Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Lean. Mean Machine For Those Who Use Their Brains To Earn a Buck

By Stephen J. Gertz

The Royal Standard Typewriter is the ideal machine for the Author or Journalist, because of its versatility - added convenience. A literary man MUST be original: he should use the writing machine whose whole keynote is originality.

The Royal is not made especially for the use of writers, but for EVERYBODY who needs a typewriter. It is essentially the businessman's machine, complete in every detail.

Everything Included.
No Extras.

You've heard of the "master key" that fits every lock - did you ever hear of a Master-Model of a typewriter?

One Typewriter With the Combined Advantages of Many!

Think of all the combined advantages of several typewriters you have seen, concentrated in ONE standard writing-machine that handles perfectly every known form of general correspondence and does card-writing and condensed billing besides - without a single extra attachment to complicate the mechanism or add extra cost to your typewriter equipment - and you will have a fairly good conception of the MASTER-MODEL of the Royal!

The Best Built Typewriter in the World
Write for the "Royal Book" - or send for a "Royal Man"
Room 93, Royal Typewriter Building, NEW YORK
Branches and Agencies in All Parts of the World


A literary man MUST be original: he should use the writing machine whose whole keynote is originality. Which is why I used a Royal Standard Typewriter to compose this post. I simply thought about it and the machine responded with original text. It's magic! And with the Royal Standard Typewriter I never experience the blue screen of death, so common with inferior machines of later invention.

Full Disclosure: In 1913, the year this advertisement appeared and  thirty-eight years before I was born, I received a lifetime supply of typewriter ribbons from the Royal Typewriter Company in exchange for product placement and personal endorsement.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Only Book In History Bound In A Dinner Napkin, Or Gentility Takes A Nosedive

By Stephen J. Gertz

 Buy it. Go to some dinner party and follow instructions. You'll be murdered on the spot or sent to some asylum for dippymaniacs, either of which is quite captivating and costs nothing above the price of the book. Costs a quarter. Worth a lot more. If your dealer hasn't it we will send one postpaid for 30¢. (Ad at rear of Trench Gas: A Bunch of Many Clever Chestnuts by Bert Milton, 1918).
"The Best Dinner Souvenir Ever Published"

"Bert Milton has written some good stuff on 'How To Behave At A Banquet.' By following directions, you will land in a padded cell, with accomodations provided free of charge by the State. The covers of the book are nothing more or less than old-fashioned fringed napkins. The thing is unique throughout, and should be served up with the soup. Makes a fine favor for banquets, spreads, 'feeds,' and all convivial occasions where the 'eats' play a leading 'roll.' Read 'How To Behave At A Banquet.' It is worth while (Publisher's advert., 1912).

A few tips from the text for social climbers in need of rope and pitons to ascend to the heights of CLASSY COMPORTMENT at the banquet table:

• As you approach the table make a RUNNING JUMP for your chair, endeavoring to BE THE FIRST SEATED. Everybody probably will remark about YOUR AGILITY. A modest blush will be your only answer.

• The meal is about to begin. Hitch RIGHT UP to the TABLE -- placing your ARMS in an ADVANTAGEOUS POSITION on either side of your plate. Keep your WEATHER eye on your COMPETITORS -- forgetting everything but the WORK that is BEFORE you. Don't let anyone GET AHEAD of you.

• When starting on a plate full of GOOD things, DISCARD YOUR FORK temporarily. You can hold a good deal more still on a knife. Use the fork to CLEAN UP with. A piece of bread serves excellently as a DISH RAG. It saves the hostess washing plates.

• Now and then a bone sticks in one's throat while eating fish. DON'T TRY TO COUGH IT WAY ACROSS THE ROOM. In a MODEST MANNER fish for it with your FORK and above all things don't make a FUSS about it.

• Sometimes they start a dinner with a MUCH PICKLED fish - oysters disguised IN CATSUP - shad's woe - ET CETERA AD INFINITUM. This is a very crucial moment. Sit back and hold tight until you see what the others do and then - GO TO IT - with a VIM.

• Managing a salad is VERY TRYING at times. It is so hard to eat one without getting MUSSED UP around the MOUTH. We suggest leaving it alone. Don't LET ON that you are crazy to GET AWAY WITH IT. People will think that you have a DELICATE APPETITE, which is considered by many to be a mark of aristocracy.

• Soon they will bring on some SOUP. Hearing a good LOUD soup is VERY enjoyable. There will be several spoons beside yur plate. We really can never remember WHICH ONE to choose but pick out a BIG ONE at any rate. While sipping the soup make a cute noise like a leaky faucet. This is RECHERCHE in the extreme.

• If, inadvertently, you get a SPOT on the table-cloth, absent-mindedly place a piece of BREAD over it, butter side down. the BUTTER will keep the bread from sliding off.

• If you SPILL your coffee in your neighbor's lap -- INSTANTLY assure him that you really didn't care for the coffee anyway. Tell him not to mind it at all.

A dinner roll of unleavened proverbs is also served:

¶ Eat, drink and be merrie;
for to-morrow the good things may be scarce.

¶ Scrape well thy first plate;
that thy second may be fuller.

