Posts

Showing posts from March, 2010

A bookstore bottle

Image
What's an old drugstore bottle got to do with ephemera, especially bibliophemera ? I guess it depends on how you define ephemera. Or how much you want to stretch that definition. Webster's Third New International Dictionary (that 10-pound big boy) defines ephemeral as lasting or existing briefly . That would qualify a medicine bottle as ephemera, but I know the definition has evolved to mean printed matter. But this bottle came from a drug store that was also a bookstore. F.W. Richter ran the City Drug & Book Store in Niles, Michigan, as stated on one side of the bottle. Richter is listed in an 1891 issue of the pharmacy journal, The Western Druggist ,making this a relic of at least the late 19th century. My old bottle collection of some several dozen comes from a couple of summer vacations of digging around old cellar holes and dump sites in New Hampshire when I was a teenager ( many years ago). The "book store bottle" is a recent addition, purchased from

The Young People's Reading Circle of Indiana

Image
This certificate was awarded to a young Indiana schoolgirl named May Clark to confirm her membership for the year 1894 in the Young People's Reading Circle of Indiana. The ornately designed certificate sports an image of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, inside a symbolic circle, looking as if he were monitoring the reading habits of the certificate holder. The Reading Circle's Secretary, W.H. Glascock, and President, W.H. Elson both signed the certificate. It has survived six score and more in relatively good shape, the only flaw being the nicked upper-right corner. A little research revealed an age-old concern of adults about certain media polluting the minds of the youth. I didn't realize it was that old a problem or that much of a concern in the 1800s. But one-hundred and twenty-six years ago, adults worried about young May Clark reading the wrong kind of book. That problem might be upside down today with a lot of kids--getting them to actually read a book. In 1887, In

Roxburghe Club meeting, San Francisco 1968

Image
Here's a 1968 announcement card for a meeting of the Roxburghe Club in San Francisco. The featured speaker is William R. Holman , former director of the San Francisco Public Library, as well as the Harry Ransom Research Center at the University of Texas. He wore and continues to wear many other hats, i.e., printer, book designer, publisher, and writer ( The Orphans' Nine Commandments ) . The Grabhorn-Hoyem Press designed and printed this card (5.5 x 8.5 inches), with its interesting typeface and partial border design. They and other printers in the San Francisco area were the subject of an 8mm film shot by Holman before he left San Francisco in 1967 for the University of Texas. The following year, 1968, he presented his film during a talk at the Roxburghe Club meeting on December 10th. Last month, I asked Mr. Holman about this piece, with respect to his film and talk at the Roxburghe Club. He said he shot the super 8mm film, describing it as "poorly made," of

German bookstore in Macedonia, WWI

Image
Here's an interesting post card with a scene from what looks like a German book shop at a military post during World War I. The handwritten letter on the reverse side is dated 21 May 1917 from Kanatlarci, Macedonia, which was occupied by the Germans during the Balkans Campaign of the Great War. The post card was not posted; there is neither a stamp nor a cancellation mark. Perhaps it was included with a letter or written and never sent. Regardless, the author undoubtedly never envisioned his note landing in Texas nearly a hundred years later. I can't make out the handwriting enough to take a stab at the German-to-English translation, but I did get Kanatlarci and the date, which told me World War I. A little research confirmed that quickly. The sign in the picture, plus the books in the window, confirm we're looking at some kind of book shop. The sign reads, Feld-Deutsche Buchhandlung , which translates, I believe, to Field German book shop . But what kind of bo

Walking on the moon, dancing with the stars

Image
In honor of 80-years-young Buzz Aldrin's appearance on the new season of Dancing with the Stars (debut tonight), here's a piece I posted back in July of last year. It's an announcement card for his appearance at a Houston store to sign his latest book, Magnificent Desolation . The card, front and back: The card is from the Louis Vuitton Core Values Ad Campaign , photography by Annie Leibovitz . The announcement is printed with the Leibovitz photo of Sally Ride (first American woman in space), Buzz Aldrin, and Jim Lovell (ill-fated Apollo 13). The photo is on thick cardboard stock, measuring 14.7 by 23.5 cm (5.75 by 9.25 inches) and contains the printed announcement on the back. And here's the book, which Aldrin signed for me: As Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon on that historic first trip in 1969 (Apollo 11), here's an historic film (apparently the first science-fiction film) about a trip to the moon: Le Voyage dans la Lune . It was directed by George M

Booklets from Trinity College Library - Dublin, Ireland

Image
I couldn't let St. Patrick's Day slip by without a quick post related to Ireland. But I did let it slip by. Try as I might, I just couldn't find the piece I wanted to post about until late in the day. So I actually got this started on the 17th, as it is dated, but the luck of the Irish wasn't with me in getting it finished. And I do have Irish blood, which goes back to County Armagh. I hadn't looked at this booklet about Ireland's Trinity College Library since returning from a European trip some 16 years ago, which is why I had a hard time finding it. On that trip we got to spend a day in Dublin and toured the library. This booklet was a souvenir purchased at the library's gift shop, one I'm glad I got and kept (well-hidden!). I remember seeing the Long Room , shown on the cover of the booklet, and being completely awed by the splendor, its architectural history, and the books. Oh, the books! The Long Room is also depicted in an 18th-century paint

