Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Feline Ex Libris

Here is an interesting bookplate from 1903 that will appeal to both feline fanciers and collectors of ex libris alike. It also brings into play an early woman physician, an activist writer for the Indians, and the historic works of craftsman Gustav Stickley. All because of a cat named Darius Dunain.

Found yesterday on a bookscouting trip, this bookplate is affixed in the book, Cat Stories, by H.H. (Helen Hunt Jackson), Little, Brown, and Co., Boston, 1903 (reprint from Roberts Brothers, 1879, 1881, 1884). It appears to have been a gift copy from the publisher, maybe as a review copy.

The parenthetical pedigree is noted above only because I find the book about as interesting as the bookplate. I come across cat books everywhere when out scouting. The last several decades have produced a huge number of books about cats, but this is probably the oldest book about cats I've ever come across. The stories date back to the 1870s.

The author, Helen Jackson, is best known for her novel, Ramona, which dealt with the government's poor treatment of Indians in Southern California. That's quite a range from cat stories to an activist novel for the plight of Native Americans.

Mabel Cornish Bond, owner of both the book and the cat in the bookplate (Darius), was a female physician in Washington D.C. in the early 1900s--very unusual for the times. She was also a poet, a writer, and a cat breeder.

The bookplate indicates a residence by the name Villa Bondi Dumblane in Washington, D.C. This was the Bonds' home, adapted from Gustav Stickley's Craftsman House #10 from the 1904 series of house plans in the Craftsman magazine. Stickley’s Craftsman Workshops supplied some furniture and light fixtures for the house. Stickley furniture today is very valuable and highly collectible.

As for Darius, he shows up in a google search in a cat registry and stud book. By all accounts and assumptions, he lived a very pampered life.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Christmas Cove Autograph Library

This entry was crossposted from Archaeolibris because of the interesting ephemera I came across during the research--a library label from a unique library that lent autographed copies of books to its patrons.

What do Maud H. Chapin and Theodore Roosevelt have in common? They were both authors, autographed one of their books, and donated their signed copies to a little library in Christmas Cove, Maine.

On Christmas Day today, it seems doubly appropriate to revisit The Cowboy Christmas Ball and follow the journey of its author, Larry Chittenden, all the way from Anson, Texas to Christmas Cove, Maine, where he started a very unique library.

The Poet Ranchman of Texas, as Chittenden was known, had a second home far from the panhandle plains of Texas. This unlikely place was Christmas Cove, Maine, where the Texas rancher, seemingly out of place on the Maine coast, was right at home with his library concept.

He got authors to autograph their books and donate them to his little library. The town folk could then check these books out, read them, and return them. Sometimes they might keep them all winter while the library was closed and return them in the spring.

Word got around about this “autograph library” and its donated signed books. It attracted the attention of more and more authors, some vacationing nearby, who liked the idea and thought it worthy of a donation. One of these authors was Theodore Roosevelt. He may have been the most famous. Can you imagine going to your local library and checking out a book out that was signed by a President?

After Chittenden’s death, the books in the library eventually scattered hither and yon. Roosevelt’s book recently wound up at an auction house in Dallas and sold for $1,434. I found these pictures on Heritage Auction Galleries’ site.

I was able to find and purchase one of the library’s books earlier this year, but it did not have the library label pasted inside the front cover, which would have become one of my bibliophemera collection’s more interesting pieces. Nor was its signature that of a well-known author. My book is Rush Light: Stories, by Maud H. Chapin.

Different from the Roosevelt book are the stamps used to identify the Chittenden library. The front endpaper stamp identifies the library's location as The Autograph Library in the Sea Bird's Nest, Christmas Cove, Maine.

And the rear endpaper sports a different stamp from the front endpaper, inviting readers (in addition to authors, it would seem) to donate signed copies of their books:

Finding one of these books with the Chittenden library markings and author signature makes a nice souvenir of a very benevolent concept that epitomized the spirit of giving in a place with a name that is synonymous with giving.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Reading New Year!

Update eight years later (September 2016)...

