Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Bookbinding Workshop In 1840

by Stephen J. Gertz

This busy image of a nineteenth century bookbinding workshop c. 1840 is one of thirty hand-colored lithographed plates depicting twenty-nine trades and professions issued in 30 Werkstätten von Handwerkern by Jacob Ferdinand Schreiber, a leading German publisher of children's books.

Originally published c. 1840, this, the 1844 second edition, was greatly expanded from the first, which only contained twelve plates. Included here are views of potters; sculptors and masons; farriers; nailsmiths; locksmiths; coppersmiths; plumbers; cutlers; tinsmiths; bell founders; blacksmiths; gold and silver smiths; carpenters; coopers; turners; butchers; bakers; ropers; soap makers; tanners; shoemakers; saddlers; brush makers; drapers; tailors; milliners; weavers; and, in Booktryst propinquity, bookbinders. 

Each unsigned plate features a central image of craftsmen at work bordered with the primary tools of their trade.

The book - highly sought-after and rare with OCLC recording only nine copies in institutional holdings worldwide - is complete with an accompanying sixteen-page text booklet that is often lacking when copies find their way into the marketplace. But, according to ABPC, no copies have come to auction within the last twenty-eight years.

A copy, however, recently found its way into - and immediately out of -  circulation. It sold for $16,500.

SCHREIBER, J.F. 30 Werkstätten von Handwerkern. Nebst ihren hauptsächlichsten Werkzeugen und Fabrikaten. Mit erklärenden Text. Zweite Auflage. Esslingen am Neckar: J.F. Schreiber, 1844. Second edition. Oblong folio (335 x 425 mm). Lithographed title page, thirty hand-colored lithographed plates. 16 pp text booklet inserted.


Image courtesy of Antiquariaat Forum, with our thanks.

Monday, April 29, 2013

These Vintage Shoes A Tiffany Lamp Unto Your Feet

by Stephen J. Gertz

Say hello to the Karl Friedrich Schoensiegel Schuhmuseum in der Mappe (The Shoe Museum in Portfolio), an extensive archive of original watercolors, drawings, autograph manuscripts, and scholarly materials related to shoes and their historical and cultural significance by Schoensiegel, the Munich-based, erudite connoisseur of vintage footwear from around the world.

Schoensiegel was the most distinguished collector of such material during the first half of the twentieth century.

The collection is being offered by Librairie Jean-Claude Vrain of Paris.

The collection was last seen at Bonham's on June 22, 2011; the hammer fell at $42,700 including buyer's premium.


The archive is comprised of 349 watercolors, here sampled, and is grouped into several geographic and historical sections: Asia, Africa, America, Australia, and Europe; in Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth centuries. Each watercolor is vivid, bright and clean.

Schoensiegel visited museums throughout the world and made sketches of each interesting shoe he came across, later developing the sketches into fully-developed watercolor drawings. The Schuhmuseum in der Mappe was exhibited in Berlin in 1939.

The shoes, alas, are not rated for comfort or practicality, though it doesn't take a genius to understand that if you have to walk in what appear to be Viking boats with bows curved upward to Valhalla or tie the toes of your shoes to your knees, a casual passeggiata through the streets of Siena - or anywhere else - will be a challenge without a podiatrist or cobbler following in your wake.

All images courtesy of Librairie Jean-Claude Vrain, with our thanks.

Of Related Interest:

Vintage Shoe Art Walks The Runway At Bonham's.

Confessions Of A Vintage Shoe Fetishist.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Most Notorious Publisher In American History

by Stephen J. Gertz

He stood at the crossroads of Modernism and censorship, twentieth century literature, copyright law, and cultural history. He introduced America to James Joyce's Ulysses, D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, Arthur Schnitzler's Reigen, Alfred Jarry's The Garden of Priapus, etc. He also published Loose Shoulder Straps by "Alain Dubois" aka poet, litterateur, and author of The Rhyming Dictionary, Clement Wood; Padlocks and Girdles of Chastity by Alcide Bonneau (1928); Sacred Prostitution and Marriage By Capture (1932); Lady Chatterley's Husbands (1931, written by Antony Gudaitis, aka Tony Gud);  and the famed homoerotic novel, A Scarlet Pansy (1932 deluxe issue, by "Robert Scully," almost surely poet Robert McAlmon, with a 1933 trade edition). He edited and published Two Worlds, a hardbound literary quarterly whose contributing editors were Arthur Symons, Ezra Pound, and Ford Maddox Ford. He was a master of mail-order book sales. The list of imprints he established is as long as a leg. He was Jean Valjean to New York Society For the Supression of Vice leader John S. Sumner's Javert. He spent nine years in jail on state and federal obscenity convictions. He gave his name to a  key Supreme Court 1st Amendment decision. Samuel Roth's personal and professional activities - they were one and the same - ultimately allowed Americans to read whatever they wanted to; his sacrifice at the Court in 1957 made it safe for U.S. citizens to buy legal American copies of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita in 1958 and William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch in 1959 without Mrs. Grundy at their door with SWAT team and incinerator.

