On Collecting Books

ABAA-member Charles Roberts (Wonder Book) has published a wonderful meditation on the classic cookbook The Joy of Cooking on his blog at Wonder Books. More than a straight article about the book's creation (although it does cover that) or its critical reception and impact on the wider culture (that, too), Roberts conveys a real bookseller's perspective on the book, both as a cultural artifact and a physical artifact. More interesting still is his consideration of the market forces that affect physical books in unique ways, and how a bookseller can still find utility and value even in old, nondescript cookbooks that are not rare by any stretch of the imagination. Some books tell stories in ways other than their contents. At Wonder Book, we used to rarely get copies of The Joy of Cooking in any condition. It was just a book that people would not give up. Now we are seeing more and more older copies appear in our warehouse. The Joy of Cooking has a sad beginning. Irma Rombauer published it originally in 1931. Her husband had killed himself in 1930. Irma's children convinced her to record her recipes and cooking styles. Why? Maybe they thought it would distract her from her loss and the money problems and personal turmoil it caused. She wrote in the forward, "It was written at the request of my children, who, on leaving home, asked for a record of 'what mother used to cook.'" Somehow she put it all together and published the first Joy privately! She paid for a printer to print an... [more]

image description

Books of the Week

By Rich Rennicks

Every week ABAA members list their latest acquisitions on abaa.org and issue catalogs of rare books and print ephemera. Here are a few A Pirate Classic From description: The Observations of Sir Richard Hawkins Knight, in his Voyage into the South Sea. Anno Domini 1593. Hawkins, Sir Richard. John Jaggard., ( 1622), London (4), 169, (1 errata), (5) pp. Richard Hawkins was an Elizabethan adventurer who saw action against the Spanish Armada in 1588. In 1593 he sailed to South America to raid Spanish colonies on the Pacific coast. Years later he produced this account of his privateering venture, which was published in 1622. His “Observations”, aside from being a pirate classic, is the best account of Elizabethan life at sea. It was the first work published by the Hakluyt Society (1848), and has been reprinted several times since. most notably by the Argonaut Press in 1933. This is the copy of famed Americana collector Thomas Streeter, with his distinctive bookplate, and a note on the front blank by his son Henry, indicating that he had purchased it at the auction of his father's library in 1968. This sale of the Streeter collection took place between 1966 and 1969. The catalog of the sale, produced by Parke Bernet Galleries, was issued in seven volumes, which remain an important reference for rare Americana. This book was number 2400 in the sale. It is in exactly the same condition as it was in 1968. Three letters on the title page (the “THE” in the title) are in facsimile... [more]

image description

Books of the Week

By Rich Rennicks

What leaped off the pages and (figuratively) screamed "Buy Me!" as we thumbed through the most-recent catalogs from ABAA members. Well, these items for starters... THE LAST TYCOON: An Unfinished Novel, Together with The Great Gatsby and Selected Stories Description: New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1941. First edition, first printing with the “A” and the publisher's seal on the copyright page. A roman a clef, following the Hollywood rise to power of Monroe Stahr, modeled after film producer Irving Thalberg, and his conflicts with rival Pat Brady, a character based on studio head Louis B. Mayer. The novel was unfinished and in rough form at the time of Fitzgerald's death at the age of 44. His close friend, literary critic and writer Edmund Wilson, collected the notes for the book and edited it for publication. This copy is inscribed on the front flyleaf by Frances Kroll Ring to Nicholas Patrick Beck, an avid F. Scott Fitzgerald collector and scholar, who was also a journalism professor at California State University, Los Angeles. Ring (1916-2015) was the personal secretary of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood from 1939 and until his death in 1940. She typed the manuscript for The Last Tycoon and settled Fitzgerald's affairs upon his death. This included corresponding with Wilson and advising him on the author's intentions for the book. Octavo. Original blue cloth binding, with gilt titles. An especially crisp and tight, near fine copy in an uncommonly nice example of the ... [more]

