Thursday, July 29, 2021

Lee J. Harrer: The Man and His Books

 My post this month is a tribute to my friend and mentor Lee J. Harrer who passed away on April 14, 2021.  I have divided the tribute into two segments,  Lee J. Harrer: The Man and Lee J. Harrer: His Books.  The first segment is a nineteen-minute PowerPoint Presentation about Lee J. Harrer: the Man.  It is followed by photo displays of some of the books in the Harrer Collections, including books I acquired from the Harrer Library.

Lee J. Harrer: The Man

This PowerPoint Presentation was broadcast on the Rare Book Cafe TV show on May 1, 2021. For Best viewing, please enlarge to full screen after opening the video.

 Lee J. Harrer:  His Books

The first time I saw Lee Harrer's books was after the March 20, 2005 meeting of the Florida Bibliophile Society.  Paul Ruxin was our guest speaker that day and we stopped at Lee's house after the meeting.  My first thought was that I was not in a house.  I was in a library!  There were rows and rows of bookcases in every room except for the kitchen and the bathroom.  And all the bookcases were filled with books; mostly Books About Books. At least that's all I saw.  I too collected Books About Books, but I had trade editions.  Lee had limited editions of the same books I had, limited editions that I never knew existed.   I'm sure his Chicago books and Brazil books were in his house too, but the books that were imprinted on my brain that day were Lee's rows and rows of bookcases containing his Books About Books.

Lee and His Chicago Books

Lee Harrer was originally from the Chicago area, and had an extensive collection of Chicago books. I made a photo album of his Chicago Books, and acquired two of the books for my own library.

Lee had two copies of Chicago By the Book.  One for his Chicago Collection and one for his Books About Books Collection.  15 Chicago Poets is for my Poetry Collection.

The Lee J. Harrer Collection of Brazil Books

Lee's last overseas tour in the Army before he retired in 1973 was as a military adviser in Brazil.  The first books he collected and then sold as a bookseller were books about Brazil.  He continued collecting books about Brazil for 40 years.  At the time of this post, his family is still trying to find a buyer for the collection.  Here's a photo album of the Lee J. Harrer Collection of Brazil Books.

The Lee J. Harrer Collection of Books About Books

Books About Books was the largest of all of the Harrer Collections.  The majority of Lee's Books About Books were donated to the University of Tampa in 2008, 2014, and again in 2018. What Books About Books remained in his library at the time of his death were mostly books that the University of Tampa already had copies of.  Lee's daughter Lisa thought that the members of the Florida Bibliophile Society would like the opportunity to acquire books from Lee's library so she had two book sales for Society members. I took advantage of the opportunity and acquired over twenty books and pamphlets  from the Harrer Collection of Books About Books.

The Book Collector Vol 1 Nos 1-4

Years ago I had a Vol 1 No 1 Periodical Collection.  I still have remnants of it, and it looks like I am building the collection up again.  

Bibliognost Vol I Nos I-IV, Vol II Nos 1, II

Bibliognost was published from May 1975 to May 1976, and then joined the American Book Collector to become the Book Collector's Market.

Punch or the London Charivai

Punch needs no introduction.  It was first published in 1841 and closed its doors in 1992.   The Brits tried to revive it in 1996 but it only lasted until 2002.  Lee had about fifteen volumes of Punch, and if I had the shelf room I would have acquired more volumes.

The Book-Shop: A Quarterly Journal  Vol I No I, II

I didn't realize that there were two issues in this wrapper until I decided to see if I wanted to include any of Harper's articles in this post.  The March issue was actually a duplicate for me since I already had a copy along with the June 1892 issue.  And those are the two issues Lee had!  The Journal itself, I believe, only had two more issues.  I did find an interesting article in the June 1892 issue to share with you, an early article about Poe's Tamerlane!

The Private Press

Lee was into printing presses at the Tampa Book Arts Studio so it didn't surprise me that he would have this book.

