Sunday, February 28, 2010

To Err On The Side Of Caution/ Gouverneur Morris Bookplate


I spotted the listing shown above on Ebay and was interested but somewhat skeptical so I wrote to the seller as follows:

How do you know  that this is the bookplate used by the founding father and not a descendent with the same name? All my reference books show a different bookplate. If you can cite a credible reference I will be glad to place a bid.

The seller promptly responded as follows:

"hi lewis. if you research"governeur morris" you will see that he spent time in france around the same time this book was printed.he also spoke fluent certainly makes proper sense that he could very easily have picked up this book while he was in france.especially since his bookplate is in the book.,and the bookplate is very old.however,i wasn't there when he bought my advice is if you don't feel comfortable with purchasing it,then please don't.i don't want you to have buyer's remorse and have us debate over getting your money is not worth it for either of us. thanks very much for having interest in my book."

This is the Gouverneur Morris bookplate in my collection (Allen # 591)
Frankly, I do not know if the booklabel listed on Ebay was used by Gouverneur Morris or his son, whose name was also Gouverneur Morris. My gut tells me that the plate is  mid 19th century not 18th century but I can't say that with certainty.
I chose not to bid and neither did anyone else.If the seller is correct in his wishful thinking assumptions I missed a valuable addition to my collection.

Next weekend I will be at the book show in Washington D.C.
  My Sunday blog may be delayed until Monday.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Baldwin's Book Barn/The end of an Era

In 2006 I wrote about my favorite bookstores.Here is a link to that posting.

Most of the stores mentioned are alive and well .Tom Boss is now located in Salem ,Mass, and Applefeld in New York City closed its doors after Mr. Applefeld died. All too frequently.Bookstores  cease to exist when the owner dies or retires.

 It was with great sadness that I recently  learned that Baldwin's Book Barn Is Up For Sale.
If you are unfamiliar with Baldwins picture this: A five story stone barn built in 1822 sitting on 5+ acres of land in the BrandywineValley . The barn is filled with over three hundred thousand used and antiquarian books.
In this economy it is highly unlikely that the bookstore will be sold to another bookseller .Chances are the bookstore will be a fond memory replaced by luxury housing .
Perhaps this bookstore obituary is premature but I strongly suggest you visit the store while it is alive.
Here is a link:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Bookplates of John Lewis Childs

John Lewis Childs (1856-1921) was an astute businessman and politician who founded the village of Floral Park, New York. He was also an ornithologist and started America's first seed catalog business.
His had one of the finest private libraries in the world devoted to natural history. It included among other rarities Audubon's original work Birds of America.
His bookplates  are quite unique .The printed outer frame on each one is the same but the central portion is hand colored and hand lettered. I assume he had talented artists working for him in his catalog business and one of them may have assisted him with the bookplates. I would like to learn the artist's name and how many different bookplate images were in his library.
The bookplates from Mr. Child's library are quite scarce.I have only found three in thirty years but hope springs eternal. Maybe, a few more will be offered to me as a result of this blog.
That's about all for now.See you next Sunday.

OOPS, I almost forgot: From time to time I run bookplate collector profiles.It is not very formal or structured. Collectors write about themselves and their collection.and the information is posted on the blog.It's a good way to meet other collectors who want to exchange information and or duplicates.Don't be shy. Send me a paragraph or two.  Lew Jaffe

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bookplate From The Liebert Lavatory Library

Whenever I see a book about the history of bathroom fixtures. I buy it for  my collection. 
No, I never  mentioned it to my analyst .
 Here are the titles I now own:
Toilets of the World by Morna E. Gregory and Sian James
Clean And Decent by Lawrence Wright
The Conquest of Water by Jean-Pierre Goubert
The Compleat Loo by Roger Kilroy
The Polished Earth byArchibaldM. Maddock,11
Temples of Convenience  by Ligunda Lambton
When I spotted a bookplate for the Liebert Lavatory Library at Yale on EBay how could I not buy it ?
Here is some biographical information about the curator of the Liebert Lavatory which I copied from the seller's description :

