The Northern California Chapter Quarterly Meeting

This past Tuesday the 21st of March saw the members of the Northern California Chapter of the ABAA at their Quarterly meeting, this time held in Walnut Creek at the elegant Massimo Ristorante restaurant. Tavistock Books had three in attendance, Commander Vic Zoschak, trusty Aide-de-Camp Kate Mitas, and myself! There were 20+ members and guests in attendance, and not only was there a dinner, but as the meeting was held in downtown Walnut Creek, new ABAA member Laurelle Swan held a reception prior to the meeting at her store, Swan’s Fine Books, just a couple of blocks away. On the docket to be discussed at this meeting in particular were some important items – the recent California ABAA and Shadow fairs, our new rep (John Crichton) from the Northern California Chapter in New York, and some very important news on the AB228 law that has severely hurt and hindered many California booksellers. Of course, the evening would not have been complete without some hilarious comments (and some “statements”, too) by many of our local California booksellers. So happy to have been in attendance with a great meal, wonderful conversation and hilarious one-liners – some shared here for your enjoyment along with a few images below!

  • “When the women dressed in drag, married women and fooled them with devices”
  • “She has entered the pit of hell
  • “Uh, no… find another sucker”
  • Insurance fire
  • “Yes, I would probably be banned from China if they ever found out”
  • “I’d like to make some comments if I may… and then make some statements too…”
  • “Everybody was talking about it in MY neighborhood…”

IMG_20170321_190739 IMG_20170321_190757 IMG_20170321_190904 IMG_20170321_190917 IMG_20170321_201650 IMG_20170321_201801 IMG_20170321_213715

Share

Beware the Ides of March Today, Folks… But What on Earth are the “Ides of March”?

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 11.13.49 AM

Have you ever heard anyone say “Beware the Ides of March”? I have known this phrase my whole life, and even known that it speaks of March 15th. However, I have never truly known the whole story behind the Ides or why it was something akin to a Friday the 13th – a date to be feared and treated carefully. So what began a public fear of this date? Is it something we should truly beware? Allow me to answer your questions! 

The Ides of March was a date in the Ancient Roman Calendar. Their years used to begin with what we now know as the month of March, and the holidays celebrated within the month are commonly regarded as different New Years celebrations. “Ides” happened every month, however, as they were an observance of the full moon and usually on the 13th or 15th every month, and March was just one of the many. That being said, you don’t ever hear anyone say “Beware the Ides of September” – do you? So what happened to bring March’s Ides into question? Well, the assassination of Julius Caesar, and a pithy and dramatic line from none other than William Shakespeare, of course!

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 11.15.39 AMCaesar was, according to legend, warned by a seer to “Beware the Ides of March”. This was followed by Caesar throwing it gently back in the seers face while on the way to the Theatre of Pompey in 44 B.C. on March 15th, when he joked that the Ides of March had come and nothing bad had happened, and the seer replied with “Aye, Caesar; but not gone.” – meaning that the worst was yet to come. Caesar was then assassinated by almost 60 conspirators led by Brutus and Cassius at the meeting of the senate – an event which sparked civil war and led to the creation of the Roman Empire and dissolution of the Roman Republic. Shakespeare, a master of creating phrases that live on in the minds of his audience, must have known that by dramatizing such a famous occasion he would be inducing a world of fear surrounding the 15th of March! But is there any truth to the fear? Well, take a look yourself! Here are what the Smithsonian deems the top 10 events in history that took place on March 15th that coincide with the fear of the day. 

1. Assassination of Julius Caesar, 44 B.C.

Conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus stab dictator-for-life Julius Caesar to death before the Roman senate. Caesar was 55.

2. A Raid on Southern England, 1360

A French raiding party begins a 48-hour spree of rape, pillage and murder in southern England. King Edward III interrupts his own pillaging spree in France to launch reprisals, writes historian Barbara Tuchman, “on discovering that the French could act as viciously in his realm as the English did in France.”

3. Samoan Cyclone, 1889

A cyclone wrecks six warships—three U.S., three German—in the harbor at Apia, Samoa, leaving more than 200 sailors dead. (On the other hand, the ships represented each nation’s show of force in a competition to see who would annex the Samoan islands; the disaster averted a likely war.)

