Et Cetera

Since 1975 the William Reese Company has served a large international clientele of collectors and private and public institutions in the acquisition of rare books and manuscripts and in collection development. With a catalogue inventory of over forty thousand items and a general inventory of over sixty-five thousand items, we are among the leading specialists in the fields of Americana and world travel, and maintain a large and eclectic inventory of literary first editions and antiquarian books of the 18th through 21st centuries. Our offices are located in downtown New Haven, Connecticut and are open by appointment only. The William Reese Company is seeking to add a new team member to its Americana Department. This person needs to be detail oriented, personable and outgoing, and willing and able to lift reasonably large boxes of books. A foundational knowledge of American history is a must, as is a basic grounding in bibliographical knowledge. Previous experience in antiquarian book selling or library work is preferred but not essential. Excellent communication skills, both oral and written, are necessary, as is proficiency in the use of databases. The job description includes a range of the many tasks required in running a large rare book business, but primary duties are cataloguing and researching new inventory; working with customers and selling books in person, on the phone, and by catalogue or internet listing; maintaining inventory control; and possible travel to attend... [more]

SUNDAY: You could easily be excused for thinking that in the seven-month-long hiatus between major American book fairs (April in New York, November in Boston) there would be a sort of doldrums in which booksellers settle down and catalogue away, alone in their lairs (or maybe even just go fishing). Not so. Each summer beginning in June an institution called, simply, "Rare Book School," hosts a series of week-long sessions on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Rare Book School (from here on in I'll just call it "RBS") is dedicated to, well -- the study of rare books. It's death-by-chocolate for serious book addicts, attracting dealers, collectors, librarians, researchers, academics, students -- really anyone with a deep and abiding interest in everything books. 2015's season began on the 7th of June, on a Sunday evening, with a welcoming lecture by the dynamic director of RBS, Michael Suarez. His topic was "The Library (capital L) as both community and as cure for the soul." It was a moving and inspiring talk, and the assembled crowd drank it up, then dispersed to talk of bookish things with their fellow students (there may have also been either drinking or dining involved), before falling into bed, ready to dive into book heaven bright and early Monday morning. MONDAY: 8 am. The RBS doors open, and a lavish spread of bagels and cream cheese, yogurt and granola and fresh local fruit, and an assortment of juices, teas, and coffee awaits. I recognize se... [more]

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Books of the Week

By Rich Rennicks

Get your new year off to a good start by examining a few highlights from around the abaa.org website or found within the pages of our members' latest rare book catalogs. Cassic orange Penguins are always eye-catching. This one is was also an influential part of early science fiction. The Quatermass Experiment: A Play for Television in Six Parts by Nigel Kneale Description: : Penguin Books, .. Small octavo, printed wrappers. First edition. Prints Kneale's revised script for the first of the three BBC Quatermass serials aired in 1953, 1955 and 1958/1959 respectively. Includes film stills. "Effective melodrama and social satire for its time." - Anatomy of Wonder (1987) 3-231. "Excellent scripts." - Pringle, The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction, second edition (1995), p. 294. "With hindsight, there is a clear pattern in Kneale's work in which ordinary people are seen as stupid and ignorant, and ready prey for the supernatural or science-fictional forces that will almost inevitably attempt to control them. There is a seigneurial, Edwardian element in this, a recoiling from the vulgar. This is a point worth belaboring, because Kneale was certainly a much better than average scriptwriter -- the Quatermass series especially is exemplary -- and his scripts were, paradoxically, very influential on SF, at least at the Gothic and irrational margin of the genre where SF meets fantasy, particularly among film and television producers, who never expect SF to make sense anyway." - SFE (onli... [more]

