Sep 252017
 

We have just received three copies(!) of Jamie Murphy’s simply brilliant edition of J. Swift’s Modest Proposal. We will soon(ish) have three(!!!) copies of the deluxe edition, too. I have trouble reducing to words just how much I adore this work, but if you will bear with the simulacra of various images, I will try to convey the exquisite power and delicacy in execution embodied in this work. As you likely know,  A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick, more commonly known by its short-title, is Swift’s 1729 satirical pamphlet suggesting the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. It was a hastily printed pamphlet, modest in execution. The Salvage Press’ edition is not…it is rich in dark leather and marbled paper and monumental in size: imperial folio.

Jamie approaches the work from both a modern-situational aspect, but also from a profoundly personal one, with not one but two children with a rare genetic condition. “I had heard of A Modest Proposal years before but hadn’t read it until this period. The text seemed relevant and current – are the Irish not still in a shocking financial condition? Are we not still being plundered by absentee landlords? Are our children not about to incur the fallout from a previous generation’s mistakes? I started to think about reprinting the text. My daughter Olivia was born in 2016, presenting signs of the same genetic condition as my son. I knew they would have to be involved, and in one way this project was designed to mark their births.”

Jamie approached David O’Kane to illustrate the work, as he felt David’s preferred technique, scratching an image directly onto lithography stones, would create a rather haunting effect. Jamie’s suggesting that David use images of his children for inspiration, while challenging, nevertheless helped shape and shadow the remarkable power of the images.

David notes, “Swift’s voice was critical of those in power but also of the exploited masses and their deference to that power. In this sense it is still critically relevant today. The baby in the deanery dining table image appears to be eating her own hand, while simultaneously pointing an accusatory hand toward the viewer. The empty chairs await the hungry landlords. The question raised by the image is whether we want to pull up a seat at this horrific meal or find another way of setting out the table?”

Jamie asked Jessica Traynor to write nine new poems, each responding to the original text. Like the others, her contribution also integrated current events. As Jessica recalls, “So much history unfolded around me as I worked on the poems – the migrant crisis bled into Brexit, bled into the Citizens’ Assembly, bled into the Trump presidency, and I wrote poems in response to all of these events. But it would be impossible to write about the Ireland of the 21st century without writing about direct provision [the system of dealing with asylum seekers].”

The result is that rare Aristotelian work, with the whole being so much more than the sum of its parts. It is wry, and soul-draining, and funny, and touching, and brilliant, and challenging, and so much more…all once. You can return to it over and over and find something new in the image, prose, poetry, and/or design that you missed before. It is, simply, brilliant.

Jamie commissioned a wonderful video that explores the creation of the work and The Irish Times wrote this wonderful article on the work, rich with additional information and well worth a read. Enjoy both. We hope to have a standard at the Boston ABAA book fair, though there are fewer than 10 copies remaining. A complete description can be found here. I will almost certainly have one of the Deluxe editions, however, as they are a fair bit more dear…but that is for another time [teaser: 5 unique back-painted bindings, each reflecting a major theme]. Finally, that Jamie is barely 30 bodes well for the future. He has produced some remarkable work (see, e.g. Albert, Ernest & the Titanic)…but this hints of things to come. I, for one, cannot wait.

A Modest Proposal from ror conaty on Vimeo.

 

Sep 042017
 

Embroidered silk postcard [SS Arabic]

We’ve a wonderful collection around the golden age of ocean travel as told through menus, programs, and postcards. Built over a period of 3 decades, it covers the period from approximately 1880 to around 1930.

