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

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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.



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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.


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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.

Sources:

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.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Edgar Allan Poe Returning to Boston

Bromer Booksellers has joined a variety of philanthropic organizations in donating money with the goal of erecting a statue of Edgar Allan Poe in Boston. The project has reached its fundraising goal, and the sculpture, titled "Poe Returning to Boston," will be unveiled on Sunday, October 5th, 2014. See below for details about the project:


The Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston has set the date for the official unveiling of Stefanie Rocknak’s sculpture, "Poe Returning to Boston," on Sunday, October 5, 2014, at 2pm. A recent grant of $10,000 from the Lynch Foundation helped the project reach its fundraising target of $225,000, a total that will cover the fabrication, transportation, installation, and long-term maintenance of the statue.

Rocknak’s sculpture will be installed at the intersection of Boylston Street and Charles Street South—which, in April 2009, Mayor Thomas M. Menino dedicated to the Boston-born author of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “Hop-Frog,” “The Raven,” and many other classic works.

Last summer the city’s Public Improvement Commission approved the installation plan for the statue, and the Boston Art Commission gave final approval to the statue’s design. With these approvals in place, Stefanie Rocknak, the sculptor whose work was chosen from 265 proposals, spent last autumn transforming her 18” carved wooden model into a life-sized clay statue.


“A wax positive of the pre-bronze, clay sculpture,” Rocknak observed, “is currently being completed by New England Sculpture Services in Chelsea, MA. After I take a look at the positive, which is in pieces, and make any necessary adjustments, the casting will begin. Once the piece is cast and assembled, the patina will be applied. It will be finished by the end of August.”

Shawmut Design and Construction of Boston has been hired to install the sculpture in a process that will begin next September and lead to an official unveiling 2 days before the 165th anniversary of Poe’s death on October 7, 1849.

“As is the case with many public art projects, the total cost of the Poe statue has increased from early projections,” said Poe Foundation chair Paul Lewis who teaches American literature at Boston College. “Costs rise late in a process like this as contracts are negotiated with both the city and vendors. In the case of the Poe statue, prices for some work turned out to be higher than we had expected, while commitments to fund long-term maintenance and contingencies that add elements of the unpredictable arose over the past 9 months. We’re grateful for donors, large and small, that have helped us keep up with these cost increases.”


Commenting on the statue, Karin Goodfellow, Director of the Boston Art Commission, noted that "the Commission is looking forward to the installation of Stefanie Rocknak's Poe Returning to Boston in the fall. A model of private-public cooperation, the whimsical piece will connect us to our literary history and remind us of the importance of art for art's sake."
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“Reaching this point in Boston’s complex public art process required the effort and enthusiasm of many people, including Steff Rocknak, our brilliant artist, and our donors,” said Lewis. “Early on we were thrilled to have the support of the Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust Fund, Stephen and Tabitha King, Poe collector Susan Jaffe Tane, Poe scholars Richard Kopley and Philip E. Phillips, as well as neighbors and abutters, including Michael B. Moskow and Patricia Bartevian.”

Other contributors to the project include the Highland Street Foundation, George B. Henderson Foundation Fund for the City of Boston, Poe Studies Association, Boston College, Boloco, Bromer Booksellers, Samet & Company, PC, L. J. Peretti Company, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of Massachusetts, and Poe fans here and around the world.


Looking forward to seeing her work completed, Rocknak says, “This has been a long but an enjoyable process. I can’t wait for the day that I am standing in Poe Square, watching the piece come down the road on the transport truck. At that point, it will only be a matter of hours before the sculpture is secured to its final resting place.”

The Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, invites the public to visit its website and Facebook page to learn more about the project. Information about upcoming events sponsored by the Foundation—including walking tours of Poe’s Boston on Sunday, April 27, noon-1:30pm, and Sunday, May 18, 2-3:30pm, both starting in Poe Square—can also be found on our Facebook page.

