Category Archives: Events

Happy Birthday to the Ever-Young Stephen Crane

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At the tender age of 28, author Stephen Crane succumbed to tuberculosis and passed away at a German health spa. Despite his young age, Crane had accomplished what many take several decades of adulthood to achieve – fame, success, scandal, sickness and health. He lived a full life and was not afraid of standing up for himself and for others. Let’s learn a bit more about this famed American author, shall we?

crane5Crane was born on November 1st, 1871 in Newark, New Jersey, the 14th child (of only 8 surviving children) to a clergyman and daughter of a clergyman. Crane began writing at an early age, and when he was eight years old he wrote his first surviving poem – “I’d Rather Have A-” – a poem about wanting a dog for Christmas! One year later he began formal schooling and completed two grades within a six week period. Throughout Crane’s education he was a slightly erratic student, if intelligent and somewhat popular. This could be put down to the fact that by the time Crane was a teen, quite a few members of his family (his father and siblings) were dead – leading to a very different childhood than his classmates.

Crane was interested in baseball, the military, and writing. After enrolling in college under an engineering degree, he eventually left at the age of 20, declaring college a waste of time! He moved in with his older brother Edmund in New Jersey, but made frequent trips into The Bowery slums of New York City where he found human nature to be open and unaffected. He entered into a brief relationship with a married woman and wrote some controversial free-lance work on local events – beginning to make a name for himself solely out of scandal. In the next two years, after moving to New York, Crane worked on what would become his first novel, A Girl of the Streets (the Maggie would be added later). The novel about the girl who becomes a prostitute out of pitiable circumstances unfortunately needed to be self-published privately by Crane himself. He printed 1,100 copies and spent $869 to do so. Despite Maggie receiving praise for its truthful account of life in the slums, it did not garner the enthusiasm or scandal that Crane hoped for and he ended up giving away the last hundred copies for free. 

stephen crane 3In 1893 Crane became frustrated with stories written about the Civil War, stating “I wonder that some of those fellows don’t tell how they felt in those scraps. They spout enough of what they did, but they’re as emotionless as rocks.” Crane decided to write an account of a soldier in the war, and began work on what would become The Red Badge of Courage, Crane’s most beloved work to date. His story would be different from his contemporaries – for he wanted desperately to present a “psychological portrayal of fear” by describing a young man disillusioned by the harsh truths of war. He succeeded and a year later his novel began to be published in serial form by the Bacheller-Johnson Newspaper Syndicate. It was heavily edited for publication in the serial, though it did begin to cause a stir in its readers. Crane then worked on a book of poetry, which was published to large amounts of criticism due to his use of free verse, not then a common convention. Crane was not bothered by its unpopular reception – he was instead quite pleased that the book made “some stir” and caused a reaction of any sort. In 1895 Appleton published The Red Badge of Courage, the full chapters, in book form – and Crane became a household name overnight. The book was in the “top six on various bestseller lists around the country” for months after its publication. It even became popular abroad and was widely read in Great Britain as well. Crane was only 23 years old at the start of his fame. 

At 24, Crane was involved in a scandal that shaped his reputation for life. While accompanying two young ladies home in the evening, one of the ladies was arrested by an undercover policeman on charges of attempted prostitution. The woman was charged and Crane remained adamant that the ladies he was with were innocent – leading the world to remark on his Courage at standing by the alleged prostitute. The praise for Crane quickly turned sour, however, when the arrested lady pressed charges against the policeman that solicited her and Crane was called on to be a witness. Police of New York wrecked havoc on Crane’s life when he was targeted by the Defense – they sought to portray him as immoral and a frequent visitor of brothels and drug addicted – Crane’s courageous reputation was stripped quite quickly. Crane escaped to Cuba to work as a war correspondent at the age of 25. While awaiting his trip to Cuba in Jacksonville, Florida, Crane met the slightly older brothel owner Cora Taylor and began a relationship with her. However, after a few months Crane was granted travel to Cuba on the SS Commodore and he left Cora to travel. After only 2 days on the Commodore, the ship struck ground twice and began to sink. Crane and other men on the vessel boarded a 10-foot dinghy and attempted for days to land the boat on Daytona Beach. The waves were large and the boat eventually overturned and the men swam to shore. Cora traveled to Daytona to bring the weary Crane back, and eventually Crane would recount the event in his famous story “The Open Boat”, published in 1897. 

stephen crane 1Crane became a war correspondent alongside Taylor in the Greek-Turkish War of 1897, and then the Spanish-American War in 1898. Unfortunately for Crane this year was the beginning of the end, as his health worsened and none of his work ever sold as well as The Red Badge of Courage. He was a few thousand dollars in debt and worked writing feverishly to try to support both him and Taylor, who was living in England. He moved to England in January of 1899, writing for literary magazines there, but his health rapidly declined and by June of 1900 he was in a health spa in Germany, dictating his work to Taylor. He passed away from tuberculosis the same month, and left all of his work and livelihood to Taylor. Despite dying at such a young age, Crane, whose work was re-birthed in the 1980s after suffering a spell of unpopularity, is now taught in high schools across the country, as his most famous work is recognized as a highly naturalistic and realistic view of war through the eyes of a young American. Happy Birthday to Stephen Crane! 

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Welcome to Tavistock Books, Cassie Leone!

Tavistock Books is proud to announce a new member of the team – Cassie Leone! Cassie will be working part-time at Tavistock Books and we are glad to welcome her to the fold.

