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52nd California Book Fair

Swann Galleries

San Francisco 2019 Antiquarian Book, Print & Paper Fair


Always something to discover at Quill & Brush


Booksellers’ Gulch

Aviation...

Leslie Hindman Auctineers

R & A Petrilla


Austin’s Antiquarian Books

Christian Science Monitor

www.sovereignty.org.uk

The Economist

www.antiwar.com


San Francisco 2019 Antiquarian Book, Print & Paper Fair

Swann Galleries

52nd California Book Fair

Rare Books Los Angeles

J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians

PRB&M

Biblio

Addison & Sarova, the Rare Book Auctioneers


Freeman’s Auctions

PBA Galleries


Hobart Book Village


Jekyll Island Club Hotel


Biblio

PRB&M

Addison & Sarova, the Rare Book Auctioneers

J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians

Rare Books Los Angeles

Book Fair Calendar

Bloomsbury Book Fair.  London, England.   December 9, 2018.

Papermania Plus.  Hartford, CT.   January 5–6, 2019.

Bloomsbury Book Fair.  London, England.   January 13, 2019.

Rare Books LA.  Pasadena, CA.   February 1–2, 2019.     (more information)

California International Antiquarian Book Fair.  Oakland, CA.   February 8–10, 2019.     (more information)

San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print & Paper Fair.  San Francisco, CA.   February 9–10, 2019.     (more information)

Bloomsbury Book Fair.  London, England.   February 10, 2019.

Greenwich Village Antiquarian Book Fair.  New York, NY.   February 16–17, 2019.

New York International Antiquarian Book Fair.  New York, NY.   March 7–10, 2019.

Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair and Fine Press Book Fair.  New York, NY.   March 9, 2019.

Bloomsbury Book Fair.  London, England.   March 10, 2019.

Albuquerque Antiquarian Book Fair.  Albuquerque, NM.   March 15–16, 2019.

Ephemera 39.  Old Greenwich, CT.   March 16–17, 2019.

Gadsden’s Wychwood Book & Paper Show.  Toronto, ON (Canada).   March 31, 2019.

Bloomsbury Book Fair.  London, England.   April 14, 2019.

Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.  St. Petersburg, FL.   April 26–28, 2019.

Bloomsbury Book Fair.  London, England.   May 19, 2019.

ABA Rare Book Fair.  London, England.   June 7–9, 2019.

Bloomsbury Book Fair.  London, England.   June 9, 2019.

Cooperstown Antiquarian Book Fair.  Cooperstown, NY.   June 29, 2019.

Bloomsbury Book Fair.  London, England.   July 14, 2019.

Bloomsbury Book Fair.  London, England.   August 11, 2019.

Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair.  Brooklyn, NY.   September 7–8, 2019.

Bloomsbury Book Fair.  London, England.   September 8, 2019.

Frankfort Antiquarian Book Fair.  Frankfort, Germany.   October 11–15, 2019.

Bloomsbury Book Fair.  London, England.   October 13, 2019.

Chelsea Antiquarian Book Fair.  London, England.   November 3–4, 2019.

Bloomsbury Book Fair.  London, England.   November 10, 2019.

Bloomsbury Book Fair.  London, England.   December 8, 2019.

Book Auction Calendar

Swann Galleries.  New York, NY.   December 6, 2018.     (more information)

PBA Galleries.  San Francisco, CA.   December 6, 2018.     (more information)

Swann Galleries.  New York, NY.   December 13, 2018.     (more information)

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.  Chicago, IL.   December 14, 2018.     (more information)

Americana, Travel, Cartography, Sporting Books at Auction

On Thursday, December 13th, PBA Galleries  will host an Americana - Travel & Exploration - Hunting & Sporting - World History - Cartography Sale. Up for auction will be over 550 lots of rare, interesting and uncommon material on the history, exploration, cartography, and culture of the four corners of the globe, ranging from travels into the Ottoman Empire and the Levant to cattle drives in the American west.  Included are books, manuscripts, photographs, ephemeral material, graphic items, and a wide range of maps. There is a special section of hunting and sporting books, many from the Derrydale Press.

