Monday, November 17, 2014

Jack Whirler's Alphabet

Jack Whirler's Alphabet; or, The St. Paul's Primer. Adorned with Cuts by the Newberys, is a celebration of the engaging eighteenth-century children's books produced by three generations of the Newbery firm. Cotsen Children's Library at Princeton University holds the world's largest collection of Newbery children's books, and they published this handsome book showcasing their collection in honor of their benefactor and namesake, Lloyd E. Cotsen, on the occasion of his 85th birthday.
Designed by Mark Argetsinger, this amusing alphabet book is illustrated throughout with two Newbery blocks for each letter. Text on the facing pages explains the source of each woodcut and provides witty and informative commentary. The book was printed letterpress in black and red and handbound at the Press of Robert LoMascolo in Union Springs, New York in an edition of 200 copies.

The book is for sale for $85 and is being distributed exclusively by Bromer Booksellers.

For more information and to purchase Jack Whirler's Alphabet, click here.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Annual Reception for the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair

Bromer Booksellers cordially invites you to our annual reception on the eve of the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair, Thursday, November 13th from noon to 5pm. Please join us on the second floor of 607 Boylston Street for light refreshments, book conversation, and collegiality.

Visitors to our shop the week of the book fair will be the first to browse our recent acquisitions. Highlighting this new material are rarely seen items from the English illustrators David Jones and Eric Gill. These books, manuscripts, correspondence, and ephemera have not appeared on the market for generations.

We look forward to seeing you on the 13th!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Celebrating Beatrice Warde

After a short hiatus, we're back on the occasion of typographical scholar Beatrice Warde's birthday. Born on September 20th, 1900, Warde lived during a renaissance in American and British graphic design and was a woman who made a name for herself in the then predominately male world of typography.

Warde had an interest in calligraphy and letterforms from a young age, and she was able to nurture and expand this interest after she became assistant librarian at the American Type Founders Company in 1921. Her position allowed her to spend time researching typefaces and printing history, a pursuit which led to the publication of "The Garamond Types, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Sources Considered," an article Warde wrote and published in The Fleuron under the pseudonym Paul Beaujon in 1926. This article cemented Warde's influence as a scholar of typography by tracing the origins of Garamond types and finding that certain types initially attributed to Garamond were, in fact, cut by Jean Jannon.

The previous year, Warde had married typographer Frederic Warde, and the couple had moved to London, where Warde worked at The Fleuron under the editorship of Stanley Morison. When her pseudonymous article appeared, Warde, as Paul Beaujon, was offered the post of editor of the Monotype Recorder, an important source of publicity for the Langston Monotype Corporation. She accepted the position, revealing herself to be a woman and earning a place as one of the few women working in the field of typography at the time. A few years later, Warde was promoted to the post of publicity manager and remained there until her retirement in 1960.

While at Monotype Corporation, Warde worked with many famous type designers, including Stanley Morison, who was the typographic adviser, and Eric Gill, whose Gill Sans and Perpetua types were produced by Monotype. It was through the confluence of these two men's influence that Warde's perhaps most far-reaching contribution was born.

Warde's "This is a Printing Office" broadside, designed to showcase Gill's Perpetua titling capitals, was published in 1932. It was one of many broadsides Monotype produced, at Morison's suggestion, to display their type designs. However, this particular broadside carried a singular message, that the printed word is essential in the preservation of a free society. Here are her words in their entirety:

This is a
Printing Office

Crossroads of Civilization
Refuge of all the arts
against the ravages of time
Armoury of fearless truth
against whispering rumour
Incessant trumpet of trade

From this place words may fly abroad
Not to perish on waves of sound
Not to vary with the writer's hand
But fixed in time having been verified in proof

Friend, you stand on sacred ground

This is a Printing Office   

The broadside resonated with many, so much so that the words were cast in bronze and now stand at the entrance to the United States Government Printing Office. They were also translated into many languages and grace the walls of printing shops around the world.


Warde continued to advocate for and teach young type designers about the benefits of the classical forms of typography until her death in 1969. In particular, she espoused type design that disappeared behind the ideas it was conveying, stating in her essay "The Crystal Goblet" that "Type well used is invisible as type." This coincides with her characterization of the printing office as the "crossroads of civilization." Printing and typography were meant to be utilitarian, the means to bring brilliance from the mind to the world.  