Roth, at right, in his Poetry Book Shop, Greenwich Village 1920.

"Samuel Roth…was a man of considerable culture. Some of the material he sold was trash; some of it was unquestionably literature" (Charles Rembar). He believed that "reading is itself is a great good, any kind of reading is better than no reading and some people will read only rather low material, which I am willing to supply" (Samuel Roth, as paraphrased by his attorney, Charles Rembar, in his The End of Obscenity).

Sam Roth (1893-1974), if he is remembered at all, is infamous for his literary piracies. After he serially published twelve excerpts from Joyce's Ulysses without authorization in Two Worlds, Sylvia Beach, who had published the first edition of Ulysses in Paris, at Joyce's behest organized an international protest in 1927 against Roth with 167 internationally respected intellectuals and artists signing the document, including Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, and Albert Einstein. He was immediately vilified. This incident has deeply scarred Roth's legacy. Jay A. Gertzman, with evidence not available to earlier scholars, makes a strong case for reappraising Samuel Roth's guilt, both legal and ethical, in a new and definitive biography.

Issue 1, No. 1, December, 1925.

Gertzman, who in his Bookleggers and Smuthounds: The Trade in Erotica 1920-1940 (1999), exposed the edgy world of the clandestine, East Coast-U.S. publication of sexually-themed literature, has now, after at least fifteen years of research, published this long-awaited biography of Roth, Samuel Roth: Infamous Modernist, the first deeply researched, full-length investigation of the man and his milieu.

Samuel Roth.

Grade C-Z moviemakers were once consigned to Gower Gulch, a low-rent, run-down section of Hollywood near the major studios but a light year distant from their  superior quality; it was also known as Poverty Row. Brazen upstarts, outsiders, and finaglers with ambition but little money and desperate to distribute their product through a system dominated by the big studios vied for the eyeballs of movie-goers. New York publishers short on cash but long on brash found themselves in similar circumstances. Being proudly Jewish and thus not well-connected to or well-perceived by book publishing's elitist, gentile power-centers didn't help. Having a constitutional attraction to literature, modern and classical, fiction  and non-fiction that defied contemporary moral standards was certainly a disadvantage. A strong anti-authoritarian streak and determination to publish and accept the consequences (but not without a fight) in concert with a fundamental aversion to censorship in a free society only made matters worse. Being a blatant huckster came with the territory; publishing was a Darwinian business. Easily victimized, you did what you had to do to survive. Roth, a downtown publisher with uptown aspirations, was all of these things, and a writer, too, a brilliant Columbia graduate with artistic pretensions and a voice for self-pity. Born in Galacia, he was raised on New York's Lower East Side, where chutzpah was sliced thick and Roth's portion super-sized.

Roth's mug shot, 1930, upon beginning his two-month prison
sentence for selling copies of Joyce's Ulysses in Philadelphia.

An outsider to begin with, the Ulysses controversy made him an outcast, a  pariah for his sin as "desecrater of literary expression." Gertzman carefully mounts a strong case that Roth was not the philistine he has been made out to be. 

• Roth did not "pirate" Ulysses. Because of a clause in contemporary U.S. copyright law written to protect the domestic printing trade, books that were not printed on an American-based press were not granted copyright protection. Ulysses was, within the U.S., in the public domain. Blame Congress.

• There is evidence that Joyce and Roth's mutual friend, Ezra Pound, acting as Joyce's literary agent, gave Roth the go-ahead, and that arrangements for payment had been made.