Highlighted in this sale are some San Francisco related works such as, original photos of sailing ships, from the R.J. Waters Company of San Francisco, with something over 430 gelatin silver prints ($3,000-$5,000). A scarce pictoral Merry-makers Map of San Francisco, 1940, showing all the night clubs, saloons, fine restaurants, and other entertainment venues of “Baghdad by the Bay,” the streets crowded by men in suits and hates, and women in nothing at all ($1,200-$1,800).

PBA will be offering a variety of world history material including a 4th century sculpture of the head of Alexander the Great, from the ancient Gandhara civilization in present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan ($10,000-$15,000). Nicolas de Nicolay's popular illustrated work on the Ottoman Empire, Les navigations peregrinations et boyages, faicts en la Turquie, 1576, with depictions of the various peoples under Turkish suzerainty ($5,000-$8,000). The History of Japan, by Engelbert Kaempfer, 2 volumes, 1728, with 45 engraved maps and plates, most folding or double page, a key work in shaping western perceptions of Japan ($5,000-$8,000).

The Americana section includes rare Civil War broadside advertising a concert organized by “The Ladies of Charleston” (South Carolina) to raise money for the construction of a gunboat for the Confederate Navy, which was to become the ironclad ram CSS Palmetto State ($2,000-$3,000). Helen H Taft's memoirs, Recollections of Full Years, 1914, signed by her and her husband, President William Howard Taft, in a rare dual signing ($2,000-$3,000).  Also an autographed note of love and affection from American patriot John Hancock to his wife in 1771 ($3,000-$5,000).

Lastly, to be featured is …more

Archive Illuminating Perry’s Trade Negotiations with Japan at Auction

Swann Galleries’ auction of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books on Thursday, December 13 offers an impressive group of Japanese maps, East Coast cartography, American atlases and important non-cartographical works.
 
A good selection of Japanese cartography, representing both the East and the rest of the world, sets this maps auction apart. A color woodblock map of Uraga and Edo Bay relating to Commodore Matthew Perry and his Black Ships leads the assortment and is offered with a complete bound volume of 18 miniature kawaraban (early Japanese newspapers with woodblock illustrations). The archive shows the course of Commodore Perry’s Black Ship squadron and illustrates the opening of Japan’s trade with America in 1854. It is expected to bring $7,000 to $10,000.

Additional examples of Japanese cartography include an extensive panoramic diagram of the roadways, waterways, cities and topography of the entire island chain of Japan, and a large woodblock plan of Kyoto (estimate: $2,500-3,500 and $1,200-1,800, respectively). A run of sugoroku–Japanese game boards–feature in the sale: an unusual and rare world map manga gameboard takes its player around a variety of international sites and was published for young women in 1934, and Eisen Tomioka’s Shina Seibatsu Sogoroku, a Sino-Japanese War propaganda game, each at $700 to $1,000.
 
Cornelis De Jode’s rare world map, Hemispheriu ab Aequinoctiali Linea, leads the sale. The second of two that appeared in De Jode’s Speculum Orbis Terrarum, 1593, the map features a two-paged double-hemispheric view of the world and carries an estimate of …more

Doings at the Morgan

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth is the title of an upcoming Tolkien exhibition that will be running at the Morgan Library and Museum from January 25 through May 12, 2019

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” With these words the Oxford professor J.R.R. Tolkien ignited a fervid spark in generations of readers. From the children’s classic The Hobbit to the epic The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s adventurous tales of hobbits and elves, dwarves and wizards have introduced millions to the rich history of Middle-earth. Going beyond literature, Tolkien’s Middle-earth is a world complete with its own languages and histories.

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth celebrates the man and his creation. The exhibition will be the most extensive public display of original Tolkien material for several generations. Drawn from the collections of the Tolkien Archive at the Bodleian Library (Oxford), Marquette University Libraries (Milwaukee), the Morgan, and …more

News & Notes

Collection of Marilyn Horne on Offer

J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians (Syosset, NY) have announced the publication of their new catalogue: Autographs, Prints & Memorabilia from the Collection of Marilyn Horne. To inspect the entire collection via pdf file, please click on the catalogue link.  For a copy of the catalogue or for more information contact John or Jude Lubrano at (516) 922-2192 or  info@lubranomusic.com.