¶ Eat and the world eats with you.
Fast and you fast alone.

¶ To eat is human -
To digest divine!

¶ Taste makes Waist!

¶ Don't put off 'til tomorrow
what you can chew today!

¶ One good course
deserves another!

¶ If at first you don't fill up -
Try, try again!

Clearly, Bert Milton was Miss Manners' worst nightmare, the result of an illicit adolescent l'amour fou with Clem Kadiddlehopper.

One of the prelim pages notes:

Other Books Not Yet Written By Bert Milton, A.M., M. & P.M.

"Boney Beaney, the Boston Boy"
"What To Do If A Pickle Bites You"
"A Hand To Hand Encounter With A Clam"
"Lisping Lizzie," etc.

Other books actually written by Bert Milton and published by A.M. Davis are:

How To Behave In A Ballroom (1914)
Trench Gas: A Bunch of Many Clever Chestnuts (1918)
How To Behave In a Hospital! (1930)
Bed-Time Stories For Convalescents (1932)
More Bed-Time Stories For Convalescents (1932).

"Bert Milton" was the pseudonym of publisher Albert Milton Davis.

The book is twenty-four pages long and that's around twelve pages too many. It's a one-joke concept and its delight soon dampens; there's something crucial lacking -  these are latter-day captions to early-day Cruikshank and Rowlandson  caricatures they never designed but whose theme they often satirized in their era. The text illustrations are just not strong enough to carry the joke very far.

It's a rare little thing; OCLC records only four copies in institutional holdings worldwide. Princeton felt it worthy of their shelves. So, too, the National Library of Wales (or, as we say in Yiddish, the Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru). Why?

How To Behave At A Banquet is, to the best of my knowledge, the  only intentionally published book that, when finished reading, you can wipe your mouth with. But gracefully, please. When a scribe lays out a nice spread only a primitive demonstrates postprandial satisfaction by mopping their yap like it's a bar-top.

MILTON, Bert [pseud. of Albert Milton Davis]. How to Behave at a Banquet: Being a nifty thing to have around in case of an emergency. Boston: A.M. Davis Co., [1912]. Tall narrow octavo. 24 pp. Text illustrations. Linen wrappers

Wrapper image courtesy of David Mason Rare Books, currently offering this item, with our thanks.

Friday, July 27, 2012

American Rare Book Trade Ads From 1902, Part III

By Stephen J. Gertz

We continue our series on vintage rare book trade ads from 1902. Catch-up with Part I and Part II.

John Anderson Jr. aka Anderson Auction Company and Anderson Galleries, was the foremost auctioneer of books in America of his generation, handling the sale of some of the most important collections ever offered, including the library of John Greenleaf Whittier, and, in 1916, portions of the libraries of Henry Huntington, and William K. Bixby.

"Born in 1856, Anderson attended school in Brooklyn and, as soon as he was able, set up as a rare-book dealer. Books, however, were not his main interest; he was, he said, 'a lover of good pictures many years before I was able to buy one,' and 'books cost less than pictures,' so he collected works on various painters, and while he taught himself about art, his business did well. After a few years he was able to move uptown from his stark original store on Nassau Street in Manhattan to 30 East Fifty-Seventh Street, where he opened the Anderson Auction Company. He sold books and then prints and quickly became a real force in the city’s art circles. But that wasn’t what Anderson wanted. Having established one of the best-known auction houses in the country, he promptly sold it, and in 1908 he took his profits and went to Europe to buy paintings" (The Man Who Discovered Turner's Secret, American Heritage). He became the world's foremost collector and historian of artist J.M.W. Turner.

We met the legendary bookseller George D. Smith in Part I. Here he offers the first American edition Campbell's Life of Mrs. Siddons (1834) for $1.50. In 2012, prices for the original first UK edition of the same year range from $100 - $240. The first US edition is rarer yet if any copies come into the marketplace the price will likely be less, adjusted for inflation, than Smith's $1.50 in 1902. Vadit vita  Sarah Siddons...

"The binding on the little volume entitled 'Lyra elegantiarum,' recently bound for the noted booklover, Mr. Henry W. Poor, by the Adams Bindery of this city, is so exquisite in design and execution that those long skeptical of the ability of Americans to bind artistically should now be convinced of their error. The outside of the cover is inlaid by Mr. Adams in the manner which has made him famous, and for which he originated the name 'Viennese Inlay' with an entirely new motif...It is to be hoped that all American binders will be encouraged to strive toward producing designs that are in a measure original and which show more of the individual touch of the artist" (New York Times, October 11, 1902).

Ralph Randolph Adams was, along with Henry Stikeman (who we discussed in Part I) and a handful or others, one of the great American art bookbinders of his era. He developed a new method of mosaic binding that blew everyone away with his work's exquisite beauty and breathtaking craftsmanship.

"We now have in New York City a bindery where the practical and the aesthetic are combined. Ralph Randolph Adams has succeeded in accomplishing something that was considered to be impossible, and, in spite of the severest tests, the bindings that he has executed stand triumphant. Generally speaking, American artists are behind their French contemporaries in the matter of design but Mr. Adams has demonstrated that he is at least the equal to the french in this direction" (The Art Interchange).

