Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Magnificent, Singular Copy of The Sword in the Stone

by Stephen J. Gertz

Binding by Donald Glaister.

One of only six deluxe, hand-colored presentation copies of T.H. White's classic, The Sword in the Stone, his modern recasting of the Mallorean Arthurian legend, the first part of  his Once and Future King series, and the author’s most famous work, has come to market.

White's signed presentation inscription reads:

"Of this edition six copies were coloured by the author, and presented to L.J. Potts, David Garnett, Michael Trubshawe, Siegfried Sassoon, and John Masefield. The sixth was retained by the author. T.H. White."

L.J. Potts was White's tutor at Cambridge, lifelong friend and close correspondent; British actor Michael Trubshawe (1905-1985) was a close friend, as was poet Siegfried Sassoon and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom and childrens book author John Masefield.

This is David Garnett's copy, in a later, magnificently jeweled binding of genuine emeralds, rubies, and sapphires by Donald Glaister, with multicolored and gilt-decorated morocco and stingray inlays that abstract sword, stone, castle walls, cathedral windows, a vista of Britain in the distance, and an Escher-esque stairway to nowhere.

David "Bunny" Garnett (1892-1981) was a bookseller in London (Birrell & Garnett) and co-founder of Nonesuch Press, a small, fine press publisher famed for the outstanding quality and taste of its productions. He was a member of the Bloomsbury circle, marrying Vanessa Bell's daughter, scandalously twenty-six years his junior: Present at her birth, he, according to Carolyn G. Heilbrun's biography of the literary Garnett family, swore to marry "it" when she came of age twenty years later. His father was critic, biographer, and essayist Edward Garnett; his mother, Constance, was the foremost translator of the Russian novelists; and his grandfather was the literary historian, poet, critic, biographer, and curator of books at the British Museum, Richard Garnett,

Garnett was also an acclaimed novelist, one of his later novels, Aspects of Love (1955) adapted for the musical stage by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Hand-coloring by T.H. White.

This precious copy is being offered for a cool $38,500 by high-spot specialist Biblioctopus (website a simple billboard), the Beverly Hills, California-based rare book firm that prides itself on refusing to bow to modern technology - "NO e-mail or Fax EVER" - yet will gladly communicate via Alexander Graham Bell's 19th century invention. TELEPHONE: 310 271-2173.

Images courtesy of Biblioctopus proprietor, Mark Hime, with our thanks.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Charles Bukowski's Last, Unpublished Poem and the Bestial Wail

by Stephen J. Gertz

On Friday, February 18, 1994, at 2:14 PM - eighteen days before his death - Charles Bukowski, America's poet laureate of society's fringe, sent to his publisher, John Martin of Black Sparrow Press, via FAX, what would be his last poem.


oh, forgive me For Whom the Bell Tolls,
oh, forgive me Man who walked on water,

oh, forgive me little old woman who lived in a shoe,
oh, forgive me the mountain that roared at midnight,
oh, forgive me the dumb sounds of night and day and death,
oh, forgive me the death of the last beautiful panther,
oh, forgive me all the sunken ships and defeated armies,
this is my first FAX POEM.
It's too late:
I have been

We wondered about it and asked John Martin for insight.

"On February 18, 1994 Hank had a fax machine installed at his home. He sent me his first fax message in the form of that poem. I'm sure he visualized sending me his future letters and poems via fax, but sadly 18 days later he was gone.

"I ran off nine photocopies of the fax, for a total of ten, and numbered and initialed them. Over the next few months and years I gave copies to individuals who were Bukowski collectors and regular customers of Black Sparrow. I think I gave away the last one more than 10 years ago.

"That poem has never been published (except as described here) and the poem has never been collected in a book."

A copy, #4,  has just come onto the marketplace, offered by Whitmore Rare Books.

FAX Poem #1 a far cry from the poetry in Bukowski's first chapbook, Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wail, published in an edition of 200 copies by Hearse Press out of Eureka, California in 1960, which introduced readers to the major themes that informed many of his works, particularly “the sense of a desolate, abandoned world,” as R. R. Cuscaden pointed out in The Outsider, the small literary magazine edited by Jon Edgar Webb  that published only five issues 1961-69. 

Thirty-four years after Flower, Fist and Bestial Wail, Charles Bukowski was no longer struggling with the demon muse. For the first time, after a long, difficult existence, his personal life and finances were secure. He had a home. He drove a nice car. 