Greetings BSM (from Danna D'Esopo Jackson)

House museums seem to be in retreat, as they are overtaken and absorbed into larger, glitzier operations.  A recent casualty of this trend is the Thornton W. Burgess Museum in Sandwich, Mass., which has been merged into a nature conservancy group and a fund-raising "jam kitchen".  Lost in these activities is Burgess's anthropomorphized animal stories that were anthologized and syndicated on "childrens pages", i.e., the comics pages, in newspapers …more

Illustrations from Treasured Children’s Literature Come to Swann
(Norman Rockwell Study Expected to Bring $70-$100,000)

Swann Galleries continues their auction season with Illustration Art on Thursday, December 6. The sale boasts an array of original works evoking nostalgia including children’s literature, American illustration and works from as early as 1817.
 
Ludwig Bemelmans leads a stellar assortment of illustrations from beloved children’s books with Madeline, Miss Clavel and the 11 schoolgirls. The heroine and her friends make an appearance in two illustrations from Madeline in London, 1961, the author’s final Madeline publication. After Everybody had been Fed features Miss Clavel and the girls dancing around Pepito’s birthday cake, and Everyone was in his Bed, shows the headmistress wishing her students a good night. The works demonstrate Bemelmans’ editorial process–the final publication featured different captions for illustrations–each are estimated at $30,000 to $40,000.
                                                    
Other children’s literature illustrations include Jerry Pinkney’s vibrant drawing for the cover of School Library Journal, published in December 2009. The special holiday watercolor features his characters from The Lion & The Mouse catching snowflakes on their tongues (estimate: $7,000-10,000). Four of Maria Louise Kirk’s well-known illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1904, depict Alice in her rarely seen yellow dress ($5,000-7,500). Maurice Sendak is present with a preliminary sketch and final illustration for Little Bear’s New Friend, which appeared in a 2001 edition of Nick Jr. Magazine ($30,000-40,000). Also available is Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar and H.A. Rey’s 1939 color pencil work for Cecily G. and the 9 Monkeys–the first book to introduce Curious George …more

by John C. Huckans
Race to the Bottom
(Review of "Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice")

According to casual observation and the experience of most booksellers I know, Amazon and the internet have pretty much had their way with the antiquarian book trade – the independent and picturesque book shops of the past, that nowadays exist mainly in the mind's eye, are few and far between and in order to survive many of the ones remaining have become data-entry catalogers for the online giants. Nothing new here.  And I think it was at least twelve years ago when someone first mentioned to me that in his opinion antiquarian book-selling had become a rat-race to the bottom.

And then there's the crazy pricing. Most of us have observed what appear to be identical copies of the same title offered on-line for anywhere from 99¢ to $100,000. Go figure that one – no telling what can happen when algorithms and bots run the show.  It makes one long for the old days of New York's Book Row, chronicled so memorably by Roy Meador and Marvin Mondlin back in 2003.¹

When recently published books, especially good ones, become remaindered for whatever reason there are often incredible bargains to be had. Once in a fit of temporary madness I bought a case or two of Geoffrey Wawro's Quicksand: America's Pursuit of Power in the Middle East (New York, Penguin, 2010) on the internet (Biblio). Written by a professor of military history at the University of North Texas and published at $37.95, the three or four dollars a copy I paid was actually cheaper than the paperback version, and missionary-like I was offering to sell them at cost to anyone interested in the subject. I had already read the book and naïvely thought others interested in the Middle East would jump at the chance – I thought wrong and except for the few copies I gave away, I still have most of the shipment.

In 2014 another controversial book was published that explored corruption and obstruction of justice within the Department of Justice. The title, appropriately enough, is Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice (Dallas, Brown Publishing Group, 2014), by Sidney Powell. According to her bio “Sidney Powell served in the Department of Justice for ten years” and for twenty years has been a federal appeals attorney. Also, “She was the youngest Assistant United States Attorney in the country and …more

by Danna D'Esopo Jackson
The Diary of a Bookseller (a review)

Like many dealers in the secondhand book trade, Shaun Bythell never set out to be a bookman and was a late arrival on the book scene.  He has, however, made up for lost time with his charming autobiography, The Diary of a Bookseller, chronicling his first year in The Bookshop in Wigtown, a remote book village in southwestern Scotland.

