Category Archives: Americana

Celebrating Women Authors on Maya Angelou’s Birthday

We recently saw an interesting article online, detailing the “Best Female Authors” of all time. On this, what would be Dr. Maya Angelou’s 90th birthday, we would like to channel her inner strength and power as a leading poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist and honor some of the most famous female authors of all time.

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Top Twenty-Five Female Authors of All Time in One Sentence or Less

Followed by the First Sentence or So Found about these Powerful Ladies on the Internet (A Rather Fascinating Social Experiment, No?)

(Obviously Debatable, but these names are based on Book Sales and those found to be Classics Today)

Jane Austen:an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century.”

Virginia Woolf:an English writer, who is considered one of the foremost modernist authors of the 20th century and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device.”

Charlotte Bronte:is one of the most famous Victorian women writers, only two of her poems are widely read today, and these are not her best or most interesting poems.”

Agatha Christie:Lady Mallowan, DBE was an English writer. She is known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around her fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.”

Mary Shelley:an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818).”

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Louisa May Alcott:was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832. She and her sisters Anna, Elizabeth, and [Abba] May were educated by their father, teacher/philosopher A. Bronson Alcott, and raised on the practical Christianity of their mother, Abigail May.”

J.K. Rowling:is the creator of the Harry Potter fantasy series, one of the most popular book and film franchises in history.”

George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans):was an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era.”

Emily Dickinson:is one of America’s greatest and most original poets of all time.”

Sylvia Plath:was one of the most dynamic and admired poets of the 20th century.”

Toni Morrison:American writer noted for her examination of black experience (particularly black female experience) within the black community.”

Margaret Atwood:is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, inventor, and environmental activist.”

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Elizabeth Gaskell:often referred to as Mrs Gaskell, was an English novelist, biographer, and short story writer.”

Willa Cather:established a reputation for giving breath to the landscape of her fiction.”

Dorothy Parker:was an American poet, writer, critic, and satirist, best known for her wit, wisecracks and eye for 20th-century urban foibles.”

Gertrude Stein:was an American author and poet best known for her modernist writings, extensive art collecting and literary salon in 1920s Paris.”

Ursula Le Guin: an “immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’” 

Isabel Allende:s a Chilean-American writer. Allende, whose works sometimes contain aspects of the genre of “magical realism,” is famous for novels such as The House of the Spirits (La casa de los espíritus, 1982) and City of the Beasts (La ciudad de las bestias, 2002), which have been commercially successful.”

Edna St. Vincent Millay:received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923, the third woman to win the award for poetry, and was also known for her feminist activism.”

Mary Wollstonecraft: “an English writer and passionate advocate of educational and social equality for women.”

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Alice Walker:is a Pulitzer Prize-winning, African-American novelist and poet most famous for authoring ‘The Color Purple.’”

Maya Angelou:an impactful civil rights leader who collaborated with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X during the Civil Rights movement. “

Judy Blume:spent her childhood in Elizabeth, NJ, making up stories inside her head. She has spent her adult years in many places, doing the same thing, only now she writes her stories down on paper.”

Betty Friedan: “a leading figure in the women’s movement in the United States, her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique is often credited with sparking the second wave of American feminism in the 20th century.”

Thank you to these powerful, courageous and wonderful writers for their influence on female empowerment!

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“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

We don’t often report on modern literature here at Tavistock Books, as that is not our speciality! However, you may have noticed that we occasionally like to branch out and discuss authors – specialty or not – in honor of their birth or death anniversary. We are happy to report to you good, book-fearing folk, that todays is a birth anniversary! Yay! We are not so pleased to report that book-fearing folk you really should be… since his work has been terrifying people since 1967. Be afraid… be very afraid.

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Stephen Edwin King was born on September 21st, 1947 in Portland, Maine. His father, stepping out for a pack of cigarettes when King was only two years old, never returned and King’s mother raised him and his brother on her own for the rest of his youth. King showed an early interest in the genre of horror, writing while still in school – winning himself a Scholastic Art and Writing Award and being published in different fanzines, such as “Stories of Suspense”, before the age of 20. King’s daughter was born the year he graduated from the University of Maine in 1970. Though he initially wished to teach high school, he was unable to find an immediate job and instead supplemented his income by selling stories to men’s magazines. Throughout this time, King nursed an alcohol dependency that would torment him for many years. 

In 1973, just three years out of University, King’s first novel, Carrie, was published. Fun fact: it is rumored that King initially found it so difficult to write about a teenage girl with psychic abilities that he threw out his original drafts! His wife, Tabitha (whom he is married to to this day), brought it back to him and almost forced him to finish it! His first advance on the novel got him $2,500. Imagine that, with how popular Carrie has remained over the years? Unfathomable!

