September 2019

Strong Results at Tennants’ Book Sale

Courtesy of Tennants Auctioneers

A copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, illustrated by Hugh Thomson and published by George Allen in 1894, sold for £1,200 plus buyer’s premium.

Leyburn, North Yorkshire — A volume of writings by the ‘Father of Parole’ sold almost twenty times it’s estimate in Tennants Auctioneers’ Books, Maps & Ephemera Sale on 11th September. The volume of collected works by Capt. Alexander Maconochie sold for £4,800 (plus buyer’s premium) after a protracted bidding battle.

Maconochie was a prison reformer in the mid nineteenth century, and rather ahead of his time; he was ridiculed and largely ignored during his lifetime. He wanted to focus on rewarding prisoners for rehabilitation and good behavior. Not unsurprisingly, this clashed with the punishment ethos of the time. He was rediscovered during the mid to late 20th century, and his ideas became the basis for our modern penal system. The most significant publication in the volume was Maconochie’s Thoughts on Convict Management, Hobart Town, published in 1838, which is a very scarce publication.

Amongst a strong selection of topographical lots was a copy of the earliest town plan of London by Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg, first published in Civitates Orbis Terrarum (the first printed collection of town maps) circa 1580. The hand coloured Londinium feracissimi Angliae Regni metropolis uses a viewpoint perhaps unique to maps; the city is shown tilted at a strange angle, disregarding perspective, allowing the major buildings to be shown. The map, which sold for (£3,800 plus buyer’s premium) was produced by the Hanseatic League, perhaps to woo Mary Tudor and secure rights and privileges for the merchants; indeed, the Steelyard headquarters of the league is described to the lower right corner of the map and the Royal Barge is given prominence on the Thames. This is a hugely significant source on early modern London and its development.

Turning away from British shores, of interest to collectors of Polar Exploration was E.P. Bayliss and J.S. Cumpston’s Handbook and Index to Accompany a Map of Antarctica, alongside said map and both published in 1939, which sold for £1,300 plus buyer’s premium. The handbook is rarely found complete with the map. This map was purchased directly from the Commonwealth of Australia Department of External Affairs in London on 7th October 1940 and is sold with an accompanying letter apologising for the delay in sending the map and handbook as they were awaiting fresh stock from Australia.

Elsewhere in the sale good prices were seen for Capt. W. Vincent Legge’s A History of the Birds of Ceylon, published by the author in 1880 (sold for £3,900 plus buyer’s premium),  a copy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s collected works (23 volumes) published in 1930 by Doubleday, Doran & Co. Inc of New York (sold for £1,600 plus buyer’s premium), and a copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice illustrated by Hugh Thomson and published by George Allen in 1894 (sold for £1,200 plus buyer’s premium).

Full results are available on Tennants’ website.


Library of Congress Opens "Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages"

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Washington, D.C. — A new exhibition at the Library of Congress explores the fascinating evolution of visual storytelling styles in comic art – from panels in early newspapers to contemporary images of some of the most famous and funny characters in print. Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages opened Sept. 12 and will be on view for a year in the Graphic Arts Galleries of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building.

The exhibition draws from the Library’s extensive collection of comic art, which includes some of the earliest comics, including the first successful newspaper comic strip featuring Richard Outcault’s “The Yellow Kid,” early drawings of “Peanuts,” superheroes including Batman, Superman and the Incredible Hulk in modern comic books, and much more.

“The Yellow Kid,” first published in a panel in the New York World newspaper in 1895, is credited with sparking the rise of comics as a new American art form. By the middle of the 20th century, a growing number of diverse comic artists were examining their own life stories and commenting on culture and politics while expanding into graphic novels, fanzines and web comics. Comic art characters and narratives have also spread across film, television, books and marketing to reach even more people.

