Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets - Part Three (B) - "Handbill Throwaway"


The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets

Part Three (B)

"Handbill Throwaway"



            The secret of that secret (Part Three [A])... is the ‘obsessive’.  I am the obsessive of the handbill throwaway old rare books collector’s secret.  That is not a bad obsessive... in the world of the God has damned... old rare books.  It; obsessive, at the least, leaves me alone; a ‘without you’... most of the time
            And that is just fine.
            Yes:  Eating the cupcakes (Part One).  Tossing Benjamin shortbread.  Chattering.  Then prattling.  Never looking... at print... of printing... on paper... “stock”.  No; abstention is the world of the... God has damned ‘old rare books’.  I am alone midst the ‘abstain’.  May I show you again?




            This second absurd wisp of print on paper... is even a ‘too’ for me.  But I must... for my eyes did and still do... scrutinize... obsessively.  The preliminary standard is simple and ‘met’; it is a broadside handbill throwaway... meeting all criteria... but:
            What catches notice of the bibliomane’s eye is... the three colors of the print on the... salmon pink paper stock.  Yes:  Look.  Three colors of print:  Red, green and black.  On this... what is it... four by five inch paper wisp... informing a ‘we are going on summer vacation’ printing business’ notice.  So stop right there.  That alone is enough; the three colors... ‘it’ is printed ‘in’.  Why?  Because this ...handmade, hand printed... letterpress wisp ... would have had to ‘go through’ the (printing) press THREE TIMES to print its stupid message in the three colors.  THREE TIMES for a “JUNK” broadside handbill throwaway.
            Yes... a ‘too much work for that’ BUT NONE THE LESS... absolutely noticed to my biblio eye... instantly.  I am always looking at ... old.... print on... old paper.  THAT is a demon in the God’s damned world of the ‘old rare books’.  So I ‘see’ that and most ‘no one else’ ever does... ‘except a few’.  What is a ‘few’ here, for this “THAT”?
            Well we have to look again at the whole handbill... and discover that the MAKER (printer) WAS and is still considered to be ‘once’ ‘one of the’ ‘if not the’ BEST Maine printer... “EVER”... with a hidden collector following who “collect the press”; ANYTHING and EVERYTHING... “they printed”.  For example, special collections (‘rare books’) at the Bowdoin College Library hoards a very large if not largest collection of imprints from and by this Maine press. So that gives us... this piece of paper... prominence.  Sort of... right?  ‘Sort of’ is because... ‘nobody cares’.  I mean... you don’t... RIGHT?  And I do thank you for being ‘that way’.




            I have established the fun of obsessive bibliomane notice of print and emphasized the obsessive of that as being a ...secret of an old rare book collector’s secrets... too.  Now I step back to my opening utterance that this wisp “is even ‘too’ for me”.  For it is.
            My ‘it is an abomination’ is fair found.  Although a true broadside handbill throwaway, the actual whole of it... is that it is a disingenuous, contrived... even patronizing... vanity... production.  It, in whole and as a whole, is not a pure broadside handbill throwaway... as a classic sidewalk handout (pure) form.  What-why?  It has to do with the maker who... is (was) very well informed of the delight the obsessive bibliomane finds in handbill throwaway imprints (printing), the STYLE of those... those... as here discerned readily within by the affected faux theatrical language... the three color printing and a.... generally affected vanity FEEL to the whole.  It... this broadside handbill throwaway... is a little TOO TOO... for my obsessive street smart old rare books dealer...:
            MOST DO NOT know or understand or... anything of any of this.  That furthers the points.  This handbill throwaway ‘plays’ to a ‘friendly room’.  In fact all of this press’ production and including the press itself... play to that friendly room.  That is what the title ‘vanity press’ means.  That (vanity press) is an old rare books collector’s secret.  Dismissing ‘any and all’ vanity presses and all of their production... is a very... very... secret of the rare book collector’s secrets.  NONE the less the handbill is a wonderful printing specimen for obsessive ‘looking at’ old print on paper ...training.  Or maybe a snug moist piece of the shortbread... will suffice (Part Two).




