Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Bookfellow Anthology Originally Found Wanting

Found while toodling in the Indoor Flea Market in Crystal River, Florida on Friday, September 7, 2019: a copy of the 1932 edition of A Bookfellow Anthology.

A Bookfellow Anthology, later renamed The Bookfellow Poetry Annual, was a publication of the Order of the Bookfellows, a literary and publication club based in Chicago, but with members worldwide.  Membership in the Order of the Bookfellows cost $1 a year, and gave members the opportunity of becoming a contributor to the Annual Bookfellow Anthologies.  

Each bookfellow was assigned a Bookfellow Number.  Its editors, George Steele Seymour and his wife Flora Warren Seymour, were Bookfellows No. 1 and No. 2.  Luther Albertus Brewer, the Torch Press printer of the Bookfellow Anthologies, was Bookfellow No. 14.  Walter M. Hill, the Chicago bookseller, was Bookfellow No. 37.  Vincent Starrett, the Chicago bibliophile and poet, was Bookfellow No. 8.   He should have been Bookfellow No. 221b, but Bookfellow Numbers denoted the order of joining the Bookfellows.

Bookfellow No. 7433, Mary Hovey, a teacher from Joliet, Illinois, was the former owner of my copy of A Bookfellow Anthology 1932.  She pasted her bookplate to the front pastedown of the book.

Mary Hovey was one of the contributors to the 1932 edition of A Bookfellow Anthology, submitting a poem titled, "The Crescent and the Crown," which was printed on page 93 of the book.

Later on that day, I decided to read Mary Hovey's poem.  And I discovered that someone had torn the page containing her poem out of the book!

At first I thought Mary Hovey was the one who tore the page out of the book.  But my wife Linda countered that it could have been someone else.  And thinking about it, she's right.  Since Mary Hovey placed her bookplate, a mark of ownership, in the book, it is unlikely that she would remove the poem that shows that she herself was part of the book.  Most likely a daughter or granddaughter took the poem out of the book as a keepsake from Mary Hovey's estate.

I did, however, find two poems in the book to my liking.  They were about two authors whose books I collect.  The first poem was titled "A. Edward Newton in His Library."  If you're not familiar with A. Edward Newton, he was a book collector in the early 1900s who wrote about the books he collected.  And Seymour pokes fun at him in the poem!

I queried the A. Edward Newton collector David Klappholz and he had never seen the poem.  Moreover, David said it was not listed in Bob Fleck's bibliography, A. Edward Newton:  A Collection of His Works.

I didn't think the second poem was as eloquent as the first poem.  But Johnsonians should remember the occasion:  "Dr. Samuel Johnson Takes Tea with Mr. Davies the Bookseller 16 May, 1763."

I queried  Johnson/Boswell collector Terry Seymour and he had never seen the poem.  Moreover, Terry, who also collects A. Edward Newton,  had never seen the Newton poem before either.

I was disappointed in not being able to read Mary Hovey's poem.  But after reading Seymour's two poems, I decided that the 1932 issue of A Bookfellow Anthology was worth buying after all!

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