Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Beware Of Jewish Doctors, 1937 Edition

by Stephen J. Gertz

The American Medical Association and the editor of The Journal of the American Medical Association come under attack in this thinly-veiled anti-Semitic rant in the form of a allegorical farce in dialogue published in 1937.

The characters who converse include Dr. Gil T. Conscience ("A little too honest to be a successful doctor"), Dr. Buryem Atta Profit ("In partnership with Mr. Undertaker"), Dr. Cuttem Upp ("A versatile surgeon cutting for money"), Dr. Smarty ("Talks too much and tells secrets of the American Meddlers Association"),  Dr. Skinnem Alive ("His scruples never interfere with his money-making"), Dr. Pop Off (" A free-thinker - resigned from the American Meddlers Association"), Dr. Getsum Moore ("A very frugal person with his eye on the money"), the Milo Brothers ("Owners of a great money-making hospital," i.e. the Mayo Clinic), and the Hebrew harbinger of all ill-health and medical hooey, Dr. Morey Fishback Kike ("A notorious quack and leader of the American Meddlers Association").

Dr. Kike is the thinly-veiled Dr. Morris Fishbein (1889-1976), editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association 1924-1950, founding Editor of Medical World News (1961), fierce crusader against medical quackery, and strong proponent of regulating medical devices, too many of which were useless yet heavily promoted cures for cancer and all manner of medical woe. For this, he was excoriated by fringe medicos, snake-oil charlatans, and desperate citizens willing to believe anything that promised them relief, no matter how hocus-pocus, unproven, and medical-sounding the malarkey. Evidenced-based medicine was the enemy, and the AMA a corrupt, hook-nosed medical-political machine that needed to be crushed if the profession was to remain open to new, promising therapies no matter how broken the promise, how gimcrack the gizmo.

There is, of course, no anti-Semitism intended in this scurrilous little pamphlet. It's only a coincidence that Dr. Kike is circumcised, has a Jewish-sounding name, and invites low ethnic epithet. To make sure readers understand her pure intent, Ms. Rogers, a naturopath, offers the following disingenuous defense in the Preface:

"Because the villain in this story happens to be a Jew, I do not wish to leave the impression that there is anything wrong with the Jewish people - their honesty, their integrity, or their methods of doing business. I am only using the term American Meddlers Association, because I have heard this term used in an amusing and interesting manner. As far as I know, there is no such association. Because the villain on this story happens to be a Jew whom I have heard called Dr. Morey Fishback Kike, does not mean that there is such a person."

In sum, it's the rich, money-grubbing Jewish doctors of the AMA who are putting the nation at risk, not good guys like Royal Rife, the microscoptician and electrical engineer who dreamed up a high-frequency emission machine that safely zapped cancer to death. Only it didn't. So the AMA banned it, thus insuring that they would be associated by some with the destruction of an innocent genius who got in its way and the snuffing-out of a medical entrepreneur whose only crime was innovation, not peddling false hope to the desperate. Think Laetrile.

Despite its defamatory nature, American  Meddlers Association was so highly regarded that during the 41st Congress of the American Naturopath Association one of the featured speakers ceded to Esther Rogers his time to address the assembly.

Full disclosure: I was, as a child, one of Dr. Fishbein's star medical students. His Handy Home Medical Advisor (1957) was my bible when seeking an innocuous yet serious-enough childhood ailment whose symptoms I could reasonably fake and get out of school for a day, a week, a month, and, in one case, four months - a miracle of modern medical science:

Based upon careful study of his description I successfully feigned infectious mononucleosis as a ten year old fourth-grader, so successfully that when tested by my pediatrician I actually had infectious mononucleosis. Dr. Fishbein was a genius, and I suspect that I was not the only kid who got through childhood by earning a Ph.D in Pre-Pubescent, Pubescent, and Adolescent Medical Truancy and Malingering while under his tutelage. He was a medical meddler only in the eyes of my parents. To me, he was Doc Marvel, The Man Who Made School Stop.

ROGERS, Esther. American Meddlers Association... Ethical -- Ultra-ethical! Kansass City, MO: Esther Rogers, 1937. First edition. Octavo. 32 pp. Original yellow-orange wrappers.

Image courtesy of Garrett Scott, the Bibliophagist, currently offering this item, with our thanks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Checklist of Matrix Press (London 1961-4)

by Alastair Johnston

Tom Raworth Printing Bibliography Part I

Two hundred years ago when people were reading Shenstone, Bloomfield, Cowper and Collins (I am sure you know their works by heart), Wordsworth and Coleridge published Lyrical Ballads to great public indifference.

Tom Raworth is known (in literary circles) as the pre-eminent English poet writing today. If you've never heard of him, that is the fate of artists who are ahead of their time. Raworth and his wife Valarie live on the south coast of England. He writes and publishes his work from small presses and sometimes slightly larger presses put out compilations of his writing (Collected Poems, Carcanet Press, 2003). He has also written a prose work, Serial Biography (Fulcrum Press, 1969), and recorded an LP of his reading, Little Trace Remains of Emmett Miller (Stream Records, 1970). Carcanet has also issued CDs of two of his works: Ace (1974) and Writing (1982).

The purpose of this post is to document his early work as a printer and publisher, a little-known aspect of his career, but central to his own interests as an editor and author.

Raworth is of Irish descent (his middle name is Moore and Thomas Moore is one of Ireland's most beloved lyric poets), but he grew up in London and is every bit a Londoner. As a printer too he can claim a pedigree. There was a Ruth Raworth who printed Milton's poems. The widow of John Raworth, she printed and published in Paul's Wharf, in the Parish of St Bennet, London from 1643 until 1655, then remarried Thomas Newcomb. John Raworth and his father Robert Raworth were also printers and members of the Stationers' Company in the early seventeenth century. 

Tom Raworth started Matrix Press in 1961. His first book was a tiny edition of poems by Pete Brown. He then issued three numbers of a magazine called Outburst. One, in collaboration with the Finnish poet Anselm Hollo and the American Gregory Corso was Outburst: The Minicab War, a humorous salvo in the class war. (The British satirical magazine Private Eye was launched in 1961.) Outburst became part of a network of avant-garde writers and aired the trans-Atlantic voices of Creeley, Dorn, Levertov, Fee Dawson, and Olson for the first time in Britain.

In an interview with Andy Spragg, Raworth explained his reason for starting his own press:

TR: I was following threads of people I liked in the Allen anthology [The New American Poetry, edited by Don Allen, Grove Press, 1960] ... Dorn, O'Hara, Creeley, Ginsberg and so on ... hard to do then in London (though Better Books and Zwemmers in Charing Cross Road were occasional sources) and I got used to having to write to the US for books. It crossed my mind that if I liked this stuff there might be a few others who would too. Around then, late 1959 early 1960, my father-in-law gave us a delayed wedding present of £100. I can't remember how I'd got interested in letterpress printing: it might be genetic ... years later I discovered my father had wanted to be a printer, and that an ancestor, Ruth Raworth, had printed one of Milton's early books in the 17th C. Anyway, I got a small Adana press first and then a larger treadle press. Offset printing was slowly taking over and letterpress equipment and type was not too expensive then. By late 1960/early 1961 I was in correspondence with Dorn, Creeley and others in the US and had met Anselm Hollo, Michael Horovitz, Pete Brown and others here. I printed the first small booklet (a couple of tiny poems by Pete Brown) on the Adana. I was working then in the Euston Road, at Burroughs Wellcome, the manufacturing pharmacists, and a photographer friend there, Steve Fletcher, had a brother who was an engraver and shared a workshop just off Oxford Street with a letterpress printer. They let me move the treadle press there so they could use it for small jobs and in return I could have access whenever I wanted. I'd met, and become good friends with, David Ball and Piero Heliczer (also a letterpress printer with his Dead Language in Paris). So I did small books of Dorn, Ball and Heliczer. And two and a half issues of the magazine Outburst. I had to set two pages at a time (only enough type for that) on the floor at night after work, carry it into town the next day, print the pages on the press with whatever colour ink was in use, go home, sort the type back into the case and start again.