4. Czar Nicholas II Abdicates His Throne, 1917

Czar Nicholas II of Russia signs his abdication papers, ending a 304-year-old royal dynasty and ushering in Bolshevik rule. He and his family are taken captive and, in July 1918, executed before a firing squad.

5. Germany Occupies Czechoslovakia, 1939

Just six months after Czechoslovak leaders ceded the Sudetenland, Nazi troops seize the provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, effectively wiping Czechoslovakia off the map.

6. A Deadly Blizzard on the Great Plains, 1941

A Saturday-night blizzard strikes the northern Great Plains, leaving at least 60 people dead in North Dakota and Minnesota and six more in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. A light evening snow did not deter people from going out—“after all, Saturday night was the time for socializing,” Diane Boit of Hendrum, Minnesota, would recall—but “suddenly the wind switched, and a rumbling sound could be heard as 60 mile-an-hour winds swept down out of the north.”

7. World Record Rainfall, 1952

Rain falls on the Indian Ocean island of La Réunion—and keeps falling, hard enough to register the world’s most voluminous 24-hour rainfall: 73.62 inches.

8. CBS Cancels the “Ed Sullivan Show,” 1971

Word leaks that CBS-TV is canceling “The Ed Sullivan Show” after 23 years on the network, which also dumped Red Skelton and Jackie Gleason in the preceding month. A generation mourns.

9. Disappearing Ozone Layer, 1988

NASA reports that the ozone layer over the Northern Hemisphere has been depleted three times faster than predicted.

10. A New Global Health Scare, 2003

After accumulating reports of a mysterious respiratory disease afflicting patients and healthcare workers in China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada, the World Health Organization issues a heightened global health alert. The disease will soon become famous under the acronym SARS (for Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

Now, though I am not at all convinced that the cancelling of the “Ed Sullivan Show” deserves to be on a list alongside the disappearing Ozone layer or the assassination of Julius Caesar (no matter how popular it was), but I’ll bite. It certainly seems like some tragic world events have taken place on this day in history. Then again… tragic events take place every day in history. What about the 26th of December, 2004, when 280,000 people died in the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami? Or the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York? What about every school shooting, sinking ships, genocides around the world? Surely other days could be found that have known numerous tragic events, just like the Ides of March, throughout history. 

In any case, perhaps it is best to keep your wits about you today, and hope that all turns out well! What do you believe? 

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 11.14.46 AM

Share

“If people did not want their stories told, it would be better for them to keep away from me.” The Life of Sherwood Anderson

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 7.01.43 AM

As embarrassing as this is to admit, I was first introduced to this great American author through a guilty-pleasure-teenage-girl-TV-show (that shall NOT be named) and began to research him after hearing his works mentioned several times. What I originally thought might turn into a Stephanie Meyer situation (author of Twilight… It was a teenage girl show, after all) actually turned out to be a very serious author of Americana. I read the work he is most often remembered for, Winesburg, Ohio, and immediately understood why he was popular in his time… though was a bit confused as to why I, a Literature Major, had not heard of him as of yet. 

Sherwood as a child and his family in rural Ohio.

Sherwood as a child and his family in rural Ohio.

Sherwood Anderson was born on September 13th, 1876 in Camden, Ohio. The third of seven children, Anderson’s first memories were of the family moving around quite a bit – though spending five or six years in Caledonia, Ohio, most of Anderson’s memories involved his father’s insolvency and inability to hold down a job. The family went from place to place, each time Mr. Anderson losing respectability and finances for his growing family. Because of his family’s difficulties, the young Anderson only completed about 9 months of high school before dropping out at the age of 14 to work various jobs around town in order to bring in money for his family. Despite the lack of advanced schooling, Anderson was an insatiable reader and was consistently borrowing from the local library, as reading was not necessarily a popular past time in the Anderson home. 

