Friday, February 28, 2020

About the Street Literature of Jemmy Catnach and Charles Hindley

A bibliomaniac's journey through the highways and byways of book collecting is never straightforward. He forever strays off the beaten path, veering here and stopping there and finding even more books to collect.

                    Jerry Morris, My Sentimental Library, February 2020

We should not have known very little about Jemmy Catnach and the world of popular nineteenth century broadsides had it not been for the pioneer researches of Charles Hindley in the byways of English Literature.  It is ironic that we should now know very little about Hindley himself....

                   Leslie Shepard  Foreword in Hindley C. Curiosities of Literature
                                London: Broadstreet King Edition 1966

I don't remember when exactly my venture into street literature began.  But I know it began with a book I found that contained the woodcuts of  James Catnach (1792-1841) (pronounced Catnack).  I bought this book some time before December 21, 2007 because that's when I began cataloguing my books on Library Thing.  I catalogued The Catnach Press on January 17, 2008.  It was the 566th book I had catalogued on Library Thing.

 I bought The Catnach Press because I knew I had a decided lack of books about woodcuts in my Books About Books Collection.  The Catnach Press had a chapter titled, "The Life of Old Jemmy Catnach."  Another chapter was titled "The Literature of the Streets." And  then there were pages and pages of chapbooks and woodcuts.  Some of the woodcuts were by Thomas Bewick (1753-1828).  Jemmy's father, John Catnach (1769-1813), employed Bewick to produce engravings for books he published.

I know I didn't pay too much for The Catnach Press because the entire backstrip was missing.  I have since rebacked it.

The book itself was No. 126 of 250 copies printed.  The author's name was not listed on the title page, and neither was the year the book was published. But I found out later that a Charles Hindley was the author, and that the book was published in 1869.

I am now toying with the idea of rebinding the book with marbled boards and marbled endpapers.  Granted, the marbled boards would look more pleasing to the eye, but restoring the book as close to its original condition as possible would, according  to some experts, retain its value ($100 or more).  But that marbled paper sure looks nice....

I now knew a little bit about Jemmy Catnach but virtually nothing about the book's author, Charles Hindley, except that he died in 1893.  And it stayed that way for at least 12 years.  Last October,  however, I was browsing the listings on eBay, and I came across another book by him.  It was a copy of the 1887 second edition of The History of the Catnach Press. And this time his name was on the front cover and title page too, along with a list of numerous works that he edited.

Hindley covers both Catnaches in this book.  The father, John Catnach, was not a successful businessman, almost always on the brink of bankruptcy. The son, Jemmy Catnach, was quite successful as a printer of street literature, and later became known as "The Cock of the Walk." Here are some engravings from the book:

Inserted in the book was a query letter from Charles Hindley to an English publisher by the name if William Tinsley.  Other than the letter, there were no marks of provenance to signify that this book was formerly owned by Tinsley.

I thought at first that Hindley was asking Tinsley if he wanted to publish The History of the Catnach Press.  And when Tinsley declined, Hindley's son, Charles Hindley the Younger (1845-1900), published it ten years later.  In his letter to Tinsley, Hindley said he had acquired a letter that Jemmy Catnach had written to his sister in 1840, and that Hindley would include the letter in his book.  I checked and when I found Hindley's letter in Tinsley's copy of The History of the Catnach Press, that assured me that The History of the Catnach Press was the book Hindley wanted Tinsley to publish. But I was wrong, as you will soon see!

When Charles Hindley was gathering information and interviewing people for his Catnach Press book, he realized that he had gathered much information about the street literature of the other producers of broadsides, chapbooks and other street literature.  This led to the publication of Curiosities of Street Literature in 1871.  The booksellers Reeves and Turner, the publishers of The Catnach Press, published this book as well.  But again, the author's name was not included on the title page.

While gathering additional information for Curiosities of Street Literature, Hindley acquired enough information to write two more books

The Life and Times of James Catnach [by Charles Hindley] London: Reeves and Turner, 1878

The History of the Catnach Press by Charles Hindley: London: Charles Hindley the Younger, 1886

I looked at an online copy of The Life and Times of James Catnach, and lo and behold Catnach's 1840 letter to his sister was included in that book too!    This book was published shortly after Hindley's query letter.  I now believe The Life and Times of James Catnach was the book Hindley wanted Tinsley to publish.

The bookman Percy H Muir wrote a brilliant essay on Catnachery that was published by the Book Club of California in 1955.