            So... if I am going to throw away this vanity handbill throwaway... as vain... after extolling the workings of my
            Brain
Upon its old printed soul... what should I... how should I ... drag you along too:  Away from the church book sale ‘collector’s table’ (old books the church sale group have corralled as, in their judgment, to be... ahhhh... “rare...books”).  I want to drag you over to the church sale’s old rare book “these are worthless” TRASH CAN.  That is where they usually offer their ‘better things’?
            Yes.




            Now... if one has an old rare book that has been ruined; someone ruined it... they say
Of it
            Along its way.
            Then... “throw that out”
            They say.
            That is why old rare books people... who ‘know’... are always poking in the church sale’s trash cans.  Mingled within (the trash cans) including Benjamin’s discovered, removed and neatly packaged in a paper towel... most recent “accident” (Part One) (yes even at a church book sale Benjamin leaves his mark) (and... he flourishes from snippets ‘dropped’ at the baked goods table too)... are a few old books “I find”  ‘they threw out’.







            I only took one of the cast off old books.  Yes it is so... cast off... of me... but I couldn’t help myself.  The book in discovery is “dated” (imprint edition date) “1825” so I know that the book... IS OLD.  But ruined.  What they did to the old book... what some Cretan did to the old book... was take personally chosen newspaper clippings... and such... and paste them ‘front and back’, to every page of the old book.  It is the “and such” that interests... us.







            I am not going to account this trash can found old ruined rare book... yet.  I want to come back to it as a whole... abscess... that I ...lance.  The book and its heritage is swell enough (as an old rare book) to be “FUN” doing that... as well as being a sort of swell-fun secret of an old rare books collector’s secrets... along ‘in there’ too.  So I step away from the whole book and
            Just expostulate on the ‘and such’ I found within.







            Okay:  The book is an old rare book ruined by a Cretan gluing (today it would be ‘glue gunning’) their selected clippings into and on to... every page.  Most all are cheesy newspaper clipping ‘of amusement’ to... and only to... the gluing clipper.  NOTHING is interesting about them... at all.  I flip through the whole glued pages mess hovering above the church trash can preparing to return the ‘ruined old book’ to its liberation demise of ‘passing’ to the ‘other side’ of God’s damned old rare books... until... all of this taking place in mere seconds... I find an ‘and such’.  I find THREE of them, actually, all in a consecutive three leaf glue job (a leaf is two pages; a leaf may be printed on both sides)... with absolutely NO inclusion comment, suggestion or notice in any way from the Cretan Glue who... stuck these three ‘and such’ into the book and... just as rapidly... MOVED ON... back to gluing newspaper clipping.
            BUT I AM smitten; I am caught... my eye.  I ‘know’.  I see.  I find. I discover.  I discern...”:
            THREE broadside handbill throwaways.  Yes three, not one, in a glued row.  And in seconds (still hovering above the trash can sale table... too... I am raking my eye for “IMPRINT” and “DATE”.  I find the former delight (the imprint) in their... provincial obscurity (Vanetten [Van Etten], New York State in the Binghamton – Elmira region; a rural small town then and ‘still is’).  I see no date but the third handbill says (Civil War) Northern in its title so... 1860... ‘is fine’. 
            And what are they... exactly.  The three are, each, a single broadside handbill throwaway SONG SHEET... a form of local communication appearing in New England (carrying on a European tradition) in the 1600’s and “lasting” through to... maybe... WWI.  Actually... the song sheet... ‘still lingers’.  The ‘song’ or ‘poem’ or whatever the printed utterance... IS NOT the point of the song sheet throwaway... although the lyrical content is scanned by ME for... simply... “HISTORIC CONTENT” (relevance).  The real fruit of the song sheet is the ...imprint... should there be one... and many have none.  MY EYE rakes and delights to find the imprint doing exactly what it is suppose to do:  Advertise the printer-publisher and his wares ...in tiny text... at the bottom of the “SONG”.  Some kid stood out in front of the ‘his –the publisher’s- store’ and HANDED these three “SONGS” out as a... self business promotion and
            SOME CRETAN (see Part One) came along and received three of the handbills, took them with care... home and... glued them in a his (or her?) (scrap) book... an old book...
            That I find delegated as a ruined old book in the church book sale trash.  How do I get the book out of there?  I pay a dollar for it after stating I ‘found it on the dollar table’.
            Somewhere within all this is a secret of old rare book collector’s secrets?
            Yes.  But you do have to look for it.  The secret of the secret is... romance. 