The first book of the press was Pete Brown Sample Pack. According to Raworth about 6 copies were printed. The poems were collected in Let Em Roll Kafka, Brown's book from Fulcrum Press (London, 1969). Best-known today as the lyricist for the rock band Cream, Pete Brown was Britain's first performance poet who earned his living giving readings. He was the first reader at the Morden Tower in Newcastle, one of the most important poetry venues in England in the 60s. "When John Lennon was still in art college Pete was turning on Liverpool with his synthesis of Beat poetry, Bop jazz, and British humour."-- Stuart Montgomery

Outburst 1 
"published in the basement of 167 Amhurst Road * London E 8" 2s 6d
8 x 5", 52 pp, plus wrappers, stapled. Handset by Raworth in Gill Sans, Perpetua, Times Bold, Ultra Bodoni. Printed by Richard Moore and Sons. Cover photo (& 2 more inside) by Steve Fletcher.
Contributors include Anselm Hollo, Tram Combs, Robert Creeley, Fielding Dawson, Denise Levertov, Ed Dorn, Christopher Logue, Gary Snyder, Charles Olson, Michael Horovitz, Piero Heliczer, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Pete Brown, Gregory Corso, "Six Poems of Tu Fu" by Chao Tze-Chiang, et al. The advertisements for other little magazines, like Migrant, Yugen and New Departures, show how closely networked the avant-garde was in the 1960s. Gael Turnbull (1928-2004) was a key figure in the literary small press movement. A Scottish doctor he started Migrant Press in 1957 and continued operating it (with a mimeograph machine) after he moved to Ventura, California. He published many of the same poets as Raworth, including Dorn, Hollo and Ian Hamilton Finlay, whose The Dancers Inherit the Party is reviewed in this issue of Outburst. My copy has a blown-in newsprint ad for The Outsider published by Loujon Press in New Orleans.

Gregory Corso, Anselm Hollo, Tom Raworth
THE MINICAB WAR: the gotla world -- interview with minicab driver and cabbie
16 pp., unpaginated. 8.25 x 5".
Wrappers (white or blue wrappers). Staple bound, each page in a different color of ink.
Photo: Steve Fletcher. "This issue was done with the hope that it might give a benevolent lift to the satirists of the Establishment, who want very much to destroy a possibly REAL revolution by making entertainment of it, and England's future darker -- The Minicab War is the Synthesis of Class War."
Signed: de la rue sykes o'moore

Notes: In June 1961 Michael Gotla of Welbeck launched a fleet of 400 minicabs on the streets of London, that carried advertising and undercut the well-established black cabs. Soon things turned nasty with hundreds of bogus phone calls to the minicab companies ordering cabs, black taxis hemming in the smaller vehicles, even vandalism as the situation escalated. In an editorial in August, under the headline “What the Public Wants,” The Times wrote: “It is fairly obvious that for many people in London finding a taxi has become too chancy and paying for it too stiff.” Minicab War contains spurious interviews with T. S. Eliot, John Betjeman, (Prime Minister) Harold MacMillan, George Barker, Bertrand Russell, Martin Bormann, & various cabbies. The perpetrators were Tom Raworth (O'Moore), Gregory Corso (De la Rue) & Anselm Hollo (Sykes). Martin Bormann was Hitler's personal secretary. It was believed he had escaped Germany after the War and fled to South America so he remained alive in British popular culture, resurfacing on the beach in Brazil with Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs in the Sex Pistols' movie The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle (dir: Julian Temple, 1980).

   It's hard to date this undated pamphlet from 60 years ago. A rare book dealer described it as the first work of the press. Raworth thought it was a sort of Outburst 2 and a half, but the current of events suggests the end of 1961 rather than 1963. Also Corso was in London then, as Raworth recalls: "As I remember it, Allen and Gregory were in London on their way from Tangier. I remember that because they asked me if I could get a Minox film developed privately for them, which I did via Steve Fletcher and the Wellcome Foundation photo lab... The film was those naked images of them all in Tangier which Allen thought would cause a scandal if Boots Photos did the job. I have somewhere a clear memory and a photo of Gregory outside our basement flat in Amhurst Road, Hackney....  And we were well out of there by 1965. So it is quite possible the 1961 date is accurate though it certainly was after Outburst 1.  Maybe winter 1961 as Peter Cook's The Establishment club opened in October that year and is referenced in the text.

 "I remember in one of those 10,000 word biographies for Gale Research I did mine by addresses lived at, so there are some parameters there. For Minicab War I remember Anselm Gregory and myself sitting around in Anselm and Josie's flat in Cornwall Gardens, which was also where we made some reel to reel tapes of poems and distorted music. Those are decomposing somewhere in our stored stuff."

Outburst 2 
8 x 5", unpaginated, 48 pp, plus wrappers, stapled. Some pages printed in colored ink.

Contributors include Douglas Woolf "Notes for an Autobituary," Paul Blackburn "Ritual IV," Leroi Jones (2 Poems), Fielding Dawson, Allen Ginsberg "To an Old Poet in Peru," Gregory Corso "Moroccan Writings," Larry Eigner (2 poems), Ruth Weiss (2 poems), Ed Dorn, David Meltzer "Heroes," Alan Sillitoe, Carol Bergé, Piero Heliczer, poems of Klee & Pentti Saarikoski translated by Anselm Hollo, "Irregular Ode" by Philip Whalen, "Four Poems of Tu Fu" by Chao Tze-Chiang et al. Artwork by Barry Hall, and photos by Irving Penn & Edward Steichen. Also contains 4 pp of book reviews and pointed commentary by Anselm Hollo.

Piero Heliczer

Brighton: Dead Language & London: Matrix Press

11 x 4.5", 20 pp. Second edition, stapled illustrated wrappers, cover photo by Ph Mechanicus, Amsterdam. The image is reused from the last page of Outburst 2. 2 shillings 6 pence or 50 cents.

Notes: & I DREAMT I SHOT ARROWS IN MY AMAZON BRA is "a poem in eleven takes". "An earlier edition was dittoed by Anselm Hollo... My earlier inspiration little frogs and clay dams in the sound of leaves theres no need to worry about fulfilling a sign as signs necessarily fulfull themselves just as every thing has a pot dimension ie that emittor sends pot signals to pot man it is not necessary to the manifestation whether the emittor is under the influence".-- Author

  "Piero was living with us; he and I printed in on my treadle press which was off Oxford Street in Richard Moore's print-shop..." --TR

Spread from Piero Heliczer's & I Dreamt I Shot Arrows in my Amazon Bra

   Ambitious design using the gutter as a focal point. Each page has a black bar printed in the gutter which then continues across the fold. Large condensed Gill Sans headers make striking compositions. The text is in Perpetua with Times Bold. One leaf is printed on lavender paper.

