" Books, glorious books — confessions of a bibliomaniac"
As a Radio 4 documentary about book collectors airs, the Times deputy literary editor, James Marriott, who lives in a room full of volumes, admits to his problem.
Sandra Hindman is owner and founder of "Les Enluminures" with galleries in Chicago, Paris and New York specialising in manuscripts and miniatures from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the gallery also handles rings and jewelry from the same periods.
In this podcast Sandra has invited collector Benjamin Zucker and looks at their roles and relationship as dealer and collector. While this podcast focusses on the current "Diamonds" exhibition, it also reveals the fascination to collect, the handling of manuscripts and the knowledge needed to deal in historical items.
Indeed, “Books don’t just furnish a room,” Michael Dirda writes in Browsings. “. . . Digital texts are all well and good, but books on shelves are a presence in your life. As such, they become a part of your day-to-day existence, reminding you, chastising you, calling to you. Plus, book collecting is, hands down, the greatest pastime in the world.”
The Paris Review, 7th September 2018: In 2017, Honey & Wax Booksellers established an annual prize for American women book collectors, aged 30 years and younger. The idea took shape when Heather O’Donnell and Rebecca Romney, the bookstore’s owners, observed that “the women who regularly buy books from us are less likely to call themselves 'collectors' than the men, even when those women have spent years passionately collecting books."
The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA), member association of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, ILAB has just announced a new book collecting prize for young collectors, recognizing the next generation of bibliophiles! Deadline: 1 December 2018!
“I belong to that class of unfortunate beings who are addicted to a habit which it is not easy to break off. This sounds alarming, but let me assure you that neither drug nor dram is the cause of my undoing, and that I have no intention of following in the foot-steps of the English Opium-Eater. The truth is that I am a bibliophile, and I suffer a complaint common to the tribe, namely a feverish appetite which can only be assuaged by choice tit-bits in the form of ancient quartos and duodecimos”.
The 2017-18 Colin Franklin Prize for book-collecting has been awarded to Ekaterina Shatalova (Keble College), for her collection of works by and about Edward Lear (1812-1888), the poet and illustrator famous for limericks in "A Book of Nonsense", and for poems recounting the nautical adventures of "The Owl and the Pussycat" and the "Jumblies" ('who went to sea in a sieve').
"The 23rd of April is a symbolic date for world literature. It is on this date in 1616 that Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors, such as Maurice Druon, Haldor K. Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo. It was a natural choice for UNESCO's General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those, who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity. In this regard, UNESCO created the World Book and Copyright Day….
Off to Mayfair again today to take a look at two rather different bookshops perched either side of Curzon Street. On the south side, at no. 46, is the retail showroom of Shepherds, incorporating of course the famous old Sangorski & Sutcliffe bookbinding business. As you might expect, all the emphasis is on fine bindings – new and not so new. Rob Shepherd, incidentally doing a fine job as the new ABA treasurer, and his colleague Kim Pooley, bemoan the fact that the stock is looking a little thin – they simply sold so many books in the run-up to Christmas and the bindery is already at full stretch. Nice problems to have, in a sense, but there are plans to move a lot of the gorgeous stationery, bookbinding accessories and so on, over to their new premises in Gillingham Street at Victoria and to concentrate on books here in Curzon Street.
Books are visual creations, so it stands to reason that artists and publishers will be interested in making them beautiful, interesting and exciting objects. All books have some level of 'art' in them, but collectors will look to the identity of the artist, and the skill of the artwork, in judging their desirability. Books are another medium for an artist to express their ideas - this may be through reproductions or original artworks. The best Australian Art books are both beautiful publications and artworks in the one volume.
On July 26, 1984, Edward Gein died in a state mental institution. Gein's case stole the headlines in November 1957, when police went to his farmhouse to investigate the disappearance of local hardware store clerk Bernice Worden. Gein had been the last customer at the store and had been seen loitering on the premises. Officers were horrified to find Worden's corpse hanging in the barn along with a collection of household items and a suit made out of human skin, and bowls made from human skulls. It seemed that Gein was responsible for the deaths of countless victims, not just that of Worden.
In one of the latest blog entries of Peter Harrington Rare Books (UK), Rachel Chanter describes the dangers of buying at auction. "This cautionary tale shows how far forgers will go to defraud dealers and avid collectors, and how they can sometimes exploit an auction house's less-than-rigorous approach to research. Fortunately, we were able to discover the spurious nature of this artwork, subjecting it to the same level of scrutiny as we do all the items we acquire, which is why we are able to assure customers of the legitimacy of everything we sell. "