Tuesday, December 17, 2013

E-catalogue 39: Holiday Gifts

A book is a very personal object. Scanning a person's shelves, one can learn a lot about a person's tastes, including idiosyncrasies and unusual interests. As a gift, a special book speaks eloquently and intimately to the recipient. We display a small sign in the shop, reading "Rare Books make Fine Gifts, Fine Books make Rare Gifts." Being squarely in the middle of the holiday season, we offer a selection of Fine and Rare Books that might appeal to yourselves or those on your gift list.

The recent book Elephant Lullaby from the Kaldewey Press is included. Examples from the Stanbrook Abbey, Vale, Allen presses and Eric Gill are here as well. There are Edward Gorey signed, limited editions, and one of his designed bean bag bats. New acquisitions of children's books and miniature books round out the list.

Please let us know when checking out if your order is a gift that must arrive before a certain date. As always, we thank you for taking the time to peruse our list, and we wish you the happiest of holiday seasons.

Best wishes,

David, Anne, Phil, Shannon, and Jessica
Bromer Booksellers

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bromer Booksellers Purchases Historic Printing Press for RIT

At the 6 December Christie’s auction in New York, Bromer Booksellers purchased the Albion handpress on which William Morris printed his Kelmscott Press masterpiece, The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. The iron press, manufactured by Hopkinson & Cope in 1891, sold for $233,000, and Bromer was acting as agent for the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

“To be a part of this celebrated press’s history is a great honor for our firm,” noted Bromer manager Phil Salmon, who was bidding for RIT at the sale. “This purchase is the logical extension of the sort of synergy between Bromer and the Cary Collection in that each has a strong commitment to preserving and expanding the scope of the book arts.”

Albion No. 6551 is one of the most extraordinary presses in printing history and its remarkable provenance began with its original owner, English designer William Morris, who used the press to print the celebrated Works of Geoffrey Chaucer for his Kelmscott Press in 1896. The Kelmscott Chaucer is considered to be among the most beautiful books ever produced and a major influence on the modern private press movement.

This famed printing press came to the United States in 1924, when it was purchased by noted typographer Frederic Goudy in 1924. Albion No. 6551 resided with Goudy in Marlborough, New York, and it was used to print books under his Village Press imprint. It was then sold to Eden, NY printer Spencer Kellogg, Jr. “From 1932 to 1941, Albion No. 6551 was owned by the Cary Collection’s namesake, Melbert B. Cary Jr., director of Continental Type Founders Association and proprietor of the private Press of the Woolly Whale,” Cary Curator Steven Galbraith explained.

Since 1960 it has been owned by American Printing History Association founder J. Ben Lieberman and his family. During the Liebermans’ ownership, they topped the press with a Liberty Bell, a reminder of the vital role that private presses play in the freedom of the press.

“There is nothing but upside to this purchase,” Salmon explains, “because the press will once again serve an active role in a new century of fine press printing.” Galbraith adds that Albion No.6551 will be “a working press accessible to students, scholars and printers. I look forward to seeing what is produced on the press in the decades to come. I’m certain that the Kelmscott/Goudy Press will be a great inspiration to students at RIT and to others who visit our library’s pressroom.”

Monday, December 2, 2013

"Believe me sincerely yours, C. Ricketts." Part II

This is the second in a two-part series that started with a post about Charles Ricketts and his Vale Press. This second part is about Laurence Hodson, the recipient of Ricketts' letters, and the multifaceted relationship revealed by the correspondence.

"Shannon & I managed to run down to Wolverhampton the other day. Masefield will probably have told you how charmed we were with the exhibition as a whole & astonished by the excellence of some of the exhibits. I think taken all round it would be difficult to beat the Print or the Book rooms. The small Watts the three Goddesses was a surprise. The Brittomart has improved since it has been varnished or oiled up! I would suggest something in the way of a forged will and a little poison in the small kindly cup of black coffee when the owner is next in your house... P. S. I was greatly struck by the excellence & choise [sic] of the Strang drawings. One of mine I intend getting back out of you that it may be forth with burned very slowly in a very hot fire." - C. Ricketts to L. Hodson, Sept. 20, 1902

Laurence Hodson was a contemporary of Ricketts and Shannon, having lived from 1864 to 1933. Upon his father's death in 1890, he inherited his family's estate in Wolverhampton, as well as a partnership in Springfield Brewery. Throughout his life, he was one of the foremost patrons of the artists and craftsmen of the period, providing financial backing for the Guild of Handicraft, chairing the Fine Art Committee for the Wolverhampton Art and Industrial Exhibition in 1902 (see quote above), and building a large collection of books and art for his personal collection. With Charles R. Ashbee, he founded the Essex House Press in 1898 out of the remnants of the Kelmscott Press, buying the presses and plant and hiring three former staff members from the Press.

