The Jay I. Kislak Foundation announced this week a major donation to the University of Miami and Miami Dade College. Split between the two institutions is a collection that “includes some of the most important original source materials related to the history of the early Americas,” according to a jointly issued press statement.

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 12.02.18 PM.pngPedro de Medina, L’Arte del Navegar...  (The Art of Sailing), 1554. First Italian edition of one of the earliest treatises on navigation and the first to provide reliable information on the navigation of American waters. The author discusses the use of basic navigation instruments and explains the use of maps and measurements of the sun and North Star to determine latitude. The book, describing early Spanish voyages of discovery, was widely influential during the 16th  century among mariners of Spain, England, France, Italy and Holland. In addition to its scientific and historic importance, this rare volume is one of the most beautiful books printed in 16th-century Europe. Gift to University of Miami, Courtesy of the Jay I. Kislak Foundation.

The collection was assembled over many decades by 94-year-old collector and philanthropist Jay Kislak, who is well known in the rare book world for his 2004 donation of more than 3,000 rare books, maps, manuscripts and objects to the Library of Congress and for his generous support of the Kislak Center for Special Collections at the University of Pennsylvania. He has also sustained the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest for several years.

This most recent gift of approximately 2,300 rare books, maps, manuscripts, pre-Columbian artifacts, and related material, with its particular focus on Florida, the Caribbean, exploration, navigation, and the early Americas, finds an ideal home in South Florida. Each school will receive a first edition of the famous 1493 letter of Christopher Columbus, in which his describes the New World, as well as a selection of rare and important items. As a whole, the collection is valued at $30 million. Working together, UM and MDC will collaborate on exhibitions, collections care, and outreach.

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 12.03.44 PM.pngColumbus Letter: Printed by Johann Bergmann von Olpe in Basle, Switzerland, 1494, this edition includes the first images of what Columbus believed to be islands in Asia. The first section of the book is an epic poem by Carlo Verardus praising Ferdinand’s expulsion of the Moors from Granada in 1492. The second part is Columbus’ famous letter, De insulis nuper in Mari Indico, with five woodcuts purporting to be the earliest pictures of the New World. Gift to Miami Dade College, Courtesy of the Jay I. Kislak Foundation.

Said Kislak, “I think this is an ideal partnership. We have the opportunity to combine the special resources of each institution and create exhibitions and programs that will be enjoyed by Miami-Dade residents and the millions of people who visit here from all over the world.” He added, “For 500 years, Florida has been a focal point of global exploration and cultural exchange. I’m thrilled that Miami’s top two institutions of higher education, along with the Library of Congress, will now be using our collections to reveal the fascinating and important role of our community in world history.”

aquila rose.jpgPenn Libraries at the University of Pennsylvania have acquired the only known copy of Benjamin Franklin’s first printing piece. The broadside, “The Elegy on the Death of Aquila Rose,” was printed by Franklin shortly after his arrival in Philadelphia in 1723. At the time, Franklin was still only a teenager.

                                                                                                                                                 Scholars know of approximately 900 works printed by Franklin. The Aquila Rose broadside was the last major piece to be discovered, making Penn Libraries’ acquisition particularly significant.

                                                                                                                                             “Many of these works, especially broadsides and small ephemeral pieces, exist in only one or two copies,” said Mitch Fraas, a Penn Libraries’ curator, in a press statement. “The Penn Libraries now hold more than a third of his print production, making our collection of Franklin’s printing among the most important in the world.”

                                                                                                                                            The broadside was written by the printer Samuel Keimer and concerns the recent death of Philadelphia poet and pressman Aquila Rose. This copy, the only known survivor, briefly appeared in the 1820s before disappearing again for almost two hundred years. The broadside was recently discovered by an antiquarian bookseller inside a 19th-century scrapbook (seen below).


Hazard_scrapbook_b copy.jpg


Penn Libraries now owns both the first and last works printed by Franklin.