Around 1978, Monotype reissued Warde's iconic broadside in a way that better exemplifies its meaning and impact in the world. The broadside presents Warde's powerful message in Latin and sixteen other Western languages, from English and Icelandic to Turkish and Croatian. It measures approximately 24 3/4 by 19 3/4 inches and is printed in seventeen different types. It is a fitting tribute to Beatrice Warde, who dedicated her life to the transmission of ideas through typography.

For more on Beatrice Warde, see below:

Princeton University Library Graphic Arts Collection's Unseen Hands exhibit
Typography Online
University of North Texas College of Visual Arts and Design Communication Design Blog

For more on Monotype's reissued broadside, visit our website.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Miniature Book Society Conclave in Boston, August 15-17

The Miniature Book Society is an organization interested in all aspects of miniature books, or books measuring three inches or less, including the design, production, and distribution of these tiny treasures. Every year, members of the Society meet around the world for a conclave, during which they take part in bibliophilic activities with special focus on books in small formats.

This year's conclave will be held in Boston from August 15-17th, and we are very excited to welcome Society members to our fine literary city. Activities will include a tour of the Boston Athenaeum, a presentation by a miniature book binder from the North Bennet Street School, and visits to the American Antiquarian Society and Clark University's Goddard Library in Worcester, which holds the miniature book that went to the moon.

On Friday afternoon, August 15th, from 2 to 5pm, we will be hosting a reception for conclave registrants, where our entire selection of miniature books, over 500 volumes, will be on display and for sale. We will also have a table at the conclave book fair, which will be at the Taj Hotel on Sunday, August 17th. The book fair is open to registrants from 9-11am and open to the public from 11am-4pm.

If you would like to see a preview of what you can expect at the book fair, you can visit the Brookline Public Library, which currently has miniature books on display. The exhibit offers a glimpse into the history of miniature books and is a traveling display provided by the Miniature Book Society. It is definitely worth a visit.

If you are unable to attend the book fair or see the exhibit, you can view the video below, which was produced by the Weston Media Center and follows local collector Melinda Brown as she talks about her own miniature books and then visits our shop to discuss the variety of miniature books we have for sale.

If you are interested in miniature books and have questions or would like to talk about starting your own collection, developing or selling a current collection, please contact us or come by our shop in Copley Square.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

E-catalogue 40: Recent Acquisitions for Early Summer

Welcome to our 40th e-catalogue, comprised of a varied, interesting selection of recent acquisitions priced under $2,000. When putting this selection together, we aimed to include books that covered all of our specialty areas, which in a couple of cases, are combined. For instance, we are offering a copy of Thoreau's A Yankee in Canada -- one of 1,546 copies of the first edition -- that features a very handsome full morocco binding by Stern & Dess.

This grouping also reflects some of our present buying focus: included here are several movables, one of which is by contemporary French artist Philippe Huger. Press books, as always, are well represented and include two illuminated Roycroft Press books and a fine set of the Nonesuch Blake with good provenance and wearing unrecorded dust wrappers.

We hope you enjoy our offering and wish all of our customers a fine, relaxing summer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Group of Special E-catalogues

Over the course of over forty years of bookselling, we have seen the gradual evolution of the rare books catalogue. Those who chart new territory, like the famous Zilverdistel catalogue featuring a single item, are remembered for changing the status quo. In exploring the flexibility of the electronic catalogue format, we recently released a series of specialized e-catalogues, each containing less than twenty items and all with a narrow focus ranging from automobile advertising materials to miniature books in designer bindings. We have included the descriptions and links to these e-catalogues below, and as always, we thank you for reading.

Following in the tradition established by the Kelmscott Press, the aim of C.R. Ashbee's Essex House Press was to create books that were also works of art, and to do so within the guild tradition of craftsmanship. From 1900 to 1905, the Essex House Press published a fourteen-volume series of great poems of the English language. The series was printed in Caslon type entirely on vellum and bound in full vellum blind-stamped with a rose vignette and the motto of the series, "Soul is Form." Octavo volumes from this set are for sale here. Each volume is in very fine condition, unless otherwise noted, with an armorial bookplate to the front paste-down.

