Monday, June 19, 2017

The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets - Part Seven - "Piece of Mind"


The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets

Part Seven

"Piece of Mind"



            What I do the most of, these days... as an old rare books dealer (one who finds and sells old rare books) is... ‘leave behind’.  Once, before the transition of the bibliomania borderlands to the fore declared bibliomania state of Bibliobooklessness, I took away all the rare books I found and ‘sold them’.  Generally this took place “right along” with little “touch” from I, the old rare books vender.  The old rare books I found (find) “sold themselves” to the bevies... gaggles and gathers of the Old Rare Books Collectors.  Back then... I would purvey the found old rare book and... it “sells”.  Now... of days... it is easier for I to... buy the rhubarb pie... and eat it. (Part Six)




            Of course it was always easier to do that (eat the rhubarb pie) than find and sell the old rare books... all along ‘anyway’.  It is actually (and always was) ‘pretty hard to do that’ (find and sell old rare books).  Some... deep within the trade... titled doing that “a special calling”.  After fifty years of ‘doing it’... I suppose I agree that “IT”... “IS”.  It is just... that now... I have added the ‘leave behind’ the old rare book I found as a very major part of what I do... do...




            The ratio (one to one) is that the old rare book now found... cannot be easily sold because... “no one wants it” (or even “knows what it is”) (with that including a substantive admonition; a bibliographically correct annotational ‘promotional puff’, from I ...not asked for).  That is the odd duck of this... these days:  I, over there, ‘find one’; “a copy of that” and... having a “nowhere to go with that”... leave it behind.  It is not just books.  Decorative Arts now have black holes in their universes too.  But... old rare books are a special calling.  Right?
            Yes they are.  It is a very faintly heard calling.  And it is not calling to you.  No.  You... with your ear buds and phone charger “I LEFT IT OH MY GOD (o-M-GEE).  And.  Well...  THAT... IS the end of the old rare book I found... right there...  then...
            NOW.




            One day I offered about forty bird watcher identification books including  regional USA and international sites... for two dollars each.  No one purchased ‘any’ and only a few looked.  I put them out on a dollar table for a week and then... threw them out.  Last week I offered a group of twenty hardcover ‘antique’ editions Herman Melville books for between six and twenty dollars each.  The group was never looked over by anyone.  One man asked “What was his first book”.  “Typee “ I said... and nothing more.  I was eating a breaded roll stuffed with broccoli ... homemade by a vendor down the flea market “lane” from me.  She was ‘selling them’ “I think” meaning that she’d actually been “giving them away” “to friends”.  Doing that is a flea market science... and has nothing to do with Bibliobooklessness.  In fact, she herself is a self declared ‘book less’... “ness”.  “I HAD HIS BOOKS IN BOXES DOWN CELLAR (in her basement) BUT I GAVE THEM AWAY”.  Those were her father’s ...father’s... old rare books.  “HE BUILT RAILROADS” in Maine... she says... fairly often to me.  IS THAT MAN’S ghost trying to contact me... about that ‘horror show’ of the destruction of his “library”?  It doesn’t matter.  IF the books were “anything”... a “somebody got them” and they are “OUT THERE FOR SALE SOMEWHERE”.  With no one... buying them... “TOO”. (Bibliobooklessness).




            Are you okay with this?  Or do you think your going to do something about it (Bibliobooklessness).  What are you going to do?  Pick up what looks like an old rare book to you and look at it?  Fumble with it?  Ponder it and its shelved companions?  Tell your friends that you saw one (an old rare book) and it... seems to be... speaking to you?
            “Speaking volumes” they say.  Yes.  That... is that... ‘so stupid’.  Just go away from ‘treating’ this subject.  Put the old ...not... rare book down and ... no you didn’t buy the rhubarb pie either (“too sour”) and NO:
            The black hole in the universe calling Bibliobooklessness is “low battery” “Dismiss?” 





