Walk up to the Pop Up

April 23, 2015 Leave a comment

In celebration of UNESCO’s World Book, and Copyright Day, antiquarian booksellers from all over the world are hosting Pop Up Book Fairs on April 23, 2015. Members of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) are bringing rare books, prints, manuscripts, and ephemera to unexpected places – train stations, brew pubs, rooftop terraces, and even boats! In addition to promoting the rare books, these events also act as fundraisers for UNESCO’s literacy projects in Africa. Each fair will display a large poster of an “empty bookcase,” and encourage visitors to fill it by purchasing symbolic book spines, with the money from each going directly to provide books to schools and libraries in South Sudan. Read more coverage of the fairs happening all over the world on ILAB’s blog.

Oak Knoll Books is hosting a Pop Up Book Fair in New Castle, Delaware, outside our shop in the old Opera House, built in 1879 by the Masons. Fellow booksellers Ian Brabner Rare Americana (Wilmington, DE) and Between the Covers Rare Books (Gloucester City, NJ) are also exhibiting.

We thought it would be fun to give you a little tour of New Castle and our fair so far. Enjoy!

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Our journey begins at the Delaware River Wharf! That’s the Delaware Memorial Bridge, and New Jersey in the distance.

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

Recently acquired: two new collections of art and artists’ books

March 24, 2015 Leave a comment

Exciting news from Bob:

Two wonderful collections have found their way to the store. The first comes from Barrie Marks, the noted English ABA dealer. Barrie contacted me in the fall and asked if I would be interested in purchasing his reference library. I flew to England and packed the 116 boxes of books and had them shipped back to the US. More importantly, I had a chance to spend many hours with Barrie and his family and found kindred spirits.

Here is a biographical sketch we put together with Barrie’s help.

In October 1976, Barrie Marks commenced full-time sales of old, secondhand, and antiquarian books. This was his second career – from the age of 22 he had been a shopkeeper selling children’s clothes – and had him working from home at the age of 41.

He specialized in the illustrated book (including children’s books) and private press, and also had an interest in decorative arts, ballet, and all things visual. He loved reference material which he added continuously over the years. He was self-taught and learned the business from attending auctions and exhibiting at book fairs. Nearly all of his stock was purchased at either auction or from other booksellers. He liked to keep a low profile and was primarily a trade bookseller, but did have a number of supportive private buyers over the years. Barrie became a member of the ABA in 1982 and was unusual in that he never issued a catalogue, but liked to sell to visitors or by detailed quotes in letters and listings.

Barrie reading with his granddaughter Hannah

Barrie Marks reading with his granddaughter Hannah

 

And the second collection comes from Washington, DC. We have purchased the inventory of Joshua Heller Rare Books, Inc. (proprietors Jos and Phyllis Heller). This collection includes a wide range of artists’ books and private press books and the reference books to support it.

Joshua and Phyllis Heller

Joshua and Phyllis Heller

 

They were kind enough to write a statement to send their friends and ours.

After three decades in the wonderful world of books, we decided it was time to retire and felt that Bob Fleck of Oak Knoll would be the correct choice to take over our inventory. We know we can rely on a professional like Bob to handle this, and it has, indeed, proved to be a pleasure.

— Joshua and Phyllis

Tabernacle: Hole, Horse, and Hell-box (Circle Press, 2001)

Tabernacle: Hole, Horse, and Hell-box (Circle Press, 2001) from the Heller collection

 

While we’re still in the process of adding inventory, we’ve put together a sneak peek of the books from these two collections. See the links below:
Artists’ Books and Private Press from Joshua Heller
Books from the Reference Library of Barrie Marks

 

Twelve Days

March 3, 2015 Leave a comment

Twelve days: how long one must stay in California to do both the Pasadena Antiquarian Book, Print, Photo, and Paper Fair & the California International Antiquarian Book Fair. Doing the whole thing by yourself: priceless.