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 7.01.30 AMBy the time Anderson was 18, his father had been drinking and disappearing for weeks at a time, leaving all the children home with their mother to fend for themselves. Having been working desperately for years as a washer, Anderson’s mother Emma died of tuberculosis in 1895 when Anderson was only 19. Having no reason to continue living in the small town of Clyde, Ohio, where the Anderson’s had eventually settled, Sherwood followed his older brother to Chicago, where the two lived in a boarding house as the brother attended the Chicago Art Institute. He continued on in Chicago, eventually renting enough space for his sister and two younger brothers to move into a couple years later. However, having signed up for the Ohio National Guard, his living in Chicago was short-lived, as he was sent to Cuba in 1898, after the fighting in the Spanish-American War had stopped, for 8 months. After his return, Anderson worked in Clyde once more for a few months as he saved money, and eventually joined two of his siblings in Springfield, Ohio, where finally, at the age of 23, Anderson enrolled in classes and was able to complete his high school education. 

Upon his graduation in 1900, Anderson was one of seven students in his graduating class chosen to give commencement speeches. One observer of his speech, Harry Simmons, was an advertising manager for a publishing house. Simmons was so impressed with the speech that he offered him a job as an advertising solicitor right then and there. In the summer of 1900, Anderson went back to Chicago to begin work for the type of business he would work in for the next 6 years.

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 7.01.19 AMOne important aspect often noted in Anderson’s life is the nervous breakdown he suffered as a result of professional stress in 1912. By this time, he had begun a new business called the Anderson Paint Company. The intensity of running his own (large) business took its toll and Anderson disappeared for four days, before walking into a drug store and asking an employee to help him figure out his own identity. To this day, it is uncertain as to whether Anderson’s breakdown was involuntary or voluntary, as his story changed over the months and years following the episode. Either way, however, it helped Anderson leave his business, his relationship, and start fresh. Anderson had begun publishing some stories in 1902, and soon writing would become his main source of income. 

Anderson’s first novel, Windy McPherson’s Son, was published in 1916, followed shortly thereafter by Marching Men, published in 1917. However, in 1919 he would publish the work he would remain famous for, a collection of interrelated short stories of residents in a small Ohio town – the book Winesburg, Ohio. The book was a success, as researcher Daniel Mark Fogel writes that Anderson, “Instead of emphasizing plot and action, Anderson used a simple, precise, unsentimental style to reveal the frustration, loneliness, and longing in the lives of his characters. These characters are stunted by the narrowness of Midwestern small-town life and by their own limitations.” For what seemed like the first time, an author focused very little on plot and much more on character development than any other aspect of stories. Anderson continued publishing novels, despite the success of his book of short stories. He published his novels Poor White and Many Marriages in the 20s while living in New Orleans with his third wife, while entertaining and influencing other famous writers in the United States. 

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 7.01.06 AM

Throughout the 30s, Anderson published many different kinds of works. A book of short stories, Death in the Woods, a book of essays entitled Puzzled America and a novel called Kit Brandon: A Portrait. Though he still experienced some success and notoriety, his public persona had begun to wane and he was no longer quite as influential as he once was. He continued writing until his death in 1941. His death was just as different as his nervous breakdown, interestingly enough. On a cruise to Panama, Anderson began experiencing abdominal pain and succumbed to a strange infection before he was even able to return to the United States. An autopsy revealed that he had swallowed a martini toothpick, which had perforated his intestines and caused an infection to spread throughout his body. A strange death following an interesting life of a little known but quite influential American author! 