Highlights of the collection and important aspects include:

 

 

  • Original dining menus featuring culinary specialities of the period
  • Passenger lists serving as registers for historical documentation
  • Examples of design and style for advertising of the 19th and early 20th century
  • Documents featuring the description of innovations in transportation of the 19th and early 20th century [image gallery below]

    Embroidered silk postcard [RMS Lusitania]

Archive Encompassing the Golden Age of the Great Ocean Liners. [circa 1880-1930]. Approximately 850 items of ephemera from the golden age of ocean liner travel; including a cloth ticket wallet, numerous menus and passenger list cards from a wide variety of ships and routes, a souvenir handkerchief, deck plans, agent’s timetables etc. All in very good or better condition, minor edgewear to some of the more fragile pieces, essentially forty years or more of historical material, spanning the closing years of the 19th century and two world wars. Very Good to Near Fine.

The history of ocean liners is the history of western prosperity, the lure of emigration and the race for technology to catch up with both. The roots of passenger liners are based in 1818, when the Black Ball shipping line of New York started offering a regularly scheduled passenger service across the Atlantic and realised very swiftly that ticket prices could be increased in accordance with the level of comfort they were capable of offering. Previously buying a transatlantic ticket had relegated the hardy traveller to the same status as whatever other cargo the ship was carrying, indeed often slightly lower status; livestock and produce needed to be carefully nursed through the often perilous journeys, passengers were largely expected to fend for themselves.

The proliferation of steamships after the 1830’s, larger, faster creatures altogether; sometimes able to make the enormous journey in a little over two weeks, led to new and creative methods of utilising space and maximising profit. History changed on July 4th, 1840 when the very first ship to bear the legendary Cunard name, “The Britannia” left Liverpool on a ground (or perhaps sea) breaking 14 day journey to New York. It was for the times the very height of luxury, it travelled with a live Jersey cow on board, and chickens, to provide the passengers with fresh milk and eggs.

The advent of the tourist based pleasure cruise didn’t really take off until the 1860’s and the first cruise voyage to originate in America carried none other than Mark Twain, who characteristically immortalised the experience in “The Innocents Abroad.” By the 1880’s, a decade before the earliest items in this collection, the ocean cruise industry was in full swing; doctors regularly advised sea air and ocean voyages for the improved health of their patients, and the allure of foreign continents was proving irresistible to many as companies started offering “steerage” tickets as a very rough and ready way for the huddled masses to make their way to new opportunity.

The final years of the 19th century saw the advent of the first super liners, Germany initially led the field in creating enormous, painfully luxurious vessels that were effectively the floating luxury hotels we have come to expect today. Able to forge through any weather without hardly spilling a first class passengers cocktail, they became the preferred mode of travel for the super rich; reaching their zenith with the Cunard Line’s floating masterpieces “The Mauritania” and “The Lusitania”, the ships that required their passengers to dress for dinner and offered the romance of fine dining rooms where dinner suited elegance and mouth watering menus were accompanied by string quartets, whilst immaculately turned out stewards glided around supplying every need.

This particular collection contains representative ephemera from the largest and most luxurious lines of the period, and some of their flagship vessels, the one notable exception being, of course, The RMS Titanic, firstly because it should be remembered, Hollywood notwithstanding, that it failed, through little fault of its own, to do what transatlantic liners are supposed to do and secondly because all Titanic material is by definition mementos mori and therefore exists rather beyond its socio-industrial context…drifting more into the sargasso of legend. In the manner of such things however, the phantom of the Titanic is unavoidable and present here are pieces of material related to ships who in any number of ways were influenced and overshadowed by their relationship to the largest and most evocative maritime disaster of the time.

