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

Behind the Bookshelves: The Podcast

The folks at AbeBooks have decided to throw their hats into the podcast ring; as of March 20, “Behind the Bookshelves” explores book culture in bite-size portions. So far, the first five episodes examined the Penguin paperback reading revolution, the story behind Alcoholics Anonymous’s bestselling Big Book, a literary tour of Oxford, the meteoric popularity and subsequent controversy surrounding the 1979 publication of Masquerade, and the globetrotting adventures of Mark Twain. Hosted by AbeBooks publicity director Richard Davies, each seven- to ten-minute show opens with the satisfying clack of a typewriter before launching into the story at hand.

“It’s experimental at the moment,” said Davies. “But we hope the podcast will appeal to readers and collectors, and anyone who loves a good story.” Davies plans to attend next month’s the ABA’s Rare Book Fair in Battersea where he anticipates sleuthing down at least a few stories for future episodes.

Listen or download “Behind the Bookshelves” at the links below, and let the Abe team know what you’d like to hear about next! 

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/behind-the-bookshelves/id1362086807/
Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/listen#/ps/Ismjl6nggnhj4eleyzokrucxmg4
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/behind-the-bookshelves/id1362086807/
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-169439032/
Basic RSS: http://cast.rocks/hosting/11770/feeds/IVUTQ.xml

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

Our Bright Young Librarians series continues today with Sarah Carrier, North Carolina Subject Librarian at Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.

201710_CarrierSarah1.jpgWhat is your role at your institution?

I am the North Carolina subject librarian at Wilson Special Collections Library, UNC-Chapel Hill, and I have been in this role since 2015. I support research related to the history, people, and culture of the state of North Carolina. I also teach on this subject utilizing our special collections: I and my colleagues in Research and Instructional Services collaborate with faculty and instructors on campus to curate sessions for students in our learning spaces. We are especially invested in engaging our undergraduates, but my work supports anyone interested in the subject of North Carolina, so this work goes well beyond campus. I also do a lot of outreach with K-12 students and teachers as well, working on integrating primary sources into the curriculum of public schools. At Wilson we not only have a fantastic Rare Book Collection, but a collecting focus on the American South, so we therefore have North Carolina material across all of the collecting areas. This means that I get to work with photographs, maps, artifacts, manuscripts, as well as print, and this makes my job really fun and interesting.

How did you get started in rare books?

My first job in an academic library was at UNC-Chapel Hill working in the Serials department preparing materials for binding and working at the current periodicals help desk. This was when I was an undergraduate. So my career in academic libraries has been pretty long, but a very non-linear path brought me to special collections. I had already been working in the UNC-Chapel Hill libraries for some years before I went to library school, and my classes were really diverse, mainly focused on knowledge organization and metadata. Overall I’ve now had experience in serials, acquisitions, circulation, and even systems. But where my career in special collections began was as the reading room manager at Duke’s Rubenstein Library. I had been interested in special collections, but what primarily drove me to that job was experience with and dedication to public services. Through that experience at the Rubenstein, I realized that I was where I wanted to be for the rest of my career: in special collections.

Where did you earn your MLS?

School of Information and Library Science, UNC-Chapel Hill

Favorite rare book / ephemera that you’ve handled?

Difficult to say, but I suppose that one of my most favorite items in the North Carolina Collection are our editions of Mark Catesby’s two volume The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, some of the first published depictions of North American flora and fauna. The hand coloring is incredibly vibrant and truly beautiful.

What do you personally collect?

I personally collect many things - probably too many things! I eagerly collect vinyl records, artwork by my friends, mid-century furniture and kitchenware (mostly Danish), vintage clothing. I also collect North Caroliniana of all sorts, if it fits into my budget. So that means printed material, knick knacks, ephemera, and collectibles. One example are kitschy “North Carolina” decorative plates for the walls of my house. I also have a lot of musical instruments of all kinds, but acquiring those was not always intentional.