That’s right, boys and girls. I did the whole thing by myself. This was the first time I had done double fairs without my Dad and I was nervous going into the trip. However, I did take some comfort in knowing I would be getting out of the Delaware cold and into the lovely California weather.

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Oak Knoll Press titles at the Pasadena fair

 

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The whole booth

 

This year the shadow fair was in Pasadena and as was the case last year, it was held on Super Bowl weekend. Needless to say, while there were crowds on Saturday, Sunday was another story… Miniature books were popular, which is usually the case when we do fairs in California. This year, our Marketing Director, Bailey Kung, supplied me with 20 of her favorite miniature books and they sold extremely well. The group was made up of a variety of different presses and designers, featuring books such as The Devil’s Printer (Tarantula Press) and Voyager (Tabula Rasa Press), which was particularly interesting due to its holographic cover.

After the Pasadena fair, I needed to transport the books from the Los Angeles area to the Bay Area. Luckily, after taking advantage of a free upgrade at the local Avis, I was able to rent a Chevrolet Traverse which had more than enough space for the boxes and trunks.

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Here’s how excited I was to fit all the books in the rental.

I had planned several stops along the way to break up the driving time.  The first was in lovely Laguna Beach, where I looked at an interesting collection comprised of pre-WWII Japanese related material. While most of the material was books, there were also some examples of feudal-age metallurgy and numismatics. After stopping at few other towns, including Yountville, the home of the famous French Laundry (owned and operated by Thomas Keller), I finally made it to this year’s home of the California Book Fair: Oakland.

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The French Laundry

While skeptics were wary of a new location for the book fair (just like some were wary of Pasadena in 2012), the location was central, easily accessible from the BART, and in an area with an abundance of shopping and eateries. But the real test would be how well the committee marketed the fair. Judging from the number of people coming through, I’d say they did a great job. Friday had your typical range of high profile buyers as well as novice collectors, but Saturday and Sunday had bigger crowds than I’ve ever seen at an ABAA fair before. I also had some collectors that requested tickets to the show come up and introduce themselves to me over the course of the weekend. The aisles were constantly filled with attendees talking and walking, discussing with a smile the book that they had just bought, or listening to a dealer recount the provenance of one treasure or another.

As for me, my proudest experience was sending a copy of Marbled Papers by Karli Frigge home with a customer who was an avid collector of her work. Additionally, our publishing assistant, James McKinstry, did a wonderful job of selecting hot sellers from our publishing/distribution inventory. I sold every copy he packed of the latest Grolier Club exhibition catalogue, One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature.

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Oak Knoll booth at the California International Antiquarian Book Fair

 

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Bibliophiles browsing

 

Overall, conducting two book fairs as a one man show is tiresome – try holding a conversation and writing up invoices at the same time, all day, for three days! But as the Oakland fair was winding down on Sunday night, I felt like I was completing a ritual; a “rite of passage,” if you will.  Even though the trip was stressful at times, by gosh was it worth it!

Categories: Uncategorized

Rare Book Week West

January 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Oak Knoll is headed to California for the Pasadena Antiquarian Book, Print, Photo and Paper Fair (January 31-February 1) and the California International Antiquarian Book Fair (February 6-8 in Oakland). We have some discount tickets to give away for both fairs; see the end of this post for details.

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The Oakland fair kicks off Rare Book Week West, an impressive array of special events dedicated to rare and finely-printed books. See the RBWW website for full details on the book fairs, auctions, presentations, and exhibitions. Although we won’t be attending, we recommend the CODEX Fair and Symposium (February 8-11), which showcases 100 fine press printers, book artists, and fine art publishers from all over the world, including many of our Oak Knoll Fest participants.

We’ve packed our trunks with all manner of books about books–papermaking, bookbinding, calligraphy, typography, printing history, book collecting– a number of finely printed private press books, a little mountain of miniature books, and a selection of new and bestselling titles from Oak Knoll Press. Plus, we’re excited to debut some wonderful books that we recently acquired from the collection of Michael Peich, professor emeritus at West Chester University and proprietor of the Aralia Press.

