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Showing posts from April, 2010

A Colossal Collection of Circus Books

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But wait... there's more alliteration! A Mighty Multitude of Matchless Marvels ... A Prodigious Parade of Printed Paragraphs ... Truly a Stupendous Aggregation of Topnotch Titles ... I have to hand it to Gunroom Booksellers of North Castine, Maine, whose advertising ephemera evokes an era of entertainment extravaganza elocution . Their large, double-sided broadside successfully captures the spirit of the circus days of yore with a worthy string of superlatives that would make an old carny barker proud. This is one of the larger pieces of ephemera for a bookseller I have in my collection. It's size, more than two feet in length, fits the Big Top style of the subject matter, which is books about the the history of circus and circus-style shows. I was reminded of this piece by a recent blog post at Sarah's Books Used and Rare , which explored the architectural details of Castine, Maine. Were Gunroom Booksellers still in business, perhaps the lure of old books a few mile

Gilbert H. Doane - Librarian, Author & Bookman

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I got this 1923 ad cover for The Thresher , the student newspaper at Rice Institute (now Rice University) in Houston because of the local history, which I collect. Turns out, though, it has a pretty good biblio angle so I thought I'd share it here as a piece of ephemera appropriate for this blog. Had it not been connected to my native city's history, I might have passed on this piece and I would have overlooked the book connections and interesting history that I discovered by researching the addressee on the envelope--Gilbert Harry Doane (1897-1980). Doane was a librarian and professor with positions at several university libraries, most notably the University of Wisconsin. He was also an author, genealogist, and book collector. As one of his books ( About Collecting Bookplates ) would suggest, he also collected bookplates. Other books he wrote included The Legend of the Book and Searching for Your Ancestors . I've done a lot of genealogy research over the years and ha

America's first bookshop caravan

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Nearly one hundred years ago, the idea of a portable bookshop, motorized on wheels, was just that--an idea. Then along came Christopher Morley's little book, Parnassus on Wheels , in 1917, and the idea soon became a reality in the summer of 1920 thanks to a woman named Bertha Mahony. Bertha Mahony was the driving force (no pun intended) behind the bookshop caravan. She was the founding editor of the Horn Book Magazine (publications about children's literature) and later founded the Bookshop for Boys and Girls in Boston in 1916. She began to envision selling books from a rolling caravan throughout rural New England before Morley's Parnassus on Wheels was even published, but Morley's book may have provided the encouragement she needed to make her dream a reality. The Horn Book site has a Virtual History Scrapbook with articles and images of the Bookshop Caravan. Barbara Bader wrote an excellent piece in 1999 about its history, titled Treasure Island by the Roadsid

Albert Clayburgh's bookplate

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My bookplate collection is small and I have not yet acquired a celebrity bookplate, so to speak. But I may have one that is an indirect brush with celebrity. Here is an ornate bookplate designed in 1933 by W.E. Osborne (of whom no information) for an Albert Clayburgh with the motto, KEEP THE OPEN MIND . But which Albert Clayburgh? As I keep an open mind about who this might be, my research keeps turning up two Albert Clayburghs--both prominent citizens of New York City in their respective days. And I have come to believe that this Albert of the ex libris is the father of actress Jill Clayburgh . I hope so because I have always liked Jill Clayburgh since first seeing her on the big screen in Silver Streak . I found this particular bookplate while going through the same batch of bookplates that produced the engraving of the Hogarth crest (later determined not to be a bookplate), which I wrote about HERE . I found Albert Clayburgh's bookplate and for some reason immediately tho

Reed Books in Birmingham

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There's no typo in the title. That's Reed (not Read), as in Jim Reed, proprietor of Reed Books - The Museum of Fond Memories in Birmingham, Alabama. I visited that fine, historic Southern city last week for the inaugural IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama (actually down the road in Leeds) and stayed downtown, where I found a jewel of a book shop to browse for an hour or so. I could have stayed all weekend in that shop. I managed to find a few books on regional history, something I like to look for in new locales, and my wife found a few Civil War pamphlets of interest. As Jim Reed checked us out, I got the bookmark above and asked for any other ephemeral items related to his business and told him I blogged about such things. That was all he had, but he handed me a handful more of the bookmarks and said, "Spread the word!" And so I am. If you find yourself in Birmingham, or passing through, and have a little time to spare, a visit to Reed Books would be worth your w

Classic Motorbooks book shop label

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I'm in Birmingham today for the Alabama IndyCar Grand Prix at the Barber Motorsports Park . This post is slightly modified from a piece I wrote two years ago and seemed worth repeating for today's event. I found this book shop label (also known as a ticket ) in a 1969 volume of Autocourse . The bookseller was Classic Motorbooks in Minneapolis. I thought about removing it, but I let it go. The book quickly sold and I regretted not saving the label. But I did take a picture of it before the book was shipped overseas. I was curious to see if the bookshop still existed; after all, it's been nearly 40 years since that label was affixed inside the rear cover. To my surprise, it does exist, albeit in a dramatically altered state from its humble beginnings in 1965 in a Minneapolis garage. Through expansion, publishing, name changes, and changes of ownership and business focus, Classic Motorbooks morphed into MBI Publishing and its three imprints: Motorbooks, Voyageur Press, and Ze

Saunder's Old Book Store

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I was going to title, or even subtitle, this one, "Turkey at the Berlin Congress." The image on this card caught my attention. I knew it was a bookseller's trade card, but I couldn't make the curious connection to a platter of turkey and the Berlin Congress, whatever that was. And so I had to have the card. And then a history lesson. For a quick introduction, I went to the Wikipedia page for Berlin Congress , which opens with this: The Congress of Berlin (13 June - 13 July 1878) was a meeting of the European Great Powers' and the Ottoman Empire's leading statesmen in Berlin in 1878. In the wake of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, the meeting's aim was to reorganize the countries of the Balkans. The New World Encyclopedia contributes this, which helps to understand Turkey on a platter : Up until Berlin, Turkey had been viewed as a European power. Stripped of almost all European territory, it was no longer viewed as part of Europe. "I'm not