What do you like to do outside of work?

In my spare time I work in my yard - technically my first career was as a gardener, as my first job as a teenager was at a local nursery. I ride horses (hunter/jumper). I love being outside - here in North Carolina we have a lot of beautiful natural settings not too far away from any one place. I play the records I collect at local clubs sometimes. For most of my adult life, I have also partaken in college and low-power radio communities.

What excites you about rare book librarianship?

I love pondering the life of an individual item, considering who once owned it, held it, and used it before it came to us. I am especially excited whenever I find ownership markings, names scribbled inside front covers, and to then try and find out more about that person. In the North Carolina Collection we have a lot of primers and schoolbooks with young people drawing inside of them, practicing their script and penmanship. I was always told not to write in my books, but in this case, I am always glad that they did! In addition to this, I am especially privileged to be a North Carolina librarian and able to connect people from the state to their history: the connection between people, our history, and the material is especially lively and personal as a result.

Thoughts on the future of special collections / rare book librarianship?

I am very excited by the possibilities of Digital Humanities work. One aspect that really intrigues me is that through the non-linear structure of a website, for example, narratives can be presented in a multiplicity of ways, and viewers can interact with the scholarship in new, even spontaneous or unanticipated ways. I am seeking to learn more about text analysis as a way to further my own scholarship in Southern Studies and learn about tools that can help my researchers as well. If the material is presented online via the right platform that allows user-contributed content, the intriguing opportunity is there for collaboration with a potentially international audience.

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

In the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library we hold an astounding variety and array of maps depicting the state, everything from rare maps from the Age of Exploration to 20th century railroad maps, and every genre and subject matter in between. A highlight from our collection is our extensive holdings of Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of North Carolina - these are invaluable for all kinds of research. We have a wide variety of our maps digitized and online as well: http://web.lib.unc.edu/nc-maps/

Any upcoming exhibitions at your library?

The 400th anniversary of Sir Walter Raleigh’s death will be marked by an exhibit and symposium in September 2018 and hosted by Wilson Library. Sir Walter Raleigh materials abound in the North Carolina Collection, and a selection will be put on display for the event, which will host historians, cartographers, and literary historians. One item that will surely be on display is our original manuscript of Raleigh’s commission for the Guyana voyage issued and signed by by King James I.

[Image provided by Sarah Carrier]

The rare book world is abuzz with the news that a film based on a real-life special collections robbery in 2004 is making its way to a national audience after a successful premiere at Sundance.

Animals.jpgAmerican Animals follows four Kentucky college students who plot to steal John James Audubon’s Birds of America and Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species from Transylvania University’s library. A librarian was injured in the heist, and the students eluded the FBI for two months--it’s all there in John Falk’s must-read 2015 Vanity Fair article, aptly subtitled “The untold story of the ‘Transy Book Heist’ is one part Ocean’s 11, one part Harold & Kumar: four Kentucky college kids who had millions to gain and nothing to lose.”  

As a cinematic caper, American Animals basically wrote itself--but Variety raves about Bart Layton’s direction, calling his work “sensational” and “brilliantly constructed.” The film hits national theaters on June 1. Until then, here’s the trailer:  

Image via IMDB

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

Paris, tu es ma gaieté, Paris...

Spring in Paris--is there anything better? Doubtful. The icing on the cake? Today through April 15, the Grand Palais hosts the Salon International du Livre Rare et de l’Objet d’Art. This year the Salon is backed by France’s UNESCO commission and presented by president Emmanuel Macron. (To be determined whether he is greeted by hecklers as he was at February’s Agricultural Fair.) The Salon has grown in scope and attendance over the past few years, and 20,000 visitors are expected to stroll the temple to Beaux-Arts architecture at the corners of General Eisenhower and Winston Churchill Avenues.