"I have somewhat reluctantly abandoned the idea of clasps as my working jeweler has gone on strike, no, not on strike, he has refused point blank to work any more for me, for ever and for ever! I am pondering your Cellini vols. very close into(?) the backs, to the grief of Zaehnsdorf who points out that use will break up the work on the back 'exactly as it did in the old books'. The vellum Cellinis are a great success, but in the face of the difficulties of binding vellum, there is a chance of our dropping vellum all together all the big London binders being either on my black books or on the outer edge of strike, revolt, retaliation & revenge." - C. Ricketts to L. Hodson, Aug. 23, 1901
Hodson maintained a regular correspondence with many artists, writers, craftsmen, and publishers of the period, not the least of which was Charles Ricketts, from whom he purchased every book published by the Vale Press, including the very limited vellum editions and copies in bindings designed by Ricketts especially for him. Ricketts and he exchanged letters on topics related to the books Ricketts was making, the struggles Ricketts was having with craftsmen, changes to designs, when books were being sent to Hodson, and offers of special edition copies when they were available.

"I am glad that you like the Watts article, I found it beastly difficult like most things which look easy at first sight. It has caused some offence in the New art quarters, if I had followed up with the Impressionists & with Whistler as I was asked to do, I should have had to leave for Italy at once. Don't miss the impressionists, some 5 of the Degas are delightful most of the other things beastly, though many of them entertaining; the movement has been a curious side issue in modern painting Watts being a better impressionist & landscapist than Monet for instance who does interesting spaces of raw paint, on a mechanical scheme, inside monotonous shapes, with a wonderful gift for missing all affect at illusion other than that of a flat painted surface." C. Ricketts to L. Hodson, Feb. 12, 1905

Besides business matters, however, Ricketts' letters also touch on their shared interests, which included art and the art world, and books and the many aspects of their manufacture. He mentions art exhibitions he and Shannon visited, developments in the aesthetics of art, commissions Shannon received from around the world, and art that they had added to their own collection. All this is related in the chatty manner of long acquaintance and friendship.

The letters from Charles Ricketts to Laurence Hodson, along with others from authors and artists who corresponded with Hodson, were found in the back of a wardrobe last year. This happy chance has allowed bibliophiles to rediscover these previously forgotten connections and explore the many sides of these multifaceted relationships.

For more on the letters quoted in this two-part series, visit our website or contact us directly, and as always, we thank you for reading.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Arthur Rackham Exhibition in Florida

We recently had the pleasure of attending the opening of an exhibit about Arthur Rackham at the University of Florida's Smathers Library. Jointly organized by Baldwin Library Curator, Suzan Alteri, and Rare Books Curator John Ingram, this exhibit explores Rackham's influences, as well as the artists who were influenced by the prolific English illustrator's work.

The exhibit at the Library is up until December 13; key elements of the exhibit are available online: http://exhibits.uflib.ufl.edu/rackham/

Monday, November 25, 2013

E-catalogue 38: Recent Acquisitions

Ushering in what is always a busy and exciting season here in New England, we have assembled an equally fresh and exciting group of recent acquisitions for your consideration. Among the over twenty items on offer is a wealth of original material from the fertile Arts and Crafts period in England, including artwork for a wedding invitation by Georgie Gaskin and two letters from Charles Ricketts. Highlighting the offerings in illustrated books is a brilliant copy of the Theodore Press's handsome edition of King Lear, with woodcuts by Claire Van Vliet. From several small collections purchased over the summer comes a lovely selection of miniature books, including several from the Amistad and Poole Presses. Fine press books from the Vale and Tiramisu Presses round out the offering.

