On Thursday, January 25th, PBA Galleries will offer five hundred lots of rare and significant items of historical, cultural, and visual interest, including books, manuscripts, photographs, and ephemera, with a particularly strong gathering of cartographic material. Ranging from the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, with much on California history, to the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, and the bayous of the Old South, the Americana section offers original material capturing the dynamic growth and culture of the New World over the centuries. Next there are travels to the far reaches of the globe, with mysteries of the occident and orient unveiled. Finally, the charting of the world over five centuries is recorded, with maps of the East Indies, Asia, Europe, and the lands of the western hemisphere, with many scarce maps of the towns and cities of California.
Two interesting maps are among the highlights of the sale. A striking map of the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies, on two sheets by Gerard van Keulen, c.1728, pictorially depicts topographical features, indigenous animals, agricultural fields, towns and cities. The map is copper-engraved, hand-colored with hand-colored vignettes and views. A beautiful large panorama of Batavia, now Jakarta, stretches across the eastern sheet (estimate: $3,000-$5,000). William Keeler’s National Map of the Territory of the United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, 1867, is a large ůmore
Early Aeronautica, Vintage Aviation.Books, sales literature, photographs, flight manuals, log books, uniforms, pilot badges, posters, postcards, fabric aircraft insignia; both aircraft and airships, 19th –21st centuries. Online catalog, ordering and shipping; 50-years in business. (989) 835-3908.
Hobart Book Village. A small, but vital book town nestled in the northern Catskill village of Hobart (NY). Five independent booksellers, an art gallery, fine restaurants and coffee shops make this a favored destination for weekenders and day-trippers. More info: (607) 538-9080 or email@example.com.
John C. Huckans Books. A small selection of rare, scarce & unusual books and pamphlets in the areas of Americana, Spanish History, Travel, Polar Regions, Middle East, English & American Literature, Latin Americana, Utopian Communities, Miscellanea. Open by appointment: (315) 655-9654.
J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians LLC. A unique selection of historical items relating to Music and Dance including autograph musical manuscripts and letters of major composers; first and early editions of printed music; rare books on music and dance; and original paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs in our specialties, 15th-21st centuries. Established 1977. Please visit our fully searchable website.
R & A Petrilla Books. Recent catalogues available for browsing in PDF format. New items in various fields are added to listings each week. To view, please visit our website.
Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts. A large stock of early books and manuscripts pertaining to Europe and the Americas. Located in The Arsenal (Bldg.4), at 2375 Bridge St., Philadelphia, PA. Open by appointment: (888) 960-7562.
Quill & Brush. A large selection of important literature and modern first editions.
PBA Galleries is pleased to offer the Tyler-Goodwyn Family Archive, an archive of President John Tyler's descendants containing approximately 265 letters, documents, writings, and other items, including manuscripts, typed material, partially printed forms, and more, plus silver cups and spoons, an engraved gold watch, and other family memorabilia c.1832-1980. The archive will be offered on Sunday, February 11th in an early morning sale in Pasadena, California to coincide with the 51st California International Antiquarian Book Fair.
On offer is an important archive of papers and other items passed down by the descendants of President John Tyler through his eldest son Robert Tyler, who married Priscilla Cooper, and whose daughter Priscilla C. Tyler married Albert T. Goodwyn. The Tylers and the Goodwyns were old Southern families, from South Carolina, Virginia, and Alabama, long involved in the political, economic and social life of the South, and were owners of slaves and plantations. One of the earliest letters is from ůmore
The 37th annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair returns to St. Petersburg’s Historic Coliseum April 20 - 22, 2018. The book fair is the third largest in the country and features more than one hundred specialist booksellers from all over the United States. This year’s theme, “The Book As Art,” celebrates the cultural influence of the written word. Visitors will find books of every age and about every conceivable topic. Additional materials found at the Fair include maps, prints, postcards, ephemera, autographs and other paper collectibles. Items range in price from a few dollars to several hundred thousand dollars.
A complete list of the specialist exhibitors is available on their website . Hours are ůmore
In the late 1980s I taught at a Chicago high school in the old Wicker Park neighborhood, which was then mostly Puerto Rican, immigrant and low-income. Facing the many problems children of this background often bring to school and unwilling to burden my young wife with the day's stress when I arrived home for dinner, I frequently left school frustrated and in search of ways to calm my nerves. One day I was driving down Damen Avenue and noticed a sign on the window of an old white brick two-story apartment building that announced Red Rover Books, with an emblematic red dog underneath. Intrigued, I parked the car and walked up for a closer inspection. Through the small window on which the sign was taped I could see that it appeared to be a one-room used bookstore. ůmore
Now and Forever: The Art of Medieval Time, opens at the Morgan Library and Museum on January 26 and runs through April 29, 2018. Before the appearance of the clock in the West around the year 1300, medieval ideas about time were simultaneously simple and complex. Time was both finite for routine daily activities and unending for the afterlife; the day was divided into a fixed set of hours, whereas the year was made up of two overlapping systems of annual holy feasts. Perhaps unexpectedly, many of these concepts continue to influence the way we understand time, seasons, and holidays into the twenty-first century.