            The Faithful Healers of Bibliobooklessness?  Yes they are around.  I started this essay with one; her books in boxes in her basement; they are the overflow from her shelves.  The shelves are the bookcases in the cool dark room.  The doggie in there is Benjamin.  The ‘accident’ on the floor in the dark is Benjamin’s.  The books ARE a collection.  This is not Bibliobooklessness.  It is not Bibliomania.  It is... a... biblio accumulation... ‘sort of pretty much’.
            A good job?  Yes, these days.  She’s stuck at it for forty years.  “At it” “Since I can remember.  “Always her hand; a pink puffy hand, holding an old book.  “What do you think of this she regularly asks.  I stop, look and biblio concise and polite state... my world view of her ‘of this’ old rare book.  I stop, drop and roll.  I enjoy that; seeing someone else’s old rare book they ‘found’.
            She has a cell phone.  I do too.  Neither of us can ‘use them’.  Even answering them is a technical challenge.  Benjamin is in the car.  Left there until the boundaries are clear for his “walk”.  The table is set out with cookies and, again (Part Two), shortbread.  The shortbreads have been broken.  When the book collector takes the book she showed me back to her car, she returns with Benjamin on his leash.  She brought the book to show me; to show me alone.  That is a very high compliment.  I know this at the time.  And treat it so.  The book is nothing.  But it is better than it could be.  I compliment it... in an effort to ‘get it shelved’.  Otherwise it goes in to a box.  Which box... “I can’t remember”.  I’ll bring that book up with her again.  When I visit her home.  To try and sell her an old rare book I found.  The point of that bringing up would be to get us to move into the cool dark bookroom (including ‘watch where you step’).  Once we are in the room of her old rare books... maybe something may come of it.  A flirt.  Intercourse.  Nothing sexual you reading fool.  A flirt of old rare books perhaps becoming old rare books commercial... intercourse.
            In a cool dark room.  With Benjamin her doggie and his ‘got to be one around here somewhere’ accident.






            What happens... “now”... “from here”?  “IS” (there must be) a secret to a secret that is a causation that brings Bibliobooklessness to a shuddered stop?  With a hand on an old book; an old book in my hand, do I... can I... does it, will it, can it and... out of the biblio black hole the old rare books... a... ‘walks back’?
            I do find myself in the cool dark book room of the old rare books collector and I do hold an old rare book but I do, too, carry a skeleton key
            Of a book...
            Another
            Bibliography.
            Another secret of the secret of the information of the secrets
            From an old rare book collector’s secrets
            Of secrets
            From another ‘long ago’.













Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets - Part Six - "(Reading, Writing, Printing and) Comprehension"


The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets

Part Six

"(Reading, Writing, Printing and) Comprehension"



            Now that I have... marked off the borderlands of the old rare books, suggested some of their secrets and... suggested some of their secrets of those secrets and... answered those by showing off that the grandest of secret secrets in Bibliomania (old rare book madness; ‘crazed obsession’) to be the current biblio rage of... Bibliobooklessness:  The ‘To have no books at all’:  We may return to the March Gather of an ‘old rare books’ hosted talk (Part One)... including spilled tea, crummy ‘tea ware’ china, blue frosted cupcakes, a few ‘shown around’ ‘old rare books’ and a doggie name Benjamin who, well, eats... tossed and dropped baked goods? 




            No.  I move the whole gather two and a half months ahead and find its Memorial Day location outside along a row of white (“my mother’s old linen”) cloth covered folding tables “set up” before the ‘oldest building in town’ (actually a village)’s Historical Society... annual... pie “SALE” featuring rhubarb pie, “local women made” (and including at least three made by men).  Yes.  “PIE”... “SALE”... for sale... by the pie, the slice or.. the slice with (vanilla) ice cream.
            And:  Benjamin (the doggie) is there (in attendance) on his flexible leash.  Yes and he is looking a little stout from his winter’s work.  Packed right into his skin I’d say.  And if he is that stout... when out and about... I surmise his bowels must be “a tight stout” (mess) too.  But he IS at the pie tables and DOES enjoy vanilla ice cream in a “dish for him”.  Some rhubarb does manage to get ‘mixed in’ to his greedy ice cream bites (his snapping jaws on two scoops of soft and cold vanilla) so I would expect that this rhubarb should “pass” somewhere on the surrounding lawn before he is escorted from the
            Memorial Day
            Fair.





