Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Booking at Austin's Antiquarian Books in Wilmington, Vermont

After a hectic holiday bookselling season it was a much-needed treat for Dan and I to visit Garry and Karen Austin at their jewel-box store, Austin's Antiquarian Books, just up the road a-piece in Wilmington, Vermont. I've known Garry for several years now, as an exhibitor at some of the regional book fairs he organizes, and have always enjoyed his combination of professionalism and teasing banter during the setups and breakdowns. After driving past his bookstore twice now on my way between Bennington and Brattleboro, and looking wistfully in my rear view mirror (but not for too long, because Route 9 is a bit twisty), I was determined to get out for a visit.

Garry and Karen graciously agreed to meet us at their shop on one of our mutual days off (or was this my first "or by appointment" antiquarian bookstore visit?) for a quick tour and then we headed out for a bookseller's lunch. Their shop has two floors full of beautiful bindings and interesting antiquarian titles. There are all sorts of book alcoves tucked into corners of the first floor, crowned by large front room with a majestic stone fireplace. At all turns there were interesting displays of handsome and tempting books and it was hard to break away from browsing and be social.

Some of the bookstore specialties include books about Theodore Roosevelt, Western Americana, flyfishing, natural history and travel, and each had its own nook.

The Book Trout couldn't resist this shot of a print of its cousin, the Brook Trout, hanging on the wall.

I headed upstairs for a bit of browsing with my good friend BABS, the Books about Books section, and looked over a wide selection of literary biographies, gardening books and history titles. Every book was in impeccable condition, and each section was populated with interesting choices in a range of prices. You can browse 2,000 or so books that have been been catalogued on the shop's website, but the serious bibliophile will want to head over in person to ferret out those hard-to-find titles in the Austin's specialties.

The shop is spacious, well-lighted and invites luxurious browsing. I picked up a few interior design tips for our shop, but, mindful of our hosts' post-lunch need to get back to packing last-minute holiday book orders, I had to rein in my desire to while away the rest of a very pleasant afternoon in the stacks and headed out with our party of four for some local grub and book shop talk. The Austins ran several used and rare bookshops in Maine before opening their present location in 1993 and it was great to hear their stories about bookselling in the pre-Internet era.

Austin's Antiquarian Books is open Thursday through Sunday from 10:30 to 6. The shop is located at 123 West Main Street (Vermont Route 9) overlooking the Deerfield River. Garry and Karen are open all five seasons (summer, fall, winter, mud and spring) and can be reached by phone: 802-464-8438 or by email: mail@austinsbooks.com.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Books for Holiday Gift Giving from Old Saratoga Books

At Old Saratoga Books we have a few glittering biblio-baubles for you to consider for gift giving this holiday season. We've discounted these books for our blog readers so if you are interested in ordering any of these titles through December 20, 2014, please order from our secure website and we'll revise the price down when we process your order. Alternatively, you can call or send us an email and we'll adjust the totals then.

Consider this feast of bookish gift ideas:
1) For the medieval mystery lover, a Brother Cadfael Christmas novel signed by the late Ellis Peters:

Peters, Ellis [Pargeter, Edith], The Raven in the Foregate.

London: Macmillan 1986, first edition. Very Good in Very Good dust jacket. Signed by the late Edith Pargeter, using her pseudonym, Ellis Peters, on the title page. Pages toned. The twelfth novel in the bestselling Brother Cadfael historical mystery series, in which our hero, a 12th century English monk and herbalist, investigates the Christmas Day drowning of a detested priest in the abbey mill pool. 201 pp. $150

2) For the fan of classic western films, a scarce labor of love production by a fellow devotee of the genre:

Mathis, Jack, Valley of the Cliffhangers.

Northbrook, IL:Jack Mathis Advertising 1975, first edition. Very Good. No dust jacket as issued. Light scraping to boards at corners, page bottoms and fore-edges. A master work on the serials of the classic movie studio, Republic Pictures. One of 2000 copies. Library of Congress number 75-195.