The period covered by this material (1896-probably the 1940’s in the case of a couple of deckplans) encompasses the successes, failures and tragedies of the largest passenger shipping lines in the world; Cunard, White Star, Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen, the Hamburg Amerika Line (notwithstanding the blanket ownership of J P Morgan’s “IMM” after the early 1900’s) and a number of others. It was a period of fierce competition in the arenas of sheer size and speed, and the degree of luxury which could be attained. Norddeutscher Lloyd’s “Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse” was built to rival Cunard’s “Campania” and “Lucania”; White Star’s “Oceanic” was put into play to combat “Kaiser Wilhelm” and so on. It was a period of fierce continental competition; at times the fabled prizes rested with the German lines, at others with the British Cunard liners and eventually the laurels passed to the American lines as more and more US ingenuity and drive was brought to bear on what was essentially the “space race” of the era. The mighty giants of the period; Mauretania, Deutschland, Lusitania, Olympia, Normandie have passed into the mists of ocean going myth, all of them are represented here; in fact, in the case of many of these pieces, this collection will represent their sole representation anywhere. Hardly any of the items in the collection were intended to last longer than the duration of a single voyage and their survival within this archive offers a unique record of the Golden Age of ocean travel. Similarly, outside of the realm of international business rivalry, shadowy political preoccupations began to affect the industry, with the British Admiralty quickly cottoning on to the concept that every ocean liner was a potential warship and subsidised lines like Cunard to build ships like “Lucania” and “Campania” in such a way that would make them swiftly convertible to battle stations in time of war. These two ships alone at that time had the largest triple expansion engines ever built, signifying the summit of achievement in that realm of technology until the inception of the turbine engine.

This archive represents a porthole into a period of unprecedented elegance, prosperity and innovation. Comprising of a tremendous number of items (we believe this to be one of the largest collections of material to come to market for a very long time), spanning a breadth of periods, lines and purposes; from beautifully chromo-lithographed menu cards to deck plans and passenger lists, souvenir programmes, handkerchiefs and fans, ticket wallets and books of postcards; an enormous and attractive collection of postcard ands promotional material spanning not only most of the world but most of the world’s significant shipping lines and a treasure trove of other ephemera and memorabilia.

The collection contains, as an example and in no particular order:

~Hamburg-Amerika Line: “SS Reliance”, illustrated menu card for farewell dinner, September 1928

~Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen: “Friedrich der Grosse”, illustrated menu card, October 1900

~N.Y.K. Line (Nippon Yusen Kaisha): “SS Kashima Maru”, souvenir passenger list, February 1934

~Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen: “SS Berlin”, 3 illustrated menu cards from April 1931 Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen: “SS Bremen” illustrated gatefold menu, June 1937

~United States Lines: “George Washington”, Illustrated Passenger List, New York to Bremen, October 1924

~Nederlandische-Amerikanische: “SS Maasdam”, Illustrated Passenger List, Rotterdam to New York, July 1894

~Hamburg-Amerika Line: “Deutschland” Illustrated Passenger List, July 1901

~Hamburg-Amerika Line: “Moltke”, Illustrated Passenger List, July 1903

~Norddeutscher-Lloyd Bremen: Passenger voyage timetable for sailings to North and South America, The Far East and Australia June 1929

~Red Star Line: “SS Pennland” Decorative souvenir programme for the Grand Concert, July 1927

~Pacific Mail Steamship Co.: “PMSS Manchuria” Illustrated Passenger List, Yokohama to San Francisco May 1912

~Compagnie Generale Transatlantique: “La Lorraine” Illustrated Passenger List, New York to Le Havre, August 1919

~N.S. Gemeinschaft “Kraft Durch Freude” (KdF) promotional brochure advertising National Socialist excursions from Hamburg. 1930’s.

~Hamburg-Amerika Line [HAL]: Calendar of “Pleasure and Relaxation Cruises” October 1905 to June 1906

~American Line: “St. Paul” Illustrated Passenger List, Southampton to New York August 1929

~White Star Line: “SS Majestic”, Illustrated Passenger List, New York to Cherbourg, April 1931

~Hamburg-Sudamerikanische Line: “Monte Sarmiento”, Illustrated Menu/Postcard, July 1927

~Inman Line [I&I Steamship Co.]: “City of Chicago” Illustrated Passenger List, Liverpool to New York, April 1889 (with ink annotations by a passenger).

~Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen [NDLB]: “SS Bremen” Elaborate menu card with silk ties, August 1933

~P&O and British India Steam Navigation Co.: “P&O Cruiser Ranchi”, Illustrated Passenger List, Mediterranean, August 1926

~NDLB: “SS Bremen”, elaborate menu card for Brahms’ birthday dinner August 1933 NDLB: “SS Bremen” illustrated wine menu, April 1929

~H.A.L.: “Kronprinzessen Cecille” Illustrated Passenger List, Hamburg to Mexico 1911

~H.A.L.: “President Grant” Illustrated Passenger List, July 1912

~NDLB: “SS Bremen” Illustrated Kosher menu card for March 1934 (!)

~H.A.L.: “Albert Ballin” Illustrated Passenger List, Hamburg to New York, July 1926

~NDLB: “Kaiser Wilhelm” Illustrated menu card August 1903

~H.A.L.: “Pennsylvania” Illustrated Passenger List, Hamburg to New York November 1905

~Cunard Steamship Company: “RMS Campania” Illustrated Passenger List, New York to Liverpool July 1906 [also listed on timetable; Saxonia, Lucania and Carpathia]

~Cunard Steamship Co.: “RMS Campania” Illustrated Passenger List. Liverpool to New York August 1900

~Cunard Steamship Co.: “RMS Saxonia” Illustrated Passenger List, Boston to Liverpool 1903

~NDLB: Guidebook to Munich, card wraps, English text, given free aboard ship and containing an interesting potted history of the NDLB and its manifold successes.

~NDLB: Cloth ticket/travel document wallet, beige and purple, 1930’s, excellent condition. H.A.L.: A selection of on ship purchased postcards in original paper chemises.

~Royal Mail Steam Packet Co.: “RMSP Aragon” Illustrated Passenger List, Southampton to Buenos Aires, February 1911

~NDLB: “SS Berlin” embroidered souvenir handkerchief depicting the liner at full steam. NDLB: “Grosser Kurfurst” Illustrated menu card, (some loss to upper edges), March 1904.

~Pacific Mail Steamship Co. “SS Manchuria” Illustrated Passenger List, San Francisco-Far East Circuit, March 1912. Heavily annotated by passenger.

~NDLB: “Friedrich der Grosse” Illustrated menu cards, July 4th 1911, July 5th 1911 NDLB: “Kronprinz Wilhelm” Illustrated menu card, July 1903

~NDLB: “Grosser Kurfurst” Illustrated menu card, September 1901

~Cie. Gle. Transatlantique: “La Provence” Illustrated menu card, beautiful art nouveau design, August 1910

~NS Gemeinschaft “Kraft durch Freude”: “Oceana” Illustrated itinerary card with exhortation from the Nazi party “We wish you a happy homecoming, Heil Hitler!” Italian voyage January 1938

~NDLB: Luggage label with string for a stateroom on the “Adolf Vinnen” in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Meyer of New Jersey. Hamburg-New York 1912

~H.A.L.: “SS Graf Waldersee” Illustrated Passenger List. New York to Hamburg July 1902 H.A.L.: “SS Normannia” Illustrated Passenger List, New York to Hamburg September 1894

~Great White Fleet: “SS Heredia” Caribbean Cruise of Gulf Park College leaving New Orleans March 1928, elaborate illustrated menu card.

~Tokyo Kisen Kaisha: Illustrated Information Brochure circa 1917

~H.A.L.: “Albert Ballin” Illustrated and elaborate bell shaped multi leaved menu and concert programme August 1935

~RMS Titanic: 2 commemorative cards (1987 and 1991) sent at sea from the resting place of the great liner; stamped with all vessels present and the sigil of ~Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute with hand written co-ordinates of the wreck site and the details of the Russian Research Vessel “Akademyk Keldysh” which carried the Mir I and Mir II submersibles.

~H.A.L.: “Graf Waldersee” Illustrated menu card, August 1900 H.A.L.: “Pennsylvania” Illustrated menu card, February 1901

~H.A.L.: A group of four further Illustrated menu cards from the “Pennsylvania” during a voyage in January-February 1901

~Cie Gle Transatlantique: Large format photograph of the liner “SS Normandie” under construction noting that the vessel was 1020” feet long. In 1935 the ~“Normandie” was the largest and fastest passenger vessel on the seas. She is still cited as being the most powerful steam turbo-electric powered ship ever built.

