Showing posts from March, 2012

A revealing book inquiry from J.J. Lankes

From that wonderful cache of Schulte's Bookstore correspondence I obtained a few years ago, I've plucked another interesting letter to showcase here. This one was written to Schulte's in 1944 by the renowned woodcut illustrator  Julius John (J.J.) Lankes  (1884-1960) , whose illustrations I featured in a recent post about Robert Frost . Mr. Lankes wrote the New York bookseller from his Hilton Village, Virginia home in August of 1944 seeking a particular title: Hillier's Treatment of Manic Depressive Psychosis .  He also expressed an interest in other titles the bookseller might have on the same subject. He signed off his book request with another request about how to answer him--specifically, by letter, but if the response were by post card, Schulte's should do so without reference to the subject.  Who's privacy was Lankes trying to protect? His own? A family member's? At the time this letter was written, Lankes was working for the  National Ad

Robert Frost's bookplate and related ephemera

Today, March 26th, is the birthday of one of America's greatest poets.  Robert Frost  was born on this day in 1874.  I recently acquired a copy of Frost's bookplate above while researching the bookplate's designer, J.J. Lankes , for a blog post about a Lankes letter, which will appear here soon.  Lankes and Frost became friends and collaborators in the 1920s when Lankes created the woodcut print illustrations for Frost's New Hampshire (Henry Holt, 1923). That collaboration would continue over the next few decades.  Goodspeed's Book Shop also featured some Lankes illustrations on the covers of their  The Month at Goodspeed's  publication for January 1943. Inside this catalog, offered for sale, are some of the woodcut prints that made it into Frost's  New Hampshire , annotated with comments from Lankes. Below are some illustrations from my copy of New Hampshire , which I referenced in a post on the Archaeolibris blog several years ago af

Raymer's Old Book Store is really old

A few years ago, I wrote about a piece of ephemera from Raymer's Old Book Store in Seattle, 1956 , and traced the store's lineage, if not its age, to Minneapolis. Now I know just how far back the business goes. This old ad cover from the Minneapolis store takes Raymer's back to the 1800s. For now, this is the earliest evidence of its existence I have, but this piece does confirm when the business got started. On the left side under the image of the business' building: Established 1835 . Make that 1885 (thanks to a reader's comment below). Raymer's was no slouch at advertising. They used both sides of this envelope rather judiciously, especially the backside, to promote their business (see image below). And their business included just about everything in the way of books from rare, curious and out of print to specialties in law, medical, school and college text books. And if that weren't enough, they laid claim (front) to the fact that they were t

A book order for Durrie & Peck, 1832

Booksellers Durrie & Peck started their business in New Haven, Connecticut in 1818. They would grow to add bookbinding, publishing, and printing to their services. Related to those areas of business,  The New Haven Museum  has about 1700 pieces of ephemera documenting the company's history up to 1860. One they don't have is this piece from my collection. In the stampless, wax-sealed letter above, or what's left of it (see below), E.A. Luce has written to Durrie & Peck, and Durrie (with two r's) is the correct spelling, to order a few books, hoping they're in stock and hoping they can be delivered by the day's mail. I began a search for information on the customer E.A. Luce and kept running into Edwin A. Luce, who was a Master Mariner on a whaling vessel. I thought this would lead to an interesting story on the reading habits of an old salt on whaling voyages. But he was from Tisbury, Massachusetts and the Durrie & Peck customer was from Litc

A pivotal year for Funk & Wagnalls

1890 marked a turning point for publisher-bookseller Funk & Wagnalls , who since their founding in 1875 had been selling religious books. The letter below, on company letterhead, is dated May 21, 1890 and provides evidence that a shift in business models is underway.  The letter indicates they are now offering The Encyclopedia Britannica  in cloth ($38) or library sheep binding ($58), as well as the Cyclopedia of Quotations . They have had a good response to the Britannica  offering and expect to start shipping the next month, June 1890. Their Standard Dictionary of the English Language would come out in 1894 and their own encyclopedia set, The Funk & Wagnalls Standard Encyclopedia , wouldn't be published until 1912. That set is no longer offered in a printed version, a casualty of the Internet game-changing 1990s. But you can still buy their dictionary... at Britannica .com ! Funk & Wagnalls enjoyed various levels of success well into the 20th century unde