Member Blogs > ten pound island book company

  • Labor in Vain

    Mon, 01 Sep 2014 02:09:57 Permalink
    Here's how the mind wanders on a Labor Day weekend...While leafing through a 19thcentury manuscript on naval ordnance I became captivated by two superbly rendered pages of ink drawings illustrating the “Parts of a Rifle.” This got me to thinking about what guns were like two hundred years ago and then, of course, what they are like now, and all the trouble we're having, socially and politically, trying to figure out what to do about them. Everyone has something to say about the matter, and that's part of the problem. We are passionate, polarized, and utterly paralyzed when it comes to Read More
  • The Wife and Me

    Mon, 25 Aug 2014 04:05:48 Permalink
    Ernest Wessen's letters are a must for aspiring Americana dealersIn his memoir, The Adventures of a Treasure Hunter my idol, Charlie Everitt, refers to his wife as “Mrs. Everitt.” I like the old fashioned formality of that address. Same with Ernest Wessen, the great Midwestern Americanist and author of the legendary series of catalogs called Midland Notes: “Mrs. Wessen and I were returning from a visit to the folks in Maine...” etc. I would very much like to tell you about the trip Mrs. Gibson and I took recently, but when we married she kept her (Irish) family name – Read More
  • A Classy Move

    Sun, 17 Aug 2014 09:42:08 Permalink
    In what I hope is not a trend going forward from the canceled Philadelphia Book Show, exhibitors received word last week through the grapevine that the summer Papermania show in Hartford CT had been called off.In a phone conversation with Gary Gipstein, son of the show's originator Paul Gipstein, Gary said that the managers of the XL Center(the new name for the venue in which the show is traditionally held) were, per their management agreement, making improvements to the building. Gipstein had been notified that this work was coming, and had been assured that it would not conflict with the Read More
  • Middle River, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada, August 9, 2014

    Mon, 11 Aug 2014 07:16:10 Permalink
    Ledyard bleeding out upon the sands of Egypt. Maybe a quick flashback montage of Dartmouth, Captain Cook, John Paul Jones, Jefferson in Paris, those seductive ladies of the night, Joseph Banks, the Nile (“Do you know the river Connecticut? Of all the rivers I have seen it most resembles it in size.”) The sand.But I'm done with that. With Ledyard, too, long before his final, fatal African adventure. Now it feels as if the man had only been an excuse – a typically preposterous one – for dragging myself out of the house into the … what? Well, maybe not “into” Read More
  • Guest Blog

    Sun, 03 Aug 2014 07:27:23 Permalink
    Dawn in my field, sometime last summerI'm on the way up to my field in Cape Breton to work on the last essay about my walk down the Connecticut River, tracing the journey John Ledyard made in 1773, and thinking about America then and America now. The walking can be hard, but writing about it is always harder.Anyway, there's no Internet, or electricity, or running water up there, and not many people either, which is why I go there. So I thought I'd better post this week's blog entry from the comfort of my Comfort Inn in New Glasgow, Nova Read More
  • A Little History

    Sun, 27 Jul 2014 04:56:37 Permalink
    I'm writing from the magnificent pile of stone and anguish known as Chapter 11 Books, situated between a Jiffy Lube and a drive-thru mortuary, and patronized primarily by people who'll have to come back when they've got more time. At the moment I'm wondering how one retires from a trade that most people take up after they retire. No answers are forthcoming. It's beginning to look as if I'll die with my books on.The dream ends. I wake to find myself in a slightly too comfortable chair at the edge of my booth at the Twenty-Fourth, or Twenty-Fifth, or Twenty-Sixth Read More
  • The Novel I Never Wrote

    Sun, 20 Jul 2014 01:33:46 Permalink
    Last month I bought three pamphlets about a murder that took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1830. It was a sensational affair in its day, a victory for prosecutor Daniel Webster, and an interesting sidelight in the history of American jurisprudence. But that was not why I bought the pamphlets.In 1829 William Low of Salem was sent to Canton to manage the affairs of Russell & Co. the great American China Trade firm. He brought his wife along and, to keep her company, his twenty-year-old niece, Harriett Low.Harriett Low, as painted by George ChinneryHappily for posterity, Harriett kept a detailed Read More
  • Actively Engaged in Retirement?