Lately, the online world is alive with discussion of Blade Runner 2049, which releases this weekend. Following the success of Amazon's Man in the High Castle television series, Philip K. Dick is once again the go-to science fiction novelist for Hollywood. ABAA members have many interesting items related to Philip K. Dick and this infamous film (which is something of a love-it-or-hate-it phenomenon) available, some of which reveal the tortured path this story took from novel to finished film. One of the most-exciting items is an original script for Blade Runner from 1980, before revisions and re-writes. I'd love to read that to see how the vision changed during the adapting process and before direct Ridley Scott came on board! Blade Runner: The Original Screenplay Hampton Francher & David Peoples Los Angeles: Brighton Productions, Inc./Sunset Gower Studios, 1980. 1st. Original Wraps. Collectible; Very Good. The 1st printing of the 1980 original screenplay, based on the 1968 Philip K. Dick novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?". A VG copy in its original yellow wrappers, with minor offsetting to the front panel (where there had been a label) and several very small, unobtrusive stains. Quarto, 140 pgs. Submitted to Sunset Gower Studios on Dec. 22nd, 1980, this screenplay-- in its original incarnation-- pre-dates the legendary 1982 Ridley Scott film by almost 2 years. Very scarce in its original state. (Offered by Appledore Books) Members offer several first editions of Ph... [more]

image description

Meet the 2017 NCBCC Winners

By Rich Rennicks

The annual National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest aims to encourage young collectors to become accomplished bibliophiles. The 2017 contest winners have built up fascinating collections on topics as diverse as teaching mathematics, the literary history of the Maine woods, and seminal cyberpunk novels. We asked the winners a few questions about their collections. 1st Place Alexander M. Koch, The Breath and Breadth of the Maine Woods Unity College ABAA: Could you give us a brief description of your collection? AK: My collection, The Breath and Breadth of the Maine Woods, is an examination of the manners in which the Maine woods has influence. These numerous books, as well as related ephemera, are the breath of the Maine woods. They are the exhalations of centuries of life in Maine, and love for its forested lands. From mid-19th Century ephemera and books on history to turn of the 20th Century fictional accounts of log drives, and from mid-20th Century town histories to 21st Century poetry, these works show the breadth of thought and examination of the Maine woods. From collecting and reading these works it is clear that the Maine woods form an important basis for the livelihoods, industries, and recreation that has made Maine a resilient and awe-inspiring land. ABAA: What first interested you in collecting items related to the Maine Woods? AK: I have always been fascinated by the forest, and by Maine. From my earliest memories I recall spending time with my father driving d... [more]

Book collectors and fans of experimental musician and artist Bill Drummond (The KLF, The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu) are engaged in a fascinating scavenger hunt for 32 copies of a limited-edition book hidden around Ireland. Among Drummond's many, many projects is The Curfew Tower, a 19th-century tower originally built as a jail in the town of Cushendall in Country Antrim, Northern Ireland. Drummond owns the tower and has run it as an artist's residency since 1999. He originally purchased the tower intending to use it to house the one and only copy of his book Bad Wisdom; intending that would-be readers would need to travel to the tower in order to read the book as a sort of secular pilgrimage. That project was eventually published more traditionally by Penguin Putnam in the UK, so Drummond had to find another use for his tower. In 2015, Drummond published a book compiled from the work of the artists who lived in the Curfew Tower during 2014, The Curfew Tower is Many Things. It was published in a limited edition of 1000 copies by Drummond's press, The Penkiln Burn, most of which were distributed to the various stakeholders in the project, while 250 copies were sold to the public. Drummond initially reserved almost one third of the print run to be distributed anonymously by leaving the copies “randomly in bars and cafes across the island of Ireland” over a period of years. It's not known whether the 32 copies he hid around Ireland are the last available copies, but as the ... [more]

image description

2017 NCBCC Winners

By Rich Rennicks

The ABAA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 National Collegiate Book Collecting Competition. 1st Place Alexander M. Koch, The Breath and Breadth of the Maine Woods Unity College 2nd Place Mark Gallagher, A New Spirit of Truth: The Writings of the American Transcendentalists UCLA 3rd Place Xavier González, “Books That Count” Books and DVDs Calculated to Inspire Children and Young Adults to Explore the Wonderful World of Mathematics Harvard University Essay Winner Sarah Linton, “THE FICTION WE HAVE BECOME” William Gibson's Uncertain Future and the Cyberpunk Revolution Johns Hopkins University The judges were very impressed with the submitted collections and wish to thank all who participated. The Awards Ceremony will take place at the Library of Congress, James Madison Building, Montpelier Room on Friday, October 20th at 5:30pm. The event is free and open to public. The National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest was established in 2005 by Fine Books & Collections Magazine to recognize outstanding book collecting efforts by college and university students, the program aims to encourage young collectors to become accomplished bibliophiles. The contest is now administered jointly by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA), the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS), the Grolier Club, and the Center for the Book and the Rare Books and Special Collections Division (the Library of Congress), with major support from the Jay I. Kis... [more]