Foyles for Books... and a van for hauling them

Image
Here is a Foyles bookmark, complemented by a model of a van the bookstore used (or may have used) long ago to transport inventory to and from its shop. Foyles was founded in 1903 by the Foyle brothers and today they are still independently owned. But they've branched out from the flagship location on Charing Cross Road, a London street known for its booksellers and put in the spotlight in Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road . Penny Mountain and Christopher Foyle authored a history of the book store in 2003 to celebrate a century of business: Foyles: A Celebration . I've had the bookmark for awhile now, but the model van is a recent purchase thanks to an unintended search result on ebay. It reminded me of the old Matchbox Cars I collected as a kid. And like the Matchbox Cars, the Foyles van was made in England. This model is Issue 25, a Morris Minor Van in the Days-Gone line made by Lledo, a company co-founded in 1982 by the former president of Matchbox, coincidenta

Flyaways

Image
Things that readers leave behind in their books are referred to as flyaways. Sometimes these things are used as bookmarks, sometimes the book is just a convenient place to stash something for safekeeping. Now where did I put that twenty dollar bill? I've never found money between the pages of a book. I usually find the more typical ephemera like scraps of paper, deposit slips, receipts, envelopes, and gum wrappers. But I've also found autographed baseball cards, long newsy letters, utility bills, airline tickets, and photos. See thingsinbooks.com for more examples of the interesting, unusual, and downright strange flyaways that people find in their books. The most interesting (or perhaps most touching) thing I ever found was a small collection of Valentine cards and notes from two little girls to their father, penned about 1960. I found them several years ago and thought they must have been put in the book for safekeeping and were long forgotten. I decided somebody should

Award bookplate for Ottawa schoolboy, 1896

Image
The old label you sometimes find pasted inside the cover of an antiquarian book is not always an ex libris, at least not the typical ownership bookplate we've become accustomed to. This label was printed in 1896 and affixed to the following book for an award presentation to an accomplished young man in grade school. Ice-World Adventures, Or, Voyages and Travels in the Arctic Regions: From the Discovery of Iceland to the English Expedition of 1875 was published by Ward, Lock, and Co. in London, circa 1876, but I'll bet even this second-hand book of some twenty years, with its ornate decorations and many engravings of Arctic adventure, was still an eye-popping prize for the young man. It would have been for me (as it was when I found it some years ago at the "young" age of 40, about 350 miles across the border in a New Hampshire village book shop). Charles Walliss attended the Elgin Street (Central) School in Ottawa, Ontario in the 1890s. He appears to have bee

Bouquinistes in Paris

Image
Bouquinistes are in the news. Read about the Parisian book stall rift on the river Seine in the British newspaper, The Independent . Here's an excerpt: To stroll along the Left Bank close to Notre Dame cathedral used to be to promenade, simultaneously, through one of the most beautiful of all cityscapes and the biggest open-air bookshop in the world. The little book stalls – 235 of them, on both sides of the river – are still there. Some of them remain purely, or largely, bookshops, specialising in old tomes on the cinema, or science, or military history, or the works of Jules Verne. Others have become almost indistinguishable from souvenir stalls, festooned with posters of typical Parisian views in untypical colours or garish reproductions of early 20th-century, metal advertisements for cures for chillblains. After years of neglecting the growing difficulties of the bouquinistes, the Paris Town Hall, which owns the spaces and lets them free of charge, has decided to clamp down

Newnham-Waugh Collection Label

Image
I found this label for the Anthony Newnham Collection of Evelyn Waugh mixed in with a batch of William D. Wittliff items I bought last month. I'm not sure yet what it was doing hanging out with the Wittliff ephemera, nor do I know of any relationship this collection or label may have with Bill Wittliff. I suspect, though, that he designed the label. The label indicates a library collection, measures one inch by two, and was likely a prototype or copy of the design already in use. Its simple, tasteful design features a facsimile signature of Evelyn Waugh, and the abbreviated Colln. , with the "n" in superscript. This collection resides in the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin where Wittliff ran his Encino Press. Depending on the year of the donation, this might add support to the assumption of a Wittliff design. From the HRC link above, the paragraph on this collection states: Manuscripts of all of Waugh's novels (except for two), much co

Engraving of a martyred bookseller

Image
For the first of March, I'm resurrecting, in altered form, a piece I wrote for Archaeolibris three years ago today, titled Burning books... and the bookseller: Papal persecution of the Waldenses . It centers on the history behind an image on an engraved plate separated at some point in time from the book in which it was originally published in 1770. As this engraving has likely been flying solo for awhile and stands on its own just fine, I'll qualify it as a piece of ephemera suitable for the scope of this blog. I have here an antique engraving from 1770 that depicts a bookseller being burnt at the stake in Avignon. His crime was selling Protestant Bibles, reportedly printed in the native French tongue of his customers. The engraved plate came from Henry Southwell's, The New Book of Martyrs or Compleat Christian Martyrology , published in London by J. Cooke in 1770. I wanted to know who the bookseller was and why selling certain books cost him his life. I had a simila