Highlights of the exhibition’s first rotation include:
    •    The first major recurring comic character in a newspaper, “The Yellow Kid;”
    •    An early drawing of Charles Schulz’ beloved comic strip “Peanuts” from 1952 with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Patty and Snoopy;
    •    A drawing of “Brenda Starr, Reporter” by Dale Messick, whose strip represents a milestone for female characters in comics by female cartoonists;
    •    An original Batman comic book illustration from 1967;
    •    A cover drawing of the Incredible Hulk by artist Marie Severin, one of the few women to advance to drawing major superhero titles for Marvel comics;
    •    Self-published minicomics that helped launch the career of Raina Telgemeier;
    •    An extremely rare first edition of “All-Negro Comics” created by black cartoonists in 1947.

Comic Art will feature 45 items in the first rotation and a second rotation in spring 2020. The exhibition is on view in the Graphic Arts Galleries of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The exhibition is free and open to the public Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  



Rare Camera and Early Images Head to Chiswick Auctions

Courtesy of Chiswick Auctions

One of the earliest images of the Royal Exchange in London in circa 1850. It is estimated to fetch £3,000-£5,000.

London — Chiswick Auctions is thrilled to offer an extremely rare and very early double-stroke, black paint Leica M3. This type of camera was used professionally by some of the best photojournalists of the 20th century and are extremely rare. The camera, which includes all of the features of these highly sought-after unofficial pre-series cameras, will go under the hammer in a sale of Photographica on Thursday 14th November, 2019.

This particular camera was delivered to the famous Magnum Photo Agency in Paris in 1958 as it was the chosen camera of top photojournalists at the time. Factory delivery records show that only 90 of these pre-series cameras were sent before the first official batch of black M3 rangefinders in 1959, of which this is a survivor. It is not known how many others are still in existence from such a small production number.  

The majority of them were delivered to Sweden and individual deliveries were also made to Paris, New York and Germany. The serial number on the camera in the sale, records it as the 15th black paint M3 camera to have been produced, which means that it’s the second earliest example of this model ever to be offered at auction. (The earliest example, the second of the batch, sold in 2014 for £320,000 in Hong Kong). This example has a conservative estimate of £60,000-£80,000 but due to its popularity and rarity, it is expected to achieve much more.

Magnum Photographic Agency is one of the first photographic cooperatives, owned and administered entirely by its photographers. It was founded in 1947 by famous Photographers such as Robert Capa, David "Chim" Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and William Vandivert. These were some of the most influential and pioneering photojournalists of the 20th century. Magnum has comprised photojournalists from around the world, who have covered many historical events of the 20th century and is renowned for its extensive archive.

To carry out their tasks photographers at Magnum required the very best, which is where the double-stroke, black paint Leica M3 came in. The camera enabled the photographer to keep their eye open due to its viewfinder, facilitating constant viewing of ‘the action’, which made it perfect for reportage photography and resulted in the capturing of some of the most historic moments of the time.

Leica is a German company founded by Ernst Leitz in 1914. Designer Oskar Barnack decided to build a fast, lightweight, portable camera to compete with the heavy camera equipment typical of the day, which became an icon of early photography and a favourite of the famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.

But it was Leica’s M series (like the example in our sale), that helped consolidate the legendary status of the camera brand. Leica maintains its reputation as the world’s best lens-maker and its M series cameras are compared to Rolls Royce or Rolex status. Every photographer describes Leica as the ultimate in camera brands.

Another exciting highlight of the sale includes one of the earliest images of the Royal Exchange in London in circa 1850. The image is a rare and early architectural daguerreotype by an anonymous photographer.

Daguerreotypes are exceptionally rare as they were the first widely used photographic processes of the 1840s and 1850s. They were images created on a sheet of silver-plated copper and resulted in a mirror-like silver surface image, normally kept under glass.

The darkest areas of the image on the sheet would be the bare areas of silver, with lighter areas having a fine light-scattering texture. The surface is very delicate, and some tarnishing around the edges is normal, as in the case of our example.

