Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Purrkin the Talking Cat by Josef Lada.

Purrkin the Talking Cat by Josef Lada. Hardcover book published by George G Harrap & Co 1966, 159 pages with black and white and colour illustrations.

So who was Josef Lada?

I know of him from two different sources. One is from a childrens book that my grandparents sent to my brothers when they were wee lads (...I wasn't there at the time). It's in German and has the most wonderful illustrations. There is a gift inscription from Oma and Opa... I still have the book and it is in a not very good state with the binding having deteriorated and many of the pages now being loose... but it has such wonderful illustrations, that I have kept it... and the illustrations are by Mr Lada. The other source of my Josef Lada knowledge is of course, The Good Soldier Svejk, for which Josef Lada did those highly distinctive and outstanding illustrations. You know the ones (click here)

As i've mentioned previously in this blog, I am a fan of The Good Soldier Svejk and having this interest in all things Svejkian (my Svejk beer stein is a prized possession), I couldn't help but spot this book sitting on a shelf full of what was basically rubbish. I'd never seen it before and I doubt I will ever see it again, so I did what any bookseller would or should do, I picked it up. Lovely. This is a childrens book and unlike the gift from Oma and Opa, this one is in English. Fortunately there are no loose pages, but it has seen the wars and by all appearances it has been loved and loved again.

It's a weird thing, but even as I was forking out the $ for this book all I could think of was that it was going to be a hard sell. Still, I couldn't say no and I think my grandparents would have appreciated my remembering their gift... It will look good on the shelf and will be a talking point, which is all good.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Clunes Booktown Festival 2017 6-7 May

Good news everybody, I will once again be selling at one of Victoria's premier book events, The Clunes Booktown Festival... and this time I'm on the map of booksellers that will be here. The map thingy is important as I am a little tucked away and off the beaten track making it difficult for people to come and see me if they don't know i'm here. The idea is that if i'm on the map people will come and look for me. Last year unfortunately I had only a small number of people stumble upon the Bookotorium mainly due to a bunch of balloons that I had stuck outside, but this year...

A few of my regulars have contacted me to make sure i'll be here. Which is very nice of them to think of me. Anyway come a long and say hello. I'll be here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Northern Germany as far as the Bavarian and Austrian Frontiers: Handbook for Travellers by Karl Baedeker.

Northern Germany as far as the Bavarian and Austrian Frontiers: Handbook for Travellers by Karl Baedeker. Paperback book (cloth covered card) published by Karl Baedeker 1904 (fourteenth revised edition), 395 pages with maps (some with colour and some monotone). Some of the maps fold out.

Verlag Karl Baedeker, founded by Karl Baedeker on July 1, 1827, is a German publisher and pioneer in the business of worldwide travel guides. The guides, often referred to simply as "Baedekers" (a term sometimes used to refer to similar works from other publishers, or travel guides in general), contain, among other things, maps and introductions; information about routes and travel facilities; and descriptions of noteworthy buildings, sights, attractions and museums, written by specialists.

Before Lonely Planet grabbed a near monopoly on travel guides for as far the eye can imagine including where “there be dragons”, there was Baedeker*. Published in Leipzig, Germany, they were THE guidebook to have whenst roaming abroad during the late 1800s and up unitl much later, and by all accounts they were pretty good at what they were meant to do, which is guiding. Lots of maps and information and a good proportion of the maps were fold out colour cartographic gems. And you had a choice of language, German or English. If you were French or from anywhere else that didn't speak German or English, bad luck. Baedeker wasn't for you.

New editions of Baedeker's are still in print but i'm not so sure how collectable these newer editions are... probably not very. Currently I have a swag of vintage Baedeker's for sale that are ticking over nicely. Everything from Northern Germany to Southern Germany... and others. All are in English, which is lucky to have in an English speaking country, although I do know a German speaker who has an interest in vintage travel guides**.

All of these volumes have some wear. They are travel guides and having personally travelled with various travel guides over the years, I can confidently say that they do wear. Shoving them in and out of bags, opening and closing maps, reading them, saving lives*** etc, usually leaves some sort of toll on any travel guide... unless it's not used.

In the last 10 years i've only come across one of two of these collectible vintage editions, so when I stumbled on a shelf full as part of an estate, I couldn't resist and grabbed the lot. I paid a bit more than I usually do for this sort of thing, but I figured that it was too good an opportunity to stock up the shelves in one quick purchase. I've had a few offers for the collection as a whole, but have decided to persist with selling them individually. Will they sell? Is Tony Wheeler a wealthy man?

