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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Autographs from Goodspeed's, June 1932

At a price to fit any purse...

When you thumb through this little catalog from Goodspeed's Boston bookshop, you'll want to load your purse or wallet with wads of cash (no credit cards) and jump in a time machine for a bargain basement shopping spree.

Rare and collectible autographs found in letters and other paper items are for sale at prices that seem ridiculously low even for 1932.

For example, right on the front cover of this booklet, no less an American icon than George Washington is represented by two signed letters (below) for the measly sum of $200 and $150, respectively. How many zeros would be added to the asking price for the same letters offered for sale today?


If the above prices are too rich for your blood, how about 85 bucks for a one-page document signed by Washington... and countersigned by Thomas Jefferson. Eighty-five dollars???

Letters from Presidents Madison and Monroe were evidently not as popular with collectors, as their signatures commanded a mere $35.

But there's also an Abraham Lincoln signed document for the same price. Other presidents range from $25 to $100: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, James A. Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. And other Lincolns are priced at $100.


Speaking of Garfield, there's a particular interesting collection of eight signatures that are connected to his assassination: Garfield himself; his assassin, Guiteau; the judge in Guiteau's trial, as well as counsels for defense and prosecution and three surgeons, whom I assume testified in the trial. All yours for $20.

Lest you think only American presidents made the cut for this catalog, there's plenty for the bibliophile also.

How about a Charles Dickens letter for $50? Signatures on letters, envelopes, and checks for James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow were priced in the $5 to $35 range. The list of well-known American and British authors goes on and on at prices that just make you shake your head. For classical music lovers, there's even a Franz Liszt full-page Christmas greeting to a friend for $2. Wow.

Now, if you bought any of the 303 items listed in this catalog, Goodspeed's would let you add any two items from the back cover with their compliments.

For that nice offer of a few freebies, I'd have to travel back to 2014 and google some of those names to help make my selections.  Or just accept whatever was available. I would imagine they went pretty fast.

And what would I have bought from the catalog? Everything!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Bookplate for a Hooper Hooper


Here is a bookplate with an unusual pairing of the same middle and last names: Samuel Hooper Hooper.


The bookplate features a boar's head, which can be found in other family crest or armorial designs. But I'm not sure what the button-like objects are or represent.

Samuel Hooper Hooper showed up quickly in an Internet search that landed on a BOSarchitecture.com page featuring a building Hooper once lived in. The site also offers some biographical information on Hooper:
"Samuel Hooper Hooper was a real estate investor and investment banker. In later years, he became a wine importer. He organized and led the Boston Assembly society balls for many years, and was a founder and the first president of the Tennis and Raquet Club."
His biblio connection? He was a member of "one of the oldest and most distinguished independent libraries and cultural institutions in the United States:" The Boston Athenaeum.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tennyson in the Land of Pecos Bill

Lord Alfred Tennyson, the great poet laureate of England, never visited America, but his writing was known throughout the land, even in the arid region of Pecos, Texas in 1893 a year after the author died.

Only a few decades or so before, Apache and Comanche tribes roamed the area and only a few intrepid pioneers had attempted settlement in that remote part of the state. Thanks to railroad expansion in the 1880s, a bit of civilization came west to Pecos, including Mr. Tennyson, all dressed up in Morocco. I'm not sure what Pecos Bill would have thought about that.

Above is the receipt for a $10 Class D membership, whatever that is, good for 10 years in the National Library Association. W.V. Glascock is listed as the agent who sold the membership. Mrs W.T. Monahan is the new member and probably anxious for some fine books to provide a little culture in her home in a desolate region of the West. 

In addition to her membership, Mrs. Monahan would also receive a presentation volume of something written by Lord Alfred Tennyson. The receipt just indicates Tennyson, no title to go with that. But it was a nice copy bound in Morocco. Perhaps Mrs. Monahan had a choice of books from which to select her first book.  

The Chicago Public Library has in its Trade Catalog Collection an 1891 catalog from the National Library Association at the address indicated on this receipt. That helps confirm the company was in business for at least a few years. 