The impossible that Adams succeeded at was in perfecting the mosaic binding technique popular in Vienna hundreds of years ago but impractical because the binders of the day could not prevent the leather from cracking and parting; the bindings didn't last. All so-called "inlay" or mosaic binding after that time through Adams was actually onlaid work, the leather applied as a veneer atop a foundation leather. It was Adams who figured out how to do true mosaic work, the pieces of leather cut and applied directly on the bare board and flush with each other. Adams often used up to 1500 pieces of leather when creating his mosaic bindings. It was insanely intense and difficult to do. Adams did it anyway.

"The cost of binding a book in the new Viennese style originated by Mr. Adams is necessarily great as the work requires such concentration that Mr. Adams is unable to work at it for more than a few hours at a time" (The Observer).

An exhibit of Adams' "Viennese Bindings" was held at Scribner's bookshop in early 1902. The books  thus bound were offered for $1,250. In 2012 dollars, that's approximately $28,000. They were not for the casual collector. Adams' clients were fat-cats, J.P. Morgan amongst them.

Adams was proud of his work.  On the upper turn-in of his mosaic bindings will be found "Adams Bindery. Viennese Inlay. R.R.A. [year]" stamped in gilt.

In 1904, Arnold Lethwidge wrote The Bookbindings of Ralph Randolph Adams: An Appreciation, published by The Literary Collector.

Strange unknown chapter in American bookbinding history: 

On August 10, 1915  Ralph Randolph Adams filed for, and on July 10, 1923 was granted a U.S. Patent for "Radioactive Spray Material."

"The object of this invention is to provide a radio-active substance for the purpose of stimulating plant growth. A further object is to provide a radio-active substance for the prevention and destruction of insects, larvae, eggs, bacteria and fungi which are injurious to plants or animals. A further object is to provide a material having these properties which can be efficiently applied by spraying, and which will adhere to the parts of plants above ground...or to the fur, feathers or skin of animals [our emphasis] which are bothered by pests...(U.S. Patent No. 1461340).

In short, Adams invented a radioactive insect-killer to spray on the leather he used for binding as a preservative to prevent pests from harming his work. Adams "Viennese" bindings prior to 1910 do not, presumably, require use of a Geiger counter, and, having one from 1902 recently pass through my hands, I am relieved. It is unknown to this writer whether Adams' post-patent bindings glow in the dark.

Despite his no nonsense, cut to the bone, no credit, cash-only, books as strictly merchandise "no axe to grind" leap-off-the-page advertisement Niel Morrow Ladd rates nary a word in Stern or Dickinson.  

Circa 1910, Niel Morrow Ladd published Co-Operative Book-selling: An offering of stock in the company, with description of its plan to accumulate and sell used books across the country through the co-operative agency of the stockholders who will earn commissions, dividends and discounts. This proto-franshise scheme does not appear to have caught on.

Famed NYC rare bookseller Walter Goldwater (1907-1985), who established his shop in 1932, had this to say about Ladd, who appears to have remained in business into the 1930s.

"Niel Morrow Ladd eventually died, and I bought the contents of the shop. I don’t remember how I engineered the thing. I guess I continued to have a sale there for a while and then brought the rest over to my shop. I remember at that time there were remainders of certain histories of Flatbush, which he was selling for ten cents and later on using for backing on shelves, which now bring $10 to $25 on the market. He had simply a vast number of them, perhaps hundreds. They were either published by him or published by some friend of his, and they were in great quantity. There were a number of things of that sort -- histories of Brooklyn -- which we didn’t know anything about and didn’t care about. In fact, they didn’t have any market value at the time. There was a history of Harlem by Riker which he had in great quantity which is now desirable. But those were the old days, of course, and that's the typical thing that happened" (New York City Bookshops in the 1930s and 1940s: The Recollections of Walter Goldwater , DLB Yearbook, 1993, pp. 139-172).

Whoever Ladd was he has won a place in my heart as a fellow bird-brained bookman. He was the author of How To Attract Wild Birds About The Home (1915) and How To Make Friends With Birds (1916).

In 1789, Baltimore, along with New York and Philadelphia, was considered the home of America's greatest booksellers, with most books, rare or otherwise, purchased and shipped across the country from those cities. By the early 19th century, however, "Baltimore's promise as a bookselling center was not fulfilled...Baltimore lost to Philadelphia, never sustaining the position as a bookselling center that had once seemed within its reach" (Stern).

Baltimore's current Royal Books, Kelmscott Bookshop, and Johanson Rare Books are doing their best to fulfill the city's initial promise.

Rare bookseller The Baltimore Book Co. is not mentioned at all by Stern or Dickinson. The company published James McSherry's History of Maryland in 1904.

Pickering & Chatto began as rare and antiquarian booksellers in 1820. They're still around,  now known as much for their publishing operation as their bookselling activity.

Bookseller and publisher J.W. Bouton (1847?-1902) began as an errand-boy for publisher D. Appleton & Company. He established his first  rare book shop in 1857 in downtown New York; by 1885 he'd moved uptown and opened two salesrooms. 

