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ABA Newsletter 345, May 2008
TRADE NOTES & QUERIES
WOMEN AND THE BOOK
ABA Summer Exhibition 2008: Friday 8th - Wednesday 20th August
We are calling on every ABA member to help create our new venture, the ABA Summer Exhibition 2008: Women and the Book. Please come forward with your big-ticket items: a copy of Frankenstein would be nice, or To the Lighthouse, or perhaps some gentle Persuasion. However, we’re also relying on the natural inventiveness of ABA members to bring forth some truly obscure and wonderful material at whatever price level.
Please remember that these can be books by, compiled by or translated by women, books for or about women, biographies of women, on women’s education, books owned by women, illustrated by women and printed or published by women, even bound by women, in editions from the fifteenth century to the present. Sappho and Anna Comnena would fit in just as well as JK Rowling.
Suffragette literature would be particularly welcome. The UK lagged behind New Zealand, Australia and Finland both in terms of women’s suffrage and the election of female MPs. 1908 marks the year in which a minority of militant British suffragettes (WSPU members) committed themselves to violence and the destruction of public property to achieve their goal, leading to the storming of the House of Commons and the arson attack on Lloyd George’s country house – events which were seized upon by contemporaries to undermine the credibility of suffragettes and the more moderate (and ultimately more successful) suffragists. The Anti-Suffrage League was founded in the summer of 1908 with the author, Mary Humphry Ward, as its first president – one of a number of high-profile, articulate and, in a sense, politicized women who argued that women should not become involved in politics. Does anyone have a run of The Anti-Suffrage Review or, perhaps, a 1908 first of The Testing of Diana Mallory? As we’re planning to coincide our opening with the Olympics, a cheeky copy of Annie Taylor’s Pioneering in Tibet, or something by Alexandra David-Neel could be a winner with the press.
As you’ll be aware from previous issues of the Newsletter, we’re reviving a tradition which goes back to the earliest years of the ABA’s history: the summer exhibition. Fittingly, the exhibition will be hosted by Bernard Quaritch Ltd, one of the oldest bookselling firms in London and a founder member of the ABA, generously donating staff and space for a fortnight in August. It’s to be a selling exhibition, accompanied by an illustrated catalogue and a series of lectures and events. To help us cover costs, the ABA will take a modest 10% commission on items sold. Purchases can be shipped, or collected by the customer when the exhibition closes. We aim to raise the profile of the Association and sell a few books into the bargain – at a time when London is full of well-heeled tourists and the books might otherwise be sitting unnoticed on your shelves!
Your books can be sent direct to Quaritch nearer the time, or can be collected at the end of the June bookfair. Bring them with you to Olympia if you can. Mark James of Sotheran’s and new ABA member, Leo Cadogan, have volunteered to assist with editing the catalogue, ensuring that all entries appear in a consistent style, but we anticipate that all books will already have been catalogued to the high standards we expect of ABA members! The name of each firm will of course be credited next to their item.
On a final note, we’re pleased to announce that we have made contact with the Women’s Library in East London, which houses the most extensive women’s history collection in the UK. Their response has been extremely enthusiastic and we are exploring a number of avenues for collaboration. They are investigating their trustees’ requirements, but have expressed willingness in principle to loan various items for the exhibition. They have offered to give a talk at the event about the history/provenance of their collections and/or how they can support the work of the antiquarian book trade. They have also made constructive suggestions for reciprocal publicity: we will distribute their leaflets at the event and, in return, they will have publicity about the exhibition at The Women's Library for their visitors, and send out details of the event to subscribers to their monthly e-bulletin.
& Angus O’Neill
ABA NORTHERN REGION
The visit to the John Rylands Library has been re-scheduled for Friday, 2nd May, at 2pm.
Prior to the visit, I have arranged Lunch for a maximum of 15 people at the Portico Library in the centre of Manchester, for 12.00. The Portico is one of the last Private Subscription Libraries in the UK, and is located just 15 minutes’ walk away from Rylands. Manchester is well served by a regular train service from London Euston, 2 trains per hour taking about 2½ hours’ journey time - sufficient time, I would have thought, for members to prepare themselves for a visit North of Watford. Please make the effort.
EDWARD NAIRN - 50 YEARS ON
In February this year it was my happy duty and privilege to present Edward Nairn of John Updike Rare Books with his ‘50 Years a Bookseller’ badge. In fact Edward has been involved with the book trade for well over 60 years, having been employed originally as a publisher’s representative by the Glasgow firm of William McLellan, the champion of so many mid-20th century Scottish writers.
In the late 1940s, Edward accompanied his musician mother in her move to Edinburgh, as it was thought that her health would benefit from the east coast air. Thus, from 1948 until 1954, Edward was employed by James Thin, in those days primarily a second-hand and antiquarian bookshop. His detailed memory recalls the variety and quantity of stock he dealt with at that time – shelf upon shelf of the finest sixteenth century printings, runs of early periodicals in original boards and much other mouth-watering material at prices which might bring tears to the eyes of a 21st century bookseller. Ever the discerning enthusiast, Edward would comb neighbouring booksellers’ stock during his lunch hours and eventually, in 1954, he went into partnership with Kulgin Duval working from a flat in central Edinburgh.
In 1962 this partnership dissolved and Edward formed the partnership of John Updike Rare Books with Ian Watson. Since 1964 they have specialised in 19th and 20th century literature, private press and illustrated books, becoming internationally recognised for the quality and condition of their stock.
A visit to John Updike’s premises – a top floor flat in the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh – is always a delight: the books, the art, the chat, the most generous hospitality and the sense of time being allowed to stand still, are some of the attractions that have led colleagues, friends and customers, writers, artists and musicians, to their door over the last several decades.
President Alan Shelley chaired the ABA AGM on 16th April, in the Crypt Meeting Room, St. James’s Church Piccadilly, amply big enough for the 31 members attending.
It was a livelier affair than usual (though not as lively as three years ago when dustwrappers disturbed the dust). The AGM is the one time in the year when members have the opportunity to raise matters of concern to themselves, or to the organisation as a whole, and it always surprises me that there are not more questions to Council or issues raised for debate.
Christopher Edwards (136), Laurence Worms (132), Angus O’Neill (126), Michael Silverman (116) were re-elected to Council, while Pom Harrington (88) did not make the cut. (165 valid ballot papers were returned from 255 sent out, 65% ‘turnout’ - would the other 90 please return the stamp?)
Debate centred on the role of the Benevolent Fund. With half a million in the bank, £25,000 income p.a. and last year about £12,500 in disbursements, some members advocated increased expenditure on educational grants and bursaries. Jonathan Potter, representing the Trustees (the others are Peter Miller and Elizabeth Strong) agreed to take back the feelings of the meeting for further discussion.
Alan Shelley talked about the ‘well-placed concern’ of the Council for the future of the ABA during the year - much more positive than the President’s written report where ‘reformers’ were likened to angels dancing on pinheads.
Comments were made on the ILAB website (home page very boring), and Roger Treglown bemoaned the failure of the President to wear his chain of office at such an important event, before the assembled gathering (including only 2 female members) descended on the wine and crisps.
ABA v PBFA ANNUAL CRICKET MATCH
CAMBRIDGE 22ND JUNE
The Annual Cricket Match between the ABA and the PBFA will be held this year at Gonville and Caius College Ground, Cambridge on Sunday 22nd June, starting at 2pm. We are fortunate to be playing on such a lovely old ground and thanks are due to Brian Collings of David’s Bookshop for once again making this possible.
Now in its 28th year, the fixture has of late been won by the PBFA more times than we care to remember and our team needs to be strengthened in all departments. Batsmen, bowlers, wicket keepers, toilers in the field - PLEASE contact Peter Miller at Spelman’s Bookshop 01904 624414, or by email.
An excellent tea will be provided for the players, and indeed anyone else at £5 a head. Please let me know at least a week before the game. Do try and come along to support the team. It will be a relaxing day out after the stresses and strains of the June Book Fair in London.
P.S. If you know anybody who you think would be willing to play, please let me know!
GROLIER CLUB NEW YORK
Exhibition: English in Print from Caxton to Shakespeare to Milton
This exhibition draws upon the collections of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and The Elizabethan Club at Yale University. These libraries hold two of the most remarkable English Renaissance collections in America. The Elizabethan Club, founded in 1911, contains over three hundred outstanding volumes of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature, including the first four folios of Shakespeare, the Huth Shakespeare quartos, and first or early quartos of all the major dramatists. Early English holdings at the University of Illinois are broad and deep, including tens of thousands of fifteenth- through seventeenth century English works of literature, history, philosophy, religion, science, politics, and culture in general. In collaboration these two institutions have been able to explore important issues in the history of early English printing more thoroughly than either institution could have done on its own.
The “Englishing” of books begins very early. Already in the late ninth century, King Alfred supported the distribution of books in English and even undertook important translations himself. Once printing got underway in England in the early 1470s, English language, history, and literature could be disseminated more widely through books. This exhibition looks at the history of early English books, exploring the concept of putting English into print, with close study of the texts, the formats, the audiences, and the functions of English books. Its parameters nearly mirror those of Pollard and Redgrave’s famous English Short-Title Catalogue (1475-1640). Our bookends are William Caxton, England’s first printer and John Milton, the language’s most eloquent defender of the freedom of the press in his Areopagitica of 1644. Shakespeare, neither a printer, nor a writer much concerned with publishing his own plays, nonetheless deserves his central place in our title because Shakespeare imprints, and Renaissance drama in general, are not only well-represented in the collections of both The University of Illinois and The Elizabethan Club, but also provide a fascinating window on the world of English printing in the period between Caxton and Milton.
