Et Cetera

ABAA member Tom Nealon (Pazzo Books) specializes in early printed books and cookbooks, and has drawn on his knowledge of these areas to write a book on the history of food and its vital influence on the course of human history, Food Fights and Culture Wars: A Secret History of Taste. In this brief introduction, Tom Nealon explains what drew him to early cookbooks and food is connected with arcane secrets and the spread of the Enlightenment. As fond as I am of eating, from the beginning it was the lies and artifice of food that grabbed me. About ten years ago, I had the idea to try to cook every food mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (c. 1390). I think it arose from my interest in the scurrilous cook Roger, who would drain gravy out of pies to sell in the lucrative second-hand gravy market, but also that I had ended a run of bad restaurant jobs to open my used bookshop in Boston, Massachusetts, and I wanted to splice these two lives together. One of the first dishes that I cooked in preparation for my project was a thirteenth-century recipe for chicken, that was first taken off the bone, the bone cleaned and boiled, and, finally, the chicken rewrapped around the bone and fried in place to achieve chicken disguised to look like chicken. I've long had a dilettante's interest in the food of the Late Middle Ages – that is, from around 1300 to 1500. The food of these times is so foreign to our own: turtledoves, mutton, flagons of mead, and pork fat, which seems... [more Food Fights & Culture Wars]


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 First Folio on Tour]

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 Rare Book News: July 2015]

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 The Books of Mad Men]

“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 The Doctor, the Murderer, and the Governor]

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 What’s Eating Archippus Seele? A 1788 Lawyer’s Misogynistic Manuscript]

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 Endnotes: Rare Books News & Events]

As if the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's (ISIL; also referred to as IS, ISIS, and Daesh) actions weren't troubling enough, last week the US Department of State reported on the irrevocable damage the terror organization continues to wreak on cultural artifacts in Iraq and Syria. The destruction goes beyond wartime collateral damage– ISIL is celebrating their destruction of religious monuments and profiting from the systematic looting taking place. Corine Wegener, a cultural heritage preservationist at the Smithsonian Institution, called the current situation "one of the biggest problems to confront the cultural heritage community in decades." Secretary of State John Kerry joined Thomas Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in hosting a conference last week at the Met to call attention to the issue. Some remarks from Secretary of State Kerry: We gather in the midst of one of the most tragic and one of the most outrageous assaults on our shared heritage that perhaps any of us have seen in a lifetime. Ancient treasures in Iraq and in Syria have now become the casualties of continuing warfare and looting. And no one group has done more to put our shared cultural heritage in the gun sights than ISIL. ISIL is not only beheading individuals; it is tearing at the fabric of whole civilizations. It has no respect for life. It has no respect for religion. And it has no respect for culture, which for millions is actually the foundation of life...ISIL is stealing ... [more Destruction of Cultural Artifacts in Iraq and Syria]

Exciting news for all my fellow fans of the Dead and historical musicology! San José State University has announced an upcoming conference and symposium on the Grateful Dead, taking place November 5-8. So Many Roads: The World in the Grateful Dead, A Conference & Symposium "represents the culmination of five decades of academic work on the Grateful Dead phenomenon, and demonstrates how scholarly understanding of the Grateful Dead leads to broader understanding of a host of associated literary, historical, artistic, and social contexts and issues." According to, there will be 50+ speakers participating in the conference– a mix of academics, band family members and associates, journalists, artists, musicians, and authors. The Grateful Dead's influence has been far-reaching across a variety of disciplines and panels will explore the band's impact on politics, business, journalism, religious studies, gourmet cooking, and more. To boot, there will also be an exhibit and celebration of San Francisco poster art on November 7, featuring artists like Stanley Mouse, David Singer, and Chris Shaw. Registration is required for attendance and interested parties will have the choice of purchasing either a one-day or full conference pass. I would love to attend myself but likely won't be able to make the trip. Sigh. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to catch a cool exhibit on the Grateful Dead at the New York Historical Society. It presented a small cross-section of the materia... [more Conference and Symposium on the Grateful Dead]

UCLA's annual Kenneth Karmiole Lecture in Archival Studies will be presented by Professor Heather MacNeil on The Archive/Archives as Text: Themes and Variations on October 27. The Monk, the Bookseller, and the Manuscript: Tracking Lydgate's Boke of the Sege of Troy Through Bernard Quaritch's Catalogues PBS NewsHour's segment with Peter Mendelsund, the author of What We See When We Read and Cover, on dust jackets. A Bibliophile's Abode: the account of publisher and author Robert B. Wyatt's purchase of a Woodstock, NY home built by Thom Roberts. The Rosenbach Museum & Library currently has an exhibition on children's books on display. An exhibit on Caldecott award-winning illustrators Berta and Elmer Hader is on display at the Fisher's Children's Center of the San Francisco Public Library until October 23rd. InsideOUT, an exhibition of contemporary bindings of private press books, kicked off its US tour at Harvard's Houghton Library. The Center for Book Arts in NYC will be holding its 40th Anniversary Colloquium on The Collecting of Artists' Books on October 11. UK pop-up book artist Paul Johnson will be giving a demonstration and public lecture at Baltimore's Goucher College on October 1. The York Antiquarian Book Seminar's inaugural class this month, with ABAA members Rob Rulon-Miller and Lorne Bair participating as guest speakers. [more Endnotes: Rare Books News & Events]