Category Archives: Collecting

OTD in 1916 – Ernest H. Shackleton Rescues his Crew of the Endurance from a Year and a Half Ordeal on the Frozen Elephant Island

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What would be the roughest conditions you could see yourself surviving in? Deserted tropical island in a ‘Cast Away’ situation? Or what about lost in a forest with only a tent and a few cans of beans? I’ve got it! What about trapped in packed ice 720 nautical miles from civilization only to have your boat sink and then have to camp the rest of the time on the ice itself? Could you survive it? Personally, being from Florida, and though I like the occasional cold weather… I can imagine few ways of how I would die faster than being trapped on ice for a year and a half.

That being said, an entire group of men once did it. An explorer and his crew lived on packed ice for months and months… and then some traveled hundreds of miles for help and rescue. Ernest Shackleton is a name known by adventure enthusiasts, explorer aficionados and travel collectors across the world. 

shackleton1Ernest was born in February 1874 in County Kildare, Ireland – the first of two boys out of ten children in an Anglo-Irish family… and the son of a dreamer. When Ernest was six his father gave up his career as a landowner and decided to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. He moved the family to Dublin in order to begin his studies at Trinity College. Once acquiring his degree, Henry Shackleton then moved his family to London when Ernest was 10. Shackleton was an avid reader, but a maddening student. He did not take to lessons so well, despite being able to finish at the top of his class several years, and was finally allowed to leave school at 16 to pursue the adventures he had dreamed of for years while reading travel books and thrilling adventure accounts. His father got him an apprenticeship on a sailing vessel, and the young Shackleton spent the next 8 years studying for different mariner tests, Second Mate, then First Mate, and ultimately Master Mariner (captain). 

In 1901, Shackleton took a job on the National Antarctic Expedition, also known as the Discovery Expedition (after the ship it was on… the Discovery) led by Robert Falcon Scott on a mission of scientific study and geographical mapping. The ship was strictly run, with Scott following Royal Naval protocol. Through this Shackleton discovered he preferred a slightly more casual and easy-going approach to management. The journey taught Shackleton much about leadership, and also about problems encountered on both water and land voyages, Shackleton himself at one point falling ill with scurvy. However, Shackleton was also one of the most popular members on board the ship, and though his weakened system at the end of his voyage with the Discovery was definitely cause for alarm and the reasoning behind him being sent home on a relief ship, there are those who contest that his undeniable popularity among the crew made Captain Scott jealous and he was sent home for resentful reasons. In any case, it was an invaluable learning experience for Shackleton. 

In 1908 Shackleton led his own Antarctic expedition, finally captain of his own ship, the Nimrod. He and a small crew climbed Mount Erebus (the first time ascent on record) and set a record for the closest anyone had ever been to the South Pole. He and his small expedition team almost met with starvation making their way back to the ship, with the ever-popular Shackleton giving up his own measly rations to another failing crew member, Frank Wild, who would later write about that moment in his diary, “All the money that was ever minted would not have bought that biscuit and the remembrance of that sacrifice will never leave me.” The grateful Wild would later become the second in command on Shackleton’s larger expedition in 1914. Upon his return to the UK after his experiences on the Nimrod, Shackleton was knighted and awarded a Gold Medal by the Royal Geographical Society. Fun fact: Shackleton and his crew left several cases of whiskey and brandy behind in the Antarctic in 1909, and the cases were found in 2010 and analyzed! “A revival of the vintage (and since lost) formula for the particular brands found [was] offered for sale with a portion of the proceeds [going] to benefit the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust.” Awesome!

