Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Ventures in Book Collecting During this Coronavirus Pandemic

I'm hanging in there!

I'm reading more books.
I'm buying more books.
I'm watching more movies.
And I'm doing it all over again.

I have only one problem about reading.  It makes me buy more books!  But I can live with that!  Last month I was reading the Books in Brief section of the March issue of The Florida Bibliophile, the newsletter of the Florida Bibliophile Society.  And I came across Peter Martin's book, The Dictionary Wars.  It was published by the Princeton University Press in 2019.  I wanted this book for several reasons: I collect dictionaries; I read two other books by Peter Martin; and I wrote about the Dictionary Wars myself in a post to My Sentimental Library blog back in September 2015.

Reading The Dictionary Wars "caused me" to buy two more language books which are heading my way: The Language Wars by Henry Hitchings, first published in 2011; and a modern reprint of Pickering's Vocabulary first published in 1816.  I also found the time to write a review of The Dictionary Wars, which will be published in the May issue of The Florida Bibliophile.   

I'm still reading The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea by Jack E. Davis.  First published in 2017, this whopper of a book (592 pages) earned Davis the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2018. It also earned him an invitation to be the keynote speaker at a gala banquet on Saturday April 25, 2020 during the 2020 Florida FABS Tour that was to be hosted by the Florida Bibliophile Society. The banquet was cancelled, as was the tour itself. The Society, however, will be publishing a special issue of The Florida Bibliophile later next month covering what would have been a Florida FABS Tour Book.  Included will be two reviews of The Gulf, one by yours truly, and the other by the highly renowned map collector and founding member of the Tampa Bay History Center, Tom Touchton.

When I'm not reading, I've been doing a lot of book browsing while sheltering in place, and came across a book about the Gulf that had a rather long title.  I had just read about the book and its author in Jack Davis' book The Gulf:

An historical narrative and topographical description of Louisiana, and West-Florida : comprehending the river Mississippi with its principal branches and settlements, and the rivers Pearl, Pascagoula, Mobille, Perdido, Escambia, Chacta-Hatcha, &c. : The climate, soil, and produce whether animal, vegetable, or mineral; : with directions for sailing into all the bays, lakes, harbours and rivers on the north side of the Gulf of Mexico, and for navigating between the islands situated along that coast, and ascending the Mississippi River By Thomas Hutchins.  Published Philadelphia: : Printed for the author, and sold by Robert Aitken, near the Coffee-House, in Market-Street., M. DCC. LXXXIV. [1784].FIRST EDITION. &nbsp Written by the Only Official "Geographer of the United States."

I sent the listing to Tom Touchton and Rodney Kite-Powell, Director of the Touchton Map Library, Tampa Bay History Center for their consideration.  But the book had two strikes against it: the last five pages were missing, and surprisingly, the book was published without one single solitary map.  I did, however, find a facsimile reprint for my own Floridiana Collection that was published by the University of Florida Press in Gainesville in 1968:

How many times have you seen Volume 1 of a work,  and searched for a second volume, only to find that a second volume was never published?  You'll like this next book!   A Bibliography of Unfinished Books in the English Language: With Annotations by two British librarians, Albert R. Corns and Archibald Sparke.  It was first published in 1915.  Leslie Shepard (1917-2004), whom I remembered as the editor of Hindley's Curiosities of Street Literature, edited this 1968 Gale reprint edition as well.

In January 1912, Frank Karslake, editor of Book Auction Records, sent an offprint of the first installment of Bibliotheca Imperfecta to 500 British and American Libraries.  Its author, Albert Corns, City Librarian of Lincoln appealed for more information about unfinished books to supplement the 25-page list he had made.  He got that and more – Archibald Sparke to help compile all the new information into a book, and with a new title!  To the best of my knowledge, no one has yet brought such a work up to date.  Volume II anybody?

While browsing Twitter one day, I came across this next book, ordered it, and sent photos of the covers to my bookseller friends for them to read.

We're going to see how accurately the author represented the bookseller in this mystery.  I wrote the author, and he responded, "I hope I nailed it!"  This book is next up on my reading pile.

My friend Terry Seymour emailed me the other day and asked me to check my Mary Hyde Collection and see if I had a copy of Re-Collecting Donald and Mary Hyde: Untold Stories from Their Private Archive.  Surprisingly, I did not!  But Terry had a spare copy and sent it my way!