                                                                                                                                                “As an institution founded by Franklin and dedicated to his passion for the widest possible dissemination of knowledge and the promotion of learning, the Penn Libraries is proud to carry the torch of his legacy, lighting pathways to the future by making Franklin’s work open and accessible to the wider world,” said Vice Provost and Director of Libraries H. Carton Rogers in a press statement.

                                                                                                                                                    The broadside is on display until February 10, along with the album in which it was found, on the first floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. A digitized copy of the broadside is already available online.

                                                                                                                                                  Images courtesy of Penn Libraries

A small but interesting archive of material relating to Alfred Lord Tennyson and Charles Dickens has turned up at London-based Chiswick Auctions, consigned by a distant relation of the Ellis family. The product of that family’s long-term association with the two authors, the collection contains correspondence, envelopes, clipped autographs, stereoscopic photographs, a rare program pamphlet (1868) produced for a series of Dickens’ “Farewell Readings,” and a pencil drawing of 48 Doughty Street by a member of the Tennyson family, inscribed: “Home of Charles Dickens.... from Wilderness Aug 3rd 1870,” among other notable pieces.

Lot 85. TENNYSON, Alfred Lord (1809-92) Charles DICKENS (1812-70). Collection, Archive (1) copy.jpgCharles Ellis was a wine merchant with literary aspirations. According to a footnote in The Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson (1987), where an October 1853 letter from the author to Ellis is recorded, “For many years [Ellis] purveyed wines to Dickens, vastly more knowledgeable and discriminating than Tennyson, but, himself a poet (Richmond and Other Poems, 1845), he seems ... to have presented them to Tennyson, perhaps annually, as a sort of oblation.” Indeed another letter from Tennyson, written in 1866, thanks Ellis “for your Christmas gift of choice wines.”

Lot 85. TENNYSON, Alfred Lord (1809-92) Charles DICKENS (1812-70). Collection, Archive (3) copy.jpgThe personal and longstanding connection between the correspondents may well be enough to encourage bidders toward the £4,000-6,000 ($5,000-7,400) estimate on Wednesday.

Lot 85. TENNYSON, Alfred Lord (1809-92) Charles DICKENS (1812-70). Collection, Archive (2) copy.jpgImages courtesy of Chiswick Auctions.

Inauguration Day, 1861

No matter how you feel about today’s inauguration, take heart and consider the first swearing-in ceremony of America’s sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. On March 4, 1861, the country was a scant six weeks from entering the Civil War, seven states had already seceded from the Union, and rumors of plots to assassinate Lincoln were already swirling in the air. In addition to taking the helm of an ideologically divided country, Lincoln was the first president to be photographed at his inauguration.                                         

One image that survives the day is a salt-print photograph attributed to Alexander Gardner (1821-1882), a photographer in Mathew Brady’s Washington studio who would later earn fame for his photo-documentation of the bloddy battlegrounds of the Civil War. Gardner’s image of Lincoln taking the oath of office was made into an engraving published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and circulated throughout the country. The black and white photograph shows Lincoln on the steps of the Capitol, a tall, dark speck standing above a crowd of 25,000 attendees. Scaffolding in the background reveals that the Capitol was still undergoing construction.                                                                                                           

Only three known copies of the photograph remain in existence: one is stored at the Library of Congress, another at the Smithsonian Institution, and a third was recently acquired at auction by Bowdoin College. The image has significant connections to the state of Maine; vice-president Hannibal Hamlin was a native of Paris, Maine, and longtime resident Winslow Homer was also in attendance, whose double-page engraving of the inauguration appeared in Harper’s Bazaar (Frank Lee’s competitor) later that year. Bowdoin College Museum of Art unveiled its acquisition to the public on January 12 alongside its copy of the Homer engraving.                                                                                                                                                                                                Lincoln-nauguration-photo.jpg                                              

 Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1861, salt print, by Alexander Gardner, American 1821-1882. Courtesy Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

Lincoln called for unity that day, hoping to keep war at bay. “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature.”

Our Bright Young Booksellers series continues today with Leo Cadogan, proprietor of Leo Cadogan Rare Books in London.