"Bouton specialized in early printing, English literature and Americana, much of it gathered on his annual trips to Europe. In 1888 he claimed to have completed thirty-nine such overseas buying trips" (Dickinson). 

The American Bookseller, reviewing one of Bouton's catalogs in 1889, said that Bouton "is well-known as one of our most indefatigable and judicious collectors." He was a leading - and quite successful -  figure in the trade for more than fifty years. The ad above, appearing shortly after his death, heralds the sale of his "magnificent" stock.

Bouton also published. I first became aware of him through his publication of Taylor's The Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries (1875); Inman's Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism (1884); and Samuel Dunlap's mouthful, The Ghebers of Hebron. An introduction to the Gheborim in the lands of the Sethim, the Moloch worship, the Jews as Brahmans, the Shepherds of Canaan, the Amorites, Kheta, and Azarielites, the Sun-Temples on the High Places, the Pyramid and Temple of Khufu, the Mithramysteries, the Mithrabaptism, and succesive oriental conceptions from Jordan Fireworship to Ebionism (1898).

When I first began to investigate sex in religion some thirty years ago, Bouton's publication of Westropp and Wake's Ancient Symbol Worship. Influence of the Phallic Idea in the Religions of Antiquity (1875) was (and remains)  a tumescent reference.

Henry Blackwell (1851-1928), bookbinder and bookseller, bibliographer and biographer, was the son of bookbinder Richard Blackwell of Liverpool.  In 1873 his bindery appeared in the Liverpool directory.

Blackwell emigrated to New York in 1877 and supervised a large bindery. In 1892 he established his  own shop. Blackwell played a prominent part in the Welsh-American life of his adopted country. He was a scholar of Welsh literature as well as binding, his 1899 essay, Notes on Bookbinding, a memorable contribution. Henry Blackwell does not appear to be related to the Blackwells that established their eponymous bookshop in St. Clements, U.K. in 1846 and grew it into  the academic and rare book colossus that it is today.

Little is known about The Burrows Brothers Co. of Cleveland beyond that they provided early, valuable experience to two major figures in the American rare book trade, Arthur H. Clark (1898-1951) and William Harvey Miner (1877-1934).

Clark,  a British ex-pat who had just completed a four year apprenticeship with Henry Sotheran & Co. in London before arriving in the U.S., was rare books manager and publications supervisor at Burrows Brothers. After leaving Burrows in 1902 due to a profit-sharing dispute, he established is own shop in Cleveland devoted to Americana. His pricing philopsophy reflected John Ruskin, a quotation from whom graced each of Clark's catalogs: "All work of quality must bear a price in proportion to the skill, time, expense, and risk attending their invention and manufacture." In 1930 Clark moved his shop from Cleveland to Glendale, California.

Miner, an 1897 Yale graduate, initially worked in  NYC antiquarian bookshop/publisher Dodd, Mead's rare book department. Next stop, c. 1902 (the year of this Burrows advert.), Cleveland, in charge of the Burrows Brothers Co. rare book department. In 1916 he migrated to St. Louis and established his own shop where he was known as a responsible and resourceful dealer and respected bibliographical scholar. One major library director noted of Miner that "There are few men with whom I would rather scan a suspicious looking and dusty bookshelf, than with him."

By the Fall of 1902, after three months of advertisements in The Literary Collector that, apparently, did nothing to improve its fortunes, our hapless rare bookseller, S.F. McLean & Co., honed its message to a simple, declarative blunt point: BOOKS. BED ROCK PRICES.

Considering that the land in Manhattan upon which S.F. McLean & Co. sat  remains billion year-old bedrock 150-500 feet thick, McLean's prices for old and rare books  must surely have been very low, solidly so, and etched in granite.


STERN, Madelaine B. Antiquarian Bookselling in the United States (1985).
DICKINSON, Donald C. Dictionary of American Antiquarian Bookdealers (1998).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

An Amazing Labyrinth Of Books

By Stephen J. Gertz

From July 31 - August 26 2012 the Southbank Centre Clore Ballroom in London will host aMAZEme, an art project that integrates literature books, performance, installation and cinema. It's just one of many events at the 2012 London Festival.

Created by Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo, aMAZEme provides a total immersive experience for those who attend. The audience is subtly led into a labyrinth of books. Once lost in the maze, curiosity, knowledge and creativity are stimulated.

It's as if Richard Serra traded-in his monumental slabs of rolled steel for monumental walls constructed from 250,000 (yes, 250,000) books.

The audience fully participates in the project, discovering new textures, images and emotions. They become surrounded- hypnotized – by words and thoughts, designs and patterns.

There appear to be secrets hidden in the installation’s walls, which are up to 2.5 meters high, built from thousands of books, forming a 500 square meter maze.

The construction of the labyrinth and public participation will be filmed by video cameras and sent to the “aMAZEme" website as well as to social media sites. Touch screens will be installed to look up information and to screen content, which will also be shown in monitors throughout the installation.

The public will be able to navigate through this hypnotic and surprising “book labyrinth” or attend daily performances from literary figures.

All images courtesy of Southbank Centre, with our thanks.

