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Friday, July 22, 2011

Eureka Bazaar, San Francisco

I usually write about a piece I've researched and can provide some history on, but this one is a stumper. Maybe someone out there will see this and have some information about it.


This is an old trade card for a San Francisco bookseller and stationer, E.C. Thatcher and his business with the colorful name, Eureka Bazaar.


Looks like he sold a hodge-podge of items, not just books and stationery. With the shop name, proprietor's name, the address on Mission Street, you'd think I could turn up something on the Internet. Actually, I did get the following, which answers nothing and only creates more questions

An 1888-89 Northern Pacific Coast Directory has this entry for Eureka Bazar (sic) at a different address in San Francisco (I presume, as the street address exists there today) with a different owner, a woman referred to as Mrs. Douglas:

DOUGLAS MRS E A
proprietress Eureka Bazar
1841 Fillmore
res same

Using all this information has produced not one iota of a clue about this old San Francisco bookseller, whose card I would date about 1880s. But perhaps the "C" in E.C. Thatcher stands for "Carter" and E.C. is the ancestor of the Carter Thatcher in San Francisco for whom the University of San Francisco Thatcher Gallery was named. Maybe... Just maybe... 

I also hoped Janvier, noticeably displayed on the front of the card, might give me something to write about, but this apparently is the month of January, not an artist's name.

So from front to back, this trade card is one big mystery. No Eureka! moments yet.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Tides Book Shop in Sausalitio

On this date 46 years ago, July 18, 1965, a fire broke out in the building that housed the Tides Book Shop in Sausalito, California. The Associated Press wire photo below shows firefighters battling the upper-story blaze above the book shop, which resided below on the first floor. A crowd gathered to watch.






The newspaper clipping on the backside of the photo offers some assurance that the book shop did not burn, but it could not escape water damage from the firefighters' efforts to save the building. How much damage occurred is uncertain from the information available at present.

I acquired this photo to go along with another item I have from the Tides Book Shop. I certainly hope this is the only link the two have and that the shop's matches (not these) weren't in anyway implicated with the fire. That would have been too ironic a twist of fate!


There's a good bit of history on The Tides, as it was known, in a local newspaper article reproduced and edited by Doris Berdahl: Sausalito Historical Society: The Tides. The author is unknown, but the article observes a change in ownership of the Tides and reflects on the shop's past, beginning with the day they opened for business on July 31, 1957.

Sally Brown Deskins, in a Prairie Schooner blog post,  references her grandfather, William H. Ryan, who, with co-founder Herb Beckman, started the Tides in 1957. The next year, Ryan was busy at work editing the new literary quarterly, Contact, which quickly became an important, avant garde magazine that was critically acclaimed. According to the Sausalito Historical Society article above, he set up his office upstairs above the book shop. It was short-lived, though, ending its run in 1962 after the publishers ran out of funds to keep it going.

However they did nurture the Tides and keep it going through the 1960s to 1972 when it was sold. The name stayed the same, but the shop changed to suit the new owners' philosophy of what a book shop should be.

Later in the decade, it would change hands again and this time the name changed with it to Upstart Crow and Co., which evolved into a nine-store chain at one point, based out of Berkeley. A 1987 Los Angeles Times article (Mary Galante, June 23) reports the chain was reduced to a single store by that time and it was nowhere near Sausalito. San Diego's Seaport Village was clinging to the remnants of a lineal descendant of the Tides. The trail goes cold at this point and I can only assume that the book shop succumbed to the dominance of big chain bookstores by the 1990s.

But the spirit, so to speak, of the original Tides lives on in another California town north of Sausalito--Mill Valley. 

Mary Beckman, wife of the Tides co-founder Herb Beckman, became the book shop's first employee, stayed with into the 1970s, and seems to have been involved with books in one capacity or another ever since, according to a reprint of the October 16-22, 2003 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.  

After a divorce, she moved on (Herb kept the Tides), working for other booksellers, remarried, and in 1987 started the Depot Bookstore in Mill Valley with her husband Bill Turnbull (co-founder of North Point Press). The Depot Bookstore was featured in the book, The Art of the Bookstore: The Bookstore Paintings of Gibbs M. Smith.
 
As an important literary and cultural center for the area, and on the periphery of San Francisco and its iconic status from the Beat Generation of the 1950s through the 1960s counterculture and beyond, it's likely a good number of artists from those eras wandered in and out of the Tides. But at least one literary icon, I've learned, actually worked there. Raymond Carver.

In Raymond Carver: An Oral Biography, by Sam Halpert (University of Iowa Press, 1995), Halpert writes that Ray Carver, broke and desperate for money, as well as in the throes of alcoholism, took a job at the Tides in Sausalito. It only lasted two weeks. During that time, he spent his earnings on books he found at the store.

