Monday, November 17, 2014

The Book Club of Detroit

The Book Club of Detroit (BCD)

We hosted a summer afternoon at Signal-Return, a letterpress studio at Eastern Market in Detroit. Signal-Return transformed an empty storefront into a studio for the authentic craft of handset printmaking. We saw their presses, browsed type collections, and watched a demonstration of hand type setting and printing on a proof press. Given BCD members’ predilection for books, it deepened our appreciation for the handset printing process. Attendees left with a print from the set type.

Photo of poster printed at BCD Signal-Return event. Image source: Frank Castronova.

Member Dr. Jerald Mitchell, a retired professor of anatomy, president of The Model T Automotive Heritage Complex Inc., and artist, gave a talk called “Seeing and Shaping the Future in the 20th Century: H.G. Wells and Henry Ford.” Mitchell compared and contrasted Wells and Ford on several dimensions. For example, Mitchell stated, “Wells influenced by his ideas. Ford changed life by his actions.”  We toured Mitchell’s renovated home, built by Henry Ford in 1908. Mitchell restored the home with period furnishings and architecture—some of the original trim and hardware was stored in a garage for years. In a second floor library, we browsed his rare book collection and peered onto the historic Boston-Edison neighborhood of over 900 homes constructed between 1905 and 1925. In addition to Henry Ford, early Boston-Edison residents included Horace Rackham, James Couzens, Sebastian Kresge, and Joe Louis. Today Boston-Edson is home to a diverse population with a common appreciation and love of historic homes.

During September, Gregory A. Fournier, author of Zug Island: A Detroit Riot Novel, informed and entertained members at a dinner meeting. Fournier’s book won a Finalist Award from the 2011 USA Best Books competition and a 2012 Los Angeles Book Festival Honorable Mention. Fournier grew up in Detroit and taught English language arts for 37 years before pursuing his writing career. Zug Island tells a story of friendship and race relations during 1967. BCD invited members of the Detroit Drunken Historical Society and Lit in the Mitt to attend.

We will close the year with our annual members holiday dinner. This year’s speaker will be Dr. Charles K. Hyde and his talk will focus on “Revisiting Rosie the Riveter.”

We sadly report the death of two longstanding BCD members. Frederick Gale Ruffner Jr. was a member for over 50 years and founded Gale Research Company, which became one of the largest reference book publishers in this country. After selling the company in 1985, Fred started Omnigraphics, another reference publishing company that still operates in downtown Detroit. His older son heads Avanti Press, a Detroit-based greeting card company. James Earl Beall, BCD president 1994, held an internationally recognized book and art collection and was one of the last tax generalists. After he earned degrees in law and tax, Beall appeared as an expert witness before U.S. Tax court and was listed in The Best Lawyers in America since the publications inception.  His rare book collection held many items including a woodblock illustrated edition of Grimm Fairy Tales with a tasteful bookplate designed by Rockwell Kent.

The Book Club of Detroit is comprised of a diverse set of people from all walks of life. Visit The Book Club of Detroit for more information or to join.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Baltimore Bibliophiles

The 2015 meeting/program schedule for The Baltimore Bibliophiles is still in transit. However, we plan to have four dinner meetings - in March, May, September and November, in addition to an afternoon al fresco event in mid-July, featuring highlights from our members' collections.  One of our scheduled speakers is Mark Dimunation, Head of the Rare Books Division of the Library of Congress.  His topic is: "Forged in Fire: Restoring Thomas Jefferson's Library."  Another speaker who will be doing a talk is Nicholas Basbanes (date to be determined).  Other topics under discussion include Jane Austen, aspects of rare book collecting, as well as a talk about the creation and the importance of FABS itself.  Please feel free to visit our web site for the latest news. And FABS members may feel free to contact me directly.

Binnie Syril Braunstein
Corresponding Secretary/Program Chair
The Baltimore Bibliophiles

Monday, October 20, 2014

Long Island Book Collectors

In September, veteran collector and long-time LIBC member Roz Grand presented advice on acquiring a cohesive book collection.   As a novice, she sought the help of dealers, books, and Internet resources in order to learn the market value of material within her areas of interest: The Holocaust and Zionism. At fairs and auctions, she slowly began buying Holocaust and Zionist books, pamphlets, and related newspapers; many published during the rise of Hitler and World War II before the Allied Invasion. Today, her formidable library contains a wealth of scholarly information.

Ms. Grand shared some of the books that continue to serve her well—both independent of and in conjunction with, the Internet. Her selection includes: Collecting Books for Fun and Profit by Arthur H. Minters and How to Buy Rare Books: A Practical Guide to the Antiquarian Book Market published by Christie’s Collectors Library. Touching upon the fickle marketplace’s criteria for “rarity”, Ms. Grand alluded to John Carter’s diminutive jewel of a book, ABC for Book Collectors. The book remains a valuable resource for novices and seasoned dealers alike. [Thanks to the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers it is now available for download as a PDF.  The entry for “rarity” is well worth reading and re-reading.]  