~Nippon Yusen Kaisha: “SS Fushimi Maru” Illustrated menu card, May 1915

~Nippon Yusen Kaisha: “SS Awa Maru” Illustrated menu card, May 1915

~Nippon Yusen Kaisha:”SS Tenyo Maru” Illustrated menu card, September 1916

~NDLB: A selection of decorative menu cards in card chemise for a voyage by the “SS Berlin”

~Various: A selection of folding souvenir deck plans for ships in the Red Star, Cie Gle Transatlantique and United States Lines.

~NDLB: Beautiful illustrated menu card “SS Columbus”, April 1925. At that time the “Columbus” was the flagship of NDLB and was notable for being almost permanently on hire to Thomas Cook and for being the first liner to have its own swimming pool on deck.

~NDLB: “SS Koln” Illustrated Passenger List, November 1902, Bremen-Galveston

~NDLB: “SS Amerika” Illustrated Passenger List, July 1906

~NDLB: “SS Havel” Illustrated Passenger List, New York to Bremen, November 1894

~Cie Gle Transatlantique: “MS Lafayette” Illustrated Passenger List, Le Havre to New York September 1937

~Cie Gle Transatlantique: “MS Ile De France” Illustrated Passenger List, Le havre to new York, September 1937. The Ile de France was the first refrigerated ocean liner and was thus the first vessel to bring fresh French Brie to America.

~Cie Gle Transatlantique: A selection of 6 Illustrated Cruise Itineraries from the “SS Normandie” [1930’s]

~Cunard Line: Notepaper from “Mauretania”, “Queen Mary” and “Queen Elizabeth” Cie Gle Transatlantique: Single sheet not on “Normandie” notepaper

NDLB: “SS Columbus” Illustrated Menu Cards, July 1937 [2]

~Cunard White Star: “RMS Laconia” Illustrated menu card, June 1937. The “Laconia” was, like it’s previous namesake in WW1, sunk by a submarine in World War 2 on September 12th 1942. The aftermath of the sinking, during which over 1600 people died, became known as “The Laconia Incident.” Kapitanleutnant Werner Hartenstein of the U-156 surfaced after the sinking in order to pick up survivors when he became aware that non-combatants were on board, he requested assistance from U Boat High Command in Germany and several U Boats entered the area flying red cross flags and signalling that a rescue operation was under way. The U-Boat convoy, fore-decks laden with survivors, lifeboats in tow and still flying Red Cross flags headed towards a neutral exchange point. Unfortunately, a US B-24 Liberator, despite the resistance of it’s crew and the frantic radio signals of Hartenstein was ordered to attack the U-Boats. The U-Boats were forced to dive and abandon the survivors, some of whom were later picked up by Vichy French naval ships. Admiral Donitz, as a direct result of the Laconia Incident rescinded any previous directions to do with rescuing survivors of enemy ships. Hartenstein and his crew were killed a few months later.

NDLB: “SS Europa” 3rd Class Illustrated menu card June 1931. Very striking. Cunard Line: Atlantic Interlude, cruise brochure 1930’s

~Cunard Line: “RMS Aquitania” card booklet from the 1920’s. Aquitania was the last four-funnel steamer, and noted as being one of the most beautiful ships afloat, and was the longest serving commercial ocean liner at the time of her retirement in 1950

~Cie Gle Transatlantique: “La Provence” fold out cutaway diagram of the liner in card wraps showing many of the joyous luxuries available on board.

~H.A.L.: Brochure for first class travel on the line, 1930’s

~H.A.L. Winter Service Timetable 1896-1897 advertising voyages on the “August Victoria”, “Columbia”, “Normannia” and “Furst Bismarck”

~Raymond Whitcomb Cruises: advertising taking the “Normandie to Rio” 1939

~Tokyo Kisen Kaishu: “SS Kitano Maru” Illustrated menu card, december 1936 (some underlining by passenger)

~T.K.K.: “Kitano Maru” Illustrated menu card for farewell dinner February 1937 autographed by passengers.

