French author Victor Hugo was, it seems, a militant supporter of American abolitionist John Brown. A rare first edition of a pamphlet written by Hugo and retaining its original photograph of Hugo’s striking line drawing of the 1859 hanging of Brown, is one of the highlights at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, which opens tonight at 5 p.m.


hugo brown 2 copy.jpgPrior to Brown’s execution, Hugo sent a letter to the London Evening News decrying the decision to hang Brown. He wrote:


”...When we reflect on what Brown, the liberator, the champion of Christ, has striven to effect, and when we remember that he is about to die, slaughtered by the American Republic, that crime assumes an importance co-extensive with that of the nation which commits it -- and when we say to ourselves that this nation is one of the glories of the human race; that, like France, like England, like Germany, she is one of the great agents of civilization; that she sometimes even leaves Europe in the rear by the sublime audacity of some of her progressive movements; that she is the Queen of an entire world, and that her brow is irradiated with a glorious halo of freedom, we declare our conviction that John Brown will not die; for we recoil horror-struck from the idea of so great a crime committed by so great a people...

For -- yes, let America know it, and ponder on it well -- there is something more terrible than Cain slaying Abel: It is Washington slaying Spartacus!”

hugo brown copy.jpgThese sentiments and others that followed were widely reprinted and then collected in this 1861 pamphlet, published in Paris. It will be offered at the book fair by Librairie Le Feu Follet for $3,000.


Images courtesy of the NYABF and Librairie Le Feu Follet

It’s Rare Book Week 2018 in NYC. If you’re visiting for the book fair this weekend, there are numerous fascinating exhibitions at a variety of institutions to check out while you’re in town. For a guide to all that’s on offer this week, be sure to bookmark our dedicated Rare Book Week site here.


Below are several exhibition highlights, split into a section for medievalists and a section for 20th century enthusiasts.



For medievalists:


1) The Codex and Crafts in Late Antiquity.

Location: Bard Graduate Center

Examines “the structural, technical, and decorative features of the major types of codices--the wooden tablet codex, the single-gathering codex, and the multigathering codex.” On view through July 8.


2) Talking at the Court, on the Street, in the Bedroom: Vernacular Manuscripts of the Middle Ages

Location: Les Enluminures

Illuminated manuscript exhibition of 36 manuscripts that “provide viewers unique access to the authentic, spontaneous vision of people in medieval France, Italy, Germany, the Low Countries, and Britain.” On view through March 16.


3) Now and Forever: The Art of Medieval Time

Illuminated manuscript exhibition that “explores how people told time in the Middle Ages and what they thought about it. The manuscripts range in date from the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries and come from all the major countries of Europe.”

Location: The Morgan Library. On view through April 29.



For 20th century enthusiasts:


1) Tennessee Williams: No Refuge but Writing

Location: The Morgan Library

Exhibition that “reveals the playwright’s creative process through original drafts, private diaries, photographs, and production stills.” On view through May 13.


2) Hotbed

Location: New York Historical Society

“An installation of artifacts and images of bohemian life in Greenwich Village.” On view through March 25.


3) Power in Print

Location: New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

“Explores the art of the Black Power movement poster, showcasing a variety of aesthetics, styles, and messaging strategies.” On view through March 31.


4) The New York World of Willa Cather

Location: New York Society Library

Exhibition highlights include 

  • Charging cards listing the books checked out by Cather and her lifelong companion Edith Lewis during their twenty-year membership;
  • an essay by Truman Capote describing his humorous meeting with Cather at the Library during a 1942 snowstorm

On view through: August 31

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.

A very busy auction schedule this week, with eight sales of note to keep an eye on.


At Dominic Winter Auctioneers on Wednesday, March 7, Printed Books, Maps & Caricatures, in 575 lots. A first edition of Jane Austen’s Emma could lead the bidding, with estimates at £5,000-8,000. A 1715 Oxford Bible once owned by poet Thomas Gray is estimated at £1,000-1,500.


Also on Wednesday, Heritage Auctions hosts a Rare Books Signature Auction in New York, in 639 lots. An inscribed first edition of The Great Gatsby has an opening bid of $50,000, while a Borges essay manuscript has a posted reserve of $20,000.


On Thursday, March 8, Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books at Swann Galleries, in 273 lots. The first illustrated edition of the Poeticon Astronomicon (Venice, 1482) rates a $15,000-20,000 estimate to lead the way, but several other incunable titles will be worth keeping an eye on. These include a copy of the earliest extant chess manual (c. 1496-7, pictured below).