He possessed, for once, a simple sense of joy. The lyric hard truths of his early poetry had given way to an almost childlike sense of wonder, carefree of the world, the bestial wail becalmed to a coo of delight.

All images courtesy of Whitmore Rare Books, with our thanks, who, in addition to offering this absolutely scarce copy of FAX poem #1, offers this copy of Flower, Fist and Bestial Wail.

A personal thank you to John Martin.

Of related interest:

Bukowski: Lost Original Drawings of a Dirty Old Man Are Found.

Charles Bukowski Bonanza At Auction.

Dirty Old Man Exposed at the Huntington.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What's Cooking Down Under? Rare Cookbooks From Monash University

By Nancy Mattoon

Noble, Emily. Rabbit recipes.
(Melbourne : Victorian Rabbit Packers
and Exporters Association, [193-?]).
(All Images Courtesy of Sir Louis Matheson Library.)

Everyday life inside the average home is one of the hardest things for historians to document. Unlike business or political life, the inner workings of the domestic realm are essentially private and go largely unrecorded. A new exhibit at Australia's Monash University Library consists of a stellar collection of rare books which provide access to an essential aspect of the homemaker's secret world: food preparation. As Alexandra Michell's introduction to the show notes, "Because we must eat to live, food is therefore an absolute daily necessity, as well as the way in which we celebrate friendships, gatherings, and all sorts of special events...cookbooks document the history of food, giving us an insight into its availability and popularity at different times and in different cultures. Collections such as this one are helping to preserve the history of food and cooking."

The Australian women's weekly presents-
the teenagers' cook book :
from our Leila Howard test kitchen.
(Sydney : Australian Consolidated Press, 1969).

The collections of Monash's Sir Louis Matheson Library consist of "a large range of books from mainly France, England and Australia, dating from 1654 to the present day." The most unique titles in the Melbourne university's exhibition are those which cover the cooking culture of the Land Down Under. The show is so rich in material, that this brief Booktryst overview will be limited to only a sampling of those unusual and fascinating books concerning the history of Australian cookery.

The art of living in Australia / by Philip E. Muskett ;
together with three hundred Australian cookery recipes
and accessory kitchen information by Mrs. H. Wicken.
(London ; Melbourne : Eyre and Spottiswoode, [1892?]).

Author Philip Muskett was the Surgeon Superintendent to the New South Wales Government. Born in the Collingwood section of Melbourne, he despaired of "the fact that our people live in direct opposition to their semi-tropical environment." Muskett believed that his fellow Aussie's, "consumption of butcher's meat and of tea is enormously in excess of any common sense requirements, and is paralleled nowhere else in the world... " The doctor advocated greater consumption of local fish, oysters, fruits and vegetables, washed down with Australian wines rather than water or tea. Co-author Mrs. Wicken, a "Diplomee of the National Training School for Cookery, London; Lecturer on Cookery to the Technical College, Sydney," supplied the recipes and advice on setting up a proper kitchen, including the all important "ice chest," essential in Australia's tropical climate.

The Kingswood cookery book / by H. F. Wicken.
6th ed., rev. and enl.
(Melbourne : Whitcombe & Tombs, [1913]).

Harriet Frances Wicken published the first edition of her Kingswood cookery book in London in 1885. A revised, Australian edition of her book appeared in 1889 and went through six editions to 1913. In the introduction to the first edition, Mrs. Wicken stressed the importance of culinary skills to women: "The art of good cooking (if I may call it so) is so absolutely necessary to the comfort and well-being of all classes of the community, that I think its value cannot be over-estimated. A dinner well cooked promotes digestion, and conduces to contentment and happiness. I hope that the day is not far distant when cookery will form an important item in the education of our girls."

Cookery recipes for the people / by Miss Pearson.
2nd ed.
(Melbourne : Australasian American Trading Co., 1889)

[Cover title: Australian cookery : recipes for the people]

Margaret J. Pearson was the cooking instructor at the Melbourne Workingmen’s College. The recipes in this book are from classes she gave for the Metropolitan Gas Co. at the 1888 Centennial Exhibition in Melbourne, held to celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of European settlement in Australia. According to a newspaper account of the event, these classes were attended by "maids and matrons of every degree in the social scale from the general servant who wishes to qualify for the more important office of cook, to the lady of fashion, who, for the moment, has 'taken up' cookery as her latest and most engrossing fad."

Mrs. Lance Rawson's cookery book
and household hints
3rd ed., enl. and rev.
(Rockhampton, [Qld.] : William Hopkins, 1890).

