It is not often that one discovers the work of an overlooked or forgotten genius, or a previously-unknown work of an established master. This is, of course, the hope which moves us to carefully examine all sorts of periodical publications and ephemera. So when Tom Congalton asked me to catalog two large folio volumes of the Philadelphia-based Saturday Evening Post, from 1827 and 1828, I was pleased to find the puzzle poem "Enigma" attributed to Edgar Allan Poe, and "Psalm 139th" by his brother Henry Poe. Perhaps the most interesting contributions to these volumes are not the Poeiana, but rather a whole series of botanical sketches and other contributions by an eccentric genius with the evocative name Rafinesque.
T.H. White is the man best known for writing the King Arthur books; the ones about the young boy who pulls a sword from a stone and creates Camelot with his wizard mentor Merlin. These stories are beloved, retold, and have been reinvented as animated films and full scale musicals, even defining the time in America before the assassination of President Kennedy. Camelot, it seems, is a perfect place, one where there is no trouble, life is easy, and love is pure. White's life, however, bore no resemblance to such a place, and his battle with alcohol, emotion, and his own natural tendencies influenced his work and led him to live a truly lonely yet remarkable life.
April 23 is going to be another special day for booklovers. UNESCO's 2016 World Book & Copyright Day will feature book-related events on a worldwide scale with ILAB's contribution being a series of pop-up book fairs displaying rare and collectable books from the four corners of the Earth. ILAB (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers) is repeating a successful programme introduced in 2015 on World Book Day that put rare books in front of thousands of people. Last year ILAB activities raised more than 10,000 Euros for UNESCO's Forest Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI), which provides literacy assistance to children in South Sudan.
I focus not on a reference book but on a single entry today — still, it's large enough to be published as a substantial book in its own right. This is George Harvey's entry on meteorology for the Encyclopedia Metropolitana — what Tom McArthur calls "the grand but ill-fated Encyclopaedia Metropolitana." Samuel Taylor Coleridge was involved in the planning, though he backed out as soon as it began appearing in 1818, as did most of the others who started it. A total of thirty quarto volumes, stretching to more than 22,000 pages and 565 plates, appeared over the next twenty-eight years.
From manuscripts to avant-garde, from a letter by François I to the drafts of Marcel Proust, from a 13th century psalm book to a futurist manifesto, dealers and collectors will browse the shelves of more than 150 antiquarian booksellers with thousands of stunningly diverse documents. Around 20.000 book fair visitors will meander through the Grand Palais and discover first editions, precious bindings, travel accounts, old and modern prints and photographies, handwritten letters and documents by artists, politicians and scientists, scores of famous musicians, treatises on medicine, astronomy, philosophy and other milestones in the history of science alongside with fine illustrated books, modern art and beautiful children's books.