Category Archives: Antiquarian Books

That Other Printer You Ought To Know

William Caxton

Every single person reading this blog would (I hope) know the name “Gutenberg.” Right? Now here’s another major name in the printing world, perhaps not known by everyone… William Caxton. Maybe you know him, maybe you don’t. We aren’t here to judge your knowledge of the printing business. We’re just here to educate you! So sit back, relax, and learn something new.

caxton3William Caxton was born sometime during the years 1415-1424, which scholars have appropriated since his apprenticeship fees were paid in 1438. He grew up and was educated in the district of Kent, before leaving for London to be apprentice to Robert Large, a wealthy London dealer or luxury goods. Caxton made trips to Bruge after the death of Large in 1441, and eventually settled there in 1453. He was successful in his business as a merchant, and after becoming governor of the Company of Merchant Adventurers of London he became a member of the household of Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy and sister to two Kings of England! This was a fortuitous time in Caxton’s life, as due to his international travels for the Duchess’ household he observed the brand new printing press business in Germany (as the Gutenberg press had began in 1440) and immediately set up his own printing press in Bruge and within a few years produced the first book known to be printed in English, published in 1473 Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye (“A Collection of the Histories of Troy” ) – a book of French courtly love translated by Caxton himself. (Fun antiquarian book world fact: only 18 copies of this printing still exist [kind of shocking there are even 18], and one sold by the Duke of Northumberland in 2014 and fetched over 1 million GBP.)

caxton4After his success with the printing in Bruge, Caxton brought his art back to England in 1476 and set up the country’s first ever press in a section of the Westminster Abbey Church. The first book printed in England itself was an edition of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Other early titles printed by Caxton included Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres translated by the king’s brother in law Earl Rivers, and Caxton’s own translations of the Golden Legend in 1483 and The Book of the Knight in the Tower. Caxton also printed the first ever English translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, as well as Le Morte d’Arthur.

[As you can probably already tell, if you didn't know the name Caxton that is:

a) shocking

b) embarrassing

c) all of the above

but in all reality, he is not as spoken of as Johannes Gutenberg and his press. So yes, Gutenberg is given big props for developing the early European movable type system, but why isn't Caxton's name also taught in schools?!]

caxton1Caxton’s death is recognized as taking place in 1491 or 1492, as that is when his work stopped being produced. He was succeeded by his Dutch employee Wynkyn de Worde, who is recognized for moving the printing of books in English away from an excitement enjoyed by the aristocrazy and nobility and toward the idea of printing for the masses. De Worde is often known as “England’s first typographer” and printed over 400 books in over 800 editions. Caxton, god bless him, printed 108 books of 87 different titles. However, Caxton did much of his translating himself, working on an honest desire to provide the best translation possible to his customers. Despite the fact that de Worde is known for standardizing the English language (as there were, at that time, so many different dialects and different spellings that it was often difficult to keep track), Caxton is absolutely also honored for beginning this process and though printing books of no remarkable or significant beauty, then at least for beginning the process of printing books in English at all!

Share

Some Top Literary Blogs for Bibliophiles and Antiquarian Maniacs (Like Us)

As a literary blogger myself, I like to follow quite a few blogs online that are written by like-minded individuals. The internet is a wonderful thing, is it not? Perhaps we can see both the good and the bad when it comes to online reading. You can find all the research in the world, but also are privvy to the intimate daily thoughts of Donald Trump through Twitter. You can read The Documents of the Hexateuch written in 1893 on Google Books, and then in less than ten degrees of separation find some hateful and badly written webpages on the damnation of both religious and anti-religious folk. Why am I telling you all this, you may very well ask?

The only blogs that we at Tavistock Books can be responsible for are the ones that are published on www.tavbooks.com (AKA the best blog in the world)! So no matter where I direct you to, where we might find inspiration or what you may read online… do us a favor and read everything (even this) with a grain of salt! Always remember that you can’t believe everything you read online. Well, except pretty much everything written by Trump on Twitter. That is definitely all true.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 4.21.15 PM

 The New Antiquarian: The Blog of the ABAA

Now, we might be a teensy bit biased toward the ABAA’s blog, as our blogs have been featured pieces on there several times! But in all truthfulness, if you’re looking for an antiquarian book world blog updated constantly with all different types of pieces… works on book collecting, on authors, on events, on problems in the book world – even thefts… look no further! In an all-around sense, the New Antiquarian sets you up with a little bit of everything… rare book world style!

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 4.23.48 PM

 Fine Books & Collections

The Fine Books & Collections online magazine has A LOT going on on their main page. Don’t let that deter you from delving in! Their blog page is a bit calmer and has a lot of interesting pieces… you can search through by genre and also by writers/bookstores that some of the blogs come from. Oh, and they don’t just report on antiquarian books… within you can even find works on recent TV shows based on famous authors and reviews of brand new literature hitting the shelves!

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 4.22.41 PM

 The Public Domain

The Public Domain is a very interesting find, in my not so humble opinion… their main focus, in their own words, is to be “an online journal and not-for-profit project dedicated to the exploration os curious and compelling works from the history of art, literature and ideas. In particular… the focus is on works which have now fallen into the public domain, that vast commons of out-of-copyright material that everyone is free to enjoy, share, and build upon without restriction.” The Public Domain focuses, as stated, on many out-of-copyright material – much of which you would not have heard of before, as they are often no longer printed for the masses! If you’re searching for the literary blog that will guarantee you the most interesting topic of conversation at your next dinner party… look no further!

