Saturday, August 30, 2014

Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem with Notes by Percy Bysshe Shelley, to which is added, a brief memoir of the author.

Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem with Notes by Percy Bysshe Shelley, to which is added, a brief memoir of the author.  Hardcover book (no dust jacket) published by James Watson, 15 City Road, Near Finsbury Square (no date, possibly 1840 or 1841), 112 pages.

Shelley wrote and published Queen Mab when he was quite young. Apparantly it's quite an important piece of his oeuvre and was something that caused a bit of a stir at the time of publication (1813) and thereafter, to the point that the Society for the Prevention of Vice decided that it needed preventing. Pirated copies abounded and someone even went to gaol for publishing it... a bit like Wikileaks except the gaol was probably not as cosy as the Ecuadorian embassy.

I've written previously about my personal lack of poetry and this poem fits my personal profile of unread poetry that I probably wont ever get around to reading. Fortunately I am not a good yard stick to measure the interest in books of poetry, but I do have enough of a knowledge to figure out that a dusty old edition of this book is a book of interest. As per usual I have done a bit research on this particular edition and it has a little bit of interest attached to it.

Currently on line I am unable to find this edition for sale. What I have been able to find was a reference to it in “The Shelley Library.Shelley's Own Books, Pamphlets & Broadsides; Posthumous SeparateIssues; and Posthumous Books wholly or mainly by him. An Essay inBibliography by H.B. Forman.” According to this bibliography this edition is from the early1840s. It's uncertain of the date as there is no date listed in the book and the Bibliographic entry which dates the book as 1840 or 1841 is based on the copy in the British Museum. After the first self published edition, the poem was only available for many years in pirated editions and i'm not 100% sure whether this particular edition is another pirate or not. All of these illegal versions and the first self published edition are worth $$...

This is another one of those books that I am pleased to have found, not just because of the $ value, but because this title has an interesting publishing history contemporary with this edition. From experience this $ value wont necessarily translate into real $ in the near future. It's a long term investment that I now have.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

In the kingdom of the blind...

This week has been a real eye opener for me... in many, many different ways. Last Tuesday I woke up with a very strange situation regarding my right eye. Basically it was no longer working the way that I have always assumed my eyes would work, which has something to do with opening them and seeing things. I was a bit concerned but not hysterical. I have had problems with an on and off inner ear/vertigo condition for many years and I thought it might be connected to this. In hindsight it was a bit dumb of me to think this, but this hindsight is retrospective and it is hindsight. So Thursday morning I go and see my GP and to cut a long story short I ended up in hospital for an operation to have had my retina reattached. Why it had chosen to deattach itself, I don't know, but deattached it had become and reattached it needed to be and now is.

This means that my right eye is out of action for a while... at least 2 to 3 weeks. This is scary stuff. Booksellers tend to use their eyes quite a bit in selecting, cleaning and selling both on line or in a shop... and i'm a bookseller. Yeah, I got the other one, but it's not quite the same and here on day 6, I don't really trust what i'm seeing (depth of vision is an issue). This blog entry is a bit of a test to see how this computer thingy will be over the coming days.

This whole thing has made me think a lot about how we see things particularly in regards to books. Braille is an option but somehow I reckon Braille may take a bit longer than 3 weeks to learn and up till now I haven't found any second hand Braille books, I'm also not so sure how popular Braille now is. Due to my lack of coherent vision i'm fairly sure my income stream (… actually a trickle) will be hindered which is more than a little bit of a concern. The next few weeks will be interesting.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Under Furred Hats (6th A.L.H. Regt) by Geo. L. Berrie (Lieut.).

Under Furred Hats (6th A.L.H. Regt) by Geo. L. Berrie (Lieut.). Hardcover book (no dust jacket) published by W.C. Penfold & Co. 1919, 179 pages with some black and white photographs.

“In this book the author has briefly described during its term of service abroad, the career of the 6th Light Horse Regiment, from December, 1914, to August, 1919.”

One hundred years ago there was a war. It was a big one. Lots of Australians fought in that war and some of them died. Later, this particular War, and our soldiers, became the stuff of legends. The 6th Light Horse Regiment was part of that legend having fought at Gallipoli and elsewhere in the Middle East during this time.

In 1919 there must have been a massive demand for a book such as this. People wanted to know what had happened and where and who. Geo. L. Berrie (Lieut.) had the right idea, write a book quick while the book buying public are still interested. It's a bit like numerous contemporary publications that are obviously written and published on a wave of interest (eg: Tsunami books) and then no interest... Except Geo.s book was not something that people forgot about or lost interest in and it is still in print today*. This copy is an original first edition and is very worn and used, a bit like all those soldiers returning from Gallipoli. It looks like it has seen the trenches which I think adds to the overall appeal of a vintage book about a war that was a hundred years ago. You can't get more real than this.

*Print on demand

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Corner Shops of Ballarat: A History and Directory, produced by the Ballarat Branch of the National Trust.

