I got me some books. Too many books.

i picked up way, way too many books about books and I plan to put them in other book fiend’s, I mean Bibliophile’s’ and bookbinders’, hands. Here’s a handful with more below. 

 
The World of the Elseviers 1580-1712, by Davies, 1954. Cloth hardcover. Nice copy. A history of the famous and sometimes infamous Dutch printing house and family. Fact, aspersions, admirations – a lot packed into a very small volume.

  
The Fortune Of Books – Essays, Memoirs and Prophecies of a Librarian, by Bay, 1941. Cloth hardcover, weak inner joint at front, but such nice paper. Why can’t we get that paper any more? Collection of talks and papers by Christian Bay. Main headings: Bookmen and Scientists, Library Life, Books and Literary Events, Time and Chance, Americana. It’s like having a tour guide to the library of the past with well curated selections from books, from historical events, from biographical themes. Something for everyone.

 
The Kingdom of Books, by Orcutt, 1927. Lovely gold stamping on brown cloth hardcover. Small bookbinder’s ticket front cover, pencil notation reads “colored fronts missing” but otherwise seems in excellent shape for a book this old. This is Orcutt’s travel guide to the kingdom of books, and it does not disappoint. Subjects include printers, binders, techniques, shopping for books in Paris, photos of lovely fine bindings, drawings of work spaces, examples of type, ornament, and illustration…I could go on, and so can he.

  The Magic of the Book by Orcutt, 1930. Ex library copy, with markings and missing fly leafs, beautiful gold stamping on brown cloth and a proper companion piece to the volume above. Does have the color frontispiece. Contains further stories and reminiscences of the author who loved to talk to people who loved books. And I love reading about it.

 

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Yet more books about books. Can you blow your Horn book?

 
History of the Horn Book, by Tuer, 1979, reprint of the 1897 original. Cloth hardcover with dust jacket. Bookplate but otherwise most decent. Originally a horn book was a printed sheet affixed to a wooden back and covered with a thin sheet of horn – thin enough to read through – which protected the page from the Grubby and Destructive hands of Children. With time, many began to refer to any child’s ABC book or primer as a horn book. Once there were millions of the genuine article, horn and all, but now they are scarce. The passenger pigeon of books?  If they were so rare in 1897, what are they now? Have more been discovered? The author of this book knew of so few copies that each almost has its own biography. Just the kind of specialized, obscure reference book that so delights.

  
A New History Of Stereotyping, Kubler, 1941. Hardcover. Another fairly comprehensive book about printing history. In good condition. A secret surprise inside: a loose sheet of blue paper on the letterhead of the Certidied Dry Mat Corporation in New York, which ends with “Please grant me the pleasure of accepting this volume, together with my heartiest good wishes. Yours respectfully, George Kubler” with what I assume is a printed signature. Lots of history, lots of photographs, lots of drawings. This book is notable for the amount of space and illustrations devoted to would-be replacements of stereotype machines which the author scornfully derides. Since many of these machines never made it into commercial use, they may not be as well documented in other History Of Stereotyping books I have seen. Entertaining! 

  
The Life Of The Book, by Lehmann–Haupt, 1957. Cloth hardcover with dust jacket. Nice condition. “How the book is written, published, printed, sold, and read.” Doesn’t seem to include “made into a cute end table by some yahoo with a glue gun.” Don’t get me started. I’m an old curmudgeon who likes books as books, and I hate to see pretty old books  made into handbags when they could have been in my library. Wait, I have too many books already. Well, après moi le deluge, right? This small book is a gem. Some history and some advice on getting published and on collecting. I can’t let this go without a lengthy but marvelous quotation. ” The interesting and important thing about the public library in America is that it offers free reading facilities and a great number of varied services to every member of the community, young or old, rich or poor, regardless of race, color, or creed. Its doors are open to the highly educated as well as to the average reader, to the citizen and the immigrant, to persons in search of practical or special information as well as to those who wish to broaden their education generally and enrich their minds. The public library is host to the person who wishes to while away an idle hour as well as to the professional author and the scholar. Every day many thousands of people in the United States use their public library without ever realizing how privileged they are in comparison with the citizens of many other countries.” Can I get an amen? Maybe I can’t let this one go…I owe all that I am to a library and to librarians and this little volume is a beautiful love poem to the book.Edit

 
The Printed Book by H.G. Aldis, 1929. Small cloth hardcover with dust jacket. Bookplate, torn jacket. Lovely little thing with history, illustrations, and admonitions. Lots of pith in a small space.

