Thursday, July 28, 2016

Antiquarian Book News

Once Upon a Time

The Guildhall Library was pleased to find that it had been bequeathed one of the world's largest collections of Dick Whittington memorabilia. The cache of over 300 books, toys, puzzles, theatre programmes and lantern slides – which are themed around the man who was Lord Mayor of London four times — was betrothed to the Guildhall by Ellery Yale Wood, the prolific children’s book collector.

The collection had been stored in a warehouse attached to Wood’s home in Wisbech, Lincolnshire for decades, as she had such a huge collection of children’s books. Some of the rarest items are 18th and 19th century chapbooks, including one tiny 6cm x 6cm hand coloured miniature book for which Wood paid nearly £2,000.

The gift is particularly fitting because the Guildhall was founded in 1425 with money left by Richard Whittington himself. The Guildhall Library is already planning for an exhibition celebrating Dick Whittington and the founding of the original Guildhall Library.


Long Melford Book Fair July 30th

Village Memorial Hall (opposite Bull Hotel) CO10 9LQ

As always this is the place in East Anglia to go to for natural history, childrens annuals, topography, illustrated books, signed first editions, antiquarian and much more including postcards.

There are 21 exhibitors booked in, so expect a wide range of choice. This diversity will include A 12 vol set of Bannerman and Lodge's Birds of the British Isles & Ruined Abbeys of Britain by Frederick Ross, 1882, 1st edition in two vols (both from Mik Miszkiel). An 1847 edition of Robert Tyas's Sentiment of Flowers with eight colour plates, and a selection of Kelly's Directories of Essex (Missing Books)

Home made refreshments and free parking.
More details, including map and list of exhibitors, on  or phone Chris Missing on 01245 361609.

Bristol has the 'wow' factor

…a word overheard more than once from people entering the Passenger Shed for the first time.

This year 84 exhibitors from the PBFA and the ABA set their stalls out in Brunel's magnificent old station, and we were delighted that he'd shown the foresight of placing the supporting columns ten feet apart – exactly the size of a standard book fair stall.

Attendance from stallholders was down from last year's 123, but the numbers through the door were up by 25% over two days, and the number of people paying to come in shows that we are attracting new visitors. Indeed, many young people were attending their first book fair. Unfortunately the sales figures were down on last year, suggesting that the public were being cautious, or perhaps not ready for big purchases, but trade sales held up well. If we can survive on trade sales things will only improve with an increase in members of the public.

We are currently negotiating with the Passenger Shed for an affordable rent and a guaranteed slot for the next few years, so that we can really build on the success of this fair. The provisional accounts show a surplus of about £1500 which we would like to add to the advertising budget for next year, and we are already looking at new methods of promotion.

It would help enormously with our budget if we could rely on the attendance of at least 100 exhibitors, so please book it for next year, and if you know someone who doesn't exhibit but you think should, please lean on them – the future of premier book fairs in the West country, indeed the whole country, relies on strong exhibitor support.

Some comments we have heard…

"Thank you so much for organising this fair, we had such a good day…"

"I would just like to thank Will Goodsir, Graham York and their supporting cast for a very well run (and for me at least) successful Bristol book fair. The numbers of visitors on the opening day seemed to be well up on 2015, no doubt in part (unlike last year) because of an uninterrupted rail service but also hopefully due to increased publicity. Thanks to the ingenuity of Mr Brunel the venue couldn't be bettered, with both the London trade and public customers alike stepping off the train and straight into a book fair. A very pleasant fair in a great location, many thanks!"

"The best food and music at a book fair…"

"This fair can really build into something special…"

Will Goodsir and Graham York, fair managers.

Mountaineering tale for sale

A book containing the signatures of Sir Edmund Hillary is to be sold at auction on Friday at Cardiff auction house Rogers Jones & Co. by the National Trust. The Ascent of Everest, by John Hunt, details the first successful attempt to conquer the world's highest mountain when Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of the 29,028ft peak on May 29, 1953.

As well as Hillary's signature the book is also signed by expedition leader Colonel Hunt. The work published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1953, still has its dust-jacket and has a guide price of £400-£700.

Clothed or unclothed

Strait-laced people have over the years drawn skirts and veils over Adam and Eve in a book created as child’s “ABC” for a five-year old princess. Queen Anne of Brittany commissioned the picture for her daughter Princess Charlotte about 1505 and it originally had nude drawings of the Biblical characters to illustrate the story of the creation. The coloured pictures were covered up centuries later by a new, censorious owner.

A four-year research project at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has now recreated the original picture, using technology to discover what lay underneath the peculiar additions. The book, described as a “very rare” surviving example of a medieval text of its kind, is to go on show as part of ‘Colour’, an exhibition about the art and science of illuminated manuscripts.

Visitors will see how Adam, originally created by Master of Antoine de Roche, a painter to Charles VIII and Louis XII, has been covered by an unidentified censor to wear a crude skirt, while Eve sees her modesty shrouded with a veil. The original nude images will be exhibited alongside it, after being pieced together using an infra-red imaging technique at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University.

The French Queen, Anne of Brittany had no prudish reservations when she commissioned the book for her five-year-old daughter Claude and used it to teach her the alphabet, biblical stories, prayers. Perhaps she taught her some life stories as well!

The free exhibition begins on 30 July and closes 30 December 2016.
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