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Showing posts from November, 2009

Longfellow's receipt

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In 1880, the revered American poet and scholar, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), bought a book printed in Pennsylvania German from H.L. Fisher, a York, Pennsylvania lawyer and poet. Fisher evidently self-published the book and had pre-printed receipts ready for the sales. I have in my collection the receipt he made out to Henry W. Longfellow for his purchase of a copy of 'S Alt Marik-Haus Mittes In D'r Schtadt, Un Die Alte Zeite , a centennial poem in Pennsylvania Dutch. So what interest did Longfellow have in some obscure German language book from a Pennsylvania lawyer who liked to write? That was one question I had when trying to determine if this were really the same Longfellow (how many Henry W's could there be?). I don't know of any specific interest in Fisher. That may be forever lost to history. But in researching Longfellow and Fisher and related people, places, and events, I discovered a bigger picture about Longfellow and his collecting and scho

Russian Bookmark

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I found a bookmark the other day, which I can't read, in a book that I also can't read. Both are in Russian language, printed with the Cyrillic alphabet. I took a semester of Russian in the early to mid 1990s, thinking it might come in handy with my writing/editing work at NASA. It didn't. Some of our astronauts, civil service personnel, and contractors were taking courses in Russian and traveling to Russia for work with the International Space Station. It couldn't hurt in that environment to have some knowledge of the language and culture of our Russian counterparts, right? Well, Russian for me was a "painful" language to learn, so yeah, it did "hurt." I was also taking Spanish just because I liked the language, excelled at it in grade school and later grades, and I wanted to get reacquainted with it. Spanish was a cake walk. Russian was an ordeal. About all I remember is a chunk of the Cyrillic alphabet and some of the sounds associated with

Iceland bookseller and literary postal history

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A bookseller from Iceland more than fifty years ago created this bit of ephemera with a double-biblio angle for my collection--books and philately ( bibliophemera and bibliophilately ). This is an interesting postcard from the Icelandic bookseller Snaebjorn Jonsson & Co., The English Bookshop , in Reykjavik. They sent this postcard to Scott Publications, Inc., a publisher of stamp catalogs and other publications pertaining to stamp collecting (I used to get their catalogs when I was a kid). Of interest is the identification of a bookseller in Iceland and the Icelandic history depicted on the stamps used to mail the postcard. The history deals specifically with antiquarian books and manuscripts. The two stamps on the postcard are from a 1953 set of five issued to commemorate Iceland's literary heritage. I've been researching these stamps and the literature depicted on them for the better part of this year. The leads have been hard to come by, but just as I had pieced