"Herman Wardwell ("Fritz") Liebert was a distinctive personality in Johnson and Boswell studies, but will be remembered even more as the first librarian of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale. He was responsible for the development of its collections from a firm base in Yale's historic library, but even more he provided the buoyant link between the Beinecke brothers who funded the marvelous new building and the traditions of Yale bibliophily which it enshrined and developed. A New Yorker by birth, Fritz Liebert graduated in English at Yale in 1933. His pre-war career was as a newspaperman, gathering experience he was to put to good use during war work with the economics branch of the Office of Strategic Services, and later in well-judged public relations for his library and its collections. He belonged to one of those generations of pre-war Yale men whose intellectual and collecting instincts had been inspired by Chauncey Tinker's Johnsonian scholarship. It was his 18th- century interests that brought him back to Yale when the war was over, first as a Research Associate in the Sterling Library but with an increasing involvement in library administration. The later 1940s were a good time to be an 18th-century specialist in New Haven, for there was the probability that Yale would acquire the James Boswell archives, at last reunited in the United States in the possession of Colonel Ralph Isham. Liebert was one of the quayside party which deputised for Isham when the Boswell papers arrived in New York on the Queen Mary in 1948, and he acted as go-between during their purchase by Yale a year later. He was involved with them for the rest of his life, as a member of the Boswell editorial committee from its inception, and he was for long chairman of the publication committee of the Yale Edition of Samuel Johnson, presiding over its stately progress. He was specially attracted to Johnson. He collected his works and memorabilia with gusto, and as generously passed them on to Yale, published a number of articles, and encouraged many young Johnsonian scholars. At Yale he became Curator of the Rare Book Room at the Sterling Library from 1958 to 1963. It had become clear that the university's rapidly growing rare book collections would need separate accommodation, which the three Beinecke brothers were willing to provide. Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed a fine, rectangular granite and marble construction, beautifully finished, which was opened in 1963. Fritz Liebert then received the keys of this fine new building like the captain of a newly commissioned liner. He was intensely proud of the building he served as Librarian until 1972. There had been problems during its construction. He liked to tell of the architect's disappointment when the books in the massive glazed internal stack did not all have blue spines as in his drawings: Liebert explained that a more practical color scheme would be necessary. The building - "a source of learning and inspiration" unlike so many of its generation - has stood the test of time. During his curatorship its collections developed purposefully, in its special areas of German literature, Western Americana, and medieval manuscripts as well as Liebert's own interests in English literature. He had a particular rapport with benefactors - from the Beinecke family downwards - and was much liked in the higher echelons of the rare-book trade. Hans Kraus, the greatest dealer of his generation, greatly appreciated Liebert's taste and judgment, and he contributed much more than an introduction to Kraus's memoirs, A Rare-Book Saga, published in 1978. Fritz and his wife Laura were excellent hosts, always sensitive to the particular occasion, and his own anecdotal jocularity was well balanced by her dour one-liners. He was in his element in New Haven restaurants like the now-defunct Old Heidelberg, where he had his special chair, and he had a taste for martinis and ample steaks. THE SAMUEL JOHNSON COLLECTION OF HERMAN W. LIEBERT. The bulk of Fritz Liebert's Johnson collection, one of the finest two in private hands, was gifted to the Beinecke Library. It comprises more than five hundred works, representing a total of more than a thousand volumes by and relating to Johnson."