The original owners of the Tides were likely gone by the time Ray Carver showed up looking for work. But the bookselling learned and cultivated at the Tides Book Shop a half-century ago, emerged like a Phoenix from literal fire and the figurative fires of changing times and tastes, as well as fierce competition from the big chain booksellers and the Internet. It continues to adapt and thrive in Mill Valley, up the road a ways.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Miss Dana's Spelling-Books Lecture

Horace Mann gave the lecture. Miss Dana received this printed pamphlet of the lecture:


Lecture on the Best Mode of Preparing and Using Spelling-Books, Delivered Before the American Institute of Instruction, August 1841, by Horace Mann, Secretary of the Board of Education (Massachusetts), was published by William D. Ticknor in Boston, 1841. Here is what I have deduced from the printed copy at hand (and a little Internet research):

Sometime during the following year, 1842, Miss Joanna E. Dana was preparing to teach school in West Dedham, Massachusetts's. A friend or colleague sent her a printed copy of this lecture to help her with her spelling instruction.




Miss Dana evidently read the lecture and, being the literary person and teacher that she was, corrected an error she found in Mr. Mann's discourse. On page 20, in the paragraph that contains "the knotted cords of the Mexicans," Miss Dana crossed out "Mexic" and wrote next to it in the margin "Peruvi."



Being the editor I am, I checked Miss Dana's editing and sure enough she was absolutely correct about Peruvian knotted cords. And I am sticking to the assumption that she was indeed the editor of that passage, and not the person who gave her the pamphlet, as the ink color differs from that in the presentation on the inside cover.

How I deduced the above scenario is thanks to the "power" of the Internet and Google books. I was able to quickly find in the Dedham Historical Register a Miss Joanna E. Dana in West Dedham, who taught school there in 1842: 
In 1842 Miss Joanna E. Dana instructed the West Dedham School twenty-two weeks. She was the daughter of Lemuel and Hannah (Eames) Dana, born in 1822, and was educated in the Westfield School when the higher branches were taught there to such an extent as to make it almost equal to an academy. She was married to Mr. John Mills of Needham, May 24, 1862. Mrs. Mills was a person of considerable literary enterprise, and wrote a volume of " Memories and Poems, " which was published in 1881. A few years before her death in 1893, she expressed to me the intention of writing some reminiscences of the West- field School. Had she done so, the record would have been valu- able and especially interesting to those who enjoyed its privileges.
The timing is right and I am confident this is the same Miss Dana who owned this pamphlet. That she became Mrs. Mills later is quite a coincidence for me, as I was instantly reminded of Miss Mills, my beloved second grade teacher.

Regarding my Miss Mills, I learned sometime back that she lived just a few miles from where I presently reside. I was thrilled to think I might run into her again after forty-something years. When that didn't happen, I wrote her a letter that included memories of my first creative writings, her praise and encouragement (that means a lot to an eight-year-old!), and first books I checked out of the library in her class (I have copies of them now in my collection). I mentioned I hoped to see her again and that got me an invitation to her home because, sadly, she was gravely ill and confined there. But she was gracious enough to visit with me, a stranger really, for about 10 or 15 minutes. And now I have another memory of Miss Mills (who ceased being Miss Mills long ago, but will always be remembered that way by me).

I've had Miss Dana's pamphlet in my collection for the better part of a year, I'd guess, and just stumbled across it again this morning. I couldn't remember why exactly I had bought it, but started digging and Miss Dana became Mrs. Mills and reminded me of my own early education and my favorite teacher, Miss Mills.

Miss Dana seemed a diligent teacher interested in learning better ways to teach. The passage about her "literary enterprise" is bolstered by a couple of books I found that she wrote:
Remembrance of My Mother and Some of My Own Poems, by Joanna Mills (A. Williams & Co., Boston, 1881)

Old and New and Other Poems, by Joanna E. Mills (Columbian Printing Co., Boston, 1893)
She apparently taught at West Dedham for just 22 weeks. I wonder if during that time, she benefited from the ideas in Horace Mann's lecture. And I wonder if she made a significant impression on a young mind, creating a lasting memory in the manner a special teacher influenced me long ago.

Dedicated to "Miss Mills" and all the wonderful teachers past and present (including my mom, of course, who also taught second grade) who inspired and continue to inspire their young students and create within them a foundation for continued learning and development throughout their lives. We owe them so much.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Buchhändlerbörse - The Leipzig Booksellers Exchange

A while back, I wrote about Leipzig booksellers and touched on the role agents, or commissioners, played as middlemen between the booksellers and publishers in that city as well as most of Europe.