Fred C. Robinson and Valerie Hotchkiss are the curators of the exhibition. Professor Robinson is the Douglas Tracy Smith Professor Emeritus of English at Yale University. Professor Hotchkiss is the Head of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Among the highlights of the exhibition are: English incunabula printed by Caxton and his contemporaries; the earliest recorded schoolbook in English; first editions of several English Bibles; first editions of Jonson, Chapman, Milton and others; early English newsbooks; the first four folios of Shakespeare; numerous quartos of Elizabethan and Stuart plays, including the only surviving perfect copy of the 1604 quarto of Hamlet; examples of early printed music and maps; and several examples of English bookbinding. The selections include many monuments of English culture alongside less-known, but interesting works that help us elaborate upon the story of English printing, while giving the reader and visitor a sense of the extraordinary collections at Illinois and Yale.
The exhibition is divided into six sections on the themes of early English printing, the role of printing in the development of modern English as language, regulation and censorship in English printing, the place of translation in early English printing, play publishing, and, as a kind of coda, the technical aspects involved in the making of English books.
The Grolier Club, New York, May 14 - July 26,2008.
Lectures by the curators on May 14 at 2.00pm. Free and open to the public.
61% AUCTIONEER’S COMMISSION
Rob Frew has sent in the following fable for our time - actually, not fabulous but all too true.
Mr. Frew sells a plan of the Palace View Estate, with vignettes of the interior of the Crystal Palace, through the good offices of the auctioneers, Roseberys of West Norwood. The lot makes £60.00. hammer. From this, £10.58 is deducted by the auctioneers as commission. Then £15.00 + VAT is deducted as a Lot Charge. Then £10.00 + VAT is charged for a website illustration, followed by £1.05 + VAT for insurance. Total deductions, inc. VAT: £41.19. This leaves Mr. Frew, the vendor, with a cheque for £18.81, which is 26.7% of the amount paid by the purchaser. The Auctioneers take 61% of the hammer price. Is this a record?
Piers Besley has come up with another example of an ‘Everybody’s Books’ rebound in wrappers - Auden & Macniece’s Letters from Iceland, 1937. Piers writes: ‘This is similar to your Pyramid (see Newsletter 344) but the title and author are crudely printed in black, the price is 3/6, and the address is given as 156 Charing Cross Rd., rather than Denmark Street. Do you think it was one of those shops in Charing Cross Road that sold “surgical appliances”? I cannot at present put my hand on my own copy of the proper edition but my recollection is that the Everybody's binding is slightly cut down. It seems to be identical with the real first edition including the map which is frayed as if it had come from a poor copy, but no signs of library marks. It is just surprising that books like this and Pyramid should be so well used as to need rebinding’.
George Locke suggested that Steve Holland, the specialist in pulp-fiction, might be able to help with more information. And he could:
‘Everybody's was operated by a guy called Hector Kelly who ran a number of bookshops in London (Strothers Bookshops Ltd.) and ran a small publishing firm from the 4 Denmark Street, London W.C.2 address. Kelly was the brother of Harold Kelly who earned some notoriety as Darcy Glinto in 1942 when one of his books (Road Floozie) was fined for obscenity. After the war, Hector started publishing hardcovers (under the Hector Kelly imprint) and paperbacks (under the Robin Hood Press imprint) and printed quite a few Darcy Glinto 'gangster' novels as well as Westerns, Romance and Science Fiction; he gave up in the wake of the Hank Janson trial in 1954 and returned to bookselling. He died in 1991. They advertised in the backs of a number of books during the war years, for magazines, Penguin Books and various others.’
BERNARD QUARITCH IS DEAD
Jolyon Hudson googled Bernard Quaritch and came up with the following hot news from the NY Times, Dec 19 1899:
‘LONDON, Dec. 18 . Bernard Quaritch, the famous art dealer and vendor of rare books, died yesterday in his eighty-second year. He had a world-wide reputation among bibliophiles.
For the best part of half a century Bernard Quaritch held his position as the greatest dealer in old books in the world. “The Napoleon of the Book Trade” was one of the many titles bestowed on him by collectors, to whom his word was law, so far as the value or rarity of a volume was concerned. It is no exaggeration to say that he made in great measure the modern market for scarce books. His methods were the same as those of a financier. He would “corner” a certain line of boks, and then bull the price on them until the public followed his lead. But he was something more than an astute dealer. He had a true love for his business and a marvelous knowledge of the history of books: while, if he desired a volume, no price was ever too great for him to pay ...’
If you describe a book as ‘signed’ or ‘inscribed’ by a previous owner and then use that description on ABEbooks, their search facility will indicate to potential buyers that the book in question is signed or inscribed BY THE AUTHOR, wasting a lot of time for everyone.
The untimely death of a book dealer has been reported in Hong Kong. Law Chi Wah, owner of the "Green Text Book Store" in Hong Kong was killed when a shelf holding approximately twenty boxes of books collapsed on top of him. The accident occurred at a small warehouse where his body was found two weeks later buried under the fallen books. (Thanks to Sheppards Confidential)
THE ANCESTORS OF LAURENCE WORMS
THE TRUE STORY OF HOW I AM RELATED TO DICKENS (BUT NOT IN A GOOD WAY).
I was given the piece of ephemera reprinted on Page 1 by our distinguished editor, Brian Lake, a number of years ago. Brian was naturally amused at this nineteenth-century ducker, diver and dealer in second-hand goods with a slightly cavalier attitude to old books sharing my name – even down to the initial. What Brian did not know was that this was indeed a member of my family, for, despite the outlandish name, the Worms family have been knocking around London since the late eighteenth century. To be precise, this is Lewis Worms, my great-great-great-grandfather’s elder brother – one of four brothers who all made a living in much the same kind of way. This is in part their story, but what I have only recently discovered is that they were related to Charles Dickens. Not closely related – and not at all in a good way – but related nonetheless.
We are all familiar with the sob story of Dickens’ childhood being foully blighted by his being stuffed into the blacking factory at a tender age by his wicked relatives. But of course we only know the story in the mawkish accounts handed down by Dickens and his apologists. The wicked relatives have – until now – maintained a dignified silence. We have not heard their side of the story: that the little blighter was an idle loafer who would never have amounted to anything and would probably have turned out as useless as his father without a short, sharp shock of some sort. Tough love, we would call it nowadays.
The wicked relative in chief was a man called James Lamert, the manager of the blacking factory, which he ran on behalf of a brother or cousin, George Lamert. James was related to Dickens by virtue of his widowed father, Matthew Lamert, having married Dickens’ favourite aunt, the also widowed Mary Allen, who lived with the Dickens family at Chatham. And having married her, he took her away to Ireland, where within a year she died in childbirth. It is easy to see why Dickens took against the Lamerts – they killed his aunt and put him in the blacking factory. But he had his revenge. When the really unpleasant people turn up in his novels they tend to have names rather like Lamert (the Murdstones in Copperfield and the Merdles in Dorrit are two obvious examples).
But it was not altogether that simple. In disentangling the accounts of Dickens’ childhood, we meet kindly uncle Matthew, who first took him to the theatre and kindled that lifelong passion for the stage. We find splendid cousin James, who built the little chap a toy theatre and first encouraged him to make up characters and plots. And we realise, with something of a shock, that these are actually the very same people, Matthew Lamert and James Lamert. They were clearly not bad people – he had much to be grateful to them – so what was all the blacking factory business about? Matthew Lamert was an army surgeon, rather a distinguished one, who became an Inspector of Military Hospitals. He was the original of Dr Slammer (another Lamert homophone) in Pickwick. James Lamert too was intended for the army and, according to Forster, had passed through Sandhurst and was waiting on a commission. So why on earth were they involved in a blacking factory?
To answer this, we need to look at the wider Lamert family – and in particular, James Lamert’s aunt, Rachel Lamert. She was the daughter of another medical man in Isaac Lamert, born (like Matthew Lamert) in Germany but working in London for many years. There is a copy of his testimonial pamphlet of about 1787, Pro Bono Publico, in the Wellcome. Rachel Lamert, the daughter, married a certain Aaron Worms at the City of London Great Synagogue in 1799. Aaron Worms, like the Lamerts, was originally from Germany and, like the Lamerts, was Jewish. As an aside at this point, it is perhaps worth noting that Dickens was a little disingenuous when he answered accusations of anti-semitism by claiming not to have known any Jews in early life and to have had no personal animus. There is no doubt that the Lamerts were, or were originally, Jewish – although it may be that some of them had silently dropped their faith by the 1820s (Matthew Lamert married Mary Allen in a Church of England ceremony, and George Lamert, owner of the blacking factory, married Harriet Oppenheim at St. Martin in the Fields in 1827).
Rachel Lamert’s husband, Aaron Worms, was in a successful way of business on the Whitechapel Road, acting as a wholesaler and merchant in linen goods, and as their children grew up and the sons joined the business, the family began to diversify. In particular, under the most prominent of the sons, Henry Worms, they diversified into the large-scale manufacture and wholesaling of boots and shoes. By the 1830s, Henry Worms had premises in the Minories, a warehouse on Bishopsgate, and a showroom on Oxford Street. We have all had that experience of buying a pair of shoes and having various offers of shoe polish thrust upon us. Then as now. What would make more sense, what would create more synergy, than to have a blacking factory in the family? Boots, shoes and blacking could be wholesaled all over the country. Hence, I am sure, the involvement of the Lamert cousins. And from this point of view, it is entirely possible that Dickens was simply being treated like every other boy in the family in being set to work at the age of twelve to learn the business from the bottom up. That was how things worked. This was in fact opportunity, not punishment.