  

The Art of The Book, by Ede, 1951. Cloth hardcover with dust jacket. “Fifty separate contributions by authorities from various countries …headings Type Design and Lettering, Printing the Text, Illustration and Graphic Reproduction (Including Dust Jackets), Commercial Binding, and Hand Binding.” Many great illustrations in a largish book, including whole page reproductions and gorgeous as-in-Gaw-Jess fine leather bindings. Like Itchikoo Park, it’s all too beautiful.

  

Basic Bookbinding, by Lewis, 1957. Sewn paperback binding. Surprisingly detailed descriptions and illustrations of tools and techniques for the novice, but even the experienced binder might learn something new. For me, it was the trick for positioning large pasted sheets exactly. If you have to start somewhere, you could do worse.  

Some more books about books. Mostly history of books and printing.

 
The Book, by Douglas McMurtrie, 1989. Hardcover with dust jacket, no markings, very nice. A history of bookmaking and printing. Starts way back in the dawn of literate time and works its way up into the present. THIS IS A BIG BOOK WITH NICE BIG PRINT. I mean, not huge, but you shouldn’t need the cheaters for this one. Lots of illustrations and informative digressions. Very complete, very well written, very useful. 

  

Books and Their Makers in the Middle Ages, Putnam, 1896. Cloth hardcover, fading to cover but amazingly good for the age. Clean pages inside with a few pencil marks on the front flyleaf, but some dirt on the fore-edge deckle.  Very thorough treatment of what the title says. Not so much a how-to book as a how-it-was book and sometimes that’s what you need.

  
The Golden Book, Douglas McMurtrie, 1934. Pages slightly yellowed but not brittle or dirty. The origin of the alphabet! The invention of printing! A typographical messiah! Techniques and the art of bookmaking. Sorry, I’m getting punchy. It’s really quite the serious and detailed tome, full of nearly forgotten lore and a fascinating read.

  
Books and Printing, a Treasury for Typophiles, by Bennett, 1963. Paperback, perfect bound. A collection of essays and articles about design, about type, about printing, about the reason for the curious arrangement of type trays…the variety of authors gives a refreshing variety to the reading, with more serious and scholarly articles alongside sea stories from grizzled printers and hand binders. There’s something for every print lover in this book.

  
English Printed Books by Meynell, 1948. Cloth hardcover, ex library book. Not just books printed in English, this is mostly books printed in England. A slender, elegant volume packed full of color and b/w illustrations. Some history of printing, illustration, design, type…many subjects for a small book and absolutely fascinating.

  
The Bibliophile’s Almanack for 1927, sewn paperback, Simon & Child, 1927. A small book that doesn’t look its age.  Starts with a 1927 calendar, essays, book reviews, artwork, lots of tidbits for book lovers. Sample? OK. ” …the perils of the young bibliophile are numerous: they lurk in the bookseller’s pleasant groves as well as on the street which is called Farringdon, and as tempting drabs in the Caladonian Market. Yes, my elderly aunt would have been relieved ….that her nephew had at least fallen in love with a minor classic when he might have formed an unfavourable attachment for an early Bradshaw, become ensnared with the less desirable of the Erotica, or, more romantically, conceived a passion for some unattainable scion of the Incubabula.” Its like “as the page turns” or “all my volumes” – a bookbinding soap opera. Health life in the library. In my secret heart I, too, burn for the unattainable Incunabulus …

Some books about paper. 

 
Practical Paper-Making by Clapperton, 1894. Cloth hardcover in great shape for an old book. The front flyleaf seems to have become stuck down to the pastedown, and I didn’t try to lift it. Loose tipped-in frontispiece, glue seems failing on the spine so signatures aren’t tightly bound with adhesive although sewing seems good. Read about how they used to make the good paper you can’t find in books anymore, as well as the bad paper. Intended for the commercial paper maker, but the artisan maker will learn neat tricks like keeping the dandy free of bells when making laid papers at a quick speed, how to coat one’s chest with cement, and how to properly work the soft greasy stuff. I fear I am being frivolous about what is clearly a valuable reference volume for understanding the nature of the vintage paper one encounters in the course of restoring, or reading, old books and works on paper. Paper rules!