The Royal Exchange in London has twice been destroyed by fire and rebuilt. The present building was designed by Sir William Tite in the 1840's. It was opened by Queen Victoria on 28 October 1844, though trading did not commence until 1 January 1845. Presumably this daguerreotype would have been taken around this time. It is therefore one of the earliest images of this historical building.

It is estimated to fetch £3,000-£5,000.


Fall Exhibition Juxtaposes the Art of Duane Michals and Treasures from the Morgan’s Collection

The Morgan Library & Museum, purchased on the Photography Collectors Committee Fund, 2018.37. © Duane Michals, Courtesy DC Moore Gallery, NY

Duane Michals, The Illuminated Man, 1968. Gelatin silver print.

New York – The Morgan Library & Museum proudly presents an exhibition combining a six-decade retrospective of Duane Michals with an artist’s-choice selection of works from all corners of the permanent collection. Michals is known for his picture sequences, inscribed photographs, and, more recently, films that pose emotional, conceptual, and cosmic questions beyond the scope of the lone camera image. Illusions of the Photographer: Duane Michals at the Morgan (October 25, 2019 to February 2, 2020) takes viewers on a tour of the artist’s mind, putting work from his expansive career in conversation with Old Master and modern drawings, books, manuscripts, and historical objects.

The first retrospective on Michals to be mounted by a New York City institution, the exhibition is organized around animating themes in the artist’s work: Theater, Reflection, Love and Desire, Playtime, Image and Word, Nature, Immortality, Time, Death, and Illusion. It showcases his storytelling instincts, both in stand-alone staged photographs and in sequences. The exhibition also includes screenings of short films, Michals’s preferred medium in recent years.

For Michals, photography is not documentary in nature but theatrical and fictive: the camera is one of many tools humanity uses to construct a comprehensible version of reality. In his imaginative, visually rich photographs, the artist exploits the medium’s storytelling capacity. For example, the six images in I Build a Pyramid (1978) find the artist in Egypt, stacking stones in a modest pile that, from the camera’s perspective, appears to rival the scale of the ancient pharaohs’ monuments. Michals reveals that the scenario echoes his childhood habit of building cities from stones in his backyard in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. In the exhibition, Michals’s staged scenes are juxtaposed with those of his creative heroes, who include William Blake, Edward Lear, and Saul Steinberg. In his dual role as artist and curator he matches wits with writers, stage designers, toy makers, and his fellow portraitists of the past and the present.

Since 2015 Michals has focused his creative efforts on filmmaking, a natural outgrowth of his directorial habits as a photographer. On a screen in the exhibition, three short films are featured amid a cycle of over 200 photographs from the series Empty New York (1964-65), the project through which the artist first recognized his theatrical vision of reality. Michals will host two special programs of film screenings in the Morgan’s Gilder Lehrman Hall, introducing films that have never been screened publicly before.

Illusions of the Photographer revives the format of the 2015 exhibition, Hidden Likeness: Emmet Gowin at the Morgan, which The New York Times said “all but redefined the genre” of the collection dive curated by a contemporary artist. The present project is a personal one for Michals, who explains, “The Morgan literally is my favorite museum in New York. I always learn something at the Morgan. I’m so thrilled about this show, because it’s probably going to be the very last time to see me there, with all my resources and touchstones. I’m ... archaic, in a way. I’m eighty-seven! I’m of my generation. My references are not at all to what people are talking about today. I’m comfortable there, that’s where I belong—and that’s what I contribute.”

“We are delighted to present a full career retrospective of such a celebrated artist and are honored to have Duane Michals plumb the Morgan’s vaults for treasures both revered and long-forgotten. We also thank The Thompson Family Foundation, Inc. for their generous support and making this exhibition possible,” says Colin B. Bailey, Director at the Morgan.