• Joyce's outrage was disingenuous. While sincerely trying to protect his image as avant-garde genius he was also a shrewd businessman not without keen commercial instincts. The furor of his friends and supporters was exaggerated. Edited excerpts of Ulysses had been previously published and no one complained about it. A managed protest could only increase awareness and build demand for the book's ultimate legal publication in full in the United States (Random House, 1934). Genius aesthete versus greedy capitalist barbarian always makes a good story.

• Joyce's concern that sales of the Beach edition of the book would be hurt by Roth's excerpts to a broad audience (Roth wanted his publications bought by the average man on the street; his overriding goal was to popularize literature of all kinds and get it to the hinterlands) was groundless and something of a canard. With its limited press run and price the Beach edition was never meant or expected to attract a broad readership beyond wealthy collectors.

Gertzman goes on in depth and what we take away is that there is plenty of blame to spread amongst the actors in this bit of literary theater. Roth was not a boogey-man. He was, to a large degree, the perfect scapegoat.

Sketch, undoubtedly by Mahlon Blaine, for an advertisement.

Are you aware that Friedrich Nietzsche wrote a memoir concerning his incestuous relationship with his sister, Elisabeth? In 1951 Roth published My Sister and I (NY: Boar's Head) based upon a manuscript in Nietzsche's hand that fell into Roth's possession in 1924. Its first edition went through fourteen printings. He initially advertised its publication in 1924 but ran out of money (Roth never got rich publishing anything, much less Ulysses, and was always in a financial bind of some sort). After a raid on Roth's offices by John S. Sumner in 1929 the manuscript was thought lost. It resurfaced during a 1940s inventory. Real or apocryphal Nietzsche? Gertzman presents the critical arguments, strong on both sides. The jury remains out.

Roth was a big cat who, when wounded, roared and attacked, a Lion of Judah. He was a "steadfast Jew and Zionist...who became so distressed by what he felt was lack of support from his co-religionists that he, after claiming to be instructed by Jesus in a vision, wrote Jews Must Live: An Account of the Persecution of the World by Israel on All Frontiers of Civilization, a vicious 325-page anti-Semitic tract that was used by Nazis for propaganda and is kept in print by right-wing white-supremacist groups today" (Michael Bronski).

NY: Golden Hind Press, 1934.

• • •

Thrill of the Trade Department:  around ten years ago I had Roth's personal copy of another publisher's piracy of A Scarlet Pansy (NY: Nesor [Rosen, backwards], 1937) pass through my hands. Within, Roth made penciled revisions, cuts, and expurgations for his planned reissue (NY: Royal, 1940). The book also possessed subsequent annotations by sexual folklorist and bibliographer Gershon Legman, who worked for Roth during the 1930s, recording what Roth was up to with this book, from Legman's library, acquired directly from his widow, Judith. I felt as if I was sitting next to Roth as he worked on the book. Thanks, GL.

• • •

Roth lost his 1957 appeal to the Supreme Court to vacate his 1956 conviction for obscenity; he went to jail. But he won the war. The Court's Constitutional test in Roth v. United States - that for a work to be judged obscene its "dominant theme taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest" of the "average person, applying contemporary community standards" without any redeeming social value whatsoever opened the door to soft-porn. Soon, "redeeming social value" could be found in anything no matter how hard-core, particularly if publishers hired medical professionals or literary critics (real or otherwise) to write prefaces explaining why Doing It With Dad and Brother Dan While Mom Sings Hawaiian War Chant presents an intimate family interpersonal dynamic with deep psychological insight into the human condition and a penetrating sociological view of the exotic byways of love in an All-American metropolis, thus saving it from  Vice Squad condemnation.

Scholars and citizens with an interest in modern literature and the struggle for frank expression and publication of  candid material in a free society will be captivated by Samuel Roth: Infamous Modernist. I believe every library should own a copy; it's a must-acquire. For those fascinated by the shadow world of clandestine publishing and modern lit. in the U.S. it's a must-read.

But it's not a free read; you have to pay for it and that's how it should be. Yet at $74.95 it may be a bit too un-free. Issued by University Press of Florida it's a case study of what has gone so wrong with university press and books-on-books publishing. While the volume is very attractive its production quality is not what you'd expect from a book costing $75. And the $75 cost is likely connected to its print run, which, given the current state of the market (dismal), cannot have been more than 500 copies.