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After several years of public appearances and lectures, Shackleton was once more ready for a voyage in 1914. He titled his journey the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition”, and it would take 2 ships to either side of Antarctica so that he might cross part of the continent (1,800 miles of it) with a team of six other men. Shackleton received 5,000+ applications to join his crew, and in being selective on personality and disposition he selected 56 men to populate the two ships. Shackleton would be captaining the Endurance and the Aurora would meet him at the end of his journey across the ice. 

shackleton5The Endurance began it’s slow and hard journey through the Weddell Sea in early December, by mid-January becoming frozen in first year ice. Shackleton realized at the end of February that the boat would be stuck until the following spring (that October or thereabouts, as the seasons are backwards), as there was no hope for the ice to thaw in such conditions. Shackleton ordered the men to abandon the ship and begin setup of a camp on the packed ice, thankfully, as despite Shackleton’s hope that the boat would break free of the ice come spring and be able to continue sailing, the pressure put on the boat the following September from the breaking of the ice ended up sinking (albeit slowly) the then abandoned ship. For about two months Shackleton and his crew camped on flat ice floes, changing from floe to floe hoping one might drift them down to the inhabited Paulet Island. Unfortunately they were unable to reach it and using their lifeboats they were eventually able to make it to Elephant Island – that being the first time they had stood on dry land in over a year. Shackleton kept a watchful eye on all of his men, as usual, and in giving his mittens to his photographer Frank Hurley suffered from frostbite himself. 

shackleton3Shackleton then took five men and used a lifeboat to travel over 800 miles to a whaling station in South Georgia to get help. He would only pack four weeks of supplies into the lifeboat, knowing that if they could not reach their destination within a months time that they might as well consider themselves lost – he did not want to take supplies away from the men remaining on Elephant Island. Within 15 days they saw South Georgia, but inhospitable weather did not allow them to land immediately. When they were able to reach shore they had to pull up on the south side of the island, unfortunately knowing the whaling station was on the north side. Rather than get back in the lifeboat, three of the crew decided to attempt the journey across the mountainous land on foot – a distance of 32 miles (these guys couldn’t seem to catch a break, am I right?). They fastened screws into their boots to act as climbing shoes and had 50 feet of rope between the three of them. Not an easy journey… but they finally made it to the whaling station and got the help they needed. With the help of a Chilean vessel, Shackleton reached the rest of his 22 men on Elephant Island on the 30th of August, 1916 – 101 years ago today. After over a year and a half ordeal living on ice, every single man aboard the Endurance and under Shackleton’s command made it back alive. If Shackleton hadn’t already been considered a hero – he certainly was then!

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 9.33.04 AMToday we honor the bravery shown by Shackleton and his crew, and feel the gratefulness these men must have felt upon their rescue! And now, for a bit of antiquarian book world pleasure… check out this 1843 Dickens edition of Master Timothy’s Book-Case… previously owned by one Ernest H. Shackleton! Enjoy.

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We Have the New Americana

Happy 4th of July! In honor of our great nation’s Independence Day, we thought we would share with our loyal followers some of our newest and/or most notable Americana items. What better time of year to round out your collection? And don’t forget to check in next week for the 20th Anniversary of our shop! An interview with our fearless leader and a special surprise for Tavistock fans – stay tuned!

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This Evolution of a State or Recollections of Old Texas Days is by a local Texan blacksmith – Noah Smithwick – who moved to Texas in 1827 and served in the war for Texas independence and later on as a Ranger. Though he left the state in 1861 due to his sympathies for the Union (sorry, Confederates!) he was able to leave behind a work that Dobie has called “The best of all books dealing with life in early Texas” and Jenkins notes as “the most fun to read”. Don’t miss out! This specially bound version of the edition can be seen here>

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This beautifully illustrated poster from United Air Lines dates back to 1968! Depicting a colorful and intricate (and distinctly American) ship in the Boston harbor – one can only wonder if this was successful at getting civilians to visit the beautiful city. One thing is for sure and certain… we are wishing it was time for the Boston Book Fair just by looking at this! See it here>

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This Compilation of all the Treaties between the United States and the Indian Tribes Now in Force as Laws is a necessary addition to any collection dealing with Native American history. This a 1st edition, as published in its original binding in 1873, with a very intriguing provenance… for it carries the bookplate of Mr. J. B. Milam, first principal Chief of the Cherokee nation. Intrigued? See it here>