Monday, April 17, 2017

The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets - Part Three (A) - "Handbill Throwaway"


The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets

Part Three (A)

"Handbill Throwaway"



            It has been thirty-five years... or longer... since I had my first rare books collector contact with Benjamin’s (her doggie Part One) caregiver and ‘old rare books’ collector.  I am not a rare books collector; I am a rare books dealer... who has obsessive force contact with... ‘old rare books collectors’.  I believe that... Benjamin, her doggie... is the forth doggie she’s had since I had my ‘first... contact’.  I am not sure; it could be the fifth.  “Ahhhh...” is my focus on that; the history of her doggies.  That is an oral litany I avoid and veer off from.  Especially the “put down” tales.  The only ‘put down’ for me is a rare book and its own disaster:  I fear and free fall... should Madam of Benjamin act to ‘put down’ an old rare book... I am... trying to sell her.  Yes and that put down is a ‘time to go’ whistle.  Too.  I remind that God has damned rare books in our current world (Part One) and that I, as a dealer, am always standing at the door of old rare books Purgatory. 






            My... vile first ‘this collector’ contacts were that; vile.  She was new to the old rare books world and so... therefore... gathered (accumulated) ‘old books” as if they were ‘rare old books’ that
            She alone
            “Found”.  And found out too... them to be rare too... presumptively.  THAT, for a old rare books collector... is a single form of Purgatory... itself... too.  I, a dealer... just wanted her damn money; an aspect (having money) she showed signs of having... to my trained ‘old rare books eye’.  “NOT FOR YOU” was the subliminal rating of my business with her wallet and after a couple of commercial title page tosses... I gave up commerce and settled for bookseller voyeur... at the regular ‘we crossed trails’ church book sales, local estate sales and... local auctions.  I did not wonder... to wonder... what bibliographies were her favorites and ‘most used’.  No... she did not ‘carry those with her’ the way I did... and still do.  That may not sound vile but
            It is.




            Vile too was that... she ate the foods... vended at the (church) sales too... while she “looked at” “the books”.  Molasses cookies... gingerbread men with sugar decorations... “turnovers”.  YES that is exactly right and included eating (native Maine) “wild blueberry”... turnovers... while she “looked at” a... large... Victorian bound... Gustave Dore Dante’s Devine Comedy tome with its “engravings”... that was (and still is) ...valueless... but in ‘perfect condition’... until a goo-gob of blueberry turnover goo... “dropped”.  Okay?  I didn’t have my seatbelt on so was ejected from the church basement book sale... for goo-gob groaning AND value-less-ing... the whole “OLD RARE” book.  Too.






            This all went from there (that)... for decades of I witnessing She ‘finding’ ‘valuable’ old rare books AT... whatever and absconding them in furtive nominal cash on folding card table top abscond while I stood ground with ‘my GOD’ appraisals and empty handed escapes.  OH EVERY NOW AND THEN I would find a little “something” but most of these sorts of sales of ...old... rare.... books... “don’t yield”.  Except to the fascinated old rare books “collector” (accumulator).  Yes:  That is it:  Boxes of old books purloined at church basement sales... packed in their cardboard boxes in the classic “MY OWN BASEMENT”.  Then that being that... WHY would I ogle all this... and her entourage, too?





            Gathering my wits about me after a decade of rough and tumble contact I still wantonly PEEKED at all she ‘did’... especially a (or any) rare books ‘in hand’.  That right there is a secret of a secret; old rare books collector’s secret.  That is right:  It is.  Bibliomanes, no matter how low (poor) the old rare book be... in hand... and “over there”... ogle it.  It is ‘automatic’ and not restrained.  Both of these are assisted by ‘it doesn’t matter’.  Because it doesn’t... matter.  I mean... who’s gonna stop that/this?  NO ONE.  All are over at the baked goods table eating molasses cookies.  NO ONE CARES.  “God has damned old rare books in this world”.  So.... NO MATTER what the old book held in hand ‘over there’ is... I ogle it.  To my satisfaction.