Anselm Hollo
24 pp., 6 1/4 x 5 1/4"; stapled in card cover, in yellow printed wraps, with images on yellow paper bound in. Set in Linotype Times, printed on Brookleigh Bond wove paper; price 3 shillings. Colophon:
This book has been set in Times Roman type. The two drawings are by Ken Lansdowne. Nelson is by Gregory Corso. A photograph of the cover illustration was supplied by Steve Fletcher.
All blocks were made by Barry Hall. 350 copies were printed.
Designed and printed by Tom Raworth

Note: AJ: History by Anselm seems like the transitional book from matrix to goliard, since barry made the blocks. i guess you met him at this point and decided to collaborate from then on? it looks like a really light impression, or else some of it is offset, and it says typeset and printed by you, so what press were you using?

TR:  It was done on my treadle press, the Adana, smaller than the later Goliard press one, which was stored at the print shop of Richard Moore, three floors up off Oxford Street where the deal was that he could use it for small jobs (his main press was a large Heidelberg). That came about because one of the other two craftsmen in the shop, the engraver (there was also a diestamper and process engraver) was the brother of my friend Steve Fletcher a photographer, who took the photo on the front of the second issue of Outburst.

   I must, if it says plates by Barry Hall, have known Barry and he did them at his work to save me money. If it doesn't specifically say that, then they were made commercially via Richard Moore. There were very few copies of History stapled and Anselm never includes it (I think) in bibliographies. Somewhere I have a box of pages and covers.

March 1964
Edward Dorn
From Gloucester Out
drawing by Barry Hall
12 pp., 8 3/4 x 6 1/2"

This book is set in Times Roman. There are 350 copies
Designed and printed by Tom Raworth, Flat 3, Stanley House, Finchley Rd, London NW11 20.3.64

Spread from Ed Dorn's From Gloucester Out, with illustration by Barry Hall

Green wove paper, stapled in white wrappers, with Hall's image in black and gold on coated stock, printed over a brown tint. Asymmetric design with large margins and running heads set off to the left of the text block.

Notes: Dorn visited England to teach at the University of Essex. He and Raworth became lifelong friends and collaborated later at Zephyrus Image, when both were living in San Francisco in the mid to late 70s.

August 1964
David Ball
Two Poems
9 x 5 3/4", 8 pp.
Drawing by Gene Mahon
Blue paper, stapled into brown wrappers
This book is set in Baskerville and Times Roman (cover title in Verona). Matrix Press, 3 Stanley Hse., Finchley Rd., N.W. 11.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Common Prayers, Uncommon Binding

by Stephen J. Gertz

This stunning, c. 1853, binding by Hayday of London of an 1840 edition of The Book of Common Prayer is in full brown smooth-grained Turkey morocco over beveled boards, with a single fillet framing an eye-catching panel of onlaid red, green (the quadrants, their color not, alas, fully visible due to lighting), and black morocco with gilt tooling and central cross of gilt-tooled inlaid orange morocco to both sides.

The spine compartments possess deep crimson and orange labels and are decorated in gilt with inlaid red and orange calf crosses. Fine details include extravagantly gilt-tooled dentelles, gilt-tooled edges, and all edges gilt and gauffered.

A cross is not an unusual decorative binding design for finely bound copies of The Book of Common Prayer, yet the design, while based upon earlier  ecclesiastical bindings, is a particularly handsome and contemporary mosaic. It suggests that it was bound for a man of means.

One of the most distinctive and unusual aspects of this binding is the tortoise shell effect to the Turkey morocco most visible along the top edge of the upper board. It's unclear whether the pattern is an attractive blemish in the skin itself or the result of a chemical wash. I've seen countless bindings in calf with various stain-effects (mottled, tree, rainbow, etc.) but I've never seen  morocco  leather quite like this with such a fine grain and unusual varigration.

James Hayday, (1796–1872), "bookbinder, was born in London. Of his parents, nothing is known. He was apprenticed to Charles Marchant, vellum binder, 12 Old Gloucester Street, Queen Square, London, and then for some time worked as a journeyman commencing business in a very humble way. In 1825 he became one of the auditors of the Journeymen Bookbinders' Trade Society. In 1833 he rented premises at 31 Little Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, where he continued until his retirement in 1861…

Gauffered fore-edge.

"Constant opening of traditionally bound books disfigured the grain of the leather, and to obviate this Hayday introduced the cross or pin-headed grain known as Turkey morocco. In his own binding he sewed the books fully along every sheet, a technique that caused extra thickness that Hayday remedied by sewing with silk, rather than thread. Also, in order to equalize the thickness he rounded the fore edges more than was customary. To make the back tight he dispensed with the ordinary backing of paper, and fastened the leather cover down to the back.

"Works bound by Hayday became famous and increased in monetary value. Edward Gardner of the Oxford Warehouse, 7 Paternoster Row, London, secured Hayday's services for the Oxford University Press. William Pickering, bookseller, of 57 Chancery Lane, also introduced him to many wealthy patrons…A number of his bindings are in the National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, London" (Oxford Online Dictionary of National Biography).

Between 1837-and 1838 the Hayday bindery employed between thirty and forty people including ten finishers. James Hayday's retirement in 1861 had nothing to do with a desire for a life of ease after a life of toil. He went bankrupt. He then partnered with William Mansell until he finally retired in 1869.

Close-up of gauffering, with gilt-tooled edge.

The first manual of worship in English for any religion. The Book of Common Prayer is the key and most important volume of the Church of England, uniting all Churchgoers within a common liturgy in English, and was so prior to the publication of the Church's King James translation of the Bible in 1611. It has been in print without interruption since its introduction in 1549. It was revised in 1552 and mildly amended a hundred years later, in 1662, 350 years ago.


It is, for the most part, the work and language of Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), Archbishop of Canterbury 1533-1556 and a leader of the Reformation in England, who based it upon the centuries old Latin liturgy of the English Catholic Church and gracefully simplified the language so that it would be understood by all no matter their degree of literacy. It is, what the Oxford historian and author of A History of Christianity, Diarmaid MacCulloch, has called, “one of a handful of texts to have decided the future of a world language.”

Here bound in a  masterful manner suitable for worship.

[HAYDAY, bindery]. [CHURCH OF ENGLAND]. The Book of Common Prayer, And Administration of the Sacraments. And Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, According to the Use of the United Church of England and Ireland; Together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, Pointed as They are to be Sung or Said in Churches; and the Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. Oxford: Printed at the University Press by Samuel Collingwood and Co., 1840.

Small octavo (5 1/2 x 3 1/4 in; 140 x 80 mm). Unpaginated.

Images courtesy of David Brass Rare Books, with our thanks.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Most Unfortunately Titled Novel Ever Published In English

by Stephen J. Gertz

“They’re not flamingoes, Adrian thought;
there wouldn’t be flamingoes on Dildo Cay in September.” 

