I am new to Oak Knoll, my name is Peggy and I’m frequently your first point of contact. I create invoices of book orders as they come in through our website, phone, fax, and emails; I answer the phones, route calls, process payments for the invoices, and other assorted duties as assigned. I really enjoy talking to customers on the phone, greeting visitors to our store, and generally being with like-minded book-passionate people.
I’m new to the book business but have always had a love for books and the written word. I’ve landed this dream job at Oak Knoll where I’m surrounded by antiquarian books in a beautiful old building with classical music playing in the background. When I’m not at work I enjoy a quiet home life with my husband. We enjoy gardening, walking, shopping, computers, and spending time with our families both near and far.
I hope to grow old with Oak Knoll, it is a gem of a place to visit and work. Please come visit if you have a chance, I would love to meet you and put a “face to the name” on the invoice.
The call is out for submissions to the 16th ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography. Publishers, librarians, collectors, antiquarian booksellers and all book lovers have until the end of April 2013 to submit books to the prize. The prize will be awarded in 2014 to a book (or books) published between 2009 and 2012. Books in any language from anywhere in the world covering any aspect of bibliography (e.g. enumerative, textual, history of the book, design, binding, book trade, etc.) are welcome.
You can learn more about the prize, its history, and submission guidlines here, and see a list of this year’s submitted books here. (Our submissions aren’t up yet, but they will be when our books reach the prize secretary!)
A prize with prestige and tradition, a strong support for scholarship: The ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography of $10,000 US is awarded every fourth year to the authors of the most outstanding works on the history of the book. Famous scholars like Jean Peeters-Fontainas, I. C. Koeman and Anthony Hobson belong to the prize winners alongside Lotte Hellinga and Jan Storm van Leeuwen who were honoured with the 15th Prize in September 2010. Both, Lotte Hellinga’s monumental Catalogue of Books printed in the XVth Century now in the British Library, BMC. Part XI – England and Jan Storm van Leeuwen’s opus magnum on Dutch Decorated Bookbinding in the Eighteenth Century are shining examples for the enormous amount of knowledge – and work – which stands behind such brilliant studies in a scientific field that is essential for every kind of academic research, and for the rare book trade.
Late last month, I conducted the first of several trips to various libraries and institutions planned for our fiscal year 2012–2013.
Destination: Washington D.C.
Starting off early in the morning, I began my drive down to the Hotel Harrington. Driving on the nightmare known as the Washington Beltway was surprisingly pleasant and I made great time. With some time to spare, I freshened up and started my walk, past the White House, towards George Washington University’s campus where I met with Brad Sabin Hill, curator of the I. Edward Kiev Judaica Collection at the Gelman Library. After showing me around the beautiful top floor of the library, we discussed future exhibitions that will be occurring at the library. Afterwards, we took a break for a late lunch at a lovely French bistro (my favorite cuisine) and parted ways shortly thereafter.
It was then time for some fun and, since I’m a huge basketball fan, I decided to take the plunge and attend a Washington Wizards game. Luckily enough for me, I got to see the Wizards win their first game of the 2012-2013 season (they should pay me to attend the games now). Afterwards, I had a late dinner at Graffiato, which is the restaurant owned by Top Chef Winner Mike Isabella. I was really interested in going to this restaurant, not for Isabella or Top Chef, but because Isabella’s cookbook Crazy Good Italian was co-written by my favorite food blogger Carol Blymire. If you like food, you would love her current blog Alinea at Home, as well as her past blog (and 2007 winner for best food blog), French Laundry at Home.
The next morning I met with curator of the Rosenwald collection at the Library of Congress, Dan De Simone. I had never been to the Library of Congress before, so I was pretty excited. He gave me a VERY detailed tour of the Rare Books Collection, as well as the numerous exhibitions that they had displayed. If you haven’t been to the LoC, I highly recommend going, as it is certainly a beautiful building, inside and out. After our relaxing lunch, he gave me a copy of his Seven Perspectives of the Woodcut and personally inscribed it as a memento of my first visit to “the big house (LoC).” After saying our final goodbyes, we parted ways and thus ended my adventure in Washington D.C.