~T.K.K.: 2 Blank illustrated menu cards with Kabuki and Samurai designs from the TKK 1930’s design blueprint.

~T.K.K.: “Miyazaki Maru” Illustrated menu card, march 1916. 

o

Aug 072017
 

 

We are beginning to release a series of special themed short lists, this one inspired by the “death positive” movement, not just for collecting, but for understanding about death culture and documentation.

Death Becomes Her” can be viewed on our catalogue page, along with other catalogues of the mostly recently past.

Next big fair is ABAA 41st Annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair, November 10-12, 2017! Can’t wait!

 

Jul 242017
 

I have had the great pleasure of working with Gabby Cooksey since she burst forth from North Bennet School and began inflicting her genius upon the world. I had the great pleasure of placing her first binding in Univ. of Virginia’s Special Collections and the greater pleasure of watching her explore, evolve, and expand with each new work. I have said since I saw her first work that she makes design decisions as a new, now young, binder that I would expect from one with decades under her belt… Part of this is to NBS’s credit, but much has to do with Gabby’s profoundly subtle and sophisticated way of looking at her projects and finding elegant solutions at nearly every turn…

It was not long before she branched out and began writing text, creating art, and printing all elements of some projects. Thus we have today’s gem: The Book of Penumbra, of which Gabby writes,

“Death has always fascinated me because it happens to all of us yet no one talks about it. I wanted to see what other cultures personified death as through myths and legends. The gods in this book are very hushed and for some, even if you speak the name, you’ll be cursed. I wanted this book to be shadows, to be played in the light. I chose a delicate paper so one could see through to the page behind it. The text is in all sorts of shapes because I wanted each story to represent the god being told about. For instance, Sedna is in the shape of drowning, Anubis is his eye, Mac is a pit with someone at the bottom. The borders are all plants, roots, and things found on the earth. Some represent death like the poppy, and the yew tree.”

Completed in an edition of 23, bound in wraps, and housed in a box with an inlaid coffin, it is a beautiful bit of work. As she is seldom content with ‘exquisite’, I received a package out of the blue and found a one-off art binding of the book with seven skulls suspended by gold in the cut-through front board (insert above). Always pushing, always expanding…ever brilliant. I am always excited about what she will produce next. Explore the book below…

Jul 182017
 

In November of 1897 the Library began a program of daily readings for the blind in a special “pavilion for the blind” complete with its own library. In 1913 Congress directed the American Printing House for the Blind to begin depositing embossed books in the Library, and in 1931 a separate appropriation was authorized for providing “books for the use of adult blind residents of the United States.” [LC]

This Act was amended in 1934 to include sound recordings (talking books), and expanded again later to include children, music, and ultimately to include anyone with physical limitations that prevent reading regular print. This program is important to me personally, because of what a remarkable effect it had on my grandmother’s life when she, a lifelong avid reader, lost the ability to read to macular degeneration. The program is still thriving…now sending out books to the vision impaired on flash drives.

There were few record players in homes in the early twentieth century, and thus between 1935 and approximately 1942 the Talking Book project produced about 23,000 record players (at a cost of approximately $1.2 million). While funding from the WPA dried up in 1942, the program continued until 1951, when the Foundation stopped producing its own record players because they were now readily available to the general public. It is this period that is particularly interesting for me, as it is the period where critical components of the record players used were produced by the company my in-laws’ owned and operated until their retirement (though this program far predates their ownership).