Joel Smith, the Morgan’s Richard L. Menschel Curator and Department Head, says “Duane Michals’s art is contemplative, confessional, and comedic. It transcends the conventional bounds, and audience, of photography. Through narration and sequencing he reorients the camera towards timeless human dilemmas; he derives poetic effects from technical errors such as double exposure and motion blur. His originality and intimacy as an artist come through in the discoveries he brings to light from the Morgan’s collection.”

Illusions of the Photographer: Duane Michals at the Morgan is accompanied by an 88-page softcover catalogue featuring a wide-ranging interview with the artist and illustrations of seventy works, including his selections from the Morgan’s collection and the previously unpublished 1969 title sequence.


Peter Harrington is ‘Drawing a Line’ at Frieze Masters

London — Peter Harrington, the UK’s largest rare bookseller, this year celebrates its 50th anniversary, and is attending Frieze Masters for the second time, this October. This year its collection focuses on ‘Drawing a Line’.
As Adam Douglas of Peter Harrington says “In the past, we identified ourselves and our place in the world by drawing a line. We defined boundaries and our self, but at the risk of creating division. This Peter Harrington exhibition of printed books and related artworks investigates how those dividing lines have been drawn by writers and thinkers of the past. Most of the fiercest clashes over religion, nationality, race, class, gender, and civilization have been fought in the medium of print. Where one writer has drawn a line, another has questioned the need to do so.”

Courtesy of Peter Harrington Rare Books

Discours de la Methode by René Descartes (1637) on offer at Frieze Masters for £150,000.

Some of the highlights which will be on show include:
    •    Descartes’s famous argument for the distinct natures of mind and body in his Discours de la Methode (1637);
    •    Mary Wollstonecraft’s groundbreaking feminist manifesto, demanding “justice for one-half of the human race” in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792);
    •    Captain Cook’s three voyages (published 1773-85), circling the globe and drawing a line around uncharted coastlines, with fatal consequences both for him and the civilizations he encountered;
    •    Melville’s dramatization of the clash between humanity and nature in Moby Dick (1851);
    •    Marx’s analysis of the inevitable class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in Das Kapital (1867).
A printed catalogue will accompany the Peter Harrington exhibition and will be available shortly.
Frieze Masters takes place in Regent’s Park, London from Thursday 3rd October until Sunday 6th October and Peter Harrington will be on Stand B12.

Peter Harrington Rare Books is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association and offers an ‘unconditional guarantee’ for each item it sells on its authenticity and completeness, as described.


Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books Brings a Collection of Instructive Literature to Frieze Masters

Courtesy of Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books AG

Plutarch, The Lives of Romulus and Cato the Younger. Illuminated manuscript on vellum, made for Philippa of Guelders. France, Paris, c. 1508, to be offered at Frieze Masters for EUR 1.4million.

London — While autumn is the time to go back to school, Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books returns to Frieze Masters this autumn (October 3-6 2019) with an exquisite selection of museum quality, medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts, miniatures, and early printed books. This year’s special focus lies in instructive literature from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Over the years, Dr. Jörn Günther has distinguished himself as a dealer of royal books. From his collection, he will present unique, extremely rare manuscripts that were used for educational purposes at royal courts in 15th-and 16th-century Europe.

One of the highlights that Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books is bringing to Frieze Masters this year is a stunningly beautiful manuscript version of Plutarch’s The Lives of Romulus and Cato the Younger. It was commissioned around 1508 by Philippa of Guelders for her oldest son and heir, Antoine of Lorraine. This outstanding manuscript was part of the young prince’s collection of instructive literature. The lives of Romulus and Cato the Younger had much to teach a young prince who moved in the circle of the French kings. Romulus was exemplary for his inspired military and political leadership in early Rome, and Cato for his stubborn tenacity against corruption and in upholding republican values against the dictatorship of Julius Caesar. This manuscript contains 54 monumental miniatures, each as large as a panel painting, in detailed architectural gilt-frames, all in breath-taking condition. This extraordinary manuscript has only recently come on the market and will be presented at Frieze Masters with an asking price of 1.4 million euro.