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 9.39.39 PMKing then had his novel The Shining published in 1977, and The Stand in 1978. In the late 1970s King began a series, eventually known as The Dark Tower, a series which would span the next four decades of King’s life finally ending in 2004. In 1980 King’s novel Firestarter was published, and in 1983 his novel Christine was published – both by the large and well-known publisher Viking. He tried his hand at working on comic books, writing a bit for the X-men series Heroes for Hope in 1985. King published under several pseudonyms for various reasons (now keep a lookout for these names, you hear?) including Richard Bachman (after Bachman-Turner Overdrive), John Swithen (a character out of Carrie) and Beryl Evans (which King used to publish the book Charlie the Choo-Choo: From the World of the Dark Tower). Though he has written many, many works over the years (54 novels, 6 non-fiction books and 200 short stories, to put it bluntly), some of the more popular stories whose names you might recognize (due to their being transferred to the big screen or otherwise) are Children of the Corn (1977), Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redepmtion (1982), Misery (1987), The Man in the Black Suit (1994), The Green Mile (1996), Bag of Bones (1998), and his memoir On Writing (2000). And this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the volume of work King has produced over the past many decades.

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He has been heralded as both the most beloved horror and supernatural fiction author in the genre and also mocked for his writing as “pop” and not “serious” literature. Despite how you may view the genre, you must admit – the man has done more for those genres than many of his contemporaries! Give him some respect! (Especially on his birthday. And especially because if you don’t IT may come after you… Best play it safe, no?) 

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Vic Visits the Wine & Viticulture Collection of the UC Davis Shields Library

 

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Who has the greatest collection of wine & viticulture literature in the world?  The Shields Library at UC Davis, that’s who!  To quote the August 22nd BCC announcement of this 15 September field trip, “The wine library at UC Davis houses more than 30,000 books in more than 50 languages, manuscripts, historic records, research data, and materials in every medium, from wine labels to videos.”

IMG_3691Yours truly, along with 14 other BCC members, on our 9:30 arrival at the library, were greeted by Axel Borg, the library’s wine & food science bibliographer, and spent the next 4 and a half hours being regaled with all the treasures that this library has amassed over the years.  We started in the Maynard Amerine room, named after the man who exerted a profound influence on the collection.  Amerine [1911 - 1998] was a “pioneering researcher in the cultivation, fermentation, and sensory evaluation of wine.”  No doubt many of the booksellers & collectors reading this blog will hold one of publications, the 1996 BIBLIOGRAPHY On GRAPES, WINES, OTHER ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, And TEMPERANCE [co-authored by Axel by the way].

IMG_3698After giving us an overview of the collection, and its history, we eventually found our way to Special Collections, where Axel tantalized us with one interesting & fascinating item after another…  here I wish I’d taken notes, for memory fails me as to most specifics, other than the 1287 deed for a vineyard land transfer & a cute little accordion miniature that on first blush appears to be a wine cork.  That said, my fellow attendee, Anne Smith, did, however, take notes, so see her soon-to-be-published BCC piece for more specifics on the books Axel had at show-n-tell.

IMG_3731Next on the agenda was a buffet lunch, which, given we were a willing captive audience, included a presentation on projects UC Davis has in the works… one is a interactive social map showing wine-related connections.  Intriguing, to say the least.  Another is the digitization & searchable compilation of wine price lists, et al.  For food & drink historians, invaluable.

We ended the day in the Harrison Western Research Center, which holds more than 21,000 volumes related to the history of the Trans-Mississippi West, collected by Michael & Margaret Harrison.  Noteworthy in that collection were Catlin’s North American Indians, and Ansel Adams & Mary Austin’s Taos Pueblo.  I confess, the bookseller in me was covetous, but I also assure you, I left empty-handed.

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And so ended this engrossing trip.  My thanks to all the staff at the BCC & UC Davis who made this day possible.  It was wonderful.

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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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OTD in 1830 – the First Passenger Steam Train Begins a Rigorous Schedule!

By Margueritte Peterson
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On this day, May 3rd, in 1830, the first steam train regular passenger service began! Though trains had been in use in the early 1800s, they had not been used for the transportation of people – only the transportation of goods! The incredible discovery that these trains could be used as a way to deliver people from one place to another was going to be the hottest thing since sliced bread – and the gateway to mass transportation – the first of its kind!

Trains gave human beings the ability to develop civilizations quickly. Even the civilizations of Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt used tracks that horses would draw buggies on, minimizing the amount of force needed to be done by the horse. It was only a matter of time before the ingeniousness of this mode of transport would be understood. Trains, as they were in the early 19th century, made movement easy and quick – distant lands became easily, and instantly, accessible. A trip from New York to California, which previously would have taken a group with a wagon and horses months, now took only a few days. In regards to transporting both goods and people, it became apparent that there was a need of implementing standardized time zones across the world – in order to more efficiently set up schedules – arrivals and departures of both passengers and industry.