Drawing upon the Morgan’s rich collection of illuminated manuscripts, Now and Forever: The Art of Medieval Time examines how people in the Middle Ages told time, conceptualized history, and conceived of the afterlife. It brings together more than fifty-five calendars, Bibles, chronicles, histories, and a sixty-foot genealogical scroll. They include depictions of monthly labors, the marking of holy days and periods, and fantastical illustrations of the hereafter. The exhibition opens January 26 and continues through April 29.
“Artists of the medieval period could render the most common of daily activities with transcendent beauty, while also creating a strange, often frightening, afterlife,” said Colin B. Bailey, director of the Morgan Library & Museum. “Their work mirrored the era’s intricate mix of temporal, spiritual, and ancient methods for recording the passage of time. The elaborate prayer books, calendars, and other items in the exhibition provide a rich visual history of a world at once familiar and foreign, from the seasonal work of farmers that would not look unusual in today’s almanacs, to apocalyptic visions of eternity that make Hollywood’s futuristic films appear tame.”
The Exhibition is divided into five sections focusing on the medieval calendar, liturgical time, historical time, the hereafter (“time after time”), and the ůmore
Tennessee Williams: No Refuge but Writing opens at the Morgan Library & Museum on February 2nd and completes its three and a half month run on May 13, 2018. The plays of Tennessee Williams (1911–1983) are intimate, confessional, and autobiographical. They are touchstones not only of American theatrical history but American literary history as well. During the period 1939 to 1957, Williams composed such masterpieces as The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, cementing his reputation as America’s most celebrated playwright. By 1955 he had earned two Pulitzer Prizes, three New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, and a Tony. Williams embraced his celebrity even as he struggled in his private life with alcohol and drug addiction and a series of stormy relationships with lovers. Moreover, he was often at odds professionally with critics and censors concerned about the sexuality and other subject matter, then unconventional, explored in his plays. He found his safe haven in writing.
Opening February 2 and continuing through May 13, Tennessee Williams: No Refuge but Writing highlights the playwright’s creative process and his close involvement with the theatrical production of his works, as well as their reception and lasting impact. Uniting his original drafts, private diaries, and personal letters with paintings, photographs, production stills, and other objects, the exhibition tells the story of one man’s ongoing struggle for self-expression and how it forever changed the landscape of American drama. ůmore
One of the things I regret in my exile from Cuba is that I never got to see any of the wonderful little bookstores along Havana's twin bookseller rows of O'Reilly and Obispo Streets. As a nine-year old the experience would perhaps have been lost on me, but I would certainly recall it as the bibliophile I am today. I have a rare postcard photograph of Obispo Street as it appeared in the 1920s (see below), and in that narrow thoroughfare of glass-fronted stores I think I can make out one of these mysterious shops, though the overhanging placards – which throw large shadows over the street and give it the air of a Moorish bazaar – are unreadable in the evanescent light.
Along this street in 1940 the writer Thomas Merton hunted for books before his conversion to monasticism. In his diary he writes that he saw a secondhand bookstore and walked in, “asking not for St. John of the Cross, but for philosophy books.” There weren’t any, so he walked a little further, and the next store did have a couple of shelves of philosophy: “I had to climb a ladder to look at them. I shouldn't have been surprised to be confronted first of all by none other than Nietzche.” For the most part, he says, the shelves were full of Spanish and French nineteenth century liberals and radicals.
This would have been a treat to me, as these writers helped influence Jose Marti and his independence movement.
“The next place I went to,” Merton continues, “was Casa Belga, with its big stock of French and English books, and its specialty in pornography and little editions printed in Paris... Henry Miller, Rimbaud's A Season in Hell...and then things like the Philosophy of Nudism. The idea of a philosophy of nudism gave me a laugh somewhat in a quiet, scholarly way...”
Merton entices even while insulting my sense of Cuban identity (“I had forgotten that Cubans and other Latin Americans are suckers for all kinds of sex books” – as if we had cornered the market on pornography). He next describes a bookstore that looked like a bank and didn’t even have books on display on the counters: “Every book in the place was expensively bound and was locked in behind wired doors.”
He continues: “I had given up hunting for St. John of the Cross and was going up the street when I saw a huge place with a great big sign saying La Moderna Poesia (Modern Poetry) which rather astonished me: what a huge shiny bookstore it was. Only when I looked into the window I saw a lot of straw hats...It turns out La Moderna Poesia was a department store.”