            That last may be very... vulgar and vile.  What does that mean?  It means a ‘Heaven Forbid’ that what I spy in a ‘her hand’ is judged to be a ‘possibly’ ‘a that’ and... well... then... I go over and ASK HER about it (the book in her hand).  VILE and VULGAR behavior... especially if she hides the crummy old book from my sight within her garment OR is totally forthcoming and presents to my hand the crummy old book to “WHAT DO YOU (I) THINK?”.
            “I think I am going to die”.
            “Eat one of the cookies; that will perk you up”.  How many decades did this “THAT” go on for?  IT IS STILL GOING ON.  Do you understand how many old church sale books she’s “found” that I have looked at and she has stored away in boxes in her basement.  And worse... I remember them... all... should I ever ‘see them again’.  AND THAT DOES HAPPEN TOO.  This too is a secret of the old rare books collector’s secrets.  ONE DOES... ‘remember’ the old books... ‘looked at’... even the crummiest one...  Yes one does... forever... and if one does not... one stands very little chance of “EVER” being a “GOOD” old rare books collector. 





            Of course the other side of this vile ratio was that She wished and wanted to see ME naked too; MY ‘old rare books’ at hand and ‘just found’ so SHE would strip search ME with that abusive vanguard being stymied ‘most often’ by I ...having found “nothing”.  But better... was the “I FOUND” that was a “GOOD” and, too, was OUT OF HER reach (collecting realm).  THAT IS a ...dirty trick... and is too a secret of an old rare books collector’s (and dealer’s) secret.  Oh yes it is.  “And leaves her befuddled”... too.






            To purvey to the reader this “I found a GOOD out of her collecting realm” I must establish a ‘such as that’ for the reader to be knowing of; a peculiar old rare book that we may together know and know that others do not know.  This.  This would be an old rare books collector’s secret.  It is not a ‘secret of a... secret.
            Titled to the dealer trade and collector’s “I KNOW” are the category of printed old rare books called a “Handbill Throwaway”.  This is a hand held size single wisp of old paper with printing on... one or both sides.  To understand... it is the piece of trash paper handed out by a persona usually standing on a sidewalk foisting these paper wisps at all passing by with a success of about sixty-five percent acceptance and often joined to promotional verbal banter relative to the ...handbill... throwaway being passed out.  Yes and there we go; we now know what a ‘that’ is.  PRINTED on one side; a “broadside” handbill throwaway or TWO sides; a “broadsheet” handbill throwaway.  And all are for a “God Knows What”.  One receives the paper wisp, glances at the “piece of crap” and it is thrown... away.  GONE; a rare book... thrown away.
            A fair example is a handbill requesting purchase of “DINNER TICKETS” at an 1875 Bowdoin College commencement dinner... in this case the fifty year anniversary commencement meal of  the Hawthorne and Longfellow’s graduations.  Simple enough; handed out, scan-read, thrown away.  It is a rare book form that ‘very rarely’ ‘survives’ (is preserved).  It is a singular moment of... print on paper... and is, usually, about that moment too.





            Rarely are these (handbill throwaways) actually saved.  MOST ALL are chance preservation?  HOW THAT?  How about folded up and used as a book mark... in a book... that no one reads... and is donated to a church sale... and sold to me... who spies the folded wisp and knows what it is... AND the often remarkable ‘moment’ it is of... with that moment being ever more a grand historic moment... therefore... making the throwaway a true ‘rare’ and... VALUABLE... ‘old rare book’...:  A “PRESIDENT SHOT”... handbill... throwaway.  I am confident the reader understands ‘this’ ‘now’.




            Most ‘old rare books collectors’ take... a while... to get to this point of rare book hunter... if they ‘do ever’ get there...to this ... skill.  Sense.  Notice.  Collecting.  Desire.  Purchase.  But if and when they do, one is ‘working with’ a very adroit rare book collector.  For the day to day it may be an easy risk to assume that the collector in question ‘does not know’ about the... broadside... handbill... throwaway... MARKET.  Finding one of these folded up in a book at a church sale IS FINDING a rare book that may be... “MORE VALUABLE than ANY of the ALL the books at the church sale.  THAT is why I am ‘there’... and other old rare book collector’s secrets... I have not mentioned... nor am going to.