Kestenbaum & Company will sell Fine Judaica on Thursday, in 356 lots. The sale will include paintings, posters, printed books, manuscripts, autographs, and ceremonial objects. Lots 291-307 have been deaccesioned from the Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn.


Rounding out Thursday’s trio of sales is an auction of Fine Literature & Fine Books at PBA Galleries, in 360 lots. Notable lots include a first edition of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath ($3,000-5,000) and a copy of the 1882 author’s signed edition of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass ($2,500-3,500).


Friday, March 9, sees another pair of auctions: Dominic Winter Auctioneers hosts a sale titled Photography: The First 150 Years, in 491 lots, including the John Hannavy Collection of Victorian Photographs & Cased Images. Julia Margaret Cameron’s portrait of Sir John Frederick William Herschel (one of several Cameron photographs availabel) is estimated at £30,000-50,000. Herbert Ponting, Roger Fenton, and many other key photographers are also well represented.


In New York on Friday, Bonhams sells Extraordinary Books and Manuscripts. There are just thirty-three lots in the sale, but the use of “extraordinary” in this title seems by no means misplaced: nearly all of the lots would be worth a full post in their own right. An unpublished Isaac Newton alchemical manuscript ($200,000-300,000), the Bible on which Ulysses S. Grant took the presidential oath of office ($80,000-120,000), a violin which belonged to Albert Einstein ($100,000-150,000), and a copy of the 1478 Rome Cosmographia ($600,000-800,000) are among the items on offer.


Finally, on March 10, Heritage Auctions sells the second part of the David and Janice Frent Collection of Political & Presidential Americana, in 509 lots. A good range of memorabilia here again, as in the first sale from this collection earlier.


Image credit: Swann Galleries

Need a literary justification to visit the Caribbean this spring? Consider the NGC Bocas Lit Festival, taking place in downtown Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago. Billed as the region’s premier literature festival, the Lit Fest is devoted to developing and promoting Caribbean authors by hosting five lively days of author panels, workshops, film screenings, and performances. Held at the National Library and Old Fire Station, the festival will run from April 25-29 and is free to the public. 

In addition, NGC organizers will be announcing the 2018 prizes for Caribbean literature on April 28. Launched in 2011, these annual awards recognize the previous year’s most notable additions to the Caribbean canon. Last year’s winners included Jamaican poet Safiya Sinclair’s Cannibal (University of Nebraska Press), Augustown by Kei Miller (Weidenfeld and Nicolson) took home the top prize for fiction, and Virtual Glimpses into the Past/A Walk Back in Time: Snapshots of the History of Trinidad and Tobago by Angelo Bissessarsingh (Queen Bishop Publishing) won for best non-fiction work.




The overall winner receives an award of $10,000, while category winners each receive a cash prize of $3,000. Eligible submissions must have been first published in English in 2017 and written by a single living author who either holds Caribbean citizenship or was born in the Caribbean. (Though Francophone authors hailing from Haiti, Guadeloupe, and Martinique aren’t necessarily eligible unless they write in English, their work can be considered for the Prix littéraire des Caraϊbes et du Tout-Monde and the other prestigious French awards like the Prix Goncourt.)                                                                                                                                        
The NGC Lit Fest goals are to both celebrate the Caribbean’s literary achievements while also maintaining the region’s literacy rates, which hover around 97 to 99 percent of the overall population. Haiti remains the exception, where the literacy rate is near 60 percent, despite a rich two-hundred-year history of producing talented writers like Toussaint Louverture, Jean Price-Mars, Dany Laferriere, Jacques Roumain, and Marie-Celie Agnant.                                            


Need another reason to book a flight? Check out this interview  with Trinidad and Tobago native Tracey Baptiste, author of The Jumbies YA series. She spoke with my daughter, Abgail, in late January about Caribbean folklore and how it inspires her books. 


Jumbie 1.JPG

Lost books, medieval manuscripts, and secret archives are favorite topics for novelists, and we bibliophiles can’t seem to get enough of them. I’ve read three varieties of bibliofiction recently, all entertaining, and each quite different from the others.  