But the story does not quite end there. Henry Worms, the boot and shoe magnate, was named for his uncle, Aaron’s rather older brother, also Henry Worms – also from Germany, also Jewish, and also originally with a textile warehouse. He was the father of Lewis Worms and his brothers with whom we began – and my direct ancestor. But his business did not prosper in quite the same way. His bankruptcy was posted in the London Gazette in 1811 and we have the full story in his own words in a deposition of 1825. Imagine this, if you will, in a heavy German-Hebrew accent – “he carried on a Respectable Establishment, as an Auctioneer, Appraiser, Wholesale Carpet and Woolen Warehouse Man for a Long Period in Norton Falgate, till about Twelve Years since, when through unavoidable Misfortunes, he failed in Business and was compelled to open a Shop ... and in that Degrading Occupation to preserve a Beloved Wife and Family from Starving, yet by dint of Industry, Attention and Perseverance he maintained them decently till the Death of his Wife, whose irrecoverable Loss he has felt ever since. He has had to encounter the severest Misery and Distress but has met it with Fortitude and Resignation, and had almost surmounted his Difficulties, till this Dreadfull, Dire, and Destructive Calamity, which will at an advanced period of Life, render him one of the most Miserable of created Beings ...”.
The dreadful, dire and destructive calamity was that he had been charged (together with his fourteen-year-old son, Morris) with receiving a stolen quart pot, tried at the Old Bailey, found guilty, and sentenced to fourteen years transportation to Van Diemen’s Land. The words above form part of a petition for clemency addressed to the Home Secretary, Sir Robert Peel, still lying unanswered in the National Archives. It reveals that of the eight living children of Henry Worms, all but the eldest were still dependent on him.
At this point, I must ask you if you are reminded in any way of a character from Dickens? – an old Jewish fence with crooked teeth surrounded by young people, no mother-figure to be seen, living in a thieves’ kitchen a stone’s throw from Saffron Hill? Yes – you have it in one. Dickens, you bastard, you ungrateful little bastard, you have metamorphosed Henry Worms, your relative and mine, into Fagin. And as the eldest boy of the troupe, I presume that makes Lewis Worms the Artful Dodger.
So whenever any of you in the ABA sell a book by Dickens, I would like you to remember this story, to remember that without the Lamerts both to inspire him and to kick him up the backside, that without the Worms to give him at least one, if not two, of his most memorable characters, then no-one would have heard of Dickens. That is a sale you would simply not have made – and, in the circumstances, a cheque to me for 10% by way of reparation would not go amiss.
I hope this will become formal ABA policy, because the truth is that Henry Worms may well have been innocent. The petition, signed by every one of his neighbours who could write his name, describes him as a man hitherto “incapable of Deviating from a due observance of the Laws of this Country”. The thief who allegedly sold him the quart pot (and who rather suspiciously was only given three months’ imprisonment) was named Moriarty – I assume the father of the master criminal, but that is another author, another book, and another story.
Henry Worms’ alibi was that he was miles away at the time, drinking with Mr Rochester – again another author, another book, and another story. Far-fetched – perhaps – but if you care to google the words – worms, moriarty, rochester and quart pot – you will find that truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
Postscript: I conceived the above as a jeu d’esprit to entertain Brian and some colleagues over lunch a while ago. Tongue firmly in cheek. But, that said, there is nothing in it that I know to be untrue. All the people are real, even Moriarty and Rochester (unless the Rochester alibi was a fiction, in which case I want royalties on the Brontës too), and all the facts about them are to the best of my knowledge accurate. The transcript of the trial of Henry Worms on 13th January 1825 can be accessed at the www.oldbaileyonline.org website. Lewis Worms turns up to back up the alibi.
There is, of course, no way of knowing who, if anyone, Dickens may or may not have had in mind when constructing Fagin. The character is sometimes said to be based on Isaac (Ikey) Solomon(s), who, like Henry Worms and not long after, was sentenced to transportation to Tasmania. The accounts of his life are a little muddled, but it is safe to say that he was not an old man at the time of his trials, that he had a wife, that he was born and brought up in London and was therefore unlikely to have a had a Fagin-like German-Hebrew accent, and that his ‘patch’ was the Houndsditch-Petticoat Lane area east of the City. On these grounds alone, leaving aside the family connection from blacking-factory days, Henry Worms is perhaps a more likely candidate. Dickens is of course quite specific about the Saffron Hill location, which he memorably describes as a nightmarish thieves’ row in Oliver. Henry Worms lived in nearby Fox Court, and at the time Dickens was writing this passage in the 1830s, two of Henry’s sons, Solomon and Morris, were both actually living on Saffron Hill. Morris, the boy also found guilty and sent to a House of Correction, was married from 57 Saffron Hill in 1838 – the very year in which Oliver was published.
As to Henry Worms, the convict, he was indeed sent to Tasmania, where in 1833 (by now nearly seventy) he went on the run and was never recaptured. The detail of the prominent crooked teeth which he shared with Fagin is taken from police ‘wanted’ descriptions. He was still untraced in 1841.
His eight children seem to have come to a collective decision that there was little justice for Jews in London. Four of the sons and the one daughter who married all did so outside of the Jewish community and in Church of England ceremonies. Their children were likewise baptised as Christians. The four boys all pursued careers under the rather vague headings of auctioneers, appraisers, brokers and general dealers. And all lived to a healthy old age, Morris with a second-hand furniture shop in Seven Dials, Philip with an auction-house in Chelsea. Solomon, my direct ancestor, dealt mainly in recycled building materials. The daughters too survived and prospered. Sarah, the eldest, had a school on Clerkenwell Green, and Catherine, Matilda and Frances went from being seamstresses to being engaged in the fur trade. Lewis’ daughter, Sophia, took over this business and appears in London directories as a wholesale furrier into the twentieth century.
As to why Henry Worms regarded keeping a shop as a “degrading occupation”, those of us who have experienced it will know that this is in many ways true, although we are rarely so frank. But the answer is that he had indeed fallen calamitously and precipitously in the world. He was born on the Judengasse in Frankfurt – and there the Worms family had been rabbis, doctors and merchants. They were related by marriage to the Rothschilds, the first of whom to come to England, Nathan Mayer Rothschild, likewise a child of the Judengasse, began, like Aaron and Henry Worms, with a textile warehouse. His eldest sister, Schönge (Jeannette) Rothschild, had married Benedikt Moses Worms, “handler für englische textilien”, in 1795. It is said that Rothschild came to England in 1798 to counter logistical problems posed to family trading interests caused by the European wars, but the firing of the Judengasse by French troops in 1796 and the destruction of many of its 195 houses led to a wholesale migration – a dispersal of a tight-knit merchant community that changed the face of European trade and finance. It is not wholly inconceivable that this was a tripartite venture to England – Rothschild in cotton, Henry Worms in wool, and Aaron Worms in linen.
Just how far Henry Worms had fallen in the world is starkly illustrated by the very different experience of life of his namesake and kinsman – the third and last Henry Worms to impact upon nineteenth-century London. Henry Worms, grandson of Benedikt Moses Worms and Jeanette Rothschild, was born in London in 1840. He trained as a lawyer, published a number of books, became a Fellow of the Royal Society, worked in the family banking and commodity business, went into politics, survived a sensational divorce from the notorious Baroness Fanny von Todesco and became the first Jewish member both of the Cabinet and the Privy Council. His second wife was both a daughter and a sister of Lord Mayors of London. Ostracised by the Jewish community for attending his daughter’s Church of England wedding, he too ultimately decided that being a Jew in England was not worth the candle and he died a Christian. Styled the Baron de Worms from the 1870s, by virtue of an Austrian title granted to his father, he was himself ennobled as Lord Pirbright in 1895. He achieved all three of the even greater accolades of British life – a Vanity Fair cartoon, an entry in the DNB, and a national nickname. For all his colourful life and many talents, he was in truth a bit of a bore: his dusty speeches earned him the soubriquet – the Baron de Book- Worms. And on that note ...
Letter to the Editor
FROM NORMAN STOREY
Dear Mr. Lake,
I am always pleased to receive the Newsletter and very much enjoy reading it. Alas there now appear so many names that I regret mean nothing to me; I also feel that my name would mean nothing to so many recent members. In the December Newsletter you suggest that older members might write in regarding 50 years in the Trade. In 1942 I went to work for my father, Harold T. Storey, at 3 Cecil Court. My father died in 1955 and I was then immediately accepted as a member of the ABA. I attended my first Congress abroad in Holland and continued to support nearly all the Congresses after that. I exhibited in many of the Book Fairs. I exhibited at Albermarle Street and then all the ensuing Fairs. I organised and made arrangements for a few of our members to attend a Fair in Jerusalem. Those that exhibited have a commemorative medal.
During my membership of the ABA I served on the committee under the following Presidents: E.M. Dring 1966-7, F.T. Bowyer 1967-8, S. Crowe 1968-9, T. Crowe 1969-70, G. Porter 1970-1, A. Rota 1971-2, M. Hamlyn 1972-3, I. Grant 1973-4, A. Russell 1974-5, C. Swan 1975- 6. When Ken Russell finished his term of office I was asked if I would take over as President but I had to decline the honour as I had a very active business and I could not have done justice to both my business and the Presidency. I served on the committee for a further year then resigned in the hope that my place would be taken by a member who would eventually be President. During my time on the committee I served three years organising the social events.
I have served the ABA well but the ABA has also served me very well. Je ne regret rien!
P.S. Re. The Harold Storey Cup.
Bill Fletcher tells us that on the train journey which Harold was never to complete, they talked of this and that, and then Harold said he had been planning for some time to present a Cup to be competed for in matches between the employers and the Bibliomites (the employees); he thought perhaps an Annual Cricket Match. It seemed that he had seen the Cup he had in mind, and the conversation turned to other things.
He was destined never to give that Cup, but Bill Fletcher was determined that his wish should be honoured. He set about tracing the Cup, and eventually ran it to earth in the shop of a Mr. F. Dann in East London. He explained his mission to Mr. Dann who instantly asked that he be allowed to present it. His offer was gratefully accepted, and the Cup is now in the possession of our President.
The question of the engraving to be put on the Cup was raised and it was decided that the base be inscribed: “THE HAROLD STOREY CRICKET CUP” followed by the dates of his birth and death. Bill Fletcher requested that he might be responsible for the cost of the engraving.