* Others as well.

** Hello Dieter.

***A description of Bacillary dysentery in a well known guide book, allowed me to self diagnose and medicate. Recovery was swift.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Huc & Gabet back on line.

Well it's been a while. My apologies to any regular readers of this blog. I could give you all the excuses under the sun as to why there has been such a long break between posts, but I assure you that there was no dog and no homework. The best excuse I can give is not having had an internet connection for 10 days which totally threw the spanner into the motherboard... and in the middle of that debacle, my credit card was compromised so I had no access to cash.

I have survived (just) and I'm back on board getting ready for this years Clunes Booktown festival.  … and the good news is that we are in a new era of cooperation with the committee and will be promoted as being a bookshop that exists here in Clunes. This means that we will be in the guide book/program and most importantly, we will be on the map.

Anyway this is just post to let you (both of you) all know that this blog is still active and I will be posting something new soon(ish)


Monday, March 6, 2017

Rome by Robert Hughes.

Rome by Robert Hughes.  Hardcover book published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson 2011, 534 pages with some colour photographs and illustrations and a few monotone illustrations.

Rome - as a city, as an empire, as an enduring idea - is in many ways the origin of everything Robert Hughes has spent his life thinking and writing about with such dazzling irreverence and exacting rigour. In this magisterial book he traces the city's history from its mythic foundation with Romulus and Remus to Fascism, Fellini and beyond. 

What does David Hockney read?

Recently I partook of some viewing of David Hockneys works*. I was impressed and that was after realising on arrival that it was only recent works on display in this blockbuster exhibition here in Victoria. I was anticipating more of a retrospective sort of thing but was pleasantly enthralled by the excellent quality of works. I wont go into detail about the exhibition but will answer the question that i'm sure everyone who saw the exhibition had about this piece:

Being a bookseller I tend to notice books. I guess it's my job and maybe it's a little bit of an obsession of mine that when perusing through a wall of David Hockney images that I find the one (there was only the one) with a book in it. I did get a little bit excited (… no, not that excited) and I immediately guessed it to be Rome by Robert Hughes. It was when I got back home that I confirmed my suspicions particularly when looking at the barely decipherable letters near the bottom of the spine.

At a guess David and Robert probably knew each other. This guess is in relation to Roberts writings on art and David... yep... he's an artist, so it doesn't really come as that much of a surprise that there's a copy of one of Roberts books floating around the studio where Hockney is working.  This is all guess work of course... but i did find this on the old youtubes:

...and if you're wondering why the colour in the picure is different… well i'm not 100% sure but most of these images were done using a tablet and a change of colour is an easy thing to do once you've got it on your screen. Anyway it was a great exhibtion... and I haven't read the book... but i do have one for sale.

*National Gallery of Victoria

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Young Misses Magazine: Containing Dialogues Between a Governess and Several Young Ladies of Quality, Her Scholars: Vol. 1, translated from the French of Madamoiselle Le Prince De Beaumont. (1791)

The Young Misses Magazine: Containing Dialogues Between a Governess and Several Young Ladies of Quality, Her Scholars: Vol. 1, translated from the French of Madamoiselle Le Prince De Beaumont. 

Hardcover book with leather binding (no dust jacket) printed for William Anderson, Stirling and Silvester Doig, Edinburgh MDCCXCI (1791), 341 pages with one colour illustration.
(Apologies for the slightly blurry photographs.)

The young misses magazine: Containing dialogues between a governess and several young ladies of quality, her scholars. : In which each lady is made to speak according to her particular genius, temper, and inclination: their several faults are pointed out, and the easy way to mend them, as well as to think, and speak, and act properly; no less care being taken to form their hearts to goodness, than to enlighten their understandings with useful knowledge. : A short and clear abridgement is also given of sacred and profane history, and some lessons in geography. : The useful is blended throughout with the agreeable, the whole being interspersed with proper reflections and moral tales.”
Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (1711 – 1780) was a French author who wrote the best known version of Beauty and the Beast. She had a relationship with the spy for the British Thomas Pichon. Her first work, the moralistic novel The Triumph of Truth (Le Triomphe de la vérité), was published in 1748. She published approximately seventy volumes during her literary career Most famous were the collections she called "magasins," instructional handbooks for parents and educators of students from childhood through adolescence. She was one of the first to include folk tales as moralist and educational tools in her writings.

