Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

D. Lothrop & Company's children's book for Christmas 1875

In 1875, Boston publisher D. Lothrop & Co. advertised a book on the envelope below, presumably in time for Christmas since they referred to it as "The Children's Book of the Season." The back side of the envelope offers additional evidence that Christmas was approaching. More on that in a minute.

 The book is Wide Awake Pleasure Book, and it came out about 1875, as best as I can tell. I have come across only one bookseller claiming a first edition of this book and the year given was 1875. The address for D. Lothrop & Co. offers a clue as well.

Daniel Lothrop, according to a Wikipedia page about him, established his publishing business at the Cornhill address in Boston indicated on the above cover above in 1868. In 1874, he began publishing a magazine for children that shares the name of the book advertised on this cover. A year later, the Wikipedia article states, he needed more space and moved from his Cornhill address to another Boston location. If the dates are accurate, the Wide Awake Pleasure Book must have been one of his last published books at the Cornhill office. By the way, the Thoughts of Bibliomaven blog offers a good bit of information on D. Lothrop & Co. with wonderful images of various books and ephemera, including the latest entry--a Christmas greeting.

More points of issue for the bibliophile or collector are revealed in the envelope's ad copy, which states this book is the Largest, Most Fully Illustrated, and Handsomely Printed Volume Ever Issued in this Country at so Low a Price. Evidently, this ad is for a later printing of the original edition. The book may have been a collection of writing from the popular magazine of the magazine of the same name and was itself popular enough to go through several editions at the Cornhill offices before the company relocated just a year later.

Aside from the bibliographic content on this cover, a bit of Christmas conjecture comes to mind in the form of a seasonal sermon and perhaps the wishes of child at Christmas time.

The envelope is addressed to Rev. Henry Fairbanks of St. Johnsbury, Vermont (scratched out at some point). Turning the envelope upside-down, there is a Bible passage written in pencil below the address: And be not weary in well doing, for in due time we shall reap if we faint not (which I determined to be from St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians). Perhaps Rev. Fairbanks was drafting a few notes for a sermon--perhaps even a Christmas sermon with a message of charity and doing good deeds for others.

On the back of the envelope, in what looks to be a child's handwriting, there is an apparent address for St. Nicholas at December Holiday Harbor 74 (?), Grand Central Depot.

I've searched a number of combinations for the words above and cannot find anything related to "letters to Santa Claus" and Dec. Holiday Harbor and Grand Central Depot. So I can only wonder if Rev. Henry Fairbanks' name was scratched out by a child of his in an attempt to recycle this envelope to Santa with a Christmas wish for the book advertised on the front side. If so, I wonder if Santa heeded the Bible verse under that book ad and was not weary in his well doing Christmas Eve and put a certain book under a certain St. Johnsbury Christmas tree for a Christmas Day long ago in 1875?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Books from Jones Book Store in Los Angeles - 1909

More than one hundred years ago--1909 to be exact--somebody probably enjoyed browsing new books in this holiday catalog from Jones Book Store in Los Angeles. Today, I am enjoying browsing the antiquarian selections from this now old catalog. But it is one of the best preserved old bookseller catalogs of this vintage I've run across.

Lest the catalog reader be confused by the title about what kinds of books Jones' Bookstore was selling, they were not books about Christmas, the image above being the lone title. Most books appearing in this catalog seem to deal with exotic lands around the world, travel, history, biography, and a smattering of juvenile and religious works. Popular novelists of the day were not excluded either, as evidenced by the books of Jack London, shown below (featuring Martin Eden).