Today's post freely adapted from the aMAZEme press release because I am currently experiencing a bad case of acute slugopathy with swollen lethargy, lazy bones, and iron-poor blood. Cerebral hemispheres not operating on all cylinders, either. Geritol or Vin Mariani tonics indicated but not ingested.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

American Rare Book Trade Ads From 1902, Part II

By Stephen J. Gertz

We continue with our three-part series on vintage rare book trade ads from The Literary Collector, 1902. You can catch-up with American Rare Book Trade Ads From 1902, Part I here.

There is no mention of our hapless bookseller S.F. McLean & Co. in Madeleine B. Stern's invaluable Antiquarian Bookselling in the United States: A History from the Origins to the 1940s (1985) or in Dickinson's Dictionary of American Antiquarian Booksellers (1998). We know from the firm's advertisement found in Part I of this series that McLean was enduring lean times. "Something wrong. Perhaps our books are N.G. Don't think they were priced too high." 

Above, however, McLean faces down the demon. Macmillan's beautiful 1898 edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam originally sold for $3.50. McLean offered an as new copy (perhaps a remainder) for 65¢. Find a copy now and it'll set you back $300-$400.

Stayed tuned for Part III of this series, in which S.F. McLean & Co. gets down to the real nitty-gritty in 36-point pica.

Advertisements for E.F. Bonaventure can be found as early as 1885.

"Additions to my stock are being made constantly, both by direct consignments from abroad and by the purchase of libraries amd private collections. As I visit the European Bookmarts annually, and have made arrangements with the principal publishers there, I receive all the finest publications, (especially Parisian), as soon as issued.

"I have on hand a large assortment of etchings and engravings — both Ancient and Modem — many in fine proof state," he declares in an 1885 catalog.

The Vale Press, established in England in 1896 by Charles Ricketts,  survived until 1905. It was amongst the great  publishers that emerged during the private press movement, a renaissance of fine printing and binding that was established as part of the Arts and Crafts movement in protest to mechanization

The press of Thomas B. Mosher fulfilled the same mission in the United States.

Booksellers Daniel O'Shea, E.W. Johnson, Davis' Bookstore, and Shepard Book Company escaped the notice of Stern and Dickinson. Of Shepard Book Company of Salt Lake City, Utah - "We carry the largest stock in the world of books on Mormonism, Anti-Mormonism and the West. Also curious, rare and old books on every subject" - all I can say is, Hello Ken Sanders Rare Books of SLC, "Creating Chaos Out Of Anarchy for a Better Tomorrow." Ken, known to the general public as the rare book appraiser on Antiques Roadshow with gray ponytail, long gray beard, and merry eyes that can melt your brain with their gaze and a heart that can melt yours, has successfully assumed Shepard Book Company's mission. Mrs. Helen Schlie is definitely not in the same league - nor on the same planet - with Ken.

George H. Richmond (1849-1904) began his career in the trade in 1877 as assistant to Robert H. Dodd, who managed the rare book department of Dodd, Mead, the bookshop that became a publisher. Leaving Dodd in 1892, he tried his hand at subscription publishing but, three years later, in 1895, bought the stock of a bookdealer and established his own shop. He was "one of the most able and daring of the New York booksellers."

The above 1902 advertisement for rare book dealer Edward Dressel North (1858-1945) is significant. That was the year he opened his own shop after an apprenticeship that began in the early 1880s as a cataloger for Scribner & Welford, a position he held until he opened his store. His was a diverse stock - American and English literature, European history, fine press books, art, architecture, travel and biography. His cataloging experience served him well. Through carefully written and edited sales catalogs he attracted the attention of the great tycoon book collectors. Henry C. Folger, Frank J. Hogan, and Henry E. Huntington became regular clients. His immortality, in my view, rests with his telling Huntington to take a hike.

"North never compromised his own professional independence. In March, 1919, when Huntington asked for a discount on a particular item, North told the California collector that he 'ran a one price shop and made it an unvarying rule not to allow a discount to anyone'" (Dickinson). Thereafter, Huntington, of course, bought from other dealers. North survived and thrived,. He, at times, rivaled Rosenbach in the auction rooms, much to Rosenbach's chagrin as he was often bidding on Huntington's behalf, who must surely have cursed North, who must surely have laughed.

More vintage trade ads in Part III.


STERN, Madeleine B. Antiquarian Bookselling in the United States (1985).
DICKINSON, Donald C. Dictinary of American Antiquarian Bookdealers (1998).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jazz Age High Society In Paris Tears Up The Dance Floor

By Stephen J. Gertz

Front wrapper.

Published in 1927, White Bottoms by SEM (Georges Goursat) is considered by many to be the most decorative,  charming and electric work illustrating the joy and excess of the Jazz Age.; the title humorousy refers to the Black Bottom, the dance craze that overtook the Charleston as the era's trademark leg-play.

The figures almost dance off the plates and into your lap to le jazz hot you can almost hear from the cats laying out wild rhythms and frenzied riffs. Everyone cuts loose. The energy is palpable.