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First Folio on Tour

By Rich Rennicks

Some of the most-expensive books in the world are going on tour. The Folger Shakespeare Library is sending several First Folios to partner institutions around the country -- one in each state -- so people can view the famous books upclose and personal. WIlliam Shakespeare's First Folio is a remarkable thing. Compiled just seven years after the great man died, the Folio (so-called because of how the book was printed — “When two leaves (four pages when printed on both sides) were printed on a sheet so that it could be folded once, collated with other folded sheets and bound, the format of the volume was a folio." — from the ABAA Glossary of Book Terms) was created by two actors who knew Shakespeare and would have had access to original drafts (referred to be the delicious term “foul papers” as they would have presumably been covered in handwritten edits, notes, and all manner of marginalia, rather than pristine, printed texts), transcripts prepared for the actors, or official prompt books from the original productions. If not for this book, those various copies would have likely been scattered and lost, and more of Shakespeare's plays could have been lost to time. For such a famous and influential book, there are few copies left in existence. Perhaps 750 copies were printed in 1623. Only 233 are known to exist today. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to an unrivaled collection of Shakespeariana, including 82 of the surviving First Folios. Comed... [more]

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New Rare Book Catalogs

By Rich Rennicks

For some, September is the busiest time of the year, with children heading back to school, the pressure mounting at work to hit end-of-year targets, and the holiday season lurking just around the corner. For others, it's the last hurrah of balmy summer days and outdoor pursuits before the cold of winter descends. For booksellers, it's a time of quickening; new students are dropping in to check out the books, serious readers are stocking up on books for winter's long nights, and publishers release new books by their heavy hitters to build buzz before the holidays (spurring a surge of interest in their backlist and early works). Collectors of rare books are more likely to curl up with a stack of rare book catalogs rather than the latest best-seller, and ABAA members have a plethora of varied and interesting catalogs to tempt and beguile... Athena Rare Books gets philosophical with List 17, featuring works by Rene Descartes, David Hume & Arthur Schopenhauer. Be it known that the latest catalog of books, art and ephemera relating to labor history, radicalism, and social movements from Lorne Bair Rare Books is now on-line. Bauman Rare Books unleash trio of new catalogs: Nobel Prize Winners Economics Signed Letters Between the Covers Rare Books, Inc. exhibit their latest Photography Catalog (#201). Bolerium Books seek to influence the next generation with a catalog of Children's Books (Bolerium Style): Children's books with an emphasis on social movements along with China, Tibet an... [more]

Let's start with all the other book news that's been overshadowed by the publication of the "new" Harper Lee book this week. Charles Dickens' Notes Solve Mystery of Unidentified Victorian Authors Hailed as a discovery that could "solve some of the biggest mysteries of Victorian literature," the news that a book collector has found Charles Dickens personal copies of his magazine "All the Year Round" was revealed over the weekend. The magazine famously published anonymous pieces -- providing academics with decades of fun and publication trying to identify the true authors -- but Dickens' personal copies contain annotations that reveal the authorship of each article. Among the work identified are new pieces by Lewis Carroll, Elizabeth Gaskell, Wilkie Collins, and Eliza Linton. Read more... ALL THE YEAR ROUND. A Weekly Journal. No. 83. Saturday, November 24, 1860. By Charles Dickens (Editor.) London:. 1860.. 8vo. 9-1/2" x 6-1/4". 1st printing. Pp (145) - 168. Text double column. Advert for 'Great Expectations' to p. 168.. Printed self wrappers, nested (not sewn). "Price 2d". Age-toning. A VG+ copy. (Offered by Tavistock Books) Malala Yousafzai Champions Books Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai called on world leaders to emphasize education over conflict in a recent speech. “I am here as the voice of children, as the voice of over 60 million girls who have been stopped from getting their education,” Yousafzai said. Being young and tech savvy, Yousafzai launched the hash... [more]

Among the many reasons we'll be sorry to see the end of Mad Men is the bravura way the writers have woven literary references into the show. Characters have been seen reading books that were popular at the time as well as obscure volumes that explored themes they would have found very meaningful at the time. We went back through the DVD box-sets, and noted the major titles featured and a few of the more interesting minor ones. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand Way back in season one, Rand's objectivism was established as an influence on Don's character: driven, selfish, and ambitious. The book was recommended to Don by Bert Cooper, and from Don's confident and egotistical pitch to a client in episode eight, he appears to have taken it to heart. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner After bedding Joy in season two, Don sees her reading The Sound and the Fury. He asks if it's good, and she answers that she enjoyed their romp, but the book is only OK. The allusion to this chronicle of a dysfunctional old Southern family dealing with financial and social ruin is obvious. The Agony and the Ecstacy by Irving Stone Used as a rather heavy religious metaphor to underline how Peggy is changing her life in the second season. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon While Betty's father lives with the Drapers after his dementia becomes acute, Sally reads this from the Decline and Fall every night. The repeated allegory is a little heavy handed. The Spy Who C... [more]