            No.  I stick to the handbill throwaways.  It is a little world out there in the “God has damned the rare book in this world”.  And Benjamin’s caregiver has “NO CLUE” back then and ...still to this day?  Yes...   This...; old rare books... is about printing on paper.  That is how you start old rare book collecting.  NO collecting old books.  One collects PRINTING... on PAPER... and its ‘many varied forms of that”.  And that is only a ‘secret’.  It is not a ‘secret of a secret’.










Friday, April 7, 2017

The Secrets of the Rare Book Collector's Secrets - Part Two - "Break Pieces"


The Secrets

Of the Rare Book Collector's Secrets

Part Two

"Break Pieces"



            I begin, at Part Two, by returning to the opening of Part One and the ‘dentil work’. I now endeavor to clarify that wording... as book collecting code.  I also endeavor, at this Part Two, to poke clarity at the essay’s title theme “Secrets of the... Secrets” by ...presenting... that topic (the secrets of the rare book collector’s secrets).  If you read Part One carefully you know that I have already endeavored to start to clarify that theme.




            “Dentil work” and the companion rare book being ‘set off’ next to the stack of similar books (Part One) (‘that may or may not have’... “dentil work”) is... a gracious and completed effort by the hostess’ rare book collecting entertainment offerings... at today’s gathering... to elevate her listener’s understanding of a small aspect found on attractive, classic and ‘of quality’ book bindings.  ‘Bindings’ are the ‘covers’ of a book.
            Or is it “Benjamin:  STAY!”?
            You remember Benjamin.  He’s the doggie in Part One that stays in the adjoining cool and dark room full of bookcases of old rare books and wishes to eat the cupcakes being offered at the gathering including the reminder notice of these cupcakes having blue frosting (“think spring”).
            Because... of the cupcakes, the clattering of tea service ware, the spilled crummy tea and the now noticed “Scottish Shortbread” ...brought by (“fat”) Peggy who is from Wales (and was, once, from... Scotland).  The break (broken) pieces of the round shortbreads... are more popular at the gathering than the cupcakes (“I only eat one of those”) for the break pieces ‘disappear’.  This includes the moist center pieces being competitively coveted AND the hard edge pieces... finding themselves tossed... discreetly... by the hostess rare book collector “at” Benjamin.  The toss is actually ‘at’ the dark doorway to Benjamin’s stay room.  Never mind; no one noticed anyway.





            “Dentil Work” is actually “dentelle work” and was here shown by the hostess collector to the gathering to be the... inside a book’s covers... outer edge; where the leather is folded over... row of applied by hand... one by one... gilt gold decorations... most commonly titled “gilt dentelles” when referred to by old rare books... “people”.  To no surprise this book collecting show of slight of hand was generally missed or only vaguely “heard of” by the gather audience who, I have endeavored to show... ‘had a lot going on’; a ‘lot to choose from’.  AND the ‘dentelle worked’ old rare book has now been ‘set off’ TOO.  But... now you know that I was the only person other than the hostess ...to ...know.  I know what dentelle work “IS” and... now... so do you.  I, too, saw the hostess’ display example ‘set off’.  The rest (and you) ‘missed these’.
            So... it is your turn to toss Benjamin a brake piece of shortbread?
            “Oh go ahead”.







            “Dentelle Work” having been pioneered, I move toward secrets... of... book collector’s secrets.
            The quickest way into this sensation is to first ante the new book by Thomas Nichols; THE DEATH OF EXPERTISE, Oxford, 4/7/17.  He denotes the death of expertise causation, attaches it to the scholar and tech gear worlds and includes a driving forces of anti-expertise and anti-intellectual sentiment... too.  All of this is a vanguard of ‘being new to me’... too?  Apparently.
            These premises are... easy to conceptually understand:  An any ‘quick study’... may ‘gets it’.