This is Parisian high society of Le Belle Epoch grown-up and co-opting the flaming youth culture of the Roaring Twenties before their own flame dies down and out. High society is slumming in safety here, embracing the thrills without the danger,  the highly animated last gasp of forty-to-fifty-somethings, many of whom have gotten a bit thick around the middle. Matrons throw themselves into it with abandon while older gentlemen rev-up what's left of their engines in the company of young dolls or women of a certain age from the neck up trying to hold their own from the waist down. Everybody is having a great time.

Georges Goursat was born into comfortable circumstances. When he turned twenty-one he came into an inheritance that allowed him to indulge his youth. He could have been a wastrel but he had a natural gift as a caricaturist and worked to develop it.

He signed his first self-published albums, issued in the late 1880s, as SEM, reportedly in homage to CHAM, the 19th century French caricaturist born Amédée de Noé. During the 1890s, while living in Bordeaux, he began to contribute caricatures to magazines, and was influenced by graphic artist Leonetto Cappiello.

At the same time, while visiting Paris, he designed posters that were printed by the studio of master poster designer, Jules Chéret.

He moved to Paris in 1900 and entered its high society as a monied aficionado of the sport of kings. Firmly in the saddle of the horsey-set, Goursat, just three months after his Parisian debut, self-published Le Turf, featuring many of the city's socialites. It was a smash and its success brought him instant celebrity. Over the next thirteen years he self-published ten other albums caricaturing the Parisian upper-class.

The war years saw a different SEM. He was a war correspondent and issued two albums of war sketches, images far afield of his previous work.

The post-war years saw a return to his former style, his first album of the new era, Le Grande Monde à l'envers (High Society Upside-Down), published in 1919.

In his sixties during the 'Twenties he self-published Le Nouveau Monde (The New World), caricatures in three volumes. He was at this point an observer rather than participant in the devil-may-care culture that had swept Europe and America after World War I. In 1923 he became an officer in the Légion d'honneur.

By the time White Bottoms appeared toward the end of the decade he was tired; it was his last burst of energy. The financial crisis of 1929 impoverished him. He had a heart attack,  and later died in 1934.

Note Josephine Baker at lower left.

White Bottoms remains the most pointed and illustrative depiction (and certainly the most gently  humorous), of the aging Parisian upper-class of the era as it frantically pursues pleasure while it still can. It is, in retrospect, a fraught record of the last days of full sun in Paris before the cold eclipse of the 'Thirties darkened spirits,  a depressing crash after a decade-long cocaine-like binge.

OCLC records only two complete copies in institutional holdings worldwide.  It is of the utmost rarity compete with all of its forty-three pochoir plates present. Sets were very soon, alas, routinely broken-up to individually sell the images; incomplete copies are the norm, if you can find them. No copies in any state of completeness have come to auction within the last thirty-six years, per ABPC.
SEM (pseud. of Georges Goursat 1863-1934). White Bottoms. Paris: n.p. [by the aritist], 1927. First edition. Folio (20 x 13 in; 51 x 33 cm). Forty-three plates in pochoir, loose in portfolio as issued. Illustrated wrappers.

All images, except that of the wrapper, courtesy of Shapero Rare Books, currently offering the eight plates seen here from the album (excluding the upper wrapper).


Monday, July 23, 2012

American Rare Book Trade Ads From 1902

By Stephen J. Gertz

The Literary Collector: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine for Those Whose Delight is in Books and Other Beautiful Things was established in New York City, October 1900, by renowned New York bookseller George D. Smith. From 1902, when its subtitle dropped to earth, focused, and became A Monthly Magazine of Book-Lore and Bibliography, until its demise,  in September 1905, it was published by Smith at the Literary Collector Press in Greenwich, Connecticut by The Literary Collector Company and edited by Frederick C. Bursch.

The following trade advertisements appeared 110 years ago in The Literary Collector, Volume 4, April - September, 1902.

George D. Smith was "the czar of the American  rare book trade" (Stern) until A.S.W. Rosenbach  and death toppled Smith as top banana. Note the last volume in his ad above. The first edition in English of Adolphe Thiers' five-volume History of the French Revolution (London: Richard Bentley, 1838) is offered for $18. It's not a particularly rare book and copies are now, in 2012, being offered from $250 - $1500.

Smith (1879-1920) "was a large, dynamic man with what has been called a 'picturesque' figure and an irrepressible nature. He lived books eighteen hours a day every day for almost four decades. Like many monomaniacs, he was sometimes distrusted, often disliked, but never underestimated...as keen as he was majestic" (Stern).

Where to begin with Charles Carrington (b. 1867 - d. 1921 of syphilis), who deserves an entire book devoted to his colorful character and career? Of Portuguese descent, Carrington,  born Paul Harry Fernandino, was, arguably, the most notorious publisher of his generation. He began in London. Circa 1893-96 he skipped to Paris; deported from France in 1907, he fled to Brussels. In 1912, he returned to Paris, at times Amsterdam. In short, he operated one step ahead of the law. "Historical, Artistic, Medical, and Anthropological Works," is certainly one way to characterize the books he published. Erotica, pornography, curiosa, and sexology are other appropriate descriptions. Often, the stated publication locale, publisher, and date on his books were false. Many if not most of his books were "for private subscribers only." He was active as a publisher for twenty-six years and published approximately 300 books.