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Welcome to Tavistock Books, Cassie! How long have you been involved in the antiquarian book world for now?

Thank you! I began working for antiquarian booksellers last September, a few months after completing my undergraduate degree in English at Smith College. I’ve worked for Brick Row Books, and John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller. I’m currently also working part-time with Swan’s Books. 

What is your favorite aspect of working in the book trade? Does this coincide with what you will be doing at Tavistock?

I really enjoy cataloging books. I find it to be similar to academia in that you are researching and writing about literature, except that what you are writing is more geared toward sales. I especially love illustrated books, and books with provenance. When a book has an inscription I think its fun to do some detective work on its past owners.

What made you first become interested in the book trade?

When I was at Smith I concentrated in book studies. I loved learning about the history of books and the technology of reading and writing. One of my professors told us stories about his experiences working for antiquarian book sellers in Chicago, and I thought that sounded like intriguing work. 

Could you give us a slight background on you, yourself? Where did you grow up, what activities or hobbies do you enjoy, etc. 

I grew up in the Bay Area, and I’m originally from Walnut Creek. I moved to Oakland in 2003, which is where I currently reside. I’m a writer, and I’m currently applying to graduate schools for an MFA in Creative Writing, specifically poetry. I’m an amateur book collector; I also collect comics, records, Victorian greeting cards, antique oil lamps, and antique coffee pots. I enjoy baking and I ferment my own kombucha. Over the summer I got married in Berkeley, and I have a dog named Winston.

Last, but certainly not least… how do you feel about Charles Dickens and the San Francisco Giants? :)

While I was working for John Windle I catalogued a collection of Charles Dickens, and I became pretty familiar with his work and Dickensiana in general, but I have to admit I’ve never read any of his books! I plan to change that status in the near future. I did enjoy A Muppet Christmas Carol though. As a Bay Area native I of course love the Giants, I even have a few Barry Bonds baseball cards from when I was a kid.

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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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The Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair from an Outside Perspective

This September, Tavistock Books took a step back from exhibiting at the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair, and our Master & Commander Vic Zoschak attended from a buyers standpoint alone. We pick his brain and see how it went! Photo by ZH Books.

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So, Vic – attending the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair as an Outside Observer. For the first time in how many years?

Gosh, the last time I remember just shopping the Sacramento Book Fair was the late 80s, before I took the plunge into the bookselling world.  I have no doubt that Sacramento was one of the first book fairs at which I ever exhibited [perhaps eclipsed by the now long-time defunct Berkeley Book Fair, a one-day event that started set-up at 6:30 in the am, with an opening of 10 am!].

These days, the Sacramento event is ably run by Jim Kay, who has done so a number of years now, and he has even turned it into a semi-annual fair, every March & September.  Jim tells me there’s been some recent turnover in the bookseller ranks, i.e., other long-time exhibitors besides myself have stepped aside [e.g., Carpe Diem & no Ken Sanders this time], but all the booths looked taken, so there were, no doubt, others waiting in the wings for us to move aside & to take our places.

I noted that the Book Lair & ZH Books had moved over into my old spot, which I had shared with Book Hunter’s Holiday.  They both seemed to like that corner.  :)


What were your overall impressions of the fair, from a strictly buyers standpoint? Well put-together, as usual? Crowded?

Jim’s hallmark is indeed a well-run event.  The crowd seemed the same, which is to say, by noon there was a buzz in the hall, and lots of folks in the aisles.  Saw plenty of tickets being written.  And the snack bar back in the corner continued to put out quality fare…  I had the chili this time around-  quite tasty.



Was there anything you haven’t noticed before that was called to your attention as a non-exhibitor? 

No, I can’t say that anything comes to mind in this context.



How was the buying? In recent years you have had great luck at Sacramento. Was it the same, after not being able to take first pick at everyone’s goodies during setup?! (One of the best parts of exhibiting, in our not so humble opinion… seeing what is available before anyone else!)

While I did buy some things that I thought interesting, in terms of potential profit, I see the end results as being modest, at best.  In other words, nothing great that would command an exclamatory “Whoohoo, look what I found!”

It’s hard to say whether or not not being on the floor during set-up occasioned a missed opportunity.  I personally didn’t hear of any great finds, but that’s not to say it didn’t happen.  Certainly such has happened in the past at this fair [even once or twice for yours truly], so who can say?


What do you think for the future? Will you continue to attend Sacramento as a buyer only or are you considering exhibiting at any upcoming Sacramento fairs? 

I think the Sacramento fair’s immediate future is assured.  As I said, Jim does a great job, and the fair is apparently well supported by both the local exhibitors and the local book buyers.  As to myself, I confess, a half-day devoted to the fair, vs 4 days…  well, let’s just say I loved being home by 2 pm Saturday, and being able to catch the last few innings of the Giants game.  :)

Well… we can all hope that Vic might exhibit at Sacramento again (perhaps when there is no Giants game to be watched)! It’s just not the same without him!

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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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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…”

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

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By Margueritte Peterson

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

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

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

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

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

2. A Raid on Southern England, 1360

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

3. Samoan Cyclone, 1889

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

4. Czar Nicholas II Abdicates His Throne, 1917

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

5. Germany Occupies Czechoslovakia, 1939

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

6. A Deadly Blizzard on the Great Plains, 1941

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

7. World Record Rainfall, 1952

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

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

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

9. Disappearing Ozone Layer, 1988

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

10. A New Global Health Scare, 2003

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

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

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

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