The Secrets of the Old Rare Books Collector's Secrets
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.
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 ...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 ...an 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.