[Cover title: The Queensland
cookery and poultry book

Wilhelmina Frances Rawson was born in Sydney and lived in North Queensland. Her Queensland cookery and poultry book was first published in 1878. Her purpose in writing the book was to provide a useful cookbook to the homemaker living in the bush having, "scant material to work with." She encouraged the inventive use of local food sources, to wit: "When I tell my friends that we often eat Bandicoots, Kangaroo Rats, Wallaby, and Paddymelon, they look astonished, and yet there is no reason they should not be good for human food, as they all live on grass or roots. Often a young bush housekeeper is at her wits' end when killing-day is postponed, and the beef has run out, little knowing that she has materials for a sumptuous repast not far from her kitchen."

Australian economic cookery book
and housewife's companion
by F. Fawcett Story.
(Sydney : Kealy & Philip, 1900).

Mrs. Story taught cooking at Sydney Technical College and at Hurlstone Teachers Training College in the 1880s and 1890s. The frontispiece shows one of her cooking classes. In her preface she emphasizes the need for girls to learn basic, everyday cooking, "As it is, when girls do attend cookery classes for a term or two, it is generally only with the idea of learning to make scones and cakes, nice little supper dishes for company, etc., and very rarely indeed with the object of making themselves so thoroughly acquainted with the art and science of cookery as to fit them to take charge of households."

Kimberley cook book.
Some old recipes and some new ones
[Recipes by Marianne Yambo ... [et al. ;
lino prints by Marianne Yambo ... [et al.] ;
printed and edited by Jan Palethorpe]
[Western Australia] : Jan Palethorpe, [1997?]

The Matheson Library's copy of this collection of aboriginal recipes from the Kimberley region of North-Western Australia is Number One of only 20 copies printed. It contains traditional recipes from native peoples, and is illustrated with linoleum cuts of ancient symbols created by aboriginal artists. It is written in a conversational style, emphasizing the oral tradition of the Australian Aboriginals. These natives of the continent did not have written languages when first encountered by Europeans. Their songs, stories, legends, chants, and recipes made up a rich oral literature with incredible diversity among various tribes. When British colonists arrived in Botany Bay in 1788, there were over 250 spoken Aboriginal languages with 600 dialects. Their subtle and complex culture has only been carefully studied, and appreciated, since the mid-20th century.

87 Kitchen Inspirations.
(Brisbane : Simpson Bros. Pty. Ltd., 1938).

This is only a tiny selection of the over 100 rare books on display at the Sir Louis Matheson Library, and in the excellent virtual exhibition created for online visitors. The show celebrates the gift of valuable seventeenth to nineteenth century French and English cookbooks made to the Library by Alexandra (Sandy) Michell, beginning in 1988. Ms. Michell has also made generous financial donations to the Matheson Library, allowing the collection to be enriched and expanded to include a fine collection of early Australian cookbooks, and a selection of twentieth century material. Additionally, Ms. Michell has written an insightful introduction to the exhibition, which has been made available on the Library's website.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Incredibly Scarce Cocaine Magazine (1925) and Marihuana Matches (1937)

by Stephen J. Gertz

Kokain. Eine Moderne Revue. Heft (Installment) 2. Wein: 1925.

It is amongst the rarest of all items of drug literature, virtually unknown to scholars and collectors until now. It is Kokain Eine Moderne Revue, a literary journal published in Vienna 1915-1925. Only five issues were published. Little, at this time, is known about it beyond that gleaned from the issues under notice.

Kokain. Eine Moderne Revue. Heft (Installment) 4. Wein: 1925.

Edited by Fritz Bauer, about whom I've yet to discover anything (he was not the notorious Nazi jurist),  Kokain featured many contributions by women, and was highlighted by the cover art, graphic design and erotic lithography of Stefan Eggeler. Issue #3 was, apparently, confiscated by the Viennese authorities because one of the stories within, Im Kellerloch (In the Cellar Hole) by Erwin Stranik (1898-?; OCLC notes twenty-three titles by him), contained a particularly graphic description of a sexual act. The story was republished in issue #4 (above) along with an essay by Stranik, Was ist Kunst und was ist Pornographie? ("What is Art and what is Pornography?"),  discussing the affair.