Merton is silent after that, so we do not know whether he found St. John in La Moderna Poesia. But in 1984 I had the good fortune to find ůmore
Same goes for any war. When Gilbert a'Beckett was writing his comic histories (England, Rome, etc.) one has to wonder what was going through his mind. In a comic history of anything, most writers and readers understand it involves a lot of selective historical amnesia, mood-altering tricks and other forms of cover-up. But passage of time softens a lot of things – we remember getting mail from Hastings (Sussex) years ago, with part of the postmark reading “Hastings – popular with tourists since 1066”. Although I could imagine a'Beckett writing that, I doubt if he would have wanted to handle the circumstances surrounding the death of Edward II (father of the great Edward III) whose general ineptitude and poor judgment, unduly influenced by his preoccupation and infatuation with Hugh Despenser (the younger), ultimately led to his execution. In those days ůmore
If life did not imitate art, where would we be? Eyeless in Gaza, like Milton’s Samson. But art affords us limitless life, raining and reigning amongst the thorns and roses. Since I was a child I have loved Italian opera. I was fortunate that besides the Kennebunkport Playhouse – where I grew up on Tallulah Bankhead, Estelle Winwood, Edward Everett Horton, Wilfrid Hyde-White and others of my pre-teen vintage – we had the Arundel Opera Theater, a semi-professional outfit that put on such schmaltzy shows as Blossom Time, Song of Norway, The Vagabond King, Desert Song, Rose Marie, and The Student Prince. As a child I fell in love of course with all the heroines and some of the chorus girls – I remember asking my mother, when I was about ten, how old you had to be to get married; and when I was sixteen I sent a love sonnet to Tallulah Bankhead which, fifty years my senior, she somehow managed to ignore. The opera company also did two or three Gilbert and Sullivan shows each season, and by the time I went away to school I knew all of the patter songs by heart. Or, at least, the words. In my youth I had not yet learned that in order to perform those songs you really have to be able to sing. ůmore
The U.S. Election of 2016 was a game-changer for all sorts of reasons. To say the populist revolt came as a surprise to party regulars across the political spectrum is an obvious understatement, but the resulting emotional meltdown by people still in shock over the shifting loyalty and unexpected response of traditional working class voters (many of whom had supported Democrats since the Great Depression of the 1930s), only shows that it pays to do your homework. People who follow this column will recall that in July of 2016 we explained some of the reasons why Trump would perform bigly¹ in the 2016 general election. What follows is some observation and analysis that may contribute towards an understanding of recent trends. Or maybe not. ůmore
We've attended the Cooperstown Antiquarian Book Fair many times over the years – primarily to promote Book Source Magazine, organize book-signings for BSM writers, scout for books for ourselves, catch up with old friends, and to simply hang out for a day or so in one of the most interesting and attractive villages in the region. It's also close by.
Not having participated in a book fair (as a bookseller) for many years, I wasn't sure how to prepare, since I hadn't personally experienced the change brought about by the public's paradigm shift in buying habits. But thanks to some good advice from an old friend and colleague, we sold more than at any book fair we'd previously participated in, even though we brought a small fraction of what we would have done in the past. Almost everything that could be searched for (and found) on a smart phone was left behind in Cazenovia, much to the visible frustration of browsers with iPhones in hand. Mostly ůmore
PBA Galleries saw strong prices realized in their December 14th (2017) sale of Americana – Travel & Exploration – World History – Cartography. A number of lots sold for well over the presale high estimate and many lots saw spirited bidding, including an album of Albertypes from photographs taken by William Henry Jackson of Yellowstone, 14 annual editions of a Chinese telephone directory for San Francisco and Oakland, and books by the noted English scholar and explorer, Richard F. Burton.
The fascinating and rare album of 63 Albertypes of Yellowstone sold for $12,000. The photographs by William Henry Jackson were taken on the 1871 Hayden Geological Survey during which the Yellowstone region was explored. These were some of the first photographic views of the area and were instrumental in its establishment as the first U. S. national park. The scarcity of these albums was caused by a fire in the studio of the photographer and engraver Edward Bierstadt in early 1875 that destroyed most of the Albertypes he had printed, along with virtually all of Jackson’s original glass negatives. ůmore
Remember Peanutgate? Didn't think so, because I just made it up. At any rate, back in 2012 the grandson of a former president and one-time peanut farmer caused a bit of a ruckus by tracking down the source of a secretly recorded video of a meeting between Mitt Romney with some Florida campaign contributors in which Romney made some candid remarks about the 47% who were unlikely to support him in any case. James Carter arranged to have the 'hacked' video leaked to Mother Jones magazine and according to CNN on February 21, 2013 . . . ůmore
As we have established the book business is always at heart a “Treasure Hunt”. It's axiomatic that experience will bring success if paired with hard work and a little luck. Remarkably the luck factor tends to increase in direct proportion to the amount of hard work spent, but that's another story. At the annual week-long Colorado Antiquarian Books Seminar (CABS), held each Summer in Colorado Springs, the faculty, all dedicated antiquarian booksellers themselves, advise students to “Look At The Book”! That mantra is repeated ad infinitum throughout the week, yet it is the essential kernel from which all evaluation proceeds. Great advice even for those of us who have been engaged in this business for years. Careful examination of the book speaks volumes, (sorry), in identifying the specifics of the item. Edition, age, in some cases scarcity, provenance, printer, binding designer, watermarks, limitation, importance and value can be largely determined by that initial observation…but sometimes pieces just speak to you.
