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”..

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets - Part Four - "A Petifore"

The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets

Part Four

"A Petifore"

            Returning... all the way back... to Part One and its... blue frosted cupcake servings complaisant with servings of old rare books...:  This conclave of neophyte wonderers and their mistress of the old rare books secrets... including her doggie’s darkened library room’s restless waits for tossed shortbread favors... takes a sudden turn to old print on old paper... glued.
            To form an... old rare book... of itself.
            This sudden ‘with glue’ carries our old rare books “speaking of” Mistress (Madam?) to show her as best light when it comes to the ruin of old rare books by the ‘on every page’ ‘glued in’.  I... do not suddenly lean forward in my chair... but as she (Madam) does... the tentative audience... for the most part... peer over their noses and through their glasses.
            At a new wonder.  Purveyed.

            Without ever mentioning my church book sale (Part 3-B) trash can found ‘ruined’ ‘old rare books’ acquisition... nor pointing a finger toward the modern rages of ‘glue gunning’ and ‘scrapbooking’...  Benjamin’s caregiver and old rare book collector “extraordinaire”... brings forth “A TREASURE” (her opening descriptive words) that ...shows its ‘self’ to me as an “Oh one of those” third quarter of the 19th Century (1850-1875) glue-gah assemblage of ‘old printed paper’ “pasted in”... she titled it.  I call it ‘glued down’.  That is a variant of the old rare book collector’s “Mounted Down” while her wording is a variant of the old rare books collector’s “Tipped In”.  Both of those terms and their actions are old rare books collector’s secrets.  To escape them the reader is best off fumbling with their glue gun... plugged in... and ‘care be taken’ to NOT BURN YOURSELF.

            I take the treasure in stride:  The Victorian glued down printed paper in “an album” (a store bought... and constructed to be this; a scrapbook)... a commercial ‘fancy’ that were coveted by young people who... well... “did them” (made a glued down scrapbook of ‘pretty paper’...  as best they could.
            The last is an ability and a... the materials to work with.  “Pretty Paper” had to be discerned and collected by the ... inner self... art eye... with this philosophical imperative being of very modest depth... AND... this “Pretty Paper” had to be too ...available.
            For best results.
            Yes and for those a little remote in an old Maine farmhouse... the getting of enough pretty paper could take years... especially if one was of the ‘go into town once a year’ set.  Just the thought of that is a ‘leap’ these days and... it is ... much easier to make Benjamin leap in his darkened ‘old book room’ with a toss of shortbread.  In any case... the ground rules of the ‘Victorian Scrapbook’ and it’s ‘scrapbooking’ are presented and now are shown by the old rare book collector Madam... for she ... “has one” for all to “SEE”.

            Now... most of these (Victorian scrapbooks) are a middle-fair production... tending toward the ‘not finished’ and ‘contents dull’ with a dash of ‘not very good at it’ TOO.  These albums are rapidly ‘leaved through’ (each page scrutinized) by knowing collectors and dealers... looking for standout inclusions such as the noted three song sheet discovery (Part 3-B)... and nothing more.  That is a five minute full evaluation of both merit of content and... monetary value... “OF THAT” (content).  But:

            Every now and then the border lands are crossed by the discernment during scrutiny that ‘this one’ (a discovered Victorian scrapbook)... “is special”.  What ‘is special’ is that the whole glued ...old rare book... IS... of itself a WHOLE production being (becoming to the critical eye) “GOOD”.  “PRETTY”.  “NICE”.  And then becomes “a good one”.  Here... Madam showed her conclave... a... “one of those”.  I knew this right away but the rest became mired at “PRETTY” and never... needed to... or thought of...
            “Anything more” (to it then that).  But Benjamin’s caregiver did get a “GOOD EFFORT” from me... and so spastic did I become that I... tossed a shortbread edge off into the dark book room for Benjamin.  I received a complimentary flip of Mistress Book Collector’s eyes from the... old rare books collector... herself.  From self.  Of self... knowingly conveying... that I did know that secret...
            But never the secret... of that secret?

            That is asking a lot... in this setting.  The secret is a tactile, engineered and... ‘a touch of art eye’ paste construction within the sameness of the commercial ‘scrapbook’.  IF more story is told...; the gluing paper expresses a soul....  IF... that... can be... there is a Secret of a Secret.  But... radically avant-garde THAT allotment be in gathered ‘old rare books’ parlor talks and shortbread tossed... doggie favors.
            No...:  Mostly this ‘that’ never happens and that is assured by the fore mentioned ‘middle-fair’.  These of those do suggest a ‘getting there’... but rarely a bomb blast of being ... a that-there.  Here, this day, that is all we get; the Young Wonder’s... glued down... her (his?) arrangement of pretty paper world view and... leaves us (the centennial plus [100+ years old] viewers) with only that ‘pretty’ and ‘nice’ arrangement of inner soul.  The glued album closes... on that suggestive note.  That is okay for the Secret of the Secret is the ‘knowing this’ and that MAY sometimes be expression of an avant-garde soul.  Do you understand?