Since finding the book above, I've acquired six more titles from Chittenden's original library.

I hadn't thought of pursuing a collection, but a reader of this blog, Richard McLeod, a book sleuth with a good eye, found a book in 2011 from the original library and was kind enough to send it to me after finding this post while researching the bookplate inside the front cover. That spark of generosity got things rolling. Now I had two--the beginnings of a collection. About one a year has turned up in various online markets since. Hopefully, more turn up at a faster clip and I can really build a worthy collection of Larry Chittenden's old library books. 

Thanks again, Richard!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A book fair in the Spanish Civil War

Even in a pile of old newsletters published about the Spanish Civil War, a book-related subject rises, like cream, to the top. It was interesting to find an article on the 1938 Barcelona Book Fair (Fiesta del Libro) among the columns about bombing, rebel offenses, and the destruction of Guernica.

News of Spain was a weekly English language newsletter published by the Spanish Information Bureau in New York City. This issue was published July 6, 1938.

Excerpts from the article:
A book fair was held in Barcelona a fortnight ago under the direction of the Educational Department of the Catalan government.

The fair ran concurrently with a special book conference held to discuss cultural, economic and pedagogical problems and the relations of the book industry to the present struggle.

One feature of the fair was an exhibit depicting the history of publishing in Catalonia from 1770 to the present.

Another exhibit displayed books published since July 19, 1936 to show that the war had not entirely diverted attention from the literary development of Catalonia.

The cultural militia had a stand in the Plaza de Cataluna where books were accepted as donations for the hospitals and libraries at the front.

The Bible House exhibit had a prominent place in the fair and drew a great deal of attention from the Spanish people to whom the Bible is only now becoming a well-known book.

A quotation from Nobel Prize winner, Jacinto Benavente, is given a place of honor at the entrance to the Book Fair. It states: Fascism is the Bloody Child of the Inquisition

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dutton's Books for Children
A Christmas handbill circa 1900

Just in time for Christmas, publisher E.P. Dutton circulated this handbill advertising colour books; juvenile classics; toy, model & painting books; puzzle boxes & novelties. The British spelling of "colour" indicates this piece was circulated in London. The flip side of this card features several mechanical books.

I was hoping to find at least one of these books online so I could date this handbill, but no luck. However, I did search Dutton published books for children prior to 1930, keying on mechanical books. I found two books with similar titles to those listed on the handbill:
What a Surprise: A Mechanical Book for Children. Verses by Lowe, Constance M. London/New York: Ernest Nister/E. P. Dutton & Co., No date (c.1898).


In and Out & Round About. London: Nister; New York: E. P. Dutton, (1895 copyright).
Both sell in the $300-$350 range. Quite rare and collectible. And the London publications help confirm that the handbill, with its British spelling, originated with a Dutton affiliate in London.

Dutton Children's Books is one of the oldest continually operating children's book publishers in the United States, with publications such as the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Dutton Books is now part of the Penguin Group (USA) and operates as an imprint.

Now about that Santa on the front of the handbill... What's up with this St. Nick? Looks like he's throwing toys down the chimney. Is this Bad Santa or just Lazy Santa? And is that a twinkle in his eye or something more sinister? Hmmm...

Monday, December 1, 2008

E.H. Cushing - Houston Bookseller & Printer, 1871

Here is my earliest example of ephemera related to a bookseller from my hometown of Houston. Meet E.H. Cushing, circa 1871.

Edward Hopkins Cushing, of Vermont, came to Houston in the 1850s, for a bit of adventure it would seem, after graduating from Dartmouth. He wanted to teach and did at three schools in the Houston area before getting involved in the newspaper publishing business. Writing for a newspaper eventually led to part ownership of the paper and later a controlling interest in another paper, the Houston Telegraph, which he used to promote his ideas for business and education in his beloved, adopted hometown of Houston. His interest in the arts and sciences extended to Texas authors, agriculture, and horticulture. An accomplished horticulturist, Cushing is reported to have had one of the most complete collections of flowers on his estate, Bohemia, in the United States.