9780735224322(1) copy.jpgFirst up: Lost Books. I heard about a new novel called The Infinite Future from an essay the author, Tim Wirkus, recently wrote titled “Our Obsession with Lost Books and How They Often Disappoint.” In it, he gives a perfect summary of his novel: “Wondering what it would be like to track down and actually find a legendary manuscript, I started work on a story featuring a reclusive science fiction writer named Edward Salgado-MacKenzie, and three enthusiastic/ obsessive fans of his work who stumble upon his long-lost proposal for a never-published novel called The Infinite Future. The three devotees track rumors of the writer from São Paulo to Orange County to Eastern Idaho, recounting as they do tales from their own lives and summaries of their favorite Salgado-MacKenzie short stories.” Now, sci-fi may not be your thing; it isn’t mine, either. But the novel is stunningly inventive and great fun to read. Comparisons have been made to Ursula Le Guin and Roberto Bolaño, to which I would add Italo Calvino, particularly his If on a winter’s night a traveler.   

Scribe HC.jpgSecond: Medieval Manuscripts. The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer was published last year, and a paperback edition was just released. It was on my ‘TBR’ pile for a few months before I got to it, and once I did, I could hardly put it down. It begins in present day New York City where thirty-something neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato is called to Siena, Italy, to inherit her art historian brother’s cottage. While there, she continues his research on the Tuscan town’s medieval history. She finds fourteenth-century fresco painter Gabriele Accorsi particularly intriguing, especially when she notices a familiar face in one of his works. Before long, Beatrice finds herself transported to Siena in the year 1347, where she is vastly underdressed, but she has a good grasp of Italian and a talent for calligraphy, which lands her in a scriptorium after a kind nun takes her in. Of course, Beatrice will cross paths with Accorsi, and romance will ensue. But there are still mysteries to unearth--the Medici family plays a role--and the author does a tremendous job in plotting and weaving. The result is an enormously satisfying novel. I missed the characters as soon as I turned the final page.   

9781681776415.jpgThird: Secret Archives (plus a Lost Book). You could say The Bookworm by Mitch Silver is ripped from the headlines, or is it buried under a Cold War blanket? Largely set in Russia, the story is fueled by a worthy premise: Hitler positioned his army (and lost the war) based on poetic prophecies inscribed in his Bible. A set of long-forgotten audio tapes stored at the Russian State Military Archives and narrated by British actor Noel Coward pulls Russian scholar Lara Klimt, aka “the bookworm,” into the fray. As she sets out to uncover Coward’s plot, she discovers that current-day politicos are a little too intensely interested in her research. Turns out there’s collusion! And a buffoon of an American president, too. Lara is a strong central character, but the rest of this political ‘thriller’ comes off as a bit boilerplate.     

Images via Penguin Random House; Simon & Schuster; and Pegasus Books

Our Bright Young Librarians series continues today with Matt Bird, Special Collections Manager at Vigo County Public Library in Terre Haute, Indiana:



What is your role at your institution?


I am the Special Collections Manager at Vigo County Public Library in Terre Haute, Indiana--a position I have held since June of 2016. VCPL is an Indiana Class A public library serving a county population of 108,000. Terre Haute may sound familiar as it is the birthplace of the Coca-Cola bottle, Larry Bird’s collegiate basketball career, the brothers Theodore Dreiser and Paul Dresser and the title “Crossroads of America”--due to US 40 and US 41 intersecting!


My position entails duties I never dreamed of while completing my MLS. I manage a staffed department, so there are the standard personnel management duties I will not bore you with. My additional duties are far more interesting and varied. They include assessing rare materials and delegating repair to conservators we work with, public outreach via tours and artifact show-and-tells, donor relations, assisting others on the management team with tent pole initiatives, and maintaining an open dialogue with local government and non-profits. My department also serves as a depository for select government records and local newspapers on microfilm--historical and current--so there are database and equipment contracts to maintain.


How did you get started in rare books?


I attended a rural high school where I enrolled in vocational printing classes each year. The print shop took customer orders to make stationery, usually via offset presses but occasionally we would set type and print on a Heidelberg. The class was part of an Indiana vocational initiative at the time to develop trade skills in secondary education so that students would have a portfolio upon graduation. As I started college, I had already established a background in printing.


Then, as an English major, I started to collect first editions of assigned course texts and the interest continued to grow. Since I had collected comic books from the age of ten and obsessed over different printings, condition and preservation best practices, it was a natural transition.