Don't look for a bibliographical discussion of edition points or a comparison of dust jackets here, for his emphasis is less on his books and more on his staff and the vivid assemblage of personalities who visit him and his cat, Captain, in the shop.  Among Bythell's sidelines are his video service and the Random Book Club, in which members pay an annual fee for a monthly book that he selects.  He filmed one of the dispersals to the Random members and most, as they opened their paper bags and pulled out their books, were …more

by Thomas Fleming (Society of American Historians)
A Jersey Lesson in Voter Fraud
(reprinted with permission)

Some youthful memories were stirred by the news this week that the president plans to use his State of the Union speech next Tuesday to urge Congress to make voter registration and ballot-casting easier. Like Mr. Obama, I come from a city with a colorful history of political corruption and vote fraud.

The president's town is Chicago, mine is Jersey City. Both were solidly Democratic in the 1930s and '40s, and their mayors were close friends. At one point in the early '30s, Jersey City's Frank Hague called Chicago's Ed Kelly to say he needed $2 million as soon as possible to survive a coming election. According to my father – one of Boss Hague's right-hand men – a dapper fellow who had taken an overnight train arrived at Jersey City's City Hall the next morning, suitcase in hand, cash inside.

Those were the days when it was glorious to be a Democrat.  As a historian, I give talks from time to time. In a recent one, called “Us Against Them,” I said it was we Irish and our Italian, Polish and other ethnic allies against “the dirty rotten stinking WASP Republicans of New Jersey.” By thus demeaning the opposition, we had clear consciences as we rolled up killer majorities using tactics that had little to do with the election laws.

My grandmother Mary Dolan died in 1940. But she voted Democratic for the next 10 years. An election bureau official came to our door one time and asked if Mrs. Dolan was still living in our house. “She's upstairs taking a nap,” I replied. …more

California Antiquarian Book Fair

The 52nd California International Antiquarian Book Fair, recognized as one of the world's largest and most prestigious exhibitions of antiquarian books, returns to Northern California, Friday, February 8 through Sunday, February 10, 2019 at the Oakland Marriott City Center. Sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) and featuring the collections and rare treasures of nearly 200 booksellers from more than 20 countries around the world, the three-day Book Fair offers a rich selection of manuscripts, early American and European literature, modern first editions, children’s books, maps and autographs, as well as antiquarian books on history, science, law, architecture, cooking, wine and a wide range of other topics.
 
This year’s Book Fair will include a special exhibit by the Book Club of California, an active association of over 800 major California collectors with interests in rare books and manuscripts of all types. Founded in 1912, the Club’s library is dedicated to collecting and sharing works of California fine printers; resources on book making, book design, and book history; and books of historical significance. One side of this bi-faceted exhibit will display a selection of materials by California women printers and book artists, with a spotlight on Jane Grabhorn’s test prints for the illustrations of the Grabhorn Press’ Shakespeare plays.  Also on display will be some of the Club’s oldest and most sought-after books, including a beautifully ornamented Virgil printed by Miscomini in 1476 and Ansel Adams’ …more

Signed & Inscribed Oscar Wilde Play Leads Literature Auction
(SciFi Works Continue Proving to be Popular in Swann Literature Sales)

Book collectors from everywhere took part in Swann Galleries’ auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature on Tuesday, November 13, 2018. The sale saw demand for genre works and classics alike with an 88% sell-through rate. Specialist John D. Larson noted that “the strong prices achieved across the spectrum of the sale was impressive, with canonical titles by Poe, Hemingway and Wilde leading the way. In addition, the more recent material, particularly the sc-fi variety, went from strength-to-strength with auction records set by Asimov, Philip K. Dick and Heinlein, proving once again the sky is no limit.”  

