of presidential readers. Does a president’s reading habits impact whether he will effectively govern?


It’s a safe assumption that a wide-ranging and prolific reader will have a greater breadth of knowledge for any subject at hand, whether that’s policy making or political ideology.


To wit, last summer, the Vineyard Gazette hosted a roundtable with presidential scholars David McCullough and Evan Thomas just after the Republican National Convention. “The idea that the party of Abraham Lincoln has nominated this totally unhinged man, Donald Trump: Unacceptable, unqualified and uninterested in knowing more than he already knows, which is virtually nothing. I find that one of the most maddening qualities about the man,” said McCullough. “When he was asked if he’d ever read a book about the presidency, or a presidential biography, he said no. And he didn’t seem the least bit bothered by that, or understand why he would be asked that question.” Thomas offered that a president who reads is “reminded that however bad things seem now, they were pretty bad in other times.” 


Lifting the veil on a president’s personal reading habits is humanizing as well--we, the public, get a better sense of who the leader of the free world is, and perhaps even share in the joys of having read the same books. It’s not often the average American can look to a president and share something in common.


Trump doesn’t read, which speaks volumes.

Lawrence of Arabia Exhibit at Maggs Bros.

On July 6, 1917, the disparate Bedouin tribes of the Arabian Peninsula joined forces against the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Aqaba, made famous by the 1962 motion picture Lawrence of Arabia. Seeing a strategic opportunity to break open the war against the Ottomans, the British military sent T.E. Lawrence to advise Emir Faisal I, king of Greater Syria. But Lawrence did more than just provide counsel: he was an active leader in the attack. The battle represented a turning point in the war in the Middle East, and the story and images of Lawrence on camelback with Bedouin cavalry charging across the desert have captivated the public imagination ever since.

                                                                                                                                                                                 

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image credit: Lowell Thomas. Public domain. 


Thursday marked the centennial of the Battle of Aqaba, and antiquarian bookseller Maggs Bros. Ltd. is exhibiting material relating to Lawrence and his exploits while also celebrating the firm’s move to 48 Bedford Square, a stone’s throw away from the British Museum.


“Lawrence is a fascinating target for the book collector,” said Ed Maggs, managing director for the company. “To have written two books, translated a few extra, and to have a bibliography of some 8000 items, is remarkable.” Admirers and collectors are drawn to the romantic wartime figure, whose “dash, brio, and unconventionality of the Arab Revolt was in stark contrast to the clumsy mechanised brutalities of the Western Front,” said Maggs. “He was painfully aware that the dream of complete independence for the Arab nation or nations that he was pitching to the Arabs was not deliverable because of the existence of the Sykes-Picot treaty, but he went to great lengths after the war to compensate for this.”

Others connect with Lawrence because of his ability to keep cool under pressure. “He consciously kept his emotional core closely guarded, while subjecting himself to pretty scorching self-examination of his motives and his being,” Maggs explained. “There are few people of his period who were so self-aware and so eloquent on the subject of their own failings: as a model for the postmodern male, he led from the front.”

Entitled To Aqaba, the exhibition features items from various moments of Lawrence’s life. Highlights include a 1919 pencil portrait of Lawrence by Welsh artist Augustus John and the bloodstained map Lawrence carried with him on his walking tour of Syria in 1909. A unique proof copy of Lawrence’s best-selling Seven Pillars of Wisdom includes an inscription from Lawrence to his literary agent, Raymond Savage. Notes prepared by Winston Churchill, who addressed mourners at Lawrence’s funeral in 1935, reads, “What a tragedy it is that we have not got Lawrence with us to settle up Palestine. He alone could have done it and everybody would have taken his decision.”

                                                                                                                                                                         

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image credit: Maggs Bros. Ltd.


Maggs also reports that he and his team have adjusted perfectly to the new location. “We’re loving our new digs, and it’s been a very easy transition to the more bookish milieu of Bloomsbury, where we’re surrounded by publishers, agents and academics: on one side we have Bloomsbury Publishing, on the other we have Yale University Press. Our first walk in customer, just a few minutes after we opened for the first time, was a charming man whose wife, a successful novelist, was having a meeting at Bloomsbury,” enthused Maggs. “The building itself is magnificent and we’ve done (in all humility) a first rate job of restoration of a first rate building. It is something of a palace of rare books, and I encourage people to come and visit.” The firm is retaining its impeccable shop in London’s Mayfair for the time being.

                                                                                                                                                                       We all wish Maggs Bros. many happy years in Bloomsbury. To Aqaba will be open to the public through July 14th. For more information, contact Maggs Bros. Ltd. here.

Potter & Potter, the Chicago auction house that has until now focused mainly on magic, is officially entering the book biz, with its inaugural books and manuscripts auction on July 8. With a few notable exceptions--e.g., this Lovecraft-Houdini typescript--Potter & Potter has previously focused its efforts on music and movie memorabilia, posters, circus ephemera, and other collectibles. This first books and manuscripts sale will, according to Potter & Potter, “feature high spots in a number of collecting categories, including printed and manuscript Americana, modern first editions, travel and exploration, natural history, fine bindings and continental books from the 16th century to present day.”

There’s a lot of ground to cover in this 564-lot sale. Here are a few highlights:

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 8.32.47 AM.pngA complete run of Street & Smith’s The Shadow (1931-1944), in forty-eight bound volumes, from the library of Walter B. Gibson, creator of “The Shadow” character. The estimate is $8,000-12,000.

A Peter Force engraving of the Declaration of Independence on rice paper, from Force’s 1837-53 series of books, “American Archives.” The estimate is $15,000-20,000.

A first edition of Andy Warhol’s Children’s Book (1983), signed five times by Warhol. The estimate is $5,000-7,000.

A signed check from Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) to his brother, Orion, in the amount of $82 on July 26, 1875. A related letter at the Bancroft Library tells us that the money was to rent a church pew, which didn’t sit well with Twain. “I am willing to lend you money to procure the needs of life, but not to procure so useless a luxury as a church pew.” The estimate is $1,200-1,800.

