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Extra! Extra! Two Oak Knoll Titles among Michael Dirda’s Holiday Book Recommendations in the Washington Post!

December 14, 2017 Leave a comment

The reviews are in just in time for 2017 to come to a close, and we couldn’t be more proud of ourselves and our authors for turning out such wonderful books. Below is a great listing recommendation for the end-of-year from the Washington Post, which includes a couple of our books, The History of the Limited Editions Club (Carroll Grossman) and The Privately Printed Bible (Ron Patkus). Both were designed by our BFF from New York, the very talented Jerry Kelly.

25395397_1292962187476213_217902487_nMichael Dirda has written an excellent article for the Washington Post about his book recommendations for the holiday season, which included two titles that are published by Oak Knoll Press. The two titles mentioned are The Privately Printed Bible and The History of the Limited Editions Club. Both titles are designed by award-winning designer Jerry Kelly and would make wonderful holiday gifts.

Link to the Washington Post article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/michael-dirdas-wondrous-holiday-book-recommendations/2017/12/10/c2ce58e8-daaa-11e7-b859-fb0995360725_story.html?tid=sm_tw&utm_term=.be0665957e04

 

The Privately Printed Bible

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The Privately Printed Bible is the first book to offer a broad survey of the history of private and fine press printings of biblical texts. Author Ronald Patkus focuses on English-language examples from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and North America, and includes more than 500 works in his study. He begins with the late nineteenth century revival of printing which took place in England under the influence of William Morris, and continues on through the twentieth century. Along the way he describes key texts, such as the Doves Bible, the Oxford Lectern Bible, the Golden Cockerel Four Gospels, the Spiral Press Ecclesiastes, the Pennyroyal Caxton Bible, and the Arion Press Bible. He also discusses lesser-known works that are part of the story.

https://www.oakknoll.com/pages/books/129283/ronald-patkus/privately-printed-bible-private-and-fine-press-printings-of-biblical-texts-1892-2000-the

 

The History of the Limited Editions Club

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Author Carol Grossman began collecting the LEC in the 1960s and has been conducting research with this book in mind for many years. In addition to presenting the rich history of the enterprise and the people involved in great detail, she examines the legacy and reputation of the books left to bibliophiles, scholars, booksellers, and collectors.

https://www.oakknoll.com/pages/books/114346/carol-porter-grossman/history-of-the-limited-editions-club-the

 

Oak Knoll Gift Certificate: https://www.oakknoll.com/pages/books/89146/gift-certificate

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Miniature Book Collection

December 12, 2017 Leave a comment

This news clip on NBC Nightly News, https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/university-of-iowa-cataloging-4-000-tiny-literary-jewels-1113552451716, about the University of Iowa and their collection of 4,000 miniature books has inspired us to show off our collection. Check out all of our miniature book titles at this link: https://www.oakknoll.com/specialties.php?category_id=245&action=browse&orderBy=custom2

We also have a micro miniatures collection as well! All micro miniatures are available at this link: https://www.oakknoll.com/searchResults.php?action=catalog&category_id=1091

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Meet our new employee, Malayna Lewis.

November 15, 2017 Leave a comment

My name is Malayna and I am the new Communications Assistant at Oak Knoll.

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In addition to my new position at Oak Knoll, I am currently enrolled in my last year at Wilmington University for a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management with a minor in Human Resource Management. I spend my spare time sourcing for selling clothing and vintage items in eBay. I spend my down time at home with my pets, attending local events, and learning about new subjects of interest through reading books and online research.

I have always had an interest in publication, so joining Oak Knoll is a great opportunity to expand my knowledge and experience.. I am extremely excited to start this position and I am looking forward to  work withing the staff, as well as with authors, publishing partners, and customers.

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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…

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Books about Books Part 15: Our Greek Friend

October 29, 2010 Leave a comment

John cranked up the publishing program to 17 titles in 1998 and 23 in 1999. We were especially happy to publish Jane Greenfield’s ABC of Bookbinding (Bib. #84) as it fit in well with our other ABC book. Jane’s Headbands (Bib. #26) had appeared in a second edition with us in 1990 and still sells well today. Jane has recently passed away and will be missed by all.