During the Civil War, Cushing kept his publishing business afloat, sometimes using wallpaper or whatever was handy to print his newspaper. But his politics leaned in favor of secession, which curried no favor with the Reconstructionists after the war. In fact, Texas' Reconstruction governor, Edmund J. Davis, recommended to President Andrew Johnson that Cushing be hanged instead of pardoned for his actions in the war. If the governor ever entertained ideas about publishing his memoirs after leaving office, I doubt Mr. Cushing would have made the short list of potential publishers!

After the Civil War, Cushing was lured to bookselling, sold his newspaper business and bought an existing book and stationary business on Franklin St. in Houston. There, he sold books like the ones in his brochure, shown above, until he died in 1879. I don't know if he specialized in law books. As he was a man of many interests, I think he probably stocked books on a variety of subjects.

Cushing's interest in books extended beyond bookselling into printing and publishing, as evidenced by this auction from Dorothy Sloan Books, of Austin, in 1998:
29. BRADY, Wm. Glimpses of Texas: Its Divisions, Resources, Development and Prospects. Houston: [Gray and Cushing], 1871. 104 [1, index (inside lower wrapper)] pp., folding colored map of Texas by G. W. & C. B. Colton (Map of Texas to Accompany "Brady's Glimpses of Texas." E. H. Cushing, Houston, Texas, 1871, 11-15/16 x 14-15/16 inches). 16mo, original tan printed wrappers, sewn. Wraps lightly soiled and creased, text very fine, map excellent and bright, printed errata slip pasted on inside wrap. The guide was issued both with and without the map--copies with the map are the exception. Signed postcard by pioneer printer and newspaperman E. H. Cushing, who printed the pamphlet.

First edition of a rare promotional, with an excellent map. Adams, Herd 303: "Rare. Chapter on stock raising." Day, p. 85. Graff 387: "Devoted to the enticement of immigrants." Howes B714. Rader 460. Raines, p. 30. Winkler-Friend 2779. Promotional touting resources and opportunities in Texas, including cotton, sugar, corn, and wheat farming, stock raising, lumber, manufactures, railroads, lands for sale, ads for businesses in Houston and Galveston, etc. In his glowing section on "Society in Texas," Brady declares: "Outrage, arson, forgery, swindling, and malicious mischief rarely occur in Texas." The fine map of Texas contains insets of "Plan of the Environs of Houston" (showing Houston-Galveston area with railroad and wharf connections) and a general map of U.S. and Mexico. See New Handbook II:458 for more on Cushing.
The book realized a price of $1,725. Note also that the publication date of the pamphlet is 1871. Cushing is credited as publisher/printer, so evidently he did not completely divest himself of publishing and printing interests when he entered the bookselling business (bookstore brochure above also dated 1871).

Now, if I can find out who used to own the business Cushing bought and collect a billhead or letterhead from them, they would be my earliest among Houston bibliophemera. And I'd also like to know if Cushing's business survived his death, either in his name or another at the Franklin St. location or elsewhere.

Sources: The Handbook of Texas Online and Dorothy Sloan - Books,

Biblio-blog tag

I started not to answer this, as I always go for the delete key on chain letters and these kinds of things, but what the heck. In the spirit of the season upon us, I'll give a little.

The Exile Bibliophile, who writes an interesting and entertaining biblio-blog, "tagged" me with the following:

I am sorry, but I had to do this - it’s one of the rules

You have been tagged.

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

First, thanks for the nice words about my blogs Archaeolibris and Bibliophemera. I somehow let four months go by on the former and the latter has fared only slightly better. Hurricanes (Gustav and Ike), sickness, vacation, and a backlog of work comprise my sling of excuses for not blogging more. But I have been sort of. I have a lot of incomplete entries in the pipeline and hope to finish tying them up and posting soon.

Six random things about me:

1. Growing up, I wanted to be a writer and live in an old house in the mountains in New Hampshire. Or be a Major League Baseball player. I'll settle for a writer of blogs or whatever in Texas. Last year, though, I did get to walk in the footsteps of a famous New Hampshire writer.