"A very unusual book, with a puzzling quality, an indefinable fascination and some very distinguished writing. The strangeness of the setting (an island off Jamaica), the inarticulated intensity of the characters, the mood that pervades the whole is absorbing. For 250 years, the Ainsworths had followed the pattern set by the founder of the name, who had brought some 200 blacks to the island; and continued the tradition of loveless marriage, the family salt mill as a focus of interest, and the impersonal relations with their people. Tension increases, and things come to a head when Delbridge, brought in to help build white prestige, is murdered. Adrian, scion of the Ainsworths, and Carol, hard-surfaced daughter of the slacker, Delbridge, are faced with a decision -- and meet the test. A strange book, very well done. But not a book for the casual reader, seeking entertainment. Read it and see for yourself" (Kirkus Reviews, February 13, 1939).

O-kay, let's read and see for ourselves. But caveat lector: I suspect the only salt from the Ainsworth  mill used by Kirkus to season this review was bath salts because the writer was clearly high on something.

"Ainsworths do not marry for love. They choose their women to carry on the line–thoroughbreds who can endure the loneliness and the eternal wind of the Ainsworth island–Dildo Cay. This speck in the Atlantic lies six hundred miles southeast of Great Bahama. Here the Ainsworths have lived for eleven generations–the one white family among two hundred blacks.

"Young Adrian Ainsworth has followed the family tradition in selecting his wife, Mary. Then Carol arrives with her father, hired to revive the salt industry on which the livelihood of the Ainsworths and the blacks depends. Carol is a glittering and sophisticated creature caught in a strange situation. Adrian’s deep, growing desire for Carol and the tension between her arrogant father and the blacks mount to an electric climax. Without sentimentality, but with a powerful honesty, the author paints a consuming passion against a romantic and exotic background" (Dust jacket flap blurb).

For the record, the dildo referred to in the title has nothing to do with phallic mascots. Acanthocereus tetragonus, aka the dildo cactus, abundant on Dildo Cay (a real place, aka Salt Cay, "The island that time forgot" in the Turks and Caicos, a handful of sand with salt), is a cactus species native to southern Florida and the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas in the United States, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, and northern South America. Wherever for whatever, be careful where you plant it.

The Dildo Cactus (Acanthocereus tetragonus).

The book was, apparently, loosely based upon the Harriot family of Salt Cay, who dominated the tiny island's salt plantations, production, and export from 1829 until the local industry's WWII collapse, hence Carol and father arrive to revive with a saline solution to the Ainsworth's woe. "The Harriotts were very angry at being the basis for the book Dildo Cay by Nelson Hayes... Lawsuits were threatened. Winnie Harriott thought the best-selling book 'scandalous'" (Salt Cay Inside the White House).

Yes, you heard right. Dildo Cay was a best-seller. A British edition was issued in the same year, and - with no irony at all given the city was the locus of the 60's Sexual Revolution in Europe - an  edition out of Copenhagen.

"Dildo Cay is bad in ways that surpass its title. The product less of an unsteady hand than of a resoundingly tin ear, the novel’s prose is so categorically graceless as to supersede camp and plunge straight into ontological confusion. Herein, I’d like to suggest, is the triumph of an exquisitely bad book such as Dildo Cay: it is so earnestly bad as to call its own existence into question. In many ways, of course, the novel parades the typically forgettable qualities of other undistinguished midcentury fiction: tawdry displays of local color, liberal deployments of racism and misogyny, textbook Oedipal conflicts, and the hypertrophic use of italics. But Dildo Cay boasts countless passages that far exceed these indistinctions:

‘Father, I want to talk with you!’

Adrian had been watching his father walk the dike unsteadily, and suddenly he had seen himself at the age of sixty walking the dike unsteadily, and on top of his restlessness it was too much for him.

‘How strong do you think that pickle is?’ his father asked, ignoring the tone of Adrian’s voice.

"If ever the family romance has so forcefully raised its pickle, I know few other novels so susceptible to accidental (?) allegory. We all walk the dike unsteadily" ((Jonathan P. Eburn, Pennsylvannia State University, American Book Review Volume 31, Number 2, January/February 2010).

Rather than walk the dike, Hollywood decided to walk the plank with the novel in the hope of making a big splash.

Dildo Cay was bought by Paramount, adapted for the screen by Hayes and Virginia Van Upp, and released as Bahama Passage (1942) starring Madeleine Carroll and Sterling Hayden, with Dorothy Dandridge co-starring as the exotic West Indian maid, Thalia.

"The two most gorgeous humans you've ever beheld - caressed by soft tropic winds - tossed by the tides of love!" (Movie splashline).

"Bahama Passage is a leisurely bit of Technicolor exotica starring Madeleine Carroll and her future husband Sterling Hayden. Based on Nelson Hayes novel Dildo Cay, the story takes place on a remote Bahaman island where the principal commodity-in fact, the only—is salt. The owner of the island is young Adrian (Sterling Hayden), who inherited Dildo Cay from his family. The stultifying dullness of life on the island has caused all the wives of Adrians forebears to eventually descend into insanity, and it looks as though the same thing might happen to Adrians sweetheart Carol (Madeleine Carroll), despite her uncanny ability to look 
after herself. While Carol does not go crazy, her presence on the island proves to be something of a jinx, resulting in dissension amongst the native population. The most striking aspect of Bahama Passage is the extremely casual clothing worn by the stars: Why, one would think that Paramount was trying to get the audiences mind off the films slower passages by showing off as much cheesecake and beefcake as possible" (Bosley Crowther, New York Times, February 19, 1942).

Other books in the Hayes ouevre include Blockade (1935); Bahama Passage (photoplay edition of Dildo Cay, 1940); and The Roof of the Wind (1962). 

Salt Cay, aka Dildo Cay, Turks and Caicos. 2.5 miles long.

Those still interested in reading the novel may wish to heed the accidental cautionary note that serves as the book's last line: “Keep your jib full…our course is for Dildo Cay."

HAYES, Nelson. Dildo Cay. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1940. First edition. Octavo. 328 pp. Cloth. Dust jacket.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Man In The Iron Mask Schleps 'Round The World

by Stephen J. Gertz

"Who was that masked man?"
"I don't know but I wanted to thank him."

On New Years Day, 1908, Harry Bensley (1876-1956), a well-to-do lone ranger involved in a £21,000 wager  that he could walk around the world in an iron mask and marry without revealing his identity, embarked on his journey, a trek that began at home in Great Britain and supposedly took him through China and Persia before the outbreak of WWI brought his global schlep to a screeching halt in Genoa, Italy.

The terms of the wager - purportedly made between J.P. Morgan and Lord Lonsdale with Harry the volunteer test subject - stipulated that Bensley begin his journey with a single pound note and a change of underwear through 169 British cities and towns in a specific order;  he would have to collect a signature from a local prominent resident to prove that he had been there. After that he would begin a tour of eighteen countries in a pre-specified order. He was to support himself along the way by selling postcards such as this one, which portrays him in his knight's helmet with printed sign in lieu of  plume, sweater embroidered on the rear with the legend, "Walking Round the World Masked," a custom pram which should have been called "The Orient Non-Express" but wasn't, and paid attendant in matching sweater whose name is unknown but whom we shall call Tonto to our masked Kimosabe.