This year’s special guests include the Institute for Contemporary Publishing Archives (IMEC) and the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts (CNAM). IMEC specalizies in preserving archival collections at various publishing houses, while CNAM is a doctoral-degree granting program founded in the throes of the French Revolution. Both will be exhibiting materials culled from their respective archives.

Among the fifty participants at this year’s salon is Solstices (16 rue Pestalozzi, Paris), a rare books dealer specializing in architecture, political posters, Russian art, and surrealism. And Laurent Coulet will be showing a major Proust find.

Museum exhibitions, paper-making demonstrations, and book signings round out this delightful cabinet of curiosities, and with a ten-euro entry fee, the Salon is well worth the price of admission. (Bouquinistes, students, Friends of the Louvre, and LILA booksellers are admitted free.) Bonne foire to all!


Image: Salon catalogue via le Syndicat national de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (SLAM)

In search of a few new books about books to add your library? May we suggest...

paynegreat.JPGGreat Catalogues by Master Booksellers: A Selection of American and English Booksellers’ Catalogues, 19th-21st Century by John R. Payne is a major achievement: a book of depth and heft (literally) that signifies the extraordinary amount of work that went into it, lovingly produced. Those unfamiliar with the antiquarian book trade might ask, ‘what is it?’ Well, it’s an illustrated and annotated list of remarkable booksellers’ catalogues, culled from the author’s decades-long research. The catalogues are singled out for excellent scholarship or famous material, but also, in some cases, for their wit and entertainment value. Obviously, this book was made for a niche audience--in a limited edition--yet it is a book that any book collector will savor. In his introduction, Kurt Zimmerman calls bookseller catalogues “palpable artifacts, records of booksellers’ efforts that, in the toss and whirl of history, will outlast the booksellers themselves.” (Read more on Kurt’s blog, American Book Collecting, which also includes information on how to order.)   

Some of the catalogues that caught my eye include H.P. Kraus’ catalogue no. 100 (1962) that listed for sale the famed Voynich Manuscript; Henry Sotheran & Co.’s 1878 catalogue containing “The Library of Charles Dickens Comprehending his entire Library as existing at his Decease;” Scribner Book Store’s 1938 offering of the Modern Library in First Editions; and no. 1 from the Caveat Book Shop (1946), brought to my attention earlier this year by Joel Silver, director and curator of early books and manuscripts at IU’s Lilly Library, who wrote about this farcical catalogue in our winter 2018 issue. What--and who--else will you find among Payne’s selections? Maggs Bros., Serendipity Books, Gotham Book Mart, Goodspeed’s, Bernard Quaritch, William Reese, and so many others; you will be carried away!  

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 1.49.14 PM.pngA Book of Book Lists, written by Alex Johnson and published by the British Library, is just what it advertises: reading lists, lists of “Unwanted” books, lists of books portrayed on screen, and then some. Ever wondered what books the US Navy loads onto its e-readers? (No Hunt for Red October) Or what David Byrne has in his private music library? (Yes Bound for Glory by Woody Guthrie). This is not the kind of book you read cover to cover in one sitting, rather it is best enjoyed piecemeal; one could even, with the right company, turn it into a parlor game. My favorite lists: Banned Books at Guantanamo Detainee Library, Oscar Wilde’s Reading Gaol bookcase inventory, and poems featured in the 1989 film, Dead Poet’s Society.

The Library copy.jpgThe Library: A Catalogue of Wonders by Stuart Kells--an author who clearly has the right name for his chosen field, and who wrote Penguin and the Lane Brothers and Rare, a biography of former ILAB president Kay Craddock--takes a spirited look at the world’s libraries, private, institutional, even fictional. Especially enjoyable is his rumination on “discoveries” in the stacks, like the Folger Library’s 1984 discovery of an early English manuscript used as binder’s waste inside two sixteenth-century volumes. “Libraries, though curated, are quintessentially places of serendipity,” he writes. With short entr’actes between longer chapters that amuse (“Library fauna” about bookworms) and sometimes baffle (“Birth” about librarians delivering a baby), the book’s idiosyncratic nature may put off persnickety readers of Book History, but most bibliophiles will be unable to resist a book so in line with their adoration of these sacred spaces. A related essay of his in the Paris Review this week is certainly getting lots of love.

