Late last year I caught a PBS broadcast of a production of one of the grandest of French operas, Hector Berlioz's “Les Troyens”. Berlioz wrote the libretto himself based on the Aeneid, a sort of Roman-centered epic poem that Virgil concocted from various sources, including a rip-roaring tale by a blind poet named Homer who may or may not have been blind or who may or may not have even existed. Either way it doesn't much matter because the story is a good one.
The first two acts of the opera center around Cassandra, the daughter of Priam who had received the gift of prophecy and then, according to which story you believe, was cursed by Apollo when she refused his attentions which turned out to be more than Platonic. The curse ran something like this – she could predict, prophesy, rant and otherwise warn about all sorts of bad things to come until she was blue in the face, but no matter what she might say no one would believe her. But that was only the half of it – for her troubles she would be insulted and branded as a liar, mad woman or all three.
In one of her delusions she thought there was something fishy and not quite right about the gigantic wooden horse that the Greeks had wheeled up right in front of the gates of the city. Right off she smelled a rat (or maybe it was the fish) and set out with an axe and a torch to destroy the thing ...more
On Thursday, February 11, Swann Auction Galleries will offer Vintage Posters, with nearly 600 lots in a wide range of collecting sub-categories, including ski, travel, ocean liner, propaganda and war posters, early American theatrical, Art Nouveau and more.
Among the Art Nouveau posters are several works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec including [Aristide Bruant dans son Cabaret], 1893, depicting performer and nightclub owner Aristide Bruant in his signature black cape and red scarf (estimate $60,000 to $90,000). Other works by Toulouse-Lautrec include Caudieux, 1893 ($30,000 to $40,000) and Reine de Joie, 1893 ($20,000 to $30,000). Works by Art Nouveau master Alphonse Mucha include his 1896 advertisement for Job cigarette rolling papers ($20,000 to $30,000), and La Dame aux Camelias, 1896, featuring Sarah Bernhardt in Alexandre Dumas’s masterpiece ($15,000 to $20,000).
Ski and winter resort posters promote the crisp snow and groomed runs of chic destinations. Wilhelm Friedrich Burger’s Pontresina, 1914 ($7,000 to $10,000), and Winter: Sport / Heiden ($4,000 to $6,000) are both rare examples of his work, as is Augustus Moser’s Sun Valley, 1936 ($4,000 to $6,000). Pierre Fix-Masseau’s Bon Voyage / Bonne Neige, 1938 shows stylish skiers on their way to the slopes ($3,000 to $4,000), while Alex Walter Diggleman’s Chateau d’Oex, 1933 depicts a downhill skier at full speed ($3,000 to $4,000).
Travel posters advertise the highlights of various cities like Leslie Ragan’s New York / The Upper Bay from Lower Manhattan, 1935 ($6,000 to $9,000), as well as showcasing natural wonders like Maurice Logan’s Redwood Empire Tour / Southern Pacific, 1928 ($3,000 to $4,000). Roger Broders’s Marseille / Point de Départ de la Cote d’Azur, circa 1929, pairs the deep cerulean of the ocean with a crisp clear blue sky to entice travelers ($2,000 to $3,000), while James Northfield’s Australia / The Blue Mountains, circa 1930s, beckons viewers to the quiet mists of mountain passes ($2,000 to $3,000). Ocean liner images boast luxurious travel on mammoth ships such as Willem Frederick Ten Broek’s Holland – America Line, 1936 ($4,000 to $6,000), and Edward Wright’s Cunard Line / Liverpool - New York – Boston, 1905 ($3,000 to $4,000). ...more
Jackson, Helen Hunt. Century Of Dishonor; A Sketch Of The United States Government's Dealings With Some Of The Indian Tribes. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1891... $75.00 (more on this and other books available from Austin's Antiquarian Books)
Twain, Mark. The Tragedy of Pudd'head Wilson and the Comedy Those Extraordiary Twins. Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1894. First American edition... $375.00 (more on this and other books available from Quill and Brush)
Photograph album, documenting a 1907 trip through the mid-Atlantic and Western States, Pennsylvania to California, and a Sojourn into Canada, Colorado, &c. An original album in the original boards... $450.00 (more on this and other books available from R&A Petrilla)