2. I'm an IndyCar Racing fan and got to go to my first Indy 500 last May.

3. I like to start my day off with a long walk. I said I like to, but my exercise habits of late have gone the way of my blogging. Ditto for gardening--no winter veggies from the Back 40 this year.

4. Favorite dinner I like to cook: Maine lobster with corn and chips and a favorite beverage or three--New England style. Expensive in Texas, so it doesn't happen very often.

5. Puedo hablar español un poco.

6. I like old books--scouting, selling, and discovering bits of history in them. If the bookselling biz doesn't pick up (no encouragement from the present economy), I might have to get used to saying "Welcome to WalMart" or some such phrase.

As for the rest of this exercise, I'm not gonna bother anyone with it. The few folks I link to have probably already seen it anyway.

Texas City Book Nook

Here's a book shop trade label from Texas City, Texas, a town best remembered for the 1947 Disaster. With the old phone number (WI exchange), perhaps this book shop was around in 1947. The label was found in a 1963 publication.

I got to wondering about the telephone exchange name for WI in the phone number. I grew up while the two-letter telephone exchanges were still in effect. Our Houston number started out SUnset 2. Didn't take long to find WIlson 8 by searching the database on this site:

Thought I'd throw that in for the nostalgic curious.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Removing a bookplate from a book

I have in my small, but growing, collection of bookplates a few that I'd like to separate from the books I found them in. Some, I wouldn't dream of disturbing because of the relationship of the bookplate to the book, provenance, etc.

Others, like this one from a damaged book or a book that has little value for one reason or another, I determine that the bookplate would be better displayed by itself. Storage considerations creep into these decisions, too.

Appropriately, this Training School Library bookplate from State Teachers College in Kutztown, Pennsylvania became my training school in ex libris removal. As you can see from the photo above, it was successful. For that I thank Molly1216 on YouTube. The best instructions I could find were in a YouTube video. For me, actually seeing a task performed, makes it much easier to duplicate and eliminates any confusion that might develop from written instructions. Molly1216 (YouTube user ID) has an interesting series of book-related videos, one of which was removing a bookplate:

Not on the video: You may have to repeat the procedure. My bookplate was still sticking after 30 minutes, so I repeated the process and 30 minutes later, it lifted off the board perfectly. Drying out, the bookplate wants to curl up a bit, so I kept it flat between a folded piece of wax paper for about 24 hours, pressed with a heavy antique iron. Any heavy object will do. I first had the bookplate wrapped in paper towels (to absorb extra moisture), but noticed the paper towel starting to adhere to the bookplate's backside, so I switched over to wax paper about four hours into it. I did not use the watercolor paper to treat the book cover because my book cover that contained the plate was detached from the book and was discarded. But the watercolor paper might be useful for drying out the bookplate further while being pressed flat.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Libreria Tecnica CP 67 - Buenos Aires

Here's a bookshop ticket from a book published in London, sold in Buenos Aires, and found in Houston. It's done some traveling.

From the Architectural Press in London, the book in which I discovered this ticket is titled, Inscape: The Design of Interiors, edited by Hugh Casson.

I wondered if the Buenos Aires bookshop might have specialized in architecture books and if it still existed. I didn't have to search too far to find my answer in the form of a YouTube video celebrating 40 years of business. And yes, it does appear to have a specialty in the field of architecture.

Reviewing the publication date, 1968, I thought of this: The video commemorates 40 years of business. The video was made in 2007, so 1967 must have been the opening year. And this book would have been one of the early titles to grace their shelves, having arrived the following year.

And after all these years, the bookshop is still in business selling the same kinds of books. These days, when physical bookstores are going belly up or switching to Internet only business models, it's refreshing to see someone doing it their way and still kicking. A belated Feliz Cumpleanos!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Owen Wister Literary Society

Here's an old literary society bookplate, circa 1930s, from Rice Institute (now University) in Houston.

The Owen Wister Literary Society was started at Rice University in 1924 to handle the overload of its sister societies as the university grew and the need arose for additional societies for women students.

Why Owen Wister, the author best known for his novel, The Virginian?