The Corner Shops of Ballarat: A History and Directory, produced by the Ballarat Branch of the National Trust. Paperback book published by National Trust Ballarat Branch 2009, 86 pages with black and white photographs.

Whatever happened to the corner shop? This is something that I have often pondered upon over the years, usually as I buy some milk or a drink (...or something) at a petrol station. It's not that the corner shop has disappeared completely, there are a few that I know of that seem to be barely hanging on with dusty half empty shelves and out of date produce, sadly waiting for a 7eleven staffed by underpaid Indian students to open up within a few hundred metres. I guess that's progress. I fondly remember overfilled family run businesses where they knew your name and where you knew their names. Where the sound of a television and loud children in the other room along with the smell of recently prepared food, was not uncommon. 

The “Corner Shops of Ballarat” is basically a guide to the buildings of Ballarat that were once corner shops. Not all corner shops are on corners and most of the Ballarat corner shops now appear to be residences. I am intrigued by the idea of this book in that i'm really not that sure how large a market there is for a book such as this. Somehow I can't imagine international tourists travelling around Ballarat looking for all the spots where corner shops once were. Maybe I'm wrong.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Healthy Eyes Without Glasses and Health Without Drugs by R.A. Richardson.

Healthy Eyes Without Glasses and Health Without Drugs by R.A. Richardson. Hardcover book published by Myra Deane 1940, 237 pages with fold out chart and a loose smaller chart (practice chart), with a few black and white photographs.

I have sold a few improving your eyesight books over the years, but nothing as old and vintage as this one. It's hard to know how relevant is to today's spectacle wearing public, but I guess an eye is an eye and over the last 75 years we haven't evolved to the point where we see things all that differently to the way we did in 1940 ... although I think I see things differently to the way I once did.

I like this type of photograph particularly when viewed out of context and unlike some of the scarier medical textbooks that i've found recently, I just wish there were more in this book. You've go to wonder though whether looking into lights is really that good an idea, but I do think wearing a scarey mask whilst doing it can only add to the overall experience... and if that's all too much then follow this example and don't look at all.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan by Gregory Feifer.

The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan by Gregory Feifer. Hardcover book published by Harper Collins 2009, 326 pages with some black and white photographs and maps.

“The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a grueling debacle that has striking lessons for the twenty-first century.”

The Soviet “debacle” in Afghanistan was not really that surprising and historically they weren't the first to have a “debacle” in Afghanistan... nor the last. I guess it's that one trophy that everyone wants, everyone except the Afghans. I've mentioned elsewhere in this blog my interest in The Great Game, and it is due to this interest/fascination that I picked out this book from the many. There was also a conversation I recently had with someone (?) about a lack of books on the subject of the “grueling debacle”, at least a lack of books in English. For all I know the Russians have thousands of books and films on the subject in the same way there is a plethora of books and films about the Vietnam War in English.

Many years ago I met someone who had been to Afghanistan during the conflict. After completing a medical degree, he volunteered to help the Mujahideen as a doctor. He had more than interesting stories and to this day, these stories are something that I haven't forgotten... even though I have forgotten his name. His sister did tell me that he was having after effects, the most obvious being an inability to watch fire works. Anecdotally everyone I have ever met who has been to Afghanistan hasn't had a very good experience of it. I've met people who have been stoned (rocks thrown at them) as they have gotten off a bus in the middle of nowhere and others who have been warned to not leave their hotel rooms whilst on a stopover on their way to Europe from Asia. I've never been to Afghanistan and I sort of figure I wont be going there in the near future despite an interest and fascination. I'm sure there are many Russians who wish they had never gone.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Stripe Design: Textile Patterns in Japan

Stripe Design: Textile Patterns in Japan. Paperback back with dust jacket published by PIE Books 2005, 207 pages with colour photographs as well as a few black and white photographs and illustrations.

Delightful designs composed of multiple lines, stripe patterns became the vogue as kimono patterns during the Edo period (1603-1867), and countless combinations have since been created.”

I like a good stripe and there's nothing better than a stripey bit of textile which is something the Japanese seem to have mastered the art of like no other country that I know of. Others may try but lets face it the Japanese certainly can stripe in style. I've owned a few stripey Japanese bits. There was a dressing gown/kimono thing that I completely wore out over a number of years. There were only a few threads left when I finally decided it was no longer the thing of beauty that it once had been.

I casually mentioned this book to a flesh and blood customer (in other words, someone not on the interwebs) the other day and they got very excited. They didn't know this book but they knew Japanese stripes and had an appreciation that far exceeded my casual liking of pretty patterns. And then I mentioned it to another customer whose obvious disappointment at my lack of textile design books, quickly morphed into a look of devoted interest. (Neither have taken the plunge... yet.)

I think a book like this is very special and has something for anyone vaguely interested in design of any sort. The stripe is something that we all know, love and blindly accept as being there. This book opens up the world of the stripe and one quick flick through its pages opens up a whole new appreciation of the humble stripe.