Topping the sale was a first edition of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan. A Play About a Good Woman, 1893. The presentation copy signed and inscribed by Wilde to Elisabeth Marbury–a leading play agent in New York who handled all of the author’s plays in America–was sold for $27,500 to a collector after breakneck bidding. A first edition of Ernest Hemingway’s first book Three Stories & Ten Poems, 1923, from the collection of cartoonist Al Hirschfeld, saw success with a price of …more

Americana Continues to Outperform at Swann

Swann Auction Galleries’ September 27 auction of Printed & Manuscript Americana was the highest-earning Americana auction at the house in the last six years, bringing $1.2 million with 85% of lots selling. The day opened with a bustling auction room and active bidding during the morning session of The Harold Holzer Collection of Lincolniana was followed by an equally successful afternoon session.
 
Top lots from the Holzer collection included a portrait of the beardless Lincoln, by John C. Wolfe, which brought in $40,000; a fourth edition of the famous “Wigwam Print,” the first stand-alone print of Lincoln, which sold for $21,250; and a commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president signed by Lincoln, 1861, which brought a record $18,750 for a printed commission signed by the president.
 
The Lincolniana portion of the sale set several additional records, including one for any printing of the 16th president’s famous 1860 Cooper Union address at $5,000. Winfred Porter Truesdell’s important reference work, Engraved and Lithographed Portraits of Abraham Lincoln, 1933, brought $4,000; an Andrew Johnson impeachment trial ticket sold for $2,125; and Victor D. Brenner’s 1907 plaque, which served as the model for the Lincoln penny, fetched $4,500.
 
The sale did not slow down during the afternoon session: the top lot of the auction was Francis W. de Winton’s diary, containing notes on pow-wows with Indians during an official tour of western Canada, which sold for …more

Swann's Summer Vintage Poster Auction

Swann's mammoth auction of Vintage Posters on August 1 set at least six auction records, including a new high price for Sutro Baths. The text-free variant of the 1896 poster, promoting a former San Francisco landmark, brought $23,400. The exhibition for Swann Galleries’ annual summer auction overflowed the usual space, taking both exhibition floors at the house’s Flatiron district premises.
    
Alphonse Mucha’s Times of the Day was the top lot of the auction, selling to an institution for $40,000. Other Mucha works received significant attention from collectors: Bières de la Meuse, 1897, sold for $17,500 over an $8-12,000 presale estimate, and Salon des Cent, 1896, brought $10,000. The sale set a record price for Peter Behren’s Der Kuss, 1898, a color woodcut published by Pan magazine, at $5,000. Other Art Nouveau highlights included Marcello Dudovich’s 1908 design for the Italian department store Mele ($6,500).
 
The auction offered an unusually broad selection of food and drink posters, …more

Results of PBA's July 19th Fine Pens Sale

PBA Galleries seized leadership of the Fine Writing Instruments auction market in its successful debut Fine Pens sale on July 19th in San Francisco. The 361 lot auction attracted participants from all over the globe, and over 90% of the lots sold went above their low estimates.

Montblanc Artisan Edition pens performed particularly well in the sale. A Montblanc Leonardo da Vinci 18K gold skeleton fountain pen soared past its $14,000-18,000 estimate to achieve $48,000, while a Genghis Khan 18K gold fountain pen brought $45,000 with an estimate of $14,000-18,000.  A Montblanc Charlie Chaplin 18K gold skeleton fountain pen also reached $45,000 with an estimate of $20,000-25,000, and a Wassily Kandinsky "Masters of Abstract Art" 18K gold skeleton fountain pen fetched $24,000. Strong Montblanc results extended to Writers Series and Patron of Art series pens as well, with a Peter I the Great and Catherine II the Great matching-numbered pair of Patron of Art pens achieving $10,200, an Alexander the Great Patron pen reaching $4500, and a Marcel Proust Writers Series pen selling for $2160.

Vintage Montblanc rarities also found favor in the sale, with 43 of 44 vintage lots sold, many of them well above the estimate range. A Montblanc No. 12 "Goliath" reached $9000, while a Montblanc Architect's pen sold for $6000 and a No. 128 Platinum-Lined celluloid pen fetched $2700.

Other brands achieved impressive results as well, with a Montegrappa White Nights 18K gold fountain pen selling for $6600, an OMAS Gentleman Seaman 18K gold pen selling for $5400 and an OMAS Aleksandr Pushkin 18K gold pen reaching $4800.  Vintage results include a Parker No. 47 eyedropper pen (known to collectors as the "Pregnant Parker"), circa 1925, which sold for $5400; a rare Pilot-Namiki red lacquer maki-e pen by Shogo, circa 1925, which reached an impressive …more

by John Huckans
The Red Scare Continues...