The Book in America 
The English Bookman's Library: A Short History of English Printing 1476-1898

These two books fill holes in my Books About Books Collection.  I have Donald C. Dickinson's bibliography of Hellmut Lehmann-Haupt's works and now I finally have one of Haupt's works, The Book in America.  And Alfred Pollard, whom I wrote about last month, edited The English Bookman's Library Series, so I had to have that book too.

Publishing and Bookselling

The title on the spine is a little hard to see.  It reads, " Publishing and Bookselling F. A. Mumby."  A bookman by the name of L. C. Elger was an earlier owner of the book.  He pasted his Ex Libris on the front pastedown, and inserted a bag full of interesting newspaper clippings in the book.  There is at least one other book listed on the web that has his bookplate as well as newspaper clippings he inserted in the book.

Elger gathered newspaper clippings from the 1940s to the 1960s about publishers and booksellers.

Authors and the Book Trade

The top book is the 1970 reprint by the Books for Libraries Press.  The book on the bottom is a 1933 reprint of the 1932 first edition.  It was formerly owned by the renowned bookman Frederic Melcher, who also had a library of Books About Books.

Book Collecting and Care of Books

A revised edition of a guide by the Smithsonian of a bibliography and listing of books on book collecting and the book trade.

Reading For Survival

This essay is one of the last works that John D. Macdonald wrote before he died.  He wrote it for the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club.  Unfortunately, the 'perfect binding' isn't perfect anymore.  The glue has browned and dried and the pages have separated from the cover.

The Bookman's Wake

I had the paperback.  Now I have the hardback too!

A Roycroft Anthology

An anthology of Poetry published by the Roycrofters in 1917. Requires rebacking.  The presentation inscription interested me.  I wondered what the recipient taught.  Did she work at the Roycrofters?

A Thousand & One Epigrams and The Roycroft Shop: A History

One more Elbert Hubbard book for my Books About Books Collection.

In Celebration of the Book: Literary New Mexico

This was Lawrence Clark Powell's copy of the book.  And he donated it to the Occidental College Library. The book made its way to the Harrer Library some time after the college released it.

Some Observations on Book Design

A keepsake written and printed by Richard J. Hoffman in 1986 for the members of the Roxburghe and Zamorano Clubs.

Catalogue of an Exhibition of Engraved Portraits, being the effigies of the most famous English Writers from Chaucer to Johnson

This catalogue of the Grolier Club exhibition in 1891 is in pristine condition.  I already have the 1895 catalogue of French authors .

First Editions:  A Guide to Identification

I can't believe I'm just getting  Zempel's guide now.  But McBride's guide held me over all these years.

Essays on Collecting John Steinbeck Books
The Chief End of Book Madness
Almanack For Booklovers

A trio of pamphlets.  I already had a copy of The Chief End of Book Madness and I'm keeping both copies!


The letters FWG are the initials of the bookman Frederic W. Goudy.  This pamphlet contains tributes to him from Norman W. Forgue, R. Hunter Middleton, Myron Monsen , Jr. and Will Ransom.

A Tribute to Wilberforce Eames

I already have the 1924 first edition of this book. But that copy won't have the bookplate I am contemplating on making: From the Books About Books Collection of Lee J. Harrer.

The Lindbergh Collection of Lee J. Harrer

Books About Books weren't the only books I acquired that were formerly owned by Lee.  Back in May 2019, Lee had enjoyed reading my blog post, A Sentimental Airman's Second Aviation Collection, but he noticed that I did not have many books by or about Charles Lindbergh.  So he wrote me and told me that his Lindbergh Collection was mine if I wanted it after he died.  Here is the Lee. J. Harrer Lindbergh Collection. There are five books by Charles Lindbergh, including two copies of We; six books about Lindbergh, and fourteen books by his wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  This Sentimental Airman is honored to have the Lee J. Harrer Lindbergh Collection.  Thank you Lee.


RIP   Lee J. Harrer 1930-2021