Peich is responsible for making West Chester a hub for poetry: he co-founded university’s annual Poetry Conference in 1995, was instrumental in the establishment of the Poetry Center in 2004, and helped secure a permanent endowment to support future poetry-related activities at West Chester. His Aralia Press, founded in 1983, and located in WCU’s F.H. Green Library, provided an opportunity to publish contemporary poetry, while teaching students the craft of fine printing.

Peich’s collection is full of lovely private press material from the 1970s to 2000, including presentation copies, a number of publications from the Toothpaste Press (predecessor of the Coffee House Press), and work from the San Francisco Renaissance poet William Everson (aka Brother Antonius), a conscientious objector and a fine press printer in his own right.

Click the images below to see what we’ll have at the fairs:

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Book Fair Details

Pasadena Antiquarian Book, Print, Photo, and Paper Fair
January 31-February 1, 2015
Pasadena Convention Center
Pasadena, CA
Booth #106
We have a limited number of complimentary and discount tickets, available on a first-come, first-served basis. E-mail [rob (at) oakknoll.com] to claim one.

California International Antiquarian Book Fair
February 6-8, 2015
Oakland Marriott City Center
Oakland, CA
Booth #600
We have a limited number of complimentary tickets, available on a first-come, first-served basis. E-mail [rob (at) oakknoll.com] to claim one.

“A love letter to rare books” – revisiting To Put Asunder

January 15, 2015 1 comment

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Academically, it gives a birds-eye view of where family law came from and how it developed to the point in its tradition as we know it today.

To Put Asunder is a “must read” for every practitioner who does not merely copy forms, but who practices law “to make a difference”—for clients as well as for self.

-Willard DaSilva, Family Advocate magazine*

Oak Knoll is pleased to announce that, in cooperation with the author Lawrence Stotter, we have significantly reduced the price of his legal history book To Put Asunder: The Laws of Matrimonial Strife (2011), from $150 to $95. We think you’ll find this a great deal for what one reviewer** called “a love letter to rare books and the history of family law publishing throughout history.”

To Put Asunder is a joy to behold: numerous full color illustrations, wide margins, and colored text are housed in an expertly-made binding, complete with ribbon bookmark. A recent review in Family Advocate magazine* declared, “From a visual perspective the book is a masterpiece,” and an earlier write-up on the AALL Spectrum blog** called it “one of the most visually appealing books I have ever read.”

In 2011, The New York Book Festival awarded To Put Asunder second place in its History division, a highly diverse, nationally competitive pool.

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According to Stotter, To Put Asunder may well be the very first comprehensive Anglo-American literary history book written on family law in the twentieth century, or ever. It is the only book in print which provides an early history of family law publishing in both England and the United States prior to 1900, and it contains the first and only current bibliography on the subject since A Study of English Domestic Relations of Matrimony and Family Life, 1487-1653 (Chilton Latham Powell, 1917) and American Family Law and American Family History: A Bibliography (Institute for Legal Studies, 1984).

106293Family law has been overlooked academically – historically designated as “church law” rather than traditional common law, and therefore books such as Stotter discusses here are quite rare. The titles pictured on the dust jacket are, with the rare exception of a few antiquarian collectors and dealers, a reflection of books almost totally unknown to lawyers in general, and cannot be currently found in either public or traditional law libraries. These 16th and 17th century books, along with copies of nearly every English-language treatise on the subject published over four centuries, now reside in the Lawrence H. Stotter Collection at the Mortiz College of Law, Ohio State University.

In addition to bringing these rare books to light, Stotter draws attention to two little-known contributors to the field of family law, each of whom receives a chapter in the book. Henry Swinburne (England, 1551-1624) bridged the gap between ecclesiastical laws and English civil laws by writing in English rather than in the traditional Latin. Tapping Reeve (United States, 1744-1823)—whom Stotter considers the Father of American Law—established the first true law school in America, laying the foundation for legal structures in the United States and training many colonial lawmakers and justices.