(A.J.Toynbee/Castle Howard Association copy). Marjoribanks, Alexander. Travels in South and North America. London: Simpkin, Marshall and Company, 1853... Inscription on page following front-free endpaper reads "A.J. Toynbee from Geoffrey Howard, duplicate from Howard Castle" $500.00 (more on this and other books available from John C. Huckans Books)
(Almost a Declaration of Independence) Llamosas, José de las; & Martín Tovar Ponte. Broadside, begins: “Manifiesto. La Provincia de Venezuela ha logrado por el ardiente patriotismo de los vecinos de la Capital la dignidad politica que debia tener entre los Pueblos cultos de la America ... ” [Caracas]: En la imprenta de Gallagher y Lamb, . 1 p. $20,000.00 (more on this and other books available from Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts) ...more
On Thursday, February 4, Swann Galleries will offer Printed & Manuscript Americana, featuring historically significant books, manuscripts relating to privateering and whaling, and collections relating to the Arctic, California as an island, and more. The most important among several important historical texts is a previously unknown seventh edition of The Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs of the Old and New-Testament, more commonly known as the Bay Psalm Book. The first edition of the Bay Psalm Book was the first book to be printed in what is now the United States. After a few editions, printing of the Bay Psalm Book returned to England, and publication was previously thought to have remained there until the eighth edition. This copy, stated seventh edition on the title page and apparently preceding the English "seventh edition" of 1694) was printed in Boston by Benjamin Harris in 1693 after forty years of printing abroad, and not only sheds new light on the history of this significant book, but is interesting because of its provenance. Originally owned by Salem Witch Trial judge Jonathan Corwin and his wife Elizabeth, this copy eventually passed into the hands of descendants of John Proctor, one of the victims of the trials. The family kept the book as an heirloom, referring to it as “the witch book.” The seventh edition of the Bay Psalm book is estimated at $30,000 to $40,000.
Other historically significant texts include a first edition two-volume set of The Federalist: A Collection of Essays Written in Favour of the New Constitution, 1788 ($90,000 to $120,000). The sale also feature two editions of Thomas Jefferson’s only full- length book, Notes on the State of Virginia: the first published edition (in French) from 1786  ($30,000 to $40,000), and the first edition published in English, 1787 ($25,000 to $35,000). Also featured is America’s most famous reward poster, a letterpress broadside offering a $100,000 Reward! The Murderer of our Late Beloved President Abraham Lincoln is Still at Large, Washington, 20 April 1865 ($20,000 to $30,000). Another highlight is an engraving made from a sketch drawn by British spy Major John André on the morning of his execution. The engraving, A Representation of Major John André … going from the Vulture Sloop of War to the Shore of Haverstraw Bay, depicts André being rowed across the Hudson to his fateful meeting with Benedict Arnold, and was printed circa 1781 ($15,000 to $25,000). It is the first known appearance of the print at auction since 1869. ...more
Boxborough Paper Town Rescheduled to March 12, 2016
Due to the major snowstorm that struck the Northeast on January 11 & 12, Flamingo Eventz rescheduled the popular Boxborough Paper Town – The Vintage Paper, Books & Advertising Collectibles Show. This decision was made to ensure the safety of exhibitors, customers, and service providers. The new date for the show is Saturday, March 12 – the location and all else remains the same.
On Saturday March 12, 2016 at the Holiday Inn in Boxborough, MA, exhibitors from across the Northeast and Canada will be offering an outstanding array of fine, rare & unusual old books, maps, postcards, autographs, prints, posters, advertising, and more. Plus there will be appraisals by John Bruno, of the PBS series Market Warriors, and guest appraisers from 12 noon to 2pm.
The hours on Saturday on January 23, 2016 are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the Boxborough Holiday Inn is located at 242 Adams Place, Boxborough, MA 01709, directly off I-495, exit 28. Admission for adults is $7, young collectors (12-21) is $4, and there is plenty of free parking with food & refreshment available at the Hotel restaurant during show hours. For more information please contact Flamingo Eventz at (603) 509-2639 or email@example.com.