The reverse side of the receipt advertises for agents to sell memberships and offers testimonials, including one from Donohue & Henneberry, a reputable book manufacturing concern in Chicago that claimed a good business relationship with the National Library Association for more than just a few years. An endorsement from them was pretty solid. Quite possibly, they were supplying the books to the National Library Association. In 1890, as the link above indicates, they began publishing a series of inexpensive editions of popular novels. So the timing is consistent with the date on this receipt and three years later one of those editions may have landed in Pecos, Texas.

As for recruiting agents to sell the books in the far corners of the country, the National Library Association made their pitch as follows: 
Gentlemen and Ladies looking for healthy and pleasant employment, to represent our association. We have over 200 Teachers, School Superintendents, Principals of Schools, and Clergymen now engaged in procuring members for the National Library Association. The business is much pleasanter than canvassing for books, and energetic solicitors earn from $100 to $200 per month.
It goes on to offer testimonials from the kinds of individuals that are in their apparent target population for prospective employees. W.V. Glasscock fit the profile. He was a teacher, or at least earned a certificate from one of the state's normal schools in 1889. An article in the Austin Weekly Statesman, from August 29, 1889, states the the Education Department in Texas granted certificates to... a list of qualified students follows, in which Glasscock, of Ellis County, Texas, was named a recipient.

In a 1902 obituary for Glasscock's brother (Ellis County Archives),  W.V. is listed as a survivor and said to be a rising businessman in the county. Could selling books as a young teacher a decade earlier have been a part of that?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Everybody's Library in Malta

Here's one of the smallest pieces of paper in my collection from one of the smallest countries in the world--a cash sale receipt from Malta



In Valletta, the capital city of this densely populated Mediterranean country south of Sicily, is (or was) Everybody's Library at 35 Archbishop Street. An apparent sale is recorded on the front side, while the reverse seems to have some tax-related notation.

Did the customer buy a Penguin paperback or a book about the penguin? And would "-12-8" be a date? The answers to those questions don't exist. And maybe the book shop doesn't either. Judge for yourself in the photos and link further down.


Measuring 3.5 X 4 inches, this receipt, which appears to be at least 60 or 70 years old, is the only paper remnant of this book shop I can find on the Internet. In fact, the only other indication of its existence can be found in several photographs. The first two below are courtesy of Gulja Holland, an artist and photographer who posted these photos on flickr.com and granted permission to post them here.



These images appear to represent two entrances (front and rear) or an old location and new location for the book shop. Since these images were first discovered, I have found others on flickr.com to give different perspectives on this establishment, one which shows displays in the storefront windows, though there's not a book in sight. New and different business, old sign? Regardless, the images are interesting. See them HERE.

And for some perspective on Malta's location, see the map below. The red circle in the larger inset map shows Malta's location below the boot of Italy and Sicily. The country directly south of Malta is Libya.







Friday, January 10, 2014

Books of the Southwest: J.F. Collins of Santa Fe

Books of the Southwest is the title of a 1920s-era catalog from bookseller J.F. Collins of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Given its brevity and size, it's not so much a catalog as it is an advertising brochure for some of the store's stock in the genre of Southwestern literature.

Authors Charles F. Lummis, Mary Austin, Will James, and Charles A. Siringo jump out at me, as I've had their books in stock at various times.
This 6 X 6.5-inch folded paper is printed on half of one side (the "front") and entirely on the other side (the inside pages). More than 60 titles are listed and one book is featured with a description: Old Santa Fe, by Ralph Emerson Twitchell.

Twitchell also has the highest-priced book listed in Collins' catalog--Leading Facts of New Mexico, 5 Volumes, for $100, a good amount of money for the times. If you wanted to buy the set today, Xochi's Bookstore & Gallery in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico appears to have the only copy advertised online, and at the appreciable sum of $850.

Most books in the Collins catalog are priced around a few dollars, but a few had hefty price tags for the 1920s. In addition to Twitchell's set, there was also Spanish Mission Churches of New Mexico, by L. Bradford Prince for $25. You can still find a few copies today in the relatively reasonable price range of $50 to $100. 

