Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Great Plague in London by Walter George Bell. Folio Society.

The Great Plague in London by Walter George Bell. Hardcover book (no dust jacket) with decorative boards with slipcase published by The Folio Society 2001, 256 pages with some black and white and colour illustrations and a few colour photographs.

The great Plague of 1665 was a last and terrible visitation before bubonic plague finally burned itself out. A direct descendant of the Black Death, it killed more than 100,000 people in London alone. Its horrors have been etched on our minds by the writings of Daniel Defoe and Samuel Pepys, yet many citizens displayed great courage and compassion. London’s Lord Mayor, Sir John Lawrence, remained at his post when almost all who could afford to had fled the city; Dr Nathaniel Hodges tended patients throughout the epidemic – never himself catching the plague. Walter Bell’s astonishingly detailed account has never been equalled. This re-edited edition of his book allows his scholarship and imaginative sympathy to shine through for a new generation of readers. Edited and introduced by Belinda Hollyer.

“The Folio Society is a privately owned London-based publisher, founded by Charles Ede in 1947 and incorporated in 1971. It produces illustrated hardback editions of classic fiction and non-fiction books, poetry and children's titles. Folio editions feature specially designed bindings and include artist-commissioned illustrations (most often in fiction titles) or researched artworks and photographs (in non-fiction titles). Many editions come with their own slipcase.” Wikipedia

A while ago I wrote about the hit and miss world (nothing to do with “Miss World” or Donald Trump) of selling Folio Society books on line (click here if you want to read what I wrote), so it might seem a bit strange that after all writing what I wrote then, that i'm now expanding my Folio Society listings on ebay. The truth is that I couldn't control my buying urges when confronted with 50 odd Folio Society titles in mostly great condition. Yep, I talked myself into it and so far i've have enough sales for it to have been worth my while. I think it has something to do with quantity of titles of these beautiful tomes as i've had more than one person buy multiple items. Maybe that has been my problem in the past as most Folio books are quite heavy and therefore postage is a bit of a bummer. With the intention of posting these heavy books in an Australia Posts 3kg satchel, I have been aggressively offering combined postage on this titles. “Aggressively” means that there's a larger bold message with the items listed indicating that I offer:

Maximum of $10 for postage on multiple items within Australia. 

This is no different to what I normally offer except that the message is a little more in your face on these ebay Folio Society listings. Maybe I need to change the way I offer this deal on postage.

… and the reason I singled out “The Great Plague in London” by Walter George Bell is that it's got a nice cover... as they all do.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel by Haruki Murakami. (First US edition.)

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel by Haruki Murakami, translated by Alfred Birnbaum. Hardcover book published by Kodansha International 1991 First U.S. Edition, 401 pages with some black and white decorative illustrations.

Quite a while ago, I stumbled upon a UK edition of One Hundred Years of Solitude and at the time I was shocked and amazed to have stumbled upon something as special as a first edition of this incredible book. Here we are a few years later and i've got another incredible find that, quite honestly, left me speechless.

There's something incredibly nice about finding a book that you can feel proud to have found and then have for sale... even though in this instance I didn't find it. A good friend of mine walked up to me at a book sale and handed over this book, my jaw dropped (and still remains dropped) and I was speechless. I don't think I even properly thanked him at the time... but have done so since then.

Haruki Murakami is one of those writers that booksellers love to find. The reason is quite simply that whether new or secondhand, paperback or hardback, first edition or not, he sells. I have read a number of his books over the years and have like most people that have delved, become entranced and despite being a book seller (that is, someone who sells books as apposed to someone who keeps them) still own a number of them. Who can forget the Wild Sheep Chase and the whole sheep thing... and the ear thing... I can't. I've got a number of his newer books sitting in my 'to be read' stack and as i'm writing this blog entry i'm working myself into a Murakami reading frenzy to the point that... I will start reading the mammoth and intimidating 1Q84 in the next few days... I will do it.

So, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, do I think it will sell? It will take the right person (other than myself) to appreciate what this book is. I'm assuming it will be a collector and a fan, and based on my knowledge of how big this guy is, it will sell.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bruce Springsteen FAQ: All That's Left to Know about the Boss by John D. Luerssen.