As always, we thank you for reading and hope you find something irresistible.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Week of Unprecedented Savings

For the first time in our 40-year history, Bromer Booksellers will be offering our entire collection of fine books, autographs, and works on paper at substantial price reductions.

During the week of the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair, November 11-17th, 2013, our stock will be discounted from 20% to 50%, with the majority of items reduced by 35%*.

We will have extended hours during the week of the fair. We will be open Monday through Saturday, 9:30am to 5:30pm

We also invite you to join us for our annual Wine & Cheese Reception on Thursday, November 14th from 1:00 to 5:30pm.

* In-store sales only; sale prices not applicable for online purchases.

November 15-17, 2013

Hynes Convention Center
900 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02115

Friday: 5pm-9pm
Saturday: noon-7pm
Sunday: noon-5pm

One-day pass: $8
Three-day pass: $15

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bromer Booksellers at the Albany Book Fair

Bromer Booksellers will be exhibiting at the 39th Annual Albany Antiquarian Book & Ephemera Fair in Albany, NY this Sunday, October 27th. Please see below for more details about the fair, and we hope to see you there!

Albany Antiquarian Book & Ephemera Fair
Washington Avenue Armory
195 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY

Booth 17

Sunday, October 27, 2013
Hours: 10am-4pm

Admission: $6

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Believe me sincerely yours, C. Ricketts." Part I

"I find the dictionary lacking in beautiful words to express my admiration and astonishment over these new designs of mine and Time only 'that great colourist' could improve them, by that tender warming of the red of which he has the secret." - Charles Ricketts to Laurence Hodson, postmarked September 1, 1898

Bromer Booksellers recently acquired a group of letters from artist and Vale Press founder Charles Ricketts to prominent private press collector and patron Laurence Hodson. These span the years from 1897 to 1905, and they offer a glimpse into a business relationship that was anchored by mutual respect and shared interests. Our colleague Paul van Capelleveen has highlighted two of the letters on his blog, Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, and you can go here and here to read about them. However, we wanted to give a bit of background on the sender and recipient, while quoting heavily from the letters, which show Ricketts' strong opinions and great wit. So, this is the first in a two part series about the letters of Charles Ricketts to Laurence Hodson, and this post will focus on Ricketts and his Vale Press.

"I have been binding some Morris books in rose gardens, forests, and cathedral front doors for the good Downing of Birmingham. I feel after all this exercise of design and gold stamps that the books should belong to me and not leave Warwick Street, or rather Richmond." - C. Ricketts to L. Hodson, Sept. 1, 1898
Charles Ricketts was born in Geneva in 1866. When he was 16, he apprenticed with a wood engraver, which is where he met Charles Shannon, his lifelong partner. Ricketts and Shannon lived, worked, and traveled together for almost 50 years, until Ricketts' death in 1931. When they completed their apprenticeships, Ricketts and Shannon took over the lease of a house in Chelsea, and Ricketts worked as a designer and illustrator to earn money, while Shannon worked on his painting technique.
"We have just returned from the sea to recoup in balmy London, how I dislike being away from one's own den, and what cooking one has to put up with outside London! This is the seventh time we return from Broadstairs vowing we never will return." - C. Ricketts to L. Hodson, Sept. 20, 1904
Their house, The Vale, had been previously leased by James McNeil Whistler, and when Ricketts and Shannon founded the literary art journal The Dial in 1889, they used "many of Whistler's methods and materials and, like his work...[had it] printed commercially by the Ballantyne Press" (Cave 114). According to Roderick Cave, "the first number [of The Dial] so impressed Oscar Wilde that he came to The Vale to meet the two and is said to have begged them not to bring out a second number, as 'all perfect things should be unique'" (114). Nevertheless, The Dial appeared in four more issues sporadically between 1892 and 1897.