Another manuscript that was commissioned by Philippa of Guelders and her husband, Duke René II of Lorraine, is an impressive, large-format volume of the second part of the popular Vita Christi, or La grande vie du Christin French translation by Guillaume Lemenand. The ducal couple’s coat of arms and their portraits adorn the finest pages in the book. This text in French would have been read aloud to Philippa and her ladies in waiting, or would have served to educate young nobility at court. The manuscript contains an extensive cycle of fine miniatures, illuminated by the Master of the Chronique Scandaleuse. The volume at hand is preserved in an almost untouched condition, conveying an unblemished, fresh, and immediate impression of the artist’s mastery. The long history of this manuscript’s provenance is known, as Philippa bequeathed her book, consisting of two volumes, to the convent to which she retired as a widow. The other volume has also been preserved and is currently housed at Lyon’s Bibliothèque municipale (ms. 5125). This outstanding work is on the market at an asking price of 2.2 million euro.

Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books’ line-up for Frieze Masters includes another piece of instructive literature for European royalty, a unique royal manuscript that was made for Juan II of Castile and Leon around 1425. It was later presumably inherited by his daughter Isabella, Queen of Spain. This compendium of texts, as a ‘mirror of princes’, offers instruction on how the king should govern. It is a previously unknown testimony of royal duties with a personal touch. The lively, colourful miniatures present the king in his role as the supreme law-giver, governor, military leader, and as an example of chivalric conduct. They show how royal identity is defined and may also provide a portrayal of the monarch for the next generations. A provocative map of the world from just before the Age of Discovery shows how 15th-century Spain saw itself and its place in the world.This engaging manuscript is on the market at an asking price of 2.4 million euro.


The Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair Returns for its 43rd Year, November 15-17

Courtesy of Brattle Book Shop

Boston – One of the oldest and most respected antiquarian book shows in the country, the 43rd Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair will be held November 15-17, 2019 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.  Featuring the fascinating collections and rare treasures of more than 130 American and international booksellers, the event gives visitors the opportunity to see, learn about, and purchase the finest in rare and valuable books, illuminated manuscripts, autographs, political and historic documents, maps, atlases, photographs, fine and decorative prints, and much more.
An alluring treasure trove awaits seasoned collectors as well as new visitors at an event that offers the top selection of items available on today’s international literary market. Attendees have the unique chance to get a close look at rare and historic museum-quality items, offered by some of the most prestigious participants in the trade. Whether just browsing or buying, the Fair offers something for every taste and budget—books on art, politics, travel, gastronomy, and science to sport, natural history, literature, fashion, music, and children’s books—all appealing to a range of bibliophiles and browsers. From the historic and academic, to the religious and spiritual, from the exotic to the everyday–the Fair has offerings in every conceivable genre and subject.

In recent years, novice and younger collectors have been increasingly captivated with unique offerings at accessible price points. For attendees wanting to start a collection without breaking the bank, there will be dealers offering “Discovery” items priced at $100 or less, including a selection of children’s books and decorative cloth bindings. The Fair is an opportunity to learn tips on how to start a collection and talk to dealers who are experts in their specialties.
Tickets are $25 for Friday night’s exclusive Opening Night event, an opportunity for the public to get a first look at items for sale at the Fair; admission is free on Saturday and Sunday.

Special events at this year’s fair, including a roster of illustrious speakers, the Ticknor Roundtable, and Free Appraisals, will be announced in early fall.

Friday, November 15                   4:00-8:00pm             Tickets: $25.00 - Opening Night       
Saturday, November 16               12:00-7:00pm           Free Admission
Sunday, November 17                 12:00-5:00pm           Free Admission
Hynes Convention Center 900 Boylston Street Boston, MA
The Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair is sponsored by the New England Chapter of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America. A portion of the ticket sales will benefit the Boston Public Library and the American Antiquarian Society. Tickets are for sale at and at the show’s box office during Friday evening show hours. 


