Jan 202018

Consider this a teaser, as the images do not capture just how stunning these volumes are. We are pleased to have 3 of the 5 deluxe editions (one stayed in Ireland and the other at Yale). Each of the 5 is uniquely bound in a binding reflecting issues embodied in the 1729 text, modern Ireland, and the world as a whole. We are pleased to have and to offer Abortion, Homelessness, and Religion.

If you have not seen it, the Irish Times article offers a great overview. A description of the standard and deluxe editions follows the images. I’ve also reposted some images of the standard edition and content at the very end. It is a remarkable work.

Swift, Jonathan; O’Kane, David [illus]; Carpenter, Andrew [intro]; Traynor, Jessica [poetry]. A Modest Proposal. Dublin, Ireland: The Salvage Press, 1729 [2017]. Limited Edition. Tight, bright, and unmarred. Halfbound, black leather spine and foredge, red leather spine label, gilt lettering, marbled paper boards, printed in red and black ink; matching drop-spine archival box with inlaid Irish porcelain. Imperial folio. 64pp. Illus. (b/w plates). Lettered limited edition, this being IJK. [N.B. there are 4 additional copies, i-iv, hors de commerse. Deluxe copies, 1-5, are each in a unique binding reflecting an issue confronting modern Ireland (homelessness, abortion rights, direct provision, religious persecution, and affordable housing) in “hand dyed alum tawed goatskin with reverse offset printed inlays and red calfskin borders, 22c gold hand lettered title, red handmade paper doublures with blind tooling, distressed silver endpapers with 23.5c gold leaf highlights, graphite top edge, red calfskin headbands” by Kate Holland and including an additional portfolio containing a full suite of the lithographs and a full suite of the poems. Fine in Fine Archival Box. Hardcover.

“This publishing of A Modest Proposal was produced to mark the 350th anniversary of the birth of Jonathan Swift in 1667. First printed in 1729 by Sarah Harding ‘on the Blind Key‘, Dublin.

Designed, typeset and letterpress printed by Jamie Murphy with much grateful assistance from Niamh McNally, Sarah O’Neill and Phelim McGovern. The type employed is 22 point Monotype Caslon, an interesting cut quite close in character to William Caslon’s ‘Roman and Italick’ types of the late 1720s. The type was originally cast into founts by Neil Winter at The Whittington Press from matrices acquired from the Oxford University Press. The book was printed on a Western style Double Crown proofing press at Distillers Press, NCAD, Dublin. Andrew Carpenter has introduced the edition. Jessica Traynor has supplied nine new poems in response to the original text. David O’Kane has scratched the ten illustrations which have been editioned from lithographic stones by Michael Timmins at his workshop in Stoneybatter. The book has been printed on 250gsm mouldmade paper from the Zerkall Mill, Hürtgenwald, Germany, supplied by John Purcell, London. Based in Wiltshire, UK, Jemma Lewis has designed and produced the marbled papers based on marble patterns found at St. Patrick’s Cathederal where Swift was once Dean. Eleanor Swan has produced the porcelain inserts for the standard copies at her studio on the grounds of Russborough House, Co. Wicklow.” (Publisher statement)

Sep 302017

We have a had a run of interesting, unusual fine press and/or artists books land recently, but this stood out and I thought I’d throw up a quick overview:

Julie Rafalski, Tahu Deans and David Henningham re-enacted Cold War psychic drawing experiments in a Leipzig building that had formerly housed an East German supercomputer. They also reconstructed the computer as a set to be reconfigured and photographed.

These pictures, films, drawings and transcripts make up the content of this book. Operating like the distinct CMYK dots that merge optically to form a full-colour picture, the artists have worked together to take the viewer through corridor spaces, doctored photographs, and a psychic spying apparatus redolent of the building itself. Not every page is accessible without the use of a knife.

And because gilding the lily is always a good thing…

The books are editioned using a vector-based system so that each book is assigned a non-hierarchical relationship to the others.

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.


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…

Mar 292017

We want to introduce you to a remarkable new work by Sam Winston and Oliver Jeffers, A Child of Books.

“A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next? Combining elegant images by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston’s typographical landscapes shaped from excerpts of children’s classics and lullabies, A Child of Books is a stunning prose poem on the rewards of reading and sharing stories—an immersive and unforgettable reading experience that readers will want to pass on to others.” [publisher statement]

The book itself is a charming and beautiful tale and can be found here. The true depth and breadth of the work, however, can be found only in the deluxe editions…and is a bit more dear. There were two states of the deluxe edition, one, however, was an edition of nine and all are already gone, so we will ignore it. Interestingly, the other deluxe is an edition of eighty (80!!!)…a number seldom a good idea in deluxe editions and for good reason. This, however, is the exception that defines the rule. Best, it is clearly designed with both the private collector and the special collections library in mind.

This edition comes with three components, all housed in a colander box. First is a signed first edition of the standard book. Then there is the Process Book, designed by Lewis Trevor and Sam Winston with the assistance of Becky Elms. This book provides elements of a ‘making copy’, detailing and exploring the collaborative process Sam and Oliver went through producing the story and images. Stab bound in the Japanese style by Manuel Mazzotti (London), it provides a wonderful view into the evolution of this remarkable story. Finally, this edition comes with 19 archival fine art prints, inkjet printed with pigment ink onto Hahnemühle Fine Art Bamboo Natural White. Signed by both Sam and Oliver, each embodies a full two-page spread of the story, larger and absolutely stunning. For special collections, there is even a ‘teaching guide’ included to help facility academic use.