Daphnis and Chloe, 1893

Vale Press monogram
in Hero and Leander, 1894
In 1894, Ricketts began another endeavor, his Vale Press, named after their home, The Vale, and backed financially by Llewellyn Hacon. Ricketts and Shannon had been experimenting for a few years on creating wood-engraved illustrations and initials together, producing an edition of Daphnis and Chloe, which was printed by the Ballantyne Press in 1893. 1894's Hero and Leander was the first book to bear the Vale Press monogram and watermark, though it was not until The Early Poems of John Milton, published in 1896, that the Press name appeared in a book.
"Shannon and the brown paper have at last come into conjunction and you will receive by parcels post the derelict vellums. I should be happy if you could make it convenient to pay for these rather shortly, as our finances are at the lowest possible ebb, we have bought the Piero di Cosimo and are reduced to theoretic banking accounts and the glorious arrogance of possession." - C. Ricketts to L. Hodson, Oct. 24, 1904
Under the Vale Press imprint, Ricketts went on to design and publish 46 works until the Press's closure in 1904. Ricketts became known as one of the "masters of the revival of great printing" (Ransom 36). Ricketts never owned his own printing press (a handpress and pressman were reserved exclusively for him at the Ballantyne Press), and distribution of the books was done by John Lane, but he designed everything about the books, from the type and paper, to the initials, borders, and illustrations.

Poetical Sketches by William Blake, 1899

Though influenced by William Morris and the Kelmscott Press, Ricketts' work was more in line with the principles of the Art Nouveau movement, and he was especially taken with the aesthetics of the Italian Renaissance. His lines were narrow and graceful, achieving "the same effect of pages full of light," and his designs were tailored to the text being printed, giving each an elegance and "eclecticism" seldom seen in other presses of the era (Cave 115).
"I am glad that you like the vellums, I also like them sometimes. I feel with the extinction of the press that I have become a classic, that I have forsaken the world of youth & beauty for fame and repose." - C. Ricketts to L. Hodson, July 13, 1904
Bibliography of Books Printed by Hacon and Ricketts, 1904

An 1899 fire at the Ballantyne Press destroyed most of the engraved blocks and type used by the Press, and since Ricketts had been considering closing the Press as well, he produced one final book, Bibliography of Books Printed by Hacon and Ricketts, and the Press came to a close.

Stay tuned for part two in this two-part series, focusing on Laurence Hodson and his relationship with Charles Ricketts, as revealed in Ricketts' correspondence.

Works cited:

Cave, Roderick. The Private Press, second edition. New York: R. R. Bowker Company, 1983.
Ransom, Will. Private Presses and Their Books. New York: R. R. Bowker Company, 1929.

Works consulted:

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Biography of Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon.
 Franklin, Colin. The Private Press. Chester Springs, PA: Dufour, 1969.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New Catalogue Announcement

Bromer Booksellers is pleased to announce the publication of a new concept in print catalogues. Featuring 23 of our latest acquisitions, the catalogue is printed in gatefold format on a single sheet of paper, with full-color images for every item and abbreviated descriptions. Full descriptions may be accessed by using a smartphone or tablet to scan a QR code that will take the reader to our website. Print copies are available upon request.

Alternatively, we have just posted a pdf version on our website that has direct links to the full item descriptions and this can be accessed by simply clicking here.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Letterform Archive

Our friend Rob Saunders has been collecting works related to calligraphy and typography for over 35 years, but he is now working on an interesting project to put high-resolution images of letterforms online to share with the world. The website is Letterform Archive, and here is an excerpt from the website's raison d'etre:
We want to raise the bar in imaging graphic design.

How? By capturing the tactile aesthetics of the object, not only digitizing what’s on the surface. Scanning and traditional copy photography won’t do, because they don’t capture texture well. What’s needed is high resolution photography of original works with lighting carefully tuned to capture tactility.

Our goals include:
Sufficient resolution so that you can zoom in to see detail,
Appropriate capture of surface texture,
Full spreads and full margins with edges showing so you see the whole design, and
Consistent color which captures even the subtle variations of “white” papers.
Read the full text here.

The website has a section devoted to W. A. Dwiggins, one of our favorite designers, and they are constantly adding new content to the gallery. They also have a blog and are on Twitter under @LettArc.

We're looking forward to seeing what new letterforms appear in the future, as they seem to span time, space, and genre, and we congratulate Rob for putting together this new graphic design resource.

Friday, September 20, 2013

E-catalogue 37: Summer Sale

For this late-summer offering, we have pulled together nearly forty items from across our specialty areas that we are offering at 50% of their list prices. A small group of miniature can be found together at the very end of the list. As with previous sale catalogues, the books are posted at their regular price, and the discount will be applied at checkout using the promotional code "2013sale".