Norman T. Storey
[Editor’s note: Norman has been awarded his 50 year badge. With the demise of the Bibliomites, the base of the Harold Storey Cup was extended to incorporate winners of the annual ABA v PBFA match.]
FROM DAN LEAB
Hi there. That was a fascinating issue of the ABA newsletter.
Paul Grinke has been around a long time, and it is nice to see that he just continues on. Overall, given the age of those who the newsletter memoralizes, obviously being active in the book trade is conducive to a long life.
You might find interesting a notice to be found on various Southern churches in the U.S. which are not too concerned about plagiarism, in their alas sometimes futile attempts to woo congregational attendance:
‘WORSHIP GOD IN THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS AND THE COMFORT OF AIRCONDITIONING’
Dan Leab (of ABPC)
FROM BERTHE WALLIS
Thank you so much for the copy of Alf’s obituary - very nicely produced (except for the error of his date of birth which was 01/01/22). It was nice to be reminded of ABA life! Yours sincerely,
FROM GILES MANDELBROTE
You might like to know that one of the papers at our Book Trade History conference a couple of years ago discussed the picture of 'The Destruction Room' which is illustrated in the latest ABA Newsletter. It comes from a promotional pamphlet entitled A Complete Set of Prints, Cuttings, and Pamphlets, from the Gentleman's Magazine from 1831 to 1847, all dated, cut up, arranged, and sold by Frederick Strong (London, c.1847). Strong's business and the practice of cutting up books and periodicals is discussed by Lucy Peltz: 'Facing the Text: the amateur and commercial histories of extra-illustration, c.1770-1840' in Owners, Annotators and the Signs of Reading, ed. Robin Myers, Michael Harris and Giles Mandelbrote (British Library and Oak Knoll Press, 2005). Best wishes,
FROM RICHARD SAWYER
Below is the text of a letter that Sheppards Confidential have published. Ignoring my remarks about LRBS and the training for booksellers (this is only written to provoke comment or amuse), the Bonhams issue is a little more serious.
David Park and his team were indeed most apologetic. Members of the ABA should write to the powers that be objecting to this highhanded ruling. I have calculated that it cost the vendor nigh on £1,000 in bids from myself and denied me the opportunity of purchasing two extra items for stock.
Richard Joseph of Sheppards gave Bonhams the opportunity of responding which they declined. Best regards, Richard
May I through your august columns express my delight at the fact that the ABA are supporting the summer courses at the LRBS and at the same time express my absolute dismay at the arrogance of the Directors of Bonhams Auctioneers in their intransigent policy on telephone bidding.
Having read the brief descriptions of the courses to be offered by the LRBS this summer there can be little doubt that they are catering for the bibliographer and historian of the book trade. A knowledge of both these is, if not essential, a worthwhile attribute for an aspiring rare book dealer. Not everything can be taught in the lecture theatre and there is no substitute to an old fashioned apprenticeship. Unfortunately that is now seldom on offer. There was a day when life dealing in books starting in the packing room, moved into the cataloguing room and then into the sale room. Two days a week spent in the auction rooms of Hodgsons in Chancery Lane, learning much when viewing and attending the sale both about books and the 'hot tip' for the 3.30pm at Doncaster!
It was attending the weekly sales of the London auctioneers that many booksellers earned their 'crust' and maybe 'bread', but seldom 'butter', executing bids for private collectors and colleagues unable to attend in person. The auctioneers then came up with the plan to curtail the practice and grab that share of the 'cake' for themselves. The 'buyer's premium' and introduction of telephone bidding cut the trade's commission bidding from under its feet. The trade objected but in vain. In time the booksellers came to live with it, making use of the telephone when it suited them.
Now Bonham's directors, and for what financial or 'health and safety' reason, we know not, have decreed that the privilege of using the telephone to bid can only be granted should the lot in question be valued (estimated) by the auctioneers themselves at £400 or more. In this week's sale of John and Monica Lawson's fascinating collection of books, it was not good enough to say "I intend to bid over £400 on this lot". No sir, if the estimate in the catalogue was under the magic figure no telephone line was allowed. In fairness, all members of the book department were most apologetic for this decree. Maybe they could do us a favour and estimate all future lots at £400 or more!
This high handed and arrogant ruling has probably deprived Mr & Mrs Lawson of some of the true value of their unique collection and hindered both collectors and dealers in pursuing items of interest. It was a sale where the loss of one item would have led to a stronger bid on the next. For this pattern of bidding a telephone is needed. Can the Directors of Bonhams give us just reason for their actions and tell us for why we are charged a 'Buyer's Premium' at all? - it has absolutely nothing to do with customer service.”
Richard Sawyer Chas J. Sawyer, Fine and Rare Books firstname.lastname@example.org
[Editor’s note: John Randall, bidding on three consecutive lots by telephone at a recent Bonhams’ sale, was told he could not bid on the middle lot because the estimate was below £400. Luckily, the Bonhams’ employee at the end of the phone saw the stupidity of the situation and accepted his bid anyway.]
I am writing this so that anybody thinking of exhibiting next year will have something to go on. As a first time exhibitor, I was not sure what to expect. But knowing and liking Edinburgh (I was a student there), it was never going to be wasted time. When I received the Fair package details I looked to see who else was going ... Charles Cox, from just over the moor, here in Cornwall, and actually a good representation of South West booksellers. But a curious lack of London trade exhibitors. I wonder why.
I took only four A4 Document boxes of books – not enough to ‘pack’ my stand without artful display – including books pertinent to Scotland which I am hardly likely to sell down here in Cornwall.
BUSINESS. As well as the 35 or so ABA, exhibitors the event was held in conjunction with the PBFA, with a further 40 stands. This meant there was a satisfactory amount of mutual browsing and buying, establishing and re-establishing contacts, etc. My own take was probably average, and I was quite happy and had pretty much decided to do the fair again next year after the first day (of two). I sold about two-thirds to the trade and a third to private customers. The cheapest book I sold was £12 and the most expensive £350. On my stand I had books priced up to about £2,500. At a nearby stand, a regular exhibitor sold one book for £4,000. Follow-on business from a Fair, whilst not included in the official figures, can often be impressive. I have heard since of a subsequent £11,000 sale. Edinburgh is a wealthy city; at one time, not so long ago, Charlotte Square, a stone’s throw from the Fair, was reportedly the wealthiest square in Europe.
The timing of the Fair, in March just before the end of the tax year, fills a gap in the ABA calendar of UK Fairs; and, as one exhibitor said to me, there is no reason why Edinburgh should not become the ABA’s York. We do need, surely, to put our collective weight behind building another book fair, year on year. Business will improve as the Fair’s stature builds. An incredible amount of work goes on behind the scenes and beforehand, and it would be a shame not to recognise it by supporting it. Profound thanks to Alan Grant, Larry Hutchison, Marianne Harwood, and all the organisers.
NETWORKING: One of the unexpected aspects of the Fair for me was the proper chance to get to know people better, during and after hours. During the Fair itself, I was surprised by some of the people who showed up: important private buyers (usually seen flitting past at other fairs, but here stopping and chatting), institutional buyers, visiting members of the trade from Ireland, London and further afield. The civilised pace of the Fair meant that it was possible to go beyond the usual frantic pleasantries and actually have a conversation. After hours, it goes without saying, Edinburgh has much to offer. Four-thirty in the morning was the reported turning-in time of one hardy member of the trade. As those who do the Chelsea and Olympia book fairs know, PR is an important aspect of business, and Edinburgh was no exception.
NEXT YEAR: I will go again next year. Can I recommend it? As with all fairs, there are no guarantees: you get out what you put in is half the answer. In terms of expense, the fair is relatively and temptingly light on the pocket at approximately £150 for a good-sized stand. Next year the ABA and PBFA Fairs will be on the same floor, which can only increase the throughput and bustle. See you there?
ON THE ROAD:
GRAHAM YORK FINALLY MAKES IT TO EDINBURGH
If I had a quid for every time someone said “What a lovely shop ... I’ll come again” before leaving without a purchase, I wouldn’t need to sell any books. Given that I do need to sell books, it’s vital for me to attend book fairs and, of the hundreds I’ve done over the years, the ABA fairs are always the best for buying, selling and socialising.
Despite the 500 mile journey ahead of me, I was in an optimistic mood when I left Honiton for Edinburgh but, even though the weather was pretty rough, I wasn’t prepared for the M6 to be closed at the Manchester Ship Canal. All alternative routes were jammed and I ended up detouring through Runcorn and Widnes, towns only known to me from the Rugby League results, and crossing the Mersey via a bridge uncompromisingly named ‘The Bridge’. The wind blowing off the Solway Firth nearly took me out but, once off the motorway and heading up the Clyde valley, the scenery was very rewarding and the whole journey only took ten hours. I’m still waiting for my medal.
In case anyone doesn’t know it, Edinburgh is an architectural gem, from the medieval streets of the old town to the Georgian geometry of the new town; packed with fine restaurants and bars (not to mention bookshops), there should be no excuse not to visit – why don’t more dealers exhibit at the fair? Our strength is in numbers and it is not an expensive fair, and flights are cheap – there’s even a free dinner graciously provided by Lyon and Turnbull (always nice to get something out of an auctioneer, and rather good this year) who overlook the fact that probably 90% of those in the room have never attended a sale there.
The return journey only took me seven hours, stopping for a picnic of leftover cheese and biscuits from Valvona and Crolla (that’s a long-established Italian deli, not a detective agency or comedy duo from the Fringe - and another good reason to visit).
Thanks to Larry and Alan, the joint fair managers. Now, if they could only organise the weather ...
Books on the Move: Tracking Copies through Collections & the Book Trade edited by Robin Myers, Michael Harris & Giles Mandelbrote. British Library/Oak Knoll Press, pp.164, £25
Books on the Move – how books and book collections move through private and institutional collections - was the topic of the 2006 Book History conference. This collection of essays, the conference proceedings, charts the progress of books through the European networks of acquisitions and dispersal. Their course is traced in various contributions through ownership marks, annotations, sale and auction catalogues and other documentary evidence, and provides a narrative of the interaction between libraries, collectors and the book trade.