Just what, pray tell, is the above advertised Carrington publication, Untrodden Fields of Anthropology  (Paris: 1896) all about? Perhaps the author's name, "Dr. Jacobus X," will provide a hint. No?

Dr. Jacobus X was the pseudonym of Louis Jacolliot (1837-1890), a French  army surgeon who, stationed in many exotic locales within the French empire for thirty years, had way too much free time on his hands and so decided to make it his business to trod those untrodden fields and "record his experiences, experiments and discoveries in the Sex Relations and the Racial Practices of the Arts of Love in the Sex Life of the Strange Peoples of Four Continents" (from the sub-title). This included taking measurements, for scientific purposes only, of course, of the genitals of both sexes in whatever colony he found himself in. Somebody had to do it, I suppose, and we can assign credit to Dr. Jacobus X as being the father of comparative genitalology, a flaccid discipline of dubious value.

(The first Carrington Paris and first edition in English of this, Jacolliot's  L'amour aux colonies: singularités physiologiques et passionnelles observées durant trente années de séjour dans les colonies françaises ... [Paris: Isidore Liseux, 1893]), was limited to 500 copies. It is extremely rare. The first American edition, according to Carrington, was oversubscribed at $60; it, too has become quite rare. Later American reprints from  Esar Levine's American Anthropological Society (1930) and Benjamin Rebhuhn's Falstaff Press  (1937), which  were sold by private subscription  and "Intended for Circulation Among Mature Educated Persons Only," are readily available and relatively inexpensive. Suffice it to say, both Levine and Rebhuhn - who received Levine's copyrights - were indicted for obscenity through mail violations).

Carrington published the first edition in English of Pierre Louys' Aphrodite (1906). A few of his more earthy publications included Amorous Adventures of a Japanese Gentleman (Yokohama: Printed for the Diamio of Satsuma, 1897, i.e. Paris, 1897)); Les Belles Flagellantes de New York (1906); The Autobiography of a Flea, Told in a Hop, Skip and a Jump (The Phlebotomical Society: Cythera, 1789 [c.1890]); The Adventures of Miss Lais Lovecock (1906); and A Town-Bull Or the Elysian Fields. How Priapus blessed a poor man, made a living for him, and how, finally, a paradise for free-lovers was established where fathers and daughters, mothers and grandsons, brothers and sisters, white, brown and black cohabitated indiscriminately (Carnopolis [Paris]: Société des Bibliophiles, c.1899).

The most complete bibliographical checklist to date of the books published by Charles Carrington can be found at the The Erotica Bibliophile. A diligent and tenacious amateur scholar, Ms. Sheryl Straight has included much more about Carrington on this excellent site, which includes info about publishers, writers, and illustrators of clandestine erotic literature found nowhere else.

Bradstreet's and Matthews were the founding firms of American fine binding. Bradstreet's rated a highly honorable mention in Henri Pène du Bois' Historical Essay on the Art of Bookbinding (1883):

Bookbinding "was not an art an art to be restricted to one nation or to one family, as tradition would have it in France, and forthwith did Bradstreet's of New York, undertake to make it American also; and now, if the rallied book collectors of the Old World point with pride to Trautz-Bauzonnet, Lortic, Marius Michel, Hardy, Amand, Bedford, Smeers, Riviere and Zaehnsdorf, the New World may retort with Matthews and Bradstreet's. And deservedly, because there is a solidity, strength and squareness of workmanship about the books of the Bradstreet bindery which seem to convince that they may be 'tossed from the summit of Snowdon to that of Cader Idris,' without detriment or serious injury. Certainly, none can put a varied colored morocco coat on a book, and gild it with greater perfection in choice of ornament and splendor of gold, and with greater care, taste and success, than Bradstreet's" (p. 35).  The essay giving the great Matthews the short end I suspect that Du Bois was influenced by the essay's publisher,  The Bradstreet Company.

Many advertisements for American binderies are found in The Literary Collector. In 1902, however, beyond Bradstreet's, few binders in the United States possessed the craftsmanship and artistry of their British and French contemporaries. Henry Stikeman  of Stikeman & Co. was amongst the exceptional few. Stikeman trained with American art bookbinding founding father William Matthews, eventually taking over Matthews' firm. Stikeman’s career arc followed the grouth and establishment of art bookbinding in America as the 19th century ended and the new century began. Stikeman bindings from the 1880s through the second decade of the twentieth century represent the best work of the firm, and Stikeman bindings have become quite collectible. Stikeman's descendant, Jeff Stikeman, is an architectural designer and illustrator in Boston with an excellent website devoted to Stikeman & Co. bindings and history.

Allan J. Crawford established his secondhand book firm, A.J. Crawford & Co., in St. Louis in the 1880s, evolving his stock into antiquarian volumes as the city's population and prosperity grew with the coming of the new century "The lifetime Crawford devoted to the antiquarian trade wound fittingly to its close. The dealer was found dead on the floor of the shop where he had fallen" (Stern, p. 116).