Background
Supported by a planning grant from the city’s Browne Fund, the Poe Foundation of Boston has moved through a 5-year undertaking. In 2009 we began to think about ways to memorialize Poe’s connections to the city of his birth. In 2011 we issued a call for artists that resulted in 265 applications from which 3 finalists were chosen. After a period during which about 1,500 people commented on these designs, a statue called Poe Returning to Boston by Stefanie Rocknak was selected. Rocknak describes the work as "a life-size figure in bronze, approximately 5’ 8” tall. Just off the train, Poe is walking south towards his place of birth. With a trunk full of ideas—and worldwide success—he is finally coming home.”

Stefanie Rocknak in her studio

An award-winning member of the Sculptors Guild whose artwork has appeared in numerous publications and in more than 40 exhibitions including at the Smithsonian, Stefanie Rocknak is also a professor of philosophy and the director of the Cognitive Science Program at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, where she has taught since 2001. A graduate of Colby College in Waterville, Maine, with a B.A. in American Studies and Art History with a concentration in studio art, she holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Boston University. Her interests include the 18th-century Scottish philosopher David Hume (the subject of her forthcoming book), the philosophy of art, and the philosophy of the mind.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bromer Booksellers in the New York Social Diary

Anne Bromer with miniature book collector Patricia Pistner
Jill Krementz of the New York Social Diary stopped by our booth at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair and entered the fascinating world of miniature books. She wrote about the experience in her coverage of the book fair, which can be read in full here.


About the above pictures Ms. Krementz wrote:

"Ray Bradbury did pop-ups. While I was looking at this tiny treasure, David Bromer decided to buy it for his own collection ($750).

"'He gets a huge discount,' his wife said. He also got a big kiss.

"'But hey, do I get a commission?' I replied."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

New Exhibition at the Boston Athenaeum

T. Sturge Moore, The Little School. London, 1905.
Bound by Sybil Pye. Athenaeum Purchase, John Bromfield Fund, 2002

Collecting for the Boston Athenæum in the 21st Century: Rare Books and Manuscripts

April 23, 2014 - August 9,  2014

This Exhibition is a celebration of some of the most beautiful and important rare books and manuscripts acquired by the Boston Athenaeum Library since 2000. Many of the books to be exhibited are handsomely illustrated such as Thomas Pattison Yeats' Institutions of Entomology which is celebrated for the individual life-size paintings of insects that were added to the pages of the book by Louisa, Countess of Aylesford. La Création, which was printed in Paris by Francois-Louis Schmeid in 1928, is illustrated by numerous multicolored art deco woodblock print. Fine bindings will also be featured in the exhibit. A particularly unusual one of engraved tortoise shell, dating from 1693, covers The Truest and Largest Account of the late Earthquake in Jamaica.

All of the works on view are “extraordinarily rare.” “‘Rare’ means not very many of them,” Stanley Cushing, Anne C. and David J. Bromer Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, explains, “or they could be very valuable, they have very interesting previous owners, or unusual bindings. The show is a selection of a select view. This is the cream of the crop of everything I  have bought since I have been curator.”

Cushing joined the Boston Athenæum staff in January 1971 and for many years headed the Conservation Laboratory. He became the Athenæum’s first curator of rare books in 2002. He was later appointed curator of rare books and manuscripts and became the Anne C. and David J. Bromer Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts in 2012.

“The reason I am curator now is that I worked for decades as a conservator at the Athenæum and knew where we had collected and where the gaps wear. I have worked on filling those gaps. We have built what is meant to be a didactic collection, to show to members, researchers, and staff. They are meant to be studied and all are available for examination and study.”

About the Boston Athenæum:

Founded in 1807, the Boston Athenæum is one of North America’s oldest cultural institutions. The first floor of its National Historic Landmark building at 10 1/2 Beacon Street, Boston, including the Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery, is open to the public Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There is a $5 admission fee for non-members to special exhibitions. Other public events at the Athenæum include exhibitions, lectures, readings, panel discussions, films, and concerts. For membership, events, and other information, please visit www.bostonathenaeum.org or call 617-720-7604.