IMG-20161231-WA0032 (1).jpgHow did you get started in rare books?

My first sustained encounter with rare books was straight after my final exams at university, when I had a library job that included wiping the dust off rows and rows of seventeenth-century volumes - which I enjoyed doing! I liked looking at the volumes (I was probably not the most efficient cleaner). I really got started with an interview at Quaritch, in 1997, at the end of the summer after university. It was arranged for me by a family friend. I was at that point selling leather jackets in Camden Market in London. I think it gave me an edge in the interview to be able to say that not only did I like books (in common with many other people) but I was used to selling things.

When did you open Leo Cadogan Rare Books and what do you specialize in?

I opened Leo Cadogan Rare Books in late 2007. I specialize in cultural and intellectual history from the Renaissance period up to about 1800. I offer books, manuscripts, prints and ephemera illustrative of the life, studies and interests of people of these times. I always look out for the unusual and passionately want to engage people with these old cultures. Early books have to stand side-by-side at book fairs with items that have a lot more obvious cultural impact (say a first edition in dustwrapper of your favourite novel) and I relish the challenge. I began Leo Cadogan Rare Books working mainly in legal history. Legal history is a subject that, following an MA in Renaissance Studies that I took time out of the book trade to do, I subsequently undertook graduate work in. As a bookseller, showing the life in the dry and scholastic subject of Early Modern law was a good way to begin my business - both because there were institutions collecting it and because the working outlook (finding interest in things that immediately seem culturally foreign to many of us) set me up well. Nowadays I look in several other areas besides law and my material is increasingly visual (although to some extent it has always been).

What do you love about the book trade?

We are so lucky to get to handle the materials we do. It is also a trade where people celebrate when you do something ambitious and one that admires care and the development of expertise. Colleagues are tolerant and generous, with their time, favours, and sometimes their prices. With our customers as well, the trade at its best inhabits a unique, serious but friendly space.

Describe a typical day for you:

An ideal day involves making an early start on cataloguing some interesting items, catching the post and email as they arrive, perhaps in the afternoon getting down to the libraries (particularly London Library, British Library, also Warburg Institute) for research, finishing off descriptions in the evening. But there’s plenty else going on - admin, some auctions, travel, book fairs in London, the US, and Europe, and a demanding toddler.

Favorite rare book (or ephemera) that you’ve handled?

Maybe it’s the copy of the first humanist Latin collected works of Aristotle (1496) that, so I discovered, had belonged to a famous Renaissance cardinal, book-collector, and patron of philosophers called Domenico Grimani. Visually and in its contents, this Aristotle is a really impressive book, and this copy had a very appropriate and evocative original ownership which was shown by a large painted armorial. But there was more to find out. Part of Grimani’s library had been destroyed in a fire in the seventeenth century but another section was put on the market in Rome in 1546. My copy was part of that latter hoard because it was subsequently acquired, probably in a Roman bookshop in the 1560s by a Croatian/Slovenian theology student in Rome called Antun Vramec. He was later to write an important vernacular chronicle printed in Ljubljana in 1578. What a chance that a book should - randomly - have not one but two important Renaissance owners, both in the city of Rome. Vramec disposed of the copy in the city before he left, for Zagreb; after other owners it ended up in an ecclesiastical library in Rome. By around the end of the seventeenth century the copy acquired a typical Italian vellum library binding, but a section of discolouration on the first page showed how the front cover of an earlier binding had broken. The book sums up to me how much interesting history and archaeology there can be in rare books.

What do you personally collect?

I make little starts to collections. I sometimes buy ‘beyond speculatively’, things that appeal to me for reasons sometimes not immediately explicable, and where I certainly don’t know where they are going to fit, or indeed whether they will stay private possessions or become (or stay) part of the stock. It can be a good exploratory process. Sometimes I find an interesting theme doing this, and I then discover other people are also interested in it - and buying that material can then become a straightforward, and rewarding part of my business. I do also occasionally buy old Spanish prints for my spouse, who is an Early Modern art historian.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Reading, general cultural consumption, consumption of food, travel, family life.