Anthony & Jean Rota at an ILAB Congress

Anthony & Jean Rota at an ILAB Congress

We published Anthony Rota’s Apart from the Text in 1999 (Bib. #105). Anthony (and his wife Jean) and I went back a long way in the book business starting with the day he helped me purchase the remaining inventory of Deval and Muir. He was a Past President of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association (England) and was on the Committee and eventually President of ILAB. He often counseled me on the politics of this group and mentored me in every way he could. A dinner with Jean and Anthony (don’t dare call him Tony) was always full of great food, great wine, and charming talk. He tried to keep me from being too aggressive in my plans for carrying forward my ILAB agenda and sometimes I listened and acted in accord, and sometimes I didn’t. None of this affected our good feelings and trust for one another. We also published his autobiographical Books in the Blood (Bib. #179) in 2002, which is an excellent read.

The 26 titles published in 2000 was our new record for number of books published in a year, but what made it a special year was the publication of The Great Libraries: From Antiquity to the Renaissance by Konstantinos Staikos. Kostas Staikos is a well-known Greek architect and historian with an abiding love for the history of libraries. In his spare time, he had formed a remarkable private collection of books tracking the development of Greek printing throughout the world, rescued a Greek letterpress printing shop, and become part owner of a large, modern printing plant in Greece. To call him a true Renaissance man is probably an understatement.

One day Andy Armacost, our Director of Antiquarian Sales (1995-2004) fielded an incoming call from Mr. Staikos, who asked if we would be interested in publishing an English language history of the library that he had written and published in Greek. Andy turned the call over to John von Hoelle who listened with respect, but also with the reserve that must be used for all authors calling out of the blue with potential major publishing projects. We had no idea why this man had chosen to ask Oak Knoll Press to publish his book until a call later in the week by Nick Basbanes about another matter shed some light. Nick had visited Staikos in Greece to interviewe him for a book about collectors. His mention of Oak Knoll Press must have resonated with Kostas and resulted in that phone call.

Bob with Kostas Staikos

Bob with Kostas Staikos

Kostas’s book has become one of our all-time best sellers, which was surprising to us as the price of $125 was higher than most of our titles. It was so well produced and beautifully illustrated that it captured the spirit of our book world. It went into a second printing and laid the foundation for Kostas’s series entitled The History of the Library in Western Civilization, which will be six volumes when finally completed (Kostas is working on volume four at present [update—he’s now finishing volumes 5 & 6!]). This work is an obvious labor of love by a dedicated bibliophile and scholar. Each of the three volumes to date has received critical acclaim from the library world.

 

John’s experience working for a larger publisher paid another benefit this year as he suggested that we form an Editorial Board. A number of distinguished experts in the books about books field were asked to join this group and advise us on manuscripts that had been submitted for publication. The Board’s interests covered all the areas of the books about books field and their names are proudly displayed at the bottom of our stationery: Martin Antonetti, Nicholas A. Basbanes, John Bidwell, Matthew J. Bruccoli (recently deceased), David Pankow, Joseph Rosenblum, Joel Silver, Marianne Tidcombe, and Michael Winship. Their wide network of contacts in the book world gives us access to experts in the specialized fields in which we publish.

John cranked up the publishing program to 17 titles in 1998 and 23 in 1999. We were especially happy to publish Jane Greenfield’s ABC of Bookbinding (Bib. #84) as it fit in well with our other ABC book. Jane’s Headbands (Bib. #26) had appeared in a second edition with us in 1990 and still sells well today. Jane has recently passed away and will be missed by all.