Just last month, I got acquainted with Jones' Bookstore through an article by another old-time Los Angeles bookseller, Ernest Dawson, in his reminiscences of book stores that existed in the city when he arrived there in 1897. Here's what he had to say about Jones' Bookstore:
     Of the second-hand booksellers of 1897, Frederick D. Jones was a picturesque and aggressive character. I recall well the big rambling place, with balconies and crowded aisles at 226-28 West First Street. It was the mecca for school books, old and new for a whole generation of Los Angeles youth.
     Mr. Jones was born in South China, Maine, November 30, 1855. He seems to have been the only early Los Angeles bookseller to get a college education. He graduated from Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania in June, 1882.
     He came to Los Angeles from Kansas City in 1886 and January 1887 opened Jones' Bookstore at 45 South Main Street and a year later at 53 South Main Street, which was the northwest corner of Second and Main.  
    In 1890 he moved to 226 West First Street where his shop was a landmark for so many years. 
     Mr. Jones was not a rare book dealer, but was a merchandiser of all kids of secondhand books. He had large sections of religious, medical, reference, and law books, carrying some popular titles new. One of the entrances was given over to cheap books, 2 1/2c, 5c, 10c and25c shelves and sections which always made for attractive browsing. 
     In buying libraries I still frequently come across the deep pencil marks of Mr. Jones and the universal rubber stamp with which he "disfigured" all books he sold.
     Mr. Jones carried quite a stock of stationery, manufactured his own ink, published a few books and patented and marketed a rapid addition and multiplication device. He was an Odd Fellow and was active in various Civic Organizations. He called himself an "Evolutionary Socialist." 
     When, in 1904 Jones' Bookstore was incorporated, several of his faithful assistants were given blocks of stocks.
     Through an unfortunate law suit Mr. Jones had to sell his interest in the store. It was taken over by some of the clerks and with some additional capital moved to a larger place on Hill Street between Sixth and Seventh. Later there was a final move to Sixth Street, between Hill and Olive, where during the Depression of the Thirties it disappeared. After Mr. Jones left the business, new books and stationery were more  and more emphasized and finally I bought out all that was left of the old book department, about 1930.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor attack noted in 1941 bookstore calendar

Today is the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941.

Maher's Bookstore in Laconia, New Hampshire sold the promotional calendar (Rust Craft of Boston) below in 1941.

That year would turn out to be quite a significant year in US and world history, for on December 7th the Japanese attacked the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, killing more than 2,400, wounding another 1,100. The US declared war on Japan the next day and entered World War II. Lives and nations were changed forever by the events set in motion that day. 

The person who owned this calendar filled it with birthdays of friends who were all teenagers by 1941. That young person may not have immediately appreciated how the course of history would be changed by the events of that day. The calendar entry for December 7th simply states: "Pearl Harbor." 

But, space considerations aside, what else could one say that day as the shock set in about what had just happened and what the attack on America meant for all Americans and a Laconia, New Hampshire teenager in particular? Pearl Harbor.

Libraries of words have since been written about that day in 1941, and seeing two words noted in a bookstore calendar the day the attack happened speaks volumes in hindsight about what it all meant.

On a side, and personal, note, my father was born in Laconia in 1931 and 20 years later was in Japan, courtesy of Uncle Sam and the U.S. Air Force, having been shipped over during the Korean War just months after marrying my mother. No doubt, the events that transpired December 7, 1941, when he was 10 years old, played a role in his being in Japan on a US military base a decade later after the Japanese defeat in 1945 and subsequent occupation by the Americans.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Pilgrim Bookstore in Plymouth, Massachusetts

Last year, I posted to this blog about a book-related piece of ephemera with a very weak link, if you could even call it that, to the Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate today in America. It was a blotter for the Pilgrim Bookshop in Brooklyn, NY. Pilgrim was as close as I could get to Thanksgiving. Told you it was weak. I also lamented that the bookshop wasn't in Plymouth, Massachusetts, for at least then it would have some connection to the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving celebration.

This year, I have a better connection--a postcard from the Guides Pilgrim Bookstore. I knew there had to be a bookstore in Plymouth with the Pilgrim name at some point in history. It's just too obvious a choice.

The bookstore was run by publisher and bookseller, A.S. Burbank (1856-1946), and was known for its pilgrim and Plymouth souvenirs. 

This postcard was made in Germany and distributed by A.C. Bosselman & Co. in New York. It is likely a Plymouth/Pilgrim souvenir postcard that Burbank stocked in his store, not a depiction of the actual bookstore. 

What is depicted is an old house built in  1677 by a William Harlow, as stated on the postcard. Further, the house is referred to as "Old Fort" and that the timbers from the old fort were used to build the house. That "Old Fort" was the pilgrims' first fort built in 1621 and presumed to be the site of the first Thanksgiving feast held in the fall of that year.




Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Los Angeles Booksellers of 1897 (and their labels)

Los Angeles bookseller, Ernest Dawson, wrote an article in 1947 for The Quarterly for the Historical Society of Southern California--Los Angeles Booksellers of 1897 (Volume XXIX, No. 2, June 1947). That article was reprinted that same year in the 12-page booklet below, by Saunders Press in Claremont, California.

The Saunders Press, by the way, was operated by Ruth Thomson and husband Lynne Saunders. Getting a bit off topic, researching Saunders led to this interesting article on the history of women in printing. Ruth Thomson Saunders also designed bookplates, some of which are featured in Knox College's The Art of The Book exhibit.

Back to the Los Angeles booksellers... In 1947, the author, proprietor of Dawson's Book Shop in Los Angeles, took a look back at the bookselling scene in Los Angeles as it existed when he first arrived in that city in 1897. He states in the opening paragraphs that Los Angeles had at that time "three good new bookstores and three secondhand bookshops with creditable stocks."

Dawson's article includes whom he supposed to be the first bookseller in Los Angeles--Samuel Hellman, who opened a book and stationery store in 1862. The article then goes on to list prominent booksellers in the city: C.C. Parker, Stoll and Thayer, and Fowler Brothers (all of whom had the "good new bookstores"), and Jones' Bookstore, J.W. Smith, and Henry Ward (the secondhand booksellers). Dawson worked for the latter, Henry Ward, when he first came to Los Angeles. The photo above indicates he was still with Henry Ward in 1900.

For each bookseller, Dawson offers bits of bookseller biography and bookshop history. He provides illustration in the form of the booksellers' labels that were affixed to the endpapers of their books for advertising. These labels, referred to also as tickets, are stamp-sized pieces of paper I like to feature from time-to-time on this blog, so I was pleased to find images in this booklet of the old Los Angeles booksellers (the labels don't necessarily date to 1897), including some that did not make Dawson's "top six" and one from Dawson's own book shop, which he started in 1905.

As always, when discussing book trade labels, please see the Seven Roads Gallery of Book Trade Labels site. Color examples of some of the above are cataloged there. Also, Gabe Konrad's new site, is a great source of information on the subject.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Felix Cunha and Incunabula Medica at the Roxburghe Club

Here's a letterpress print announcement from Herbert Fahey for the Roxburghe Club in San Francisco in 1947.

The announcement, with an attractive border of antiquarian images of printing-related scenes, is for a presentation by Felix Cunha titled, Incunabula Medica. Cunha is described as a "Doctor of Medicine, Bibliophile, Author, Savant, Traveler."

The printer Fahey, whose name appears on the back, was active in the book arts in California, having served as president of the San Francisco Club of Printing House Craftsmen in 1929. The Book Club of California also published his book, Early Printing in California: From Its Beginning in the Mexican Territory to Statehood, September 9, 1850 (1956, printed by the Grabhorn Press). I would assume he might have also been a member of the Roxburghe Club, which was formed in 1928 in San Francisco.

What I know about Felix Cunha is pretty much what is printed on the announcement about him. As a bibliophile physician with an interest in medical books, he collected among other subjects, the work of Sir William Osler, a founding professor at Johns Hopkins Hospital. A 1987 issue of the Osler Library Newsletter confirms Dr. Cunha's interest in the writing of Dr. Osler, noting that Dr. Cunha's collection of Osleriana had been sold to the Woodward Biomedical Library at the University of British Columbia.

Osler, in turn, had an interest in the early printing history of medical books and wrote about that history in Incunabula Medica: A Study of the Earliest Printed Medical Books, 1467-1480. With that bit of information, one might wonder if Dr. Cunha was lecturing to the Roxburghe Club back in 1947 about an interest in incunabula medica that he shared with Dr. Osler, or was he talking that night about Dr. Osler's book? Regardless, it's likely that Dr. Osler's book found its way into the presentation.

Given Felix Cunha's interest in medical history subjects, it seems only natural that he would pen a few books and articles himself, a list of which can be found here.