Extensive Underground Railroad Record Debuts at Swann’s Americana Sale

Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. Estimate $30,000 to $40,000.

New York -- Covering five centuries and the entire Western hemisphere, Swann Galleries’ sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana is set to come across the block on September 26. Highlights include archives documenting slavery and abolition, printings of the Declaration of Independence, Civil War diaries, quality Utah and Mormon material, as well as Latin Americana.  

An extensive and detailed record of the Underground Railroad is set to come across the block in an archive that once belonged to the Shugart family. Zachariah Taylor Shugart was a known agent of the Underground Railroad circa 1840-51. The documents include his account book listing 107 passengers Shugart helped from 1841-43. Early entries in the log give complete names, such as Samuel Strawther, while others are incomplete or more evocative, including “Ellen Something” and “North Star.” Additional material includes letters from Shugart’s son during the Civil War and a pocket diary kept by Shugart. The archive, containing 63 items, is estimated at $30,000 to $40,000.

Substantial business records from the Dickinson & Shewsbury salt works in West Virginia are also featured in the sale. The archive contains more than 2,000 items, documenting numerous enslaved people who aided in the salt production. Most notably are records of family members of Booker T. Washington, who lived in the area after abolition. The historic lot is expected to bring $80,000 to $120,000, a testament of its potential for scholarship.

An impressive run of 12 different printings of the Declaration of Independence features in the sale. Highlights include an 1833 copy of the Force printing by William J. Stone—the first accurate facsimile printing of the Declaration of Independence and the basis for what we now know as the Declaration ($15,000-25,000). William Woodruff’s 1819 printing which features an oval border bearing the 13 original state seals topped by three portraits ($1,500-2,500); and a circa 1820s early handkerchief printing based off Woodruff’s ($3,000-4,000).

Manuscript diaries from Civil War soldiers in various parts of the country paint a picture of the war from February 1862 to September 1863. Samuel Walker’s diary, dated February 8, 1862 to September 1, 1863, chronicles his time as a Navy seaman during the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo. Walker recounts the battles he encountered as the gunboat sailed down the Mississippi: the battle of April 24, 1862 as the USS Kineo made its way past Confederate’s Fort Jackson en route to New Orleans and the Battle of Baton Rouge. The lot also includes an additional manuscript account book and memoranda pages dating as early as 1854 ($10,000-15,000). Also of note is Adam Reinoehl’s lively recordings of his time in the 76th Pennsylvania Infantry, also known as the Keystone Zouaves, from February 6, 1862 to September 6, 1863 in Georgia and South Carolina. In the rear pages of the volume Reinoehl sketched Fort Pulaski before and after its reduction by the Union artillery in April 1862, as well as small churches in Legreeville, SC and his camp headquarters at Hilton Head, SC ($2,500-3,500).

From the Western Americana Collection of Herbert S. Auerbach, the heir to a successful Salt Lake City department store and notable collector of early Mormon and Utah history, comes a choice offering. An 1845 Nauvoo Legion Association stock certificate signed by Brigham Young is present at $8,000 to $12,000; an early imprint of the First Annual Message of the Governor to the Legislative Assembly of Utah Territory, from Young’s time as Governor in 1851, is present at $3,000 to $4,000; and a first edition of The Pearl of Great Price, 1851—one of the cornerstone works published by the early Latter Day Saints and the only edition in English until 1878—compiled by Franklin D. Richards, is estimated at $4,000 to $6,000.

Mexican cookbooks include Arte de Concina, an early manuscript from 1812 with distinctly Mexican preparations such as jicama, mamey, maiz cacahuazintle and mole verde ($6,000-9,000), and an 1875-1915 manuscript cookbook that also features instructions and illustrations for making lye, ammonia and vinegar ($600-900). The Latin Americana section continues with Bartholomé de Ledesma’s treatise explaining the seven sacraments for use in the Mexican church, De septem novae legis sacramentis summarium, Mexico, 1566 ($15,000-25,000), and, four centuries later, Nosotros, 1972, a photobook by Humberto Rubalcaba that documents Festival Rock y Ruedas de Avándro, also referred to as “the Mexican Woodstock” ($400-600).