If you’re looking for more books about books, don’t miss Book Towns (here’s a Q & A with the author, who also wrote the Book of Book Lists noted above) and Publisher for the Masses, a new biography of publisher Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, the subject of a feature story in our forthcoming summer issue.

Images courtesy of: (top) Kurt Zimmerman; (middle) British Library; and (bottom) Counterpoint Press.

Our Bright Young Librarians series continues today with Elizabeth Call, special collections outreach librarian at the University of Rochester.

byl liz call.jpgWhat is your role at your institution?


I am the special collections outreach librarian for Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation (RBSCP), River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester. In this position I lead the public facing activities of RBSCP, and as such work closely and collaborate with my colleagues in RBSCP and throughout the libraries in planning and coordinating teaching, exhibits, public programming, and social media.


How did you get started in rare books?


With zero direction! While I did do a rare books and special collections librarianship concentration at library school, I started my career at a business library. Quickly realizing that was not for me, I went to work at a public library where I was an young adult librarian. It was in this role where I discovered my passion for outreach. However the job had a very long, unsustainable commute -- I lived at one end of Brooklyn and the job was on the other side of Queens. So when I saw a job posting for a reference librarian at the Brooklyn Historical Society I jumped on it -- that was the beginning.


Where did you earn your MLS/advanced degree? (If not answered in previous question)


I received my MSLIS at the Manhattan campus of the Palmer School of Library Information & Science School, Long Island University and my MA in Public History & Archives from New York University.


Favorite rare book / ephemera that you’ve handled?


This response is dated even as I am typing it since every special collection I look at changes the way I view the world in some way. Recently my day was made when preparing for a class next week that will be looking at various materials we have on reproductive history. One item I will be pulling for the students to work with is a journal called the Journal of Contraception. We have issues from 1936 and 1937.


What do you personally collect?

I do not have the attention span (or money) to be a true collector, as I fall in love with most things I see.


What do you like to do outside of work?


I love spending time with my husband, Jesse, and our two daughters, Sadie and Beatrice. I also love to run, spin, take bootcamp-type group fitness classes, go to diners, go to estate sales, and now with my purchase of an old home, outfitting and caring for a home built in 1908.


What excites you about rare book librarianship?


The ample opportunities and ever-evolving ways to make connections between many audiences and the collections. My passion lies in getting the books and manuscript boxes off the shelves and from behind exhibit cases into people’s ungloved (albeit clean) hands.


Thoughts on the future of special collections / rare book librarianship?


Special Collections will continue moving away from the dusty treasure room from days of old to centers of innovation, inclusivity, and functional use. Even in the 13 or so years since I started in special collections librarianship the profession seems to have opened up in so many exciting ways, and will only continue to do so.


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


Probably the hardest question of the bunch! There are so many great collections.


From the papers and library from the founder of American anthropology, Henry Lewis Morgan, to the political papers of Mary Anne Krupsak, back to the Isaac and Amy Post papers, the creators of the Spiritualist movement, to one of the largest personal collections of Henry David Thoreau, like the city of Rochester itself, the collections here go deep and document the rich and problematic history of the United States.


Any upcoming exhibitions at your library?


YES! 2018 marks the 200th Anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth. Opening on his celebrated birthday, February 14, 2018 and running through October 6, 2018, Rochester’s Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass’s World: Understanding the Man and His Legacy, showcases many aspects of Douglass’s life and legacy as reflected through archival material including letters, published materials, maps, photographs, newspapers, and ephemera. This exhibit is part of the year-long celebration of Frederick Douglass in the city of Rochester.

[Photo submitted by Liz Call]

Auction Guide