Peter Beal concentrates on lost and rediscovered manuscripts, and recounts the histories of a variety of manuscripts destroyed by fire, flood, or theft, and some that reappear. He draws attention to the importance of early facsimiles, which in some of these cases have guaranteed at least the survival of the text if not the original and have helped in identifying surviving fragments or parts of the originals.
David Pearson compiles a database of copies of three early English translations of Julius Caesar, published in fifty year intervals between 1590 and 1695, and attempts to draw a conclusion about patterns of marketing, acquisition and ownership from annotations and ownership inscriptions in individual copies.
Angela Nuovo describes the creation and dispersal of the Library of Gian Vincenzo Pinelli, and analyses the changing use of books and collections. Pinelli had built up an extensive library of classical and scientific books in Padua, together with scientific instruments, portraits etc, with the intention of attracting visiting scientists and scholars. After his death, the collection was sent to Naples by boat all the way around the Italian coast to avoid the numerous borders on land. En route one of the ships fell into the hands of pirates, was plundered and sunk. The remaining books were bought at auction by Cardinal Borromeo. Having sold off duplicates and those surplus to requirements, the remainder was incorporated into the Ambrosiana Library in Milan, only to be destroyed in an air raid in 1943.
Astrid Balsen concentrates her research on a single book from the collection of Andreas Dudith, the ‘Hungarian Erasmus’. She charts its course through 150 years of wars and destruction, and describes how after being looted by Queen Christina of Sweden’s soldiers, it is found in the personal possession of her librarian Isaac Vossius, possibly as payment in kind for his services. Supported by documentary evidence in auction catalogues, early library and booksellers’ catalogues she can then trace its progress through many European countries, until it ends up again in the Netherlands, in the library of the University of Leiden.
Jos van Heel traces the complex journey of the manuscripts belonging to Gerard and Johan Meerman. Having purchased a large number of manuscripts from the Jesuit College de Clermont at auction in Paris after the ban of the Jesuit order, troubles began at the French border, where they were held up and only released after much argument. Then some of them were sold or discarded, because they did not fit Meerman’s strict collecting principles. The collection was supposed to remain in Meerman’s house which had been bequeathed to the city of The Hague by his son, but books and manuscripts were sold at auction in 1824 to great international interest. Many were bought by Sir Thomas Phillips, and later redispersed in the long series of Phillips sales. Meerman manuscripts are now to be found in numerous European and American libraries.
Christina Dondi attempts to explain the relative rarity of fifteenth-century books of hours printed in Italy compared to French ones. Studying surviving examples and comparing their illuminations she draws conclusions from patterns of ownership. Long after they ceased to be used, some copies remained in convent and monastery libraries and only came on the market with the suppression of religious institutions to find their way into the hands of collections in the 19th and 20th century.
Pierre Delsaerdt describes the process by which a significant part of a private collection, the library of the Belgian aristocrat Gustave van Havre (1817-92) came to enrich the holdings of two major Belgian libraries, the City Library of Antwerp and the Plantin- Moretus Museum in the same city. The library had been sold at auction, but due to the initiative of enterprising librarians and public-spirited bibliophiles the collection could be bought back for those institutions.
These varied essays all point to the importance of provenance research because of the information it provides on the production and dissemination of books, shifting reading and collecting patterns, and the role of books in intellectual life. The fate of individual books or collections is here recounted in fascinating detail and adds immensely to our knowledge of the trade in books. It serves as a reminder of the importance of recording provenance information.
A NEW HOME FOR THE MAP FAIR
The June Map Fair moves to the Royal Geographical Society
The June fairs are almost upon us. The London Map Fair will be going ahead as usual, organized by myself and fellow ABA members Rainer Voigt and Massimo de Martini. In fact a majority of our forty exhibitors are ABA or ILAB affiliated members and some also exhibit at the ABA book fair, but separate map fairs have been held in London for the last thirty years and we’re proud of staging the largest specialist map fair in Europe. The fair will be held on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th June, coinciding in part with the ABA fair (which closes on Saturday), but we have moved from the basement at Olympia and visitors to the ABA fair this year will have a 10 minute taxi ride (in a straight line along Kensington Road) to reach our new home at the Royal Geographical Society.
Changing venue is never undertaken lightly and, as this is a trade publication, I have no reservations about going into details in case our experiences are useful for other ABA members. A few years ago there were two map fairs in London in June. One was organized by the trade and subsidized regular monthly fairs, and one was a one-off annual event organized by the International Map Collector’s Society, IMCoS. Back at the turn of the century the market could support a lot more fairs in June anyway (in 2001 I exhibited at six fairs in ten days: never again!), but as most mapsellers wanted to exhibit at both fairs and clashes were inconvenient to say the least, we eventually negotiated a deal whereby the map fair would be entirely organized by London Map Fairs Ltd (a non-profit company limited by guarantee, like the ABA) and IMCoS would be paid a fixed subsidy for five years as compensation for lost revenue. In a harsh economic climate where many fairs have gone to the wall, we’ve coped pretty well.
The biggest change we made was to concentrate our energies on one fair a year. The regular monthly fairs, which (when I became involved with the map trade) were still held at the Bonnington Hotel, were socially convivial and also highly lucrative for most of us. However, they were almost entirely trade orientated, and we were seldom disturbed by freshfaced novice collectors. The crash of the mighty dollar and the new-found pervasiveness of the internet caused a lot of dealers to draw in their horns, to a greater or lesser extent, and the regular fairs lost their commercial raison d’être. Rents went up and the number of dealers willing to exhibit went down, which doesn’t make for a happy combination. Moving the fair to the Rembrandt slowed the process but ultimately couldn’t halt it. An attempt made by a group of colleagues in the trade to revive a monthly map fair regrettably failed through lack of interest – the figures don’t stack up any more.
Our priority became preserving a sense that the annual map fair is an ‘event’, increasingly difficult when dealers’ stock is online 24 hours a day and auction catalogues are more accessible than ever before. The figures for last year’s fair held at Olympia are in one sense highly encouraging. A third of purchases were made on the second day of the fair – the best possible indication that the extra browsing time (the fair used to be a one-day event) is being put to good use.
The total take was approximately £700,000, an average of £20,000 per exhibitor. The trade was feeling buoyant, accounting for an extraordinary 85% of reported sales. We ascribed the overall lack of private activity partly to the closure of the link between the ABA book fair and the antiques fair, which reduced potential crossover still further, and partly to the disruption of the District Line on the Saturday, which left determined punters with the option of bus or taxi.
For fair organizers and exhibitors alike, the ease of setting-up and breaking-down at Olympia may yet be sorely missed, but in terms of reaching the public we might as well have held the fair in Hornsey Scout Hut (substitute any venue with a roof within the M25 and the results would be approximately the same). It would have been a lot cheaper!
The historic and attractive premises of the Royal Geographical Society should provide a natural home for the map fair. Associated with great names of British travel and exploration such as Livingstone, Stanley, Scott, Shackleton, Hunt and Hillary, the building’s wooden panelling, portraits and abundant natural daylight create just the ambience we’re after.
The fair has been promoted among the 14,000 members of the RGS, including the 4,000 who live in the London area. Best of all, the fair is a quick walk from South Kensington tube and we’ll no longer be at the mercy of a branch of the District Line. And, from an organizer’s perspective, we’re no longer tied to a shortlist of approved contractors.
By moving to the RGS, with its purpose built Ondaatje lecture theatre, we’ve been able to offer free space to IMCoS for their AGM and realize our ambition of holding a series of map fair lectures – no suitable space was available while we were at Olympia. Our inaugural speakers will be Peter Barber, head of Map Collections at the British Library, and ABA Council member Laurence Worms. Peter’s lecture is entitled ‘Fixing the Image: The Mapping of London 297-1900’ and Laurence’s is addressing the title ‘Fixing the Map Trade: the London of the London Map Makers of the 18th Century’. Lectures are at 2.30pm daily and all are welcome.
Our exhibitors seem to be in broad agreement. This year we’re over subscribed and have opened a waiting list. All bodes well for the future success of the fair and we hope to see you there.
I. JULIAN NANGLE
Not often does the opportunity occur to criticise the critic. Even more rare that given this opportunity one cannot take advantage of it to stick the knife in. The case in point is that of James Fergusson whose recent catalogue “Ahasuerus the bookseller; books and papers including Robin Waterfield’s Poetry London and Amate Press archives” is a masterpiece of allure and commercial good sense. There is nothing to ‘stick in’ but a flag denoting the height of success. A catalogue one can sit down by the fire and read through at a sitting, it offers up treasures which you know have lain in dusty boxes in the attic for years. This provides the allure. The content of these boxes is what makes Fergusson’s catalogue an undoubted commercial success. The high spot is a collection of 52 autograph letters from David Gascoyne to Robin Waterfield, his life long friend (£2500). They are said to have met when Gascoyne was 14 or 16 years old and Waterfield a couple of years older. Fergusson suggests they met later than this, when they had both moved into adulthood and London.
This is an example of what is so good about the catalogue – it is jam-packed with biographical detail gathered together by its creator in a bibliophilic cascade of juicy tit-bits. Fergusson‘ s material is always rich and provocative, useful and hugely informative. The introduction to the catalogue can stand alone as a mini biography of Waterfield. There are unique offerings, all peppered with finely researched bouquets of information, from Waterfield’s association with David Low, Graham Greene, Lawrence Durrell, T.S.Eliot, Iris Murdoch and of course Gascoyne (not just the 52 letters mentioned above but 31 other Gascoynerelated items).