I didn’t realize that the field of bibliography and book culture was always present until I finished my MLS and looked backwards. For instance, during an undergraduate summer course focusing on modern American literature, the class read Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I picked up a first edition from a local antiquarian book store. During class, as we discussed passages, I noticed that portions of the text from the assigned paperback were augmented, missing or replaced. When the professor realized I had a first edition he stopped class and committed to a quick collation as he explained Eggers was famous for adding and subtracting content in various editions.


Where did you earn your MLS/advanced degree?


I went to Indiana State University and majored in Printing Management for a short time before the degree program folded due to low demand. I switched to English. As I approached graduation, I found out that a fellow student was entering the MLS program at IU-Bloomington. I attended an event at the Lilly Library--“Treasures of the Lilly” I think--and after seeing firsts of Milton, Franklin, a Caxton Chaucer, First Folio, and the Gutenberg I was hooked. It felt like my experience from high school until that event, coupled with my collecting hobbies, led to the rare books specialization at IU. I enrolled in the MLS program.


Since I had a full-time job in cellular sales, I commuted on my days off from Terre Haute to Bloomington for the better part of three years to attend classes. I genuinely loved the experience. Part of that experience was the librarians at the Lilly. Their enthusiasm for the subject was contagious. For example, upon starting, I only knew of Joel Silver as my named advisor on a piece of paper, not for his body of work and importance to the field. We met to discuss the program and I asked if I could have a quick tour of the stacks. He postponed a meeting by ten minutes and gave me a quick tour. That gesture stuck with me as he took the time to accommodate a new graduate student even though the demand on his position and schedule was/is enormous. The passion the Lilly Library staff exhibit toward education within the field of rare books/materials is truly amazing. I still model my approach in teaching and talking about book history after Joel Silver, Erika Dowell, and Cherry Williams. The courses I took with them modeled knowledge, patience, and inclusion in teaching subject matter.


Favorite rare book / ephemera that you’ve handled?


Taking courses at an institution like the Lilly Library allowed me to handle items such as a Dunlap Broadside, Thomas Jefferson’s first census, first editions of any novel I was assigned in undergrad, etc. The most memorable material I handled was in a manuscripts course, taught by Cherry Williams--now Director of Distinctive Collections at UC--Riverside. We were given a box each, told to look through the materials and give a report to the class at the end of an hour. My materials happened to be from the Kurt Vonnegut collection. In several folders were receipts and terms negotiated for payments/royalties from film studios for the rights to his works. I loved it because I worked for a number of years as a projectionist, cinema manager, and cinema marketing officer.


What do you personally collect?


Books about books. When I started the MLS program at IU, I started buying general interest books to read more about library history and book culture. Then I turned my eye toward rarer editions, everything from fine press books to first editions of novels featuring aspects of book culture. The comic books, movie posters, guitars, 35mm film prints and screen prints I collected beforehand were pieced apart and portions sold to finance my new collecting interest--and make room. I took Joel Silver’s Reference Sources for Rare Books course and I added his weekly lists to my purchasing agenda and started working through it. I am gleefully at the point now concerning volume that I am sometimes surprised I have certain titles. For instance, I had been saving to purchase the two-volume first edition of Holbrook Jackson’s Anatomy of Bibliomania only to run across it on one of my bookshelves and I have no recollection how I ended up with it. That feeling is disorienting and amazing at the same time.


What do you like to do outside of work?


I teach. I am lucky enough that the Honors College at Indiana State University allowed me join their ranks. I get to take subject matter I am passionate about, design courses and teach undergraduates of all levels. Two of my staple courses are on book culture--titled Clay to Kindle: A History of the Book--and on film--Summer of 1982: A Critical Look at the Greatest Summer of Cinema. It is a rare opportunity, which I am thankful to have, where I get to work in special collections in a public library and teach in academia. If any spare time pops up, I am hunting first editions or conducting market research for KJB Theaters, a local cinema chain headquartered in Terre Haute.


What excites you about rare book librarianship?


Opportunity. In a way, I think the shift in academia that started thirty years ago or so--to purge the humanities of printing history/context, the study of bibliography, and the importance of the physical book--left a void that is gradually being filled today, to the benefit of our current field of professionals. The public is interested in what we have to offer. You need look no further than a television show like Pawn Stars where you can see the number of segments featuring rare books and ephemera progressively increase season by season. The public loves interacting with history though many simply do not know where they can.