Exhibition opening in New York City September 21. The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at and on the Swann Galleries app.



Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair Scheduled for Dec. 6-7

Northampton, MA – The Fifth Edition of the Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair is set for Friday, December 6th and Saturday, December 7th at the Northampton Community Arts Trust at 33 Hawley Street in downtown Northampton. The fair will feature used and antiquarian booksellers, book artists, and print & ephemera dealers.

About the venue: The Northampton Community Arts Trust is a recently renovated building that is located within easy walking distance to the many restaurants, shops and galleries in the vibrant downtown area. The Hotel Northampton, a member of the Historic Hotels of America, is an easy ten-minute walk. 

The rehearsal studios, versatile performance spaces, and bright art galleries of the Northampton Community Arts Trust  will house the fifth edition of our popular Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair. For exhibitors and attendees, there are more than 100 free, on-site parking spaces surrounding the 25,000 square foot building, which is just one block off Main Street.  Access to the building, for exhibitors and attendees is excellent.  

While more than half of the exhibition space has been filled, one, two, and three table sales booths are available for rent for this curated book and book arts fair. There are options for shared tables, booths, and larger display areas. Inquiries about space reservations and show details are accepted by email:  

The Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair website is

Our exhibitors include some of the finest used and antiquarian booksellers; ephemera, print, autograph, & map dealers; and book artists including hand papermakers, fine letterpress printers, hand bookbinders, book designers, & artists working on paper and other media.  As of September 1st, our exhibitors include:  Peter L. Stern & Co. and Commonwealth Books, of Boston, White Square Fine Books & Art, Adastra Press, Cheloniidae Press and Warwick Press, of Easthampton; Swamp Press of Northfield; Bear Hollow Antiques, Double Elephant Press, Furious Day Press, and Passionato Books of Northampton; Monroe Bridge Books, Shelburne Falls Booksellers, and Wiggins Fine Books, of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

Exhibitors from out-of-state include: Yesterday’s Gallery, of East Woodstock, CT; The Country Bookshop, of Plainfield, VT; Bridge Press, of Westmoreland, NH and Richard Mori Books, of Franklin, NH; & Catnap Books, of Cobleskill, NY, Peter Luke Old and Rare Books, of New Baltimore, NY and Wake Robin, of North Russell, NY; and Pied Oxen Printers, of Hopewell, NJ.

This year, the Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair welcomes the support of their new community sponsor: the Northampton Center for the Arts. For more than 30 years, they’ve been producing community arts events in Northampton that have drawn large and diverse audiences. At 33 Hawley Street, the Center for the Arts hosts performances, workshops, family programs, and community events; offers dance, theater, writing, and visual arts classes; and provides rehearsal space for actors, dancers, and musicians. The fair producers look forward to working with the Center for the Arts to make this year’s Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair a success for all involved. As they have for four previous years, the fair’s media sponsor is New England Public Radio, 88.5FM, 640AM, and streaming at -- their book-loving listeners live and work throughout western Massachusetts, northern Connecticut, and southern Vermont.

The Northampton Book and Book Arts Fair is produced by Book Arts Promotion, a collaboration between Mark Brumberg, an independent bookseller from Northampton and Duane A. Stevens, of Wiggins Fine Books from Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. Book Arts Promotion also produces the annual Berkshire Antiquarian Book and Ephemera Fair in Great Barrington each summer.  

For more information:  Book Arts Promotions
139 Federal Street, Northampton, MA 01062 and 4 High Street, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370
413.588.8011 (Mark) /    413.320.3701 (Duane)   



“The A.B.C. of Alphabets” Opens at the Grolier Club on Sept. 19

Courtesy of the Grolier Club

New York — Over the centuries, writers and illustrators have used the alphabet to categorize and enumerate ideas and concepts, to amuse, and, of course, to teach and read. The A.B.C. of Alphabets, drawn from the collection of member Gretchen Adkins, surveys the A to Z of ABCs at the Grolier Club from September 19 through November 2, 2019.