            The Secret of the Secret is ...knowing of... the secret.
            In this room... of the gathered old rare book collector’s show and tell talk... this aspect of the scrapbook; it being an expression of soul... is... “LOST”.  The best is the accomplishment of ‘pretty’ and ‘nice’ denoted as a conscious ‘glued’ expression... sort of
            Just toss the shortbread favor... off into the dark room of the book collector’s old rare books... and be done with this notice of art... for the sake of art.  I will always step forward and serve myself when such circumstance DOES appear.  This ‘good habit’ has been a deceptively trite way of I showing how good art may be found ‘hidden’ in the common place... and how easily it may go unnoticed.  I am always looking in the trash cans of this Secret of a Secret.  An old rare book as an art form is not a delusional missed perception.
            It is an honor to engage.

            This all brings us to a horror of the note that old rare books maybe, of themselves, a more than meets an eye.  Constantly.  As a daily creed.  As a feature factor of the that; God has damned the old rare book in our world.  I have expanded the vantage of the old rare book?  Yes I have and its expansion is well past ‘nice’ but I will retain Benjamin as a keynote; a balance.  For he is “nice”.
            The realm of the damned book (“pretty”) is the matter and it is a ‘usual matter’ to I.  Let us jump through the ‘God has damned’ hoop again and see if we may discern another Secret... of a Secret.

            “Yellow Back”... is a last term defined in the books of old rare book terms defined; it is last page... last term.  A... “Yellow Back”.  Well it is not that simple.  It is the “Y” that makes it ‘last’ and the “Y” is for the color ‘yellow’ and that, the definition assures, MAY be the color but ‘not necessarily’.  But we; the old rare books collector realm... and the God damned old rare books realm... LIKES the color and the term so... that is that... secret.  “Yellow Back” defines a certain specific school of publisher’s bound book that is puffed (promoted) as a cheap English edition of a popular title that has a cheap cloth over stiff paper boards cover... binding the cheap paper stock text. That cover was, too, of a (once a long time ago in most cases) bright yellow glazed cloth color.
            To know one is to see one and once this book collector’s secret is ‘known’ they are easy to spot when they turn up (church basement book sales on the dollar table).  And you; the old rare book collector or dealer, may become smug of self when you do... ‘find one’:  A “Yellow Back Edition”.

            No one cares and you will have to learn that too.  Carry your newly discovered yellow back over to the baked goods table and... you will too... become ‘God Damned’.  Let me be clear:  These books are not, generally, ‘of (monetary) value’.  NONE of the books I have been writing about are “valuable” as money.  No.  I said early on (Part One at the very end) that ...that... makes one a ‘value-ist’... not an old rare book collector.  Yellow Backs are what they are.  And are... delightful... particularly when self discovered... alone... while wandering “through” a church book sale... or such.  They were made to be vended at cheap book stalls that ‘flew by night’ at train stations and boat docks, street corners and theatre districts.  They were a cheap read and didn’t hold up well from being this ‘cheap’.  And the yellow cloth bindings too... were brilliant hand held advertisements for themselves.  Then thrown away, fell apart, lost overboard, given away, passed along or... recklessly abandoned.  But still always a ‘Yellow Back”.  Yes and ‘goodness me’ still a Yellow Back to this very day.  I cannot miss them.  They are a book collector’s secret to the eye.  And... “Look at them!”... too. 

            I illustrate with an 1879 London edition of “The Scarlet Letter”.  “Who wrote that?”.  Even Benjamin knows THAT.  What train station sold it?  NO!  LOOK at the title page and discover an old ink stamp from an English bookseller in Constantinople. “OH hasn’t THIS BOOK (a Yellow Back) TRAVELED AROUND!”  Yes... it has... and see two already defined secrets of secrets at work here; obsessive (obsession) and romantic (Romance).  May there be another secret of a secret?  YES!  It is titled ‘appreciation’.  The more obsessively one looks at the old traveled Yellow Back edition of The Scarlet Letter, the more romantic it becomes and... the more appreciation of this Yellow Back edition one has... for it:  THIS COPY of THIS Edition...; the one from Constantinople.
            That is a Secret of the old book collector’s Secrets:  Appreciation.
            And again... this book is of no monetary value...  
            It is a simple old rare books collector’s... old rare book.  It is that only.  It has been damned by God in our current world.  And even Benjamin knows this.  I’d toss him a petifore on that notice... if I had one.