    Sun, 13 Jul 2014 12:07:51 Permalink
    With the commencement of my seventh decade on this planet I occasionally find myself feeling old. I can rarely stay awake past 9 p.m., and I have the sense that my time is growing short, which sometimes makes my temper even shorter. This unfortunate confluence has inspired me to begin compiling a catalog called “Old, Rare, and Short.” Then, last Monday, I put the catalog on the shelf for a few days and headed out to Springfield Massachusetts for the last bit of the Ledyard walk - a 40 mile hike to Hartford Connecticut. (For those of you who have not Read More
  • Collage

    Sun, 06 Jul 2014 08:33:18 Permalink
    PrefaceThis is a book about a walk down the Connecticut River by a man who finds himself getting old, but not too old to walk. The ostensible purpose of his walk is scholarly, dignified, historical - the deconstruction of the legend of John Ledyard, who made a similar journey in 1773. But the walk might also be the man's final attempt to outdistance the "old" that will soon and forever after precede the "man" in reference to himself.     Stubbornly, he chooses to walk the river because John Ledyard (who actually sailed down it in a canoe) won fame for Read More
  • Collage

    Sun, 06 Jul 2014 07:26:01 Permalink
    PrefaceThis is a book about a walk down the Connecticut River by a man who finds himself getting old, but not too old to walk. The ostensible purpose of his walk is scholarly, dignified, historical - the deconstruction of the legend of John Ledyard, who made a similar journey in 1773. But the walk might also be the man's final attempt to outdistance the "old" that will soon and forever after precede the "man" in reference to himself.     Stubbornly, he chooses to walk the river because John Ledyard (who actually sailed down it in a canoe) won fame for Read More
  • Not This Time

    Sun, 29 Jun 2014 08:21:17 Permalink
    Where do you start with a place like Vegas? Bally's Hotel and Casino is hosting the 2014 Moose International convention and dealing with a chronic shortage of aquatic plant life, willow shoots, and other forage. Hairy guys with backwards baseball caps. Old men and their leisurewear. Fatties in mobile chairs work away, tethered to slot machines. A Bally's credit card at the other end of the line drips the money in and out. The tether prevents the card from being stolen, lost, or forgotten. Sorry, sir, no photographs. What is the plural of Moose ? Do the International Moose employ Read More
  • BI-PARTISAN BRAINCHILD OF LIBERAL SENATORS UNTHINKABLE TODAY

    Sun, 22 Jun 2014 11:14:28 Permalink
     Another excellent opening last night at Flatrocks Gallery. This one was called "Series" and it presented the work of three artists, each of whom explore a single subject from a single vantage point numerous times. I'll spare you the art history riff, but will tell you that we had a great party. And we got a nice writeup in the Boston Sunday Globe this morning. The show was particularly meaningful to me because it featured the work of Tim Harney, an artist I'd worked with 37 years ago. I don't know how many people remember the CETA (Comprehensive Employment and Read More
  • Just Like Weapons of Mass Destruction

    Mon, 16 Jun 2014 04:38:43 Permalink
    See item #5 in our new catalog Before we get down to this week's business, here's some late breaking news.After setup and opening night at the Philadelphia Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair, participants were informed by the promoter that their exhibit space had been double booked, and that they'd have to be out of there by 10am the next morning. Colleague George Cubanski of Rarities, Etc. wrote a short blog about the screwup. He reported in a subsequent email that "I didn't notice people casting blame; the dominant feeling seemed to be sympathy for Flamingo." The promoters, Flamingo Eventz, posted an Read More
  • Let it Bleed!

    Mon, 09 Jun 2014 04:16:07 Permalink
    Back in the Stone Age, which is where I'm from, if you made your living in the used book trade, you had a shop or you worked in one. Shop #2, 1978Oh, there were a few people who were smart enough to make their livings as book scouts – selling quality material to dealers and institutions – or organized enough to run mail order search services, which found obscure tomes for customers and quoted books to want ads in places like AB Magazine. Most of us, though, had open shops. These places served as many functions as we owners could Read More
  • Transhumance

    Mon, 02 Jun 2014 11:16:22 Permalink
    What could be more mysterious than the irresistible signals sent by the turning of the seasons? Now the days lengthen as the sun proceeds toward its summer destiny. The lilac has come into bloom and faded. The shad bush has leafed out. Alewives struggle upstream, and elvers wriggle down to the sea. The IRS has been paid, the soldiers honored, and the peas planted. Like a salamander crawling out of the muck, I obey nature's call and head north – part of a transhumance that has been taking place since the beginning of bookseller chronicles. It's time for another New Read More
  • "Time is of the Essence"