Bruce Springsteen FAQ: All That's Left to Know about the Boss by John D. Luerssen. Paperback book published by Backbeat Books 2012, 437 pages with black and white photographs.

Long before he sold 120 million albums globally in a career that has endured artistically and commercially like no other performer s in the rock era, Bruce Springsteen was a working-class New Jersey kid with a dream and a guitar.”

On the July 16, 2016 Alan Vega (Boruch Alan Bermowitz) passed away. He was 78 years old.

Over recent years I have often thought about which musician or group (living and gigging) I would still like to see performing in a live situation. The answer has always been Suicide of which Alan Vega was half thereof.  As far as I'm aware, Suicide never toured here in Australia (...correct me if i'm wrong) and now they never will. It's hard to explain how important that first Suicide album was/is if you don't know it... and there are plenty of people who if they did know it would hate it anyway...

despite it being fairly straight down the line rock n roll... albeit with a dark primeval twist to disturb the status quo/everything. Unlike Bruce Springsteen there weren't any guitars, no stadium gigs, no 120 million sold albums, no mega stardom, just a deep respect from those in the know.

Now you're probably wondering why i'm writing about Alan Vega in a blog entry about a Bruce Springsteen book. The truth is that I don't have any books about Suicide or Alan Vega at the moment, nor have I ever come across any in my second hand book searching expeditions, but I really wanted to write something about him. Bruce Springsteen was/is a fan. He has also rather famously covered Dream Baby Dream:

A nice version... but here's Suicide.

Goodbye Alan.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The High Road To China: George Bogle, The Panchen Lama & The First British Expedition To Tibet by Kate Teltscher.

The High Road To China: George Bogle, The Panchen Lama & The First British Expedition To Tibet by Kate Teltscher. Hardcover book published by Bloomsbury 2006, 316 pages with a few colour and black and white illustrations.

In 1774 the head of the East India Company in Bengal, Warren Hastings, determined to open trade relations with the hitherto impenetrable court of imperial China. To this end he entrusted the young Scotsman George Bogle to be the first British envoy to Tibet. Once there, Bogle attempted to enlist the influence of the Panchen Larna in a bid to attract the sympathy of the Qianlong Emperor; a hard task, for the imperial court generally viewed trade with disdain, and took an altogether dim view of the British Empire. But what began as an unprecedented diplomatic mission soon acquired a different character. Bogle became smitten by what he saw in Tibet, and in particular by the person of the Panchen Lama himself, with whom he struck up a remarkable friendship, fuelled by a reciprocal desire for understanding. And as for Tibet: ‘When I look upon the time I have spent among the Hills it appears like a fairy dream.’ Bogle’s letters and journals, by turns playful, penetrating, self-deprecating and packed with engaging detail, were to help create the myth of Tibet in the West, the Shangri-La so familiar to us today. This book tells the story of the British attempt to reach the Qianlong Emperor’s ear, a narrative of two extraordinary journeys across some of the harshest and highest terrain in the world: Bogle’s mission, and the Panchen Lama’s state visit to China, on which British hopes were hung. Piecing together the narrative from Bogle’s private papers, Tibetan biographies of the Panchen Lama, the account of a wandering Hindu monk, and the writings of the Qianlong Emperor himself, Kate Teltscher deftly reconstructs the momentous meeting of four very different worlds.”

Although I have never visited Tibet, I have been within spitting distance. ...Not that I want to spit on it or anything like that, i'm just using the spitting distance thing as an indication as to how close I have been... which isn't really within the distance that I or anyone else can spit, but more along the line of, “i've travelled in places not that far from Tibet”. Darjeeling, Nepal, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh are all destinations I have ventured too and are all not that far from where the action in this book takes place...or at least a little closer to the action than where I presently sit.

Unlike George, I've never been over the border, but like George I am “smitten”, which is a strange thing to say about a place i've never been too. I guess my adventures in the Himalaya are all about my fascination with Tibet without my ever having been there. Sort of like an unattainable Holy Grail, wished for and within my grasp, but never achieved. Ladakh, although not Tibet, was as close as I believe I have ever been to what I imagine Tibet is like and even as I sit here many years later, I can still vividly picture most of what I saw there. It is truly spectacular on many levels and to a certain extent I would agree with Bogle in saying ‘When I look upon the time I have spent among the Hills it appears like a fairy dream’ even though i'm not really sure what a “fairy dream” is and we are talking about different places.