            There are no old rare books or their collectors... in sight?  Almost; no old rare books and only the one old rare books collector acting as hostess.  She is ‘at table’... serving a small slice to a “Please” upon a “Second scoop?” paper dish of vanilla ice cream.   The small pie slice “Beside please” assures that this purchaser of a ‘her dish’ will not be “too sour” (from the already heavy handed with the sugar “MY MOTHER’S” rhubarb “stew” pie filling...):  Yes... small slices of ‘the pie’ are the order of the day. “Sour” is the namesake and... anyway...
“It (the rhubarb stew)
Could work through the white dress committee’s “my bowels”
            Too.
            Benjamin has snarled his leash around a table leg but ignores that as he ravishly re-tongue cleans his own... very empty paper dish... and, again, he looks UP for “MORE”
            “Benjamin:”
            “You’ve already had yours and that was MORE than enough”.





            I just nod to the hostess pie serving old book collector “at station” as I go by to ‘slip inside’ to “SEE” the weekend’s Historical Exhibition.  It is different each year.  Sort of.  So I always “go in” to “SEE”.  NOT that anyone would care in their white dresses and white shoes and Old New England white painted buildings and white painted fencing with the ...just starting to go bye... white Lilac bloom... mixed with the lilacs’ lavender bloom... too.  “They smell so good”. 
I’ll get (buy) a
            “PIE?”
            When I “come out”.
            But first I “go in”.




            It is not hard to examine (“look at”) an exhibit of a village scale Maine community historical society.  One exhibition room is a normal as... may be... two rooms.  These exhibition rooms are often the front rooms of the historic building (former home “of”) that houses the village historical society.  The exhibits are often specific and titled.  “MILL CREEK MILLS 1783-1894” for example.  Two rooms of ‘exhibit’ on that subject title... is a lot... to wish for.  To avert an empty feel, other items are often ‘fit it’ to ‘fill out’.  Nothing is ever said.  No one (“Who IS going there?”) notices.  I like this... practice; more “stuff” to look at.
            I go into the first room noting that the second room has a back-to-me older man actually looking (peering downward) at a ‘something’ in a display case so... this means that... with us both viewing the exhibit the... exhibit is actually ‘crowded’.
            In the first room I notice a single fit in – fill out item right away.  After a quick scan I move on.  The object is not related to the current exhibit, has no title card and no description card.  It is a classic ‘fit in’ inclusion.  I go back to it after a circular examination of the room’s contents.
            I know what the object is.  I, to the kindness and benefit of doubt, presume the Historical Society Collection knows ‘what it is’ too.  Dated 1819, the object is an octavo size printed paper pamphlet titled THE MAINE FARMER’S ALMANACK’.  To my quick eye it is also noticed to be ‘compiled by’ “MOSES SPRINGER” and published in Hallowell, Maine... presumably in late 1818... as a readiness for the 1819 year  That’s it.  It is in a locked glass case.  I cannot touch it.  The floor squeaks behind me.  “Who did you get the almanac from?” I ask this floor squeak to my rear.
            “Oh that’s old Jodery.  From the family.  Found it in their PAPERS
            Papers?  Jodery?  Family?  Jodery family papers?  “Family has papers?” I hear myself say.
            “Well not very many”.
            “Papers?”
            “Yes”
            “Like this is it?”
            “Pretty much”.







            When I went in to view the exhibit, I knew the curator – director would ‘follow right along’ so risked my speaking to the floor squeak to be a fair assumption that that be he and... it was.  As for the Jodery papers I... “everyone knows they (the family) can’t read” to that so... who cares if you think that’s unfair of me.  Read.  Write... okay... “maybe”... here and there over eleven generations.  “Papers?”  No.  Printing on paper.  No.  Books... old books... old rare books... that someone actually has and read?  No.  But this almanac?  Possibly “Yes”.  Possibly.