What is particularly interesting about Kokain Eine Moderne Revue is that it not only provides further evidence that Weimar culture was lively indeed but, more to the point, its introduction, in 1915, preceded by three years the post-WWI establishment of the Weimar Republic in 1918. As such, Kokain Eine Moderne Revue can justifiably be considered an early, if not the earliest, hint of what was to come, an inspiration, perhaps, for the most libertine and decadent period in Western culture during the twentieth - or any other - century, the defeat of the German and Austro-Hungarian empires in the most violently cataclysmic war yet fought leading to  the collapse of traditional values and the fatalistic pursuit of  desperately carefree, unrestrained pleasure, the Jazz Age in overdrive.

OCLC/KVK locate only two copies of any issues of Kokain Eine Moderne Revue, at the Landesbibliothekenverbund Ostereich, and Verbundkatalog HeBIS, Hessen.

BAUER, Fritz, (editor) and Stefan Eggeler (artist). KOKAIN. Eine Moderne Revue. Heft 2 and 4. Wein, 1925. First (only) editions. Quarto. #2: [3]-73, [1] pp. #4 (irregularly bound and paginated): [3]-18, 51-66, 35-73, [1] pp. Illustrated wrappers. Text in German. With numerous black & white and color lithographs. With Library of Congress duplicate stamps (yet no copies located in LOC).

03/29/2011. We have received the following information about Stefan Eggeler from our colleague Elmar Seibel, of Ars Libri Ltd:

"An Austrian painter, printmaker and illustrator, Stefan Eggeler (1894 – 1969) studied art at the Vienna Academy. His first original etching was published in 1914 and during the following twenty years he created a number of outstanding engravings and etchings, most dealing with either figure studies or interior scenes.

"He was a fairly prolific Austrian illustrator of erotic and particularly sado-masochistic books and portfolios. Years & years ago, we had a whole archive of his, possibly from the library of Erich von Kahler; he might have been a friend of Lily von Kahler’s [Erich's wife, aka Alice]. All very odd bunnies. Sort of like Rudolf Jettmar."

• • •

Attention children: Don't play with matches. Particularly these.

Assassin of Youth Matchbook, 1937. Front.

Assassin of Youth Matchbook, 1937. Rear.

The producers of Assassin of Youth, the classic 1937 anti-marijuana exploitation film directed by Elmer Clifton, didn't miss a trick to ballyhoo the movie. Here, they provided an ingenious, if not diabolical, way to promote it with every strike of a match to light legal cigarettes, customized for local theaters.

Assassin of Youth Matchbook, 1935. Inside.

Per usual, the anti-drug message is contradicted by a powerfully overt erotic charge. Sex sells. And sex sells illegal drugs.

These images make their Internet debut on Booktryst and are courtesy of Between the Covers, with our thanks. The two issues of Kokain immediately sold for $1200 and are now part of the R.K. Siegel Library of Drug Literature. The Assassin of Youth matchbook also sold within moments of being offered, selling for $250; later reprinted, genuine examples in such fine condition are rare.

Anyone in the U.S. or Europe with further knowledge of Kokain. Eine Moderne Revue, Fritz Bauer or Stefan Eggeler is encouraged to contact me. The hunt for other issues begins.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Alice Puts On Her Dancing Shoes At Scotland's Library

By Nancy Mattoon

Artwork For The Scottish Ballet's New Production
Based on Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.

(All Images Courtesy of National Library of Scotland.)

The National Library of Scotland has teamed up with the Scottish Ballet to celebrate the creations of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, AKA Lewis Carroll, especially his best known work, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The ballet is mounting a new production based on Carroll's classic tale of Alice's trip down the rabbit hole, featuring choreography by Artistic Director Ashley Page, otherworldly designs from Antony McDonald, and a specially commissioned musical score by Robert Moran. As a tie-in with the Library, the ballet is providing a behind-the-scenes film montage of rehearsals for the pending production, and original costumes and sets from Alice, allowing library-goers to get a sneak preview of the show which premieres at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh in April 2011. Visitors will also have a chance to win tickets to the production by entering a competition at the Library.

John Tenniel's Illustration
Of Alice
and the Infamous "Drink Me" Bottle.

Not to be outdone by the Scottish Ballet, the National Library is bringing out its most treasured pieces of "Wonderlandiana" for a new exhibition. The aptly named Alice in Wonderland Treasures Display launches on Friday, March 18, 2011. Stephanie Breen, senior curator, of the National Library of Scotland, says: "The Alice in Wonderland Treasures Display is a unique opportunity for enthusiasts to get up close to a very rare issue of the book and other treasures which are seldom seen." A true highlight of the show is a rare copy of the withdrawn 1865 first issue of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, which the author hastily recalled after the first print run of 2,000 copies, following complaints about the quality of the printed illustrations from their creator, John Tenniel. Few copies of this run have survived, and the Library's copy is in the original red cloth binding.

