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Showing posts from April, 2009

Anson Jones Press

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At the Houston Public Library's Friends of the Library sale a few weeks ago, I found a decent first edition of The Quirt and the Spur: Vanishing Shadows of the Texas Frontier , by Edgar Rye (W.B. Conkey Company, Chicago, 1909). Despite a few library markings, I knew it was still a keeper with good resale value, but it was a double serving of bibliophemera inside the book that sweetened the deal and may also render any resale bittersweet. Opening the book revealed on the front endpapers an old bookplate from the Houston Public Library, acknowledging the donation of the book by H.H. Fletcher. I've come across a couple of the old library bookplates before, but it's always nice to have extras in my collection. But on the facing page was the prize--a business card from the Anson Jones Press, from the owner no less, and the same H.H. Fletcher who donated the book. On the back of the card, which is creatively hinged onto the page, is a handwritten note from Fletcher to librar

D.M. Dewey, Bookseller - Fruit & Flower Plates

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This ad cover for D.M. Dewey, Bookseller, in Rochester, New York was intriguing enough to research and see what kind of story might be lurking in the archives. The ad for colored fruit and flower plates hinted strongly that Mr. Dewey might have a more interesting history than the average bookseller & stationer of the day. Dellon Marcus Dewey was a bookseller from the mid-1800s until the 1870s. During that time, Rochester, New York emerged as a leading center for the American nursery industry. The entrepreneurial Dewey tapped into that market's growth by publishing and selling color plates of fruits and flowering plants. These plates were invaluable sales aids for nurserymen and have become quite rare and collectible today. Dewey claimed to have been the first to provide nurserymen with fruit plates and later specimen books with the plates bound in. As early as 1859, a Dewey price list indicated 275 individual plates available for sale. He also began publishing plate books,

Houston Public Library book sale

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Here's an ephemera item that, if you wait long enough, say 50-100 years, will have some collector value. Maybe not that long. What you won’t have to wait for, as the newsletter below indicates, is some good book hunting this weekend. And the newsletter is collectible at any time. Value, at present, is in the information it imparts. This is the Houston Public Library's publication Among Friends , and this issue announces the big sale taking place this weekend at the George R. Brown Convention Center downtown. As always, there will be some excellent value for bargain hunters. I’ll be there this afternoon for the members only preview sale. You can buy memberships at the door. The rest of the weekend is free admission. I will hunt for books from the time the doors open at 4:30 p.m. until they close at 9 p.m. And I still won't see everything. There are some 80,000 titles to peruse and select from. In the past, I've come away from the sale with Bobby Fischer chess books

Bibliophemera does pay!

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Yesterday, I received in the mail the latest issue of Ephemera News (Volume 27, Number 3, Spring 2009). This is the quarterly publication of the Ephemera Society of America . In the Auction Preview & Review section, I saw a report on a bibliophemera item that exceeded price expectations at a recent auction. The ephemera item was an 1840 broadside for G&C Merriam Printers and Booksellers of Springfield, Massachusetts, offered by Scott J. Winslow Associates in Bedford, New Hampshire. This broadside advertises Merriam's stock of Bibles, church music, school books, almanacs, and blank books. Estimates for the broadside before auction were $1,250 and up. It actually sold for $2,185! I recently posted here about a Lippincott bill of lading for a shipment of books to G&C Merriam. I mentioned the Merriam-Webster connection with this link to their history. The Ephemera News piece (Winslow I presume) mentions it also--Merriam's gaining the publishing and revision

Tax stamps on bookseller documents

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Today, April 15th, is tax day here in the U.S., the day our Federal income taxes are officially due. If we haven't filed our tax returns yet, then today is the day we have to get our returns in the mail to Uncle Sam or file for an extension to deal with the headache later. So it seems appropriate on this day to feature some tax revenue-related bibliophemera . I have in my collection two pieces of correspondence from the bookselling & publishing firm of Ivison, Phinney, Blakeman & Co. (By the way, ever notice how these old 19th century booksellers sounded more like law firms with their strings of names?) The tie-in to tax revenue has everything to do with the date of these letters, more specifically the year--1866. On July 1, 1862, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1862 to help finance the Civil War. From 1862 to 1883, tax revenue stamps were issued and required for various purchases, transactions, and documents. The American Philatelist, in their July 2002 issue , f

Books on the water, Lippincott bill of lading

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Shipping books in 1870 from one seaport city to another could literally require ships over rail to do the job. So a Philadelphia bookseller & publisher wishing to transport an order of books to Boston might opt to send them by water on a merchant ship. The conveyance of those books from shipper to recipient was documented with a now collectible piece of ephemera known as a bill of lading . The document I'm featuring here today illustrates the above example. Here is a bill of lading for the Philadelphia bookseller & publisher, J.B. Lippincott, who was shipping a box of books to G.& C. Merriam of Springfield, Massachusetts (via Boston). Merriam was the same Merriam of Merriam-Webster Dictionary fame. As for the SS Aries, for any steamer enthusiasts, here is the story behind the former Civil War vessel. These documents usually depict the ship, as is the case here. For railroad bills of lading, the document usually uses a locomotive image. If transport was by river o

Dryden's Head Book Circular

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A few weeks ago, I headed east on I-10 out of Texas toward Florida for four days of baseball at various Spring Training camps. That was the main reason for the trip, but I created another agenda for myself, which would necessitate driving rather than flying: Book hunting through the Gulf Coast states. I was on the prowl for anything interesting that caught my eye and particularly for books about books. I had hoped to also find some interesting book trade ephemera--not bookseller labels and bookplates, though I found many interesting examples of that. I was more interested in stand-alone pieces that were not adhered to the book itself. Pretty slim pickings for that stuff in the old book shops I found along the way. But I finally did uncover a nice piece at Farley's Old & Rare Books in Pensacola, Florida. Here it is--an 1887 bookseller's catalog, a thin ten pages with a fat title: Dryden's Head Book Circular: A Descriptive Catalogue of Books, Comprising Recent Purch

Early Montana book ephemera

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Here's a reprint of the first piece of ephemera to advertise what is quite possibly the first book published in Montana. I acquired a book recently (pictured below), compiled by Al Noyes, that focuses on Thomas J. Dimsdale's 1865 book about the vigilantes in the Montana Territory who stamped out rampant crime that had terrorized the region for two years in the territory's infancy. In reprinting the Dimsdale book, Noyes has also included an image of historical book trade ephemera (the poster above), which advertises Dimsdale's book, titled [take a deep breath…]: The Vigilantes of Montana or Popular Justice in the Rocky Mountains, Being a correct and impartial narrative of the Chase, Trial, Capture and Execution of HENRY PLUMMER’S ROAD AGENT BAND, together with accounts of the Lives and Crimes of many of the Robbers and Desperadoes, the whole being interspersed with sketches of Life in the MINING CAMPS OF THE “FAR WEST.” I had intended to crosspost this entry, with