I can find no other reason than that of the acronym, OWLS, formed by the society name. The owl is the school mascot and name of all sports teams representing the university. The Rice Owls. I doubt the ladies had an intense interest in the literary works of Owen Wister. His name was convenient for the acronym I'd guess.

The literary societies were established when Rice began accepting women, primarily for developing an appreciation of literature. The book this bookplate is in is a 1938 volume of poetry by Texas Revolutionary hero, Mirabeau B. Lamar. That seems in keeping for a lit society. But the societies evolved into something more social by the 1950s and hung on until the 1980s.

The Owen Wister Literary Society was established when women were not allowed to live on campus, thus giving them a chance for socializing and an excuse for being on campus in the evening. This link provides a lot more info on the history of Rice's lit societies.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Clarence Wharton Bookplate (Texas Historian)

I assume this bookplate to be from Texas historian Clarence R. Wharton's library. The book it's in is about the explorer LaSalle with chapters on his settlement and exploration on the Texas coast in the 16th century. So it's a safe bet to assume this CR Wharton is the Texas historian CR Wharton.

Kind of an odd bookplate, though, for Wharton. I would have thought something along the lines of a Spanish mission or anything more ornate than a palm or cactus of some sort on what looks like a bare cul-de-sac lot. Perhaps it was from his front yard in Houston and he liked this particular tree. Who knows? It's symbolic of something I'm guessing. Something from Texas history or Lone Star State lore.

Compiled from the Houston Chronicle after his death in 1941 and from the Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin, here is an entry about Wharton on the Handbook of Texas Online Web site:

WHARTON, CLARENCE RAY (1873-1941). Clarence Ray Wharton, lawyer and historian, son of Frank B. and Ella (Ray) Wharton, was born in Tarrant County, Texas, on October 5, 1873. He attended the common schools of the county and taught school from 1888 to 1892. He studied law, was admitted to the bar around 1893, and in 1895 practiced law in Decatur with Charles V. Terrell.qv Wharton moved to Richmond in 1897 and to Houston, where he entered the law firm of Baker, Botts, Baker, and Lovett (see BAKER AND BOTTS) in 1901. On August 5, 1902, Wharton married Adele Spoonts of Fort Worth. They had four children. Wharton was made a full partner of the law firm in 1906 and became a prominent corporate attorney in Houston. He was counsel for Houston Lighting and Power Company, Houston Gas and Fuel Company, and Houston Electric Company. An interest in Texas history prompted him to become a writer. In addition to many articles, his published works included The Republic of Texas (1922), El Presidente (1924), San Jacinto, the Sixteenth Decisive Battle (1930), History of Texas (1935), History of Fort Bend County (1939), Satanta, the Great Chief of the Kiowas and His People (1935), L'Archeveque (1941), and Gail Borden, Pioneer (1941). In 1930 he wrote and edited a five-volume Texas history, Texas Under Many Flags. Wharton was the first chairman of the Houston Community Chest and was prominent in the American Red Cross during World War I.qv He was an active member of the Harris County Historical Society, of which he was vice president in 1923. He was an Episcopalian. He died in Houston on May 1, 1941, and was buried there in Glenwood Cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Houston Chronicle, May 2, 1941. Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Masada, Young Zionists of America book label

At a book sale over the weekend, I found the following book and bought it for the interesting label above: The Jewish State 1896-1946, by Theodor Herzl, published by The Emergency Zionist Council, NY, 1946. The title page offers this subtitle: An attempt at a modern solution of the Jewish Question. And I offer that bit of information because it ties in with, or explains the presence of, the book label pasted on the front endpaper.

Masada is an historic landmark in Israel where the last group of zealots from the Jewish Revolt against Rome, first century C.E., held out until they realized there was no escape from their fortress and committed mass suicide. Actually, it sounds more like murder-suicide because the men decided to kill their wives and children before allowing them to be captured, enslaved, and the women forced into prostitution. After they killed their families, they killed each other. A few women hid themselves to escape death and later related the story of what happened at Masada to Josephus Flavius. Josephus put it all in writing In an ironic twist, that desperate act of suicide in the face of defeat came to symbolize survival of the Jewish people.