I had no idea who Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont or the Young Misses was when I picked up this volume. I mainly picked it up because:
a/ It was old
b/ It was cute (small book)
c/ It appeared to be a great candidate for “of interest” status
d/ It's a bit of an adventure (… a jump into the unknown)
e/ It was the right price

Yes, it is old. 1791 is little bit before my time and a little bit before most of my other books of interests time. Beside it's age and inevitable wear and tear, “The young misses magazine” had also been through the wars and was in a very sad state after it's 225 years. It had gotten to what I believe was the saddest/lowest point in it's long existence when someone decided that the best possible option for this bi-centenarian was a repair by sticking a piece of brown velour cloth across the spine in place of the leather that had probably once been there. The brown did match and it did look like... a shoddy repair on a very old book. Still, it was brown.

Despite the condition... and yes there was (and still are) other issues... I decided that the book was of interest and worth giving a go. Even as I picked it up I was already thinking about the possible rescue effort on what was a very cute book despite the velour. I've been buying a few older items over the last few years and it is a bit of a learning curve for me. Usually anything I find as old as this, does have issues which are carefully weighed up against the “of interest”/saleability factors. I've had some luck and also some disappointments but overall it is an area that I keep my eyes and ears open for, as I am interested.

With this volume I decided I would take the plunge after the initial purchase plunge and get some work done on it... professional work, that is. A bookbinder. I've held off on the repair scenario previously due to the cost of such an extravagance. It is expensive and the economics of costly repairs on a not so valuable volume means that usually this is a prohibitive excercise. So the question was/is, will the $ spent increase the overall value of this volume. In this instance due to the scarcity/rarity of this title, I figured it was worth my while giving it a go... that is if it sells.

Irwin and McLaren Bookbinders are people who mysteriously follow me, and I follow them, on Instagram, so it seemed to me that they were the obvious candidates for doing the work. They were very easy to deal with and I am really pleased with the end product (thanks Storm). I am aware that there are some of you out there who will be questioning whether this sort of repair work is appropriate for such a rare antiquarian volume. Just remember, “brown velour”.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Victorian Railways: General Appendix To The Book of Rules and Regulations And To The Working Time Table: Effective as from 1953, and until further notice.

Victorian Railways: General Appendix To The Book of Rules and Regulations And To The Working Time Table: Effective as from 1953, and until further notice. Hardcover book (no dust jacket) published by Victorian Railways 1953, 784 pages with a few black and white photographs and illustrations.

Every Station-master, Train Controller, Clerk, Operator, Inspector, Roadmaster, Foreman, Driver, Fireman, Equipment Examiner, Train Examiner, Guard, Conductor (Train), Signalman, Signal Supervisor, Signal Fitter, Linesman, Signal Adjuster, Yard Foreman, Shunter, Porter, Ganger, Repairer and Gatekeeper, and every other employee who the Head of the Branch considers should be acquainted with the instructions contained herein, must be supplied by his Superior Officer with, and have with him when on duty, and produce when required, a copy of this Appendix. Every employee supplied with this Book must make himself thoroughly acquainted with, and will be held responsible for compliance with the following Instructions.” 

As a bookseller you occasionally get to meet that rarer breed of book buyer/collector. The someone who is REALLY into their books. Usually they will know their subject back to front and then some, and will already have each and every title that you can comfortably throw at them, possibly as first editions not only in English but in Swedish and German as well*. The secret is to be able to delve even deeper within one's hat and pull out that rarer or unheard of volume that will genuinely impress. Needless to say, this can be a more than difficult task.

Railway people, that is, the real deal railway enthusiast, generally fall within this demographic. There are no smiles when you place a lovely Readers Digest Trains of the World in their paws. Nope. They want... ummm... Well, I don't know what they want, as i've never been able to satisfy the fully fledged rail fan. I've had reasonable luck with on line sales of rail books, but in the flesh and after showing most people what i've got, there's usually a polite thanks but no thanks followed with a slightly sarcastic smirk at the end. I just can't find what these people want and to be honest, I don't know if most of them know what they want.

The “Victorian Railways: General Appendix for 1953” was one of those books where I should have known that a bonifide train man (i've never met a train woman), would already have it. It's sort of obvious if you think about how many of these books were published being that every Station-master etc had one and I imagine that means there were and are still a lot of copies floating around... and this means that it's not that rare a volume. Here in Victoria if you start alluding to this book with a vague description most people in the know that i've met ,are more than familiar with it. They all love it and they all have it.... and then comes the slightly sarcastic smirk.

I guess the secret is to find the new comer to Rail enthusiasm, that is the novice who is keen to pick up the classics, the someone who wants to know about train shunting in 1953... and not the guy who came and saw me a few weeks ago... another smirker

*True story.