This is a talk that William Zachs gave at the Grolier Club on Dec. 9, 2009.  He was a very good friend of the Hydes.  There were several stories about the Hydes in his presentation that I had never heard before.   Thanks Terry!

I collect catalogues of libraries, both private and public. I have the 1861 and 1864 catalogues of the Library of Congress, and recently I acquired an 1813 catalogue of the Library Company of Philadelphia, America's oldest cultural institution (1731).  The catalogue lists the books that were added to the library since the 1807 catalogue was printed.  It is ex-lib from Georgetown University Library and bound together in brown paper.  I may rebind it.

The New York bookseller George D. Smith (1870-1920) published an interesting periodical for his customers.  The complete title was The Literary Collector: A Monthly Journal Devoted to the Interests of Collectors of Books, Autographs and Other Historical Matter. This issue of Smith's Literary Collector (June 1901 Vol II No 3) contains interesting articles on bookplates (Charles Dexter Allen), bookbinding (Fletcher Battershall), autograph collection (Adrian H. Joline), art (George D. Smith),  and a continuation article about American plays by Oscar Wegelin.  There are 87 pages followed by seven pages of ads.  Another periodical with the same primary name (The Literary Collector) was published by the Literary Collector Press during the same period.

During my browsing on the web, I keep an eye out for association copies that interest me – books which Kurt Zimmerman hasn't already snagged!   I grabbed a few!  I already had a copy of Ventures in Book Collecting by William Harris Arnold (1853-1926), but when I saw a copy formerly owned by the late husband of my friend Caroline Schimmel, I had to add it to My Sentimental Library Collection:   Grolier Club member Stuart B. Schimmel (1925-2013).

I informed Caroline about the book, and she sent me one of his books too!  This one had his Reynolds Stone bookplate, but it was black, not red.  Thanks Caroline!

I never have enough quotation books in my library.  So I added three more with Allibone's Poetical, Prose, and Great Authors Quotations.

These books were formerly owned by the medical historian and man of letters Henry Rouse Viets (1890-1969).

I have more than a handful of books formerly owned by prominent booksellers, and I added to that collection as well: two books from the library of Bernard M. Rosenthal (1920-2017), both with his small  Ex libris bookplate. The first one was English Theatrical Literature 1559-1900: A Bibliography published by the Society for Theatre Research in London in 1970.

And the second was a pamphlet containing a facsimile of a letter from King James I to the Emperor of Japan.

There's an inscription in Rosenthal's hand on the title page which reads "I think this comes from Breslauer - he showed it to me in 1960 (?) or so & also, I think, had it in a catalogue."
                                                                                                      BR 1/66

I wanted the Rosenthal books to go with the biography and bibliographical account of Rosenthal the late bookseller/book publisher Ian Jackson (1951-2018) published in 2017.

No. 359 of 400 copies printed

If you want to see an excellent movie about booksellers, I recommend you watch THE BOOKSELLERS!

THE BOOKSELLERS Official Trailer

You can watch it online by renting it from local arthouses nationwide or you can use one of the two links below.  Half of the proceeds go to either the ABAA or RBMS:

The next book, The City of Dreadful Night, by James Thomson, was the second book published by Thomas B. Mosher.  This copy is No. 12 of 50 copies of the large paper edition printed in 1892.  The binding is in dreadful condition.  I will have a local bookbinder rebind the book for me.

I wanted this book because of its provenance history.  It was formerly owned by two great American book collectors, the American banker Henry William Poor (1844-1915), and then the American lawyer John Quinn (1870-1924).

I am thankful that I have an understanding wife who supports my bibliomania.  And I support her collecting habits as well.   She's mostly a reader of modern fiction, but last month I found a perfect belated birthday present for her: a miniature book about a custom that Danish children perform on Maundy Thursday each year.  Yes, Linda is Danish and she was born on a Maundy Thursday.  And yes, she loves this book!

Linda collects Bing & Grondahl Christmas plates and dinnerware, particularly the seagull pattern. And just this week, during my many hours of browsing the web, I found and bought something that she's been wanting for years:

B&G Seagull Pattern Dinnerware Service for 12!

Be SAFE!  Stay Happy!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

Very enjoyable to share your enthusiasm.

Carl Mario Nudi said...

I'm glad you have all this time on your hands, Jerry, for it lends to some wonderful and interesting blog posts. Thanks.