I know I said this before, but the research that goes into putting together this catalogue is, for me, the most exciting, and the most frustrating, part of the job. My first reaction is always, COOL!!!! I haven't seen one of those before (or a variation on that emotion), then I head for the references to find out exactly what it is, some background history about the book itself, the author, the illustrator, or even the publisher. The frustrating part comes when I absolutely can NOT find any information regarding points, or details, etc. (more on that regarding a very specific case in a future blog post)
This group of books mostly consists of illustrated editions. (In layman's terms, that means the illustrations and illustrators have as much or more interest than the actual text). The majority of books in this consigned collection are youth fiction or picture books and the illustrators included are well known and well loved: N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Gelett Burgess, and a few others. Some of the books, however, don't fit neatly into any niche or genre.
Take, for instance this book:
Northrop, Henry Davenport (compiler and editor): THE DELSARTE SYSTEM OF PHYSICAL CULTURE, EXPRESSION AND ELOCUTION : Containing A Practical Treatise on the Delsarte System of Physical Culture, Including Directions for the Cultivation of the Voice, Correct Attitudes and the Use of Gestures.... c1890. W. S. Reeve Publishing Co.. Chicago, IL. Hardcover. 1st Edition/ 1st Printing. NF / Illustrated throughout with a combination of line drawing (by an unknown illustrator with examples reminiscent of Charles Dana Gibson), black and white photographs and tinted photographs. The book is broken down into several sections regarding ways to act and react naturally while doing recitations, dramatic interpretation and dance (and to help one elevate one's position in society by using the correct tone, word usage, etc.) There is a section which lists the Noms de Plume of various authors , lessons in recitation, descriptive recitations, humorous recitations, pathetic recitations, recitations for juveniles, encores, dialogues and tableau,etc. There are a few photographs of famous actors of the day, including Virginia Harned (she famously portrayed George DuMaurier's Tribly on stage and her image is on the 1895 cover of the subsequent book) and Alexander Salvini. Interestingly, some historians of American dance consider The Delsarte System (the Americanized version of it) to be one of the precursors to American Modern Dance.
|One of the Colored photographs (not-hand colored, though)|
|a couple of the poses.|
Or this whackadoodle (and I mean that in the nicest way possible) :
Sonntag, Lincoln: UP-TO-DATE ANIMAL AND OTHER FABLES 1924. Lincoln Sonntag (Self Published). San Francisco, CA. Hardcover. 1st Edition/ 1st Printing. VG+ / VG. This book was self published by the author in San Francisco, CA. Little is known about the author, other than that he was a California native, born of immigrant parents in 1858. He published two books in total, this book of animal fables, and a book of Poetry entitled The Holocaust and Other Poems (1914), He died in 1928, just a few years after this slim book of tales was published. He did market this particular book -- but not seemingly with great results. The Rochester Herald (N.Y) notes: "Mr. Sonntag issues a collection of a great many fables, in which various humans and animals perform in such manner of foolishness or wisdom that the author may draw a moral conclusion from each tale. Some of them are mildly humorous. If the author would select his best and employ the services of a clever illustrator in colors, the results might be a quite presentable volume." Damned with faint praise, I think.
|Front cover (dust jacket)|
There are a few other items that don't categorize well -- I'll get to those as time permits.
In the meantime, I've started the process of getting prepared for the Sacramento Rare Book Fair which is coming up on March 24th at the Scottish Rite Temple (if you're in the area and would like a free pass, let me know).
For me, book fair preparation is much more than just stuffing books (not really stuffing, mind you) books into boxes and carting them off in the book mobile. For me, book fair preparation is as much mental as physical.
Oh, I do have to get the basic physical bits out of the way -- Today I denuded two portable bookcases of their "stuff" and folded them up. I intend to have most of the bookcases folded and ready for transport by the end of this week.
And I just this morning realized that I hadn't started putting new dust jackets on books yet, which puts me behind my normal schedule by a week or so. On the other hand, I have completed more of the descriptions to go with the books than I usually have done by this time so I guess it evens out.
Next week is truly the buckle down and get things moving week.
I'll see if I can post photos of the process.