There is also a fascinating item relating to someone I had always deemed unsaleable, the ‘minor’ poet Paul Potts. In 35 years of selling periodicals I have never had an order for a journal because Paul Potts was a contributor but here we have 2.5 pages devoted by Fergusson to Two Working Manuscripts (1939 – 48) of Paul Potts (£1750) which, through the process of offering the item for sale, elucidates a fascinating story about the man, his relationship and friendship with various writers, including George Orwell, and his evident personal insecurity. “It wasn’t until during the war ... that I realized that I was going to fail in life, fail to be a real poet and fail to win the woman I loved” and again “[Ignazio] Silone article has been printed in the States. Had long letter from him, (he) obviously treats me as quite a serious writer!!!” Those three exclamation marks say it all.
I could go on at length about this catalogue – it stands alone in the field of literary research within the world of booksellers’ catalogues – but space demands I merely encourage anyone with a passing interest in 20thC literary life to order a copy from Fergusson at 39 Melrose Gardens, London W6 7RN. It will cost you the princely sum of £5.00.
Other catalogues this quarter come from Anthony Sillem (01424 446602) who worked for many years at Bell, Book & Radmall of 4 Cecil Court, London and Tindley & Chapman (0207 240 2161) (Cat 22) who took over the premises of BBR a few years after Sillem left. Sillem’s Cat 39 has a listing of eleven affordable William Beckford items ranging from £28 - £85, a first edition of Corvo’s masterpiece Hadrian the Seventh (£850) and a run of Forrest Reid first editions including his very scarce first book The Kingdom of Twilight (£500).
Tindley & Chapman’s catalogues are always business-like and professional and usually throw up mouth watering gems. Their latest is no exception: item 127 is Edward James’ The Next Volume printed in 1932 and illustrated by Rex Whistler (£300). This was the first edition, which James suppressed, binding up only 86 copies of the stated limited number of 500. James had second thoughts about his poem ‘By the Grave of Shelley’ and so pulled the project, waiting seven years before producing a revised edition.
Both Sillem and Tindley & Chapman offer books by Count Potocki of Montalk who Sillem accurately describes as a member of The Awkward Squad. His single offering of Potocki is the scarce ‘Social Climbers in Bloomsbury; done from the life”, printed in 1939, priced £75. Tindley & Chapman list 5 items. Potocki is certainly someone who lived outside the accepted mores of his day, producing small pirated editions of various poets, including Auden and Spender which can fetch hundreds of pounds. Tindlay & Chapman’s offering of the author’s own work in this catalogue range from £25 to £65.
Address for catalogues:
11 Baffins Court, Baffins Lane, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1UA
II. BRIAN LAKE
Michael Silverman is one of the few manuscript and autograph letter dealers who still publish printed catalogues. With Catalogue 26, Michael breaks from his usual format to issue a very attractive glossy-covered paperback, in the style of a slim ‘Penguin’, printed by Antony Rowe of Chippenham.
It is reminiscent of Lucius’ Summer 2006 book catalogue which imitates a small pulp-fiction novel, in wraps & a dustjacket, with colour throughout.
Michael Silverman opts for a colour cover illustration only, of a document signed by Byron, acknowledging receipt of £50 from his banker in Ravenna, Pellegrino Ghigi (£2,500). The 124 items advertised range from J.R. Ackerley (ALS, 1962, about his book ‘We Think the World of You, a novel about homosexuality and a German shepherd [sc. dog] which won the W.H. Smith Literary Award’, £150) through to Zola (ALS, 1897, concerning serialisation of Paris in an Argentinian journal, £750).
This suggests, correctly, a wide-ranging catalogue. Sir Joseph Banks writes in 1800 acknowledging receipt of a prospectus for a scientific prize offered by the French Bureau des Longitudes de France (£1,200). J.M. Barrie’s ‘fine series of Seven Autograph Letters’ to Susanna Dove (1892-1926), together with 22 from Barrie’s wife to the same correspondent, is priced at £3,750. Anthony Burgess disparages Joyce who ‘has ruined the lives of a lot of novelists, myself included (£900). Carlyle to Harriet Martineau, on ‘London Chaos & the Deliriums of the Age’ is £1,200; a document signed by Churchill & George V is £2,500. A Conrad cheque (£3 for his son Borys) will now cost you £500; one for £5 for his younger son John, £450.
There are two good Dickens letters at £1,750 & £1,200, and three Conan Doyle letters at £900 - £950, while George Eliot (signed M.E. Lewes) to Alexander Main is £1,800.
Five unpublished Edward Fitzgerald AlsS to Horace Basham - chatty letters about Suffolk & boating - are priced at £3,500. Gustave Flaubert’s notes on the Koran (11 leaves, c.1846) are £15,000, topped in price only by Vita Sackville West’s Autograph Manuscript of Passenger to Teheran at £16,000. Two brief Henry James letters are £500 & £525, T.E. Lawrence to Ernest Dowson is £2,800 and Nelson to Lambton Este, secretary to Charles Lock, former Consul at Naples, is £9,000. Four G.B. Shaw notes or letters range from £180 to £600, Southey mentioning a visit by Wordsworth is £400.
Michael Silverman presents a lively and eclectic mixture at prices that are not offputting. Something for everyone.
[Editor’s note: If any ABA member would like to review ‘General’, Map & Travel, or Autograph catalogues, please let me know.]
III. MERVYN JANNETTA
John Drury’s Catalogue 141 offers a varied selection of 140 17th - 20th century items. These include a rare broadside of 1741 against the expenses of marriage and family life, incorporating a large allegorical engraving by Gravelot (minor damage, £1500); W. Warren Butler’s Visions of Childhood, and other poems, Royston, 1843 (some browning, original cloth, shaken, £175); and a very scarce early 18thC Turkish grammar, formerly in the British Embassy library in Constantinople (19thC calf, worn, £1250). Book-collecting fans of Private Eye might just be tempted by a copy of James Erskine Lord Grange’s Doctrine of Libel, 1752, with the bookplate of Peter Carter-*uck (£375).
James Fenning Catalogue 239 A Miscellany has as usual much of Irish interest. Among Irish reprints there is a scarce ballad, Lovat’s Ghost, (Dublin, 1747) occasioned by the public beheading of Jacobite intriguer Simon Fraser Lord Lovat (£1250); and a Belfast 1782 reprint of Irishman Laurence Dermott’s guide to freemasonry, Ahiman Rezon (£850). Amongst Irish books proper, there’s a copy of an exceptionally scarce Cork imprint on Regimental Standing Orders for the Royal Meath Regiment of Militia (1796) very good in contemporary mottled calf, with title labels to spine and front cover (£3500).
To Grant & Shaw an apology: Blair Adam material in their Christmas list (no. 74) was indeed fresh, and not to be confused (as I had) with related material offered in the preceding catalogue. Catalogue 75 contains a group of 42 items, all from the library of Hugh Cleghorn (1782-1837). The catalogue and the books benefit from a short introductory biographical essay which places Cleghorn firmly at the heart of the Scottish Enlightenment, with important links to Adam Ferguson, Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart et al. Most of the books are in handsome contemporary calf with ‘Wakefield’ (the name of Cleghorn’s house near St Andrew’s) in gilt on the upper covers; together they form a modest ‘but unquestionably representative’ fraction of the library. Highlights include Cleghorn’s copy of his tutor Ferguson’s Institutes of Moral Philosophy, 1769, bearing the student’s marginal annotations and markings; bound in 19th century half calf, the volume evidently restored by its owner in later life (£1850). Altogether the collection prompts teasing speculation on the other, better books the library may once have contained by, for example, David Hume or Adam Smith (each represented only by late-ish reprints of a couple of titles).
Catalogue 70 from Alex Fotheringham contains a liberal sprinkling of late 18th - early 19th century (mostly) printed ephemera, much of which may reasonably be associated with recent dispersals at auction referred to in previous Newsletters (see 341, p.3 and 344, p.5). Amongst the ms. material there’s an ALs from Thomas Bewick (as creditor) to the bankrupt Scottish printer John Catnach’s solicitor. The debt is relatively small, the letter short (150 words) and to-the-point, but as the catalogue note says it ‘adds another interesting strand to the narrative’ of Bewick-Catnach relations (£1250). The catalogue also contains a mid- 18th century devotional binding of ‘black morocco, a.e.g., silver corner pieces and clasps’ on a 1739 BCP, with 1741 Tate & Brady Psalms (£250); an unrecorded illustrated single-sheet advertisement for the disposal by lottery of one of James Cox’s extraordinary automata museum exhibits – a ‘perpetual’ timepiece, eventually acquired by the V&A at auction in 1961 (£950); and Trusler’s Progress of Man and Society with woodcuts by John Bewick: the gruesomest graces the catalogue’s front cover (£160).
Spike Hughes Rare Books Miscellany 182 contains an unrecorded separate Edinburgh printing of the Act of Parliament creating a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (disbound, £250); a rare survival of an 18thC (anti-Abolitionist) pamphlet preserved as issued, within the original blue sugar paper wrappers on the Sept. 1792 number of the Critical Review. No other copies appear to have survived as record of this method of distribution for pamphlets, and I recall only ever having seen single-sheet prospectuses or advertisements attached in this way to original issues of a periodical. Elsewhere there’s a good copy of the second printing of Repton’s Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton (rebacked, £6750) and a ‘handsome set’ of the first quarto printing of Chesterfield’s Letters to his Son (full contemporary tree calf, £3350).
Spike’s Miscellany 183 followed soon after, and included a few familiar-sounding items with shared ‘Wakefield’ provenance. No tricks of the memory this time – their more recent provenance is, I understand, also shared. Elsewhere there’s a set of the Apollo Press Edinburgh issue of Bell’s British Poets (112 vols in 54, 1776-82, contemporary calf, rubbed and dull, £750). With Spring upon us, the armchair gardener may find inspiration in a 4-volume set of Memoirs of the Caledonian Society, 1814-29: contents include much by noted professionals of the time (uncut in boards, ‘essentially fine’, £3000). Also on offer is a subscription issue of an English verse translation of Voltaire’s Henriade, 1797 (uncut, modern boards, £75).