Image via Potter & Potter Auctions

On Saturday, July 24, at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Boston-based RR Auction held a robst sale of memorabilia relating to notorious mobsters and outlaws like Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, and John Dillinger.

                                                                                                                                                                         

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High spots included Capone’s ritzy platinum watch made by the Illinois Watch company. The timepiece exceeded its $25,000 pre-sale estimate, fetching a hammer price of $84,375.00. Manufactured between 1928 and 1929, the watch contains seventy-two cut diamonds, a platinum face, and an original 12 inch watch chain made of 14k white gold. The reverse of the case reveals the initials “AC,” itself consisting of twenty-three cut diamonds and surrounded by twenty-six others. The watch was accompanied by an affidavit from Capone’s great-grandson, Eric Griese, detailing its provenance.


A signed demurrer (a legal document objecting to an opponent’s point) relating to a case between Capone and the State of Florida failed to meet its pre-sale estimate of $30,000, realising $19,375.00. The document probably related to a raid on Capone’s Palm Island mansion in 1930 and highlights Capone’s constant run-ins with the law.


Two life-size reproductions of John Dillinger’s death masks realized $406.25. Four plaster masks were believed to have been made of the outlaw, with two remaining in existence. The day after Dillinger was shot and killed by Chicago police, his remains were visited by over one thousand visitors at the Chicago morgue.


Crime may not pay, but it sure makes for exciting auctions--check out all the results at rrauctions.com

                                                                                                                                                                          Mugshot of Al Capone: Public Domain

DSC_0064 copy.jpgThe Bentley Rare Book Museum, housed within the department of museums, archives, and rare books at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, made its debut this past weekend. Formerly known as the Bentley Rare Book Gallery, established on campus in 1986, this re-branded space provides a free and open-to-the-public place to celebrate the written and printed word--the first ‘rare book museum’ in metro Atlanta.

As Kennesaw’s rare books curator Julia Skinner put it, “Our main goal with the museum is to reach new audiences and make our materials more accessible. The gallery operates as an appointment-only space, and because of this we focused on using the space to teach classes or host researchers rather than as an exhibition space. The museum model allows for self-guided, drop-in tours during open hours, and also gives us the flexibility to do more outreach in the community.”

DSC_7705 copy.jpgThe Bentley Rare Book Museum holds a collection of about 10,000 items, with particular strengths in culinary history, Georgia authors, fine press books, Cherokee language materials, medieval manuscript leaves, and early printed books. Some of the highlights from the collection that you might see on exhibit in the future include Shakespeare’s Fourth Folio (pictured above), Dickens’ Bleak House and Nicholas Nickleby in their original serialized parts, and an Apollo 14 Lunar Bible, a microform Bible taken to the moon by Edgar Mitchell.

A regularly rotating schedule of exhibitions is planned. The first and current set includes exhibitions on the history of the cookbook and on handmade artists’ books, plus an interactive exhibition of medieval manuscripts that encourages museumgoers to try out book-making tools. A micro-exhibition on the history of the Bentley Rare Book Gallery, originally designed to represent a middle-class English library c. 1760-1820, is also on view.

The museum, located on the ground and second floors of Kennesaw’s Sturgis Library, is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Images courtesy of the Bentley Rare Book Museum.

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Since 1942, Harvard’s Houghton Library has focused on preserving a trove of collections that together represent almost the full scope of the history of the written word. Yesterday evening, over one hundred professors, librarians, and friends gathered at Houghton to commemorate the library’s seventy-five years of existence. Festivities opened with a lecture held at the stately Loeb House by Carl Pforzheimer University professor Ann Blair, who discussed the importance of preserving and using primary materials while highlighting the enduring need for libraries to transmit knowledge to posterity, especially in the digital age. Afterwards, participants made the quick walk past trees unfurling their fragrant blossoms to Houghton Library, where a book launch party and exhibition awaited in the ground-level Edison and Newman Room.


Entitled Houghton Library at 75 ($25, Harvard University Press) and edited by assistant curator of modern books and manuscripts Heather Cole and Hyde collection curator John T. Overholt, the publication offers a glimpse of the myriad holdings that fill the library’s shelves. From third century Greek papyri and European incunables to the Gutenberg Bible and drawings by John James Audubon, how do you choose the cream of the crop? The curators gamely rose to the challenge of selecting seventy-five items that they felt represent the breadth of the library’s holdings. The Bullard portrait of Emily Dickinson and her siblings, William Blake’s hand-colored Europe a Prophecy, and Shakespeare’s First Folio are three examples included in the book.


Meanwhile, HIST 75: A Masterclass on Houghton Library, is the first in a series of year-long exhibitions, lectures, movie screenings, tours, and other events celebrating these precious pieces and the place that keeps them safe. Forty-six of Houghton’s treasures were selected for display by faculty members who based their criteria for inclusion on whether the item had been useful for research, teaching, or provided inspiration somewhere along the line. Blair chose an English writing tablet from 1581 with pages in the middle treated with a chemical to harden them, creating a reusable writing surface (portable stylus included), while fellow Pforzheimer University professor Robert Darnton selected a volume of Emerson’s Essays with Herman Melville’s lively annotations scribbled in the margins. 


The festivites also aimed to raise awareness that the Houghton’s collections are not intended to gather dust and be forgotten; rather, these items are meant to help fulfill the core mission of Harvard--to educate through a commitment to the “transformative power of a liberal arts and sciences education.” Though access was restricted in the library’s early years, today many of the collections are available for up-close examination, either by visiting the library or by consulting Harvard’s vast and freely accessible digitized archives. The push to invite a new generation to Houghton is working: last year no less than 283 classes were held in the library, hailing from nearly every discipline.


After a tour of the exhibition and enjoying a spread of wine and cheese, partygoers departed, hopefully inspired to return and spend more time among the materials that define our shared human experience.


