Admitting this is probably one of those phenomenally bad ideas I continuously have despite how much older I get, but I am one of those wicked people who pretended to know, well … something about this American literary star for many years. People would mention his name and I would be all, "Oh yes, Carl Sandburg, wow … it went for how much? Woah!" While casually hoping the conversation would change because as far as I knew I could not remember reading anything by this author and continually neglected to read up on him when I got to a quiet corner away from prying eyes. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I know it is a shocker but I am not omniscient (though I'm sure it seems that way most of the time. Eh-hem). So now, just in case any of you out there are like me and think you can continue fooling people into thinking you know about this magnificent man … think again!
January 29 is the birthday of early American political activist Thomas Paine (1737), whose pamphlet Common Sense (1776) credited with inspiring American colonists to embrace the idea of independence from Great Britain. The American Revolution had already started but the work served to spur volunteers for the Continental Army. It was widely distributed throughout the colonies, read aloud in taverns, and unabashedly pirated. Some scholars say it was the first American bestseller.
In the 1920s, dreamers and schemers descended on the Sunshine State bent on making a fortune in the burgeoning real estate market. In the earliest days of the Florida Land Boom, it seemed that one had but to imagine great wealth for it to be so. Parcels were bought and sold, sometimes within hours, at huge profits. The real estate bubble didn't last long - a scant five years or so - and when the end came some would-be real estate tycoons were stuck with land bought at inflated prices and no money. But there were developers who, though they had prospered during the boom, were cautious and had not been caught up in the buying frenzy. C. Perry Snell, for instance, had been in St. Petersburg for a couple of decades before the hubbub began. He had successfully developed residential projects that eventually became known as Old Northeast. He owned land bought many years before that he had not yet developed.
In 1878, when Chief Thunderwater was 13 years old and not yet a chief, his uncle gave him an extraordinary book, titled The Life and Adventures of Black Hawk: With Sketches of Keokuk, the Sac and Fox Indians, and the Late Black Hawk War.
How to identify a rare book? "I got stumped last week, trying to catalog a book I'd recently purchased. It was the first full length biography of the American naval hero James Lawrence, and it was supposed to be 244 pages long. However, my copy seemed complete at page 240, which ended with the word "finis." I must've spent an hour pouring through my reference books trying to reconcile the discrepancy. I had a dim recollection of the pagination issue being explained to me by the gentleman from whom I'd purchased the book. But I couldn't remember the details, and I couldn't piece it together from the bibliographies ..."
Today we celebrate the birthday of legendary author John Steinbeck. Born on February 27, 1902 in Salinas, California, Steinbeck would become one of American's most notable authors. Steinbeck established himself as an author in an era when accomplished authors held considerable clout. Thus he one day found himself in a unique position: he held the upcoming United States presidential election in his hands.
Needless to say, few strikes in American history have generated as much literature, music or folklore as did Lawrence. Given our interest in the art and literature of social movements, we're unavoidably drawn to this material, as are our customers – it tends to come and go with some regularity. Here are a few recent acquisitions that are still with us, each interesting for its own reasons.
LET ME TELL YOU A STORY. Well, it felt like a story at the time, and not without a whisper of magic. Celtic magic. Book collectors, after all, are irrepressible raconteurs. For every book in their collection, there is a backstory to spin. Here is one of mine:
At an age when many men settle down to daily golf games or fishing trips in the golden haze of retirement, Carl Sandburg kept right on working. He started his novel, Remembrance Rock, a sweeping saga of the American experience from the landing at Plymouth Rock to the beginning of World War II, when he was sixty-five years old. Sandburg was already remarkably accomplished; he had received Pulitzer Prizes both for his book of poetry, Cornhuskers, and for his biography, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years. Remembrance Rock was published when he was seventy. (A third Pulitzer, for another poetry book, Compete Poems, would come three years later.) He had worked all his life and he wasn't about to stop.
The wise and great bookseller Louis Weinstein of The Heritage Book Shop once opined that antiquarian bookselling wasn't a business so much as it was a lifestyle choice. Book fairs are for many of us a large part of that lifestyle: frequent and often amusing travel, the thrill of discovery, and most of all the pleasure of our colleagues. I'm lucky to be a bookseller.
Don Etherington's autobiography takes the reader through his lifelong journey of bookbinding and conservation. He began bookbinding at the age of thirteen as a student at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and later went on to study bookbinding and design at the London School of Printing. Since then, he has held positions at the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence, The Library of Congress, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and Information Conservation, Inc. In 1982, he co-authored with Matt Roberts Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, the first comprehensive attempt to compile terminology from all the bookmaking and conservation fields. His works can be found in collections worldwide. Read how Don Etherington first developed his skills, and how he was instructed by George Frewin, who had worked for Sangorski & Sutcliffe.