The photo of Masada above is from the Jewish Virtual Library. Also at that site, I found this on Theodor Herzl: He was the father of political Zionism and outlined his vision for a Jewish state in Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), published in February 1896.

So the symbolic significance of Masada and the Zionist movement to establish a Jewish state inspired the formation of an organization called MASADA, Young Zionists of America, which began publishing a series of books 50 years after Herzl's classic text came out. Appropriately, they started with a reprint of Herzl's famous book. And upon publication, they pasted these labels into the front of each book.

It would interesting to find out how many books were published in the series, their titles, the publishing time-span, and how the labels may have changed, if they continued at all.

I can't find much on the history of this series and have to assume that it was discontinued a number of years ago. And the bit of bibliophemra pasted in the book is a paper relic, with a rich historical reference, of a past organization that promoted Jewish culture and survival before the state of Israel was created.

I found only one other title by the publisher The Emergency Zionist Council: The Facts About Palestine, by Arthur Lourie, a 17-page pamphlet published about 1946 or 47. The reference below is about all I can find on the organization that produced the book label for the reprint of the Herzl title, first in the proposed series. Perhaps the series plan died after the Herzl book.

Pres. Joseph P. Sternstein; Exec. Dir. Raymond Glazier
381 Fourth Ave., N. Y. C , 16
Purpose: To establish Palestine as the Jewish Commonwealth; to participate actively in Jewish community life in the United States.
Publications: Masada News; Masada Bulletin.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Frederick W. Skiff's bookplate,
by W.F. Hopson

Frederick W. Skiff (1867-1947), of Portland, Oregon, was a notable bibliophile and prolific collector of Americana. He also authored a few books: Adventures in Americana: Recollections of Forty Years Collecting Books, Furniture, China, Guns and Glass, Metropolitan Press, Portland, Oregon (1935) and Landmarks and Literature: An American Travelogue, also by Metropolitan Press (1937).

After Skiff died in 1947, his collection went to the San Francisco auction house of Butterfield & Butterfield, in San Francisco. The auction catalog (left) featured Skiff's bookplate.

For the book I obtained with Skiff's bookplate, I hit the trifecta. In addition to the bookplate, the book contains an inscription by the book's author and an inscription by the book's prominent owner. The book is The Joy That No Man Taketh From You, by Lilian Whiting; Little, Brown, and Company; Boston (1907). The author's inscription:
To Frederick W. Skiff, Esq. with grateful appreciation of his most kind courtesy & the faithful regards of Lilian Whiting, Boston. Christmastide, 1916.

And she didn't stop there. On the next page (blank page before the half-title page) she quotes a passage from William Vaughn Moody:

From wounds and sore defeat
I made my battles stay,
Winged sandals for my feet,
I wove of my delay.

I guess it will be impossible to know what, if any, meaning that passage held for Mr. Skiff. Perhaps it was just something Ms. Whiting came across, liked, and thought to amend to her inscription.

And although Ms. Whiting thoroughly documented the presentation to "To Mr. Frederick W. Skiff, Esq." and the year and time of year with "Christmastide, 1916," Skiff desired to repeat the information in his own hand above his bookplate (and a touch on the bookplate):
Presented to me by Miss Whiting Christmas 1916 F.W.S.
That line of penciled inscription and its location is the icing on the cake for me.

William Fowler Hopson (1849-1935) was the Connecticut-born, American artist/engraver who created Skiff's ornate bookplate. Hopson was a well-known and well-respected artist, drawn (pardon the pun) to bookplate illustration. In researching Hopson, I discovered Jose Vicente de Braganca's excellent blog, Ex Libris//Bookplates. It's a great site, very informative, well-written and nicely presented. He wrote about Hopson earlier this year in this entry.

And if you've got a late 19th-century Webster's Unabridged Dictionary lying around, you might find between the covers a few thousand engravings by Hopson, who was commissioned to do the work.