Today, despite the many optional modes of transportation (cars, airplanes, boats… teleportation – just kidding), trains are used in a variety of ways. Subway systems and electric trains are used for short travel distances, and longer trains, though used less and less often due to the abundance of air travel available (in the United States, at least – we are happy to report that trains are still used frequently in other parts of the world), are still available and equipped with all the luxuries you might expect. Freight trains continue to move much industry on all continents (and are the bulk amount of the trains in the US at this time). Bullet trains, high speed modes of transportation, can now reach speeds around 200 mph and are becoming more widespread. It is plain to see how the automotive industry shaped the ability to travel and transport goods, and how it has continued for over 150 years to grow and evolve to suit the needs of passengers!

Now, speaking of trains – we’d like to highlight a few of our most interesting automotive items!

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 7.53.57 AMThis first item is, to me, one of the most interesting as pertaining to this article. Despite us not knowing precisely when it was printed, this schematic of an early Baltimore & Ohio Rail Road Company steam train car is a blueprint to some of the early days of passenger transport! The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company, one of the oldest railroads in the United States, was the country’s first “common carrier” and the first to offer scheduled freight and passenger service to the public between the years of 1828 and 1927. See it here>

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This spec sheet from Baldwin Locomotive Works is a bit more scientific in nature. Printed in 1926 it is not a spec sheet for early passenger travel, but for one intrigued by the automotive industry it is certainly a good source of information on the development of trains over time! Check it out here>

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Last but not least, a more local item! This collection of Bay Area transport items is a wonderful fount of information of the rapid Bay Area transit from 1923 to 1957 – contained within the collection are some blueprints, photographs, advertisements, tickets, charts/timetables, booklets and certificates. The Key System Transit Company (as it was then known) went through several transformations until it has developed into the very system we now use today! 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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OTD in 1926 : H.L. Mencken Gets Arrested in Boston for Selling a Banned Copy of The American Mercury!

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By Margueritte Peterson

On this day in 1926, the Jazz Age was in full swing in the United States. Censorship was not an uncommon or unlawful idea at the time, and many Americans were being held to strict moral codes (like that of the prohibition) that they didn’t necessarily believe in. This was the case all over the United States (as well as elsewhere, but that’s another story for another day), but particularly so in the large East Coast City of Boston, Massachusetts, where the phrase “Banned in Boston” was applied to music, literature, motion pictures, plays among other works of art that had been deemed inappropriate or objectionable by a conservative ruling party. Also on this day in 1926, famed American journalist, critic and satirist H. L. Mencken (Henry Louis Mencken) was arrested in Boston after knowingly and purposefully selling a recently banned issue of his own magazine The American Mercury. This moment in time will forever be remembered as a startling win for those against censorship, as not only was Mencken’s case dismissed but he was later able to win a lawsuit filed against Boston’s Watch and Ward Society for illegal restraint of trade. Though at the time it seemed that his win did little to change the harsh censorship laws in Boston, it did a lot to gather attention.

Now, H. L. Mencken was no stranger to being in the public eye. In fact, he traveled to Boston with none other than the express intention of getting himself arrested for selling one of his own works. He knew that the Watch and Ward Society would make sure he would be punished for selling his issue (banned especially because of a story about a prostitute named Fanny) – and wanted both the attention and the absurdity that was censorship in Boston to be highlighted for the world to see. Not everyone in Boston agreed with the Watch and Ward Society’s harshness, as he was acquitted the very next day by a lenient judge. In fact, around this time Boston began to bite itself in the behind, so to speak, as their banned books began to unintentionally garner favor in other areas of the United States with the taboo of being salacious!

Mencken was a free spirit if there ever was one, and both the prohibition and censorship angered him greatly. He is quoted as saying in 1922, “I am, in brief, a libertarian of the most extreme variety, and know of no human right that is one-tenth as valuable as the simple right to utter what seems (at the moment) to be the truth.” He used his skills and connections in the journalism community to procure a reputation as, well, a bit of a badass! 

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 7.44.27 PMThe story of Mencken’s arrest goes something like this – he boarded a train for Boston and once having arrived in the city organized a meeting in a public square with John Chase, the director of the Watch and Ward Society. Once Chase arrived, police in tow, Mencken offered Chase the banned issue of The American Mercury for a half-dollar coin. Chase handed the coin over, dramatically (or so we presume), and Mencken, after having bit the coin (you know, just for good measure), was placed in handcuffs and escorted from the Boston Common! After his acquittal the following day, when the judge ruled that private citizens should not be in charge of what literature ought to be banned or not, Mencken went to lunch at Harvard University, where a crowd of over a thousand happy fans greeted him with applause and gaiety. 

Suffice to say, on this day in 1926 a fairly important moment in the history of censorship was going down! Though the Watch and Ward Society was not shut down and some could argue that no immediate response was garnered from the showdown between Mencken and Chase, here we are, almost 100 years later, still talking about this single incident! Perhaps it wasn’t all for nothing… let’s give H. L. Mencken some credit!

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