  

The Rittenhouse Mill and the Beginnings of Papermaking in America by Green, 1990. Single section paper covered pamphlet. The first paper mill in British North America was built in 1691 by William Rittenhouse and William Bradford and the Rittenhouse family paper makers were the only paper makers in America for decades. The site of this mill is now a park, and its history is very well documented, unlike much of the early printing history of this country. Sadly, when the Rittenhouse family donated this historic property to the local Park Commision, the Commision preserved some of the old houses in the town but tore down the mills. Today only traces remain of these historic mills, but in this book you can read about the mill and the techniques and see the last known photo. Very interesting little book.

  

the Story of Papermaking An Account of Paper-Making from Its Earliest Known Record Down to The Present Time,  J.W.Butler Paper Company, 1901. Cloth hardcover, paper is clean and lovely. I like the photograph of the women in long dresses and bonnets sorting and shredding barrels of fabric – it must have been cold in the room. No, it turns out that the process was considered to be “the most disagreeable and unwholesome of any in the entire process … Filth, dust and dirt … The women must wear bonnets or hoods for the protection of the hair.” Beautifully laid out with wide margins matching the center gutter.  The front pastedowns is inscribed “Please return to Strathmore Paper Company, Mittineague, Mass.” Don’t do it. 

  
The Complete Book Of Hand Crafted Paper, Kern, 1980. Hardcover with dust jacket. Starts with an overview of past and present paper knowledge and then teaches you to make paper in the kitchen. Simple tools, instructions for making various types of moulds, sources for materials, decorating techniques…a wide ranging book and a great way to jump into the Papermaking vat, er, pool.

Some older books about books

 
Books In Manuscript, by Falconer Madan, 1893. Cloth hardcover. I love the “Arbor Scientia / Arbor Vitae” logo with the entwined trees on the cover. Other than a small oval Joseph McDonough Bookseller Albany NY  sticker, nice clean pages throughout. Wait, there’s also a W.H. Clarke booksellers sticker on the back flyleaf. Deckle edges all around and the edges are dirty on top. This has been on a shelf for a long, long time. And yet the paper is as strong and flexible as any new paper – better, really. Who can afford to print entire books on such high-quality paper anymore? Frontispiece is loose, guard tissue has darkened and transferred some color on to the title page. This book is about how to study handle and catalog documents in manuscript form. Here is a wonderful excerpt: “And once more, modern readers who are accustomed to skim the Times every morning and a novel every week, when set down before some important historical work, feel that their minds are is it were unstrung and incapable of close attention and sustained effort. They are tempted to glance superficially through volumes which ought to be impressed on the mind, and profit little by the process. For these and such the the study of an original document in the manuscript, a court-roll, a charter, a page of a chronicle, an old political poem, is the one corrective which suits the disease, – a bracing, invigorating, and it may be added, and attractive exercise, the contact of Antaeus with his mother earth.” Woot! Today you can’t get the young whippersnappers to stop instagramming and snapchatting long enough to skim an entire novel every week, can you? If you are of the intellectual bent and mental strength to work with old manuscripts, you will love this book. Edit

  
Early Printed Books, By E. Gordon Duff, 1893. Companion in the same series as the volume above, with more damage to the spine, a bookplate from the Southworth Press and a 1911 inscribed name. Same deckle edges, dirty top edge, stained guard tissue, wonderful old paper. Being a history of the  introduction of printing into various places in Europe, with some marvelous samples of early printing in color reproduction. Would this be a beautiful candidate for rebinding or rebacking? Yes. Yes, it would.

  
A Magnificent Farce and Other Diversions Of A Book-Collector, Newton, 1921. Gorgeous fine old paper, two deckle edges and the top gilt. Cloth  and paper hardcover. Color frontispiece, many black and white illustrations throughout. I really can’t say what this book is about. The author does indeed get around to talking about books, but there are tons of personal reminisces and stories, most of which have at least some tangential connection to books. An interesting read, it really is. Kind of a Victorian Dave Barry …

  
The Amenities Of Book Collecting and Kindred Affections, 1924, Newton. Paper and cloth hardcover. Paper label is a bit worn, name inscribed in front,otherwise seems clean and unmarked. Gilt top edge. The author writes about book collecting and you will be jealous when he claims his copy of “Endymion” was worth the $360 he paid for it because it was once Wordsworth’s and had his name on the title page. Sample: “I have a fondness for college professors. I must have inherited it from a rich old uncle, from whom I unluckily inherited nothing else, who had a similar weakness for preachers. ” He has a long winded way of talking which is utterly addicting once you fall into the rythym of it. It needs reading, but be warned: you will be jealous.