Researching Collins and his book shop did not yield much information about the bookseller and his longevity in the business. I did find the labels below at Seven Roads Gallery, always a good source of images advertising booksellers from around the US and beyond.


The most revealing bit of information about the business I could find, other than the catalog itself, is a Christmas-time newspaper ad from the Santa Fe New Mexican, December 13, 1926. It provides more information about the business and inventory beyond books they carried.


On a somewhat related note, the Austin Book, Paper & Photo Show, presented by the Texas Booksellers Association, is this coming weekend (January 11-12, 2014). Texana and Western Americana books and materials are prominent at this show each year. Some of the titles in Collins' stock nearly a hundred years ago will no doubt be available this weekend from various dealers in Austin, albeit at much higher prices than Collins could have dreamed of getting for them!



Friday, November 8, 2013

An author's letter to Jacqueline Kennedy


In May of 1961, British journalist and author, George Bilainkin, sent an inscribed copy of his 1947 book, Second Diary of a Diplomatic Correspondent to the new First Lady of the United States, Jacqueline Kennedy. 

He also included a typed, signed letter on his letterhead and indicated a few pages of interest to the First Lady and perhaps the new President, whom he had known and met with on several occasions in 1945 at the close of World War II.


The book and letter were sent to Mrs. Kennedy in advance of an upcoming trip to London, in which the author hoped to meet with both, or at least the First Lady, and revisit a few sites pertinent to his meetings, as a journalist, with a young Jack Kennedy in 1945. He also knew the President’s father, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., when he was the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Bilainkin also expresses his wish to take Mrs. Kennedy to lunch and, as if that weren't enough, further requests she bring photos of herself, her husband, and his parents!

The Kennedys, on their first trip overseas, while in the White House, went to Paris, Vienna, and London. They were in London June 4-5, 1961 and it seems all but impossible that they had the time or desire to meet with a journalist whom the President had crossed paths with in 1945. Certainly, it was never a consideration.
For the First Lady of the United States of America, from an old admirer and all-weather friend of the Kennedy clan.
George Bilainkin  May 1961


It is unknown, though, if Jacqueline Kennedy actually received this book, looked through it, and showed the author’s marked passages to the President (pages noted under the inscription above and in the Index). 

But it is intriguing to ponder that this book could have been in the possession of one or both for a time. They left no writing of ownership or annotation behind to confirm that. The book eventually found its way into a Washington, D.C. estate and later into the second-hand market, letter intact.

On its own merit, this book is an interesting history from a diplomatic correspondent’s point-of-view at the end of World War II. His intimate portraits of heads of state he met, such as Tito, de Gaulle, Churchill, and diplomats such as the aforementioned Kennedy, fill the pages of this follow-up to his 1940 published diary.

But it's the inscription and letter to First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, and the speculation that she or President Kennedy kept this on the White House bookshelves for awhile, that makes this particular copy even more interesting.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Houston Book Fair at the Museum of Printing History

Here's the most recent addition to my collection of bookish ephemera, an ad mailer for the 11th Annual Houston Book Fair at the Museum of Printing History, Saturday, November 9, 2013.







Saturday, November 2, 2013

The International Miniature Book Society


Regarding a recent acquisition of ephemera collected and preserved by the Rasmussens of California, here is another sampling of what that sight-unseen purchase contained.


This is the very first issue of the Newsletter of the IMBS, published by the International Miniature Book Society in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, August 1984. It was edited by Dr. Martin Žnideršič and designed by Kazimir Rapoša. The editor starts the newsletter with the following:
Dear Lovers of miniature books, In front of you is the newsletter of the new international organisation which wants to bring together the interests of lovers of miniature books from all over the world. 
The stated goal is for a quarterly issue for the months of August, November, February, and May. The editor states that this first issue is an experimental one and that the final shape of the newsletter, with member collaboration, will gradually become clear. 

For anyone interested in miniature books, I have scanned the contents of this newsletter and presented the pages below (page 1 is above). Click on a page for an enlarged view. 

Articles include the following: First International Exhibition of Miniature Books in Ljubljana, Bibliography of Miniature Books, How the Symbol of the International Miniature Book Society Originated, Miniature Books in America, The Greatest Miniature Book Artist (Károly Andruskó), and In the Olympic Year, Three Olympic Miniature Books.  