See you on Sunday when I will be writing about the bookplates of John Lewis Childs

Sunday, February 14, 2010

This Week In Bookplates 2/14/2010

    An Abraham Lincoln themed bookplate Collection is  on display through the end of February
 at the  Greenwich Library in Connecticut. . Fellow collector Bob Weinberg has loaned a number of his Lincoln bookplates to the  Library which is located at 10 west Putnam Ave.( 203 622 7948)
Speaking of presidents , last week a George Washington bookplate sold at Heritage Auctions  for $1,792.50. Normally that plate should have sold for $2,500.00 +. The plate was trimmed very closely so that several of the plate marks were eliminated . That might have contributed to the lower price. In hindsight , I should have bid on it.
   Fellow collector James Goode recently sent me an article entitled The Library At Mount Vernon by Francis Laverne Carroll and Mary Meacham. It was originally published in Beta Phi Mu Chapbook number 12 (1977). From the article I learned that George Washington's bookplate was ordered through Robert Adams on November 22, 1771 and engraved  in London by S. Valliscure.Three hundred impressions were made.

Last night, I was the high bidder( on Ebay) for a plate from the library of  Ulysses S. Grant.Throughout his early life I am not aware of any bookplates used by U.S. Grant.. After the civil war the city of Boston donated a number of books to the general for his personal library. A special gift bookplate was pasted in each volume..This is only the second copy I have had in thirty years.and I am quite pleased with the purchase.
 This falls under the strange coincidence category.Peter V. Brett is a writer of fantasy books who is offering his soon to be printed bookplate to fans .

Most author's presentation bookplates are of no interest to me but this one is well designed so I wrote to him and this was his response:
"Dear Lewis,
   Are you by any chance the same Lew Jaffe I used to buy lists from when I was in medical publishing?"
That took me by surprise and the answer is yes. Now that we are bonded , so to speak I guess I will buy one of his books.

See you next week.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Watch Papers

I have written about watch papers in the past. Among other things, they are  circular jewelers advertisements, dust protectors, and  written records  of when a pocket watch was last oiled and cleaned.The same 18th century engravers who did bookplates (Paul Revere ,Peter Maverick etc.) also did watch papers.Finding  other watch paper collectors is always challenging so I was delighted to receive this email from Richard Newman:

 "I've been interested in watch papers for many years and cataloging all examples that I find.  I would appreciate your readers emailing pictures of their watch papers to to further this work.  There were literally thousands of fancy goods and jewelry stores that performed watch repair services in the last two hundred years, most if not all used watch papers to advertise their services.  Its nice to realize that repairers usually put their paper at the top of the stack without discarding those of others.  Unfortunately, those days are long gone and the internet/Ebay has motivated people to remove papers from old pocket watches for personal gain thereby losing a piece of history forever.  I've also seen many examples where dates have been fabricated on the reverse to enhance the appeal of the sale. 
I am not aware of any watch paper collections on display in museums or historical societies, however, many collections exist.  There has not been a comprehensive publication of watch papers since Dorothea Spear's book "American Watch Papers" published in 1952.  There have been a few articles on papers including 1) The Magazine SILVER, November - December 1980 on New England papers, 2) The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin, July 1956 on Connecticut Papers, 3) Antique Collecting, Antique Collectors' Club April 2001,  and 4)  Magazine Clocks, September 2001 both of these last two are good articles on collecting watch papers.  Lastly, there are many watch paper pictures and associated small articles in the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Bulletin (see for membership information). 
Likely the earliest surviving American watch paper is contained in a pocket watch sold by Samuel Bagnall of Boston in 1740-1741.  Samuel, a listed watchmaker, worked from 1740 to 1760 and the paper could have been placed into the watch by him when sold or perhaps when it was brought to him for subsequent cleaning or repairs.  The scene in the middle displays a dog, a laborer pulling a sled of goods (perhaps hides), sundials, a tall case clock and two men in period dress.  Around the circumference is an equation of time table that the watch owner would use to set or compare the timepiece to the local sundial.

  The numbers on the rim of the paper would allow the watch owner to set or compare the time against the local sun dial.  The "instructions" are just fantastic and read: Set W (watch) Slower then y Sun, Set Wat (watch) Fafter y (then) y Sun.  ..... etc."