            It is that old that possibly “Yes” someone... once long ago... procured it and it... being a ‘read it’ survived ever after because... no one else did ever... read it.  And ALL still don’t ... ‘read it’ NOW... TOO.  “Oh who cares anyway and it is locked up in the case good and tight ‘inside’ and protected from those... rhubarb pies.  IF they (the long ago Jodery family) did actually read the almanac; could read it... did they understand what they read?  Was... and is there today... “comprehension”?
            Not really... anywhere along the timeline.  No:  This Moses Springer’s 1819 almanac is the first Maine published almanac; first in the state... published for the year that was the last year before Maine became a state.  It is a first almanac printed and sold in Maine, to Maine, FOR Maine.  One had to find it, buy it, hang it by a little string next  to the fireplace and ... READ IT... by candlelight ‘of evening’.  Yes ‘read it’ if you could.  And then understand what you read (comprehension).  This almanac is intentional printed word intended to be read and understood.  IF you could read.  The almanac additionally... may be read to someone ...who could not read... by someone who could read... with hope the through joined discussion... what was read was... understood.  Too.  This ephemeral production... print on paper with intentional purpose... was the (excepting the Bible of course for... that must be ‘assumed ‘they [a household] did have one... if they can read) only print on paper ‘in there’ (the home).  That is why it is still there (in the Jodery Papers).  It was always there.  No one threw it away.  That was the ‘their book’ ‘in there’ (the their home).












            Now it is in a locked display case.  On display.  In a local historical society.  I do not say anything more about it at all.  I go outside the building to the pie sale tables and look at the pies.  I have plenty of time to do this.  The old rare books collector and pie sale table hostess is... off in the distance walking Benjamin ‘close in’ along the shadowed shade of the back side of the Historical Society’s building... where what is happening cannot be easily noticed...  I know what is going on; it is “watch where you step” over there for the rest of the day.  And this is not the only ‘visit’ ‘over there’ either.  I pick out my “a whole pie”
            “That one.  Please.”
            “That’s Jean Skillins’ pie”
            “Yes.  I know her pies by sight.”
            “Hers are more sour you know.”
            “Yes.  I like that.  She is always very light handed with her sugar”.
            I paid twenty dollars for it; the whole Jean Skillins pie.  At some point in your life you will realize you need to do something like that... too.  (Thoreau knew a good pie when he saw one).







Friday, May 19, 2017

The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets - Part Five - "Restring the Clothesline"


The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets

Part Five

"Restring the Clothesline"



            Suggestions of secrets that are the secrets of old rare book collector’s secrets that I have made seem elemental and conceptually standard?  Obsession, romance, appreciation and ‘of art’... ‘of the (old rare) book’ is, from you to I, an “I get it” and “Please move on”.  That is just vile of you... isn’t it.  It perpetuates; continues... the damnation of  the old rare book in our modern ‘now’.  “So smart (phone)” and it (old rare books) is “over”.




            The (old rare) book is over.  When you stand in conversation “with a” who has, behind them and over their shoulders a ‘shelves of’ “BOOKS” that should cause your furtive eye to escape from indolent chatter and scrutinize that; the shelves of ‘spine ends out’.  It is radiant energy from a hidden source waiting your bask.  Hot fresh shelves of title truth behind a mask of persona and their graceful pretend?  Yes.  Reach past them and shelve your titled self there too: an old rare books collector’s secrets... have no secrets of those secrets that they may hide.  Their old rare book collection IS behind them... on a shelf.  It is you who falters and fails to ‘step to that’:  “They are just old books”... on a shelf.




            What stories may they (these books) tell?  Actually they speak of nothing at all these days.  Fraudulent perpetration of admiral efforts to ‘appear’ to be a well booked-up patron of the old rare book is... about all of it... typically found.  And there is always a risk of a Cretan (Part One)... before their shelves... visiting your roving biblioeye as soon as ‘onset’.  That eye is hurried to its damnation.  “HOW CAN I
            GO HOME
            TO MY BOOKS?”
            You internalize as screech.  And this only if you are a ‘book person’.  You are sure.  Yes for you know that life does absolutely go on for most without; “bookless”.  Bibliobooklessness is the rage of bibliomania these days:  The... that of God has damned the old rare books.  Spine ends out are mostly shelved lies; often multiples of Hansel and Gretel type fabricated crumb trails of affected efforts to... as I already said above... ‘appear’.  You know if you lie?  You think you do not?  You feel there is an... obvious biblio you?  Well... I have to give notice that it is the books on the shelves that give the answer to those self queries.  You do not... give the answers.  Your books do.