Collusion. ME [a.F., ad L.]  1. Secret agreement or understanding for purpose of trickery or fraud; underhand scheming or working with another; deceit, fraud, trickery… [Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles.  Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1955]. 

So it wasn't Sheldon Cooper after all. Twelve Russians (not Marcel Lazăr Lehel) have been charged with meddling in the campaign leading up to the 2016 election by hacking into servers and publishing e-mails that, among other things, showed close cooperation between DNC officials and many of the print and television news reporters that the public used to rely on for accurate and unbiased news.  Nowadays, not so much.

I suppose this could be considered serious outside interference or collusion. Does the public really need to know or does the public have the right to know about Donna Brazile's (then CNN & ABC contributor and vice chair of the DNC) e-mails of March 5, 2016 in which she supplied questions to the campaign in advance of the CNN primary debate or her e-mail of March 12, 2016 in which she says, in part, “from time to time I get the questions in advance...” and then goes on to pass along the text of a question that will be asked at the CNN town hall with Clinton and Bernie Sanders?  Thanks to Wikileaks, now we know. …more

Results of Revolutionary War & Presidential Americana Auction

On June 21 the auction of Revolutionary & Presidential Americana from the Collection of William Wheeler III at Swann Galleries saw a 91% sell-through rate for important autographs, letters and documents from some of the biggest players in American history. Wheeler, a manufacturing consultant from a long line of New Englanders, devoted much of his adult life to acquiring illuminating pieces of Americana from the Revolutionary War and nearly every president. Wheeler harbored a special fascination with the life of Andrew Jackson, which led to a run of 34 significant letters and documents signed by the president, 88% of which found buyers. Highlights included a retained copy of a letter to be published by editor Thomas Eastin, providing his own account of the altercations that would lead to his killing Charles Dickinson in a duel. One of two known complete drafts, it reached $7,000. An 1833 autograph letter signed as president to his adoptive son, Andrew Jackson, Jr., a request …more

by John C. Huckans
Civil War Isn't Funny
(originally published October 11, 2017)

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 (the early 14th century) beheading would have been considered euthanasia because drawing and quartering, a truly hideous form of capital punishment, involved being hanged, disemboweled (while still conscious) and cut into quarters. In Edward's case lethal injection was used: “... his screams as his bowels were burnt out by red-hot irons passed into his body were heard outside the prison walls...”¹ Beyond horrible by any stretch – I don't think a'Beckett would have covered it, but wonder what Hayley Geftman-Gold would have said.

By now most of you are aware of the uncharitable comments of the recently fired CBS executive who, in response to the recent Las Vegas mass murder, posted on Facebook “...I'm not even sympathetic bc [sic] country music fan often are …more

Medieval Monsters Subject of New Morgan Exhibition

From dragons, unicorns, and other fabled beasts to inventive hybrid creations, artists in the Middle Ages filled the world around them with marvels of imagination. Their creations reflected a society and culture at once captivated and repelled by the idea of the monstrous. Drawing on the Morgan Library & Museum's superb medieval collection as well as loans from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders — on view beginning June 8th  — examines the complex social role of monsters in medieval Europe. It brings together approximately seventy works spanning the ninth to sixteenth centuries, and ranging from illuminated manuscripts and tapestry to metalwork and ivory.

The show explores three key themes: “Terrors” demonstrates how monsters enhanced the aura of those in power, whether rulers, knights, or saints. “Aliens” reveals how marginalized groups in European societies—such as Jews, Muslims, women, the poor, and the disabled—were further alienated by being depicted as monstrous. The final section on “wonders” considers the strange beauties and frightful anomalies such as dragons, unicorns, or giants that populated the medieval world. The show runs through …more

by John Huckans
The Iron Cage, a Review
(originally published May 2014)

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 expatriate Israeli historian Ilan Pappé’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 relating to the “Israel Lobby” by such writers as ex-Congressman Paul Findley and more recently by academics John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) and Stephen Walt (Harvard).