  
An Introduction to Bibliography, McKerrow, 1928. Blue cloth hardcover, cover shows wear but other than a pencil inscription on the flyleaf  very clean.  Another of these scholarly British works covering a brief history of bookbinding, techniques, explains basic terms such as catchwords, signatures, paper sizes, laid vs. wove,etc., all with a view toward teaching you to how to interpret a book by knowing what to look for. Kind of like a Gray’s Anatomy for the forensic book detective. I already have a copy of this instructive volume or I wouldn’t let it go.

Some books about actual art in bookbinding

  

Lithographic Prints from Stone and Plate by Manly Banister, 1974.

Paperback, good condition. For the rank beginner at lithography, telling you everything you need to know except for where to get the darn litho stones. I’ve been looking for years for a larger stone. Lots and lots of detail and photographs showing every step including how to flatten a stone, how to build the wood stand, arrange the print shop, I mean everything. I don’t dare read any further or I’ll be tempted to take up the art, and we’ve already established that I don’t have the stones for it.

 
The Encyclopedia of Lithography by Miles, 1938. Brown cloth hardcover with an owner’s name inscribed in pencil inside. Otherwise clean and tight. A most encyclopedic work and perhaps you will be entertained by some excerpts. I am. “No other graphic industry for instance has presses that will use completely planographic plates, that use water fountains, that use an offsetting cylinder or that use a stone as the reproducing medium. Neither do other graphic processes use a colloidal phenomena to achieve their printing plates.” Well, duh. Long reprint of a technical paper The Theory of Three Color Reproduction with way more graphs, charts and equations than you the artist probably want, and all in glorious black and white. What’s wrong with this picture? Redeems itself with wonderful entry under Letter Construction which includes ” … The H goes to the uttermost extremes a letter can occupy in space, and every letter with which it is associated with must conform to it in size or the area it occupies in order to get uniformity of quantity. Even the W and the M have to be whipped into line if the Orthodox idea of excellence is the criteria, though both of these letters are much wider than the H.” Such stern threats against poor W and M. Is this why they have to stand on the doors of public toilets everywhere? are they being punished for some sort of insubordinate width?

  
A Collection of Interesting And Historic Prints, 1909, State Street Trust Company. Being a single section paper covered book of …. Here, let them explain it: “The State Street Trust Company takes this means of presenting to you its compliments. It hopes this booklet of historic prints will be of interest to you. All of the reproductions are taken from copies or originals in the possession of this company, which are to be seen at its main office, 38 State Street. Many of them to depict some interesting phase of Boston’s history. Please consider this booklet also as an invitation for you to inspect the prints from which these reproductions have been made.” I think they are just trying to get you into the bank so they can talk you into opening a Christmas club account. If you go, check and see if all the pictures are still there. I bet some of them have been smuggled home over the years along with other office supplies.  It is a nice collection of historical prints.  I’m particularly fond of one described thusly:  celebration incident to the introduction of Cochituate water into Boston in 1848, and first exhibition play of the fountain in the frog pond on the Common. In left foreground, with a dog behind him, is Daniel Webster.” It’s quite the gathering of the masses. I didn’t see any port-o-lets in the etching … Perhaps some advantages accrue to wearers of hoop skirts, after all. 

  
Prints And Books, Ivins, 1926. Cloth spine over paper hardcover, Newberry Library bookplate in front, not stamped discarded so there may be some overdue fines. A little dirty, front joint is contemplating  loosening up, but good condition. May I quote? “The following …papers were written because the writer, in the course of his work, became so enthusiastic about certain things that he wanted other people to be interested in them, too.” Written for the regular non scientific reader who would like to learn about prints and books and maybe look at some nice illustrations. Utterly fascinating, srsly.

  
The Illustration of Books, by David Bland, 1951. Pretty yellow cloth hardcover with dust jacket. A history of book illustrations with black and white and color images, discussion of processes and techniques. I just read the section on William Morris, and I can only sigh with delight. A wonderful book.

Some books about printing and the printers what printed them

 
Pioneer Printer- Samuel Bangs in Mexico and Texas by Lota M. Spell, university of Texas Press, 1963

Former library book with dust jacket and owner/donor’s bookplate. Stamped withdrawn from Wellesley Free Library in Mass. I guess they don’t care about Texas printers in Massachusetts anymore. An “insight into the life of Samuel Bangs, the man who printed or help to print the first document known to have issued in that form in Texas”. I think he deserves to be remembered just for dragging a printing press to Texas in 1819. I have been hoping to come across the biography of a successful and wealthy early printer, but this is not that book. This is a detailed historical narrative and just as interesting to fans of Texas is it is to fans of early pioneer printers.