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 6.42.02 PM

 The Book Designer

If you’re looking for something a bit less antiquarian and a bit more focused on the modern-day book world of e-books, publishing, self-publishing and producing, I suggest The Book Designer as a place to start. I find some of their blogs/articles a bit too “Self-Help-y” for my taste (nothing wrong with self-help, and in their defense their tagline is “Practical Advice to Help Build Better Books”), but if you’re looking to begin a writing or publishing or book designing career in any form or fashion, The Book Designer will have at least a hint of what you need.

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 6.43.46 PM

 Lit Hub

A great literature-lover blog that has a bit of antiquarian, a bit of modern, and a bit of cheek is Literary Hub. Just this past minute I read a blog on there I missed a couple weeks ago about Jane Austen’s ridiculous Mrs. Bennet being the most subversive and free-spirited of all of Austen’s characters! (Despite also being the most widely mocked.) This is just the type of literary article you can find on LitHub… along with reposts, new posts, literature and politics… a bit of something for every bibliophile who encounters it. Check it out!

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 4.23.17 PM

Also, check out this awesome list by Stephen J. Gertz on his book-blog BookTryst (another great blog) – briefly detailing some of the best antiquarian book blogs out there for our perusal!

But no matter where you head off to (online, that is) after reading this… just remember your promise! The moment you come across the article “Turning away Refugees is an American Tradition” on one of these websites, do as you will – snort, scoff, giggle then feel guilty about it, make sad droopy eyes… anything but shoot the messenger!

Share

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!

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 7.28.42 PM

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>

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 7.29.39 PM

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>

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 7.29.05 PM

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>

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 7.29.18 PM

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>

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 7.30.02 PM

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>

Share

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!

************************************************

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>

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 10.10.03 PM

***

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>

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 10.10.37 PM

 

***

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>

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 10.10.25 PM

***

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>

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 10.09.52 PM

 

***

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

 

***

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>

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 6.48.49 AM

 

***

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>

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 6.48.38 AM

Share

The Northern California Chapter Quarterly Meeting

By Margueritte Peterson

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

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

“A Date Which Will Live in Infamy…” Today we Remember the United States’ Entrance into WWII

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-7-31-43-pm

By Margueritte Peterson

Bookstores and businesses in the antiquarian book world are numerous enough that no matter what you are looking for, you can be sure to find it somewhere. On sites like Biblio.com and abaa.org, you can search for booksellers based on what genre of books you are looking for. One genre we would like to salute on this December 7th, an important day of remembrance and respect in United States history, are antiquarian books with a WWII military basis. 

A picture taken from a Japanese fighter jet (where did they find the time?!) as one of the first torpedoes hit the USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor.

A picture taken from a Japanese fighter jet (where did they find the time?!) as one of the first torpedoes hit the USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor.

On the morning of December 7th, 1941, 353 Japanese fighter planes attacked the United States military base at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. The lack of any warning for this attack led the president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt to label it “a date which will live in infamy” – primarily based on the lack of a declaration of war (a formal pronouncement) or any true notice of its happening. The Naval base suffered devastating loses, with four of the eight Naval battleships sunk and all severely damaged. This attack, the likes of which many American citizens had never seen up close on our nation’s soil, shocked the nation into joining World War II. 

Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States had skirted around the edges of the looming World War II. However, on December 8th, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt delivered a speech asking Congress for a formal declaration of war on Japan. Less than an hour after the speech, Congress consented. Due to a previous agreement between Germany, Italy and the Empire of Japan, United States was suddenly (or at least beginning on December 11th) at war with all three nations, all with the objective of restricting the United States’ ability to help any of their other opposition throughout the war. 

Now, all of this is frightfully interesting (not making fun, just stating such with the knowledge that these things have all been heard before, especially today), but what does this have to do with antiquarian bookselling? Well, good thing you ask. Tavistock Books, among other antiquarian booksellers in the United States and abroad, boasts a small collection of WWII items – books, ephemera, memorabilia… even WWII posters printed on linen – all are things we have been lucky enough to have in stock over the years. On this anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we’d like to highlight some of our most interesting World War II items currently on our shelves. 

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-7-24-12-pm

See this interesting book here>

This uncommon military book details the XIII Bomber Command – a WWII command and control organization for the Thirteenth Air Force, activated in January of 1943. This organization was created in order to provide authority of Army Air Force bombardments within the 13th Air Force Area of Responsibility during the war. What is striking about this book is that it was created entirely within the Combat Area of the Bomber Command – its handmade nature evident – and provides extensive documentation of the Command’s activities in the Pacific Theater during the year and a half that it chronicles. 

See this Fine poster here>

See this Fine poster here>

Another WWII item we currently have in stock and would like to bring attention to is this 1945 1st edition broadside/poster (linen-backed) by the Women’s Army Corps. As stated a bit earlier, we often try to carry unusual memorabilia relating to WWII. This poster propagandizes the Female Medical Technician campaign – an organization that came about after 5,000 of the U.S. Army Medical Department’s combat-ready men were forced to transfer to the infantry in early 1944. The department suddenly began a major push to recruit women to fill the positions left open, and created departments like this Female Medical Technician campaign (which, by the way, was hugely successful). By the end of the war, the WACs (Women’s Army Corps) Medical Department employed around 20,000 trained, skilled and determined young women.

Again, on this December 7th we honor and remember members of the military that have, so often, given their lives and their time to protecting citizens of the United States. (We have mentioned before that our very own Vic Zoschak was a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Coast Guard before turning his talents toward a career in the antiquarian book trade, right?) We salute all.

Share