Rare bookseller Oscar Wegelin (1876-1970) was a bibliophile-scholar responsible for Early American Plays 1714-1830 (1905); Early American Poetry: A Compilation of the Titles of Volumes of Verse and Broadsides, Written by Writers Born or Residing in North America, and Issued During the 17th and 18th Centuries (1903); A Bibliography of the Separate Writings of John Esten Cooke (1925); Wisconsin Verse (1914); Early American Fiction 1774-1830 (1929); and etc. An archive of Oscar Wegelin's papers rests at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Above, a favorite for its wry candor.

Poor S.F. McLean. Publishing Holmes Whittier Merton's Descriptive Mentality From the Head, Face and Hand (1897), apparently, did not make his fortune, nor did Samuel Wylie Crawford's The History of the Fall of Fort Sumpter... (1898). He didn't seem to be doing too well selling books, either. "Something wrong." Perhaps his books really were No Good. Will he survive?

More one him in Part II.

Reference to booksellers:

STERN, Madeleine B. Stern. Antiquarian Bookselling in the United States: A History from the Origins to the 1940s (1985).

More vintage American rare book trade advertisements to come in Part II and Part III.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Beautiful Trade Bindings Of Ibsen First Editions

By Stephen J. Gertz

IBSEN, Henrik. Hedda Gabler.
Kobenhavn: Gyyldendalske Boghandels Forlag, 1890.

Considered to be amongst the most important plays and Henrik Ibsen the most influential playwright since Shakespeare, the first editions of Ibsen's dramas in the original Norwegian, were bound by the publisher in splendid cloth trade bindings with, ultimately, a uniform design in varying colors.

IBSEN, Henrik. Nar Vi Dode Vagner (When We Dead Awaken).
Kobenhavn: Gyyldendalske Boghandels Forlag, 1899.

"More than anyone, he gave theatrical art a new vitality by bringing into European bourgeois drama an ethical gravity, a psychological depth, and a social significance which the theater had lacked since the days of Shakespeare. In this manner, Ibsen strongly contributed to giving European drama a vitality and artistic quality comparable to the ancient Greek tragedies" (Bjorn Hemmer, University of Oslo).

IBSEN, Henrik. John Gabriel Borkman.
Kobenhavn: Gyyldendalske Boghandels Forlag, 1892.

Gyldendalske Boghandels Forlag, of Copenhagen, was founded in 1770 by Søren Gyldendal. It is the oldest and largest publishing house in Denmark, and, prior to 1925, it was also the leading publishing house in Norway,  publishing all of Henrik Ibsen's works under arrangement with his counselor  and friend, publisher Frederik Hegel, who, in 1850, had assumed control of Gldendal and for twenty-two years published Ibsen's work until his death in 1889, at which point his son, Jacob, assumed the responsibility and honor.

IBSEN, Henrik. Et Dukkenhjem (A Doll's House).
Kobenhavn: Gyyldendalske Boghandels Forlag, 1879.

Brand, released in 1866, was Ibsen's breakthrough and the first of Ibsen's works to be published by Frederik Hegel, who had his doubts. Only 1275 copies were printed. But the book went through at least three more printings by the end of the year. Ibsen's reputation was made, and he was recognized as the greatest of all Scandinavian writers.

From that point on his books were issued in first printings of 8,000-10,000 copies in attractive cloth trade bindings whose style evolved into the uniform design seen here.

IBSEN. Henrik. Bygmester Solness (The Master Builder).
Kobenhavn: Gyyldendalske Boghandels Forlag, 1896.

These first editions in their attractive trade bindings were, however, expensive for the average individual, and so Jacob Hegel, in 1898, suggested to Ibsen that they reissue all of his works in inexpensive editions.

"It gave me great pleasure to receive your proposal for the publication of a low-priced popular edition of my books," Ibsen replied to Hegel. "For a considerable time I had been wishing for such an event in order to make it possible for my collected works to be distributed among social strata to which it is difficult for the more expensive editions to gain entry. And now the moment is undoubtedly the most favourable that could be chosen. It is therefore with great satisfaction and gratitude that I have received your excellent offer and I consequently consider the matter decided in respect thereof" (Letter to Hegel, January 16, 1898).

IBSEN, Henrik. Vildanden (The Wild Duck).
Kobenhavn: Gyyldendalske Boghandels Forlag, 1884.

When John  Carter and Percy H. Muir organized Printing and the Mind of Man, the classic 1963 exhibition with its now standard and indispensable reference catalog (1967), on the impact of 424 books on five centuries of Western civilization, they included the works of Henrik Ibsen.

"Choosing one of his plays above all others was difficult. It is virtually impossible to select any one play as 'typical' of Ibsen's outlook....to choose between his attacks on social corruption...and his critical studies of the subjection of women, such as A Doll's House (1879) or The Wild Duck (1887) is not easy. Hedda Gabler has been selected here as possibly his most frequently performed play in the modern theater.

Publisher's blindstamp to rear boards, as called for.

"Ibsen's influence on the whole course of modern drama may be indicated by the inclusion of his plays in the repertoire of every avant-garde theater of his day... Ibsen's revolutionary technique has now become firmly established... As to the social message of his plays, it should be remembered that his purpose was analytic not didactic. He was concerned with the exploration of social problems rather than with moral preaching" (Printing and the Mind of Man 375).
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