Member Blogs > Read'Em Again BooksIt's been a Fun but Busy Summer; Now on to Boston - 18 September 2016

  • Sun, 18 Sep 2016 07:00:01    Permalink

    Long before I became a bookseller, I was really into stamps.  I was a serious collection, a competitive exhibitor, and at times a part-time dealer.  Even today I make it a point to stop by the regional American Philatelic Society (APS) exhibitions held once each year in Washington and Baltimore.   
    Anyway, once every decade, the United State hosts a gigantic week-long international stamp show under the auspices of the Fédération Internationale de Philatélie (FIP).  

    This year, World Stamp Show NY2016 was held at the Javits Center.  While the exhibits were terrific, the best part of the show for me was shopping the bourse.   
    Although the overwhelming majority of the 150 or so dealers sold only stamps and philatelic material, a handful had brought along some terrific ephemera, and I made a number of purchases over the two days I spent shopping.   
    Here are a couple of them:

    “The Old Bookstore” Advertising Broadsheet with an Altered Plate of the Confederate States 10-cent Jefferson Davis stamp printed on the Reverse.   This pane of Confederate stamp reprints is from an altered plate of the 1862 5-cent Jefferson Davis stamp.  This pane of stamps was used as a broadsheet advertisement for W. B. Burke, the owner of The Old Book Shop in Atlanta, Georgia, circa 1885. In his advertisement, Burke bills himself as “The Napoleon of the Book Trade South” (J. B. Lippincott having already claimed the sobriquet, “The Napoleon of the Book Trade”). In it, he claims that the stamps were “printed from the genuine plate – captured at the fall of Atlanta – on Confederate made paper.” Click on the image or link for more information. Exceptional Collection of Assessment, Dues, Strike Fund, Boycott, and Poster Stamps from American Leftist Organizations and Labor Unions, 1890-1940.  This collection contains over 125 labels, assessment stamps, covers, sheets, panes, cards, and other ephemera issued by The International Workers of the World, The International Workers Order (the Communist Party’s insurance, mutual benefit, and fraternal organization), The Continental Congress of Workers and Farmers, The International Labor Defense (the American section of the Communist International Red Aid Network), and a wide variety of defense funds and labor organizations.  Click on the image or this link for more information.

    One of the best parts about any visit to New York is getting to have a few nice meals and take in a couple of Broadway shows.  No new restaurants this time, but we stopped by some of our old, favorite (and somewhat touristy) standbys:  one of the Heartland Brewery Chophouses, Junior’s, and Carmine’s. 
     As for the shows, we got lucky and picked two good ones: Something Rotten and Fully Committed.
    Next it was off to St. Louis to help my 89-year-old mother move into a continuity-of-care retirement community, Laclede Groves, in Webster Groves, Missouri.  She had been on a waiting list for almost two years and  recently stopped driving, so she couldn’t wait to get in.
    It really is a fantastic place, almost like a five-star hotel (well, at least a four-star place), with just about any amenity you can imagine and lots and lots of things to do.  Gail and I were so impressed that we’re seriously considering moving there when we finally get tired of home-ownership.  One of the most amazing things about Laclede Groves is that underneath its modern veneer is an old Catholic convent that used to be the home of the Sisters of Saint Mercy.  You’d never know it until you open the door to the chapel, and then, Wow!When construction began on the New St. Louis Cathedral back in the early 1900s, a decision was made to decorate its interior with mosaics.  Work on them began around 1911 took nearly 80 years to complete, and today they are regarded as the finest in the Western Hemisphere and rival any found in Rome.  Apparently, as we were told, the Archdiocese didn’t just let anyone work on the new structure; the Italian craftsmen they hired to do the mosaics and windows had to prove their worth by first decorating this chapel to display their talent.  I can see why they got the job.  These pictures don’t do their work justice. 
    Later in July, Gail went off to Virginia Beach to spend a week with our daughter’s family while I headed to Charlottesville and the Rare Book School.  For some time I’ve wanted to enroll in Jan Storm van Leewen’s course on bookbinding, but I kept putting it off to take other classes that were more pertinent to the material that we sell.  Boy, was that a great week.  Jan and his course are both first-rate.  He covers a lot of territory in short amount of time, but the books you see in lecture, lab, and special collections are amazing. 

    If you have even the slightest interest in the history of bookbinding or beautiful books, be sure to sign up for this one.

    After all that, we finally took a breather, and I spent some time putting together a Summer-Fall catalog that we recently sent to our customers and a number of institutions.  Response has been good so far and there are still lots of nice things left.  We’ll soon be posting it via Ex-Libris, but if you’d like to look through it sooner, just click here or on the image.

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