Saturday, June 30, 2007

Once A Book Collector...

Despite my best intentions - Hey! Why fight it? - I haven't stopped collecting books. In fact, there is an on-going Friends of the Library of Hawaii Book Sale at McKinley High School in Honolulu, and I plan to see what's left of the 100,000 plus books they had up for sale next weekend.

Believe me, I had good intentions. Upon arriving in Hawaii, I contacted the local chapter of Bookcrossings. Unfortunately, their first meeting was on Pro Bowl weekend. Now I never said I'd give up football, so I missed that first meeting. What's more, after buying a few more books on ebay, I knew I would be keeping the books I bought instead of leaving them behind for others to find and read. It is now July, and I have yet to attend a Bookcrossing meeting.

I have, however, bought a few books here in Hawaii:

For My Harry B. Smith Collection

A Pleasant Comedie of the Life of Will Shakspeare
by Harry B. Smith
Chicago, 1893

One of these days I'm going to list all the Shakespeare books and articles written by all the authors whose books are in my library. I can probably fill a small shelf with them. This is Harry B. Smith's contribution to Shakespeare literature. I acquired it on ebay from Legacy Books II, Louisville, Ky. in January shortly after I arrived in Hawaii for $96.00 I may not get to read it until I return to Florida, but read it I will.

Inscribed by Smith to A.C. Wilkie

A.C. Wilkie appears to be a minor poet, possibly from the Chicago area. Some of his poems are listed in A Parody Anthology

A Birthday Gift From My Friend Asta

The Ballad of Beau Brocade
by Austin Dobson
London 1903

Inscribed by Jean Austin Dobson
(No Relation To Author) (See Warwick Harte's Comment at end of post)

Asta knows that Austin Dobson is one of the authors I collect, and that I also collect association books. I did a double-take when I saw who signed the book. Jean Austin Dobson is no relation to the author; I believe Jean is a singer.

Bill Targ is a Character in This Book

The Vanishing Gold Truck
by Harry Stephen Keeler
Ramble House, 2005 (1940)

Harry Stephen Keeler
was one of America's most forgotten writers; that is, until Richard Polt founded the Harry Stephen Keeler Society in 1997, and Fender Tucker's Ramble House started reprinting Keeler's novels shortly afterwards.

I got thirty pages into this book and I was not impressed. Ramble House is a good name for his publisher, because Keeler rambles on and on. I'll have to pick it up and try again, primarily to understand Bill Targ's minor role in his novel.

C.A. Cutter's Two-Figure Author Table

C.A. Cutter devised a library classification system for arranging books. This copy is undated. It was published sometime between 1880 and 1896, when the Cutter-Sanborn Three-Figure Author Table became the preferred author table.

One of Starrett's Books in the Torch Press Christmas Series

A Student Of Catalogues
by Vincent Starrett
Torch Press, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1921

25th Anniversary Keepsake for Florida Bibliophile Society
The Ideal Book
Three Essays On Printing
by William Morris
University of Tampa Press, 2007
This is No. 8 of fifty copies printed. Great work by the members of the Tampa Book Arts Studio.

The Future?

The Audacity of Hope
by Barack Obama
New York, 2006

One hell of a writer Obama is. The big question is whether he is one hell of a politician? I think we will see a Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama winning ticket; but not necessarily in that order.

The Past

All Too Human
by George Stephanopoulos
New York, 1999

I enjoyed reading Bill Clinton's biography, and look forward to reading about George Stephanopoulos working for him.

Bio of Songwriter of Mele Kalikimaka

Joyful Heart
The Life And Music Of
R.Alexander Anderson
by Scot C.S.Stone
Waipahu, 2003
One dollar at the Borders bookstore in Waikele! I couldn't resist it. Comes with ten of Anderson's songs. He was a pilot during WWI and was captured by the Germans. Anderson wrote over 200 songs, most of them having to do with Hawaii.

A McKinley Association?

Library Essays
by Henry Howard Harper
Boston, 1924

Accompanying TLS from Harper to Milburn. I have a book or two by Harper in my library already. These essays are "about books, bibliophiles, writers, and kindred spirits." This book has an association with President McKinley, or at least the recipient of the book does. President McKinley attended the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York at the invitation of John G. Milburn, and stayed in his house. Milburn was standing next to McKinley when the President was assassinated. McKinley returned to Milburn's residence to recuperate after surgery, but died several days later, possibly in Milburn's library.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My Library: A View From the Crib

Welcome to my library!