I recently acquired a postcard that depicts the place where these middlemen conducted their business. This is an image of the Buchhändlerbörse in Leipzig, circa 1910, which translates to The Booksellers' Exchange.


The back is divided and blank. A bookseller's handwritten note certainly would have enhanced the history depicted on the front side.


But the history is rich enough with the associated image of the Buchhändlerbörse on the front of the card. The German Publishers & Booksellers Association (Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels) offers on their Web site a history of their organization and mentions the Buchhändlerbörse, which seems more commonly spelled today with two words--Buchhändler-Börse.


The Buchhändlerbörse  dates back to 1825. Heimsprudler's Gallery has an image of the building shown on the postcard under construction, circa 1888, on land donated by the city. From what I can gather, the building was apparently destroyed during World War II.The site is now occupied by a building of guest flats.

But what exactly was a Buchhändlerbörse, or booksellers' exchange? A chapter in the book, The Bookworm: An Illustrated Treasury of Old-Time Literature, Volume 5 (1892), adds to what I wrote about earlier and explains how a book got from an author to a reader and the need for a middelman, or commissioner, and, thus, the need for the Buchhändlerbörse:
The German book trade is divided into three branches—publishing, bookselling (which includes second-hand dealing), and commission business. Publishers are those who furnish the book, i.e., who obtain it from the author and cause it to be printed and circulated. Booksellers are those who sell to the public, and the "commissioner" is a sort of middleman who connects publishers and booksellers. Let us imagine that fifty books are ordered daily at a bookseller's, all of which are published by different firms. If the bookseller were in direct communication with the publishers he would daily have to write fifty letters, to pay their postage, to pay for the packet, and to despatch fifty remittances. This would necessitate labour and costs quite out of proportion to the trifling gain on each order. Now, since the greater portion of the German publishers reside at Leipzig, the custom has become instituted in the course of time that the intercourse between publishers and booksellers is conducted via Leipzig. The bookseller from whom a book is ordered writes the title and publisher upon a small memorandum, and sends this, together with a large number of similar little pieces of paper, to his commissioner in Leipzig. The latter, in his turn, distributes the memoranda to the commissioners of the respective publishers. The commissioners of the publishers send the memoranda to their respective firms, who then pack the books ordered and send them to their commissioners, who distribute them to the booksellers' commissioners, through whom they are finally sent in bales to the booksellers. If a bookseller wishes to pay a publisher on ordering a book, he requests his commissioner to pay the money to the commissioner of the publisher. As a rule, books are not paid for in cash, but during the fair that takes place at Easter. At this period, books that have not been sold are also returned by the booksellers to the publishers. Both the money and the returned goods go first to the bookseller's commissioner, and then, by the same process as the memoranda, find their way to the publishers.  
So the Booksellers' Exchange was the place where commissioners worked on behalf of publishers and booksellers to take orders from booksellers and acquire books from publishers to fill those orders.

For an update on how business is conducted now between publishers and booksellers, I refer you back to the informative site of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association – Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels.

One last note on the postcard... It was published by Louis Glaser (1881-1915) of Leipzig.  From the brief bio found at the link above:  
A printer of souvenir books and postcards. He is best known for the Glaser Process in which a rich monochrome image could be produced by using at least five different litho stones, not for different colors but for different tonalities. This process was shared with the printer Charles Frey of Frankfort, Germany. He produced many other postcards as tinted halftones.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Polish ex libris

I haven't featured a bookplate, or ex libris, here in a good while, but here's one for which I have more questions than information to share.


Henryka Raczyniewskiego was either a noteworthy Polish collector of ex libris or a collectible illustrator of ex libris. His collection, of which category I'm not certain, resides now in the Nicolaus Copernicus University Library's new Digital Library in Toruń, Poland: Kujawsko-Pomorska Biblioteka Cyfrowa. From the information presented, I can't answer the collector/illustrator question.

The library's collections available thus far seem an impressive start for assembling ephemera representative of Polish culture and history, including the ex libris collection where I found the scant bit of information available on Raczyniewskiego. Presently, that's all the information I can find about him. Hopefully, someone more knowledgeable will have additional information to share.

As to whether he was a collector or an illustrator, I think he just may have been both.

That he may have collected books is evident by a recent find in my backlog of books--the 1922 book, Nurnberg, by Paul Johannes Ree (E.A. Seeman, Leipzig). And partially affixed to the heavily foxed front free endpaper, I found Henryka Raczyniewskiego's own ex libris, as shown at the beginning of this post.

Did Raczyniewskiego the illustrator (and perhaps collector) design his own ex libris or was it designed for Raczyniewskiego the collector by another illustrator?


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