Learn more about Houghton’s 75th celebrations, including forthcoming events, here

Guest Post by Catherine Batac Walder

                                                                                                                                                             The event with Dame Hilary Mantel and renowned historian and broadcaster, Professor Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch, at the Oxford Literary Festival on April 1 was probably one of the most enriching conversations I’ve heard in my nine years of attending the festival. The pair discussed their different perspectives on the sixteenth-century lawyer and statesman Thomas Cromwell. Mantel is working on volume III of her Cromwell trilogy. MacCulloch is writing an historical biography on Cromwell--he said he admires the man: “my book covers up to 1532 when he hasn’t killed anybody yet.” There is a huge archive on the controversial historical figure and to have these two experts give us a glimpse of their research and writing processes was like listening to a private chat that wasn’t short of a steady flow of ideas.

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I specifically enjoyed their exchange about the challenges of going through Tudor correspondence wherein it wasn’t a practice for the authors of the letters to write the year so it could be confusing for scholars. Mantel talked about how she recently came across a letter that was written at midnight and that she could just sense the weariness of the writer. These documents are fascinating as they are a testimony to the circumstances and the urgency in which these letters were written (or in relation to the study of Cromwell, how leaders overworked their employees). An archive is obviously an in-tray, but MacCulloch noted that you would at least expect there was an out-tray kept as well, drafts of outgoing correspondence, but there was none. He surmised that in 1540, the household, warned of their master’s arrest, sat up all night burning the out-tray, as it was much less easy to be convicted on the contents of your in-tray than what you write to others (not that it had saved Cromwell’s life).

                                                                                                                                     

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I applaud Mantel’s comments on her stance as an historical novelist, commenting on the practice of affixing a bibliography to a work of fiction: “[I]n my view [it] is a complete misdirection of the reader and misdirection of what research is. Research is not taking bits out of one text to put into another text ... You have legitimacy, you have the authority of the imagination.” She urged her contemporaries not to spend their lives apologizing, cringing because “you think you are some inferior form of historian. The trades are complementary but they are different.” I believe these comments may also apply to other authors who don’t want their works labeled (e.g., as scifi or fantasy, for fear of not being taken seriously) when dragons or witches give the game away.

                                                                                                                                                    There was a space of three years between Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, both of which won Mantel the Booker Prize. It’s been five years since the last book, and her reading from the upcoming The Mirror and the Light, enthralled the audience and gave us our Cromwell fix, at least for the time being.

                                                                                                                                                              --Catherine Batac Walder is a freelance writer living in England. She blogs at The Gaslight House.

                                                                                                                                                                   Images, above: Hilary Mantel signing books at the Oxford Literary Festival; below: the festival marquee outside the Sheldonian Theatre. Credit: Catherine Batac Walder

A Book-Lover’s Guide to St. Patrick’s Day

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, meaning Irish pubs from Boston to Dublin will be busier than usual and just about everyone will be sporting some sort of good luck charm. However, if the idea of day-drinking and parade-hopping turns you green, there’s still a few ways to let your inner Irish spirit free, even from the comfort of your own library. Behold, a bibliophile’s guide to St. Patrick’s Day:

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Credit John Vernon Lord for Folio Society


1. Ready to meet your goal of finally reading James Joyce’s Ulysses? Consider picking up the edition recently published by the Folio Society, which refers to the original 1922 publication. Joyce scholars John O’ Hanlon and Danis Rose provide a note regarding the present iteration, and Stacey Herbert discusses the history of Ulysses in print. Award-winning artist John Vernon Lord created 18 color illustrations capturing various episodes in the book, helpfully guiding readers through this 752-page day in the life of Leopold Bloom. Complete with a Gaelic-green slipcase depicting the waves of Dublin Bay, there is perhaps no better way to say Éire go Brách for bibliophiles today. Available for $195.95 from the Folio Society.

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Plunkett with the flag (University of South Florida) 


2. Over 150,000 Irish Americans fought for the Union in the Civil War, and many of their stories of loyalty and bravery are chronicled in Susannah Ural’s The Harp and the Eagle: Irish-American Volunteers and the Union Army, 1861-1865 (NYU Press, 2006). Thomas Plunkett was one of these combattants, serving as a color bearer for the Worcester-based 21st Massachusetts Regiment Volunteer Infantry. During the Battle of Fredericksburg a fellow flag-bearer was shot down, so Plunkett picked up the colors and led his unit until cannon fire ripped away his arms. Despite the injury, Plunkett pressed the flag to his chest with the remains of his limbs and held fast until relieved by a fellow soldier. Plunkett survived the war and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery in battle, and the blood-stained flag is now at the Massachusetts State House. 


3. Across the Atlantic, the National Library of Ireland is closed for the holiday, but its permanent exhibition dedicated to poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) is free and open to the public during regular business hours and accessible online

                                                                                                                                                                         

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Portrait of young William Butler Yeats by his father, John Butler Yeats (Photo: Wikipedia).

 

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 Oscar Wilde, photographic print on card mount: albumen. (Photo: Wikimedia                                                                                                                         

4. In case you missed “L’impertinent absolu” (“Insolence Incarnate”), the first major French exhibition dedicated to Oscar Wilde at the Petit Palais that closed in January, fear not; now you can own a piece of Wilde’s childhood. A hotel built by Wilde’s parents is for sale in Ireland. The ten-bedroom oceanfront property in the coastal resort town of Bray was constructed in 1850 by Wilde’s parents as a seaside retreat. Upon their death, Wilde inherited the property, but sold it in 1878. Recently converted into a hotel, this piece of literary history could be yours for €2.2 million. 

The official first day of spring is less than a month away, and many gardeners have spent the cold, dark days of winter leafing through seed catalogs, plotting their outdoor spaces when the earth thaws. And seed catalogs remain blue-ribbon earners; the National Gardening Market Research Company found that American gardeners spent $3.6 billion dollars growing fruits and vegetables in their backyards, patios, and rooftops.