Back on the first page, the concluding paragraph states:  
With the first number of our newsletter we are enclosing some information about the kind of plans we have for the society's future work. 
The first of those enclosures (below) is a single paper, folded, and printed on both sides with information about the IMBS, its founding, its aims, and a brief membership application section.



The other enclosure is a five-page list (List No. 1), folded catalog-style, of miniature books available for sale through the International Miniature Book Society (see below). The books are listed by country--Yugoslavia, Eastern Germany, and Hungary.





And there you have it--the complete inaugural package from the fledgling IMBS to members and prospective members. The society does not appear to exist today in its original form. The complete lack of information available on the current status of the society supports that assumption. The latest reference I can find is from 2004--The Distinguished Book Award from the International Miniature Book Society.

The Miniature Book Society, on its About MBS page, offers, perhaps, a clue to the demise of the IMBS. It indicates that it (the MBS) began in 1983 in the United States and now enjoys a worldwide membership. So, possibly, the IMBS was eventually folded into the MBS, as the need or interest in a segregated international society eventually gave way to an all-encompassing organization.

If my assumption of the IMBS' demise is inaccurate  I'm sure I will be corrected sooner or later. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Naples Library bookplate

This copy of Ship of the Line, by C.S. Forester contains a Naples Library bookplate that triggered an instant memory of being on a ship in Naples, Italy about this time last year (see A Napoli Bookseller's Postcard).

Now, which Naples was this library in? I knew it wasn't in Italy, given the English printing on the label, but how many towns in the US are named Naples?


Naples, Florida seemed the most likely choice, but as I looked through the book for clues, I found a sticker on the endpapers in the back of the book that stated this book came from Naples, Maine.

I've been to Maine a number of times, but never heard of a town named after Old Napoli. If you hug the coast in your Maine travels, you'll miss Naples. Although inland about 30 miles or so northwest of Portland, it does boast of a waterfront location--freshwater instead of salt water like its namesake in the Mediterranean. Naples, Maine is a resort town on Long Lake.

From the library's Facebook page, below is a photo of the library from which the Forester volume got kicked out. Looks like an inviting place to read or browse for books.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Michigan and the Cleveland Era - Why was this book written?


This is the book in question: Michigan and the Cleveland Era, edited by Earl D. Babst and Lewis G. Bander Velde (University of Michigan Press, 1948). The title page adds a subtitle, which offers a clue to the answer to the question in the title of this post: Sketches of University of Michigan Staff Members and Alumni Who Served the Cleveland Administrations 1885-89, 1893-97.

At first glance, though, no question arises as to why the book was written. But just inside the front cover, a printed answer is provided anyway on a 5 X 7-inch card from the Michigan Historical Collections, University of Michigan.


This card was previously featured in another post I wrote about three years ago on ephemera concerning rare books and collections at the University of Michigan. I came across this card again and thought it deserved its own post because it's a bit unusual.


Looks like a good number of University of Michigan alumni and faculty members served in numerous capacities during the Cleveland era. That may or may not be of interest to many, but the publisher found it interesting enough at the time to print this history. And beyond the extraordinary contributions of alumni to that period of history, a bigger statement was made about the value of higher education in general and justification for its continued development and support.

What I found interesting was the publisher's printed response to a question that may not have ever been asked. Actually, it seems a quick-start device for introducing the book to a reader who has barely gotten past the front cover. The University of Michigan Press may have even considered it a bit of a promotional piece for the university and its libraries' archives. 

A few pages in, the authors expand on the condensed intro rather profusely with 21 pages of their own making. Add a brief Foreword by university president Alexander G. Ruthven and any question about the book's existence is adequately addressed.

I've never seen a piece such as this, accompanying a book to offer a brief explanation of why that book was written. Certainly, the University of Michigan had bragging rights to this topic and was proud of its history. Perhaps it's wasn't terribly uncommon back when, just uncommon now to find the printed piece. Placed loosely inside the cover, most were probably lost over time. This one survived with the book to brag another day, some 65 years later.

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