Here are a few of Ms. Grand’s tips:
Collect the things you love; choose the books most important to your collection; decide what you want your collection to be and what you want your collection to say. Confirm how much a book is worth and how much your collection is worth. What are the highlights of your collection?  What should you have in your collection that will make it a true vehicle for your message and increase its value?
Learn how to negotiate.  Learn how to say “no” to a dealer who is not offering you the price you want.
Balance buying a bargain with buying a high-end book.  Buy the most representative book in the best condition when it is necessary to your objective.
Rather than relying solely on Internet sources, seek out a reputable dealer for information on price and source. Build a relationship of trust with a dealer or dealers. 
Above all, do not buy for profit, buy for love.  In this way, you will be assured of continued pride and pleasure in your collection—for the whole of your life.  

In October, witches, goblins, and ghosts were the topic—a nod to All Hallows Eve or Halloween.  Julie Marrell presented some of her favorite children’s picture books including The Witch Who was Afraid of Witches by Alice Low. From her collection of 19th century Central American magazines, Ms. Marrell shared a Halloween issue documenting the Guatemalan tradition of taking a photograph with the dead before burying the body as a lasting memento. Titles presented by Marjorie Rosenthal included two Maurice Sendak titles-Outside Over There and Mommy?,  a pop-up book, reflecting the author’s own obsession with goblins, changelings and monsters. Member selections included a photoplay edition of The Murders in the Rue Morgue containing movie stills;  a rare volume of the first true horror story published in America—a 1796 edition of The Monk, one of the most important Gothic novels of its time; Japanese Ghosts & Demons: Art of the Supernatural by Stephen Addiss containing the work of many of Japan’s most brilliant artists; Priscilla magazine, 1926 and Modern Home Making magazine 1927 featuring menus for entertaining on Halloween; The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gore; a 1910 edition of The Devil’s Motor-still smelling of the burnt- oil-scent that enhanced the book’s message a century ago.  This oversized anti-motoring book by Marie Corelli defended the preservation of our natural world by advocating for the continued use of the horse & buggy.

Join us in the Hunt Room of Winnick House on Long island University’s bucolic campus every second Saturday of the month from September through June, or RSVP to attend our luncheon on November 16th at the famed  Milleridge Inn in Jericho, Long Island. This year’s speaker will be the historian from the Walt Whitman Birthplace in Huntington Station. Read more about us at:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A call for biblio-tales!

Rebecca Rego Barry, who some of you may know as the editor of Fine Books & Collections, is interested in hearing from collectors who have found a rare book or manuscript in an “unlikely place,” e.g. barn, basement, attic, church sale, estate sale, thrift shop, grandfather’s closet, etc. The definition of “rare” here is quite broad: it can be a book or manuscript of value, whether artistic, historical, financial, associative, or sentimental. Is it something you flipped for a few hundred (or thousand) dollars, something you donated to a museum or archive, or something you treasure in your own collection? She is currently at work on a book about such finds, titled Rare Books Uncovered, to be published by Quarto’s Voyageur Press in late 2015. Ideally, she’d like to hear from folks before Thanksgiving. You can reach her at or through her website Thanks!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