Oak Knoll Press and Rarebooks.info are pleased to announce a new partnership which makes over 30 of Oak Knoll’s in-copyright bibliographies available electronically. These bibliographies add to Rarebooks.info’s already outstanding collection of research materials.
Rarebooks.info, founded in 2000 and based in Boulogne, France, is an essential online collection of key bibliographies, containing a wealth of material, with many invaluable benefits to the research community. The website is useful in researching a wide variety of topics, including book history, typography, author history, world history, art history, and religion.
Here’s an example of what people have been saying about Rarebooks.info.
As director of the History of Text Technologies program at Florida State I have been an ardent supporter of the Rarebooks database to which FSU subscribed at my initiative three years ago. My students and colleagues, from History to English, now use it on a regular basis, marveled by its scope and riches as well as its user-friendly nature.
Francois Dupuigrenet Desroussilles,
Professor of Christianity and director of the HoTT program at Florida State University
With the addition of Oak Knoll Press’s bibliographies, the perspective of Rarebooks.info is broadened significantly to include film noir, modern press books, as well as modern American and English authors.
Anyone can take advantage of this opportunity to use electronic versions of the Oak Knoll bibliographies, as well as the great depth and variety of other materials offered by Rarebooks.info, by visiting www.rarebooks.info and subscribing to the service.
The full list of titles Oak Knoll Press is offering through Rarebooks.info.
An Annotated International Bibliography of Lewis Carroll’s Sylvie and Bruno Books by Byron Sewell & Clare Imholtz
American Masonic Periodicals 1738-2005 by Larissa P. Watkins
Arthur Miller: A Descriptive Bibliography by George W. Crandell
Books about Books: A History and Bibliography of Oak Knoll Press, 1978-2008 by Robert D. Fleck
Books on Art in Early America by Janice G. Schimmelman
Carl Larsson: An Annotated Bibliography by Ann J. Topjon
Christina Rossetti: A Descriptive Bibliography by Maura Ives
The Dark Page: Books That Inspired American Film Noir, 1940-1949 by Kevin Johnson
The Dark Page II: Books That Inspired American Film Noir, 1950-1965 by Kevin Johnson
A History of the Eragny Press, 1894-1914 by Marcella D. Genz
Ernest Hemingway: A Descriptive Bibliography by C. Edgar Grissom
Field & Tuer, the Leadenhall Press: A Checklist by Matthew McLennan Young
Frank E. Schoonover Catalogue Raisonne by John Schoonover & Louise Schoonover Smith with LeeAnn Dean
Gore Vidal: A Bibliography, 1940-2009 by Steven Abbott
James Ingram Merrill: A Descriptive Bibliography by Jack W.C. Hagstrom & Bill Morgan
John Rodker’s Ovid Press: A Bibliographical History by Gerald W. Cloud
John Sanford: An Annotated Bibliography by Jack Mearns
John Updike: A Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Materials, 1948-2007 by Jack De Bellis & Michael Broomfield
The Kelmscott Chaucer: A Census by William S. Peterson & Sylvia Holton Peterson
The Last of the Great Swashbucklers: A Bio-Bibliography of Rafael Sabatini by Jesse F. Knight & Stephen Darley
Rudyard Kipling: A Bibliography by David Alan Richards
Supplement to T.E. Lawrence: A Bibliography by Philip M. O’Brien
The Thames 1580-1980: A General Bibliography by Ben Cohen
T.E. Lawrence: A Bibliography by Philip M. O’Brien
The Vale Press, Charles Ricketts, A Publisher in Earnest by Maureen M. Watry
We are happy to report that Eileen Chanin’s Book Life: The Life and Times of David Scott Mitchell was one of five books shortlisted for the 2012 Magarey Medal for Biography, awarded by the Australian Historical Association and the Association for the Study of Australian Literature.
Book Life has also been awarded the 2011 Alex Buxo Shortlist Prize and was shortlisted for the 2011 Waverley Library Award for Literature.
The first chapter is available to read online as a pdf, so click here and see for yourself why Book Life is garnering so much acclaim.
