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.
"This magnificent reference work is a tribute to - and celebration of - a revolutionary invention ... An extraordinary tour de force, a cornucopia of bookish information ... These volumes, then, are a paradise for book-lovers " (Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph).
Shortly after the reopening of the Girolamini Library in Naples in April of 2012 the Director, Marino Massimo de Caro, announced that 1500 books were missing (April 17). On April 20 the Library was closed by the Naples Public Prosecutor. Marino Massimo de Caro has been suspended and was investigated for embezzlement. On May 18, 1000 books, 240 of which have ownership stamps from the Girolamini Library were found in storage in Massimo Marino de Caro's home city of Verona, and on May 24 Mr. de Caro was arrested on the charge of embezzlement along with four others; a search warrant is out for a fifth. In the meantime Massimo Marino de Caro has confessed to the theft of thousands of books from the library and is cooperating with police in tracing them. A number of stolen items from the library have been confiscated by the authorities in Munich (16 items), London (28 items), New York and Tokyo (uncertain numbers). According to what is currently known and what Massimo Marino de Caro has confessed so far, it is very likely that the number of stolen books from the Girolamini Library is higher than 1500 but no definitive list of missing items has been published by Italian authorities so far. It appears also to be clear that the stolen books were spread out via the trade in several countries, in both Europe and elsewhere.
One of the joys of dealing in modern literary first editions is the neat and nearly uniform size of the vast majority of one's inventory. Your basic octavo volume, when packed for a book fair, nestled convivially amongst its fellows, will fit neatly in a standard document storage box. After having done a few hundred fairs, one can pack up quickly and neatly, leaving no space in a box for the books to shuffle about, with the resultant deterioration in condition that loosely packed books usually suffer. I particularly recommend books of poetry and drama for this purpose – usually slim volumes that, when inserted between other books, tighten one's box load to a satisfying solidity.
The worst insult you can hurl at academics is to say they haven't even read the books they presume to comment on. A confession: Not only do I have to admit that there are reference books in here that I haven't read through; in fact, there are very few works that I have read from cover to cover - or, since many are in multiple volumes, from cover to cover to cover to cover to cover.... One work I haven't read is the Yongle Encyclopedia. I think I have pretty good reasons, though, for not reading it: viz., 1. It's very long; 2. It's in a language I don't read; and 3. It doesn't actually exist.
"Years ago, a rare-books dealer browsing at an estate sale in Rochester came across an unusual manuscript, dated 1858. The family selling it said little about where it had been for the last 150 years. It appeared never to have left upstate New York. Scholars now believe that the mystery manuscript is the first recovered memoir written in prison by an African-American, a discovery that Yale University says it made after authenticating the document and acquiring it for its Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library." Read the whole story in The New York Times.
"For a few years now, there's been a crisis* brewing in the rare book industry.** Small, regional book fairs all over the country are disappearing at a rate matched only by that of the (not coincidental) disappearance of brick-and-mortar used bookshops. Why or whether we should be concerned about either phenomenon is a matter of open debate among antiquarian booksellers." Are bookshops, and book fairs, silent victims of the Internet terror? There are many articles on this subject, this article by Lorne Bair is excellent.