image description

Books of the Week

By Rich Rennicks

Q: What stopped me in my tracks as I perused this week's batch of new catalogs? A: Everything from the national importance of a presidential inaugural address to the particulars of a menu from a dinner in 1959. Menu: A Dinner in Honor of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (1959) Given that I am a sucker for The Crown, Downton Abbey, and most other British television shows, spotting a menu from a formal dinner with Queen Elizabeth II in Rabelais' Books latest e-catalog instantly evoked various celluloid memories. This would be an nice addition to any collection focused on the British monarchy or culinary pursuits. "This is an unforgettable day - a day I will never forget." ; Queen Elizabeth II; Mayor Richard J. Daley. A Dinner in Honor of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Given by the Honorable Richard J. Daley, Mayor of the City of Chicago. Chicago, Ill.: July 6, 1959. Menu and program (25 x 19 cm.), pages; in gilt-stamped white cardstock boards, with decorative gold elastic cord. A dinner to mark the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II's first visit to Chicago. The visit was made while the Queen, along with President Eisenhower, attended the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, part of a larger 45-day trip to visit all Canadian Provinces, much of it made aboard the Royal Yacht, H.M.S. Britannia. While in Chicago, The Queen and Prince Philip visited the International Trade Exhibit at Navy Pier and later the Museum of Science an... [more]

As a child, I was required to listen to many different things. Classical music, for one. Teachers getting annoyed with me for asking too many questions, for another. And… The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy quotes, for a third. For that last particular factor I have my father to thank. (Though actually, now that I think about it, he seems to have had a major hand in all three of those particular life events… but I digress.) Douglas Adams may be best remembered for his humorous saga The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a “trilogy” of five books which sold over 15 million copies during the author's lifetime, but he was much more than a simple humorist (or was he?). He was a script writer, a lover of Doctor Who (he wrote and edited for the show on more than one occasion), and a self-proclaimed radical atheist (as in… if you asked him if he meant agnostic he may have attacked you with a wet towel). By adulthood Adams stood at 6'5″- but his stature was far from the only thing that set him apart from the crowd! The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Signed) London: Arthur Baker, 1978. First British edition of this modern classic. Octavo, original black boards. Inscribed by Douglas Adams on the front free endpaper. Fine in a near fine first issue dust jacket, priced 4.95 net to the inside flap (as called for) and with the correct "Capricorn One" advertisement to the rear panel. A very sharp copy, particulary rare signed and inscribed. Originally a radio series, broadc... [more]

This fascinating blog post about the history of vellum and parchment is written by Richard Norman, an experienced British bookbinder now living in France, where he runs Eden Wookshops with his wife and fellow bookbinder, Margaret, specializing in Family Bibles and liturgical books. The article originally appeared on www.edenworkshops.com, and is reprinted below with the author's permission. --Editor According to the Roman Varro and Pliny's Natural History, vellum and parchment were invented under the patronage of Eumenes of Pergamum, as a substitute for papyrus, which was temporarily not being exported from Alexandria, its only source. Herodotus mentions writing on skins as common in his time, the 5th century BC; and in his Histories (v.58) he states that the Ionians of Asia Minor had been accustomed to give the name of skins (diphtherai) to books; this word was adapted by Hellenized Jews to describe scrolls. Parchment (pergamenum in Latin), however, derives its name from Pergamon, the city where it was perfected (via the French parchemin). In the 2nd century B.C. a great library was set up in Pergamon that rivalled the famous Library of Alexandria. As prices rose for papyrus and the reed used for making it was over-harvested towards local extinction in the two nomes of the Nile delta that produced it, Pergamon adapted by increasing use of vellum and parchment. Writing on prepared animal skins had a long history, however. Some Egyptian Fourth Dynasty texts were written on vel... [more]