My interest in things Himalayan and Tibetan did of course lead to me to the purchase of this book and although I have read a number of books about things Tibetan and the British and everyone elses interest in things Tibetan (eg Huc & Gabet), I haven't read this book but it does looks like my sort of thing and I figure it is probably someone elses sort of thing as well.  

Saturday, July 16, 2016

British Poultry Standards: Complete specifications and judging points of all standardized breeds and varieties of poultry as compiled by the specialist Breed Clubs and recognised by the Poultry Club of Great Britain: Fifth Edition, edited by Victoria Roberts.

British Poultry Standards: Complete specifications and judging points of all standardized breeds and varieties of poultry as compiled by the specialist Breed Clubs and recognised by the Poultry Club of Great Britain: Fifth Edition, edited by Victoria Roberts. Hardcover book (no dust jacket) with pictorial front cover published by Blackwell Science 1997, 368 pages with colour photographs and a few black and white photographs and illustrations.

“Exhibiting poultry is only part of a long tradition which began in mid-Victorian times, but breeding also serves to maintain the pure breeds, some of which may be necessary for the development and future of commercial hybrid strains. The demand for uniformity in type and coloration of the various breeds led to the authorization of standards of excellence under the guardianship of the Poultry Club of Great Britain. British Poultry Standards is the official reference for all the recognized Poultry Standards in Great Britain; it contains complete specifications together with judging points for all the standardized breeds and varieties.
The new edition - the first since 1982 - has been fully updated, with over 200 colour photographs of current winners. Included are details of a further sixteen breeds of fowl, ducks and geese, and the section on turkeys has been extensively rewritten. The book has been significantly revised to provide clearer definitions of breeds, types and colours for the poultry breeder and conservationist.”

I love a good chicken book and recently I picked up a brood of chicken books that made my feathers stand on end. Yep, there were vintage booklets on various aspects of chicken raising as well as a few booklets on Caponizing... something that I really had no idea about, and now do... but probably didn't really need to know about. Besides the booklets there was also this lovely book on British Chicken Standards, which really has very little to do with a tandoor* and more to do with agricultural shows.

Beautiful photographs and what appears to be detailed information, is contained within the book as well as judging points which is why I don't think these chickens ended up in the Colonels deep fry. Nope, this book is about something other than Schnitzeling or roasting, it's about appreciating the finer aspects of all manner of poultry still living with feathers and innards intact. A bit like pig breeds, many of these chickens are now uncommon and from my limited knowledge of our fancy feathered friends, becoming even more uncommon as the years go by. Thankfully there are people out there who care enough about poultry standards, to write and publish a book such as this... although that was 19 years ago...

*The term tandoor refers to a variety of ovens and Tandoori chicken is a roasted chicken delicacy that originated in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. (Wikipedia)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Cold Storage and Ice-Making: An Elementary Handbook by Bernard H. Springett.

Cold Storage and Ice-Making: An Elementary Handbook by Bernard H. Springett. Hardcover book published by Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons 1921, 122 pages with some black white photographs and illustrations. (Book contains some advertising)

PREFACE:  This work has been prepared in order to provide a sufficiently comprehensive while necessarily concise handbook on the refrigerating industry, which has proved itself of such world-wide importance since the part it played in winning the Great War has become more fully known. In the present compilation the object has been to present to the general reader, as well as to the untechnical user of refrigerating machinery, sufficient knowledge as to the first principles of artificial refrigeration, while avoiding the mass of technical terms, formulae and descriptions of machinery and methods which are inseparable from the usual publications on the subject, excellent and important as these are to those able to appreciate their contents. No attempt has been made to differentiate between the many excellent, well-constructed standard types of refrigerating machines made by various English firms of engineers, or to mention machines supplied by foreign makers. Only machines and appliances of special design or construction are separately mentioned, except when some special feature has needed enlarging upon. This handbook is intended more for the owners and users of small refrigerating plants, and the general student desirous of becoming acquainted with the elementary principles of the production and application of artificial cold.