                                                                                                                                                            

Burpees.jpegFor those interested in the history of seed selling, the seed catalog collection maintained by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries includes more than 10,000 historical seed and nursery catalogs, many donated by Mrs. David Burpee in 1982--such as the one pictured here at left, Burpee’s Farm Annual (1887). A quick glance through the holdings highlights the cornucopia of catalogs for all sorts of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, and how ripe the American public has been for this sort of advertising for nearly two centuries. Seed selling germinated in America in the early 1700s when gardeners with particularly robust crops would advertise their offerings in newspaper advertisements and through word of mouth. Catalogs wholly devoted to selling seeds bloomed by the mid 1800s, when succulent, hyperpigmented images (often chromolithographic prints) of watermelons, tomatoes, and other lavishly illustrated produce enticed snow-bound urbanites to send in their requests and hope for an early spring. The Biodiversity Heritage Library also maintains a web-friendly catalog of heritage seed catalogs, and much of the Smithsonian Seed Collection is also accessible online

                                                                                                                                                                

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Roses in bloom. Credit: USDA

                                                                                                                                                                Instagram has proved fertile territory for vintage seed catalogs--Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds tantalizes visitors with photographs of magenta-hued sweet potatoes, wax apples,
even black beauty tomatoes, while cover art for Territorial Seed Company’s catalog remains a bright celebration of the bounty beneath our feet. 

The Joy of Reading

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“The Joy of Reading” by Will Barnet. Photo: B.B. Richter.                                                                         

Like many well-intentioned parents, mine bring stuff whenever they come to visit. A recent trip yielded a dozen prints and posters carefully sealed in cardboard tubes. All had probably seen the light of day at least once, but one print in particular probably spent three decades rolled up: an elegant, highly stylized portrait of a young boy sitting on a swing by the sea reading an oversize book to his mother, created by legendary artist and printmaker Will Barnet. (The New York Times ran a fascinating profile on him in 2010, when, at age 99 and unable to use his left hand or stand, Barnet continued to spend up to four hours a day at his easel.) Commemorating sixty years of the Book of the Month Club, my “Joy of Reading” print was issued in 1986, and simple math led to the startling conclusion that this would mark the ninetieth year that the Book of the Month Club has sent select volumes to subscribers across America. (Tempus fugit.) Truthfully, I didn’t know whether the Club still existed, and if so, I wondered how a company wholly dedicated to printed books that relied on the postal service would fare in this new era of print-on-demand and e-books.


The answer is: surprisingly well. Founded by economist-turned-publisher Harry Scherman in New York in 1926, the Club’s founding mission was to introduce readers to new and noteworthy books like Gone with the Wind and Catcher in the Rye. The last fifteen years have been something of a roller-coaster for the Club; it was purchased in 2000 by Bookspan LLC, an online and direct-mail venture created by Time Warner and Bertelsmann, which was itself swallowed up by Bertelsmann in 2008. Bookspan was then quietly sold to private-equity investor Najafi Companies, which in turn unloaded the company onto Pride Tree Holdings, a Delaware-based corporation established in 2012, the year it acquired Bookspan. Now, Book of the Month Club operates as one of over a dozen book-centric subscription entities under Bookspan’s aegis.


After a three-year hiatus, the Club was relaunched in 2015 as an e-commerce site. Here’s how it works: Subscribers create a profile and select a membership plan. A one-month subscription costs $16.99, whereas a 12-month subscription totals $144.88. Subscribers are notified on the first of each month of the Club’s five selections, curated by a panel of judges including book bloggers, journalists, authors, and monthly guest judges like Whoopi Goldberg and David Sedaris. Subscribers then have five days to make their picks, and the selections ship out by the seventh. (Caveat emptor: Other than gift plans, all memberships renew automatically, so read the fine print before diving in.) Bookspan’s Head of Development Jennifer Dwork likened the latest incarnation of the Club to “Birchbox [a makeup subscription service] for books.”


“Our judges receive the books three months in advance,” said Dwork. “The only criteria we provide is that their selections be a shining example of its form.” As in years past, the books are bound and designed to highlight their Club provenance. These days, books boast a stylish circular crest on the front boards. For authors, being selected for Book of the Month can mean the difference between feast or famine, reaching hundreds of thousands of additional readers who many not otherwise think to pick up their title.

                                                                                                                                                                  “At relaunch, we focused on social media,” continued Dwork. “Our Instagram page is robust [boasting over eighty-six thousand followers], and we encourage community members to share images of their books.” Lucky participants are rewarded with free memberships, tote bags, and monthly book credits.


From a collecting standpoint, few serious book hunters covet book club editions, or BCEs, though some publishers are more desirable than others--read Biblio’s excellent 2010 treatise on how to spot BCEs here.

                                                                                                                                                                    Though the company won’t release any sales figures, Dwork said that since its relaunch, the Club’s customer base has grown steadily. “We’re excited because we’re reaching a growing demographic: young women between the ages of twenty to thirty-five, and they prefer reading physical books over reading on a tablet,” Dwork explained. The Club may be onto something: a recent Pew study demonstrated that 65 percent Americans get their literary pleasure in print rather than in digital format. 


This current iteration of Book of the Month Club is tapping into a growing trend of subscription-based services while reaffirming that people still read and derive joy from physical books in the modern age. “Every book isn’t going to be for everyone, but we offer a great selection of established and emerging authors,” Dwork said. “We’re like your well read friend who recommends books and stands by them.” 

                                                                                                                                                                

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Monthly gifts. Image used with permission from Book of the Month Club.

 

 

Eat Your Vegetables, Antiquarian-Style

In more civilized times, proponents of a meatless regime adhered to the “Pythagorean diet” championed by that Greek sixth century B.C. philosopher, who, in addition to figuring out the square of the hypotenuse, believed that all living beings had souls, and it was wrong to eat them. Pythagoras wasn’t big on beans, either, convinced that legumes were created from the same material as humans.

                                                                                                                                                                         And since ancient times, people have codified both what to eat and why in cookbooks, pamphlets, and treatises. Now, visitors to the Lilly Library at Indiana University, Bloomington, may examine the fascinating and sometimes eccentric printed history of vegetarianism in the exhibition Eat Your Vegetables! Five Centuries of Vegetarianism and the Printed Word. While surveying the history of the movement, the show also celebrates the meatless ethos in print from the sixteenth century through the 1960s.