I'll close with some enlarged sections of Hopson's artwork for Frederick W. Skiff's bookplate.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ex-libris honors Dartmouth Class of 2008

Thought this was an interesting bit of news in the bookplate world:

Who knows what valuable and collectible bookplates of the future lurk among this group?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Publisher's review label
Jerome Holtzman, R.I.P.

Here's a review copy label for Holt & Rinehart's publication of No Cheering in the Press Box, edited by Jerome Holtzman, who passed away last week at age 81. Holtzman was a long-time baseball writer for Chicago newspapers and was baseball's first historian. He also introduced a new statistic to baseball--the Save. This book was a review copy and contained the label and also a press release about the book. A favored icon of many booksellers, the owl, is the only graphic for this publisher's review copy ephemera.

LSU Honor Court label

From a 1937 college textbook, here is a label, or sticker, from a university Honor Court. The University of Louisiana State (LSU) Honor Court to be exact.

Looking like an over-sized bookplate, it is affixed to the front pastedown endpaper (inside cover) of the book. The apparent intent of this label was to track the transactions of this book between all buyers and sellers. It is also apparent that any such attempts to do so with this particular book were unsuccessful. The label is blank.

Honor Systems and Honor Courts exist, in general, to deal with students who lie, cheat or steal. The history of such institutions in this country (America) goes back to the founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson created the first Honor System--for his alma mater, the College of William and Mary.

Honor Systems and Honor Courts are still around today--some are taken seriously, others not. The primary use for these courts is to deal with cheating and other moral infractions. So why was such a label needed for a textbook? Did LSU have a book theft problem on campus during the 1930s?

The rules on this label, and subsequent warnings for not following them, are laid out in no uncertain terms. Vendor and purchaser will sign their names and indicate the date of the transaction. The vendor has the further obligation of presenting the book for student identification. Not sure what that means exactly. Present to whom? The student? Surely, he or she has already ID'd the book before purchasing it. They've already signed the label, so they had to be holding the book, right?

Two warnings wrap up this Honor Court document. First:
Any infraction of the above-mentioned rules, or mutilation of this sticker, shall subject one to an Honor Court investigation with such penalty as may suit the discretion of the Honor Court.
Sounds pretty serious, this signature business. And the "penalty as may suit discretion of the Honor Court" left the punishment wide open. Probation, expulsion, public ridicule... How severe a punishment should be meted out for failing to sign a label?

The second and final warning at the bottom of the label reads:
Bookstores and students are warned not to buy a book carrying irregular signatures.
How would a student know if another student's signature was irregular? How many students pay close attention to their fellow students' signatures? And did an LSU student ever report a textbook to LSU's Honor Court on suspicion of an irregular signature? I'd bet against it.

This whole transaction-tracking and signature analysis stuff must have seemed trivial to the owner of the textbook with this LSU Honor Court label. He didn't bother with it. In fact, the label appears to have been an afterthought to the transaction. It's evident by the writing on the front endpaper that the Honor Court label was affixed after the student had purchased the book and written his name, a couple of addresses, and two different phone numbers. The Honor Court could have thrown the book at this guy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

E.P. Dutton billhead, 1871

Click anywhere on the photos for an enlarged view

Think of E.P. Dutton and you probably think big publishing company. But this major publishing house got its start as a retail bookseller.

Edward Payson Dutton started the company in Boston, as a retail bookseller, in 1852. In 1864, Dutton branched out to New York (in the building depicted by the billhead graphic), where they also started publishing books. Their focus in the beginning was religious titles. If the billhead above is any indication, it appears that religious titles were still a strong suit into the 1870s.

1864 was a busy year for Dutton. As mentioned, he opened the new branch in New York and introduced a publishing segment to the business. But back in Boston he also purchased Ticknor & Field's retail business, which was located in the Old Corner Bookstore. There, the mantle of a fine literary tradition passed to Dutton. Ticknor & Fields had occupied the building for some 20 years and had published the works of authors such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charles Dickens and Louisa May Alcott.