Thoughts on the present state and/or future of the rare book trade?

We’re at an interesting time. For different reasons, in the cultural spheres there’s an explosion of interest in external engagement - engagement with people outside of academic or professional siloes - and there’s also an explosion of interest, in academic worlds and society more widely, in material and visual artefacts, and broadly in ‘stuff’. Although it may not be the actual cause of these changes, this is an environment where social media has a strong and positive role to play. The book trade can and does take part vigorously in this broadening world. This is all good, and there is a lot of young interest in the book trade, which is great. On the other hand, I hear concerns about the trading volume - the amount of new cash coming into the book trade as compared to earlier times. I am involved in an interesting new outreach project - I co-organize a new high-end books and arts fair in London in the autumn, called INK (or Inkfair London). Last year was its inaugural, and we had encouraging results. Helping run INK certainly keeps me focused on and inquisitive about the wider environment we are working in.

Any upcoming fairs or catalogues?

I have two little lists that I hope to publish soon. One is on science and medicine, and the other contains ephemeral items from the incunable and post-incunable periods. I am doing the Oakland book fair in February, the New York book fair in March, and straight after New York, am co-exhibiting with other dealers from Britain’s Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association, at an important antiques fair in London. Looking ahead, I have fairs at London Olympia at the end of May, and two more in London at the end of October/beginning of November (INK and the Chelsea Antiquarian Book Fair). There may be more events, and I have various further plans for catalogues. I am busy!

[Image copyright Claudio Corivetti]

Three times a year, book collectors gather to attend major antiquarian book fairs in the U.S.--this year they will be held in the San Francisco Bay Area of California in February, New York City in March, and Boston in November. To facilitate and encourage participation, Fine Books pulls together information about the book fairs, auctions, exhibitions, and more available to those who would like to join in the fun during each Rare Book Week.

Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 7.59.11 PM.pngWithout further ado, we present this year’s edition of Rare Book Week West, which runs (roughly) February 5-12. Here you’ll find information about the upcoming California International Antiquarian Book Fair, the CODEX book fair and symposium, a special PBA Galleries auction, and a dozen exhibitions and events (e.g., receptions, classes, open houses) of related bibliophilic interest, plus a few suggestions for “bookish browsing” while in the Bay Area. From the American Bookbinders Museum to the William Blake Gallery, whether your interest is in private press or Chinese book design or Alice in Wonderland, if you’re headed to Cali for the book fair(s), be sure to check out our guide.


The United States Mint will release the first ever Lady Liberty coin featuring an African American woman in 2017. The 24-karat, 1-ounce coin will go on sale April 6 with a $100 face value. The actual sale price of the coin, however, will be far in excess of the $100 as gold is currently valued at over $1,000/ounce.

The African American Lady Liberty coin will be the first in a series, which will feature ethnically diverse women. An Asian, Hispanic, and Indian Lady Liberty coin are all in the works, with plans for new Lady Liberty coins to be released at two-year intervals. The goal is “to reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States,” said the US Mint in a statement.

The mint will produce 100,000 of the African American Lady Liberty coins. For those who can’t afford the price tag, the mint will also produce 100,000 “medals,” silver reproductions of the Lady Liberty image that will sell for around $40 to $50.

Image from the United States Mint

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we’re sharing one of the images from our current issue’s feature story about a collection of printed material related to the Vietnam War. This is King’s February 1967 anti-war speech, “The Casualties of the War in Vietnam,” signed by King.

Martin Luther King signed speech Casualties of The War #2 300 dpi copy.jpgAs the Los Angeles Times reports today, it was fifty years ago this month that King turned his attention to Vietnam, after reading a 28-page essay documenting the use of napalm. “King began agitating against the Vietnam War, a lesser-remembered chapter of his career in which the preacher once again launched an unpopular battle against the prevailing opinions of the establishment, the broader public and even some allies.”