                                                                                                                                                                           

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Reproduced with permission of the Lilly Library. Photo Credit: Zachary T. Downey

 

Head librarian Joel Silver curated the exhibit, drawing primarily from the collection of antiquarian bookseller (and Indiana native) William Dailey. “The university acquired Bill’s material a few years ago--we’re still working on a full-scale catalog--but in the meantime we wanted to do an exhibition of a selection of pieces from his collection, which is close to 1,000 unique items,” Silver said.

                                                                                                                                                                “I started collecting in 1970,” Dailey explained. “I made 1967 the cutoff date for my collection because that was the year I stopped eating meat. I loved that there wasn’t a lot of competition for this kind of material, and I think the scope of my collection is pretty rare in the book world.” Though a pescatarian these days, Dailey remains well known in antiquarian book circles for his no-meat lifestyle, and at one point his car could be identified on the road by the vanity plate “LEGUME.” Dailey’s material complements the library’s already formidable gastronomic collection, assembled largely by Hoosier benefactors Dr. and Mrs. John Talbot Gernon.

 

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Reproduced with permission of the Lilly Library. Photo Credit: Zachary T. Downey


Vegetarianism has had a long cultural, historical, and literary influence. “Frankenstein was a vegetarian,” Silver reminded me, and many writers like Mary Shelley, Franz Kafka, and George Bernard Shaw abstained from meat.

                                                                                                                                                                              

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Reproduced with permission from the Lilly Library. Photo Credit: Zachary T. Downey


One of the show’s high spots includes a printed first edition of the earliest published treatise on vegetarianism, De Abstinentia ab esu Animalium, Libri Quatuor (On Abstinence from Animal Food), by Porphyry (234-305). The show also highlights material by American vegetarians and food reformers like Upton Sinclair, whose papers are housed at the Lilly, John Harvey Kellogg, and Sylvester Graham.

                                                                                                                                                                          Silver, a lifelong vegetarian himself, noted the health benefits of a life without meat: “Sinclair experimented with many diets and lived to be ninety years old, and Kellogg lived to be ninety-one. They must have been on to something.”

Eat Your Vegetables! Five Centuries of Vegetarianism and the Printed Word runs from now until September 10 at the Lilly Library at Indiana University. More information may be found at https://libraries.indiana.edu/eat-your-vegetables-five-centuries-vegetarianism-and-printed-word

 

 

 

Printing a Child’s World

From Alice in Wonderland’s 150th anniversary celebration to Mo Willems’ New York retrospective, children’s picture books and their creators are enjoying something of a moment in Manhattan’s cultural and literary circles. Now, the Met is hosting an installation of printed works celebrating the world of children as depicted on canvas and paper.

Through October 16, visitors to the show entitled “Printing a Child’s World” in the American Wing at the Met Fifth Avenue will be greeted by over two dozen works dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Rarely displayed children’s books, illustrations, and prints by artists such as Randolph Caldecott, George Bellows, Winslow Homer, and Thomas Nast explore how art and advertising at the turn of the last century became ever more focused on the experience of childhood. Then as now, idyllic scenes of children at play, rest, or reading were commercially successful and played with the heartstrings (and purse-strings) of viewers.

                                                                                                                                                                                 

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Cover image for The House That Jack Built. Image: Wikimedia Commons.


Highlights include nine original Caldecott watercolors for The House That Jack Built; Nast’s iconic, cherry-cheeked, jovial rendering of Santa Claus from A Visit from Saint Nicholas; and an illustration by Winslow Homer that appeared in an 1858 edition of Eventful History of Three Blind Mice. Writers and reformers of the time saw the world’s youth as the living embodiment of all that was new and modern during an era of sweeping social change, while working in mass-market mediums cemented the legacies of illustrators like Homer and Caldecott, whose art remains celebrated by collectors and artists today.

Material for the installation comes from the Met archives, the New-York Historical Society, and from a private collection.


“Printing a Child’s World” is on view at the Met through October 16. More information may be found here.

Olympians Descend on Manhattan

On Tuesday, ISIS suicide bombers carried out attacks that killed over 30 people and wounded more than 300 in Brussels. The next day, as members of the press gathered at the Manhattan Onassis Cultural Center in advance of an archaeology exhibition, Greek Minister of Culture Aristides Baltas wondered how this exhibit could provide meaning in the wake of such horrific events, suggesting that “culture and education may be the best weapon against terrorism of all kinds.” “Gods and Mortals at Olympus” certainly offers hope that an understanding of Hellenic culture may civilize ruthless extremists, though it is something of an uphill battle: Terrorist groups, and ISIS in particular, routinely plunder ancient sites to fund their operations. However, for the rest of us, there’s much to be learned from this show, on view now through June 18th.

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Spectacle-Shaped Brooch with Fabric Remains Early Iron Age (1000-700 BC). Copper alloy, iron, and textile. Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, Ephorate of Antiquities of Pieria, and the Dion Excavations. Courtesy Onassis Cultural Center NY.

 

Nestled in the slopes of Mount Olympus, Dion was the religious center of Macedon for centuries, with sanctuaries dedicated to Zeus, Artemis and the Egyptian goddess Isis. Over ninety artifacts excavated from unearthed temples, baths, and private homes are on display in the Onassis Foundation’s recently renovated gallery space.  Brooches from the Iron Age, copper lamps, gold bracelets and stunning Roman-era mosaics evoke the importance of Dion as a sacred site, and how the constant influx of outside cultures influenced local art and architecture.

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Mosaic of the Epiphany of Dionysus Late 2nd-early 3rd century AD. Stone tesserae. Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, Ephorate of Antiquities of Pieria, and the Dion Excavations. Courtesy Onassis Cultural Center NY.


Dion was also a major theater hub dating back to 400 BC, when Euripides wrote The Bacchae under the patronage of Macedon’s King Archelaus and was believed to have visited the city seeking inspiration. A suite of mosaics depicting theatrical masks surround the imposing “Epiphany of Dionysus,” a 5 foot by 7 foot mosaic dating from the late 2nd century CE which shows the god of wine and theater bursting out of the sea on a jaguar-drawn chariot. Pulled from a luxurious villa, the piece suggests that the homeowner had embraced Roman customs while still retaining various Greek religious traditions. (Many of the stelae on display have inscriptions written in both Greek and Latin, offering further evidence of life in the city under Roman rule.)