Some people, of skeptical turn of mind, claimed that Bensley never left England. Oh, cruel nattering by nincompoops of little faith!

But here's the proof that Bensley, in full metal masquerade from the neck up, and with pram and attendant present, perambulated to a photography studio for a series of promotional mug shots. Whether he ever actually left the studio and crossed the English Channel to promenade through Europe and Asia is another story.

One can't help but wonder if he wound up in the Bastille, courtesy of the King of France, for claiming to be the King's twin brother, his personal attendant, The One Musketeer, in the cell next door. Bensley didn't but his investments in Russia were wiped-out during the Bolshevik Revolution, he was left destitute, and worked low-paying unskilled jobs until his death.

Oh, ladies of too much faith! Harry supposedly received over 200 marriage proposals during his voyage from damsels who had never laid eyes upon his visage and didn't care. His wife, whom he  married c. 1898, ten years before the wager, was, presumably, not amused. But, then again, maybe she was. She knew what he looked like behind the wrought iron veil.

BENSLEY, Harry. Unused original photo-postcard, approx. 5-1/4 x 3-3/8 inches. N.p. {England], c. 1908

Image courtesy of Garrett Scott, The Bibliophagist, currently offering this item, with our thanks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Getting Nowhere with John Cage: A Zen Biography

by Alastair Johnston

Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists by Kay Larson. The Penguin Press, New York, 2012. 496 pp., $30.

As a teenager I was interested in all kinds of music, so I took the opportunity to attend a concert for prepared piano by the America composer John Cage at the Royal College of Music (behind the Albert Hall) in London in 1968. I got there early to secure a good spot. I had no idea what to expect but the audience seemed unusual, more curious bohemian than the Baroque crowd. When a man with a wooden leg came in, it occurred to me he was part of the performance as he tapped his way to a vacant chair.

Cage was already controversial. In 1960 he performed "Water Walk" on the TV show "I've Got a Secret." It was a delightful and zany event which used water, ice and steam to create music.

When asked about the audience's laughter, he said he considered laughter preferable to tears. With this he gave permission to other musical experimenters, such as Frank Zappa playing on a bicycle on the "Steve Allen Show" three years later.

Cage was the enfant terrible of American music for half of the twentieth century. Few other composers adopted his chance methods and rejection of the then cutting-edge 12-tone scale. What's wrong with Schoenberg, who was Cage's early teacher? "The twelve-tone row is a method; a method is a control of each single note. There is too much there there. There is not enough of nothing in it."

It's the opposite of Gertrude Stein's famous characterization of Oakland, and something that would resonate through Cage's work. He was on a quest for silence, the discovery of nothing there. For instance, in his piece "Imaginary Landscape no. 4" for 12 radios -- or "Golden Throats," as he called them -- by the time of the performance (late one night at Columbia University in 1951) the radio stations had mostly gone off the air so there was static and a lot of silence. Others deemed it a failure, Cage was delighted.

It is appropriate that the author of this new biography is not a music critic or biographer. In fact this is Kay Larson's first book, though she has made her name as an art critic in the Village Voice and The New York Times. Furthermore it's as much about Zen as about the subject, which is a pleasant surprise. I didn't expect to read a book on John Cage and learn so much about D. T. Suzuki and spiritual practice.

After a bumpy start about Ginsberg, Snyder and the Beats, delivered almost as paper darts that don't fly, Larson settles down to be entertaining. Larson has a lively, journalistic style; she is a practicing Buddhist so starts with a major appropriation to her side: Marcel Duchamp. While we think of Duchamp as the Dada Supreme, she recasts his readymade "Fountain" as a perfect shining Buddha of the Bathroom: "In Stieglitz's photo the bulbous porcelain body looks exactly like the Buddha in outline... The white porcelain arc of the urinal serves as the Buddha's robe. Where the Buddha's head would be is a bright white spot that could represent the 'third eye,' one of the classic attributes of enlightenment" (pp. 47-8).

"Fountain" by Marcel Duchamp, 1917. Photographed by Alfred Stieglitz.

I was really taken with the little chunks of Zen wisdom she drops in as much as the net she casts to catch Cage hanging out with Alan Watts and Joseph Campbell, or leading a class in mycology while warning that no two mushrooms are alike.

His chance operations foreshadow a later musical innovator, Brian Eno, who created Oblique Strategies to help him work, in the same way Cage had used the I Ching, to bring indeterminacy into his music. Other pioneering feats include being the first "turn-tablist" -- in 1938 Cage had discovered two variable speed turntables at Cornish College radio lab in Seattle, and set out to play records that were just one tone per side, but to change the pitch periodically (by chance) and create an ever-evolving soundscape. Scratching and ambient music, both at once!

It was at Cornish that Cage met dancer Merce Cunningham and began a partnership that would last over 40 years.

Merce Cunningham by Halsman (Magnum) 1948

None of his contemporaries got it, so Cage turned his back on the musical avant garde and chose to hang out with artists instead. He had moved to New York by 1948 and was part of "the Club," an informal group of painters, including Motherwell and De Kooning, that got together to drink coffee and talk. There is a lot of discussion of Cage's creative process. The famous four and a half minutes of silence (4'33") is profounder than you would imagine, and Cage worked on it for ages. Seriously. First of all he learned that Muzac Corporation commissioned pieces that were that length, so it was conceived as a subversive joke. But then he started to explore silence, even going into an anechoic chamber at Harvard. This room excluded all outside sound. He rushed out to ask the engineer what the noises were he could still hear. The high whine is the neurons of your nervous system firing and the dull roar is the systolic rush of your blood. A flash of insight: There is no such thing as silence. There is no "something" and "nothing." There is only being.

This leads to a story about a Zen monastery in Japan. The monks get up at 4.30 to chant. After two hours or so one of them slides open the doors to the world and in come the noises of the morning: birds, traffic and wind.

The first performance of 4'33" by David Tudor in Woodstock caused a riot. There's a version by him on YouTube with voice-over and a stopwatch that is distracting, and an orchestral version that really gets into the spirit of the piece (though I prefer it as a solo work). 

Duchamp's long years of silence may of course be another source of inspiration. Cage had met him at the Arensbergs' home in the Hollywood Hills and in New York showed up to play chess with him, troubled that he couldn't ask him anything about music, but was calmed simply by his presence. Cage was obviously influenced by Duchamp's intention to make works which are not works of art, his "skillful poetics of ordinary things." Cage wrote: "At a Dada exhibition in Düsseldorf, I was impressed that though Schwitters and Picabia and the others had all become artists with the passing of time, Duchamp's works remained unacceptable as art. And in fact, as you look from Duchamp to the light fixture the first thought you have is 'Well, that's a Duchamp.'"

The art of the everyday -- in Cage's world "sounds" as opposed to "music" -- and the quest for stillness and silence reminds us of all the authors who chose not to write. There's an excellent recounting of them in Bartleby & Co by Enrique Vila-Matas (Random House, 2004). This book is a series of footnotes to a non-existent text and a delightful survey of non-writing "for those in the No," inspired by Bartleby the Scrivener's perennial retort, "I would prefer not to."