Share

Some New Treasures at Tavistock

It’s finally the after-California-craziness time of year (though the Sacramento fair IS coming up again in March…) and boy did we find some neat new items while exhibiting at the Pasadena and Bay Area Fairs! We always like to feature a few new, great (in our humble opinion) things after we get a large amount of stuff catalogued, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the books!
Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 6.50.59 AM
This 1918 1st edition “Oriental Cook Book” states in the preface ““we believe we have finally evolved a book which gives, in designedly limited compass, the most representative, meritorious and easily adaptable methods of food preparation that are known and practiced all over the Orient…” – which they decidedly must have, as this Cook Book widely used and popular at the time. Though the book itself is not what we would consider unique, the Dust Jacket our volume has decidedly is! See more here>
Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 6.54.06 AM
This 1907 Albumen Stereoview set shows something we don’t see every day in Tavistock Books – 101 images of turn of the last century Italy! Beautiful views of local civilians, ruins, and Italian rooftops can be seen throughout – all captioned in many languages and housed in the original publisher’s case. See it here>
Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 6.51.12 AM
This 1st edition of Gold Mines of the Gila was written in 1849 by Charles W. Webber ,”a former Texas Ranger who, fascinated by tales of gold and quicksilver in the country north of the Gila River, wrote this lurid tale of border life to promote an expedition into the area. He succeeded in organizing the ‘Centralia Exploring Expedition to California via the Valleys of the Pecos, to Gila and the Colorado of the West.’ The expedition, however, suffered cholera on the lower Rio Grande and the loss of horses at Corpus Christi. As a result, the project was abondoned and Webber never reached California” (Camp). A sad tale, to be sure, but an amazing early written account of the west! See it here>
Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 6.54.20 AM
Our “Challenge to Death” is the 1935 1st US edition of a group of works by some of the most famous British authors at the time. With contributions from Rebecca West, Julian Huxley and Vera Brittain, how could you go wrong? As the original Dust Jacket blurb states, “fifteen of the outstanding writers of Great Britain give this book – their best and sincerest thought – to the cause of peace, in this dark hour of destruction. They are the voice of the best that is in England.” A wonderful homage to art in a confusing time at the beginning of WWII. See it here>
Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 6.51.25 AM
The Camp Dodger was the official news publication of the 88th Infantry Division of the United States Army. Beginning in early 1919, an Overseas version of the publication began to be printed, with help from local French ladies in the area! This photograph shows 5 women and one man running the press for the soldiers stationed in France during WWI. See it and learn more here>
Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 6.51.42 AM
This presumably handmade late 19th, early 20th century receipt portfolio is fashioned from a piece of plain leather, with a thin belt of leather extending down the center of the interior to hold in the receipts. Our research indicates that the shop for which these receipts were written was owned by a Morris Truesdale of New York, a shoemaker who later seems to have managed a shoe factory in town. The receipts often list a combination of dry goods (sugar, rice, tea, molasses, etc), boots and/or shoes, clothing (shirts, overalls), fabric, and more, and most appear to have been compiled over the course of several months or longer. A unique find, as we can locate no other portfolios of this kind on the market or in available records, and only one business record (1894) for M. Truesdale. See this fantastic item here>
Share

Fair-ly Blue in the Face… That’s a Wrap, Everybody!

The entrance to the fair!

The entrance to the fair!

By Margueritte Peterson

Well, another year has come and passed us by. Another Book Fair has come and gone. I would venture to say not just any book fair, of course, but the ABAA’s 50th California International Antiquarian Book Fair, to be precise. Despite no longer being an antiquarian bookseller personally, I still attend the California ABAA fairs to see such an amazing group of people in a fantastic setting. Without a doubt, the ABAA’s California Fair is a beautifully set-up fair where one can find all manner of items. From incunabula to amazing pop-up miniatures – modern firsts to Hollywood movie posters! And let’s not forget the Tavistock Books Booth with an array of items from Dickens to Americana! Everyone can find something that suits them at the ABAA Fairs (whether or not they can afford it is a different question entirely). 

IMG_20170212_150408However, since I’m now attending the fair as an outsider, it is difficult for me to remark on certain aspects of interest to other booksellers and those attending other fairs around the country. In terms of attendance, I was there on both Friday evening and Sunday afternoon and turn-out seemed steady and flowing. It was not often that I saw booths occupied solely by only their manager or owner. There was a healthy number of booksellers as well! Over 200 exhibitors signed up for and exhibited at the fair, and all that I spoke to said that, in terms of sales, it was a success (which is bookseller lingo usually means that they made the money they spent getting to and exhibiting at the fair back… so at least there’s that!). To help with some of the questions specific to exhibiting booksellers, I got a bit of info from the Tavistock Team – Vic and Kate:

Q: How painless was set-up and take-down as compared to other fairs you have exhibited at recently, especially compared to last year’s Pasadena ABAA Fair?

Setup was rather drawn-out for us, though that was partly our fault — our original booth design looked better on paper, and it took a while to rearrange the various cases. Then electrical was slow to get all the booths wired, and didn’t get to our row until late Friday morning. It’s hard to get everything situated just right when you can’t really see what you’re doing (or how clean the glass is!), and we were still futzing right up until the fair opened. But after our travails, we got it finished in time!

Q: What were sales like? Was it a profitable fair for Tavistock Books?