Alphabets have been published for hundreds of years, in a variety of languages and styles, for a multitude of purposes, some aimed at children; others definitely not. The exhibition is organized in six intriguing categories: “A Apple Pie,” “A Was An Archer,” “Manuscripts,” “Alphabets Are Not Just For Children,” “The Letter N,” and “Advertising.”

A Apple Pie (200 Years of the Famous Nursery Rhyme)

The nursery rhyme “A Apple Pie” has been known since 1671 when it was quoted in the writings of the minister John Eachard. The text is unusual in its use of verbs: “A ate it,” “B bit it,” “C cut it,” etc. The exhibition covers 200 years of the rhyme, from its first recorded appearance until the publication of Kate Greenaway’s 1886 best-seller.

A Was an Archer (Alphabets of Professions)

Like A Apple Pie, A was an Archer has a long history. It first appeared in the early 18th century, and remained popular throughout the 19th century, produced in a wide variety of editions from cheap chapbooks, to large books in color. Each letter refers to a profession or a trade: “A was an Archer,” “B was a Butcher,” “C was a Captain,” “D was a Drunkard,” and so on. Although it was more popular in England, alphabets of professions can be found in various languages, notably the 1920 French edition of A est un Archer.

Alphabets are Not Just for Children (ABCs for Adults)     

Most people associate alphabets with children and childhood, but that is not always the case, and many writers and illustrators have taken sly pleasure in turning a genre that is usually aimed at teaching children into entertainment for adults. 

In Kissed Again--Part of the Bargain, the shenanigans of Countess Screwvinsky (alias Beatrice Wood) and her “admirers” are definitely not directed at those learning to read. This playful alphabet of advice to a would-be courtesan comes from the woman who was in a ménage-à-trois with Marcel Duchamp and Henri-Pierre Roche. Their relationship was the inspiration for Truffault’s film, Jules and Jim.  And the authors of Freud’s Alphabet and Ballet Alphabet, a Primer for Laymen by Lincoln Kirsten, illustrated by Paul Cadmus, certainly had a mature audience in mind.


Six manuscripts offer a range of work from personal reflections to a universal depiction of objects. Among them is an Untitled Alphabet by Basil Withy (B.W.), who died July 2, 1916 at the Battle of the Somme when he was 30 years old. The son of a wealthy ship owner, Withy’s alphabet references family, friends and household staff before he left to fight in World War I.

The Letter N (The Challenge of Finding Animals to Represent N)

Alphabets devoted to animals may be challenged to find examples (other than birds) beginning with the letter N.

Each book in the exhibition illustrates a separate solution. C.B. Falls, in his 1923 ABC Book, chose the Newt to solve his N problem. “Noah,” as in Noah’s Ark ABC, is occasionally the solution.  Some imaginative authors, such as Gus. Av. Friendly, have forsaken the zoological world altogether and created their own four-legged universe.

Advertising (26 Selling points!)

Advertising pamphlets, printed on cheap paper and widely distributed, are a relic of the past. They sold anything and everything, from heavy machinery to food and drink, and many used the familiar and comfortable A-to-Z framework to enumerate their selling points: 26 reasons to buy life insurance, for instance.

The Alphabet Book of Coca Cola from 1928 (when a Coke cost 5 cents) is a classic, offering 26 rhyming verses on the merit of the beverage. Every nationality and level of society is illustrated in full color enjoying the carbonated drink. It even offers a testimonial from The United States Supreme Court.

Free Lunchtime Exhibition Tours:
September 25 and October 2, 16, and 30, 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Curator Gretchen Adkins will offer a free guided tour of the exhibition. Open to all, no reservations required.