In New York in 1950 Cage attended talks by Sukuzi. Cage had been studying Vedanta. Through Alan Watts he met Joseph Campbell and his wife, and the widow of Ananda Coomaraswamy. Listening to Suzuki he realized he needed to get his ego out of his work. One of Cage's students was Christian Wolff, son of Kurt who had published Kafka, Rilke, and Benjamin before he fled Germany and started Pantheon Press in New York. Christian gave Cage the newly published two-volume I Ching. He could use the book to answer questions and thus avoid bringing his own taste into the work.

And Cage acknowledged Bob Rauschenberg's white paintings as efforts to make a neutral artistic statement, though when they met in 1951 at Black Mountain College, Cage was the teacher and Rauschenberg the student. In 1953 they collaborated on an artwork: Rauschenberg glued twenty sheets of paper together and put black ink on a tire of Cage's Model A Ford.

Larson writes, "Automobile Tire Print makes an inescapable allusion to Chinese scroll painting. Here though the scroll is just a single very long black line. The white spaces in the tire tread make the line visually vibrate. The black line is a 'gesture' that doesn't 'express' anything -- a witty put-down of Abstract Expressionist painting and a re-affirmation of Cage's views on an art of action and process."

Automobile Tire Print, SF Museum of Modern Art

The work has since been attributed solely to Rauschenberg, but Cage recalled, "I know he put the paint on the tires. And he unrolled the paper on the city street. But which of us drove the car?"

At Black Mountain, Cage and Cunningham staged the first "Happening." Later his students would start the Fluxus movement (and one of them, Dick Higgins, founded Something Else Press); he is also a godfather of the pop movement through his influence on Jasper Johns. Again Larson makes a Buddhistic connection. The readymades -- Ballantyne cans or flags -- show an aesthetic detachment. Larson quotes Leo Steinberg who was uneasy: he was angry at the artist for letting him down, mad at his friends for pretending to like it, mad at himself "for being so dull, and at the whole situation for showing me up." How often can art provoke that response?

Larson's use of asynchronous time is good, so halfway through 1950 we flash forward to Naropa Institute in Boulder to see a Cage performance being demolished by an audience of hippies in 1974. Naropa was supposed to be a catalyst for cutting through spiritual (as well as consumerist) materialism and "alleviate the terrible karma of addictions to power and achievement at the expense of others." What the author doesn't say is that Naropa was run by wild egos and an out-of-control little scuzzbucket, Chogyam Trungpa, who thought he was a rockstar and ruled the place with a panoply of power. (The Tibetans are the Catholics of the Buddhist world, while the Zen sect are more like the Unitarians, hence the Tibetans are into pomp and circumstance in contrast to the more spartan Zen Buddhists.) Cage chose to perform "Empty Words," based on the writings of Thoreau, where he dropped out words and phrases by chance operations (it sounds like a microphone with a faulty connection to me) until there was mostly silence. He imagined it like clouds drifting into the blue sky. The 1,500 Boulder hippies reacted in a violent uproar, shrieking, whistling, screaming, playing guitars, dancing, throwing things on stage. Cage was appalled, Trungpa on the other hand was "delighted at the ego noise" and asked him to join the faculty. When he repeated "Empty Words" three years later in Milan it led to another riot.

Cage faced a true Zen dilemma: how to keep creating when he would rather not let his ego be front and center. He is "going nowhere yet endlessly evolving." (p. 356) Back in New York, Suzuki had been appointed visiting lecturer at Columbia and Cornelius Crane, the businessman who subsidized the gig, insisted Suzuki's classes be open to auditors, making it possible for Cage and others to attend.

Suzuki talked about Zen: Before studying Zen men are men and mountains are mountains. While studying Zen there is confusion between the two. After studying Zen men are men and mountains are mountains once again. And a student asks, What's the difference between before and after? Suzuki replies: No difference, only your feet are a little higher off the ground.

Another talisman for Cage was Erik Satie who explored unusual avenues in music outside the mainstream. Cage was instrumental (pun intended) in getting together a group of 10 people to play "Vexations," the piece that repeats 840 times, and lasts over 18 hours. Written in 1893 it had been laughed off until Cage gave it a premier at the Pocket Theater in New York in 1963. Among the performers was John Cale who appeared on TV ("I've Got a Secret" again!) to talk about it. Andy Warhol was in the audience and it inspired his film "Sleep."

It wasn't until 1962, when he was fifty, that audiences began to get Cage. In fact his biggest success was his first tour of Japan, arranged by his student Yoko Ono & her then-husband Toshi Ichiyanagi. He visited D. T. Suzuki and Zen monasteries, and gave concerts with David Tudor. And he wrote another piece. An aesthetic of indifference had become key to Cage. This doesn't mean he doesn't care, just that he doesn't care to choose. The student of Suzuki had learned well. Finally, Cage gave up arranging things in exchange for process. The sequel to 4'33" is 0'00" which consists of an instruction: "In a situation provided with maximum amplification (no feedback), perform a disciplined action." Cage himself performed it by putting a contact mike on a desk and sitting down to type answers to his voluminous correspondence, thus combining his duty as a celebrity with clamoring fans wanting a piece of him and his need to be a creative artist.

We get more paper planes thrown out at the end: notes about Minimalism and later artists who were influenced by Cage, but we return to Duchamp and how he denied any influence from Oriental philosophy though he lived life like a Zen master. It was Cage who pointed this out. Al Held said, "Duchamp was just a French Symbolist until Cage showed us how to understand him."

For many people, myself included, Cage is more interesting as a philosopher than a composer. But his influence persists, and one of his compositions is still being performed. Inspired by Satie's "Vexations," Cage wrote "Organ 2/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible)." It is being performed in the church of St Burchardi in Halberstadt, Germany. The first movement began with a rest of 17 months duration on September 5, 2001 (Cage's 89th birthday). "The first chord roared from the organ on February 5, 2003. The first tone change drew a cheerful crowd on July 5, 2004. The first movement is scheduled to end in 2072." The piece will end in 2639.

I do have to lament how the mighty Penguin Press has let its typographic standards slide. There are some serious design flaws: hard hyphens in quotes that weren't caught, sections beginning at the bottom of the page, no ligatures, figure 1 for cap I, and other glitches that show the book was typed but not redacted by a real typographer.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Wages Of Sin: $80,000 For Rare Fanny Hill

by Stephen J. Gertz

Fanny Hill must be thrilled. After plying her trade with varying degrees of success she now commands $54,000-$80,000 to spend an intimate evening with her. Reading a scarce, true first edition copy of her memoirs, that is.

On Tuesday, October 30, 2012, Christie's-Paris is offering an excellent copy of the rare, two volume (here bound as one) true first edition of Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, John Cleland's oft reprinted 1749 book that is the classic and most important erotic novel in English. It is estimated to sell for €40,000-€60,000 ($54,000-$80,000). [UPDATE 10/31/2012: Sold for $148,878, incl. premium].

"Cleland [1710-1789] composed his novel while serving a sentence for debt in the Fleet Prison. According to his own testimony, it was written largely from boredom and, the early chapters anyway, was based on an idea '...originally given me by a young gentleman of the greatest hopes I ever knew, above eighteen years ago, on an occasion immaterial to mention here.' Volume one appeared about November 1748, and volume two was published in early February of the following year. Both were printed by Thomas Parker for Ralph Griffiths and advertised in the press at three shillings each volume.