Tenniel's Alice Upsetting The Jury Box.

Curator Breen noted that the Library's unusually fine collection of early editions of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland allow visitors to "have a wonderful opportunity to view the first and second editions side by side and examine the differences in printing between the withdrawn 1865 Alice, printed at the Clarendon Press, and the subsequent 1866 edition, printed by Richard Clay as a replacement."

Other highlights of the exhibition include:

  • A presentation copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1866), including a poem specially composed by the author for Marion Terry (1853-1930). Along with her sister, Ellen Terry, Marion became a celebrated stage actress. Miss Terry's presentation copy of The Hunting of the Snark (1876) will also be on display.
  • The first version of the Alice story to appear in color, known as The Nursery "Alice" (1890). The book was adapted for younger readers by Dodgson and accompanied by twenty color versions of John Tenniel's original illustrations, which were engraved and printed by leading Victorian color printer, Edmund Evans.
  • First editions of Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1872) showing the White Knight frontispiece and the Jabberwock illustration. Dodgson initially considered Tenniel's Jabberwock, intended for the frontispiece, "too terrible a monster" for his young readers.
  • An 1893 advertisement apologizing for the printing of the illustrations in the latest press run of Through the Looking-Glass, and requesting holders of copies to return them for exchange. Charles Dodgson wanted his readers to have nothing but "the best workmanship attainable for the price."
Arthur Rackham's Version
The Court Of The Queen Of Hearts.

  • Wonderland ephemera, such as The "Wonderland" Postage-Stamp-Case (first published 1890) and The Game of Logic (1887), as well as many handwritten letters from Dodgson.
Tenniel's Perpetually Late White Rabbit.

Catherine Cassidy, Associate Director of Education, Scottish Ballet, says: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with the National Library of Scotland and are particularly excited about reaching new audiences through both the display and our first ever backstage live stream event on April 21, 2011." Viewers will be treated to a glimpse of life behind the scenes at Scottish Ballet directly before the Company's premiere performance of Alice, and this event can be viewed live at the National Library with a post stream discussion, as well from the Scottish Ballet website. The Alice in Wonderland Treasures Display will be on show from March 18-May 2, 2011 at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Amazing House of Bookshelves

by Stephen J. Gertz

The wooden structure at center appears to be a standard residence.

But step inside and it is anything but standard.

The client, living in Moriguchi, Osaka, Japan, owned an extensive collection of books centering upon Islamic history. He wanted a combination private residence-study with maximum capacity for storage and exhibition of his library.  So, in 2006, the Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio of Kyoto designed the Shelf Pod, in essence a house of bookshelves with a bed and bathroom.

Pinch me. Am I dreaming?

"In order to satisfy this demand effectively, we designed a lattice structure made from 25mm thick laminated pine-board which serve as book-shelves. The dimensions of each shelf are as follows: 360mm height, 300mm width and 300mm depth. All of the architectural elements in this space (stairs, windows, desks, chairs, etc) have been designed on the basis of this shelf scale, with the aim of achieving geometrical harmony which is comparable to Islamic Architecture. This innovative structural system affords not only large amount of book storage, but the possibility of flexible floor level which can be delivered from every height of bookshelf. Each space for different activity rise up helically, giving the impression of exploring a wooden jungle gym.

"The original image of this structure is derived from the Japanese woodcraft of Kumiko (lattice). The structural integrity against an earthquake is provided by a panel of plywood board nailed on the shelf. Initially, the horizontal resistant force guaranteed by the panels was examined in a real-scale model. Further to this, an analysis of the whole structure was performed in order to determine the placement of the windows and panels. The inter-locking laminated pine-board was manufactured precisely in advance and assembled on-site. Similarly, the pyramid-shaped roof was assembled on-site, from 12 pieces of prefabricated wooden roof panel. The completed roof has a thickness of only 230mm and sensitively covers the whole space like the dome of a Mosque.

"In addition to its unique structure, the outer wall employs the construction techniques of a traditional Japanese storehouse Dozou. The bamboo net wall foundation layer was attached to the lattice structure and the clay and straw mixture was applied to the foundation by the trowel. Then the red cedar panels forms exterior wall. The interior clay wall was finished with white plaster. These techniques are in accordance with urban fireproofing specifications, as well as maintaining a suitably humid environment for the storage of books."