Hobart Book Village
Hay-on-Wye established itself as the first book town in the world and remains the most famous thanks to the pioneering efforts and promotional talents of Richard Booth. Other rural villages have tried to emulate that model but few have had lasting success. Book towns are essentially cooperative efforts and the fact that many have been launched to great fanfare and later faded to oblivion points out the obvious – initial passion needs to be sustained by dedication and hard work. One success that was featured over the summer in the Guardian, delves into the interesting back story about how the Hobart Book Village came to be ...more
Is climate change and global warming really happening? Robert Kemp thought so in 2005 and correctly points out that since change, any kind of change, is the only real constant, a better question would be is it a good or bad thing? The entire subject has become so politically-charged nowadays that calm and rational discussion has become nearly impossible, with name-calling often the response to people who question the accepted political orthodoxy. And since the science has been declared to be settled, scepticism is no longer permissable in polite company. Apart from climate change true-believers and the folks who run the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, I don't know of anyone who believes science, of whatever kind, is ever completely settled.
In Yale's E360 2009 interview with Freeman Dyson, the renowned theoretical physicist at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study supports the view that science - especially predictive science - is never settled. The lengthy comments thread that erupted turned out to be more fun than the imagined spectacle of Sunni and Shia having at each other in a mixed martial arts cage match. ...more
Swann Galleries’ November 19 auction of select Rare & Important Travel Posters brought over $482,000 and set auction records for several artists and posters. Nicholas D. Lowry, Swann Galleries’ President and Director of Vintage Posters, said, “This robust sale, with an enviable 80% sell-through rate, saw many records broken–setting new highs for both posters and, in four cases, for the artists themselves. Every auction has its surprises, and in this auction the Internet drove bidding especially high in the Italian posters being offered..."
A new auction record was set for artist Leslie Ragan, whose The New 20th Century Limited, 1939 sold for $22,500 and was the top lot of the sale. Ragan’s Rockefeller Center New York / New York Central Lines, circa 1936, also sold well, bringing $8,750. Other artist records included Percival Albert (Percy) Trompf, with Australia, 1929, realizing $15,000; and Cecil King, whose LMS / The Merseyside Express, circa 1937, sold for $5,750.
Two rare posters advertising the Titanic and her sister ship the Olympic saw a great deal of interest and competitive bidding. James Scrimgeour Mann’s White Star Line / R.M.S. Olympic & Titanic, circa 1911, which shows the Olympic powerfully coursing through the water, brought $10,625 and set an auction record for the poster. A poster depicting both the sister ships passing at sea, Montague Birrell Black’s [White Star Line / Olympic & Titanic], circa 1910, sold for $8,450. A poster of another doomed ocean liner also sold among the top lots; Odin Rosenvinge’s Cunard Line / Liverpool • New York • Boston / [Lusitania], circa 1907, which shows the ship in a nocturnal seascape brought $15,600 and set a record for the artist at auction.
Other ocean liner images were popular in the sale, with Adolphe Mouron Cassandre’s United States Line, 1928, realizing $17,500; while his dramatic Normandie, 1935, sold for $6,240. Posters touting travel by air were also favorites, with David Klein’s bright New York / Fly TWA, 1956, bringing $7,250; while another TWA poster, Paul Colin’s TWA / Trans World Airlines, circa 1950, showing a TWA Constellation circumnavigating a half-shadowed globe, sold for $5,500. Jean Carlu’s striking typography caught attention as his CAF / Voyages Aériens, circa 1926, fetched $5,000.
Posters showcasing fabulous destinations performed well, with Percy Trompf’s Australia, 1929, a scene of a bustling Bondi Beach, selling for $15,000 and setting a record for the artist at auction. Additional bright beach images included Maurice Lauro’s rare Trouville, 1927, depicting a day on the boardwalk, which sold for $10,625; and Roger Broders’s Sur la Cote D’Azur, circa 1931, which brought $8,125. Viero Migliorati’s Santa • Margherita • Ligure, 1934, with a stylish group lounging in the heart of the Italian Riviera, realized $8,450 and set an auction record for the poster.
Swann Galleries’ November 10 auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature featuring the Lawrence M. Solomon collection of mystery, science fiction and detective novels saw records set for several books, as well as an impressive auction debut for a rare Jules Verne text.
John D. Larson, Swann Galleries’ 19th & 20th Century Literature Specialist, said, “Genre fiction of the crime, mystery, detective and science-fiction variety is alive and well in the wake of the strong results from the Solomon sale. Records for several of the benchmarks of the genre were established including works by Rex Stout, Dashiell Hammett, Gaston Leroux and the first edition of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, which appeared at auction for the first time..."