There is so much opportunity in the various fields within rare book culture that librarians can shoot for the moon as long as they let their passion drive them. Whether it is engaging and communicating with potential donors to plan collection expansion, podcasting, public information sessions, representing the field to local schools, etc. you can completely forge the career you want. While I certainly have personal bias toward physical collections, digital consortiums and repositories are fantastic tools for cementing purpose and relevance to communicate the value of our profession. Changing from niche to normal is within our grasp because of this opportunity but we have to pay for it with ingenuity and sweat equity due to budget fluctuations and cuts. In an ideal world, the money would pour in, but instead we have to create and adapt.


Thoughts on the future of special collections / rare book librarianship, especially in public library settings?


There is certainly a place for special collections/rare book librarianship in public libraries. The key to sustainability in our area is being proactive. As libraries face continued budget cuts and the conversation inevitably turns to local need and the economy, public librarians working within special collections need to forge as many connections within the community as possible to make it harder for boards and administration to justify offloading collections to historical societies and universities--or flat out selling them.


A proactive stance is where librarians engage the community by visiting classrooms, giving tours and lectures to community groups about specialized holdings, and educating the public about the value of primary resources. Interpersonal engagement and positive attitudes are key components. The more local connections cemented, the harder it is to remove special collections in lieu of something like a community daycare center. Public libraries need to look for public outreach personnel who have interpersonal skills, just like sales people, to sell the value of collections and the institution to the larger community. If public outreach is not at the forefront, then special collections in many public libraries will be cut.


Any unusual or interesting collection at your library you’d like to draw our attention to?


Absolutely! We have several and I am always finding something new. We have a fascinating collection of rare materials donated in the early 1900s by a wealthy bibliophile/Alpine climbing enthusiast--Henry Fairbanks Montagnier--with family ties to Terre Haute. Montagnier donated a collection of rare books and maps in the areas of literature, history, and Americana.


We also have the papers of Jane Dabney Shackelford, a local teacher known for writing one of the first children’s books featuring African American characters in positive portrayals. In the Jane Dabney Shackelford collection, we have several rare first editions of novels by Zora Neale Hurston--inscribed by the author, all with dust jackets intact. It was by happy circumstance that our NEA Big Read selection last year was Their Eyes Were Watching God. My department curated an exhibit with the incredibly scarce first edition of Eyes as the centerpiece.


And last but not least, we have materials from the early 1900s when famous landscape architect George Kessler created a plan for Terre Haute to have an “emerald necklace” of green spaces and parks. Unfortunately, only a portion of the plan became realized, but it is fascinating to see what could have been.


Any upcoming exhibitions at your library?


We are finishing prep on an exhibit detailing the history of brewing in Terre Haute. While Terre Haute is undoubtedly more famous as the birthplace of the Coca-Cola bottle, the city pins other feathers to its cap thanks to a rich brewing history. Local breweries pioneered the twist--off bottle cap and first implemented bottling dates. In 1935, Terre Haute boasted the largest brewery bottling line in America at the Terre Haute Brewing Co. And of course, the famous Champagne Velvet--the pilsner with the “million dollar flavor”--was created and brewed in Terre Haute.


Image courtesy of Matt Bird

Having shaken the dust of Stuttgart from our proverbial shoes, this week Marcia and I packed up our Volvo with stock, and set off for Dunkirk, the ferry to Dover, and eventually the PBFA Cambridge book fair


This is one of our favourite fairs of the year. Cambridge is a beautiful city, full of excellent restaurants, the occasional college, and my cousins. The fair is ably run by Phil and Sarah from the Haunted Bookshop, a lovely children’s bookshop in the centre of town. Having set out our wares, we made our way to G David, the city’s other antiquarian bookshop (just over the Square from the Haunted Bookshop). The evening before the fair opens, there is traditionally a “bit of a do” in David’s antiquarian room. This year, they outdid themselves with the catering -- including the first time I have ever seen a “sausage tree.”


cambridge view copy.jpg

The next day, the fair began in earnest. There were some lovely exhibits this year, and the Guildhall looked at its finest. It was good to catch up with some of my old colleagues from the UK. I spent quite a while chatting to Graham York from Honiton. Graham and Jan always have interesting stock, and this year was no exception. Nestling amongst the books was a lovely antique microscope.


dali copy.jpg

I was persuaded to purchase a couple of Russian prints from David Maynard, which will no doubt appear in Maastricht next month. David also had a fabulous Salvador Dali item, Dix Recettes d’ Immortalite. Although incomplete, this lovely items still contains a number of pop ups and etchings by Dali, including four signed by him. A large and impressive piece.


cambridge window copy.jpg


Back on the Haunted Bookshop stand, I was shown a beautiful large plate of the East Window of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge by Joshua Kirby Baldry. Executed in 1809, the colours are as fresh today as they ever were.   


soldier copy.jpg

My own favourite item from this year’s fair, was offered by John Underwood. He had a beautiful collection of hand-painted wooden soldiers, by E.V. Howell. Painted in 1929, these were created as small samples for larger museum exhibition items. Against all probability, John found another dealer at the fair who had a collection of original paintings of these same figures, which the artist had created in preparation. Naturally he acquired those pretty quickly!