Thanks to William R. "Bill" Holman for donating this Roxburghe Club announcement to my collection.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bookmobile finds

I'm always on the lookout for bookmobile ephemera and history. I came across both on blogs this weekend, each providing its own interactive experience for viewers who have an interest in bookmobiles and traveling libraries.

The Book Patrol blogged yesterday about a paper bookmobile model that I thought was creative and interesting--something I might forward to my younger nieces and nephew to play around with. The architect behind this clever piece of paper art is Bob Staake.

Of course, I had to try it for myself. It looked easy enough. Just print out the design on Staake's site and start cutting.

Easy, it is not. It's been too many decades since I played with scissors and paper. After about a minute, I grew tired of the exercise. But I managed to complete the obstacle course of tabs and tires without snipping off anything essential.

The next challenge presented itself in short order: Fold and tuck the tabs and glue the whole thing together. Again, easier said than done.

I didn't have the glue, so my "finished" product looks like something headed for the automobile junk yard.

Or road kill.


And here's what it should look like, according to the image below from Staake's Web site:

Another interesting find over the weekend was from the Exile Bibliophile, reporting on an idle bookmobile that functions as a model, of sorts, for traveling library history. It's an old rail car that transported books to readers in Montana timber camps in the early 20th century. Read about this fascinating historical exhibit, its current restoration status, and where to visit. From the photos, it appears visitors can interact with this railway bookmobile, too, by simply walking into the rail car and stepping back in time. You won't need to cut, fold, tuck, or glue anything.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Little, Brown and Company, Birchall's Bookstore, and Abe Lincoln (maybe...)

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting, via email, Laurel Davis, the Legal Information Librarian, Lecturer in Law, and Curator of Special Collections for the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room in the Boston College Law Library. Somewhere in all that she also finds time to write the Rare Book Room's blog.

She was working on an exhibit of early Massachusetts law books and found a Bibliophemera post about Little, Brown & Company that featured an 1892 billhead and some information that seemed a good fit for the exhibit.

I was delighted to have her use it for The Golden Age of Legal Publishing in Massachusetts. I was actually in Massachusetts earlier this month, but on the western side of the state and just didn't have the time to see the exhibit in person. But there is the digital counterpart for those of us who can't travel to see this interesting collection of early Massachusetts law books.

During our correspondence, I indicated I might have more examples of related ephemera and set about finding for her any additional Little, Brown & Company or other Massachusetts law book publishers that might be in my collection. I had no luck, though I knew there was something.

I took another look recently and found what I was looking for--an even earlier billhead that had been archived in its original folded manner (that's how I missed the content before), as it had been mailed that way and contained the address of the recipient, a postage stamp, and evidence of the sender's wax seal.


I thought I would include it here as a follow-up to the previous Little, Brown & Company post, with some added history for the customer on the billhead, and also alert readers to the Boston College Law Library exhibit. It's a good one.

This is the only example I know of in my collection of a billhead or other business transaction paper being turned into its own mailer.

This billhead appears to be dated 1856, which precedes my other Little, Brown & Company billhead by nearly forty years. The three principals in the company include Charles C. Little, whose name was absent on the 1892 billhead. The other partners' names, Brown and Flagg, are also on the 1892 billhead, but those names belong to their sons who succeeded them in the business.

Also of interest with this billhead is the customer, Caleb Birchall of Springfield, Illinois. I thought of a lawyer in Springfield who might have had need for some law books from Little, Brown and Company. His name was Abraham Lincoln. 

Caleb Birchall was a printer and bookbinder who moved to Springfield from Philadelphia in 1834 and became a respected businessman in the community. In 1848, he either entered into a new business, or expanded on his existing business. Surviving business documents indicate that 1848 was the year he partnered with druggist Thomas Jefferson Vance Owen to operate what became a very successful business selling a variety of items in addition to drugs and patent medicines of the day. They also printed and distributed a farmer's almanac, so it appears that Birchall didn't relinquish all of his printing business.

That Birchall was ordering books form a Boston law book publisher in the 1856 would indicate he engaged in bookselling also at the time of this billhead. Lincoln was known to have been a customer of the firm, having bought ledgers from them. Might he have also acquired a few law books as well from Birchall?