After a quarter century, Bromer Booksellers is once again commissioning designer bindings on miniature books. During the last eighteen months, we have received a visual feast from some of the leading bookbinders of today, including James & Stuart Brockman, Lester Capon, Stephen Conway, Sayaka Fukuda, Derek Hood, Midori Kunikata-Cockram, Tom McEwan, and Robert Wu. We are taking this opportunity to present some of these works in this e-catalogue, which contains photographs and full descriptions for each binding.

Trade catalogues are where design and commerce intersect in an attempt to seduce the viewer into becoming a participant in the world they present. Nowhere is this more evident than in catalogues that feature the automobile. In cars, especially the early, coachbuilt examples, we have a bit of rolling sculpture, and they very readily lend themselves to provocative, aesthetically pleasing illustrations. Although we do not often handle automobilia, we could not resist the five examples that are the subject of this special e-catalogue. Here, then, are brochures and other publicity material for Renault, Panhard & Levassor, Lincoln-Zephyr, and Mathis -- companies whose names are familiar only to the most dedicated car enthusiast. They do, however, feature some of the finest illustrative work of the Art Deco period, with contributions from Georges Dorival, H. Neuzerer, and the fine French printer Draeger.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Agassiz Lecture Follow-up and Video

On April 30th, 2014, Anne Bromer delivered a lecture at the Boston Athenaeum titled "Elizabeth Agassiz: Ahead of Her Time and of Her Time." The talk was recorded by the excellent staff at the Athenaeum, who gave us permission to share the video with our followers on social media. View the video below, along with a few photos of the event. Of special significance to Anne and those gathered for the talk, members of the Agassiz family were in the audience and shared their family lore with the attendees.

Anne and the Agassizs

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Work of Julius Klinger on His Birthday


Today is the 138th birthday of Austrian illustrator, typographer, and graphic artist Julius Klinger. Born outside of Vienna on May 22nd, 1876, Klinger is best known for his innovative poster design, which earned him acclaim in Germany and Austria in the early 20th century. His style was functional, clear, and clean, especially compared to the styles of Art Nouveau (or Jugendstil) and the Vienna Secession movement that were popular at the time. In an essay on the subject, Klinger rejected the idea of ornamentation for its own sake, and this shows in his advertising art, which featured clean lines and a limited color scheme.


Klinger's first job after completing his studies at the Technologisches Gewerbemuseum in Vienna was drawing for the Viennese fashion magazine Wiener Mode in 1895. The following year he moved to Munich, where he worked for several art journals, including the Meggendorfer Blätter and Die Jugend. All of these early positions required illustration in the latest style - namely, Jugendstil.

While working at Wiener Mode, Klinger met Koloman Moser, who acted as a mentor to the young artist and would go on to co-found the Wiener Werkstätte. These workshops grew out of the Vienna Secession, which was a reaction against the conservative aesthetics of the Association of Austrian Artists at the Vienna Künstlerhaus. Moser, and his partner Josef Hoffmann, were inspired by contemporary European design, such as the Glasgow School in Scotland and Art Nouveau in France.

During this period, Klinger co-founded a design studio in Berlin and released several portfolio books of patterns and designs, all in the Jugenstil style. One such portfolio is La Femme dans la Décoration Moderne. It contains thirty color lithographs depicting women in various contexts, including nudes, fashion illustrations, and ornate borders, all in bold shades of orange, blue, green, yellow, and brown. The illustrations come from posters, wallpaper, ceramics, jewelry, and other decorative arts of the period, but all derive from Klinger's work for fashion and art periodicals.

In some examples, the figures of women are incorporated into repeating patterns, while others stand alone, adorned with floral motifs or framed by sinuous lines. Portraits depict the active "femme nouvelle" taking photographs, playing tennis, fencing, and out on promenade in the latest fashions. The hedonistic "demimonde" is also represented, shown drinking, smoking, and dancing. Some illustrations are more fantastical, depicting women as fairies or mermaids, while others reflect the period's taste for orientalism and exoticism by incorporating Egyptian and African motifs.

