Monday, March 10, 2014

Long Island Book Collectors!

Long Island Book Collectors is off to a promising start after a summer of great sadness. Following the recent deaths of two of our cherished members, Conrad Schoeffling and Saul Grand, our first meeting marked a new beginning for us. The year 2013 signifies our forty-seventh year in existence and the introduction of our Web site. Conceived and created by LIBC president Paul Belard, master bookbinder, author, engineer, and collector, our Internet address is: We invite you to read the posted articles. 

Follow the odyssey of a book from its Russian origins in 1827 to its passage during WWII from a Nazi War Minister’s library into the hands of a Russian Army Commander four years later, clearly stamped on the overlay of book plates of former owners. Learn about the troubled history of Black Sambo, a beloved children’s book since its 1899 London publication that later became political ballast during the 1970s furor to cleanse American  library shelves of all signs of ‘bigotry’. Enjoy a richly illustrated look at rare Civil War newspapers from London and the United States, and an in-depth treatment of the Scandal Papers of the 19th Century featuring examples from the National Police Gazette. If you prefer, find us on LinkedIn, courtesy our newest member, Mr. Peter Falotico, whose entire collection of 80 books and 11 magazines illustrated by Impressionist painter William Starkweather (1879-1969) was shown, to much acclaim, at Hickory Museum in North Carolina. The spring exhibit was accompanied by a beautifully designed museum catalog containing an essay by Mr. Falotico, life-long art connoisseur, educator, and owner of Stony Book Print.  
In October LIBC was joined by local book dealers to hear member Alan Wiener, CPA, JD, LL.M. and Partner Emeritus at Baker Tilly Virchow Krause speak on business, tax, and estate aspects for book collectors and dealers. Mr. Weiner led the group through the steps involved in filing taxes and documenting donations of books or collections. His meticulously prepared worksheets covered not only the intricacies of the tax  structure, but the delicate emotional issues surrounding decisions to be made concerning disposition of a collection to beneficiaries, writing a will, and preparing a spouse to handle finances     in the event of one’s death. Each one of us listened; privately occupied with a set of unique circumstances concerning cherished books, family attitudes, and potential beneficiaries.  With great aplomb, humor, and sensitivity, Mr. Wiener answered questions, gave advice, and provided a blueprint for the process of “putting things in order” that spoke to all our needs.

November’s traditional luncheon at the Milleridge Inn in Jericho, Long Island was graced by the presence of guest speaker Steven Henry, collector of liturgical manuscripts. Mr. Henry, a musician, composer, conductor, and educator has worked in a variety of venues that include the Broadway stage, the Big Apple Circus, Royal Cruise Lines, and artists Lionel Hampton and Buster Poindexter. His colorful talk was anchored by a preliminary history of mankind’s first attempts at making music as evidenced by bone flutes fashioned from mammoth ivory dated 43,000 years ago. Music was a prominent feature of early societies that made up the cradle of civilization; particularly the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Jews. Mr. Henry’s lecture, punctuated by questions from the group, traced the pivotal role of the Church in the advancement of written music. There, monks were employed to copy music in order that the scriptures might reach a wider populace. Single sheets of finely crafted illuminated liturgical music on vellum and paper gave life to Mr. Henry’s narrative as he shared examples of music from the early 1400s to the mid-1700s. His material included music that was printed and sung in the churches of Italy, Spain, and France, as well as, the United States. A page from a Pilgrim hymnal printed in our young nation during the mid-1600s was shown. Further discussion centered on the evolution of antiphonal singing and the use of the staff, along with the change from unison, monophonic singing to the choral harmony of the Sixteenth Century.  We hope to have him back to further enlighten us on the pleasures of music and the ancient art of putting melody to paper.

December’s gathering was a potpourri of “Show and Tell” about books from the collections of several of our members; some whimsical, some a paean to the craft of bookmaking, some of historical importance; all a delight for the mind and the senses.  Among the volumes were: a rare copy in French of Flaubert’s Salammbo in pristine condition boasting a binding of intricately designed inlaid leather complete with beautiful plates throughout; a rare example of 1840s fiction writer George Reynolds’ The Mysteries of London; a Currier & Ives illustrated birth certificate from 1876 (a personal keepsake); a beloved volume from Rudyard Kipling’s 1897 Outward Bound series featuring leather in-lay and fine marble endpapers; a perfect copy of The Art of American Book Covers 1875-1930;a maritime history of the War of 1812;  a copy of James Bond’s Wild Birds of the West Indies-the source of Ian Fleming’s name for the now ubiquitous hero known as “Bond”; Saint Joan of Arc, a Mark Twain book for children with tipped in plates and decorated endpapers illustrated by Howard Pile (1919, 1st edition); a 1924 copy of Stars of Photoplay—a treat for movie buffs; a well-preserved Victorian Scrapbook (1894) containing photos of the owner’s favorite writers, and several  examples of children’s books (c1950)  of Jewish holiday stories illustrated  by Lili Cassel Wronker, former longtime LIBC member; novelty books including a ‘library in a library’ and one of the first printing catalogs published by printers for the Printing and the Mind of Man exhibit at the British Museum in 1963.
As we move forward, we will miss Conrad Schoeffling’s deep knowledge as Director of Special Collections at LIU Post, his invaluable contribution to our understanding of the vast literary heritage of the western world, French and Irish literature in particular, and the true value of books in the marketplace of academic archives. We will miss, as well, Saul Grand’s insatiable curiosity, the excitement that he brought to learning, and his desire to share an intimate understanding of printing, technology, and World War II history with all of us.