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Slab with the Imprint of Two Feet and Dedicatory Inscription Late 2nd-3rd century AD. Marble. Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, Ephorate of Antiquities of Pieria, and the Dion Excavations. Courtesy Onassis Cultural Center NY.


Equally impressive is a diminutive 3rd century BC gold bracelet with lion’s head finials, which was discovered in a Macedonian tomb outside the city. Massive marble statues, table supports, and stelae depicting various gods, all offer tantalizing glimpses of this special place.

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Bracelet with Lion’s Head Finials Late 3rd century BC. Gold. Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, Ephorate of Antiquities of Pieria, and the Dion Excavations. Courtesy Onassis Cultural Center NY.

Shepherding the exhibit into the 21st century are installations by contemporary Greek artists Maria Zervos and Kostas Ioannidis. Zervos’ video combines imagery shot at Mount Olympus with her translations of poetry by the ancient female poet Telesilla (510 BC), exploring how contemporary viewers perceive ancient notions of perfection and immortality. Ioannidis created sound installations which can be heard in the gallery foyer, playing on the idea of a “mountain language.” An onsite video game called “Secrets of the Past--Excavating the City of Zeus” invites players to pretend they’re directing the excavation work at Dion and decide the best way to unearth and examine the artifacts.


The Greeks at Dion demonstrated an ability to adapt as religious beliefs changed, even in the midst of war and natural disasters, and these artifacts offer opportunities to discover similarities between an ancient culture and our own. That’s something to be hopeful about.

GODS AND MORTALS AT OLYMPUS: ANCIENT DION, CITY OF ZEUS is free to the public. Visit the Onassis Foundation’s website for information on guided tours and additional programming.

Archie Andrews: Looking Good at 75

After seventy-five years, Riverdale’s perennial heartbreaker Archie Andrews got a major makeover. Archie Comics tapped Eisner Award winner Mark Waid (“Daredevil” series) and “Saga” illustrator Fiona Staples to revamp characters who have remained virtually unchanged since their appearance in 1941. The updated look debuted at ComicCon in July, and there’s no mistaking it, Archie is a hot dude. The cover shows young Mr. Andrews stepping out of his (slightly messy) car, looking happily off scene, hair perfectly coiffed, jean jacket tousled just so. Put him in a suit and swap the jalopy for a limo, and you can almost hear the squeals of delight from girls waiting behind velvet ropes for their favorite teen heartthrob to arrive at his movie premiere. Everything screams sexy all-American dreamboat. And why not? He’s been dangling poor Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge along for almost a century, he ought to look the part of handsome stud. It’s not just Archie; everyone is really, really, ridiculously good-looking in the update. (The second issue cover shows a particularly forlorn but beautiful Betty, trying to decide which rebound outfit to wear.) This first issue is an origin tale of sorts, where Archie and Betty have been longtime sweethearts until the mysterious “lipstick event” tears them apart. While the lovebirds are separated, the billionaire Lodges move into town, and though we don’t meet Veronica in issue 1, she’s sure to turn heads shortly.
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Looking good, my man. (Photo credit: Barbara Richter)
Archie and cast: The Adventures of Archie Andr...

You’ve come a long way, Archie. Archie and cast: The Adventures of Archie Andrews, 1947. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



As with most makeovers of major brands, there are significant financial reasons behind Archie’s stronger chin and dreamy eyes. In a Publisher’s Weekly  interview last year, Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater said that the new look keeps the characters relevant and also feeds Archie book sales, which account for a major portion of the company’s revenue. Goldwater noted in the article that bookstore sales of Archie titles have increased 736% since 2008, reflecting the publisher’s introduction of over fifty new titles from 2010-2014.  The company has big plans for 2016, with a TV special, a musical, and more book events to celebrate 75 years and over 2 billion issues sold. Not bad for a freckle-faced teenaged Casanova.

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Book Smell for the 21st Century

Ask an antiquarian book collector what a room full of books smells like, and responses will probably include the familiar scents of glue, ink, various types of paper, even mold. “Old Book Smell” even attracted the attention of The Smithsonian Magazine, which ran a story on its blog in 2013 exploring the chemical breakdown of a book’s odeur. (Scientists behind the study deduced that old books emit a “combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness.” 

E-books can’t compete with that unmistakable aromatic, but technology has advanced to the point where new digital books can be infused with scent. Think of the Smell-O-Vision, (a 1960 invention intended to perfume movie theaters) but on a mobile device.  Last year, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup Vapor Communications announced the creation of the oPhone, an app capable of emitting scent that corresponds to digitally written material. Here’s how it works: type an oNote using email or SMS. When the message shows up in the oNotes app, a scent wafts from a Bluetooth-enabled oPhone, which looks like two miniature steel chimneys affixed atop a white and stainless-steel platter. Now that same technology, generally called oMedia, exists for a range of products - oSongs, oClothing, and oBooks made with ‘scent-tagged’ images. 

Right now, there’s only one oBook, a collaborative effort with Melcher Media called Goldilocks and the Three Bears: The Smelly Version. Infused with fruit scents, Goldilocks is designed to encourage children to select healthy snacks like apricots and oranges. 

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image courtesy of Vapor Communications 

None of the various oMedia products are available in stores yet, and attempts to download the oNotes app from the company website were unsuccessful. However, on Saturday, April 18, curious parties can test the Goldilocks oBook at Museum of the Moving Image in New York, where it’s part of an installation called Sensory Stories: An Exhibition of New Narrative Experiences.  Another olfactory exhibit, Memory | Witness of the Unimaginable, opens today at Le Laboratoire in Cambridge, MA. Created by music composer Dániel Péter Biró, master perfumer Christophe Laudamiel, and oMedia creators David Edwards and Rachel Field, installations examine how the combination of scent and sound can transform a sensory experience.