In another Vietnam-related speech, given in New York just two months after “Casualties,” King said, “If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read ‘Vietnam.’” That sentiment certainly harmonizes with the point of view of former Marine and novelist Karl Marlantes, who wrote a piece for the New York Times just last week titled “Vietnam: The War That Killed Trust.”

Image Courtesy of Stuart Lutz Historic Documents, Inc.

On the first of the year, AB-1570 Collectibles: Sale of Autographed Memorabilia went into effect in the state of California, requiring all dealers of any autographed material worth more than five dollars to fill out a certificate of authenticity (COA) specifying date of sale, the dealer’s name and street address, and the name and address of the person from whom the autographed item was acquired if the item was not signed in the presence of a dealer. While AB-1570’s goals are to prevent the distribution of forged autographs, many booksellers feel they’ve been swept up by a vague law with onerous requirements and that portions constitute an invasion of privacy, citing possible violations of California’s Reader Privacy Act of 2011. 

AB-1570 is an updated version of a law passed in 1992 that applied to sports memorabilia in an effort to stem the tide of a multi-billion dollar forgery industry. Sponsored by former Assemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar), the bill received vocal support from actor Mark Hamill, better known to fans as Luke Skywalker of the “Star Wars” films. Hamill had become increasingly frustrated with seeing movie memorabilia for sale with his faked signature.

Now, any autographed item sold for five dollars or more, including books, is subject to the law.

Though Chang later wrote on her Facebook page that booksellers were not the intended targets of the law, she was voted out of office in November, and it’s unclear who will take up her cause. 


Chang 1.jpg

Above: A screenshot image of part of Chang’s Facebook letter stating AB-1570 doesn’t mean to target booksellers. (image: Barbara Richter) 

“We don’t tolerate fake signatures,” said California-based bookseller John Howell. “Booksellers don’t want forgeries undermining the market. AB-1570 is not needed for us to continue practices already in place that keep fake signatures off the market.” Booksellers registered as members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America are bound by ethics regulations to offer full refunds to dissatisfied customers no matter what state they work in.

California resident and bookseller Brad Johnson is circulating a petition on to repeal AB-1570. “The unknowns concerning the law are forcing many booksellers to proceed with an abundance of caution, which generally translates into a decision to no longer offer autographed materials to consumers in California,” Johnson said.

Indeed, some booksellers, like Malcolm Kottler of Scientia Books in Massachusetts, have withdrawn from the 50th annual California International Antiquarian Book Fair in February. California Book Fair Committee Chair Michael Hackenberg said that his team has notified all exhibitors with the text of the law and suggested best practices in dealing with it. They are also providing generic COAs for dealers selling signed materials and will post public signage of the law.                                                          

Kottler signed up for the fair the week after the bill was signed into law, then spent the next three months deciding whether he should stay. “I decided to withdraw from the book fair after I examined the list of items I had at the 2016 fair, and 75 percent was autographed material. I would have brought similar items this year,” Kottler explained. Though he could have easily replaced his wares with non-autographed items, Kottler felt the swap wouldn’t justify the trip. Still, “I don’t need a repeal of the law,” he continued. “If the Legislature removes the COA requirement of providing names and addresses of sources, I could live with the rest of it. To me, it’s more of an inconvenience.”

The state has not provided guidelines on how it plans to enforce the law, yet those caught violating AB-1570 are subject to “civil penalties equaling 10 times the actual damages incurred.”

“There is considerable confusion as to who the law applies to, whether it is retroactive, and so forth,” Johnson continued. He also said that California booksellers who initiated the repeal petition are in conversation with “key” members of the California Senate and Assembly.

For the moment, out-of-state booksellers are interpreting the law in two ways: Connecticut-based Easton Press deals largely in signed, limited-edition items and will no longer ship books to California, asserting prohibitive COA costs. Kottler, however, is not sure whether the law applies to out-of-state dealers. “I believe I am not bound by AB-1570 if I send a purchased, signed copy from Massachusetts to California, but the law is unclear,” he said.