We hope you find something you have long desired, made even more so by this special offer.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pop-up Cigarette Cards

As aficionados of both miniature and movable books, we were drawn to these small, pop-up cigarette cards depicting famous British landmarks. Twenty-four different cards were distributed with packages of Herbert Tareyton cigarettes as a promotional premium, encouraging the purchaser to collect them all. Among the landmarks included are Buckingham Palace, Canterbury Cathedral, Covent Garden Theatre, Scotland Yard, Windsor Castle, and the Houses of Parliament. Although Herbert Tareyton was an American cigarette brand, their marketing image and mascot, a dapper, monocle-wearing spokesman known as "Dude," was meant to seem British and aristocratic. The subject matter of these cigarette cards served to enhance this association.

Cigarette packages of the 19th century commonly included a small cardboard insert to stiffen the container. Inspired by printed trade cards and the advent of chromolithography in the late 1870s, James Buchanan Duke, of W. Duke & Sons in Durham, was the first to see the advertising potential of these cards. On one side of the cards, he printed the brand information, and on the other side was an image, designed to be part of a collectible series. These sets came to include a diverse variety of subjects, including actors and actresses, sports stars, landmarks, and plants and animals. Most cigarette cards were inexpensively printed, but a few were presented in more deluxe formats. Some were actual silver gelatin photographs, while others were printed silk fabric or had pop-up elements, such as this set.

Published in 1939, during the height of cigarette card popularity, the cards included in this set are housed within their original envelopes, which are printed with the Tareyton name, mascot, and slogan on one side, and a description of the landmark on the reverse. The pop-up images show the famous buildings in the background with action scenes in the landscape's foreground. All are chromolithographed using bright colors.

The slogan for Herbert Tareyton cigarettes was "There's something about them you'll like," and the same is true of these pop-up cards. With their eye-catching colors, recognizable subject locations, and miniature size, they have something appealing for everyone.

For more information about cigarette cards, and to view an extensive online exhibit, please visit the links below, and as always, thank you for reading.



Thursday, July 25, 2013

E-catalogue 36: Illustrated Children's and Fantasy Books

There are seven American chapbooks to begin this 36th e-catalogue of Illustrated Children's and Fantasy Books. The illustrations of Harry Clarke, Walter Crane, Edmund Dulac, and six Arthur Rackham titles are among those representing British printings. European children's books from Spain, Portugal, France, and Germany are listed. An Australian juvenile book in verse rounds out this international offering. In seeking unusual formats, you will find panoramas and shaped books. A Sendak and a Seuss, of course, complete the entrée of children's delights.

View the e-catalogue here, and enjoy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Anne Bromer on the Edward Gorey House blog

Anne Bromer has written a short essay on her recollections about Edward Gorey, with whom she had a professional and friendly relationship for almost twenty years. The Bromers published two miniature books written and illustrated by Gorey, as well as several other smaller projects, and they built a substantial personal collection of his works. The stories Anne shares have been published and nicely illustrated by our friends at the Edward Gorey House on their blog.

You can view the blog post here. We hope that you will take a moment to read about this talented man in the words of someone who knew him personally.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer, as depicted by Richard Bigus


Sitting on a gatepost,
a slow fog
over marsh,
stars vanish.

Branches break,
Fur dripping,
steps on a road.

Surf's echo

This poem by Richard Bigus about fog, marsh, and surf takes on new dimensions when rendered on paper by him.

"Summer" (1974). One of twenty-three copies signed by Bigus.

An example of concrete printing, this broadside is printed using various sizes of type handset at different angles. The diminishing size of the type in the last line and its multi-directionality evoke the fading presence of the "surf's echo," perhaps better than the blue linocut by Tom Killion depicting the same surf above. 

Bigus learned the craft of printing under the tutelage of William Everson and Jack Stauffacher at U.C. Santa Cruz. There he printed a few books of his own verse as well as broadsides of concrete and haiku poetry, such as this one. For him, the visualization of the word became paramount. We think he achieved that goal quite well here.

We wish everyone a warm, restful summer, filled with the poetry of nature.

Best wishes,
Bromer Booksellers

P.S. You can view another example of Richard Bigus' work that we featured on this blog last year here. He completed that work four years after this broadside, and you can see the level of mastery he achieved in his approach to concrete printing in that amount of time.