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Our old archiving wiz Kate Mitas recently published a series of blogs detailing her experiences in cataloguing archival material! We have seen a rise in archival interest in the trade over the last many years, and truly enjoy when an interesting collection comes across our desks. Here we have the archive of a Pennsylvania man, Adam Atkinson’s purchases of land in Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio in the early to mid 1800′s! The letters within provide a unique view of western expansion, charting quite literally western expansion of a single community. Of note in this collection as well are the number of documents pertaining to Atkinson’s attempts to locate surviving Revolutionary War soldiers or their descendants in order to purchase unclaimed Revolutionary War bounty land grants! Read more on this fascinating collection here>

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 7.29.31 PMI know I often include execution pamphlets in blogs like this one (what can I say… some of us have strange minds!), but this one is one of the most interesting we have seen! This an 1821 broadside detailing the execution of Stephen Merrill Clark, who was convicted of intentionally setting fire to a stable owned by one Mrs. Pheobe Cross, which in turn consumed the house of Andrew Frothingham, Esq. Now this rare broadside will be a favorite with parents the world over (bear with me here) as Clark’s dying exhortation contains the following: “My the youth who are present take warning by my sad fate, not to forsake the wholesome discipline of a Parent’s house. Had I taken the advice of my parents I never should have come to this untimely end”. Imagine that! See this rare in the trade item here>

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And, last but not least! As a reminder to all of you who use July 4th as an excuse to party hard (not that we are excluding ourselves from this)… a piece of temperance reminder! This archival book contains over 400 pages of clippings, letters and leaflets all about the Temperance movement and Prohibition in the early 20th century! Compiled by a Pomona, California native Mrs. S. C. W. Bowen (presumed), this catalogue of prohibition is sure to set you on your toes… See it here>

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What We Found in a California Gold Mine! I Mean, Book Fair. California Book Fair.

So, it’s been a couple weeks since the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair and over a month since California’s Pasadena Book, Print and Paper Fair and the California ABAA Fair! What that means in layman’s terms is that it has given us just enough time to catalogue some of the highlights found at these fairs and acquired for the Tavistock Books collection! Enjoy some of our latest and greatest, offered here below and linked for your viewing pleasure. Email us at vjz@tavbooks.com with any questions!

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If science and technology is your thing, have we got some goodies for you! Check out this 1873 title detailing a lecture delivered at the South London Microscopical and Natural History Club on April 9th, 1872. The subject? “On Spectrum Analysis as Applied to Microscopical Observation.” Complete with a beautiful original chromolithographic frontispiece as well as its original publisher’s bindings, this is an item not to be missed! Check it out here>

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Now, if you’re more of a reading and writing kind of person, we’ve got something for you too! This English Spelling Dictionary was published in 1752 in Dublin, a third edition thought to be pirated Newbery, it includes all the most important words of the English language to be taught to “Young Gentlemen, Ladies, and Foreigners!” Check it out here>

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One of our more recently explored, but immediately favorited genres is our collection of cook books and menus! It is so fun to see the changes in recipes and menus through the ages, so we do keep a good look out for those. At the recent California fairs we were lucky enough to find this one – a rare cook book from the Castile Sanitarium! Published in 1911, a 2nd edition, but excitingly not found in Axford, Wheaton or Kelly – with OCLC recording only 2 copies and, at this moment, no others available for purchase in the trade! Check it out here>

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The Medical Profession has changed often throughout the centuries – clearly antibiotics were a killer creation, and the leeches thing seems to have run its course (hopefully). Check out this 1856 1st edition of “The Medical Profession in Ancient Times” – a book on a lecture by John Watson to the New York Academy of Medicine the year prior. This copy not only a 1st edition, but also an inscribed presentation copy from the author to George Adlend, Esq. Check it out here>

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Now have we got a gift for the newlyweds in your life! Let’s be totally stereotypical for a moment and enjoy this “Complete Cookery Book with Sections on Household Work, Servants’ Duties, Labour Saving, Laundry Work, Etiquette, Marketing, Carvings & Trussing, the Art of ‘Using-Up’, Table Decoration, the Home Doctor, the Nursery, the Home Lawyer…” and more by Mrs. Beeton! There are 4000+ Cookery Recipes in this one volume… if it isn’t a happy homemaker’s dream come true! Check out this 1923 volume here>Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 10.10.15 PM

 