In a bathroom flush with bookshelves
you'd need Ex-Lax to get me out of there.

 Site : Moriguchi, JAPAN
Design : Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio / Kazuya Morita ,Issei Kawashima.
Structural Engineer : Mitsuda Structural Consultant.

With thanks to Elmar Seibel of Ars Libri Ltd, who led me to Alex Johnson and his wonderful Bookshelf Blog, which led me to  the Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

'Wellcome' To The World's Filthiest Library Exhibit

By Nancy Mattoon

Poster For The Wellcome Collection's Filthy New Show.
(All Images Courtesy of The Wellcome Library.)

"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

Genesis 3:19 (King James Version)

London's Wellcome Collection and Library, home to one of the world's greatest collections for the study of the history and progress of medicine, is dishing the dirt in a new exhibit. The Wellcome's curators have dug into a mound of over 2 million items, from an ancient Egyptian prescription to the papers of scientist Francis Crick, to create a show which "will reveal the fascinating world of filth that remains one of the very last taboos."

Illustration From: Sir William Watson Cheyne's
Antiseptic surgery: its principles, practice, history and results.
London: Smith Elder, 1882.

The exhibition, entitled Dirt: The Filthy Reality of Everyday Life, consists of over 200 artifacts including rare books, cultural ephemera, scientific documents and instruments, and archival photographs and films, brought together to uncover "a rich history of disgust and delight in the grimy truths and dirty secrets of our past." Inspired by anthropologist Dame Mary Douglas's observation that dirt is "matter out of place," the show is organized around six cities, in six different periods of history, and six different countries, to show the ever-changing attitudes of mankind towards filth and cleanliness. It begins in the South Holland city of Delft in 1683, and ends with a look to the future: the city of New York in 2030.

Author Portrait and Illustration From:
Arcana naturæ detecta / ab Antonie van Leeuwenhoek.
Delphis Batavorum : Apud Henricum a Krooneveld , 1695.

The three earliest cities chosen for the show provide the most documentation based on rare books and ephemera. The first highlights the obsessively clean culture of the homemakers of Delft, circa 1683. Here we see paintings and engravings of "housewives and their maidservants maintaining a strict regime of sweeping, scouring and polishing interiors that already appear spotless." Also included are some of the earliest sketches of bacteria, as found in the drawings of scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, often called "the father of microbiology," who stumbled upon the existence of microscopic organisms after developing a magnifying lens to examine the quality of cloth.

E.H. Dixon's 1837 Watercolor Of London's Great Dust Heap.

Next, we are taken to a street in Victorian London. Included is an 1837 watercolor of what was known as "The Great Dust Heap At Kings Cross." This enormous, black mountain of refuse blotted out the sky above Euston Road with cinders and ash. Mixed with the remnants of burnt coal and wood were rotting vegetables and meat, whole animal carcasses, rags, metal, glass, and the occasional dismembered human body part or entire corpse. The dust heap is an important location in Charles Dickens novel, Our Mutual Friend (1864-65), and was also the subject of a scathing 1850 article by R.H. Horne entitled "Dust or Ugliness Redeemed," and printed in the magazine published by Dickens, Household Words.

William Alfred Delamotte's 1847
Watercolor Of A Case Of Hospital Gangrene.

The final of the three cities in the exhibition well documented by the Wellcome Library is Glasgow, Scotland in the second half of the 19th century. Here, the focus is on the hospital, and early efforts at creating a sterile environment for surgery and recovery. The works of Joseph Lister and Sir William Watson Cheyne illustrate the attempt to overcome the filthy environment which resulted in an astounding 90 per cent chance of amputation due to infection among Glasgow Hospital patients treated for broken limbs or compound fractures, circa 1867. Lister discovered that carbolic acid was being used to mask the stench of the sewers of nearby Carlisle, and decided to apply the same principle in the operating room, spraying surfaces with the corrosive to eradicate bacteria. Cheyne documented this and other new methods of hospital hygiene in his book, Antiseptic surgery: its principles, practice, history and results. (1882)

One of the Earliest Depictions Of Bacteria.
Arcana naturæ detecta / ab Antonie van Leeuwenhoek.
Delphis Batavorum : Apud Henricum a Krooneveld , 1695.