Between the mid-1940s to the mid 1950s, Bowen and Company produced the guts for several models of the record players that were provided to clients of the Talking Book project. On a recent visit, my FiL said he had something interesting for me and proceeded to hand over a Model 9C record player and a packing case filled not only with albums, but with a remarkable trove of the technical specs and schematics for the machines design and evolution…as well as some supporting material and, interestingly, a copy of a late advert, when the company had been given permission to sell the players to the general public. It is unusual to find one of the early players in any condition…to find one like this (with many extra needles) and records and (amazingly) a pile of the design/evolution documentation pretty much makes my month. Enjoy the huge pile of images to follow [photo credit to Mary Pennington]

Jul 142017
 

So after a few weeks of decompressing, we are back from RBMS 17 Iowa City! With epic stop overs in Indiana, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, and more! By visiting the dead during the trip, we certainly appreciate our education and places of memories. Much like books, graveyards emulate a sense of memory.  While strolling through the local cemetery in Iowa City, we devised a plan to take the crypt a to it logical bibliophilic conclusion. What if you could shelve yourself much like a book, after walking on this complicated earth, in a familiar setting, housed in a familiar form? Thus, the idea of ‘bibliocrypt’ was born! Picture a crypt that embodies a library shelves…stone bindings on the outside, shelves with book-urns lining the inside. #bibliocrypt

Too morbid? Well, we did engage with the living, many living and breathing archives and libraries, librarians, and archivists doing amazing and engaging things to enrich our conscious world.  RBMS is typically a time of exchange and growth for many in the field. We were there to listen and talk to people in a wildly critical time of scholarship and information exchange.  Unlike most book fairs, this is best time to actually discuss components of library collection development, new modes of material description, and aspects of outreach and engagement.  We did a pretty good job of bringing materials that reflected the over theme of the conference: “The Stories We Tell” from artist’s books, narratives, to strange and odd visual storytelling.  A pared down booth!

In the future weeks, we will be thinking about yes, death, our biblioarcanum and new catalogs and lists coming out.

Our next big show is Boston ABAA, November 10-12, 2017. #biblioarcanum

Jun 012017
 

 

Yes, despite what we complain about, there are things we enjoy about the approaching summer. That includes attending the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section conference in Iowa City! Lux Mentis will be part of the Bookseller showcase this year, along with many other fine booksellers. We are especially excited to feature our selection of book arts and primary source materials in keeping with this year’s theme, “The Stories We Tell.” We are also sponsoring the panel: “MATERIALIA LUMINA: THE CONTEMPORARY BOOK IN ITS HISTORICAL CONTEXT: PHILOSOPHICAL MUSING OF THREE MASTER PRINTERS” featuring Peter Rutledge Koch, Russell Maret, and Gaylord Schanilec.

As a large part of our mission we aim to support especially book arts and book narratives, so we will have a good selection of artist’s books and both pictorial and literary narratives. A few of our latest acquisitions will be featured including works by Ximena Perez GrobetLorena Velázquez, Alexandra Janezic, Maureen Cummins, and Sam Winston. As usual, we will also bring a few challenging and provocative things.

Before the show, we will be attending the Chicago Book & Paper Fair and during the week of RBMS we will also be attending the Solstice Book Fair organized by book artists, Alexandra Janezic and Candida Pagan.

Until then, keep reading, keep collecting! See you in Iowa City!

 

May 092017
 

We haven’t been quiet, just busy with all these new acquisitions and cataloging. Please peruse our latest occult / esoterica catalog n.2 under the catalogs tab.

Some of the featured new items:

 

Apr 242017
 

For those who have seen the proto-type for Maureen Cummins’ newest work we were showing in CA and NYC, we are pleased to say that the work is complete and ready. Maureen just forwarded the following prospectus, which summarizes the work quite perfectly:

The/rapist is an investigation into the gendered history of psychosurgery, as illustrated by the career of Doctor Walter Freeman (1895-1972). A Professor of Neurology with no formal training in either surgery or psychology, Freeman popularized the pre-frontal lobotomy, an operation in which nerve connections to and from the frontal lobes—the seat of human emotion, creativity, willpower, and imagination—are severed. A self-styled showman who drove ice picks through his patients’ eye sockets, rode around in a “lobotomobile,” and conducted a 1953 tour dubbed “Operation Ice-Pick,” Freeman freely admitted that his work created a “surgically induced childhood,” with many “failed outcomes.”