    Mon, 26 May 2014 04:09:28 Permalink
    I had a pretty good blog idea sketched out for this week. It was going to be an essay about blogs, because I had recently participated in an event sponsored by the Gloucester Writers Centerin which half a dozen local bloggers talked about their blogs – the hows, whys, and wherefores. You can see the videoon one of Gloucester's most successful blogs, “Good Morning Gloucester” along with a chat between Joey Ciaramitaro - that blog's presiding genius - and Jim Dowd, creator of an exciting new local blog, The Clam My planned essay focused on the assertion by Dowd that Read More
  • Watching What I'm Wishing For

    Sun, 18 May 2014 10:19:47 Permalink
    For the past five years the NewBedford Whaling Museum  has been sponsoring a scrimshaw show in conjunction with their annual Scrimshaw Symposium. This year they opened the show up to include a wider range of maritime antiques and books, and I figured “Why not?” I thought there was a fair chance that the show, which was taking place in the lobby of the museum, would be clogged with clueless tourists, but since the event only lasted for a day I knew my suffering would be limited. Happily no suffering was involved. The show was crowded most of the day with a niche Read More
  • Lost and Found

    Sun, 11 May 2014 08:42:34 Permalink
    A surprise awaited me when I returned from vacation last Thursday. In truth, it was only a surprise because I had forgotten it was there, but the effect was the same. A nasty stack of cartons containing a run of a periodical that, in a weak moment before my departure, I had purchased from a theological library. What was I thinking?I was thinking, "A century-long run of The Sailor's Magazine and Naval Journal– a gold mine of maritime history; an unexcavated trove historical nuggets! It's got to be of use to somebody. Then I shelved it,cataloged it, Seaman's Friend Society Read More
  • Used Books of the Future Redux

    Mon, 05 May 2014 09:24:00 Permalink
    Greg: "Don't bother me. I'm having deep, noir thoughts... working on my next detective novel."Anne Marie: "Looks more like you're working on your next drink."After two weeks of Irish hills and windswept islands, we've retreated to our home place, Cork City, for a couple of days of loafing around. Then we'll go north to check out Newgrange,that mysterious, awe inspiring, neolithic temple/timepiece, and then we'll head home.I can't tell you how good it feels to be taking a break from the rare book biz. OK, I did try to buy an 1871 French voyage to Tahiti, but that was left Read More
  • West Cork, Ireland

    Sun, 27 Apr 2014 12:56:57 Permalink
    Lots of walking, Friends,Talking, eating, drinking, sleeping.Anne Marie: "Do you want to look at the map before you drink too much, or after?"Greg: "After." Read More
  • Post-traumatic Heebie Jeebies

    Sun, 20 Apr 2014 10:25:53 Permalink
    Got this spring's wood split and mostly stacked, the garden fenced in, peas and beets planted. All the books from Maritime List 222 are invoiced and mailed, and the office is cleaned up. Anne Marie and I are headed out Monday night for London, Dublin, and Cork. After four intense months of book buying and selling (Hartford, Wilmington, San Francisco, Pasadena, Washington, Greenwich, New York, and many points in between), I'm ready for a break.Of course, this left a void in the slot where the weekly "Bookman's Log" blog entry was supposed to go – I just didn't feel like talking about Read More
  • What Happened Next?

    Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:32:07 Permalink
    Wonderful, whimsical new show at Flatrocks Gallerythis month. It's called "Tall Tales," and curators Anne Marie and Cynthia are billing it as a collection of visual narratives with a surrealist bent. Stories are the connective tissue of the human race. At the heart of every event is a human element that leads to three of the most exciting words in any language: What happened next? If you answer that question you are a storyteller. Works in a variety of media by seven local artists on display at Flatrocks Gallery explore the answers. So there I was tending bar at the Read More
  • Promoter Predicts Catastrophe in 2015