We’re happy to report that the good ship Tavistock stayed afloat. It wasn’t a great fair, but it wasn’t a bad one, either. Given our sometimes less-than-stellar track record, we’re not going to complain, in fact, as Vic has been saying, “We’re OK with OK!”

Q: Was turnout as grand as you expected it to be? Two years ago at the ABAA fair there were reportedly quite a few thousand people. Was it a similar experience this year?

Other booksellers reported aisles too packed to walk down, so we presume the turnout was high. Our location [on the corner of the exhibitor space, across from the Bancroft Library’s wonderful exhibit of California fiction] never seemed to get that kind of traffic, unfortunately. Though maybe that’s just a case of the cash box being greener on the other side of the curtains?

Q: What was the overall bookseller attitude toward the fair? Two years ago many were quite skeptical of holding the fair in Oakland, but the sales and turnout cured their skepticism! Was there any anxiety over how this year’s fair would hold up to the past in the bookseller community?

From what we’ve heard so far, it sounds like just about everyone is happy with how the fair went. Given the unusual and somewhat bizarre array of circumstances working against this fair’s success — the proximity of the New York fair, the recent enactment of California’s new law about signed material [AB 1570], the Mission Impossible-style theft from a London Caladex facility of three booksellers’ wares before shipment to the fair, and the emergency landing of a plane bearing another bookseller’s books in the remote arctic en route to California — that’s saying a lot. Kudos to all involved, and a big “thank you” to fair coordinator Michael Hackenberg for his tireless efforts, as well as all the good folks at White Rain Productions!

Though you wouldn't know it looking at them, these two have pains shooting up their legs and out their eyeballs!

Though you wouldn’t know it looking at them, these two have pains shooting up their legs and out their eyeballs!

The ABAA Fair coming only a week after the Pasadena Book, Print, Photo & Paper Fair offers a wonderful twofer for out of town booksellers and customers, but in all truthfulness, it can be quite stressful on the booksellers themselves. You would never know it to look at the smiling faces behind the beautifully-arranged display cases, but by the Sunday of the second fair there is more than one smiling face masking an exhaustion only known by those who spend whole days in a row on their feet being charming. Oftentimes, people who don’t know antiquarian bookselling think of it as a somewhat lonely job – sitting in a dark corner sniffing dust-covered leather tomes and muttering to yourself in between inhaling on your pipe – but despite the fact that at times it is a solitary life (and often preferred that way), most people don’t understand that the level of sociality experienced in the few days of a book fair can amount to the equivalent of months’ worth of gabbing by the water cooler in an office setting. Book Fairs are an amazing place to really see what the sellers are made of… they are cool under pressure, they are charming even if their sales are down the toilet, they smile even if they have pain shooting up their legs and out their eyeballs!

IMG_20170212_135746

Michael Thompson of Boreas Fine Art showing some of his trickiest and most beautiful pieces!

In terms of interesting items at the fair, a few things that caught my eye were the colorful miniatures at new-ABAA member (and friend to Tavistock Books) Kim Herrick’s booth for her business The Book Lair, and the larger-than-life art books shown to me by Boreas Fine Art’s Michael Thompson. Not to mention that even in the Tavistock Books booth something fun caught my eye… a circa 1850 Gold Scale used in the California Gold Rush – in its original manufacturer’s wooden case! Now that is something you don’t see every day! 

 

 

IMG_20170212_125503

Vic giving his Book Collecting 101 speech at the fair on Sunday!


A few events also stuck out in both attendee and exhibitor minds alike, as the ABAA Fairs always put on interesting and educational seminars and receptions. Alongside other seminar speakers like Western Americana-expert Gary F. Kurutz and William Blake specialist John Windle, our very own Vic Zoschak gave his usual two seminars (usual because they are helpful and beloved by all) Book Collecting 101 and What’s This Book Worth? on Sunday afternoon. I stopped in on these speeches (that I personally witnessed at the ABAA California Book Fair in 2013) and can say with certainty that they are an absolute necessity for those starting out in the trade or in the antiquarian book-buying world and are unsure of how or where to begin. On Friday evening the trade also held a Women in Bookselling reception for the growing number of ladies involved in the book business! Now, along with the socializing of the day and the bookseller dinners in the evening… a full weekend was on everyone’s schedule! And, as usual, the booksellers we know and love handled it with unbelievable grace and charisma. And now, let us return to our dark corners to catalogue new fair finds and smoke our pipes in peace. 