Friday, June 28, 2013

E-catalogue 35: New Acquisitions

To mark the unofficial start to summer, we would like to usher in our favorite season with a select offering of recently acquired books priced under $2,000. This group of over thirty books represents a cross-section of most of our subject specialties, with the exception of children's books which will be the focus of an upcoming catalogue.

Among the books on offer:

- Several signed Edward Gorey items, including two cut figure books;
- A complete run of the Palatine Review, which was founded by Aldous Huxley;
- The smallest book about Theodore Roosevelt: Facts about the Candidate;
- L' Art du Maquillage, a colorfully illustrated French treatise on various types of makeup techniques.

We hope you enjoy this eclectic selection. As always we are available to answer any questions and look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, June 21, 2013

RBMS Booksellers' Showcase 2013

Bromer Booksellers will be exhibiting in the Booksellers' Showcase at the 54th Annual Rare Books and Manuscripts Section Preconference, taking place this year from June 23rd to 26th in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The title of the Preconference is "O Rare! Performance in Special Collections," and it explores the ways in which special collections house, support, and embody performance. More information on the Preconference can be found here.

The Booksellers' Showcase will begin with a welcome reception on Sunday, June 23rd from 6:00 to 8:00pm at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center. It will continue all day Monday, from 10:00am to 4:00pm. If you are attending the Preconference, we hope you will visit our display, where we will have a fine selection of books from across our specialty areas. We look
forward to seeing you in Minneapolis!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

E-catalogue 34: Miniature Book New Acquisitions

We have recently acquired a small collection of miniature books, which we present here in our latest e-catalogue.

Highlights of the collection include:

~ A group of books by David Bryce, including his famous Koran and lectern Bible
~ Several titles by Breed & Butler from the Aunt Fanny and Aunt Laura series
~ The very rare Calendrier de touts les Saintes from February and April
~ A set of presidential miniature books from the Kingsport Press

We hope you enjoy perusing this spring sampling.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Saying Farewell to National Poetry Month

On the last day of National Poetry Month, we present excerpts from the first commercially published books by five acclaimed authors: Willa Cather, James Joyce, Hugh M'Diarmid, John Updike, and Seamus Heaney. Though virtually unknown at the time these books were published, one can see a glimpse of the enduring greatness to come from these writers, only two of whom would pursue a career in poetry.

April Twilights by Willa Cather
Boston, Richard G. Badger/Gorham Press, 1903

As some pale shade in glorious battle slain,
On beds of rue, beside the silent streams,
Recalls outworn delights in happy dreams;
The play of oars upon the flashing main,
The speed of runners, and the swelling vein,
And toil in pleasant upland field that teems
With vine and gadding gourd--until he seems
To feel wan memories of the sun again
And scent the vineyard slopes when dawn is wet,
But feels no ache within his loosened knees
To join the runners where the course is set,
Nor smite the billows of the fruitless seas,--
So I recall our day of passion yet,
With sighs and tenderness, but no regret.

Chamber Music by James Joyce
London, Elkin Matthews, (1907)

Strings in the earth and air
Make music sweet;
Strings by the river where
The willows meet.

There's music along the river
For Love wanders there,
Pale flowers on his mantle,
Dark leaves on his hair.

All softly playing,
With head to the music bent,
And fingers straying
Upon an instrument.

Sangschaw by Hugh M'Diarmid
Edinburgh, William Blackwood and Sons, 1925

Country Life

Ootside! . . . Ootside!
There's dooks that try tae fly
An' bum-clocks bizzin' by,
A corn-skriech an' a cay
An' guissay i' the cray.

Inside! . . . Inside!
There's golochs on the wa',
A craidle on the ca',
A muckle bleeze o' cones
An' mither fochin' scones.

The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures by John Updike
New York, Harper, (1958)

Ex-Basketball Player

Pearl Avenue runs past the high-school lot,
Bends with the trolley tracks, and stops, cut off
Before it has a chance to go two blocks,
At Colonel McComsky Plaza. Berth's Garage
Is on the corner facing west, and there,
Most days, you'll find Flick Webb, who helps Berth out.