    Mon, 07 Apr 2014 09:50:34 Permalink
    Promoter Sandy Smith delivers the bad newsOne of the most anticipated features of the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair is free lunch for dealers at setup on Thursday. Indeed, in a city where even "free" costs an arm and a leg, Thursday afternoon's catered meal attracts booksellers from across America and Europe. Turkey, roast beef, veggie wraps... Hell, they even have bottled water! But not this year.At approximately 11:30 am, as dealers – particularly those on European time – began making growling noises, a sign appeared outside the show office announcing that lunch had been cancelled. Asked about the Read More
  • Decisions, Decisions

    Sun, 30 Mar 2014 05:43:33 Permalink
    This is always a rough week for me. The New York International Antiquarian Book Fair is hauling into view (April 2-6), and there are decisions to be made. What stays? What goes? It's the biggest fair on the circuit and it has the greatest upside in terms of profit potential and meeting new customers. It's also the most expensive of the American fairs, and big city livin' is a real drain on the pocket book. It would make sense to set aside my best stock for an event such as this, but I'm not a hoarder by nature, and the Read More
  • Kindling

    Sun, 23 Mar 2014 09:54:42 Permalink
    In 1996 I got a call from colleague Owen Kubik who runs an eponymous  book business in the Midwest. He told me he had an interesting manuscript, but that he needed some assistance figuring out what it was and selling it. I was able to help him do both.It turned out to be the journal of a young navy office who went out to capture the perpetrator of one of the bloodiest mutiniesin American maritime history. I sold the journal for good money to a museum, and everyone was happy.A few years later, my first book had just come out Read More
  • Contagion of Pessimistic Resignation

    Mon, 17 Mar 2014 10:16:38 Permalink
    I've been telling people for years that "food is the new religion." I used to get funny looks. Now I get knowing nods. So it was not surprising that this year's thirty-fourth annual conference of the Ephemera Society of America  – "Food & Drink: Field to Table" - was devoted to food. Books, manuscripts, documents, and ephemera of every sort relating to recipies, restaurants... you name it. Two days worth of presentations on everything from seed catalogs to cocktail ephemera.And, of course, the Ephemera Show – sixty two of America's finest dealers in paper displaying their wares to hundreds of Read More
  • Springing Ahead

    Mon, 10 Mar 2014 09:03:12 Permalink
    So we show up Friday morning full of anticipation, excitement, fear & loathing, or whatever we’re disposed to be full of, and schlep our books in, and set our booths up, and try to purchase material at advantage from our colleagues, Not a Civilian in Sightand gossip, and go out for lunch, and come back and scout some more, struggling now to stay awake, resisting malign conspiracies of gravity, age, dopamine deficiency, seasonal affect disorder, and rage against the machine, and tidy our booths up with a final primp, and assume our positions for the five o’clock opening and…Nothing.Or, almost Read More
  • A New Jersey full of Crays

    Mon, 03 Mar 2014 11:00:53 Permalink
    Over the past few years I've been writing a series of essays about an eccentric American genius called John Ledyard, “The American Traveler.” These essays take the form of walking meditations because they are framed by my walk along the Connecticut River from Hanover, New Hampshire to Hartford, Connecticut – recapitulating a canoe voyage Ledyard made in 1773when he ran away from Dartmouth College and sailed down the river to his family in Hartford.The walk has taken me many interesting places. In one way I'm investigating the nooks and crannies of riverfront New England. But in another way I'm walking from Read More
  • Making Do

    Sun, 23 Feb 2014 01:52:52 Permalink
    My new computer is scheduled to arrive sometime next week. Maybe. Meanwhile I’ve been making do. My temporary office suiteThe big screen in the illustration above is the monitor for my mortally ill computer, which can only run filemaker. So I catalog my books on that one, but slowly, or it’ll freeze up. The little netbook is my Internet access – google, OCLC, ViaLibri and the like – also done slowly, since it’s only got 2 megs of ram. (Just by way of comparison, my new machine will be delivered with 8 gigs of ram.) And the droid, of course, Read More
  • Request for Proposal. February 16, 2014

    Sun, 16 Feb 2014 09:30:43 Permalink
    I operate an antiquarian book business. I sell rare books and ephemera at book shows, and through email and telephone quotes to retail customers, institutions, and other dealers. I publish a weekly blog with rare items featured. I post occasionally on Facebook and Twitter. I list books on two Internet listing services, and I publish catalogs online, through my website - http://tenpound.com/ - as well as occasional hard copy catalogs which I design and send to a commercial printer. The website is fairly basic HTML, or so I am told. My son manages it for me, but I would like Read More
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