A companion book to the exhibition, also entitled Dirt: The Filthy Reality of Everyday Life (2011), has been published by Profile Books. It is filled with illustrations from the Wellcome Library and Archives, and features several new essays as well as "a short graphic novel section on the significance and implications of dirt from the microbial level through to the environmental." Ken Arnold, director of public programs at the Wellcome Collection summed up the idea behind the book and the exhibit, "Dirt is everywhere and periodically we get very worried about it. But we have also discovered that we need bits of it and guiltily, secretly, we are sometimes drawn to it." The makes perfect sense, since as the burial service in the Book Of Common Prayer (1662) reminds us, we will all eventually be reduced to that from which we came: "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust."


Monday, March 21, 2011

The Most Significant Books of California History, Part 2

by Stephen J. Gertz

Zamorano Select, a companion volume to the essential The Zamorano 80 (1945), has just been published by the Zamorano Club. It is an instant must-have for collectors of Californiana, specifically rare books about California history, and key reference. 

This collection of bibliographical essays, limited to only 350 copies, covers 120 significant books in California history, ranging in date from On the Ambitious Projects of Russia in Regard to North West America (1830) to The California Gold Rush (1997). The contributing writers are Larry E. Burgess, William G. Donohoo, Alan Jutzi, and Gordon J. Van De Water.  Gary Kurutz provides an Introduction. Ordering details below.

The Zamorano Club is Southern California’s oldest organization of bibliophiles and manuscript collectors. Founded in 1928, it sponsors lectures and publications on bookish topics. Most noteworthy among the latter is the Zamorano 80 (1945), a member-selected and -written catalogue of the most significant books in California history. The Club was named in honor of Agustín V. Zamorano (1798-1842), a provisional governor of Alta California and the state’s first printer.

Launch Party for a Reference Book? Yowsa!

Here's a paragraph I never thought I'd write:

If you live in or plan to visit Southern California, on Saturday, March 26 at 5 p.m. a party to celebrate the publication of Zamarano Select will be held at The Book Shop, 134 N Citrus Ave., in Covina. The event is open to the public and refreshments will be served. 

A special display of some of the books featured in  Zamorano Select has been arranged. In addition, contributors to the Select will talk about some 
of the books chosen and will be on hand to sign copies.

The concept of a book party and signing for a limited edition of a somewhat esoteric volume screams parallel universe - check to make sure the sun rose in the east when you woke up this morning. And yet...

That a public party in honor of this book has been organized will come as no surprise to those who know Brad Johnson, proprietor of The Book Shop along with his wife Jennifer. Brad began his career in the trade as a neonate, selling used books on how to influence parents to the formerly fetus in the infant ward. He began working at The Book Shop as a teenager. Now in his early thirties, he has been an (official) bookman for half his life. One day we're all going to be working for or buying from this guy.

For more information regarding the launch party please email Jen Johnson or call (626) 967-1888.

BURGESS, Larry E. William G. Donohoo, Alan Jutzi, and Gordon J. Van De Water. Zamarano Select. With an introduction is by Gary Kurutz. Los Angeles: Zamarano Club, 2011. 176 pp, 26 illustrations including eight tipped-in color plates. Octavo. 9-1/4 x 6-1/8 inches, decorated cloth. offset printed. Designed and produced by Peter Rutledge Koch with the assistance of Jonathan Gerken.

Limited to 350 copies, of which 66 are reserved for subscribers.

$100 ($65 to members) plus applicable tax and shipping. Trade terms available.

To order, or for further details, please email the Club Secretary, Stephen Tabor or phone (626) 405-2179.

A selected list of the publications of the Zamorano Club is available here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Untested Tranquilizer Back In Circulation At Yale Library

By Nancy Mattoon

"Monty," Yale Law Library's
Controversial Canine Tranquilizer.

(Image Courtesy of Lillian Goldman Law Library.)

A Booktryst story first reported in September 2010, concerning the illicit use of an untested tranquilizer at the Yale Law School Library, has taken a new turn. Once again, the scoop on the continuing controversy involving the Lillian Goldman Law Library comes from the online legal tabloid, Above The Law. Last year, the tabloid revealed staffers at the library were circulating a stress-reliever with the street name "Monty" to calm the frayed nerves of the school's would-be legal eagles. Once this irresponsible experiment came to light, the controversial substance was suddenly "withdrawn," and Goldman librarian Julian Aiken denied the entire episode, claiming: "I'm not quite sure where Above the Law got its information from, but we have not actually proceeded with circulating Monty."