            I don’t say anything to anyone anymore.  In the damned rare books world... silence resounds.  But I did promise a... a lance of abscess I called it (Part Three [B}):

            “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.” (the three broadside throwaway handbill song sheets).”





            Now I come back to that (the glued up old book)... with us shipping in murky waters too (the spine ends showing over your shoulders).  I begin with a ‘do you have a THIS old book over there on a shelf?’  Not likely in my day to day... you do know now?  Well you should know that by now.  That; the actual old rare book, is furtive.  And anyway... this one is a ruined old rare book making itself a newspaper clipping glued down repository and... therefore... all lost at sea?  NO.  We are going to look at that book and its ...secrets of secrets position on a shelf... and the MESSAGE that that shelving sends to a biblio world within the damned world of the old rare books.




            If the book of query is on the shelf... look to the books on either side of it for “more”.  Good (skilled) old rare books collectors are always shelving books relating to or about other books in very close proximity to each other.  They (the book collectors) do this themselves... obsessively.  Yes:  It is an obsessive action combining physical and mental aspects.  So, here, the bulging newspaper clipping ruined-by-glue... old rare book... is more than one book... on a collector’s shelf over past their shoulders that... well... I... spy.  Yes:  One book, two book... three books:  “Oh.”.





            The conquest of the glued down newspaper clippings within the old rare book begins with the curious action of the glue master... of ...skipping a glue down upon the old rare book’s title page.  “How odd”?  No... a classic ‘just couldn’t do it’... hesitation and then failure to ‘totally destroy’.   The verso (back) of the title leaf is ‘clipping glued down’ but a... ‘still none the less’ of leaving the title page pure. This leaves the lifeline of the old rare book for us to... pull on and... “find out”.  Find out what?  WHAT THE ruined BOOK WAS... once... and, well... “still is”.  I observe that all old rare books are all what they ‘still are’ whenever they (or a lone ‘it’) trickles down in time to us (one holds the old rare book... in hand... in... “time”).
            But I... just review the title... page... with its title, author, imprint and date and... glory in that.  OH LOOK how foolish the old book is after all.  It is a book of music?  About music?  Is music?  Could still be music?  Not likely for this last for the glue has done its craft to nearly every page thereafter the ‘skipped’ title page and it is only the very last leaves that are not a ‘glued down’ so show, well.... “music”.
            I do not care.  The title page is enough ‘swell-fun’ for a biblio-obsessed.  I follow it on its bookshelf to the books on either side of “IT”.  The first is ANOTHER of the “SAME BOOK”.  That is not true.  It is actually another ‘edition’ of the “SAME BOOK” with a delightfully similar title page AND a ‘two years later “1827” imprint date.  “OH.” so it is ...not quite... a ‘the same’.  The second copy is a “perfect” original condition copy showing, inclusive of the gilt titled leather spine and... its printed blue paper stock on stiff paper boards... front cover... repeating of the title with the Printer’s promotional broadside printing on the rear outer cover board... too, and... with all this... creating for my eye a... what the whole ‘ruined’ edition should ‘look like’.  “OH.” again... with “nice” and even ‘fun-swell’ added too.  So now we find that this book TOO is an old rare book TOO and ... a positive delight too with...
            Oh no.... the original ruined book still too... being of appreciation and merit TOO:  A “still too”... too.  Two books.






            Three books?  Oh why not.  The biblioeye and bibliofingers go to that other side of the shelved ruined book and find (pulls forth) a... vintage (second half of the 20th Century) pamphlet.  Olive green printed wrappers... with title on the wrapper front.  This title carries two bibliognoste action words; “Bibliography” and “Ithaca” (NY), a coverage date of  “1820-1850” and an author’s name; “McMurtrie”.  This last is a name so obsessive of American imprint bibliography... that it (this name) may be itself... the definition of the world of old rare books secrets of ‘obsessive’.  All this pamphlet title matter... is to old rare books collector’s a “take (only) seconds”.
            Of little surprise then (?) that this last printed wisp (pamphlet) is the secret to the secret of the... ‘this (ruined) old rare book’?  Certainly it may be and... again I point out... this shelving too is done-to-the current date BY the old rare books collector who ‘shelved’ these (their) books... “in their collection”