Share

“The Art of Losing”: Honoring Poet Elizabeth Bishop

Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 9.40.29 AM

So begins my favorite poem. I was never much of a poetry buff – having to read out badly handwritten poems in the 5th grade and then being the last one in the class to be chosen to be published in a strange Florida Kids Poetry Book pretty much nipped any dreams I might have had of being the next Emily Dickinson in the bud. In any event, I didn’t learn to appreciate poetry for a long, long time. Often I had trouble deciphering the meanings of the poems. In high school, a teacher would mark you wrong if you thought the poem had a different meaning than what she had thought. I always thought to myself, “how can that be right?” My English teacher wasn’t a close personal friend of Emily’s. Who is to say that what an academic somewhere decided was the meaning of Emily Dickinson’s poems is 100% what she meant. Isn’t a little part of poetry and literature in general interesting in that everyone reads it a bit differently?

But I digress. 

Often, poetry can be a bit difficult for the average reader. (Especially if they are being graded on their feelings… okay, okay… I really will drop it now.) The poetry I have always preferred, given my lack of poetry deciphering skills, were the straight forward ones. The ones whose meanings were clear, which spoke to you in a way where you felt like the author was sharing a secret with you and only you. Poets like… Miss Elizabeth Bishop.

Elizabeth Bishop was born on February 8th (Happy Birthday!) in 1911, in Worcester, Massachusetts. She would have a sad childhood, however, as her father died before her first birthday and her mother went mad and was institutionalized in 1916 when Bishop was only 5 years old. She would never be reunited with her mother, and went to live with her maternal grandparents in Nova Scotia. Despite being ill often and developing asthma, Bishop wrote of her time in Nova Scotia as one of the happiest in her childhood. Custody of Bishop was then gained by her wealthier paternal grandparents a bit later in her childhood, and she was moved back to Worcester. Unfortunately she was unhappy with her paternal grandparents, and they could tell. In 1918, her grandparents sent Bishop to live with her mom’s eldest sister, Maud and her husband, and paid them for her upkeep. This was an important time for Elizabeth, as it was her aunt Maud who introduced her to poetry, reading her the works of the Victorian poets, including Tennyson, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Thomas Carlyle. Without her knowledge, the seed to become a poet had been planted. 

Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 9.45.26 AMBishop’s high schooling was a tad erratic, as she attended three different high schools until settling at Walnut Hill School, where she studied music with the idea of becoming a composer. At Walnut Hill her first poems were published in a student magazine. However, Bishop was still convinced that her future lay in music, not literature. She entered Vassar College in the fall of 1929 with these hopes – though they soon gave way when the fear of actually performing became too great for the shy Bishop. Instead, she threw herself into academia – focusing on her English classes and co-founding (with author Mary McCarthy) the underground university literary magazine Con Spirito. When she graduated in 1934, Bishop focused on traveling the world. She spent time living in Paris and in Key West, and wrote of her travels in poems, essays, and short stories. In fact, much of her writing done in Key West would be included in her first published book of poems, North and South (1946) – a book which won the Houghton Mifflin Prize for Poetry. Despite her popularity, however, Bishop wouldn’t publish another book of poetry for another 9 years. She still had enough money from the inheritance from her father to flourish in these locales, writing more for pleasure than for necessary income. 

Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 9.42.13 AMHer writing became more and more popular throughout the years, and almost 15 years later she would be elected as the Consultant in Poetry for the Library of Congress. Once her year as a consultant ended, Bishop began her travels once again and set out for South America in 1951. She intended to stay for two weeks, but fell in love with the female (and terribly gifted) Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares, and lived with her in Brazil for 15 years. Obviously at this time same-sex relationships were kept under wraps, which worked out just fine for the shy Bishop. During her time in Brazil, Bishop published a follow-up to her poetry collection North and South, and released Poems: North and South – A Cold Spring in 1955, and one year later won the Pulitzer Prize for this second book of poetry. Bishop enjoyed (or possibly didn’t enjoy, given her introverted nature) notoriety in both Brazil and the US over the next decade spent in Brazil with her lover. Unfortunately, over the years their relationship became strained and was tainted by Bishop’s alcoholism and heated fights. Soares committed suicide in 1967, after which Bishop would spend most of her days in the United States, away from the country that inspired much of her writing for so long. 

Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 9.41.23 AMHer third publication, Questions of Travel, was published in 1965, and was unquestionably influenced by her time spent in South America. After this, she published a book of The Complete Poems in 1969, and then her last book to appear in her lifetime, Geography III, in 1977. Geography III won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, a prize which no woman had ever won and no American has won since. Bishop remained unbelievably popular throughout her life, until her sudden death in 1979 from a cerebral aneurysm.

Share

Celebrating Children’s Authors and Illustrators Week… with an Antiquarian Spin

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 10.53.03 AM

February 1st marks the beginning of Children’s Authors and Illustrators Week! Now, we’ve written several blogs on some of our favorite children’s book authors, but what we haven’t done in a while is take a look at some of our most popular antiquarian children’s literature items! We thought we’d take a little tour through some of our inventory and see how we can celebrate this week of Children’s literature with some… antiquarian flair!

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 11.00.11 AMThe beginning of what we know today as Children’s Literature is commonly attributed to authors around the mid to late 19th century, with authors like Charles Dodgson, Edward Lear and Rudyard Kipling paving the way for fantastical and nonsensical Children’s Literature – more often than not written for the pure enjoyment of children. However, before true “Children’s Literature” existed, the writing for the young was more didactic in nature, always teaching a skill or a moral lesson (sometimes with even an implied punishment for failure to learn the lesson provided). This 1806 “Young Child’s A-B-C or First Book” is a Children’s chapbook teaching the A-B-C’s in Hornbook style – with images of items beginning with the letter in question. It is a first printing of this chapbook, rare in the trade and in fairly nice condition for its age! See it here.

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 11.02.02 AM

Almanacks began to appear in the 1800s as well, with one popular type being Kate Greenaway’s yearly ones for Children. Though these continued to have a sense of didacticism in them, as they were a fount of knowledge and information, fun colored hand-drawn images of small children in fashionable clothing made these little books a bit different from their earlier counterparts. Our 1886 Almanack (published in 1885) is a clear representation of the Kate Greenaway publications, with a scarcely seen 19th century dust jacket still intact. See it here.

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 11.02.11 AMIn the 1900s we begin to see more and more child-oriented literature, such as naturalist and animal illustrator Cecil Aldin’s “The White Puppy Book”. This book in particular contains 25 illustrations (a clear distinction of the rise of literature for the children’s enjoyment), of which 12 are full-page illustrations. This illustrator used his skills to bring enjoyment to children with this book, with humorous images of a white puppy. See it here

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 11.02.20 AM

Skipping ahead to 1955, we see the popular Children’s Series books at peak demand. Edward Stratemeyer had formed his syndicate in 1905, and series books like Tom Swift, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys had been favored by the young for decades. One of our favorite series that doesn’t (in our humble opinion) receive enough acclaim for its creativity and individuality are the Freddy books! Our 1st edition of “Freddy and the Baseball Team from Mars” is one – the Freddy series including stories of a fun-loving pig that tries desperately to go on many different adventures. They are illustrated intertextually with brightly colored and humorous Dust Jackets. See this item here

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 11.02.35 AMAlmost every adult in the United States knows the Dick and Jane series to help teach children to read with humorous lines and repetition. The series was iconically illustrated by artists such as Eleanor Campbell and Robert Childress, and though first appearing in the 1930s remained popular ever since, even being reissued in 2003. The iconic phrase “See Spot Run!” comes from this series! A set of 16 scarce reading cards from 1962 can be found here

So how else can you celebrate Children’s Author and Illustrator week without splurging on a neat antiquarian item? Well, whether you are a parent, a teacher, a bookseller or a librarian, here are a few ideas!

TALK with a librarian or a local children’s bookseller. They can recommend the perfect books for yours and your children’s age or interests!

READ with friends and family. Reading together is fun and helps create enthusiastic, strong readers. It’s never too late to become a reader!

VISIT independent bookstores and children’s specialty bookstores and learn about a new (or long gone, in our case) children’s author today!

And visit the Children’s Author’s Network for more ideas on spreading the Kid Lit love this year! 

Share