And so the fair ended. Being polite, we paused to thank our hosts and the PBFA for organising the event, and we set off again for the continent. Our next stop is the SELAC fair (Salon Européen du livre ancien et de la gravure de Colmar) on the 3rd and 4th of March. Hopefully we shall see some of our new, and old, friends there. 


colmar fair.jpg--Marc Harrison and his wife Marcia run Harrison-Hiett Rare Books in The Netherlands. Images courtesy of the author.

Not quite as many sales this week as things gear up for Rare Book Week New York, but I’ll have my eyes on a trio of very different auctions:

                                                                                                                                                                                            On Wednesday, February 28, Edinburgh auction house Lyon & Turnbull hosts Illustrated & Animated: The Collections of John Burningham & John Blundall, in 232 lots. John Burningham is well known as an illustrator and poster designer: he won the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1963 and 1970, and was a 2012 finalist for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. The sale includes original art from many of his books, as well as a number of pieces of furniture and other decorative items from his collection. Burningham’s original design for the endpapers of his first book for children, Borka: The Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers (pictured) is estimated at £3,000-5,000.



John Michael Blundall (1937-2014) collected puppets from around the world during a long career as a producer of puppet theater; Lyon & Turnbull offers a selection. The top-estimated lot of the sale is a puppet sculpted by Blundall himself: Parker from the 1960s series “Thunderbirds” (£5,000-7,000), while a large archive of Blundall’s designs for puppets and stage sets could fetch £3,000-5,000. Among the other items from Blundall’s collection are a number of surviving marionettes from the famed Clowes-Tiller family troupe (Lots 110-131); the rest of the family’s marionettes are now part of the collections of the V&A.

                                                                                                                                                                               The following day, March 1, Swann Galleries sells Vintage Posters, in 551 lots. A set of Alphonse Mucha’s “The Seasons” (1896) is estimated at $40,000-60,000, while a three-poster series of Mont Blanc designed by Georges Dorval could sell for $8,000-12,000. A wide range of travel, advertising, and propaganda posters on offer in this one.

                                                                                                                                                                                        On Saturday, March 3, Potter & Potter (Chicago) sells The Magic Collection of John Daniel, in 491 lots. Daniel, the 1969 “Stage Magician of the Year” and recipient of The Magic Castle’s 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award, collected a broad range of magic memorabilia, from posters and stage props to costumes, books, and ephemera. Lots 252 to 343 comprise much of the collection of illusionist The Great Virgil, purchased en bloc by Daniel. If you’ve ever wanted a collapsing red silk top hat, or a talking skull, now’s your chance!

                                                                                                                                                                                           Image credit: Lyon & Turnbull

Jane Austen’s novels criticizing sentimentalism, the British landed gentry, and women’s dependence on marriage have remained in print continuously since 1832, when the publisher Richard Bentley purchased the copyrights of all six of Austen’s works. For the past 186 years those stories have thrilled readers around the globe. Now comes a picture-book biography for children attempting to piece together Austen’s rise to fame.

9781627796439 copy.jpgBrave Jane Austen: Reader, Writer, Author, Rebel (Holt, $17.99, 48 pages) explores Austen’s modest upbringing and how she quietly forged a career as an author at a time when most women aspired to fortuitous marriages to secure their economic status.

Though little is actually known about Austen’s childhood since she kept no journal or diary, author Lisa Plisco admirably examines just how Austen developed her plucky wit and delightfully biting sense of irony. (Spoiler: Austen read a lot of books.) Illustrator Jen Corace’s vibrant mixed-media illustrations show a rosy-cheeked Austen, likely an homage to the portrait of Austen completed in 1810 by her sister, Cassandra.

Have a future wordsmith on your hands? Give her this beguiling introduction to a great woman of letters.

                                                                                                                                                                                           Image courtesy of Holt Books for Young Readers

Auction Guide