Each illustration is a blend of Oliver’s whimsical sketches with the ‘textual art’ Sam is so well known for…manipulating text to create image. Here the texts are drawn from classic children’s books, (e.g the huge furry, horned monster threatening a castle is created from text from Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and then children escape by climbing down a rope made up of prose from Rapunzel). The blend of illustration styles and the tale itself creates a wonderful starting point to explore the nature of art and writing. It is, in brief, one of the very best things we’ve seen in a very long time. Additional information and images are available and can be found here and/or you are welcome to email.

Bonus: There is a lovely interview with Sam and Oliver, for those so inclined.

Feb 262017

The New York Antiquarian Book Fair is right around the corner! We have fashioned ourselves into a corner this year, literally. However, as always with amazing new delights to share! The gallery below is just a snippet of our booth in New York, link to our show list will be available next week.

As usual, a consistent selection of books arts, fine press, photography, ‘sex, death, and the devil’, in addition to our fondness for esoterica. We’ll have some ‘normal’ books too.

*If you would like passes to the New York Book Fair, please contact us*

SEE YOU THERE!!! #nyabaa17 #nyabf17

Aug 012016

If you didn’t catch the catalog releases in June for RBMS, we are listed for July’s latest rare book catalog releases [Scroll down to Lux Mentis]: http://www.abaa.org/blog/post/rare-book-catalogs-July-2016

Show some love to ABAA and the New Antiquarian blog!

The New Antiquarian blog logo

Apr 212016


Part of the experience of a book fair, and not one overly discussed for a reason, are the partnerships and the collaborative aspects of the book trade. You don’t necessarily have to go at this alone. Your comrades have your back (or your spine, [excruciating pun intended]) which plays out when scouting or acquiring other material to add to the overall inventory.  How many times have you heard, “Oh, X, would love/need this!?” If you are willing and able, then serendipity has its moments, in addition to critical partnerships.

It was excellent for me to work along side Brian Cassidy, veteran bookseller and long-time Lux Mentis booth partner; Michael Laird, newly discovered witchcraft buddy; book goddess, Kara Accettola; the adorable and sharp, Jonathan Kearns; and equally as adorable and bright, Simon Beattie. I would also like to recognize, the entire Pirages team [good lord, ya’ll need a drink], Ken Sanders and Travis Low [horns up], Fuchsia Voremberg [hugs], Tom Congalton, and Ashley Wildes. I think Ashley encompasses the entire fair sentiment in one image:

Ashley diffuses the situation with mermaid-like qualities, as Kim wishes Ian to contract mind fleas.

Ashley diffuses the situation with mermaid-like qualities, as Kim wishes Ian to contract mind fleas. [Note: drinks handled with appropriate care] [Addendum from Ian: This image amuses me in so very, very many ways. Adore you both.]

It would be remiss to not recognize some of the book artists and book binders, very important, as representing strong work is a pleasure and a privilege. Both Colin Urbina and Erin Fletcher make overwhelmingly inspiring work, glad to have them in both physical form and function appearing in New York; Michael Kuch, again mind-blowing work; Peter Bogardus; Russell Maret, exceptional new work; Nancy Loeber, representing both fairs [shadow fair]; Christina Amato; Leslie Gerry; Mindy Belloff; María Verónica San Martín; Peter Koch; newly acquired book artist Alexandra Janezic; and of course, the dynamic duo of Marshall Weber and Felice Tebbe at Booklyn. [Do I sound like a broken record or an Oscar speech? geez.]

So, what’s next? Fortunately, we were able to jump over to the “shadow” shows both uptown and across the street to visit both book artists and snap up some “brutally cool” items for down the road to make appearances in iterations of catalog lists forthcoming.  What did strike our fancy this year? A selection of things that caught our eye:


Apr 192016
No. We're good. We fang it!

No. We’re good. We fang it!

Every fair set-up and break down is a challenge, an adventure, and a chore. In the art world, “installation” is when the vision is cemented for the curator or artist.  Without being to fussy, installation at a book fair is similar, in that, a bookseller has the option to design visual gestalt with a display, to tell a story, or even to offend, dazzle, and educate. With that, part of the concept is driving an aesthetic attachment for a potential person to immediately hone in on something they absolutely desire to acquire for personal or pragmatic reasons.

Again, the thematic diatribe of Lux Mentis to “mock conventionalism” emerges case by case with groupings of “sex, death, and devil,” artist’s books, fine press, esoterica, and other bits of seemingly harmless or seemingly objectionable material. The process can sort of look like this:

When it is all said and done, you can hear Ian blather on in a nice little package with sound and image! Useful words and phrases to add to your regularly rotated vocabulary: “brutally cool” “spectacular” “just exquisite” “interesting bits” “fabulous” “astounding”. You can also learn how to properly stroke your beard.

What is important to note is while we go gangbusters with stuff, selection is important, as well as time management, you can fiddle around with one shelf for hours, believe me.  That being said, all in all, installation was smooth and considerate, every shelf both notes and confronts a narrative.  See for yourself.


Next time: Gettin’ granular, or how to give good looks and books.


Apr 172016

We are pleased to offer a (reasonably) brief tour of our booth at the 2015 ABAA book fair. It was a great weekend (report and images to follow).

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