Dutton's stewardship of the Old Corner Bookstore was short lived. After four years, they sold the retail business and left Boston. Bookselling and publishing would, for the next 15 years, take place in the building shown here on the billhead of a typical day's transaction in 1871--theology and religious books sold to a Rev. Collins.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

L. Barma in Nice, France - book shop trade label

From the same book (Corneille's Polyeucte) that contained the Scofield Thayer bookplate (previous entry on this blog), here is a nice old book shop trade label affixed to the front cover. As the title implies, bookseller L. Barma (of whom, I can find nothing) sold classical literature, among other things. Having learned a bit about the book's owner, Scofield Thayer, in the previous post, this was a fitting purchase for him because of his academic interests in philosophy and the classics in his post-graduate studies. A bit of chronology will help date the bookseller and his trade label. Thayer matriculated Harvard in 1913. After graduation, he went to Oxford, which would be about 1917 or 1918. Thayer likely journeyed to France around that time and found this book shop in Nice. So I think the label dates circa 1918. An interesting side note: The book was published by Hachette in Paris, 1906. So Thayer, with all his money, bought a used book from a rather inexpensive series. There must have been something about this book and/or the series it belonged to. Perhaps it had to do more with its convenient pocket size.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sidney L. Smith bookplate for Scofield Thayer

This bookplate is significant for its designer and owner. Sidney L. Smith (pictured left) was a well-known engraver of the late 19th and early 20th centuries whose prolific work with bookplates warranted the book, Bookplates by Sidney L. Smith with a Check-list of the Bookplates, by Gardner Teall, published by Alfred Fowler, 1921.

The bookplate's owner, Scofield Thayer, was a poet, editor, publisher, and important art collector. He came from wealth, was educated at Harvard and Oxford, and his literary lineage included an uncle, Ernest Thayer, who was famous for his beloved baseball poem, Casey at the Bat.

But Thayer was probably best known for his art collection and for transforming The Dial, with his wealthy inheritance, into a premiere publication for literature and the arts in the 1920s. Much of the art featured in the magazine was from Thayer's personal collection, which is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Thayer associated with a Who's Who of literary figures from his era, including E.E. Cummings, who Thayer commissioned to write the poem Epithalamion for his marriage to Elaine Orr. In short time, the marriage soured, and Cummings didn't help matters by having an affair and fathering a child with Thayer's wife. I would suppose that finally put the kibosh on the nuptials, not to mention the friendship with Cummings.

Poor Thayer began to suffer mental problems and by 1926 had resigned as editor of The Dial. By 1929, The Dial ceased publication, having lost its financial support. Thayer , though ill, lived another 50-something years in the care of family and various institutions. His time in the spotlight was brief, but what an impact he made.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

W.F. Tenney, another Brattle St. book shop

Nicholas A. Basbanes, a regular contributor to Fine Books & Collections has a nice article this month about the Brattle Book Shop in Boston. The title of the article claims "oldest bookstore in America," and Basbanes traces its origins to 1825.

In my collection of ephemera, I have a book dealer's calendar from 1901. His name is W.F. Tenney and his calendar advertisement states "old books bought and sold." His shop was located at 26 Brattle Street. Could Tenney have been neighbors with the Brattle Book Shop? Were they the only book dealers on Brattle St. or was there a lively book community in that area?

On Brattle Street, in Scollay Square, the Brattle Book Shop was born and christened by its location. There it thrived until the 1960s when it succumbed to area redevelopment projects and relocated. No telling whatever came of Tenney. His business may not have been around to see the 1960s. Perhaps it continued under another name or was purchased by another dealer. At least for awhile, around the turn of the last century, there were a couple of book shops on Brattle St. in Boston for collectors to find old books.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

London Catholic library label & bookmark

Here's a book that has a couple of misplaced pieces of bibliophemera. The library label is pasted to the front cover instead of one of the usual places inside the book. Not unheard of. Also, the good folks at the library thought to include a silk ribbon bookmark, imprinted with the library's name, address, and phone number. But for some reason it was pasted to one of the rear endpaper where it was rendered useless as a bookmark. Odd. Perhaps it was there in lieu of a library stamp.


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