This book is the definitive reference for the vintage movie serials devotee and collector. The author, the late Jack Mathis, was a passionate fan of the western and other "cliffhanger-ending" serials he watched as a child, and spent years assembling the research and archival photos contained in this exhaustive reference. Valley of the Cliffhangers documents the 66 serials produced by the classic Hollywood studio, Republic Pictures, during their lifetime (1935-1955) . These chapter plays included such iconic characters as Zorro, Red Ryder, Dick Tracy, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Trader Tom, the Masked Marvel, Captain Marvel and Fu Manchu, as well as the lesser-known, but highly entertaining Panther Girl of the Kongo, Flying Disc Man of Mars, and the Mysterious Doctor Satan. Mathis provides cast lists, running times, plot synopses, numerous stills, financing and distribution information, and other tidbits in this beautifully produced volume. An index and technical credits listing is in the rear. The book measures 17.5 inches by 12 inches and is bound in brown faux leather with a gilt design of the Republic Studios building framed by the San Fernando mountains on the front boards. Gilt lettering on spine. Glossy paper stock. 448 pages. $750

3) Does the woman in your life have Bette Davis eyes? If so, could her peepers open even wider upon unwrapping an inscribed film memoir signed by the Hollywood icon?

Stine, Whitney; Davis, Bette, Mother Goddam: the Story of the Career of Bette Davis.

NY: Hawthorn Books 1974, first printing. Very Good in Good dust jacket. Inscribed in red felt-tip marker on the half-title by Bette Davis. Index, filmography, list of stage appearances, many photographs. Page tops spotted, jacket lightly soiled and tattered. Author photos on rear jacket panel with empty quiche pan. Library of Congress number 73-10265. A sympathetic biography of the 10-time Academy Award nominated Hollywood legend, written by Stine with "running commentary" by Davis inserted throughout the text in red ink. "Mother Goddam" is apparently a nickname that Davis called herself. 374 pp. $125

4) In the days when British cuisine conjured up a plate of mushy peas, mutton and overcooked brussels sprouts, Elizabeth David came in like a ray of light, exposing Brits to the joys of garlic, fresh herbs and bright flavors. The hero cook in your own household may be hankering for this copy of David's first book, as interesting to read as it is to cook from:

David, Elizabeth, A Book of Mediterranean Food.

London: John Lehmann 1950, first edition. Very Good. Illustrated by John Minton. Pink cloth binding with gilt lettering surrounded by brown stamped border on spine. Index. Spine cocked, owner signature on front free endpaper, pages lightly toned, bookseller's ticket on rear pastedown endpaper (Nedwick's Book Store of Chicago). The first book by the influential doyenne of modern British cookery. 191 pp. $200

 5) Know someone who's in stasis until baseball season starts up again in the Spring? Perhaps this signed baseball book by legendary pitcher Jim "Mudcat" Grant will lure them back out of their torpor:

Grant, Jim "Mudcat"; Sabellico, Tom; O'Brien, Pat. The Black Aces: Baseball's Only African-American Twenty-Game Winners.

Farmingdale, NY:The Black Aces, LLC, first edition. Very Good in Very Good dust jacket. Signed by Mudcat Grant on the title page. Photos. A look at the 13 African-American pitchers that won twenty wins in a season after Jackie Robinson pioneered integration in the game of baseball. Mudcat Grant is one of those baker's dozen and the first African-American in the American League to be a twenty game-winner and the first to win a World Series game. 480 pp. $35

6) Is there an outdoorsman or woman on your gift giving list? This collection of hardcore hunting, fishing and hiking tales may warm up their winter evenings:

Whelen, Townsend, Wilderness Hunting and Wildcraft, with Notes on the Habits and Life Histories of Big Game Animals.