I thought I had seen enough good examples of the finely printed book and knew something about the world of the private press, but nothing prepared me for the sublime beauty, integrity and artistry of the books by the printers and bookmakers exhibiting at this year’s Oak Knoll Fine Books Festival at New Castle, Delaware: this is book art at the cutting edge.
Fine press work
Not only tiny print runs of five to 25 copies letterpress-printed on handmade paper, and designed, illustrated and printed by just one printer-artist. In many cases, the paper itself was made from conception by the printer. These master book artists are papermakers, typesetters, engravers, printers and publishers all at once. I was too awestruck at first by such fine press work to pick up and examine them until I heard an exhibitor say, “They won’t bite.” “This is the best fine press book fair in the country,” one of the exhibitors said to me, “which is why I have been coming here since it started.”
The Oak Knoll festival and symposia is usually an October affair, and this year’s theme was “The Fine Book in the 21st Century”. Many distinguished names in book art were present here — designers, printers and scholars whose work I had followed and admired — the festival was giving me and other fine press pilgrims a chance to meet them at last. I have come to love the look and feel of mould-made paper (for their “superior, beautiful surface texture, clear watermarks and stunning deckle edges”), so I set off now around the exhibition looking for bookwork that had used this surface.
The Bicycle Diaries, “one New Yorker’s Journey Through September 11th”, contains seven multi-coloured wood engravings by Gaylord Schanilec and is “printed on Zerkal mould-made paper.”
Schanilec, whom the Grolier Club describes as “the foremost contemporary artist in coloured wood engraving”, spoke to me of The River, a work in progress that he had brought to the exhibition. Each morning he gets on his little boat and sails on the river he lives close to. When he returns, some of what he felt and saw that morning is sketched and noted. One time he became interested in how pelicans on the bank prepare to fly; the take-off motions are recorded in a wood engraving which was on a large proof page before me — one of the most stunningly beautiful colour illustrations on paper I have ever seen — and the paper texture further pronounced its brilliance.
Me: “Good morning, Oak Knoll, how may I help you?”
Caller: “Hello, yes, I’m wondering if you buy books.”
This is the typical start of a conversation with someone interested in selling parts of their collections to us, and my reply is always the same:
Me: “We wouldn’t be in business if we didn’t buy books! What kind of books are we talking about here?”
Working at Oak Knoll, the frequency of people looking to sell part, if not all, of their collection to us has increased recently. Usually the amount of books in question don’t exceed a few boxes worth, but every now and then we come across a unique scenario that really blows us out of the water.
One such collection was from a fellow ABAA dealer from Chevy Chase, MD called Nina Matheson Books. Nina Matheson had been in bookselling for years, running her bookstore out of a two bedroom apartment at 4701 Willard Avenue, and had just recently come into contact with another large collection of books she needed to clear some room for. Fortunately for us, she was going to part with her collection of books about books, as well as her interesting group of poetry books. After hearing this (and seeing the collection for ourselves), we decided to purchase it, and went down to Chevy Chase to visit her. On the way, we picked up a monstrous 26’ U-Haul truck. Some of you are probably thinking ‘overkill’, but I was thinking ‘precaution’.
We ended up parking it in a spot on the street that was available parking until 4pm, thinking we would be out of Maryland by then (I won 2nd place in estimation at a science fair when I attended New Castle Middle School, and unfortunately my skills in that area had faded away as we ended up leaving much later than that).
When we finally did arrive at her shop, we started packing up the books into boxes and labeling them either books about books or poetry. Slowly but surely we got the first room packed up completely, then the second. Upon starting the third and final room, it was getting close to 4 o’clock, so I wanted to make sure that I could park the truck in the loading dock for easy loading of the books. However, I didn’t take into account the other truck that was scheduled to be there until 8p.
The spot that I was in was ‘no parking between 4 to 6’, and all the other spots on the street were ‘no parking’, period. This wasn’t looking good. After asking around for other places to park (to no avail) I decided to take a chance and park near the loading dock where we could start loading as quickly as possible. Bailey, James, and I became close acquaintances with the maintenance elevator as we had to load all 6,200 packed-up books into the truck.