            Stepping this quickly back to old rare books, one finds that this realm (old rare books) has a... been there – done that... heritage (with this new view ‘death of expertise’ package)... that is now a long ago and is specifically... pushed down by the anti-expert, anti-intellectual sentiment that has been shunning off old rare books and their people... for centuries.  This includes today’s status of old rare books... of being ‘the same as it ever was’.  And includes the classic dosage of “nobody cares... anyway”.
            All these are very well understood by ‘old rare book’ ‘people’.  This is why the dentelle book ‘set off’ took place.  And this ‘why’ trails on to the ‘stay’ room of full bookcases full of old rare books... in the cool dark above the not noticed ‘watch where you step in there’ ‘accident’ (Part One).  No one looks at old rare books.  We; old rare book people, know this.  No one wants old rare books.  No one.  In fact they do not even want a book.  These days.  That brings us back to Nichols.  Go ‘read that’ and... leave us alone.








            That is what is actually happening at the gather.  The book collector is protecting, through her default bibliomanic behaviors, her old rare books from... “them”.  I, a guest bibliomane... approve and support... her, this and... that.  Especially the stuffing Benjamin full of shortbread tosses as a viable activity substitution:  Feed the dog.  Forget the (old rare) books.  That is the secret of the secret; the secrets of the old rare book collector’s secrets.  We want you to ‘go away’.
            And you do.
            Thank you.





            Let us push this a little further.  The hostess’ action of displaying dentelles and explaining them as curtly as possible... was not the secrets of the secrets.  Book binding dentelles are just a (routine and standard) old rare book person’s secret.  The secret of the secret here is the ‘set off’ of the book used to ‘show off’ “dentelle work”.
            I saw her do it; set off the book.  She did it; she knew she was doing it.  “Why?”
            All this?  Because the ‘set off’ is the actual expression of the hostess’ true feelings, as a rare book person, toward that particular old rare book.  She... KNOWS... the ‘that rare book’.  And lovingly brought it forth from her old rare book paradise... “to show them” (the gathering)
            This ‘brought forth’ falls on deaf ears and blind eyes.  Cupcakes, shortbread, tea.  Crummy gossip.  Everyone is satisfied.  The ‘that old book’ is ‘set off’.  NOW... just a moment.






            I know of... and notice this set off... and follow it back.  To where?  To where it (this single old rare book ‘of hers’) came from.  She (the hostess) knows the exact trail.  I follow along.  SHE knows this ‘set off’ old book goes BACK “there” and there is, out there, somewhere... a... she refuses to share:
            A shelf of old books in an old bookcase filled with old books... in the cool dark... room with that lone shelf having a lone space between two old rare books where... the set off book “goes”.  As said in Part One, a book may be collected and shelved for several decades before being touched again and here we find a ‘that’ of ‘this book’ retrieved by the knowing collector for she... has known for decades... that this book does have splendid gilt dentelles; fine enough to show “anyone”  The book is handily retrieved and shown and... now... set off... to be returned to that very exact space on the shelf between two old rare books; that exact space:  The ‘its space’.  Do I need to follow this whole litany of this ‘set off’ old book?




            No.  I have plenty of old rare books of my own that are doing (and do) the exact same thing...:
            Exact same thing.
            And you are not going to ‘show up’ and be allowed to shelve the book, see the book, touch the book or even breeze at the book using your trite conversation skills.  No:  You are not.  This ‘set off’ book is NOT an old rare book from your old rare book collection.  You do not ‘have it’.  “Have one”.  No:  You have no old rare book to set off to be re-shelved.  And we (the hostess collector and I) know this.  And use it as a secret way to... exclude you.  That is, stating again, the secret of the old rare book collector’s secrets.  To know this when you see this you have to... know this.  As the gathering is showing, very few ever even notice this; secrets of the old rare book collector’s secrets.  It has always ‘just gone by’ “everyone”.




Once the old book with the gilt dentelles is set off for knowing re-shelving... the gather may return to the crummy tea vantage of its world and... or... engage another of the hostess collector’s old book (secret) tricks.  Yes that would be fun... wouldn’t it.  Why don’t we take an old dust jacket off an old book and wave THAT (protected in glassine wrapper) around while the hostess offers titillations as to how-now a Dust Jacket is “MORE VALUABLE” than the whole book... and many collectors specialize in “ONLY DUST JACKETS” and this is... crumb trailing along to a “OH MY WORD this is all NEW to ME!” soft landing.  Put the dust jacket back on the old book and ...set it off... to be re-shelved.
            Benjamin is restless.  “Don’t you people have to go home now”.  “They will leave if you turn the heat down”.
            “Good idea.”