            I save and savor these three books “for later”.  Then (“later”):  Alone, I pursue the bibliography first.  For a record, one will not commonly find ANY bibliographies at, for example, church book sales.  These books (bibliography) travel in... and only in... old rare books collector circles... and are God damned to only ever that... so that alone explains why I ‘that one first’ of the three books.  And I am rewarded.  The first and ruined book, under the 1825 imprint hand list given within the bibliography, records (in book collector grade obsessive detail)... “THAT BOOK”.  I quickly follow to the “1827” hand list and find, too, the second ‘perfect’ copy recorded in obsessive detail TOO.  “Why... not poke this bibliography’s hand lists some more?”  I do and am amply rewarded by discover that this ‘book of music’ was published every year of the 1820-1830 decade by this printer in Ithaca.  IN FACT what is found is that the very first... and single... old rare book printed in Ithaca in that first year (1820) ‘ever’... is this book of music... there by being first and only book published in 1820... being the 1820 edition of this book (of music).  It (this title) was the first book printed and published “THERE” (Ithaca, N.Y.).  in 1820.   Becoming a “Too”.
            “Well I’ll be” and there my personal bibliomane obsession, romance and (developed) appreciation of the heritage of this old rare book AND the ‘art’ of that old rare book (the ‘object’)... ends... with me... ready for my next rare book adventure (flight of biblio fantasy.  I am alone in this happy land... God has damned me.







            A simpler version of the resistance to the Bibliobooklessness; the obsession, romance and appreciation... of the art... of the old rare book... has been brought ‘news worthy’ to us all from the BBC in the last two weeks (May, 2017) (goggle BBC William Caxton Printer).  A leaf (a single piece of paper with printing on both sides (two pages) has been found, after one hundred and ninety years (1820-2017) of it being collected, to be a leaf from a very early William Caxton printed book (1400’s).  He was England’s first ‘in English’ printer.  Caxton has been “collected” “forever”... so finding an early lone leaf... “is possible”.  But this leaf... for I... touches the obsession, the romance and the appreciation... of the old rare book... from how and where it was found.  Although not identified until our current year (2017), the leaf was recorded as found at Cambridge in 1820... where it (the leaf) was being used to reinforce the spine binding of... another book.  “What?” you say.  SO:  This page from an old book was used as scrap paper and glued down within the spine binding of another old rare book.  In 1820, at Cambridge, a somebody noted this, removed the leaf and preserved it with other such biblio odd single leaf discoveries.  Eventually (2017) this leaf was “researched” and the Caxton printed deduced.





            But what do I care about; the biblio obsessed, romantically inclined and ‘wonder I’ appreciation?  WHAT I BRING TO YOU is that... did you know one may look inside old book bindings at their glued down “scrap” papers hidden within and find... OLD RARE BOOK TREASURE?  And that the bibliomane such as myself, understanding that this hunt has been going on for centuries... DELIGHTS in bibliomania that one may ‘do this’; hunt for printed paper wisps from old rare books hidden and glued within the spines of other old rare books...?  And again... this habit has been ‘done for centuries’ by the old rare books collectors and dealers?  Is this a secret of a secret?  No.  It is just a (old rare books) collector’s secret.




            The secret of the secret of this is... that... one must... if one wishes to leave Bibliobooklessness behind... join this habitual.  To do that one must ‘restring your biblio clothesline’.
            And clotheslines... re-stringing them is not a ‘quick’ or ‘simple’ endeavor (work).  No... it is a very long wondering trail... of back and forth... stretched tight... with many old wooden pins pinching the old rare book collector’s secrets to your ever restringing ‘needs to be tightened again’... biblioclothesline wonderworld.  Is THIS (the ‘learning’ of old rare books and the ‘leaving behind’ of Bibliobooklessness) then a... secret of the old rare books collector’s secrets?
            Yes it is.
            Look ‘behind the spine’ and over your shoulder at the ‘books I have shelved’ “behind me”..