At this rate, oMedia is eerily close to fulfilling Anne of Green Gable’s author L.M. Montgomery’s desire: “I wish we could see perfumes as well as smell them. I’m sure they would be very beautiful.” 

Sensory Stories: An Exhibition of New Narrative Experiences runs from April 18 through July 26 at the Museum of the Moving Image 36-01 35 Ave, Astoria, NY 11106 718 777 6888. More information is at: http://www.movingimage.us/ 

Memory | Witness of the Unimaginable is at Le Laboratoire Cambridge from April 18 through August 26. 650 East Kendall St. Cambridge, MA 02142 info@lelaboratoirecambridge.com Tel: 617-945-7515 http://www.lelaboratoirecambridge.com/#!exhibitions/c5jx


A Very Gorey Halloween

Halloween is still two weeks away, yet goblins, witches and faux headstones already claim valuable lawn space across the country. While the kids celebrate with silly tricks and sticky treats, why not indulge grown-ups this season with work by the marvelously gloomy Edward Gorey.


Located in the Flatiron neighborhood in Manhattan, B&B Rare Books is featuring three Gorey first editions; The Doubtful Guest, ($275) The Blue Aspic ($150) and The Loathsome Couple($100).  All three are in fine to very good condition and none will break the bank. 

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Although these books aren’t for the faint of heart - unwelcome visitors, death and destruction feature prominently throughout - perhaps the most ghoulish tale is The Loathsome Couple.  It is considered a cult classic among Gorey collectors and tells such a shocking story that even the author acknowledged it as his most appalling. The murderous husband and wife couple is based on a real duo that perpetrated the chilling Moors Murders in England in the 1960’s.  Unlike in most Gorey tales, the characters in this book are caught and suitably punished. 


Another way to celebrate Halloween would be to visit the Gorey House in Yarmouth Port on Cape Cod. Since the author’s death in 2000, the home has been converted into a delightfully unique museum that chronicles the life, work and charitable endeavors of the master of macabre. 

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The Gorey House hasn’t planned anything special for Halloween this year. (The House co-hosted a Dracula Blood Drive with the Cape Cod Hospital in 2006, but hasn’t since then.) It is currently exhibiting original artwork from The Vinegar Works, Three Volumes of Moral Instruction.


Currently featured in the gift shop is a toy theater based on Gorey’s drawings and sets for his award-winning Broadway production of Dracula. It retails at a reasonable $25.00.


Sadly, Ombledroom, the twenty-eight pound white cat who ruled the House and delighted visitors for twelve years, passed away last summer at the age of twelve. Visitors can pay tribute at to the feline’s final resting place, which is situated under a Southern magnolia tree on a patch of lawn by the house.   Happy Haunting!

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 If you saw the Fine Books Facebook page on Monday you may have been enticed to guess who will grace the magazine’s summer cover.  A hint to seek out that day’s Google Doodle (see below) would have led you to Maurice Sendak, arguably the twentieth century’s preeminent illustrator of children’s books.   Google created the Doodle because Sendak would have celebrated his 85th birthday on Monday.  (Sendak died last May.)


 Leonard Marcus, a leading authority on children’s books and illustrations, has written a story for the summer issue discussing Sendak and his work. Marcus is also the author of Show me a Story! Why Picture Books Matter (Candlewick 2012) and recently edited a catalogue in conjunction with an exhibition of over 200 of Sendak’s previously unpublished art and sponsored by the New York Society of Illustrators.


Bill Clinton dubbed Sendak “The King of Dreams” when he awarded him the National Medal of Art in 1996.  The Brooklyn native wrote and illustrated close to 100 titles, including perhaps most notably Where the Wild Things Are. He was awarded a Caldecott Medal and the Hans Christian Andersen Award, among many others throughout his sixty-year career. 


Children of all ages can cite their favorite book. Mine is Dear Mili, an unpublished Wilhelm Grimm tale rediscovered in 1983 and published with Sendak’s illustrations in 1988.  The images of death and miracles are wild - abnormally vivid forests, little girls with very large feet, and psychedelic landscapes. I remember reading it as a child, and while the story itself frightened me, I could not stop gazing at those wonderful images and following Mili on her unflinching quest.  In Show me a Story! Marcus asks Sendak about Mili. His response illustrates his complete understanding of children: “...she has the same kind of trudging, hard-working quality that I love in children. They’re trudging children; they go and do what they must do.”


A little Father’s Day tribute regarding Dear Mili: as a prized possession, I have a poster for the book, signed by Sendak, that my father stood in a long line to get at an ABA Convention the year of publication. It’s the only time he ever queued up at any book convention to get a poster signed. And since Sendak was only autographing one poster per customer, my doting dad got right back in line and procured another so that my sister and I might each have one.   


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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first eight short stories, originally published in The Saturday Evening Post, are out in a new edition (print or digital), complete with the original illustrations, cover art, reproductions of the Post pages, and an introduction by the Post’s historian, Jeff Nilsson. 


On sale May 7, Gatsby Girls is a collection of Fitzgerald’s ‘flapper stories,’ e.g., “Myrna Meets His Family,” “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” and “Popular Girl I.” All were published between 1920 and 1922, before his Great Gatsby appeared in 1925.  


“By the time he published The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald was already one of the best known authors in America thanks to The Saturday Evening Post,” said  Nilsson. “Through a span of 17 years the magazine published 68 of his short stories, and with 2.5 million subscribers, the Post brought Fitzgerald into the living rooms of Americans who might never have encountered his novels.”  


The new edition of Fitzgerald’s early stories is a collaboration between The Saturday Evening Post, SD Entertainment, and BroadLit. With the much-anticipated film of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, about to smash the box office, what better time to turn your gimlet eye on the stories and the art that not only preceded it but offers literary and cultural context for the novel that is considered Fitzgerald’s most famous. 


Have Popup, Will Travel

Rome : A 3-D Keepsake Cityscape, by Kristyna Litten, Paper Engineering by Gus Clarke ; Candlewick Press,  $8.99, 15 pages, all ages.