Often there is just something about an obscure book or piece of ephemera that gnaws at you. It demands more attention and I find myself setting them aside for further review. Recently as I was working through a box of miscellaneous old paper, largely publishing house advertisements for forthcoming books all from the 1890s to the 1920s I saw a small bifolium – a bifolium is a sheet of paper or parchment with writing or printing on the recto and verso of a folded sheet, creating four leaves or pages. There was no indication of ůmore
In Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit, Tom Pinch goes to Salisbury to meet Mr. Pecksniff’s new pupil, and with time to spare he roams the streets:
But what were even gold and silver to the bookshops, whence a pleasant smell of paper freshly pressed came issuing forth….That whiff of Russian leather, too, and rows and rows of volumes, neatly ranged within: what happiness did they suggest! And in the window were the spic-and-span new works from London…. What a heart-breaking shop it was.
Mr. Meador in these pages has already taken up my theme with poignant elegance – nay, eloquence; but here I offer just a few nostalgic notes. When I was young and twenty – like A.E. Housman – there was a used/rare/books and china shop here in Kennebunkport – The Old Eagle Bookshop— under the hand of Copelin Day, whose vintage 1770’s house has alas been re-vintaged. Mr. Day had a prodigious limp and was a curmudgeon of magnitude, but each day, weather notwithstanding, ůmore
The Victorian period, especially in England, was a hotbed for architectural follies. In an article on Victorian follies in the July 2003 issue of The Antiquer, Adele Kenny notes several definitions, including the Oxford English Dictionary’s kindly and understated — “a popular name for any costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder.” Chambers goes a bit further with “a great useless structure, or one left unfinished, having begun without a reckoning of the cost” and the Oxford Companion to Gardens, in case we still don’t get it, says architectural follies are “characterized by a certain excess in terms of eccentricity, cost or conspicuous inutility.” I think the two words “conspicuous inutility” sum it up best, but say what you will a lot of us love them all the same.
Architectural follies began to appear in England during the 18th century but it wasn’t until the early industrial period of the 19th century that wealthy new owners of landed estates were able to indulge their fantasies on a grand scale. ůmore
The literature of the Nakba (expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinian people, starting on or about May 15, 1948) is vast. There are many published personal narratives such as Sari Nusseibeh’s Once Upon a Country (NY, Farrar, Straus, 2007) and Karl Sabbagh’s Palestine, A Personal History (NY, Grove Press, 2007), unsparing historical accounts such as Israeli historian Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford, OneWorld, 2006), and countless books and essays focusing on various aspects of the struggle. There is even a significant sub-genre of literature ůmore
As far as I know, I am one of only two members of the Johnson Society of Australia who are booksellers. I strongly suspect that I am the only one who has ever felt ambivalent, even fraudulent, about his membership. Although I am not, I think, an unclubable man, when I attended my first (and only) meeting of the society, held in the elegant upstairs chambers of Bell's Hotel in South Melbourne, I skulked in the background, feeling like an interloper, an impostor. I was the Great Sham of Literature. Why? For one thing, at the time I had not read more than odd fragments of Dr. Johnson's writings. For another, a lot of what I had read fairly made my blood boil. And yet, and yet. Something about the man, while it repelled me, also attracted me, fascinated me, sucked me in. Enough, clearly, to make me want to join the club, pay my dues and turn up at the meeting. Not as a saboteur or as a heckler but in good faith. Even so, at that Johnson Society meeting ůmore
Laugh about it, shout about it When you've got to choose Every way you look at this you lose...
I think our presidential elections have become perpetual reality television for all sorts of reasons – for one thing it gives steady jobs to political reporters and a lot of advertising dollars for people in the television news business. We might hope it will be over and done with come November 8th, but I suspect this is the nightmare that won't go away. My pretty safe prediction is that barely six months into 2017 t.v. 'news reporters' with little else to do will be stirring up speculation about likely candidates for 2020 and start the cycle all over again. I placed 'news reporters' in single quotes because by now it must be fairly obvious that journalists have all but given up their traditional role of being disinterested professionals and have become enthusiastic and unashamed curators of the news. ůmore