 
The Story of The McGuffeys, by Alice Ruggles, 1950. Tan cloth, red/yellow endbands, nice clean binding with bonus material in the back! Remember Emmett Horine from the last post? Glued in the back is the original invoice from the American Book Company with Emmett’s name spelled every which way wrong, along with a letter, which is a folded flyer? advert? order form mailed to him postmarked Cambridge, Mass with a two cent stamp, on which is handwritten “From Mrs. Ruggles”. 

   
     
This is a memoir written by a granddaughter of the author of the great McGuffey readers. I love these old readers, with their big words and real stories – so much better than the Dick and Jane books of my old school.   As the author says, “tastes were nearly pampered nor stinted. Madness, torture, and death were considered suitable subjects for older children, if expressed with force or beauty. So they had “The Maniac,” “The Crazy Engineer,” “Conflagration of an Amphitheatre,” and the horrific scene between Hubert and Little Prince Arthur in “King John.” But they were luckier than the modern child. The reading of the horrors stimulated the imagination but left it free to work. The child who sits before a moving picture has all his imagining done for him.” Yeah, that seems about right.

  
 
Printing In The Americas, Oswald, 1937. Cloth hardcover. Inside is written “Store Copy” in pencil with a small purple sticker or bookbinder’s ticket from Bertrand Smith’s Acres Of Books in Cincinnati. A nice copy of a most exact history of printing in the Americas with illustrations. Just like in the USA Today, you can look up the first known printers in your own state! For myself, I wish there were still an Acres Of Books to visit, except that I would probably wind up buying more books and you see what kind of trouble that gets me into.

   

Printing in Delaware 1761 – 1800, by Eval Rink,  1969. Nice blue cloth hardcover with blue and yellow endbands and small tear to dust jacket. Not so much a narrative but a list of various printers in Delaware for the years mentioned. Let’s pick something at random. “127. Wade, Francis. Advertisement. To the inhabitants of the Delaware State [concerning horse thieves, deserters, and George Evans’ illegal sale of public flour. ..]” ah, The good men do goes with them to their graves, the illegal sale of public flour is remembered forever.

   

Early American Books and Printing, by Winterich, 1935. Good red cloth hardcover, damaged dust jacket. Name and date inscribed on fly leaf, otherwise clean. The author states that the work should be considered not so much as a definitive reference as a guide to sources. Would really distinguishes this work is the wonderful writing style of the author, such as this description of a group of books including five copies do the Bay Psalm book: “Prince willed his collection to Old South, and it remained in the steeple for a century, accumulating dust, prestige, and value. ” 

 
William Caxton & His Work by Winship, Book Arts Club, University of California Berkeley 1937.  Pretty turquoise cloth hardcover with dust jacket, one of the 525 copies printed on Wayside Text paper. It contains a preface by the author, a preface to a letter from the author about his Caxton paper, the 1937 letter itself, addressed to the Book Arts Club, followed by the 1908 Caxton paper itself. Again, let’s enjoy a quotation. “La Tour Landry composed his book ‘for the enseygnement and techyng of his doughters’…’which boke is comen to my hands by the request and desire of a noble lady which hath brought forth many noble and fair doughters which ben vertuoysly nourished and lerned.’ ”

   
 

Dr. Johnson’s Printer – The Life of William Strahan by J.A. Cochrane, 1964. Nice pink cloth hardcover with dust jacket, very clean. I’ll just quote the blurb: ” William Strahan was one of the leading figures in the booktrade of the 18th century. As Kings printer, a member of Parliament and the owner of the greatest printing house in London he stood at the head of his craft: in addition to his long friendship and business connection with Johnson, he was the publisher of given Adam Smith human and Robertson. His intimacy with Benjamin Franklin Led him to extend to America his lively interest in politics as well as trade… Strahan was an admirable letter writer, and his correspondence with authors, booksellers and printers touches on many problems still relevant today – the earnings of writers, best sellers and flops, price cutting and piracy, long credit and bad debts. The book is thus a portrait of the booktrade at a particularly interesting stage of its development as well as the story of a remarkable career.” It’s true – Strahan’s letters are a window onto a fascinating era.