With this as a backdrop, it’s refreshing to read a book that places the Palestinian experience within a broader context. …more

The Morgan Receives Gift of Major Collection of Works by James Joyce

The Morgan Library & Museum announced today that is has received the gift of one of the foremost private collections of works by the iconic Irish author James Joyce (1882-1941). The collection was assembled by noted New York gallery owner Sean Kelly and his wife, Mary Kelly. Totaling almost 350 items, it includes many signed and inscribed first editions of Joyce’s publications, as well as important manuscripts and correspondence, photographs, posters, publishers’ promotional material, translations, and a comprehensive reference collection.

Among the many highlights are Joyce’s first stand-alone publication, the broadside The Holy Office (1904); four copies of the first edition of Ulysses (1922) on three different papers, one of which is inscribed; a fragment of the Ulysses manuscript; Joyce’s typed schematic outline of the novel; and photographs of Joyce by Man Ray and Berenice Abbott. Also of note are a selection of publishers’ prospectuses from England, America, and France, including one annotated by Sylvia Beach; one of the twenty-five published copies of Joyce’s poetry collection, Pomes Penyeach (1927), with decorations by his daughter, Lucia; an advance copy of Finnegans Wake (1939); and …more

Letters to the Editor

NeglectedBooks.com is an interesting website that your readers might enjoy exploring.  The Book Trail is like a very long wagon train, and it's easy to lose sight of the predecessors who have come before us. . . (and) expanding the Letters to the Editor column might be a way for bookdealers to strengthen their ties to the trade, swap ideas about what works/what doesn't work in a rapidly-changing marketplace, and give potential bookdealers more perspective on what they might be getting into if they pursue the profession.

Back in the days when cities had book rows, book "hounds" could ramble practically door-to-door, browsing their way through tables of books set up in front of shops.  But with most of these book rows gone – victims of gentrification and skyrocketing real estate costs – a new generation of  potential book collectors and bookdealers have a harder time getting a sense of the trade as a "field," with a rich past and a viable future.  The shops have scattered in their flight from exorbitant rents, isolating bookdealers and weakening their sense of being members of a storied professional community.

Michael Ginsberg and Taylor Bowie have interviewed exhibitors at the ABAA shows and posted the interviews on the Net, going bookstall-to-bookstall, asking each dealer the same questions:  how did you become interested in bookdealing and who are the people/shops that have influenced you?  By asking them why and how they entered the field you get a strong sense of some of the major players of the past, where the profession has been, where it is today, and where it might be headed, going forward.

An afterthought about Neglected Books:  it is a reality check on the history of literature.  Anyone who only reads the landmark prize-winners – the best of the best –  loses their context, to make comparisons and get a sense of WHY they are prizewinners.  What made them superior to the also-rans of their time, and how/why did yesterday's important writer or book fall from grace? 

I had the great good luck to grow up in Christopher Morley's home town on Long Island, saw the now-obscure Big Man once, and went to his sparsely-attended funeral, so became aware early on of the transitory nature of literary fame and popularity.  …more

by John Huckans
The Russians Are Still Coming! (Or, Keeping the Red Scare Alive)

We've received news that several Russian nationals have been indicted for interfering in our 2016 election by using the Internet to spread made-up stories and salacious gossip in order to discredit major party presidential candidates and sow confusion among voters. Fusion GPS, apparently, bought into it, repackaged the product, and sold it to willing members of the press and other political operatives.  Badly done — I don't think the United States makes a practice of meddling in the internal affairs of other nations.

Well maybe just once (Operation Ajax) back in 1953.  As informed citizens and students of history, you will remember having read about the MI6 and CIA operation launched in June of that year to figure out ways to get rid of Muhammed Mosaddeq, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran. The Brits thought Mosaddeq a nasty piece of work because he had the brass to push for the notion that Iran should receive a fair share of the profits from the sale of the nation's oil resources, since old contracts made years before between the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now British Petroleum) and corrupt Iranian monarchs (secured by some well-placed bribes) ensured that Iran would receive just 16% of the profits (after all operating costs).  Nice work if you can manage to keep people's eyes off the ball. By comparison, American oil companies were paying Venezuela and Saudi Arabia 50%, the going rate at …more

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