“Nothing is more important to medical science & no part of medical education in this part of the country is obtained with so much difficulty” as the study of anatomy with the use of cadavers. So wrote Dr. Nathan Smith to New Hampshire Governor John Langdon in June 1806. One of the leading medical practitioners and educators of early 19th century America, Smith founded or helped establish four schools of medicine in New England, including those at Dartmouth, Yale, Bowdoin, and the University of Vermont. In the United States, cadavers for anatomy classes were difficult to come by – legally – until at least the 1830s. Anatomical dissection of the human body was viewed with deep suspicion, if not revulsion, especially in New England's clergy-dominated culture. In the early decades of the Republic, traffic in human remains remained largely an underground enterprise involving physicians and body snatchers (or “resurrectionists,” as they were known). Exceptions to the rule might be made, usually in the case of executed criminals whose bodies might be either sold by a creditor or released by the state – which provides the context of Smith's letter. The Nathan Smith letter, page 1 Several weeks before Smith wrote to the Governor, a New Hampshire man named Josiah Burnham had been sentenced to death for the brutal murders of two others. During his sixty-plus years of life, Burnham had worked variously as a whaler, a successful surveyor, and a landowner before becoming invo... [more]

It is circa 1788. An American lawyer, Archippus Seele (1765–1789) of Easton, Massachusetts, is apparently in a grumpy mood. The reasons could be many. Some in the community accused Archie's father, a sawyer, of employing the imps of Satan to keep things running. That could make you unhappy. If Archippus had been a precog perhaps he had a freak when he intuited his mother would become a distant ancestor to the creator of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs. Basically, and to the point, Archippus doesn't like women. We know this because he left behind a strange manuscript we've given a caption title of The Discription {sic} of the Female Sect. – A Woman Is As Full Of Failings As A Spider's Nest of Eggs. Why Did Esquire Seele write this manuscript and for whom? We may not ever know, but we surmise it was written in jest and we speculate his “essay” was shared in an exclusively male social sphere. Archippus thinks women are “deceitful crickets.” And he's not shy to elaborate: When a man is married, he had better be in a small cottage or cave in peace than in the statelyest palace in the world with one of these spendthrifts & diabolical conceited deceitful crickets which are much more destructive than the devouringst beast upon Earth {etc.}. Of course, this 18th Century-Man-About-Massachusetts wouldn't be a true misogynist unless being the son of the sawyer he pulled out this old saw against women: Among all the observation concerning women I have considered and observed that... [more]

ILAB is coordinating a series of Pop-Up Book Fairs across the world for UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day on April 23, 2015. The two organizations have created an offiial partnership for the event and ILAB is asking as many members as possible to organize and attend as many pop-up fairs as possible. Former President of the ABA Laurence Worms describes the envisioned pop-ups: “Some booksellers, some books, some tables and a big sign. Just liaise with ILAB on the publicity. No-one has to travel far or be away from base for too long. They can last all day or just an hour or two. Imagination and invention are the only limitations.” For more information, contact ILAB Committee Member Sally Burdon. Bridwell Library is pleased to announce the opening of two exhibitions on site and online this fall. "Welcome Additions" highlights fifty rare books, manuscripts, broadsides, prints, and letters that were acquired by Bridwell Library Special Collections between 2008 and 2014. It is open through December 12th. "Missionary Presses" highlights Bibles and other religious texts in indigenous languages published by missionary presses in the nineteenth century. It is open through December 5th. The digital exhibitions will continue to remain accessible after the exhibitions in the library have closed. Bernard Quaritch Ltd recently published a new book by Arthur Freeman entitled Bibliotheca Fictiva. It is an inventory of books and manuscripts relating to literary forgery. Click here for mor... [more]