Jarndyce Catalogue 175: Chapbooks & Tracts constitutes Part II in an ongoing series devoted to Street Literature (Part I: Broadsides, Slipsongs and Ballads was issued last year as Catalogue 170). These lists are, unquestionably – and unlike most of the material – substantial. Part I had around 700 items, and the current list comprises just shy of 1000 entries, the first eighty of which are collections. Helen R Smith (cataloguing) and Carol Murphy (production and indexing) are duly acknowledged, and are to be congratulated on finding clear and attractive ways to present what can be intractable material. In particular, vertical division of the page admits the welcome relief of copious illustrations throughout. Individual provenance notes are few; but an introductory note states that ‘many items are from the collection of Leslie Shepard’ (author of The History of Street Literature, 1973). Many items are priced between £10 and £50, and apart from a few of the collections, the 1790s Prospectus which marks the beginning of the Cheap Repository (leading to the formation of the Religious Tract Society), proves to be one of the most expensive (£500).
From Canada comes Helen R. Kahn’s Catalogue 72, Books from the Past: 15th to 20th Centuries. Included is a copy of Bemetzrieder on Leçons de Clavecin, 1771 (contemporary quarter calf, worn, $2500); Von Guericke Experimente nova de vacuo spatio, 1672, ‘from the library of a well-known [but unnamed] German scientist’ (contemporary quarter sheep, some wear, $40,000); Campbell’s revised Voyages, 2 vols, 1744-48 (contemporary full calf, rebacked, $16,500); and a copy of Hobbes’s Leviathan, 1651 (‘bear’ issue, in contemporary full calf, expertly restored and sympathetically rebacked, $12,000).
E M Lawson’s Catalogue 32 Scarce and Interesting Books offers over 130 items in the usual categories. Among the ‘Americana’ there is a mid-19th-century practical guide for aspiring emigrants, entitled Mann’s Complete Emigrant’s Guide to Canada, published by A. Grattan and printed (and presumably sold by) A. Mann in Leeds in 1857 (wrappers, £65). The ‘Australiana’ section includes a copy of the same publisher’s guide to The Gold Fields of Australia, also with practical information for emigrants; this one was distributed by W.H. Smith in London and sold also by A. Mann in Leeds in 1852 (old wrappers, £85). The usual strong suit of early English books includes a copy of Manwood on forest law, second edition, 1615, ‘contemporary (?original) vellum’, (£785); the ‘Matchless Orinda’ Katherine Philips’s Poems, first authorized edition, very good crisp copy in contemporary calf, rebacked (£900); and a ‘scarce eccentric treatise on drunkenness’ by Thomas Heywood, 1635 (£1350). The ‘very large, splendidly dramatic’ titlepage woodcut is reproduced on the catalogue covers.
Catalogue 299 from Marlborough Rare Books contains 240 items in the field of British Topography. Predominantly from the 18th and 19th centuries, material is wide-ranging, sufficient to include maps, engravings, photographs, town and county guides, as well as estate sale particulars, a library catalogue (Currer, 2nd edn ‘in it’s [sic] original binding by Mackenzie ... for presentation’, £2000) and a collection of York chapbooks (18 juveniles by Kendrew, bound in 2 vols, wrappers preserved, £1250). Descriptions are well supported by numerous illustrations in b&w and in colour. Plate books of the Abbey calibre are well represented, Ackermann’s University of Oxford among the choicest (‘One of 50 copies on large and thick paper’, £15000). Where appropriate, catalogue entries are generously informative, with room too for the odd wry aside (two mid-20thC local historical society pamphlets provide ‘documentation of 18thC measures to maintain and organize transport infrastructure of this part of N. London, a task not completed successfully yet’, £30). Item 186 is a bound volume of late 18thC documents relating to the drainage of Sedgmoor, Somerset, and compensation claims for loss of Common Rights on the moor (contemporary panelled reversed calf, red morocco label on front cover, slightly worn, £2200).
Just 79 items listed in Catalogue 253 Recent Acquisitions from Howard S. Mott, but tempting a wide range of interests. For the home market there’s a volume of 9 late 18th-century pamphlets, eight of which are US editions, including two rare New Bedford, Mass. imprints. Minor loss to some items attributable to the binder’s knife is perhaps more than compensated by others surviving with uncut leaves ($5000). Other attractive rarities include an early American novel in boards ‘covered with overmarbled sheets of an unpublished US edition of Fanny Hill’ ($2500); and a rare pamphlet in original state, compiled by and printed for the enterprising US hawker Mason Locke ‘Parson’ Weems ($5000). Among the English books there’s a scarce Aylesbury-printed gaoler’s account of the life of Joseph Radley, executed in 1784 for highway robbery (woodcut plate, disbound, $1600).
Quaritch 1364 English Books contains just over a hundred books, some from the library of Dr B E Juel-Jensen, and from other notable collections such as Macclesfield, Ripley Castle, Kenelm Digby, etc. There are ‘Four fine Austens’ (Emma £25000, Mansfield Park £25000, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion £9500, Pride and Prejudice, 2nd edn, £12000); Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job (excellent copy, rebacked, £30000); Mildmay Fane’s copy of the true first of Hobbes’s Leviathan (‘very good in near-contemporary reversed calf’, rebacked, £17500); and a ‘very good, large copy’ of Milton’s Paradise Lost, 1669, fifth titlepage (early 19thC diced Russia, rebacked, £15000).
John Robertshaw’s Catalogue 107 opens with a first printing of Emblems of Mortality, with woodcuts (based on Holbein) by Thomas Bewick (contemporary sheep, worn, £250). Also illustrated with woodcuts (‘charming’, but anon) is Greenwood’s London Vocabulary, 17th edn, 1777 (‘loose in original rough cloth’ [ie hessian?], £65). Among the continental imprints there’s an ‘exceptional copy’ of Boulanger’s Recherches sur l’origine du despotism oriental, Geneva, 1761 (contemporary red morocco, richly gilt, fine, £795), and the Starhemberg copy of Passerat de la Chapelle on Minorca (contemporary half calf, flat spine gilt ‘a la grotesque’, fine, £1195). Later English imprints include a small collection of verse by Charlotte Monckton, privately printed in 1806 (contemporary black morocco, very good, £450). The short concluding section of ‘Bibliography and Art Reference’ material includes a finely (re)bound copy of Practical Illustrations of Gilpin’s Day by John Heaviside Clark, illustrated with 30 hand-coloured aquatints after Gilpin (later half olive green morocco by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, upper printed wrapper preserved, £2250).
One of the very great pleasures in taking on the role of reviewer for the Newsletter has been the renewal of old friendships from my time in the British Library. And so mention here is made of the recent arrival of Catalogue 95 from Karen Thomson. The list may perhaps no longer be quite fresh, but it’s reassuring to find seventy items in the usual language areas. They include Cobbet’s Grammar, first edition, New York, 1818 (not in British Library, £450); various items relating to J.A.H. Murray and to the OED; and some important books in the field of early Anglo-Saxon scholarship. These last include two copies of Thwaites’s Heptateuch, 1698 – one the Macclesfield copy, presented by George Hickes (the dedicatee) to Thomas Parker, later first Earl of Macclesfield, and distinguished supporter of Anglo-Saxon studies (£3000); and the first edition of the first Anglo-Saxon dictionary, compiled by William Somner, lecturer in Saxon at the University of Cambridge, and for want of suitable types there, printed in Oxford in 1659 (£4500).
Graham Weiner sends Catalogue 39 in History of Science, Technology and Medicine. Arranged within more than twenty-five separate sub-categories, some 330 items receive mostly brief descriptions, supported occasionally with b&w illustrations, and four leaves of colour plates. ‘Astronomy’ includes a clutch of composite volumes of later 18th - early 19th century almanacs (12 almanacs in 1 vol., 1771, £200; 42 almanacs in 6 vols., 1806-23, £350). Item 131 Histoire naturelle de la parole (1776) by Antoine Court de Gebelin benefits from the centre-fold reproduction of the original’s folding colour mezzotint of organs of speech (£475). Along with various 18th century encyclopaedias of the arts and sciences (Chambers’ Cyclopaedia, 5 vols, 1779-86, ex-lib., £440), the section on ‘Science and Invention’ includes an ex-lib. copy of the 9th edition (1806) of Johnson’s Dictionary (stamps, lib. pockets, stout quarter morocco, £175).
Address for catalogues:
4 Cranbury Close, Downton, Salisbury, Wilts. SP5 3DL.
MARCH COUNCIL MINUTES
Minutes of the Meeting of Council held on Wednesday 5th March 2008, at 2.00pm in the Garden Room of the Reform Club, 104 Pall Mall, London SW1.
Present: Alan Shelley (President), in the Chair
Ian Smith (Vice President)
Jonathan Potter (Honorary Treasurer)
Robert Frew (Immediate Past President)
Tim Bryars, Christopher Edwards, Michael Graves-Johnston, Brian Lake, Angus O’Neill, Julian Rota, Michael Silverman, Roger Treglown, Nigel Williams, Laurence Worms.
Secretary: John Critchley,
Past Presidents: Raymond Kilgarriff, Paul Minet, Adrian Harrington
Apologies: Kenneth Fuller, Jolyon Hudson
MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON WEDNESDAY 23rd JANUARY 2008
The minutes were accepted as a fair and accurate account of the proceedings. No matters arising were tabled for discussion.
REPORT AND CORRESPONDENCE OF THE PRESIDENT
The President circulated the text of a letter which he intended to send to Bookdealer in reply to criticism of the ABA in an article by Paul Evans. Council were content for the letter to be sent, although Brian Lake felt that there was no need to reply.
REPORT OF THE SECRETARY
A letter had been received from Meg Davies of Designer Bookbinders thanking the Association for funding the “runner-up” prizes for their 2007 competition.