FABS Study Tour in Philadelphia, June 3–7, 2015

The Philobiblon Club of Philadelphia welcomes the 2015 FABS Study Tour and Symposium, scheduled for June 3–7, and sponsored by The Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies.
            The Study Tour will be based at the Hilton Doubletree Hotel in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. On the afternoon of Wednesday, June 3rd, twelve early-arriving travelers will have the opportunity to visit the Philadelphia Orchestra library, housed in the Rafael Viñoly-designed Kimmel Center, an architectural landmark just steps from the hotel. In the late afternoon we will gather for cocktails and a book fair with a dozen dealers offering their wares.
            On Thursday morning, we will begin with two curatorial presentations and an exhibition of Pennsylvania Dutch Fraktur manuscripts in the Rare Book Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia. We will then cross the street to the Barnes Foundation and spend the rest of the morning with its extraordinary Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings — including sixty-nine Cézannes, sixty Matisses, forty-four Picassos and nearly two hundred Renoirs — assembled by Dr. Albert Barnes between 1910 and 1950. That afternoon the staff at The Philadelphia Museum of Art Library will show us printed materials and manuscripts complementing their exhibition “Notation and the Arts.” We will spend the remainder of the day in the University of Pennsylvania Special Collections and in the Fisher Fine Arts Library Rare Book Room (in the spectacular Frank Furness building, completed 1890). We will have a catered dinner atop the Van Pelt Library in the newly opened Kislak Center, overlooking the central campus.
            On Friday we will walk around the corner and split the morning between The Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, which sit side by side. Established in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin and famed for its collections of 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century American books, manuscripts, prints and photographs, The Library Company will have two curators present selections from various departments and guide us through an exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Manuscripts will be the focus of our visit to the Historical Society, which owns, among other treasures, two original drafts of the U.S. Constitution. Lunch at the Franklin Inn Club, a private literary club, will fortify us for our afternoon visits to The American Philosophical Society (also established by Franklin, in 1743), The Philadelphia Athenaeum (a private lending library founded in 1814) and the Center for Judaic Studies (incorporating the collections of Dropsy College and allied with the University of Pennyslvania). At each stop, curators will introduce us to their collections and show us treasures, including the Lewis and Clark Expedition journals, architectural drawings and rare Hebraica. In the late afternoon, we will visit the Othmer Library at the Chemical Heritage Foundation to see their recently acquired medieval and early modern alchemical manuscripts, books annotated by Sir Isaac Newton and key works in the history of science.
            The Saturday morning Symposium, “My Life Collecting” will explore the evolution of collectors’ relationships with and ideas about their books, prints, manuscripts and drawings over many years of ownership and acquisition. All our speakers have collected for over four decades: Steve Rothman (Philobiblon President, Baker Street Irregular and English literature collector), Eugene S. Flamm (neuro-surgeon and collector of medicine and the history of bibliography), Susan Tane (business-woman and collector of 19th-century American literature, especially Poe and Twain) and Peter Kraus (bookseller and picture collector). Michael Ryan (Director of the Klingenstein Library of the New-York Historical Society) will moderate what will certainly be a lively discussion following the formal presentations.   On Sunday in the late morning, the Rosenbach Museum and Library has graciously agreed to open its doors to a dozen lucky travelers.
            Save the date, as the event is limited to fifty-two attendees. The cost is $650 per person (exclusive of hotel). To register (or if you have questions regarding the tour), please contact Bruce McKittrick and Kiley Samz (, and place “FABS '15” in your email subject line.

The Zamorano Club

The Zamorano Club has had a number of particularly wonderful presentations at our monthly dinner meetings, all of which have been presented by Zamorano members. In January, David Kalifon gave a talk entitled “Pentiger’s Tabula Itineraria: Exploring an Ancient Roman Road Map through Ortelius’s 1598 Facsimile.”
Chuck Rennie followed in February with “Sex, Science, and Sardines: Reality and Myth in the Steinbeck–Ed Ricketts Friendship and its Literature.” Mr. Rennie was very thorough in his research, presenting a detailed account of the life of Ed Ricketts and his relationship with Steinbeck. For example, on their well-known boating trip up the interior of the Baja California Coast, he noticed that all their docking points were not of any significant interest except that these towns had a cantina.
“The Curious Case of George M. Millard, El Paseo de la Guerra, Santa Barbara” was presented by Charles Johnson. This research revolves around Alice Millard, a well-known book dealer in Los Angeles in the first half of the 20th century. During his research, Mr. Johnson discovered that a bookstore “owned” by Ms. Millard’s husband existed in Santa Barbara. The details of this bookshop, who owned it and its history were discussed. 
Skipping April momentarily, in May we had the pleasure of hearing Kim Keeline present her summary of how the collecting of Shakespeare has evolved, what artifacts were sought early on and present some examples from her collection. 
In June, Donald Sterrenburg presented a wonderful lecture on the process he went through to design a new typeface recently.  This could possibly be one of the last faces designed fully by hand. 
Jumping back to April, we were privileged to hear Zamoranian Msgr. Francis Weber talk to us about his “Zamorano Memories.”  Msgr. Weber (a member since 1969 who has served the club in many capacities, including President of the Board of Governors) has published over 170 books, written nearly 100 essays in our journal alone, and was the archivist for the Los Angeles Archdiocese.  These are just a few highlights of his vast career, and he received a standing ovation at the conclusion. 
Zamoranian Tom Andrews has been honored by Azusa Pacific University with the name of an auxiliary of their Special Collections (the "Thomas F. Andrews Fund for the Development, Preservation, and Scholarship of Special Collections").  Zamoranian Romy Wile’s latest book “Loving Andrew: A Fifty-Two-Year Story of Down Syndrome” has been receiving wide-spread attention, including five awards.
The Club is on summer hiatus with members scurrying around to get their keepsakes printed for the upcoming joint meeting with the Roxburghes in November in San Francisco.  Our fellow California bibliophiles are always excellent hosts and, we are eagerly making our travel plans.