Lillian Goldman Law Library's
Original Full
Catalog Record For "Monty."
It Was Mysteriously Deleted In September, 2010.

But a March 10, 2011 internal memo obtained by Above The Law reveals that far from abandoning the study of the tranquilizer, technically known as, "Border Terrier Mix General Montgomery," the Yale staffers are now planning a controlled clinical trial of the substance, using volunteer students as guinea pigs. According to the Goldman Library memo: "The Law library intends to run a three-day pilot program starting on March 28, 2011 during which students will be able to “check out” our certified library therapy dog, Monty, for thirty minute periods. We hope that making a therapy dog available to our students will prove to be a positive addition to current services offered by the library."

Above The Law's Paparazzi Captured
This Candid Shot
Of Monty in 2010.

It appears that this time around library staffers are determined to rigorously test their new treatment for the psychologically overwhelmed students of America's top-rated law school. Again quoting from the internal memo, "Beginning March 21, 2011, a sign-up sheet with additional information will be available at the circulation desk for students wishing to check out Monty. Even though Monty is hypoallergenic, visits will be confined to a dedicated non-public space in the library to eliminate potential adverse reactions from any library user who might have dog-related concerns. We are committed to ensuring our library remains a welcoming and comfortable environment for all our users. Finally, we will need your feedback and comments to help us decide if this will be a permanent on-going program available during stressful periods of the semester, for example during examinations."

Another 2010 Document From The Goldman Library,
Since Removed From The Catalog.

However, even with this new, much more tightly structured approach to introducing the still-experimental Monty to psychologically vulnerable scholars, official Yale sources remain tight-lipped regarding the stress reliever. "We can confirm that the Law Library is, in fact, doing this pilot program with Monty, the therapy dog, but beyond that, we have nothing to add," said Kathy Colello, the news director in the Office of Public Affairs. When contacted, Goldman library assistant Eugene Kozoloff maintained complete ignorance, stating he had seen “neither hide nor hair” of the dog. But recent law school alum Sohail Ramirez says he has already been introduced to Monty, and can verify that he is “definitely real and awesome.”

Yale's Original Mascot,
"Handsome Dan" The Bulldog,
Is Eerily Similar To Monty.

(Image Courtesy of the Yale University
Manuscripts & Archives Digital Images Database.)

Booktryst's independent research has revealed some facts that would seem to back-up the validity of the study, but also some decidedly cautionary information. Since Monty is a "mix," that means some of his genetic background remains a question mark. But according to Wikipedia, the Border Terrier breed's "love of people and even temperament make them fine therapy dogs, especially for children and the elderly, and they are occasionally used to aid the blind or deaf." On the other hand, student test subjects should have a care, Border Terriers were "originally bred as fox and vermin hunters...they will get along well with cats that they have been raised with, but may chase other cats and small animals such as mice, rabbits, squirrels, rats, and guinea pigs." (Emphasis mine.)


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book Artist Alireza Darvish's Battle Against Censorship

by Stephen J. Gertz

Now living in Cologne, Germany, with his wife, Carmen, a historian of photography, Iranian-born  artist Alireza Darvish, who has used books as metaphors in his art, is a political refugee.

On Monday, Booktryst provided an overview of his work. Today, we follow-up and hear directly from Alireza Darvish.

BT: What inspired you to integrate books into your art?

AD: The reason why I started working on this series was because of censorship and its effects on people's life (specially writers and visual artists) in Iran.

It was around 20 years ago (when I was 23) that I started working on this topic. I myself had to throw my books about prohibited topics/authors to the closest river to avoid getting in trouble when I was only 15 years old. Some years later, I started working as an illustrator in a literature journal in Tehran, and there I came in contact again with this problem. So the first years that I worked on this topic I was under the influence of a particular political reaction bounded to my homeland. 

BT: What happened?

AD: Needless to say, I got in trouble for my work in Iran.

In 1995 I decided to move to Germany and received official status as politic refugee three years later. This time, a second phase in my work starts: I finally managed to go out of the political reality of Iran and my work became universal, the human being and her/his relation to the world of "books" (metaphors for any problem that might concern me) what shapes my work: human rights, love, women rights, fear, solitude, human relations, literature, etc....

These drawings have also entered  my animated film work, many of them becoming alive through animation of the same drawing ("The Foot Steps of Water" 2006, and "What If Spring Does Not Come?" 2007).


Once again, we thank Alireza Darvish for permission to reproduce his imagery here on Booktryst, and for allowing us into his world.
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