"In November 1749, a warrant was issued for the persons responsible for the book and by the end of the month, Cleland, Griffiths, and Parker...were all on bail and awaiting trial" (Kearney, A History of Erotic Literature, p. 66). Bookseller and publisher Ralph Griffiths blamed everything on his brother, Fenton Griffiths, whose inverted name, G. Fenton, was used for the book's false imprint. As  this brother did not, apparently, exist he was a convenient fall-guy.

During this period, Cleland, at the suggestion of Ralph Griffiths, excised the majority of the offensive material - of which there was plenty - and in 1750 this abridged edition was published under the title Memoirs of Fanny Hill. "The expurgated version seems not to have found any more favour than the complete first edition for it was suppressed very quickly" (ibid). As a result the self-censored 1750 edition is even rarer than the complete first, with only one copy, in the British Library (call # C.133.a.9), known to have survived its ban.

Despite arrests and the prospect of trial, however, the cases against Cleland et al were not, apparently, pursued.

The book's plotline became a enduring cliché rehashed in countless erotic novels that followed (but not Sade's!) in English and French: Innocent country girl goes to the city and must prostitute herself to survive, with ups and downs, and happily ever after with a nobleman who knows her past and forgives.

The bibliographical history of this book is quite convoluted and it was not until David Foxon's essay in his Libertine Literature in England (1965), reprinted from The Book Collector (Autumn 1963), that the various editions - four prime suspects - were sorted out and the true first ID'd.

Foxon's description of the true first:

"Oval woodcut ornament on title-page. Date as 'M.DCC.XLIX.' 12mo: A-I12, K6, A-K12, L6, M2. Pp. [1-3] 4-227 [228 blank]; [1-3] 4-255 [256 blank]. 25 lines of type per page except vol. I, pp. 194-227 which are set unleaded, giving 29 lines. Headlines: Memoirs of a / Woman of Pleasure. With a sodomitical description in vol II, pp. 177-9."

Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure was illegal in the United States until the Supreme Court's obscenity decision of 1964 cleared it for open publication. The first legit edition was published in 1965 by G.P. Putnam's Sons in New York but it does not contain the two-paragraphs in volume two  of the true first describing a homosexual encounter, the infamous "sodomitical" tableau. That scene was excised from all subsequent 18th and 19th century editions and did not reappear until Maurice Girodias, under his deceased father, Jack Kahane's, Obelisk Press imprint, published Memoirs of Fanny Hill in 1950 and included it.

The true  first edition of Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure consisted of only 750 copies which sold for six shillings (2 vols x 3s). Its maximum profit could not have been more than £100. Cleland is said to have received a grand total of £20.

He wrote it out of boredom while in debtor's prison, not out of any sense of literary calling or art. but, rather, for a quick buck.

"One of those booksellers who disgrace the profession offered him a temporary relief for writing the work above alluded to, which brought stigma on his name, which time has not obliterated, and which will be consigned to his memory whilst its poisonous contents are in circulation" (John Nichols, The Gentleman's Magazine, February 1789, p. 180).

It may be said that Cleland, like his comely creation, Fanny Hill, was a whore, and a cheap one, too. The £20 Cleland earned was a pittance compared to the £840 he owed. Yet "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money," as Samuel Johnson famously said. Poverty tends to focus a writer's attention.

Cleland was "a man who would have been merely another minor 18th-century literary figure had it not been that the shortage of a bob or two had forced him to write a sensational novel" (op cit,  Kearney).

A sensational novel that, in its true first edition, now fetches a sensational price.

CLELAND, John. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. London: Printed [by Thomas Parker] for G. Fenton [bookseller Fenton Griffiths, i.e. Ralph Griffiths] in the Strand, 1749 [1748-49]. Two parts bound in one twelvemo volume (163 x 98 mm).  227, 255 pp. Woodcut vignette to title page and end of Part II.

Kearney, Patrick J., The Private Case 415. Pia 846. Foxon, Libertine Literature in England, pp. 52-63. Cf. Ashby III, p. 60. Cf. Kearney, A History of Erotic Literature, pp. 66-71.

Image courtesy of Christie's, with our thanks.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Bonet Lion Binding That Roars

by Stephen J. Gertz

This majestically leonine binding wrought by Paul Bonet [1889-1971] in 1969 for a copy of the 1937 Raoul Dufy-illustrated edition of Daudet's Les Aventures prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon (Paris: Scripta et Picta) is being offered by Christie's-Paris in their Importants Livres Anciens, Livres d'Artistes et Manuscrits sale on Monday, October 29, 2012.

It is estimated to sell for $14,000 - $20.000 (€10,000 - €15,000).

Based in Paris, Bonet was one of the great bookbinders of the twentieth century.

"Paul Bonet does his designing in his apartment on the Rive Gauche and in 1938 had an atelier where workmen carried out his designs under his supervision. [He] evolved an entirely new style of book decoration - totally original, amazingly clever, and really 'modern' in spirit, with a mouvement radiant. His great swirling designs are so ingeniously drawn that, although they are carried out on a flat surface, they represent a third dimension purely through an illusion created by the drawing, and not by means of an alteration in the surface of the cover as was practiced by Creuzevault. The tooling on his bindings is faultless and brilliant. It has a machinelike precision with a quality that can only be achieved by 'striking' each tool separately by hand. Paul Bonet, in my opinion, is without a rival today" (Diehl, Edith. Bookbinding: Its Background and Technique [1946], p. 108).

When the king of beasts met the king of binders the result was a victory for both.

Images courtesy of Christie's, with our thanks.

Booktryst has 32 great posts on fine bookbinding in our archive. Enter "bindings" in our search box to access them all.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Magnificent 17th Century Maps To The Stars' Homes

by Stephen J. Gertz

 Unidentified Los Angeles rare book dealer offering celestial maps.

Here in Los Angeles you can't throw a rock without hitting a star. They're all over the place, a galaxy of celestial bodies drawn into the black hole that is The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where red giants, white dwarfs, red dwarfs, neutrons, and super giants orbit around lox and bagels, alfalfa spouts, and baby carrots. Some have exhausted their hydrogen core and their careers slowly extinguish; others remain Main Sequence and still pack a punch, astrofusion-wise.

Withal, there are so many stars that you need maps to know just where they rest in the firmament and what region of the universe they call home.

CELLARIUS, Andreas. [The sizes of the celestial bodies]
Corporum coelestum magnitudines.
Amsterdam, Schenk & Valk, 1708.
Original color with additions, including gold highlights. 440 x 515mm.
'The sizes of the celestial bodies, with borders filled with putti.

Fortunately, a collection of star maps from Andreas Cellarius' Atlas Coelestis; seu Harmonia Macrocosmica, the only celestial atlas to be produced in the Netherlands before the nineteenth century, has just come into the marketplace.

CELLARIUS, Andreas. Scenographia Systematis Copernicani.
Amsterdam, Schenk & Valk, 1708.
Original color with additions, including gold highlights. 440 x 515mm.
'The Scenography of the Copernican world system', showing a human-faced
Sun at the centre of the Solar System, lighting the sides of 'Earths', positioned
at each equinox, three of which show California as an island. The four corners
are filled with angels, putti and allegorical figures.