Muir did not think much of Jemmy Catnach and lets his readers know about it in his essay. He begins:
The Catnach Press, 2 Monmouth Court, 7 Dials was the imprint for the better part of a century on flimsy broadsheets which were sold quite literally by the million in the streets of London.  The production and distribution of such ill-written and worse-printed ephemera seems to offer a poor basis for immortality.  Yet 'Jemmy' Catnach, who founded the 'Press' that bears his name is the only one of the myriad producers of street-ballads down the centuries whose name and record is in the Dictionary of National Biography – that 70-volume enshrinement of the illustrious and infamous who have helped grace or disgrace our island story. 
To me, the 40 Catnach illustrations and five broadsides in Catnachery, look magnificent.  And they were taken from two of Charles Hindley's books, The Catnach Press: A Collection of the Books and Woodcuts of James Catnach and The History of the Catnach Press.  

Muir mentions Hindley only once in the essay – as a footnote.  In the footnotes he correctly identifies Hindley as the author of The Catnach Press and The Life and Times of James Catnach.  He mentions that in 1886 Hindley's son, also named Charles Hindley, published a rehash of the two books with the title The History of the Catnach Press, but Muir does not identify the author.  Charles Hindley the father was the author of that book as well.

The more I delved into Charles Hindley, however, the more I wanted to find out about him.  William Tinsley helped the cause to some extent.  In his own biography, Random Recollections of an Old Publisher, published in 1900, Tinsley wrote:

I published several interesting volumes by Mr. Charles Hindley, who was also a most industrious chronicler of the lives and works of James Catnach and Bewick, the celebrated wood engraver.  Perhaps there were few men in Mr. Hindley's time who had a better knowledge of old signs, old ballads, and street cries, than he had.  In fact, had he been as good a writer as he was a talker, the curious books he published would have made excellent reading.
In an online preview of Street Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century by David Atkinson and Steve Roud, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017, I read that the authors identified Leslie Shepard as "the only one who seems to have attempted any research on Hindley."  Researching further I learned that Leslie Shepard (1917-2004) had written a new introduction for a 1966 edition of Hindley's Curiosities of Literature that was published by The Broadstreet King.  And yes, I ordered a copy of it!

Shepard provides five pages of extensive information about Charles Hindley, including a bibliography of his works.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Shepard said that Charles Hindley was not listed in Modern English Biography Vol V, 1912, but his eldest son, also named Charles Hindley, who was also a bookseller was listed, and was credited with his father's works!

Here's some information about Charles Hindley the Younger.  He was one of the booksellers pictured in a celebrated engraving of a book sale at Sotheby's Auction House in 1888.  Laurence Worms, proprietor of Ash Rare Books, published a series of nine posts about these booksellers on his popular blog, The Bookhunter on Safari, titling the series "The Book-Hunters of 1888. And on January 7, 2016, the Charles Hindley the Younger made his appearance on the blog.  He's the one with the beard. On the right side of the engraving.  Poring over a large tome.

And now, back to Charles Hindley the Elder!

Charles Hindley's book, Curiosities of Street Literature, provides a snapshot of the literature of the poorer people of England in the late 1800s.  Included are the prints, broadsides and chapbooks of Pitts, Tickle, Such, Walton, and many more.  Hindley divided his book into four divisions:

"Cocks" or "Catchpennies" Street Drolleries &c.

Broadsides on the Royal Family, Polticial Litanies, &c.

A Collection of "Ballads on a Subject"

The "Gallows" Literature of the Streets.

There was an added treat in my acquisition of this copy of the 1966 edition of Charles Hindley's Curiosities of Street Literature.  Its editor, Leslie Shepard, inscribed the book to Tom Schlientz, a founding member of The Book Club of Detroit and the manager of John K. King Used and Rare Books in Detroit for 35 years.  This copy was also signed by The Broadstreet King himself, John Foreman.