Flick stands tall among the idiot pumps--
Five on a side, the bubble-head style,
Their rubber elbows hanging loose and low.
One's nostrils are two S's, and his eyes
An E and O. And one is squat, without
A head at all--more of a football type.

Once Flick played for the high-school team, the Wizards.
He was good: in fact, the best. In '46
He bucketed three hundred ninety points,
A county record still. The ball loved Flick.
I saw him rack up thirty-eight or forty
In one home game. His hands were like wild birds.

He never learned a trade, he just sells gas,
Checks oil, and changes flats. Once in a while,
As a gag, he dribbles an inner tube,
But most of us remember anyway.
His hands are fine and nervous on the lug wrench.
It makes no difference to the lug wrench, though.

Off work, he hangs around Mae's luncheonette.
Grease-gray and kind of coiled, he plays pinball,
Smokes those thin cigars, nurses lemon phosphates.
Flick seldom says a word to Mae, just nods
Beyond her face toward bright applauding tiers
Of Necco Wafers, Nibs, and Juju Beads.

Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney
New York, Oxford University Press, 1966


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Catalogue 139

Now that we are back in the office, we are pleased to announce Catalogue 139, our latest full-color print catalogue, containing newly acquired material from across our subject specialties. Print copies are available upon request, or you can view a pdf version here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bromer Booksellers reopening 4/24

More than a week after the bombings at the Boston Marathon that killed three, injured hundreds, and shut down a six-block section of Boston's Back Bay, the area around Copley Square has been released to reopen for business. We at Bromer Booksellers expect to be back in our shop on Wednesday, April 24th, during our normal business hours of 9:30am to 5:30pm.

We would like to reiterate how stunned and horrified we are by the tragedy that occurred last week. Our hearts are with the victims and their families as they, and the city as a whole, begin to heal from this trauma. Though we will be glad to resume our daily lives, we know that nothing will be the same again.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Bromer Booksellers at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair

Bromer Booksellers will be exhibiting at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair this year in booth C18. We will be bringing some excellent items for our booth, highlights of which include:

  • A unique collection of Japanese surimono depicting books and scrolls
  • Private press books printed on vellum
  • Several Gorey items, including original artwork for the cover of Penny Candy
  • A group of Japanese paper books
  • Some new acquisitions in miniature books from a private collection

We will also have copies of our new catalogue available for anyone who is not on our mailing list. For more information on the book fair, see below, and we look forward to greeting you in our booth at the book fair this weekend, April 11-14th.

New York Antiquarian Book Fair

The Park Avenue Armory
643 Park Avenue, at 67th Street
New York, NY 10065
Get directions

Booth C18

Thursday: VIP Preview 5-9pm
Friday: noon-8pm
Saturday: noon-7pm
Sunday: noon-5pm

Preview: $35
One-day pass: $20
Two-day pass: $30
Three-day pass: $40
Student day pass: $10

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Robert Frost's "Gift Outright"

"Does No One but Me at All Ever Feel This Way in the Least?"

March 26 marks the birthday of the poet Robert Frost. Though born in San Francisco, Frost spent most of his life in New England, teaching and writing. He won four Pulitzer Prizes, and in 1960, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. He would have been 139 today, and to celebrate the anniversary of his birth, we are highlighting a manuscript poem he gave away as a gift.

Frost kept manuscripts of his writing in a three-ring binder, and he was known to give manuscript pages away to his friends. One such gift was the two-page manuscript for his poem "Does No One but Me at All Ever Feel This Way in the Least," which he presented to Frederick B. Adams, Jr. with the inscription "Robert to Fred." Adams was a life-long bibliophile, who served as director of the Pierpont Morgan Library from 1948 to 1969. He began collecting books while still in college, and he eventually built one of the foremost collections of works by Frost.

This particular poem first appeared as Frost’s Christmas greeting for 1952, though it was not actually released until July 4, 1953; it was later published in Frost’s last collection, In the Clearing. Adams’s label on the front cover of his archival folder dates this manuscript to November 1952, and it is apparent that Frost was still revising the poem when he presented these leaves to Adams. For example, line 3 in the manuscript reads: “That was to make the New World newly great”; in the published version, this was changed to “That should have made the New World newly great,” removing at once the undertone of potentiality in Frost’s stanza about the original settling of North America and replacing it with something more ironic. There are other stylistic variations throughout, as well as a number of obvious revisions.