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Our holding of “Where I Was Born and Raised” by David Cohn is in uncommonly nice condition – complete with its original dust jacket in Very Good condition! This author wrote about segregation in America and his stories, such as “God Shakes Creation” should not be missed. Check it out here>

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And, saving one of the best for last! Our “Life, Trial, and Execution of Maria Manning and Frederic G. Manning for the Barbarous Murder of Patrick O’Connor” is a series of letters written by our main man Charles Dickens after witnessing the public hangings of Maria and Frederic for the murder of her lover, Patrick O’Connor. Dickens was against public executions like this, which occasioned his writing two letters to the Times protesting the practice of public hangings, emphasizing his belief that such events “had only a hardening and debasing influence on their spectators, and that from the moment a murderer was convicted he should be kept from curious visitors and reporters serving up his sayings and doings in the Sunday papers, and executed privately within the prison walls.” Did we mention that no holdings of this item are found on OCLC? Check it out here>

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

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By Margueritte Peterson

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. 

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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! 

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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!
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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>
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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>
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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>
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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>
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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>
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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>
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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!

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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! 

 

 

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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. 

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The Latest and Greatest from Tavistock Books

The fall book fair season has slowed to a crawl, but the elves at Tavistock Books have been working overtime, cataloguing away! Presented here are a few notable new items at Tavistock Books, ones found at recent fairs such as Sacramento and Boston – and carefully picked out by Vic & Kate (you know, the Tavistock elves) to present to you here! Keep an eye out for our upcoming catalogue, as well… this one containing reconsidered (reexamined, re-catalogued, and, in many cases, repriced) albums & archives. You wouldn’t want to miss even more fun and interesting items coming your way this holiday season!

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This 1826 broadside called “The Sorrowful Lamentation of John Oliffe and John Sparrow” details the pitiful tale of two men in the early 1800s and their shameful tendencies toward the stealing of farm animals! Both men lay under the sentence of death – Oliffe for horse-stealing and Sparrow for sheep stealing! This Very Good copy of this broadside is even more special as it is unique – we find no copies of it on OCLC. See it here> 

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A rare item of local California history is up for grabs! This promotional booklet on Ben Lomond, a mountain in Santa Cruz named after a similar mountain in Scotland. This item, printed circa 1907, is not found in Rocq, nor on OCLC (though a reproduction is held by the Santa Cruz Public Library). This 70 page booklet is invaluable “number of views which will serve to give the reader a general but necessarily very much limited idea of the surpassing beauties of this favorite locality of mountain homes.” [t.p.]. See it here>

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This spectacularly colorful calendar marks a great year – 1901! Each of the 7 pages are chromolithographed with diverse scenes, such as the “1st Canadian Contingent Embarking at Quebec” or a “Relief of Ladysmith”. This calendar was issued as a Canadian Souvenir of the War in South Africa (Second Boer War) – once again, we find no copies listed on OCLC. See this colorful item here> 

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Nothing like a good booklet on a hospital founded in the 1840s as a center for consumption and diseases of the heart to make you feel glad for your lot this holiday season! The hospital, now called the Royal Brompton Hospital, was to be financed entirely from charitable donations and fund raising. At its opening, some of the hospital’s most famous patrons included singer Jenny Lind, Charles Dickens and even Queen Victoria (who gave £10 a year, apparently). Once again, we find no copies of this booklet detailing the patrons of the establishment on OCLC. See it here> 

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Another early item we have available is this Catalogue of the Officers and Students at Fryeburg Academy for 1852-1853. Fryeburg Academy was one of the very first schools built in Maine, and it was also one of the first schools in the continental United States to accept women! This preparatory school still known as one of the finest schools in the nation, and only one known copy of this booklet found on OCLC. See it here>

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Our Remarks on the Present Condition of the Navy and Particularly of the Victualling is a piece from 1700 written by John Tutchin, a radical Whig controversialist and political journalist. In 1704 after accusing the British Navy of supplying food for the French Navy, Tutchin was arrested and imprisoned (again, having been so previously) for his beliefs and outspoken nature, and died from injuries sustained being beaten in prison. Interested? See it here>  

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