I can't help but think that if Roth were alive and the publisher, the book would have been issued as a fine trade paperback for $25 in an initial print-run of 2,000 copies and distributed via mail order and through every newsstand location in the country with accompanying hard-sell suggestive and sensational hoopla and ballyhoo using every free marketing tool available to spread the word that this is a sizzler, a book the major publishers found too hot to handle, an important book on American literary and publishing history about the man who died so that Ulysses, Casanova Jr.'s Tales, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Pageant of Lust, and The Strange Career of Mr. Hoover Under Two Flags (Roth's best-selling exposé of President Herbert Hoover, 1931) could live, and made it possible for the huddled masses to not only breathe but read free.

GERTZMAN, Jay A. Samuel Roth: Infamous Modernist.  Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2013. xxviii, 387, [1] pp. Illustrations throughout. Illustrated boards. $74.95. Release: 4/23/2013.

A PRE-PUBLICATION DISCOUNT ($30 total) HAS BEEN EXTENDED THROUGH JUNE: Order online at http://www.upf.com/ book.asp?id=GERTZ001
This link will appear as: University Press of Florida: Samuel Roth, Infamous Modernist
Click on “add cloth to cart”
Click on “apply code” (just above the “check out” button) and enter code: PP113
Follow ordering instructions.



Chapter One: 1893-1916: From a Galician Shtetl to Columbia University.

Chapter Two: 1917-1925: Prelude to an International Protest: A Rising, Pugnacious Man of Letters.

Chapter Three: 1925-27: “Damn his impertinence. Bloody Crook”: Roth Publishes Joyce.

Chapter Four: 1928-34: Roth Must Live: A Successful Business and Its Bankruptcy.

Chapter Five : 1934: Jews Must Live. “We Meet Our Destiny on the Road We Take To Avoid It”

Chapter Six 1934-39: A Stretch in the Federal Penitentiary.

Chapter Seven: 1940-1949: Roth Breaks Parole, Uncovers a Nazi Plot, Gives “Dame Post Office” Fits, and Tells His Own Story in Mail Order Advertising Copy.

Chapter Eight: 1949-1952: Times Square, Peggy Roth, Southern Gothic, Celine, and Nietzsche.

Chapter Nine: 1952-57: The Windsors, Winchell, Kefauver: Back to Lewisburg.

Chapter Ten: 1958-74: “It Had Been a Long Time since Someone Like You Had Appeared In the World”: Roth Fulfills his Mission.

Appendix: Samuel Roth’s Imprints and Business Names.



Other books by Jay A. Gertzman:

A Descriptive Bibliography of Lady Chatterley's Lover. With Essays Toward a Publishing History of the Novel.

Bookleggers and Smuthounds: The Trade in Erotica 1920-1940

Full Disclosure: Mr. Gertzman and I are friends, and he kindly acknowledges me in the book as a source, however modest my contribution - and it was, indeed, very modest.

Image of My Sister and I advertisement courtesy of Mr. Gertzman's website, with our thanks.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Historic Collection Of Kerouac Letters Offered At $1,250,000

by Stephen J. Gertz

From "Old Sam Kerouac."

"To think that all that crazy stuff I’ve written 
since 1951 in a way started when you casually suggested, in Chinese restaurant on Amsterdam and 124th, remember? to try “sketching,” which I did, and it led to discovery of modern spontaneous prose" (March 1, 1965).

A highly significant and awe-inspiring archive of sixty-three intimate letters written 1947-1969 by Beat novelist and author of On the Road, Jack Kerouac, to his close friend, Edward White of Denver, Colorado, whom he met in 1946 in New York as a fellow Columbia University undergraduate and who inspired Kerouac's prose-style, has come into the marketplace. Mostly unpublished and seen for the first time, the letters, typed and autograph with some postcards, are being offered by Glenn Horowitz, Bookseller, of New York City.


“And the other book is the On the Road idea...
I’ll get a new title for it like
The Hipsters or  
The Gone Ones or The Furtives, or perhaps 
even The Illegals. A study of the new 
Neal-like generation of honkytonk nights.”
(January 15, 1949).

"The White collection is probably the last foundational Kerouac correspondence that will appear in the market," Horowitz told Booktryst.  It is being tendered en bloc for $1,250,000.