If I continue collecting street literature, I may look at the books that  Leslie Shepard wrote or edited in this genre first.  And there are a few of them.  There are a number of glowing obituaries of him online.  Here is one from The Irish Times. There is a brilliant article about Leslie Shepard by Ian Russell in the Folk Music Journal Vol 9 No.1 (2006) that can be read via JSTOR.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

A Month in the Life of MoiBibliomaniac, and the Books He Bought That Month

     January 2020 was a busy month for MoiBibliomaniac.  He was a guest on a TV show about books.  He prepared and presented a PowerPoint Presentation on his Books About Books Collection before the Florida Bibliophile Society.  He attended the Grand Opening of a bookstore in its new location.  He organized a road trip for Florida Bibliophile Society members to visit a book and paper conservation lab in Venice, Florida.  And as President of the Florida Bibliophile Society, he officially opened up a book collecting essay contest for students attending college in the Tampa Bay area.  Moreover, he continued to promote a tour of the Tampa Bay area by members of other bibliophilic clubs in the United States.  He was able to accomplish all that despite a serious health issue that developed around the middle of the month.
     "MoiBibliomaniac" is the nom de plume he gave himself when he first started collecting books.  It is also the title of a definition paper he wrote for a college English course he took while stationed at RAF Mildenhall in the late 1980s.  "Oxy" is the nickname his wife Linda gave to the oxygen tank he's been lugging around with him for the last two weeks.  I know quite a lot about MoiBibliomaniac.  I should.  If you haven't figured it out by now, "Moi" is me.

     The Rare Book Cafe is the name of the TV show on which I appeared Saturday afternoon, January 25, 2020.  That's me in the top right-hand corner.

     I posted a notice to Twitter and Facebook prior to my appearance on the Rare Book Cafe.  And Fine Books & Collections retweeted my Twitter post to its 6500 followers, 600 of which personally read my post.
     My interview on the Rare Book Cafe didn't begin until 37 minutes and 19 seconds into the show.   I talked about the Florida Bibliophile Society, our upcoming FABS Tour of the Tampa Bay area, the Fourth Annual Lee J. Harrer Student  Book Collecting Essay Contest, my own book collecting history, and about how I became the President of the Florida Bibliophile Society.  You can view and hear the entire show here.

     I appear in two official photos of the Grand Opening of Lighthouse Books on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at its new location in Dade City.  That's me in the red shirt in the top left-hand corner.  And that's me holding one of the books I bought that day.

     Here's me on January 11, 2020 at Mowery Book and Paper Conservation.  I am giving Sonja Jordan-Mowery and her husband John Mowery a Florida Bibliophile Society book bag to share after they gave Florida Bibliophile Society members a tour of Mowery Book and Paper Conservation.

     Here's a copy of the poster that Florida Bibliophile Society members distributed to the university libraries in the Tampa Bay area.

     Here I am on January 19, 2020 at the Seminole Community Library giving my presentation on "Moi's Books About Books."  I had to give my presentation sitting down because of my breathing problems.  And I purposely left "Oxy" in the backseat of my car!

     I gave a 45 minute presentation and displayed 100 slides on or about my Books About Books Collection (1365 books and counting).  I began my presentation with the beginning and end of "Old Thoughts on Book Collecting for the New Year," an article in the January 2006 issue of the Newsletter of the Florida Bibliophile Society.  The President of the Society in January 2006 had gone through his books about books over the Christmas holidays, and extracted old thoughts about book collecting he thought would be interesting to the other members of the Society.  Yes.  The President of the Florida Bibliophile Society in January 2006 was Moi.

     The Book Gods were very good to me in January 2020.   They helped me acquire four more books for my Books About Books Collection, two books for my Second Sentimental Airman Collection, and one book about writing.

Books in the House: an Essay on Private Libraries and Collections for Young and Old by Alfred W. Pollard, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1904.

     Books in the House is the ninth book in my library by Alfred W. Pollard (1859-1944).   I like the way he writes. And he knew way more than me about books.  This book first caught my eye about a year ago when Mike Slicker's Lighthouse Books was still located in downtown St. Petersburg.  But for some reason, it was not one of the books I purchased that day.  I saw it again on Saturday, January 18th at the Grand Opening of Lighthouse Books in its new location in Dade City.   I have learned from experience to never pass up a good book twice. So I bought it.

     There are actually six essays in the book, each one full of book knowledge that never gets old.

Literary, Political, Scientific, Religious & Legal Publishings, Printing & Bookselling in England, 1551-1700: Twelve Studies by Leona Rostenberg, New York: Burt Franklin, 1965, two vols.

     This is the seventh book by Leona Rostenberg (1908-2005) that I have in my library.   After my presentation at the January 19, 2020 meeting of the Florida Bibliophile Society, we went to Doralynn Books in nearby Madeira Beach.  Sean Donnelly conveniently placed some of his books about books on the front counter, and I grabbed these two volumes of book history for my Books About Books Collection.