There is more documentation about Birchall's having been a bookseller in Springfield during the time Lincoln lived there. Allen Guelzo's Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President and The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume I. both refer to Birchall's bookstore in Springfield. Guelzo's reference includes a passage about the bookstore having operated a circulating library where one could find books by Scott, Cooper, Irving, and others. Coincidentally, the billhead to Birchall includes a note advising him that his request for books by Cooper and Irving could best be handled by a New York publisher.

However, Little, Brown & Company was able to furnish the following books, the variety of which belies somewhat the "Law Booksellers & Publishers" that appears on their correspondence: Locke's Human Understanding, Bancroft (US History?), British Poets, and English Law and Equal Rights.

So Birchall was stocking literature, philosophy, and history for Springfield readers as well as law books for Springfield lawyers. Makes you wonder if Lincoln ever strolled into the shop and bought a law book or two that just might have come from Little, Brown & Company. Now that would be a billhead to have and write about!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The North Texas Book & Paper Show

The Texas Booksellers Association and Heritage Auctions are sponsoring the 2011 North Texas Book & Paper Show this weekend, October 15-16. Check it out if you're in the area.

Click on the image on above for an enlarged view.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ticknor, Payot, Upham--Books from Boston to San Francisco

This was a tough one to title because of the two companies indicated on the 1887 postal cover: Ticknor and Company of Boston, Publishers, and Payot, Upham & Co. of San Francisco, Booksellers. Each was important to the book trades on their respective coasts, each was important to the other, and each could have been featured in a separate post.

I've written previously about Ticknor and its various business incarnations through the 19th century and beyond, so more attention will be given here to Payot, Upham & Company. However, for anyone interested in Ticknor history, here's a similar cover I wrote about last year, in which some company history is outlined. The covers are quite similar with minor  differences in the Ticknor logos.

Until 1870, the San Francisco bookselling firm, Henry Payot & Co. dealt primarily in foreign language books from European countries, particularly France. That is undoubtedly owed to the fact that founder Henry Payot was born to French parents.

Born in 1838 in South Carolina, Payot came to California at age 13 with his parents during the Gold Rush days. He later worked for lithographers Quirot & Company before starting Henry Payot & Co. and focusing on bookselling and publishing. His company would grow and change noticeably for the better when a young publishing agent, Isaac Upham, would join the firm. 

As Payot's business focused on books from around the world, primarily Europe, that interest ultimately led to several trips abroad, including Japan, where he lectured in 1907. He had lectured before on Egypt, as reported in the San Jose News in 1901, perhaps from his own travel there. He died in 1921.

Isaac Upham had been in California since 1860, a transcontinental-transplant from Maine. He taught and served as superintendent for Butte County and Yuba County schools before landing in San Francisco as an agent for the Cincinnati publisher, Wilson, Hinkle & Co.

Just a year later, Upham was in a position to buy a half-interest in Henry Payot's company. His business expertise, particularly with the publishing company, seems to have paid quick dividends. Within five years, the firm of Payot, Upham & Co. began dealing in English language books as well as selling stationery, increased their business significantly, and relocated its headquarters in San Francisco from 622 Washington Street to 204 Sansome Street.

The result of these business decisions, with Upham's guidance, positioned Payot, Upham & Co., as one of the largest of wholesale and importing stationery and bookselling firms on the entire Pacific coast.

Upham's business acumen extended to other areas, including banking. His book and stationery business continued to prosper and before the first decade was done in the new century, Payot, Upham & Co. was succeeded by The Isaac Upham Company, incorporating in 1909 (The Bookseller, newsdealer, and stationer, Vol. 30, 1909).

Unfortunately, Upham wouldn't live much longer to see the company prosper under its new name. In July of 1909, he was riding his bicycle in San Jose and was killed in a collision with an automobile.

The newspaper article shown at the left is from the San Francisco Call, July 22, 1909, and reports on the settlement of Upham's estate and refers to his death.

From his early horse and carriage days on the West coast during the Civil War era, the circumstances of his demise could not have been foretold without a suspension of disbelief in extreme fantasy. Such were the times the span of his years traversed.


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