I usually give a tour of my library while swiveling around in my chair in front of my library table; however, my library table is now in the living room of my house in Florida. I am still in Hawaii! In my library is a changing table, in front of which is a crib. Sleeping in the crib, surrounded by the written words of authors from six centuries, is my seven-month old granddaughter, Hannah.

Wake up sweet child, stand up, look around, and I will tell my readers what your eyes see.

Out, out in the hallway, perpendicular to the bedroom doorway, Shakespeare stands guard, his words contained in a tall, locked bookcase of leather books from the eighteenth century. The bookcase itself is from the nineteenth century, bought at a village auction in England in 1989.

Turn your eyes to the right, my child, and see the bookshelves on the short wall between the door and the long wall: five rows of bookshelves four feet long and fifteen inches high. On these shelves sit my oversized books, my books about libraries, my bookplate literature, my postal books, and some of the association books belonging to My Sentimental Library Collection. On the top shelf are thirty to forty volumes of the "Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress," boring reading for a baby, and for the average reader, but manna from heaven for someone hungry for bibliographical information. On another shelf is Anthony Hobson's "Great Libraries of the World," formerly owned by Nancy H. Marshall, a great lady in her own right, and author of a bibliography of "The Night Before Christmas," a book I shall buy and read to you when you are a wee bit bigger.

Look further to the right, Hannah. Oops! Don't fall! Feast your eyes on Grandpa's delight: seven rows of bookshelves, ten feet long, and filled mostly with Books About Books. Six of these bookshelves are ten inches high, except for the top shelf, which is seven and one-half inches high. On the top shelf sit my smaller-sized books, including the eleven-volume set of Lowndes' "Bibliographer's Manual of English LIterature."There is another eleven-volume set of Lowndes on the second shelf, along with a multitude of other bibliographical works, an entire shelf full. Beginning on the third shelf, and continuing endlessly on and on in alphabetical order are my anecdotal Books About Books, many of which are listed in Winslow Webber's bibliography, "Books About Books." Also on my Books About Books bookshelves - I can't remember exactly where- are my books about book publishers and booksellers. On the very bottom shelf are my auction catalogues. A small collection of early periodicals, My Vol I No. 1 Collection, also rests on the bottom shelf.

Turn around, Hannah, and see the bookcase to your left, an ordinary bookcase, probably bought in Wallmart or Kmart. On these shelves rest my books about bibliographical societies, and bookbinding. Yes, Hannah. I can repair a book if you rip it apart. To the right of this bookcase is my iron bookpress, which weighs a ton, and which is used for getting the air out of books. My sewing presses and my finishing press are underneath my Books About Books bookshelves. A very good friend who passed away this year, Russell St. Arnold, made two of these wooden book presses for me.

See the bookcase to your right, Hannah? On these bookshelves rest my books on essays, literary criticism, and the remnants of my Philosophy Collection. Your Grandpa  loves reading essays! I hope you do too.

Do you see those sliding doors further to your right, Hannah? Behind those doors are the remnants of my History and Poetry Collections. I sold a goodly portion of these collections while I was waiting for my disability to be approved. The remainders of these collections were in the bookshelves in the living room; however, I'm storing them in the closet for safekeeping until I return in November. There are still Religious books, anthologies, and reference books in the bookcase by the front door, but so far, you and your brother haven't touched them. That bookcase, too, is from the nineteenth century.

Look up Hannah. Look up and see the shelf your Daddy built, extending ten feet from wall to wall above the closet. Your Daddy built this particular shelf so Grandpa could display his book chotskys; only, Grandpa decided to use it to display several small collections of books instead. On this shelf, I have my multiple editions of Strunk's "Elements of Style," a poetry book that Paul Ruxin gave me, an almost complete set of the Book-Lovers Library series, and my "Shelf in My Bookcase" Collection, which I talked about in a previous post.

Okay, Hannah. Turn around again. Good girl! Your Daddy built these bookshelves too. In fact, he helped build my entire library. On this wall, your Daddy constructed seven rows of bookshelves, each seven feet long. On these shelves sit more pride and joy: My Samuel Johnson, Mary and Donald Hyde, Shakespeare Society,and Philological Collections. I will talk about each of these collections in future posts.