The President nominated Ian Smith as his candidate for election as Vice President. Mr Smith replied that he would be honoured to stand.
The Secretary was asked to put out a special Bulletin urging members to put themselves forward for election to Council, stating that Council were conscious that there was a shortage of female Members of Council and also of those from outside the southeastern corner of the country. There was also to be a reminder that any member of five years’ standing was eligible to stand as an alternative candidate for the positions of President, Vice-President and Treasurer. Raymond Kilgarriff and Paul Minet offered their services and were appointed as Scrutineers for the postal ballot.
The Treasurer presented the Accounts for 2007 together with his Annual Report, and invited questions and comments. Laurence Worms noted that the fees for accountancy and audit seemed high, apparently almost 10% of the declared turnover. The Treasurer replied that, when measured against the actual flow of funds into and out of the ABA accounts, in the order of £750,000 each year, the percentage was much lower and was roughly equivalent to the fees in similar organisations. He also considered that thorough accounting procedures were merited by the ABA’s non-profit making status and the charitable status of the Benevolent Fund. Brian Lake proposed the adoption of the Accounts and Treasurer’s Report: this was seconded by Robert Frew and adopted with 14 votes in favour, none against and no abstentions.
The President congratulated the Treasurer on the very healthy financial performance of the Association in 2007.
The Treasurer presented the 2007 Accounts and invited comment. Laurence Worms stated that in his opinion the Trustees were being overcautious and, with over £500,000 invested, seemed to be trying to contain expenditure to the interest earned. He also pointed out that the objectives of the fund made no distinction between grants for the relief of hardship and those for educational purposes, observing that the expenditure on education was derisory. He went on to propose reintroducing the 5% levy on the membership subscription. There was support for his view from many of those present, although the Treasurer and Paul Minet pointed out that relief of hardship had been the original objective of the fund, and that the Trustees were necessarily cautious because only two or three more requests for assistance with health care would push expenditure well above income. The Treasurer added that reducing the fund’s capital would attract criticism from the membership.
Adrian Harrington observed that the fees charged by the HSBC investment manager were high. The Treasurer replied that the Trustees had met HSBC to discuss this, and were monitoring the performance of the investments against the fees: he felt that the investments had done reasonably well against a background of falling stock market prices and interest rates. [Post meeting note: the figure given by the Secretary for the appreciation of investments was inaccurate – the actual appreciation was about £5,000.]
Christopher Edwards proposed that the 2009 membership subscription invoices should include an optional £25 levy for the Benevolent Fund. This was seconded by Tim Bryars and adopted with 13 votes in favour, none against and one abstention.
The Benevolent Fund Accounts and Trustees’ Report were noted by Council. The President asked the Treasurer to aid the understanding of members by discussing with his fellow Trustees how better to communicate their aims and scope and the process by which they functioned.
There were no questions on the Annual Reports and they were accepted by Council.
No Resolutions were put forward
Deaccessioning of books from institutional Libraries
Christopher Edwards reported that 30 letters proposing the adoption of a method of ascertaining that ex-library books had been properly disposed of had been sent out to senior librarians in September 2007. Only half a dozen replies had been received, with no clear consensus. Jolyon Hudson and he now proposed to meet representatives of the British Library to explore the librarians’ perspective further. This was noted and it was agreed that it was necessary to have an ABA representative on the Rare Books Group, and also that Laurie Hardman should be contacted to confirm what work he had done on the subject when he was a Member of Council. The Secretary was asked to send copies of the advisory code developed by the ABA and CILIP in the late 1990s to Christopher Edwards, Jolyon Hudson, the Treasurer and Roger Treglown.
General Discussion on ILAB
Brian Lake opened the discussion by saying that he hoped that half an hour could be devoted at each meeting to the debate of such topics. He went on to say that, although in principle an international body was a good idea, he, in common with many booksellers, had a negative view of the ILAB as presently constituted. He felt that the process for electing committee members was opaque; he asked why there were no national representatives; he felt that there should be closer ties to individual booksellers; and he felt that there was a danger in ILAB just being a talking shop and that communication should be better.
Angus O’Neill added that the appalling English in the brochures and on the website for the Madrid Congress and Book Fair summed up for him what was wrong with the ILAB. He wanted to support the League, but felt that it had lost the bookseller. He also asked what relevance there was in providing a definition of “antiquarian book”.
The President pointed out that the Madrid Congress and Book Fair were being hosted by the Spanish Association, not by ILAB, and Adrian Harrington went on to give an overview of the ILAB, saying that the League had been founded in 1947 to try to heal the wounds of WWII and to re-establish international trade. The ILAB was the servant of the national associations, he went on to say, with all decisions made by the national presidents at their annual meeting. Since the debacle of the Congress in the USA, national associations wishing to host congresses made their proposals to the ILAB and could have an ILAB committee member as liaison officer. The Spanish association had refused an ILAB representative. Provision of an authoritative definition of “antiquarian book” was vital to ensure proper public understanding through such websites as Wikipedia and Abe. Summing up, Mr Harrington said that the ABA should make a larger contribution to the ILAB and regain its leading position. Raymond Kilgarriff added that the League was certainly democratic, being controlled by the national presidents, and that it was certainly international.
Robert Frew observed that, to many people, the role of the ILAB was far from clear: he gave as an example the name “ILAB Congress”, so named despite the ILAB’s apparently washing its hands of responsibility and handing over the lead to the national associations.
The discussion then turned to the ILAB website. Julian Rota said that he had major concerns about it, citing as examples: that sales were much lower than on Abe; that the short-lived Wikipedia addition had been an embarrassment; and that the lack of a facility to search for a specific author (“T S Eliot” found all the Eliots) was poor. Robert Frew added that it was not possible to search by publisher and that the collection of all the main booksellers in businesses under the name of “Proprietor” was misleading. The Secretary was asked to forward all the criticisms to the IT & Internet Sub-Committee for consideration and referral to ILAB, and also to approach the ILAB for a copy of the Rockingstone contract.
The President concluded the discussion by saying that this was an important topic, with a lot of ignorance and animosity among the membership as a whole. He felt that there was a need for a very specific discussion before the Madrid congress so that he could take Resolutions and proposals to Madrid. Laurence Worms suggested that further discussion should include consideration of whether the ILAB Code of Customs and Usage was suitable for both public and trade use, or whether it should be split into two parts. And Raymond Kilgarriff ventured the hope that the Members of Council would also read the Constitutional By-Laws before the next meeting.
The Secretary was asked to send out copies of the Manual to all Members of council.
Change of membership status
“Cavendish Rare Books Ltd.” to become “Cavendish Rare Books”
“C D & H M Proctor” to become “C D & T A Proctor – t/a The Antique Map and Bookshop”
The following resignations were accepted:
Old Church Galleries
Henry Stevens, Son and Stiles (membership to be dormant)
Janet Muir (Robert Muir Old & Rare Books) to succeed Robert Muir as Principal Nominee
Ben Weinstein (Heritage Book Shop, Inc.) to succeed Lou Weinstein as Principal Nominee
Additional Nominees appointed by Council
Carlos Alves (Frank R Thorold (Pty) Ltd.)
Vivien de Búrca (De Búrca Rare Books)
Helen Muir (Robert Muir Old & Rare Books)
Jenny Shelley (Bow Windows Book Shop)
Edward J Smith (Pickering & Chatto)
Lady Juliet Townsend (Old Hall Bookshop)
Roger Treglown reported that discussions were continuing with the Chelsea Arts Club for a book-related exhibition at the 2008 Fair. Council also noted that the dates for the 2009 fair would be Friday 6th and Saturday 7th November.
Adrian Harrington reported a full hall, with attendance only just short of the 1999 peak of 159 exhibitors. There was no news of a patron yet; the budget was looking healthy, with the extra space which had been opened up yielding a further basic surplus of £5,000; it was hoped that Richard Thompson Insurance Brokers might be able to persuade their underwriters, Hiscox, to fund a party for exhibitors on the Friday evening; the ABA would share the expense of a shuttle bus with the PBFA again this year, although a check would be made of the numbers coming and going; Mark Worrall had left Early action Group to work for a competitor and was seeking to move the ABA contract with him – although his replacement at Early Action Group, Patrick Ward, seemed very capable and so healthy competition might develop; and the Association seemed to be re-establishing good relations with the Fine Arts and Antiques Fair (FAAF), with mutual distribution of tickets from both fairs.
Mr Harrington then asked the Secretary to check how long the depreciation of the glass cases listed in the accounts was due to continue [Post Meeting note: Accountant Victor Coles says 18 months]. And Roger Treglown suggested that storage of the glass cases nearer London be investigated as a way of saving money.
General discussion on the Olympia Book Fair
Brian Lake opened the discussion by praising Adrian Harrington and all those involved with organising the Olympia Book Fair in doing an excellent job. He went on to say that he had asked for this discussion to take place during the “dog days of January” because he felt that decisions were taken by the Book Fair Committee before Council had had a chance to consider them. In particular, he felt that the reporting of take figures could be improved: there was no identification of booksellers’ performance over the whole fair, just day by day, although there must be some way of calculating this anonymously; and that there should be some way of relating take to stand rental. He felt that the pricing structure could be reviewed with the aim of drawing more exhibitors in. He asked if it was still necessary to be next to the FAAF and whether the fair could take place at a different time of year, and in another venue. And he expressed concern about the continuity of the fair chairmanship: Adrian Harrington had been in the seat for over ten years and perhaps he would consider that it was time to start grooming a successor?
Roger Treglown expressed the opinion that book fair management was delegated to committees led by Members of Council who were responsible to Council: any further oversight by Council would be unwelcome.
Laurence Worms agreed and suggested that there was too much overlap and doubling-up of discussion and that all the ABA sub-committees should be allowed to conduct their business with a minimum of interference. He went on to agree with Mr Lake, however, that, while returns must be anonymous, there might be some way of asking on the final sheet whether exhibitors had had a good, bad or indifferent fair.