It makes a great addition to any academic library with an emphasis on the history  of law or to any library with a strong collection of family law material.

– Lance Burke, AALL Spectrum blog**

Head over to our website to learn more about To Put Asunder, read an excerpt, and see the table of contents.


*  Willard DaSilva, editor emeritus of Family Advocate magazine, a publication of the American Bar Association. Review in Family Advocate. Summer 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 1).
** Lance Burke, reference/access services librarian, Elon School of Law. Review on AALL (American Association of Law Libraries) Spectrum blog.  Nov. 2011

Miniature Book Society Conclave in Boston, 2014

September 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Who ever thought that books that can’t exceed 3 inches in any direction could become such a huge success! What was to be a three day visit to Boston to learn about miniature books turned into an adventure that provided me with an excellent opportunity to meet avid collectors, printers, and booksellers that revolves around the saying “yes, a book can be too big!”

The Miniature Book Society was founded in 1983 and has had a conclave every year to help bring face to face interaction between its members. Obviously some conclaves are harder to get to than others (for example last year’s conclave in Vancouver was attended by 40 members) while others, like this year’s conclave in Boston, MA was one of the most attended in recent history (over 80 members). I take great pride in being one of those 80 attendees that was able to make it.

The first day was a meet and greet over a lovely dinner where we took over half of 75 Chestnut, a restaurant whose owner owns Cheers of TV fame.

The next day was registration and a nice reception hosted by Ann and David Bromer at Bromer Booksellers (you too Phil and Shannon!).

bromer booksellers 2

 

After the registration was a silent auction, which I won a lovely miniature book which was printed accordion style, and an exquisite buffet dinner. After the dinner, I won the award for being the most recent newlywed in attendance and won Miriam Mouse’s Marriage Contract, which is a lovely miniature book by Miriam Irwin. She even signed it for me!

 

Saturday was a day filled with meetings, talks, presentations, dinner with booksellers and collectors, and tours, all while ending with a live auction.

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The tour of the Boston Athenaeum was particularly interesting because we got a top-to-bottom walkthrough of the Athenaeum (which houses 1/3 of George Washington’s original library).

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The last day of the fair was more work than play (but isn’t playing all we do in bookselling?!?) because it was the bookfair.

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Let me tell you, doing a bookfair for miniature books is a dream come true for booksellers because it means you only need to bring a carryon and all of your books with you on a plane.

Can’t wait for the conclave next year in Amsterdam!

Now I know why they call it the Windy City: a visit to Chicago

May 20, 2014 4 comments

A travel report from Rob:

My first visit to the Windy City couldn’t have been more enjoyable, although it only lasted a couple days. My first library visit was with Paul Gehl at the Newberry Library. They had a lovely exhibition (titled Plainly Spoken) organized by the Midwest Guild of Bookworkers, which showed 17 different bindings of sections of Julia Miller’s incredibly detailed bookbinding handbook Books Will Speak Plain. You can check out the online description here.

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While visiting with Paul, I brought our copy of the 1824 edition of Peter Cottom’s Whole Art of Book-Binding. By total coincidence, a previous owner wrote on the front pastedown, in pencil, “Newberry Lib has 1811 English first”. This prompted us to do some searching  and eventually we got to look at the first known manual of bookbinding in person. Needless to say, I was pretty excited.

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The second stop was in Chicago’s South Side where I would meet with Alice Schreyer and Daniel Meyer of the University of Chicago. What followed was one of the most detailed library tours I have ever taken. The U of C library does not use off-site storage, quite the challenge for a collection of  over 10 million volumes. So the library constructed an underground storage area in the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, which houses a very advanced automated retrieval system complete with robotic cranes. This monster project took three years from 2008 – 2011, with the final volume being added in 2013.

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The trip wouldn’t be complete without food! I went to the James Beard award-winning restaurant Blackbird (twice!), Buddy Guy’s Legends, and sampled a good ol’ fashioned Chicago deep dish pizza.

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