Susan Benne of the ABAA says her organization hopes members will educate themselves on the new regulations. “Our goal is to inform our members that this new law is on the books in California, and to make sure they understand how it may impact their businesses,” she said. (The ABAA does not provide legal counsel; members are encouraged to seek out California legal representation to understand how the law applies.) “In terms of protecting the consumer, we don’t oppose the rationale behind the law, but the way it was written impinges on the privacy of booksellers. And the requirements may be unnecessarily onerous for small businesses.”

Supporters of repealing or amending AB-1570 are encouraged to sign the online petition and write to California legislators explaining why they feel law needs to be changed.

Last year we checked in with consumate reader Linda Aragoni of the Great Penformances blog for her appraisal of the bestseller list from a century ago. This year, we continue the tradition, finding out about the books that topped the list in 1916.  For reference, here are the 1916 bestsellers according to Publishers Weekly:

  1. Seventeen by Booth Tarkington
  2. When a Man’s a Man by Harold Bell Wright
  3. Just David by Eleanor H. Porter
  4. Mr. Britling Sees It Through by H. G. Wells
  5. Life and Gabriella by Ellen Glasgow
  6. The Real Adventure by Henry Kitchell Webster
  7. Bars of Iron by Ethel M. Dell
  8. Nan of Music Mountain by Frank H. Spearman
  9. Dear Enemy by Jean Webster
  10. The Heart of Rachael by Kathleen Norris

And now onto our conversation with Linda:
realadventurecover.jpgWhat was your favorite book from 1916?

My favorite novel of the 1916 bestsellers is The Real Adventure by Henry Kitchell Webster, a prolific author of the first third of the 20th century whose name is virtually unknown today. 

Part of the pleasure of the novel is the engaging line drawings by R(aymond) M(oreau) Crosby that illustrated the original text.

The novel is the story of young working class woman whose suffragette mother taught her to want to be more than just a housewife, but who never saw to it that Rose had any training to do anything else. 

Rose bumps into a millionaire lawyer on a tram and within weeks is married into Chicago’s social elite. 

Rose wants to be more than just Roddy’s sex partner and hostess. She wants to have his respect and friendship. 

When her ludicrous efforts to be Roddy’s pal fail, Rose runs away--only a few blocks but to the wrong side of Chicago--and takes the only job open to girls with morals but no skills: She becomes a chorus girl. 

Rose eventually comes home, but her life and Roddy’s change a great deal before then.

Do you think modern audiences would enjoy any of the 1916 bestsellers?

Certainly. Good writing endures.

For readers who are at least equally interested in how ideas are expressed as the ideas themselves, I would recommend Life and Gabriella by Ellen Glasgow. It is better written than The Real Adventure, but its plot is less original. 

For readers interested in 20th century history and human psychology, I’d recommend Mr. Britling Sees It Through by H. G. Wells. 

The novel is about a writer who prior to the autumn of 1914 couldn’t believe the German people wanted war. Mr. Britling (a inadequately disguised representative of Wells himself) changes his opinions when the war affects him personally. 

Dear Enemy by Daddy Long-Legs author Jean Webster is a light, comfy, romantic novel that I’m sure many people other than myself would enjoy reading while recovering from a bad cold.

Would you add any of the 1916 bestsellers to your permanent library? 

I definitely will add The Real Adventure. It’s readily available in paperback, including in a Scholar’s Choice Edition.

Any other comments about the 1916 bestsellers?

Today most of the 1916 bestselling novels are interesting as historical odd bits rather than as literature. The fact that eight of the 10 authors on the list are Americans is itself an historical oddity. The Brits were busy fighting a war: The English publishing industry nearly stopped because of the lack of men to run the presses.  

Anything you’re looking forward to for the 1917 list?

If you’d asked what I was most looking forward to in 2017, I’d have said finishing my self-appointed project of reading and reviewing the bestsellers of 1900 to 1969.

However, since your question is about the 1917 bestseller list, I’ll be coy. 

I’ve read and reviewed all the 1917 novels already. Those reviews will start appearing at GreatPenformances in late February.

[Image from]

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