After weeks and weeks of devastating news, ongoing cancellations and postponements, booksellers had to learn to come to terms with the new reality amidst the COVID19 crisis. However, in many places it resulted in positive ideas and initiatives that are worth sharing with the bookselling community. Let's start with a more lighthearted note. Everyone has missed books ... but also music!
Swimming Rhine maidens, by special permission of H.M. the King of Bavaria – Wagner's "Ring" came to London in 1882. "He planned to open his campaign in London, and visited in October 1881 to inspect the stage at Her Majesty's Theatre, and again in April 1882 with his entire technical staff, just a month before the first performance was to take place. Although the Theatre was in theory ready, it reneged on its contract and it fell to Neumann to arrange everything, from the orchestra and chorus to the advertising (presumably why the flyer here was printed in Leipzig), even the carpets in the foyer."
Authors' "firsts" -- first appearances, first books, first works of fiction, first novels. The fame of the authors included herein varies widely: some are names virtually everyone has heard; some are writers that few people know of yet. What they share in their first or early appearances in print is that, at the time, they were almost all both relatively young and relatively unknown. The works had to stand on their own merits rather than on their authors' reputations.
I am Master of Books at the Moscow State University of Art Print and study the antiquarian book trade. My ILAB Internship lasted five weeks, and Norbert Donhofer played a great role in its organization. For the first time young students and rare booksellers were offered the opportunity to study the world's rare book markets. Until then such possibilies were very scarce. Due to the fact that the history and the structure of the antiquarian book trade differ from country to country learning experiences in various countries are very useful. International experience will teach us how to organize the antiquarian book trade in Russia more efficiently.
Always in these days when the antiquarian book fairs in Boston, Chelsea, Sydney, Toronto or in California, New York, Paris, Milan and London open their doors to visitors I remember the day when I lost my books. Have you ever made this experience? Have you ever attended an antiquarian book fair without your books? Empty shelves for sale? I'm a retired antiquarian bookseller of over 40 years standing. I think I have seen most of what this curious profession has to offer: the interesting and the boring, the delightful and the dreadful, the amusing and the saddening. Most of all, I have seen a lot of strange and curious events, and I am about to relate one of the most curious here.
One of the mysteries that was unsolved at the time of our first exhibition of American Decorated Publishers' Bindings 1872-1929 was the artist responsible for the cover of The Arncliffe Puzzle. It has always been one of my favorites, with a hooded figure blending from within to outside a red-orange circle, holding a gold question mark like a sickle in one hand, and its gold dot like a ball in the other. It is one of the best examples of an artist playing with the picture plane on a book cover, using both color and imagery to achieve the effect.