Check List of Bibliographies, Catalogues, Reference-Lists, and Lists of Authorities of American Books and Subjects compiled by Paul Leicester Ford, Brooklyn: privately printed, 1889.

     While researching for my Books About Books presentation, I discovered that I did not have a copy of Ford's Check List of Bibliographies ...  and I quickly ordered a copy.  I now have eight books written by Ford (1865-1902), one book formerly owned by him, and one book written by his brother Worthington Chauncey Ford.

     Bibliographies are my passion.  And I wanted to see the list of the early bibliographies Ford catalogued.

The Caxton Club 1895-1995: Celebrating a Century of the Book in Chicago by Frank J. Piehl, Chicago: Caxton Club, 1995.

     I found this book on the front counter of Doralynn Books the same day I bought the book by Leona Rostenberg.  I collect books about book clubs so this fit nicely in my Books About Books Collection.

     But the real reason I wanted the book is because it was formerly owned by the Johnsonian Gwin J. Kolb (1919-2006).  I now have three books he formerly owned, three books he wrote, and one book  he co-authored with Robert DeMaria, which received a disrespectful review.

     I didn't notice it until later that day, but my friend the late Paul Ruxin (1943-2016) was one of the signers when this book was presented to Gwin Kolb on December 8, 2000!  I now have ten books and pamphlets by Paul Ruxin, about Paul Ruxin, or given to me as a gift by Paul Ruxin.  Both Paul and I were Johnson/Boswell collectors.  Paul, however, was a partner in a prestigious law firm while I was a mailman for the United States Postal Service.  Inserted in my copy of Paul's book, Friday Lunch, is Paul's gift inscription:

Scott's Book: The Life and Mildenhall-Melbourne Flight of C. W. A. Scott Told by Himself  by C. W. A. Scott, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1934.

     I bought this book at the Grand Opening of Lighthouse Books in Dade City on January 18, 2020.  I just had to have this book because I was stationed at RAF Mildenhall from 1985 to 1989.   The book brings back memories of the base and of the good times I had, especially of roaming the countryside looking for books.  The fact that the author and other pilots signed the book is icing on the cake.

     Another reason I wanted the book is because it was formerly owned by the Aviation collector Derek Mason (1922-2012) who had a fabulous Aviation Collection.  As I mentioned on the Rare Book Cafe, I am in some serious trouble.  Most of the Derek Mason Aviation Collection that Lighthouse Books had was in storage due to lack of space.  There's now lots of bookshelf space in the new location of Lighthouse Books!

EKCO E160 Series Airborne Search RADAR: Airborne Operating Instructions by EKCO Electronics LTD, Southend-on-Sea: EKCO Electronics, c.1958.

     I found this book at Lighthouse Books as well.  And it too was in the Derek Mason Aviation Collection.  I now have ten books formerly owned by Derek Mason.

     The primary reason I wanted this book is because this RADAR system looks similar to the APS-42 RADAR System installed on the military cargo planes I worked on in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Murder Your Darlings and Other Gentle Writing Advice From Aristotle to Zinsser by Roy Peter Clark, New York: Little, Brown, Spark, 2020.

     Roy Peter Clark is the Senior Lecturer of the Poynter Institute.  He is also one of the panelists for the FABS 2020 Tour  Symposium at the Poynter Institute on Friday April 24, 2020.  I now have three books by him.  I particularly like him because he never fails to mention Strunk and White and The Elements of Style in his books.  You might enjoy reading my review of his book, The Glamour of Grammar.  I am looking forward to reading and reviewing Murder Your Darlings.

     The Florida Bibliophile Society was very good to me as well.  After my presentation of my Books About Books Collection, Charles Brown, the Vice President of the Society, presented me with a copy of The Annotations in Lady Bradshaigh's Copy of Clarissa.  The book was signed by the Florida Bibliophile Society members who were present for the meeting.

     Samuel Johnson said that Samuel Richardson's Clarissa "was the first book in the world for the knowledge it displays of the human heart."  Lady Bradshaigh  wrote corrections and what she considered improvements to the story in the margins of Clarissa.

     January 2020 definitely was a busy month for me.  And what with the current Lee J. Harrer Book Collecting Essay Contest and the upcoming 2020 FABS Florida Tour in April, the coming months will be pretty busy as well.

     I would like to close this post with the 2006 article that I used to begin my Books About Books Presentation: "Old Thoughts on Book Collecting for the New Year."