Marshallton, DE: Small Arms Technical Publishing Co, 1927, first edition. Very Good. Navy cloth binding with gilt lettering and blind-stamped moose skull stamped on front boards, gilt lettering on spine. Many photographs and illustrations by the author. Bibliography and appendices. Boards waterstained at lower corners. Whelen was a larger-than-life outdoorsman, who, like Teddy Roosevelt, came from a patrician background and was a spindly lad, later blossoming into a hale and hearty wilderness adventurer after a course of self-improvement in the American and Canadian forests. He was a soldier in the Spanish-American War and served as a Colonel in the 29th Infantry Regiment guarding and mapping the Panama Canal Zone and surrounding rain forest. He was never happier than when he was by himself in the woods, hunting (and sustaining himself on) big and small game, tinkering with guns and ammo and writing his experiences up for his many published articles and books. This volume contains chapters about various game animals, clothing and personal kit, how to make camp beds and shelters (Whelen preferred a lean-to) , rifles, marksmanship, photography and the physical preparation needed to survive extended wilderness outings in all manners of terrain. There are many wonderful photographs of wildlife, dead and alive, and of Whelen posed with various beasts and portions thereof, including a splendid shot of the author with a bull moose head and scalp on his shoulders, "a heavy and awkward load of from 125 to 175 pounds". 338 pp. $75

7) Military historians will enjoy this handsomely bound  volume full of engravings of historic weaponry:

Demmin, August, Die Kriegswaffen in Ihren Geschichtlichen Entwickelungen Von Den Altesten Zeiten Bis Auf Die Gegenwart: Eine Encyklopadie Der Waffenkunde.

Leipzig, Germany: P. Friesenhahn 1893. Very Good. A beautifully-bound copy of this comprehensive history of the development of military weapons. Half-leather with marbled boards. Leather is a chocolate-brown, crocodile-grain morocco. Marbled edges and endpapers. Gilt stamped armorial designs on backstrip. 4,500 small illustrations of various knives, pikes, swords, armor, helmets, lances, clubs, maces, axes, catapults, spurs, saddles, bugles, sabers, crossbows, cannon, bullets, rifles, and other instruments of war. Text in German. Slight rubbing to corners and spine extremities, owner name embossed on top right corner of title page. 1,110 pp. $200

8) Turned on by urns? Or is there a gardener on your holiday shopping list who is thus moved? Consider this volume:

Israel, Barbara Antique Garden Ornament: Two Centuries of American Taste.

NY: Harry N. Abrams 1999. Very Good in Very Good dust jacket; Jacket scuffed, remainder mark on page bottoms. Preface by Mark Hampton. Numerous color photographs by Mick Hales. Index, notes, bibliography, appendices. A well-researched history of American garden ornament in the various regions, from fountains, statuary, sundials, urns, furniture, obelisks, fencing and much more. Includes an illustrated catalogue of 300 examples of ornaments. A useful and lively reference work for the gardener, landscape architect or historian. 256 pp. $20

9) This first edition of a medical classic might endear you to your favorite physician:

Osler, William, A Way of Life: an Address Delivered to Yale Students Sunday Evening, April 20, 1913.

Baltimore: The Norman, Remington Company 1923, first edition. Very Good in Very Good dust jacket. Blue boards with front boards stamped with gilt lettering and profile bust of Dr. Osler framed by two college graduates in gowns and mortar boards. Measures 4x6 inches. Gray pictorial jacket repeats design with navy ink on front panel. Frontispiece photo of the author. Boards rubbed, jacket lightly chipped at corners and head and foot of spine, several pages show penciled erasures. The renowned physician gives his advice on clean living and how to achieve good mental and physical health in this Yale lecture. 38 pp. $80

10) Photography and jazz aficionados alike would love to see this book unwrapped in their lap:

DeCarava, Roy, The Sound I Saw: The Jazz Photographs of Roy Decarava : January 20 to March 20, 1983.

NY: Studio Museum in Harlem, 1983 Softcover Very Good. Covers very lightly rubbed. 60 black and white plates of such jazz greats as Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Milt Jackson, Billie Holliday, Count Basie, Zoot Sims, Horace Silver, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins and many others. Other photos of jazz clubs, patrons, and R&B and other musicians. Preface by Willard C. Butcher, foreword by Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, introduction by A. D. Coleman and essay by C. Daniel Dawson. Footnotes. Chronology and bibliography by Sherry Turner DeCarava. Catalogue of the full exhibition at rear. Library of Congress number 82-62795. 84 pp. $75

11) Among the literature describing the French and Indian War and the military beginnings of the Green Berets, this book is one of the best:

Loescher, Burt Garfield. The History of Rogers Rangers Volume I: the Beginnings Jan 1755 - April 6, 1758. 