A compilation of maps of the Ptolemaic universe and the more modern theories of Copernicus and Brahe, the Atlas Coelestis remains the finest and most highly decorative celestial atlas ever produced. Engraved by Jan van Loon, a mathematician and engraver who contributed charts and maps to various pilot books and sea atlases by Jacobsz, and Robijn, and originally published by Jan Jansson in 1660, these plates come from Schenk & Valk's reissue of 1708.

CELLARIUS, Andreas. [Southern Celestial Sphere]
Haemisphaerium Stellatum Australe aequali spahaerum propotrione.
Amsterdam, Schenk & Valk, 1708.
Original color with additions, including gold highlights. 440 x 515mm.
A celestial chart showing 'The southern stellar hemisphere with equally
 proportioned spheres'. It shows the classical constellations superimposed
over a globe on which can be seen the Americas.

"The highpoint of celestial atlas production…and the volume that ranks with Blaeu's Atlas Maior and Goo's Ze Atlas is Harmonica Macrocosmica…by Andreas Cellarius.

Haemisphaerium scenographicum australe coeli stellati et terrae.
Amsterdam, Schenk & Valk, 1708.
Original color with additions, including gold highlights. 440 x 515mm.
A beautiful chart of the southern skies with the classical constellations
superimposed over a globe showing South America, southern Africa
and 'Terra Australis Incognita'. The title banners are held aloft by grotesques
and in the bottom corners are astronomers surrounded by instruments
including an astronomical telescope.

"Published by Jan Janson in Amsterdam in 1660, the atlas comprises some 29 star charts and diagrams which portray varying celestial and planetary systems, orbits, and theories.

Haemisphaerium Stellatum Borealecum Subiecto Haemisphaeio Terrestri.
Amsterdam, Schenk & Valk, 1708.
Original colour with additions, including gold highlights. 440 x 515mm.
A beautiful chart of the Northern skies, depicted on a globe held up by
Atlas and Hercules. The constellations are superimposed over a globe
on which much of the Northern Hemisphere can be seen, including
the British Isles, Arabia, Borneo, Japan and parts of Canada.
In the top corners the title is on banners under trumpets blown by angels.
In the background are figures representing classical astronomers.

"Little is known of Cellarius besides the information provided within the atlas, that he was a Rector of the Latin School at Hoorn, 20 miles north of Amsterdam..

CELLARIUS, Andreas. [Celestial chart of Tycho Brahe's theories of the Universe]
Planisphaerium Braheum, sive structura Mundi Totius, ex hpyothesi
Tychonis Brahei in plano delinieata.

Amsterdam, Schenk & Valk, 1708.
Original color with additions, including gold highlights. 440 x 515mm.
A beautiful celestial chart depicting the planisphere of Brahe, or the structure
of the universe following the hypothesis of Tycho Brahe drawn in a planar view

"The format of most engravings is similar - a sphere occupying the sheet top to bottom within which the diagram or chart is positioned, allowing up and down each side, decoration of an instructional, symbolic or purely aesthetic nature.

CELLARIUS, Andreas. [Celestial chart showing the Phases of the Moon]
Typus selenographicus lunae phases et aspectus varios adumbrans.
Amsterdam, Schenk & Valk, 1708.
Original colour with additions, including gold highlights. 440 x 515mm.
A celestial chart showing a 'Selenographic diagram depicting the varying
phases and appearances of the Moon by shading.' At the centre is the earth,
surrounded by the different phases of the Moon.

"The Cellarius charts, issued in 1660, 1661, 1666, and 1708 (as here), occasionally appear on the market and can be found in superb, bright, original colour, highlighted with gold, making them highly decorative items.

Haemisphaerium Stellatum Australe antiquum.
Amsterdam, Schenk & Valk, 1708.
Original color with additions, including gold highlights. 440 x 515mm.
A beautiful celestial chart of the stars as known to the Ancients,
with the classical constellations.
The borders contain the titles on banners and several putti.

"The later edition of 1708 has the imprint of of the publishers Valk and Schenk on each engraving..

Coeli Stellati Christiani Haemisphaerium Prius.
Amsterdam, Schenk & Valk, 1708.
Original color with additions, including gold highlights.  440 x 515mm.
A beautiful celestial chart of the constellations, depicting them not in the
traditional Greco-Roman figures but in Christian imagery as envisaged
by Julius Schiller in 1627 in an attempt to make the iconography of the
stars more relevant to his day. Thus the Zodiac is represented by the
Twelve Apostles and Pegasus has become Gabriel. All the figures are
shown face on, because Schiller thought it would be an indignity to have
them show their backsides. His changes did not catch on, causing him
often to be ridiculed, but when they were published his charts were the
most accurate available.

"...The elegant title page represents fully the contents of the book. each of the charts is well-designed, well-engraved, and often…is in fine original colour heightened  in  gold" (Potter, Collecting Antique Maps, pp. 173-74).

CELLARIUS, Andreas. [The Universe according to Ptolemy]
Situs Terrae Circulis Coelestibus Circundatae.
Amsterdam, Schenk & Valk, 1708.
Original color with additions, including gold highlights. 440 x 515mm.
A beautiful chart representing the Ptolemaic notion of the static Earth
at the center of the rotating universe.

On the title page, "The Muse of Astronomy, Urania, is surrounded by scientists, mathematicians and astronomers and celestial globes and observation equipment. At lower right a bound volume is typical of the fine red morocco binding with gold embossing, used in Amsterdam at the time.

CELLARIUS, Andreas. [Scenography of the Ptolemaic cosmography]
Scenographia systematis mundani Ptolemaici
Amsterdam, Schenk & Valk, 1708.
Original color with additions, including gold highlights. 440 x 515mm.
A beautiful celestial chart showing Ptolemy's theory of the Universe.
At the centre is the Earth, showing its eastern hemisphere, being circles
by the sun and planets, with the Zodiac.

"Two cherbus hold aloft the book's title on a banner whilst another couple, using cross-staffs, study the zodiacal signs of Libra and Virgo" (ibid).

It's highly unlikely that, while driving on Sunset Blvd. in Beverly Hills or Bel Air, you will encounter a rare bookseller hawking Andreas Cellarius's magnificent star maps from the curb. But if falling star Sylvester Stallone's career finally lands with a thud, you may see him on the corner of Sunset and Beverly Drive spinning a sign offering these star maps as if hustling apartment rentals or discount income tax preparation.

Twinkle, twinkle.

Title-page to 1660 first edition.

CELLARIUS, Andreas. Harmonia macrocosmica: seu, Atlas universalis et novus : totius universi creati cosmographiam generalem et novam exhibens : in quâ omnium totius mundi orbium harmonica constructio, secundum diversas diversorum authorum opiniones, ut & Vranometria, seu totus orbis coelestis, ac planetarum theoriæ, & terrestris globus, tam planis & scenographicis iconibus, quam descriptionibus novis ab oculos ponuntur : opus novum, antehac nunquam visum, cujuscunque conditionis hominibus utilissimum, jucundissimum, maxime necessarium, & adornatum. Amstelodami: Apud Gerardum Valk & Petrum Schenk, 1708.

Fourth edition. Folio. 29 double hand-colored engraved plates.

Chart images courtesy of Altea Gallery Antique Maps of London, currently offering these splendid charts, with our thanks. Today's header image is most certainly not of its proprietor, Massimo De Martini.
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