It is a history that raises numerous and disturbing questions about patients’ rights, the abuse of institutional power, and the disproportionate targeting of women. Of the 3,500 or more patients that Freeman operated on, twice as many were female, many depressed or suicidal housewives. Even now, electroshock—Freeman’s favored method of anesthesia—is applied to female patients two to three times as often as males.

In the opening pages of the book, Cummins uses the analogy of physical rape to suggest the way in which psychosurgery became a form of violence-against-women (and men) perpetuated in the name of medical progress. The concept is textually and visually reinforced as the reader pages through the book: the title, “The Rapist” morphs into the word, “Therapist?” while a laser-cut hole bores through the book, penetrating silkscreened images of patients’ heads. These headshots, “before-and-after” photographs that Freeman used to document his work, are re-contextualized, with lines of typography mimicking blindfolds, reclaiming for these patients a measure of dignity, humanity, and anonymity. Throughout the book, the artist’s mordant sense of humor is in evidence: The name Freeman transforms into “Free Man,” while found images—everything from advertising cuts of arrows and pointing fingers to reproductions of Freeman’s ice picks—serve as illustrations, providing ironic counters to the subject matter, often—as with the sunburst, moon, and encircling question marks—cleverly incorporating the hole.

Constructed entirely out of aluminum, The/rapist is inspired by the cold, hard surfaces of medical clipboards and equipment, as well as by Freeman’s actual tools, viewed by the artist in the Freeman/Watts collection at GWU, where she conducted her initial research. Pages of the book are laser-cut, burnished on one side, printed with multiple layers of text and imagery, “dimpled” to prevent scratching and wear, then mounted within rings to a sturdy baseboard. The text is printed in Frutiger, a classic mid-century sans-serif typeface. Images reproduced in the book are 19th century engravings, handwritten notes and text, as well as graphs and headshots from Freeman’s 1950 textbook Psychosurgery: In the Treatment of Mental Disorders and Intractable Pain. The book is housed in a burnished aluminum box with a screwed-down aluminum title plate. For exhibition purposes, copies can be propped up vertically, with the backboard acting as a stand, or positioned with the pages fanned out in a pleasing sculptural form.

Detailed images are available upon request. As you may or may not know, the prices for Maureen’s work step when a certain number of sales have been hit. As this is an edition of 40, we encourage you to let us know as soon as reasonably possible should you wish to add it to your collection.

Apr 132017
 

One of the things we picked up recently was a wonderful copy of the 1791 engraving of William Camden’s The Funeral Procession of Queen Elizabeth. In an early leather folder/binding (remnant of a label is dated 1891), the accordion folded print is twenty-nine feet (29 FEET!) long. Kim is currently working on a detailed description, but in the meantime, here is a taste and images of the entire work:

Spectacular hand-colored panorama of the funeral procession of Queen Elizabeth I in April 1603, reproducing drawings in the British Museum ascribed to Elizabeth’s biographer William Camden, who appeared in the procession in his official role as Clarenceaux King of Arms. Other mourners of note include Robert Cecil, Thomas Egerton, and Walter Raleigh. At the time of her death, most Englishmen had known no monarch but Elizabeth, as the elaborate formal procession detailed here was swelled by thousands of Londoners.

This engraved copy of Camden’s original drawings was produced in 1791 for the Society of Antiquaries, appearing in the third volume of Vetusta Monumenta. This copy nearly entirely colored in an early hand…with an evolving use of color as ‘importance’ increased. Left uncolored, strikingly, is the effigy of the queen mounted upon her coffin, a likeness so startling that the London crowd gasped to see it. It is presumed it was left uncolored to reflect the virtue of the Virgin Queen. The was the first we’ve seen intact in a very long time.   [Click and scroll through lovely big images]

 Posted by at 11:16 pm
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