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ROME: A 3D KEEPSAKE CITYSCAPE. Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Kristyna Litten. Text copyright © 2012 by Walker Books Ltd. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.


The Keepsake Cityscape series began in 2011 with a miniature foldout guidebook to New York City. The series has since expanded to include popular destinations such as Paris, London, and Washington, D.C. Each volume is presented in a lovely little slipcase.


The most recent publication shares the pleasures of strolling through Rome, from visiting the Villa Borghese to exploring the inner workings of the Colliseum. Author-illustrator Kristyna Litten skillfully renders twelve of the Eternal City’s attractions with lively and bright mixed media illustrations. 


Although these books are marketed to children, I’ve been collecting them from the start. They are a unique travel companion, and are small enough to tuck away in a luggage side pocket.  Most volumes have been written and illustrated by different authors, which makes these more interesting than the average mass-produced tourist novelty.  And for less than ten dollars, each of these pleated jewels can share their global tales on the same stretch of shelf.   

The fifty-third annual New York Antiquarian Book Fair welcomed booksellers from all over America, and many came from across the Atlantic as well.  French sellers presented their treasures with typical Gallic flair, charm and grace. Below I share three of my favorite bouquinistes at the Fair and some of their eye-catching wares.

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Children’s and Juvenile

            More than two dozen dealers at the Fair specialized in children’s books, and two were from Paris.  Michèle Noret, whose shop is nestled in the tony sixteenth arrondissement, brought lovely examples of children’s literature from around the globe. Her most intriguing items were Soviet-era volumes printed for budding Communists.  One choice example was a second edition 1927 primer called Lenin for Children. Available for two thousand dollars, the book includes thirty-one full-page illustrations by Russian painter Boris Mikhailovitch Kustodiev, whose paintings had previously shown at the 1906 Paris Salon.  


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            Hailing from near Montmartre in the eighteenth arrondissement, Chez les Librairies Associés brought books covering a wide thematic selection (such as calligraphy and moveable books). They also enticed passers-by with beautiful children’s collectibles. Among their wares were seven titles illustrated by acclaimed Russian artist Ivan Bilbin, known for his renderings of Russian folk tales. One of those volumes, from the 1937 Père Castor series, was a fine first-edition of H.A. Andersen’s La Petite sirène for $350.


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 Parties and Celebrations

            Libraries Benoît Forgeot (you’ll find them on rue de l’Odéon in the sixth) brought an outstanding collection of illustrated books celebrating holidays and festivals spanning the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries.  Available for a tidy $80,000, one particularly sumptuous volume was a perfectly conserved depiction of a 1688 regatta. The boating event was organized in honor of the marriage of Ferdinand de Médicis, Grand Prince of Tuscany and Yolande-Béatrice.  Fourteen gorgeously illustrated in-folio plates by Alessandro Della Via portray the extravagant festivities. An image from the book also graced the bookseller’s most recent catalogue. (see below) 

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Later this week New Orleans Auction Galleries will offer a very special copy of Sherwood Anderson and Other Famous Creoles: A Gallery of Contemporary New Orleans (1926) by William Spratling with introductory text by occasional New Orleans resident William Faulkner. The book was  published by the Pelican Bookshop Press in New Orleans in an edition of 250 and contains drawings of the author, Faulkner, and 41 of their French Quarter acquaintances--artists, musicians, academics, preservationists, socialites--with their uptown patrons. It was once described as “one of the great literary curiosities in the city’s history.” 


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Forty-one of the 43 persons featured in the book--all except Faulkner and artist Ronald Hargrave--signed this copy, which originally belonged  to Stella Lengsfield Lazard (Mrs. Henry Calme Lazard), who was herself on the fringes of the literary/bohemian circle. “Forty-one signatures is a record unlikely to be surpassed: the highest number I’d encountered before was 31, in a copy now missing,” writes John Shelton Reed. Reed used the book as a source for his recently published history, Dixie Bohemians: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920s.


A long post on the intricacies of this copy, those featured in the book, and speculation on why Faulkner didn’t sign it, is here


New Orleans Auction Gallery estimates that the book will fetch $2,500-4,000. Proceeds will benefit The Ogden Museum of Southern Art. And, as an added bonus, the winning bidder will also take home a signed copy of Reed’s Dixie Bohemians

Theodore Roosevelt’s family photography album depicting the president and his children c. 1980-1910 is one of the standout items in the Peter Scanlan collection, on the block at Swann Galleries on April 16. The album contains 71 photographs mounted on 27 scrapbook pages. One of three images of the president himself is shown below -- he is standing proud in riding books in front of the White House. The Roosevelt children -- Teddy Jr., Kermit, Ethel, Archibald, and Quentin -- are the the primary featured faces in the album, and it is believed to have been compiled by the First Lady. The estimate is $4,000-6,000. A second family photo album is also on offer, this one consisting mainly of the president’s grandson, Theodore Roosevelt III. 


Roosevelt.jpg

Other highlights from the Roosevelt collection include the rare 1884 booklet In Memory of My Darling Wife Alice Hathaway Roosevelt and of My Beloved Mother Martha Bulloch Roosevelt. There is also a group of letters and documents signed by Roosevelt, including a 1918 autograph letter signed to a girl who lost a cousin in the war.


Another interesting New York collection is a lot of architectural/excavating diagrams, maps, and contracts related to major buildings in the city. Covering the years 1891-97 and 1901-1905, the pair of project logs belonged to prominent contractor John Daniel Crimmins, who worked on some incredible spaces, such as the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the Schaefer brewery, the Tiffany lamp factory-studio, the Metropolitan Club building, and the New York Athletic Club. The estimate is $2,000-3,000. Blueprints of Coney Island, Niagara Falls guidebooks, and an early Dutch manuscript discussing the invasion of New Amsterdam are a few of the other NY items for sale. 


For some, the New York Antiquarian Book Fair is all about the book fair weekend (beginning tomorrow night). But as I’ve mentioned in the last few blogs, there are several other browsing and buying opportunities. This auction is undoubtedly one of them. 

Auction Guide