Member Blogs > ten pound island book companySpringing 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 nothing. The 39th edition of the Washington Antiquarian Book Fair opened with a terrifying whimper. There were three or four customers waiting for the opening bell at the entrances to each of the fair’s three rooms.
    They made beelines for the booths of friends, where they remained for the rest of the night, or they wandered distractedly, like flies caught inside the storm window. What is it that people are doing when they come in your booth and then walk away without having looked at anything? In years past, the line of eager attendees would fill the lobby and snake down the mezzanine stairs. That was not the case Friday night. You have no idea how exhausting not selling books can be.
    Perhaps there was a problem with the $14 admission charge. For this princely sum visitors were treated to sliced fruit and ham & cheese rollups.
    Another $7 if they wanted to wash these offerings down with an alcoholic beverage. Yes, this is nominally a charity event for the Concord Hill School. So where were the Concord Hill parents? And why weren't they demonstrating their support by purchasing rare maritime books and documents such as those on display at the booth of Ten Pound Island Book Company? One gets the sense that participation from the school has diminished. I wonder what their advertizing budget was for this year's show?
    In the past, this fair's opening night was an opportunity to see and be seen – to meet your fellow bibliophiles or librarian colleagues, and to rub elbows with people who have enthusiasms, or afflictions, similar to your own. Some of these stalwarts showed up on Friday. But it is, to be honest, a graying crowd. On Saturday one person told me, “I used to come every opening night, but I got tired.”
    Which brings us to Saturday. The people came out! The aisles were crowded!
    And it didn't take long before the compacted body heat magnified the effects of hot air being emitted in the “Shenandoah Suite” and the “Dogwood Room,” and things began to warm up. Way too warm. Lizzie Young, purveyor of “Books for Foodies” had a look of panic about her as she roamed the Shenandoah Suite looking in vain for a window that opened. I was afraid she might get overdone. Burned, even.
    Yes, the folks came out. Mostly just folks. $25 - $250 folks. So dealers with books of general interest in that price range did pretty well. The rest of us sat around with our more expensive stock, watching it not sell. Or sell slowly.
    But we are not complaining. No, we're not. Fair manager Beth Campbell had matters well in hand as far as logistics were concerned. Load in and load out – always tricky operations in this second floor venue (hold that elevator!)
      - went as smoothly as could be expected. Security, as always, was excellent. And we got free drink tickets.
    We were thankful for them, and we're thankful we've got any book fairs at all to go to, and that a few old people still stagger out to visit us at these events, and that our colleagues bring their tired stock for us to buy, and that Saturday night we got to spring ahead instead of having to fall back.Manuscript. “THAMES’S LOG BOOK” DECEMBER 1796 - JUNE 1798.” 4to, unpaginated. About 450 pp. manuscript entries. HMS Thames was a 32 gun frigate launched in 1758. In 1797 Captain William Lukin had orders to sail with a convoy to the West Indies, but before he could depart he and his ship were caught up in the Spithead Mutiny. The Thames was one of sixteen ships-of-the line anchored off Portsmouth whose crews - angered at having earlier petitions ignored - refused to sail. Lukin was credited with handling events well at Spithead, and the Thames was one of the first ships ready for sea. All of the events pertaining to the mutiny and the Thames are recorded in detail in this log. “At 11 turned the hands up and made known to them the dispute that lately happened at Spithead charging them the perils thereto attending.” A lengthy entry on May 15 documents the crew taking charge of the ship “agreeable to orders received from the delegates... without orders from the Captain or any of the officers who were only Cyphers.” Amid some confusion, the officers were sent ashore and the ship was left in command of “the Gunner.” The entry for June 26 notes “continually riots & disturbance... occasioned by a number of disaffected people.” The next day, “still a number of mutineers who were continually endeavoring to stir up the rest of the ship’s company to mutiny.” The convoy (of more than 50 ships) reached the West Indies early in August. Upon their arrival the Thames set immediately to work patrolling for enemy vessels. On August 3, “strangers” were sighted - these proved to be “the Squadron under Adm. Bligh.” They fought “brigands” in coastal waters, boarded and searched dozens of ships, seized a few, accompanied prize ships, and transferred prisoners and supplies. A marvelous historical document, rich in detail, and containing eyewitness accounts of events surrounding the Spithead Mutiny. Written in a clear and legible hand. Pages clean. Bound in full reverse calf with cover label. A few signatures pulled. $5500
    Next week – Report from Paper Heaven. The Ephemera Society's Annual show.

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