The ironic tone is appropriate, as the poem is both a meditation on Frost's naturalistic outlook and a subtle jab at what he perceived as the regressive nature of America in particular. The sea, Frost tells us, is heedless of our attempts to minimize it -- we are the nursery-school teacher in his last stanza, whose "own experiences fail her," forcing her to liken the ocean to a pool, and telling her charges "that Sinbad was a sailor." Looking at this poem carefully, one understands why Frost waited until the 4th of July to release it to the world. 

Throughout his career, Robert Frost reminded us that we were charged with making our way in an indifferent world, but he couched this in language that made it feel less a burden and more a gift we didn't know we needed.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Update on Bromer Booksellers in Japan

As discussed in our February 19th post, one hundred of our miniature books were on display for a month at the World Antiquarian Book Plaza in Tokyo, Japan, where Anne and David Bromer also made an appearance and met with avid miniature book collectors. Since that visit, most of our miniature books have returned home.

However, Bromer Booksellers has become the newest exhibiting dealer at the WABP, joining twenty-two other book dealers from around the world in displaying items from our stock in Tokyo. Twenty miniature books will remain on display and will be part of a permanent rotating group of books from Bromer Booksellers at the WABP.

If you are in Tokyo, we hope you will visit the World Antiquarian Book Plaza to see the broad selection of items on offer, including our miniature books.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Defence of Guenevere

It recently came to our attention that this week is the anniversary of the birthdays of both William Morris (March 24) and Jessie M. King (March 20), the artistic minds behind the lovely John Lane edition of The Defence of Guenevere, published in 1904. The text was written by Morris and first published in 1858, with later editions appearing, including a revised edition published in 1892 by Morris' Kelmscott Press.

The 1904 John Lane edition features twenty-four full-page illustrations and numerous decorations finely drawn by King. The binding, in gilt-decorated dark red cloth, was also designed by King and shows a pictorial gilt-stamped design of a resplendent Guenevere. The black and white illustrations and cover are in the "Glasgow Style," Scotland's Art Nouveau movement, characterized by the influences of Celtic imagery, Japanese prints, and the work of William Morris himself.

For more on King and her exquisite illustrations, see the excellent University of St. Andrews Special Collections blog post on The Defence of Guenevere, and please join us in celebrating these two important artists on the anniversary of their birth.

Monday, February 25, 2013

E-catalogue 33: Mid-Winter Miniature and Micro-Miniature Books

Will O' The Wisps (For Tiny Hands) by Charles Van Sandwyk

Visit the link below to view our latest e-catalogue, which showcases a selection of recently acquired miniature and micro-miniature books.*

*We have additional titles by the presses in this list. If you do not see a specific title that you are looking for, please let us know and we will do our best to locate a copy for you.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Celebrating Edward Gorey's Birthday

In celebration of Edward Gorey's birthday (an occasion observed with today's Google doodle), we present a sneak preview of a new Gorey acquisition, the title of which we feel is particularly appropriate for the day: Beginning to End.

This book is the second collaboration between Gorey and author Samuel Beckett, and it is decorated throughout with illustrations of rocks and skulls, including on the paper-covered boards. All are done in Gorey's characteristic macabre style.

The fact that this is copy Z of twenty-six lettered copies in the first edition is another subtle touch that Gorey would have appreciated.

Happy Birthday, Edward.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Miniature Book Exhibition in Japan

One hundred of our miniature books are currently on display in Japan at the World Antiquarian Book Plaza, which showcases "biblio-gems" contributed by 22 booksellers from around the world.

On February 20th, 2013 from 4:30 to 6:30pm, Anne and David Bromer will make a special appearance at the Book Plaza. If you are in Tokyo, be sure to visit the gallery and ask the Bromers all your questions about miniature books.

To view a list of the miniature books on offer, click here.

The World Antiquarian Book Plaza, operated by Yushodo Co., Ltd., is located at:
Maruzen Bookstores Nihonbashi, 3rd Floor
2-3-10 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Will You Be Our Valentine?

Cobweb-Style Valentine, c. 1860

We hope everyone has a Happy Valentine's Day today, spent with those you care about.

Best wishes,

Bromer Booksellers