The top lots were flush with Hammett texts, including a first edition of his first book, Red Harvest, New York, 1929, in its original dust jacket, which brought $65,000. A first edition of Hammett’s second book, The Dain Curse, New York, 1929, also in its original dust jacket, sold for $40,000 and set an auction record, while a first edition his iconic and influential novel The Maltese Falcon, New York, 1930, also with original dust jacket, realized $27,500. ...more
Not long after returning from Scotland, we attended the Morgan's Hemingway exhibition that remains on view until the end of January 2016. The Morgan Library and Museum, on Madison Avenue at 36th Street in mid-town Manhattan, has put on many important events over the years and I have to think this is one of the most instructive on many levels.
I've read a lot by and about Hemingway (one of the best biographies is the major one by Carlos Baker that was published in 1969), learned a lot at the exhibition, and came away with the sense that scholars of the future will find much less in the way of a paper trail to add to their understanding of the creative process of writers working today. ...more
Events of late have made me wonder if Darwin got it only half right. I don't quarrel with the theory, as proposed in On the Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871), that modern man evolved from earlier primates and the earlier primates from mammals, that in all probability, evolved from even more primitive life forms. Even though I don't pretend to be anything close to a biologist, it all just seems to make a lot of sense. Some of us agree with Darwin's theories, some not. Some people argue the subject heatedly, while others simply agree to disagree. That is what civilized people do. What uncivilized people do is kill others who do not believe as they do. ...more
In Another Publication Goes Digital & Narcissism's Darker Side (March 2013) I commented on the then recent mass murder of school children by a celebrity-seeking, criminal narcissist whose name I don't remember – but if you know who it was, please don't tell me. I don't want to clutter my mind with the names of individuals best left forgotten to history. There are plenty of good people more deserving of remembrance.
At any rate, the latest, at a community college in Oregon, happened on a gun-free campus making it a bit safer for the shooter to go about his business. But this time, according to several witnesses, the tragedy has all the hallmarks of a religious hate crime. ...more
In July 1918, Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961) was serving as a volunteer with the Red Cross on the Italian Front during World War I when he was seriously wounded by mortar fire. He was just eighteen. Later he would write, “When you go to war as a boy you have a great illusion of immortality. Other people get killed; not you . . . Then when you are badly wounded the first time you lose that illusion and you know it can happen.” Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars is the first museum exhibition devoted to one of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century. His direct, spare style influenced successive generations of authors around the world. And tens of millions would read his books and never forget the stories and characters in ...more
It was probably during the summer of 1998 that I made two important decisions. First, I would retire from the Foreign Service in July 1999 (when I turned fifty years old). Secondly, I would start my own book business. After all, I had held on to my quite considerable academic library (accumulated in the 1970s) and that would constitute the ‘seeds’ of my yet to be realized venture. The only critical question was… what next? ...more
There are twelve of us in total, gathered here in the library. The usual suspects? Not exactly. But many of the faces are familiar to me, and probably also to my friend, Steve Brazil, who has a secondhand bookshop in Melbourne. I've invited him to accompany me on this investigation. His role is to play Dr. Watson, while I play Sherlock Holmes. With his military background – five years spent as a volunteer in the Australian Defence Force, as a means of dodging the Vietnam war draft – he should be handy with a revolver. Or perhaps not. Steve is frankly a weedy-looking individual, with pacifist instincts. Still, it's good to have someone along, however puny, to mind my back. This crowd looks mean, someone is dead, and things could turn ugly.
Just kidding. We're not here to investigate a murder. But there is a body. It's a body of people called the Book Collectors' Society of Australia (BCSA). And there is a library: the State Library of Victoria, smack in the middle of Melbourne, and that's where we are ...more
Sometime in September (the precise date escapes me), I happened to hear a portion of a discussion on NPR discussing the latent emergence of Islamophobia in the United States and how or if this was a partial manifestation of that fear that had already gripped significant portions of Europe. Some symptoms of that disease in Europe were blatant: seeking to prevent Muslim women from wearing clothing that hid everything but the eyes (the hijab), or, in Switzerland, voters blocking the construction of minarets (tower from whence the summons to pray is announced) etc. The learned speaker lamented these actions as unhelpful, unfair and counter-productive. I found myself agreeing with all his observations. He then suggested that much of this Islamophobia had roots in Medieval Europe and the exaggerated nature of the threat posed by Islam. That is when I snapped. ...more