Klinger's poster designs, for which he gained the most acclaim, draw on and reflect the influences of his training illustrating Jugendstil fashion magazines and his graphic design work. Even his later posters show the fine detailed lines required to bring figures and their clothing to life.

Klinger's last poster design, 1937. Via

Into the 1930s, Klinger's style was still evolving as he taught his modern approach to advertising design in Germany and attracted the notice of companies in Europe and the United States. Sadly, his life and talents were cut short. He and his wife, who were both Jewish, were deported to Minsk in 1942 and killed soon thereafter.  

For more on Julius Klinger, his life, and work, see below. To read more about La Femme dans la Décoration Moderne, visit our website, and as always, we thank you for reading.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Norman Rockwell's Huckleberry Finn

In honor of the 2013 World Series win by the Boston Red Sox, which saw the Sox rise from last place to World Champion, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has on display Norman Rockwell's iconic painting "The Rookie." Completed in 1957, the work depicts the yearly rite of passage that incoming rookies experience when they first enter the locker room during training camp and walk past the veteran players to find their place, both in the locker room and on the team. The rookies hope to prove themselves so that they can eventually join the ranks of those veterans. It is the meeting point of the American dream and America's pastime.

Twenty years before he completed "The Rookie," Rockwell worked on another American tale: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He was commissioned to illustrate the 1940 Heritage Press edition of the Mark Twain classic in 1935, and from those eight paintings, a lithographed album was published in an edition of 200 copies in 1972. The lithographs in the portfolio are printed in full-color on handmade Velin d'Arches paper and signed by the artist in the lower right corner.

The scenes depicted are "Then Miss Watson took me in the closet and prayed"; "Jim got down on his knees"; "When I lit my candle"; "My hands shook"; "Your eyes is lookin'"; "Miss Mary Jane"; "Then for three minutes, or maybe four"; and "There warn't no harm in them." Considering the memorable scenes in Twain's novel, it is interesting that Rockwell chose to highlight moments of interaction that reveal the characters' emotions and personalities rather than showing the points of greatest action in the story.

Perhaps it is because the artist's genius lay in his ability to portray an idealized vision of small-town America or because Rockwell had an admitted aversion to life's rougher, seedier aspects. Whatever the reason, he was able to portray the simplicity of life, even in a novel with a cast of characters that included murderers, swindlers, drunkards, and thieves. This suite of illustrations represents an essentially sympathetic depiction of the American experience and, like "The Rookie," shows the small, personal moments that unite humanity.

For more information about the portfolio, Huckleberry Finn. Eight Signed Color Lithographs Based Upon Incidents in the Mark Twain Novel, please visit our website, and as always, we thank you for reading.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Anne Bromer to speak at the Boston Athenaeum

This Wednesday, April 30th at 6pm, Anne Bromer will speak at the Boston Athenaeum as part of their public lectures series. Her talk is titled "Elizabeth Agassiz: Ahead of Her Time and of Her Time" and focuses on the life and ideas of Elizabeth Cary Agassiz. The full description from the Boston Athenaeum is below, along with the event details.
Elizabeth Cary was born into the elite of Boston. Her wealthy maternal grandfather, Thomas Handasyd Perkins, still holds court in a dramatic portrait in the Boston Athenæum’s Long Room. Despite the strict ideas about gender roles of her time, Elizabeth loved science. She married a leading scientific luminary of nineteenth-century America,  Louis Agassiz, a major celebrity in his day and founder of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Author Anne Bromer describes how, against very long odds, Elizabeth founded Radcliffe College to give women, for the first time, the benefit of a Harvard education. She served as the school’s first president and wrote four books, one of which documented the daily life of women who lived along the Amazon River in Brazil.

Mrs. Agassiz also loved Nahant, a village just north of Boston which juts into the ocean at the northern tip of Boston Harbor. Here she summered from childhood.The town was the inspiration for her first two books, about the scientific and aesthetic properties of the ocean surrounding Nahant— love letters to the sea life of this island community.
The event is open to the public and is $10 for members or $25 for non-members. Pre-registration is required, and a reception will follow the talk. The Boston Athenaeum is located at 10 1/2 Beacon Street in Boston, adjacent to the State House.