It's been fairly cold here recently. It is winter and despite it being a bit late and a bit milder than usual*, we have managed a few cold days. I have a gauge that indicates to me whether it's cold or not. No, it's not a thermometer or anything thermometerish. My gauge is my water supply. If there's no water due to frozen pipes, it's cold. If there's still water running freely, it's not that cold. So far this winter this has only happened the once and fortunately the kettle was full, so I didn't have to go without a coffee first thing in the morning.

This book has nothing to do with my pipes or my coffee, or with natural coldness. It's about the artificial creation of coldness as it was done in 1921. Just up the road from where I now sit there was an ice making factory which I believe also did a bit of cold storage business as well. I'm not sure when it originally opened or when it closed down, but i've got a feeling that this is the sort of book that they would have found of interest circa 1921... or maybe not.  

I've mentioned before that I love finding these sort of old technical books. I think it's the idea of something that was so important and is now out of date and nearly forgotten.  Old technology books do have buyers who are often passionate about their subjects. I've just got to find them.

*Thanks Global Warming

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Golden Destiny: The Centenary History of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia by Martyn Webb and Audrey Webb.

Golden Destiny: The Centenary History of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia by Martyn Webb and Audrey Webb. Hardcover book published by City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder 1993, 1070 pages with black and white photographs and some black and white illustrations and maps.

Focusing on the twin mining towns of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, this book draws upon Western Australia’s experience of the search for and exploitation of gold over almost 140 years, with special reference to the discovery and development of the Eastern Goldfields and the famed Golden Mile. Their story is rich in detail. It describes how gold helped transform Western Australia, with its 1 million square miles of territory, from a land of ‘despondency and despair’ with less than 50,000 inhabitants in 1890 to its present population of more than 1.5 million (1993). Their story also covers the transformation of the Western Australian gold industry from its use of the most primitive methods to advanced modern technologies as it moved from free-lance alluvial mining, to labour- intensive heavily-capitalised company-operated deep mining, to the current reworking of 100 year old gold centres by large-scale open-cut mining operations. The book shows how isolation and aridity on the Eastern Goldfields gave a new twist to that peculiar age-old relationship between gold and people — and thereby helped to create one of Australia’s most distinctive ways of life. Commissioned by the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder as its contribution to the centenary of the discovery of gold at Kalgoorlie in 1893 by Paddy Hannan, Tom Flanagan and Dan Shea, Golden Destiny is profusely illustrated by contemporary photographs, maps and diagrams, well supported with documentary evidence, and fleshed out with the real life stories of past and present goldfielders from all walks of life.”

Local histories. I don't know if it's the same all over the world, but people here in Australia do like to read about where they live (...or have lived... or where their ancestors have lived), no matter how big or small a place it is. During my book finding expeditions I'm often stumped by the amount of places with a history written about them, that i've never heard of. I think this could have something to do with growing up and living most of my life in one big city. It was only when I moved away from the throbbing metropolis of Melbourne all those years ago, that I realised how Melbournecentric my life had been up to that point. Don't get me wrong, I think I did have a fairly good geographical knowledge of this country and yes I did know where most of the bigger places are. It's when you find a book about Mundaring, Dixie or Yankalilla that things start to get a bit more interesting... and I start to get a bit bamboozled. Fortunately we now have google to help us figure out the difficult and embarrassing questions about where things are and I can confidently list a book on line as being a local history book about somewhere which I now have a fair idea where it is.

Kalgoorlie and Boulder (Western Australia, bottom half, inland from Perth) are places that I am aware of. Over the years i've sold numerous books looking at the history of this area and what a rich history it is. So rich that the authors of this book decided to fill over 1,000 pages with it's history, producing this large brick of a book. It's a statement, it's the sort of thing that could do you serious damage if not handled properly. Listing stuff on line, means that I have to handle any book I list more than a few times; carrying it home, shelving it, photographing it, writing it up and shelving it again. This is a two hand book, meaning that you need both hands to handle it. I can feel my biceps growing (or groaning) each time I pick it up. Books like this are the reason why kindles were invented... (not really).