Luckily it went by quickly and we were on our way back to Delaware, but not before stopping at a local Mexican restaurant for some quesadillas and margaritas!
The next day, the whole Oak Knoll staff (including the boss, and my father, Bob) had to unload the boxes into the shop. Half of the boxes went on the second floor to be priced immediately and half went into the basement. Unfortunately the only way to get the massive amount of boxes that we had on the truck into the basement was through a trap door in the alley beside the building. We had our Publishing Director, Laura Williams, stand on an unsteady piece of wood, which was a lawsuit waiting to happen, to guide the boxes down. Luckily no one died and we had it all unloaded in just over an hour.
Oak Knoll Fest XVII, which took place last weekend, was a great success. We’ve heard nothing but positive reviews so far. Below is a sampling of pictures from the weekend. Our facebook album has the rest. We hope to see you all in 2014 for Oak Knoll Fest XVIII!
Tom Congalton of Between the Covers Rare Books, one of the two bookshops that make up The Bookshop in Old New Castle, has been unanimously elected president of ILAB. Read more courtesy of Fine Books & Collections.
A unanimous vote: At the Ordinary General Meeting on 23rd September 2012 in Lucerne the presidents of the 22 national member associations of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers elected Tom Congalton (United States) as new ILAB President. He succeeds Arnoud Gerits (Netherlands) who served as President from 2010 to 2012. Arnoud Gerits honoured his successor:
“Tom Congalton, over a long period of time, has shown his great commitment to the League and his concise, short but always accurate comments on various topics, his impartial but clever and clear judgements, and his capacity to quickly see and understand the essence of a problem, make him the perfect new President of ILAB. He has been a wonderful Vice- President and I owe him a lot of thanks for his unfailing commitment, support and intelligent contributions to our discussions. To continue the metaphor coined by Adrian Harrington in 2010: the Ship of ILAB is safe in the good hands of Tom.”
Tom Congalton, owner of Between the Covers Rare Books, joined the ILAB Committee in 2006. He is the former editor of the ILAB Newsletter. As chair of the ILAB IT Committee he had been responsible for the launch of the new ILAB website including the ILAB Metasearch in 2009/2010, before he became Vice-President in autumn 2010. With Between the Covers Rare Books, founded in 1985, Tom Congalton is regarded as one of the leading experts in 20th century literature and modern first editions who owns one of the largest rare book inventories in the world comprising over 230.000 books and including 150.000 first editions. The American dealer became a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) in 1990. After terms on the Board of Governors, as Secretary, and as Vice-President of the ABAA, he served as ABAA President from the year 2000 to 2002. For 16 years he also was a member of the Committee of the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. From 2005 to 2010 he lectured at the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, since 2008 he has been teaching at the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia. Tom Congalton is author of numerous excellent articles on book collecting and the antiquarian book trade.
One of the little known sidelines of Oak Knoll Books is Delaware history. If you are in an historically interesting state and love its history as I do, then your store should certainly reflect that interest. We currently have over 1000 titles in this section of our bookstore at present. And it just grew a lot recently!
We hadn’t purchased a large group of Delaware related items for a number of years but recently purchased three private collections. The largest was just purchased from a long time Delaware resident who was moving from his home in one Delaware town to the quaint town of Arden, Delaware. Arden has its own story as it was founded by Frank Stephens and Will Price in 1900 under the philosophy of Henry George as a single tax community.
And Delaware being what it is, the second smallest state in the union, I experienced the usual “do you know such and such” moment where it turned out that the collector had graduated a few years before me from the University of Delaware’s Chemical Engineering program and knew many of the professors that taught me back in the late 1960s. My first job out of college was at the refinery in Delaware City, Delaware. He had worked there when it was Tidewater before its purchase by Getty Oil. A number of his fellow workers had stayed on after the purchase and I knew them. He got a kick out of some of the stories that I told about the refinery including the one about John Paul Getty’s payphones in his personal English estate house meant to keep his expenses down. ‘Tis a small world.