San Francisco, CA: Self Published 1946, first edition. Illustrated by Helene Loescher.
Boards lightly rubbed, owner name and address stamped on front and rear pastedowns and front flyleaf, else a clean, tight and bright copy. One of 1,500 numbered and autographed copies. Signed by the author on the front flyleaf and further inscribed by the author on the front pastedown. Bibliography, footnotes, three color plates of Rogers Rangers uniforms, three black and white illustrations, three maps by the author of battle areas. Forest green cloth binding with paper spine label. VG. An impressive history of the Rogers Rangers, the forerunners of today's Green Berets, during the various battles of the French and Indian War. The first volume in Loescher's four-volume Rogers Rangers history set.  438 pp. $90

12) Children's book collectors will need some extra shelves to fit in the entire Ted Scott Flying Stories series. Part two of your Christmas gift?

Dixon, Franklin W., The Ted Scott Flying Stories.

NY: Grosset and Dunlap 1943. Very Good in Good dust jackets; The complete 20-volume set of the Ted Scott Flying Stories by Franklin W. Dixon. Each volume had different bindings and editions but all were published between 1927-1943. This vintage juvenile aviation series capitalized on the popularity of Charles Lindbergh and his recent Transatlantic voyages, and were bestsellers among young adults during the 1920s-40s. The set contains a mix of both red and tan pictorial bindings and plain and decorative endpapers. Top staining is different with each volume. $700

13) This sumptuously illustrated look at Russian Impressionism and Postimpressionism would be a great source of inspiration for the artist in your life. The quality of light in these paintings really shimmers in the high-quality plates.

Guerman, Mikhail, The Russian Impressionists and Post Impressionists.

Bournemouth, England: Parkstone Press 1998. Very Good in Very Good dust jacket. Translated into English by Chandra Troescher. 165 illustrations, mostly  color plates. A look at Russian painting from the mid-nineteenth century to the early 1900s, including the works of such artists as Kasimir Malevitch, Vladimir Tatlin, Vasily Kandinsky, Constantin Yuon, Igor Grabar, Stanislav Jukovski, Constantin Korovin, Valentin Serov, Ilya Repin, and Alexander Ivanov. 288 p. $60

14) A signed copy of Roman Vishniac's most important book would be the cornerstone of your loved one's photography collection:

Vishniac, Roman, A Vanished World.

NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984, second printing. Good in Very Good dust jacket. Foreword by Elie Wiesel. Signed "Roman Edith Vishniac" on front flyleaf. Edith was Vishniac's wife. Jacket lightly wrinkled and rubbed. 179 photo reproductions. This book represents but a fraction of the photographs of Jewish village life which Vishniac took on various trips to Ruthenia, Poland, Czecho-slovakia and other parts of Eastern Europe in the 1930s. Vishniac sewed many of the negatives in the lining of his clothes when he came to the US in 1940, and others were safeguarded by his father while in hiding in France during World War II. Vishniac died in 1990. 179 pp. $175

15) A smart vintage binding of this collection of classic Christmas tales would be perfect to place under the Old Tannenbaum:

Irving, Washington, The Old English Christmas

London: T. N. Foulis 1920. Very Good. Many tipped in color illustrations by H. M. Brock. Dark grey cloth binding with gilt lettering and elaborate holly leaf design on front boards. Contains five short Christmas stories: The Old Stage Coach, The Old Christmas, The Old Christmas Eve, The Old Christmas Day, and The Old Christmas Dinner. 124 pp. $25

Thank you for considering these titles from our bookshop. Please note that all of these specially priced books are quoted above with media mail shipping included, but we can also add priority shipping to your total to ensure that your gift arrives in time for the holidays.