Uh-oh. Someone is yawning... thank you and goodnight, sweet girl. Pleasant dreams!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Among the Leaves, Fruit

There are many bibliophiles in my library who shared my tastes in book collecting. Harry B. Smith, for one, loved association books. Paul L. Ford loved books about the Constitution. Vincent Starrett loved books about books. William Targ loved autographs. Logan Pearsall Smith loved words and idioms. A. Edward Newton loved Samuel Johnson. Mary Hyde loved Shakespeare and Samuel Johnson. She also loved Logan Pearsall Smith. Luther Brewer loved autographs, books about books, and Leigh Hunt.

Leigh Hunt was one of the first English authors I collected - after Samuel Johnson, of course. After you read Leigh Hunt's essay, My Books , you will understand why Luther Brewer and I love Leigh Hunt.

Luther Brewer not only collected Leigh Hunt, he wrote about him, and published books about Hunt under the Torch Press imprint. Almost every Christmas from 1912 until his death in 1933, Luther Brewer printed a book especially "for the friends of Luther Albertus and Elinore Taylor Brewer." I have a number of them, particularly the ones which pertain to Leigh Hunt. My most recent acquisition is the 1921 Christmas book by Vincent Starrett:


A STUDENT OF CATALOGUES by Vincent Starrett. Introduction by Luther Albertus Brewer and Elinore Taylor Brewer; 24 x 15 cm.; 24 p.; 1/4 vellum; brown boards; "Privately printed for the friends of Luther Albertus and Elinore Taylor Brewer Cedar Rapids Iowa. Christmas nineteen twenty-one"; "Of this book two hundred and fifty copies were printed in December nineteen hundred and twentyone by The Torch Press Cedar Rapids Iowa."

In the Preface of this book, Luther Brewer reveals the acquisition of a Leigh Hunt item that he didn't know existed. The book, an 1822 edition of "The Literary Pocket Book," was listed in a London catalogue, and contained poems and essays by Hunt.

In the first few pages of "A Student of Catalogues," Vincent Starrett relates that a bookseller, having sent Starrett a number of catalogues without receiving an order, queried Starrett: "Are you a prospective purchaser, or merely a student of catalogues?"

The Brewer-Leigh Hunt Collection is housed at the University of Iowa. This library has done much to preserve and promote both Hunt's works and Brewer's works. Additionally, the university has published several checklists covering the publishing history of Torch Press limited editions, which includes a list of the Torch Press Christmas Series.

In my library, I have a number of books by Leigh Hunt and Luther Brewer. I also have a book formerly owned by Luther Brewer: volume II of " A Book For A Corner" by Leigh Hunt. On the ffep is not one but two of Brewer's bookplates: His famous Leigh Hunt Bookplate and his earlier Inter Folia Fructus bookplate from 1892. 

Yes, among the leaves, there is fruit.

Jerry Morris

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A Shelf In My Bookcase

When I said Farewell to Bibliomania and to the Florida Bibliophile Society last January, I did not say farewell to book collecting. In fact, I completed one of my book collections just before I left Florida.

My bibliophile friends are probably tired of hearing me rave about Alexander Smith's "Dreamthorp: Essays Written In The Country." Of all of Smith's essays, A Shelf In My Bookcase is the essay I liked the best. I liked it so much that I decided to replicate Smith's shelf in my library.

I already had a copy of Boswell's "Life of Johnson," and quickly acquired copies of "Lyra Germainica," Hawthorne's "Twice-Told Tales," and Professor Aytoun's "Ballads of Scotland;" however, "The Poems of Ebenezer Elliott," the Corn-Law Rhymer eluded me for several years. As luck would have it, I sniped an inexpensive copy of Elliott's poems on ebay, which I received only the day before I left for Hawaii.

All of these books, and more, sit on a shelf in my library originally intended to hold book chotskys. This bookshelf, extending from wall to wall above the closet in my library, contains a few small but choice collections of books, "Smith's Shelf...", being one of them.

I have expanded "Smith's Shelf," to include "The Poems of Alexander Smith," two copies of Smith's "Dreamthorp," and a copy of Smith's "A Shelf In My Bookcase," which Luther Brewer's Torch Press published in a limited edition in 1905. I will have more on Luther Brewer and the Torch Press in my next post.

Jerry Morris