“Well, boy, guess what?
 I sold my novel to 
Harcourt Brace – 
(after one rejection from Little, Brown) 
– and got a $1,000 advance. 
Mad? – I tell you it’s mad. 
Mad? – me mad? Heh heh heh.”
(March 29, 1949, re: The Town and the City)

New York Times reporter, former editor-in-chief of Details, and original columnist at Spin magazine. John Leland, author of 2007's Why Kerouac Matters: The Lessons of 'On the Road' (They're Not What You Think), has provided a lengthy and insightful Introduction to the collection's catalogue.


“While all this is happening my star is rising,
and it’s an awful feeling.”

(April 29, 1949)

He writes:

"The two exchanged at least 87 letters and postcards, starting in July 1947 – the month that began Kerouac’s travels in On the Road – and continuing until August 1969, two months before Kerouac’s death at age 47. Over the course of this correspondence their relationship evolves and contradicts itself, as friendships do, in response to the needs pressing on the two men. What they shared was the male restlessness and self-exploration of the postwar years, along with a love of literature and their own fundamental questions: What sort of men did they want to become – what model of lovers or patriarchs, with what voices to convey their visions, their art. 


"And in this letter you’ll see all the wild thoughts
of a buddy 3,000 miles away who sits in his room
at midnight, madly drinking coffee and smoking,
typing away faster than he can think.

"And don’t I love to talk about myself.
What a gigantic loneliness this all is."

(May 9, 1949)

"Since Kerouac didn’t like the telephone, and since the two men were often in different places, their letters provided a lasting stage on which to try out their future personae. White pursued painting, literature, and teaching before ultimately settling on architecture; Kerouac continued to search for the voice that best captured the life in his head. Each played a part in the other’s search."

Ed White was fictionalized as "Tim Gray" in On the Road.


“I’ve written 86,000 words 
almost finishing On The Road...
(April 20, 1951)

You need a glossary to identify the parade of people Kerouac mentions within the correspondence, some obvious - William Burroughs, John Clennon Holmes, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg - and others not so obvious who wound up as characters in On the Road: Beverly Buford ("Babe Rawlins"), Bob Buford ("Ray Rolands"), Lucien Carr ("Damion"), Jason Brierly ("Denver D. Doll"), Hal Chase ("Chad King"), Frank Jefferies ("Stan Shephard"), and Allan Temko ("Roland Major"). And so brief biographies of each person who appears in the letters have been provided in the catalogue.

Others who Kerouac discusses include Joyce Glassman (later Joyce Johnson), Kerouac's sister Caroline, his mother Gabrielle, and his ex-wife, Edie Parker. 


“Burroughs is in town, is a big celebrity
among the subterraneans.”
(August 31, 1953)

In short, everyone who mattered to Kerouac and played a role in his life and writing is found in these letters, a majestic trove. 


“Of late I’ve been lamenting anew our 
late beloved master Doctor Samuel Johnson, 
reading him at lezzure in the hot
Florida sunshine of my yard 

– and gadzooks whatta man!”
(August 7, 1961)

Collection Catalog.

I asked Horowitz, who has an uncanny knack for scoring the work of famous writers - he represented David Mamet, Norman Mailer, Don Delillo, John Cheever, R. Buckminster Fuller, Spaulding Gray, Woody Guthrie, Hunter S. Thompson, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, Vladimir Nabokov, etc., when they or their estates wished to sell their archives, and sold Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's Watergate notebooks in 2003 for $5,000,000 - how he got involved with this outstanding collection, an important piece of the puzzle that was Kerouac, a man who was "like a set of chord changes waiting for another musician to blow a chorus over it" (Leland).

"I started talking with Ed White in Denver twenty-five years ago," he told me, "a long patient negotiation that has led to this memorable catalogue prepared by our associate Heather Pisani.  


“ English is the grooviest language!”
(February 9, 1962)

"The project has, for our firm, a poignant quality: the White-Kerouac archive was the final major project that our colleague John McWhinnie oversaw.  It was John's vision for what we could do with the archive that, finally, persuaded the Whites to work with us. In many ways, this catalogue is a tribute to John, who will always be missed by those who were blessed to work with him." 

And by those in the trade who were fortunate to know him, this writer included. 

The catalogue, which includes commentary on each letter by Ed White and is collectible in its own right, is available for $25 and can be ordered here.
Subscribe to BOOKTRYST by Email