We published Anthony Rota’s Apart from the Text in 1999 (Bib. #105). Anthony (and his wife Jean) and I went back a long way in the book business starting with the day he helped me purchase the remaining inventory of Deval and Muir. He was a Past President of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association (England) and was on the Committee and eventually President of ILAB. He often counseled me on the politics of this group and mentored me in every way he could. A dinner with Jean and Anthony (don’t dare call him Tony) was always full of great food, great wine, and charming talk. He tried to keep me from being too aggressive in my plans for carrying forward my ILAB agenda and sometimes I listened and acted in accord, and sometimes I didn’t. None of this affected our good feelings and trust for one another. We also published his autobiographical Books in the Blood (Bib. #179) in 2002, which is an excellent read.

The 26 titles published in 2000 was our new record for number of books published in a year, but what made it a special year was the publication of The Great Libraries: From Antiquity to the Renaissance by Konstantinos Staikos. Kostas Staikos is a well-known Greek architect and historian with an abiding love for the history of libraries. In his spare time, he had formed a remarkable private collection of books tracking the development of Greek printing throughout the world, rescued a Greek letterpress printing shop, and become part owner of a large, modern printing plant in Greece. To call him a true Renaissance man is probably an understatement. One day Andy Armacost, our Director of Antiquarian Sales (1995-2004) fielded an incoming call from Mr. Staikos, who asked if we would be interested in publishing an English language history of the library that he had written and published in Greek. Andy turned the call over to John von Hoelle who listened with respect, but also with the reserve that must be used for all authors calling out of the blue with potential major publishing projects. We had no idea why this man had chosen to ask Oak Knoll Press to publish his book until a call later in the week by Nick Basbanes about another matter shed some light. Nick had visited Staikos in Greece to interviewed him for a book about collectors. His mention of Oak Knoll Press must have resonated with Kostas and resulted in that phone call.

Kostas’s book has become one of our all-time best sellers, which was surprising to us as the price of $125 was higher than most of our titles. It was so well produced and beautifully illustrated that it captured the spirit of our book world. It went into a second printing and laid the foundation for Kostas’s series entitled The History of the Library in Western Civilization, which will be six volumes when finally completed (Kostas is working on volume four at present). This work is an obvious labor of love by a dedicated bibliophile and scholar. Each of the three volumes to date has received critical acclaim from the library world.

Books about Books Part 13: A Visit with Ruari McLean

September 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Another important stepping stone in our history occurred in 1997. The long saga of St. Paul’s Bibliographies reached the end of one era and the beginning of another as Robert Cross decided to retire and sold me his company. I was especially interested in the rights to bibliographies that he had tied up via his contracts and his large stock of unsold inventory. We sold a large portion of the Publishing Pathways inventory to The British Library and gave them UK sales rights for these and future projects, and I had a series of special sales to convert inventory into cash. Robert agreed to continue on in the role of a consultant, helping us find new titles and keeping old author friends in our camp. We had a splendid event in honor of Robert at Stationers’ Hall in London, where I felt a bit overwhelmed with the history of the grand building.

Ruari McLean in front of his home on Mull

Ruari McLean in front of his home on Mull

During this trip to England, I traveled to the wilds of Scotland to visit Ruari McLean (1917–2006) as I heard that he had some books for sale and that he had written his autobiography. Ruari lived on the Isle of Mull, which is a rugged island off the west coast of Scotland, so it was quite an adventure to get to him. He had retired from his life in the book production business and was spending his time writing books about various subjects, while still doing some typography projects. He lived by himself (his wife had passed away) in a desolate location on the coast overlooking the sea. Getting to the Isle of Mull required taking a train to Glasgow and catching another much smaller train to the coast town of Oban, where a 45-minute ferry ride got you to Mull. Getting to Glasgow from London was easy enough; however, Ruari had not looked at the train schedule closely enough for my Thursday trip to Oban. Trains don’t run to Oban on Thursdays! So back to the hotel I went and became a tourist in Glasgow for a day.

Ruari's home on Mull

Ruari's home on Mull

Friday proved more successful, and I found the small train and positioned myself at the window in preparation for a scenic morning trip through the countryside. Just before leaving, a young burly Scotsman staggered into my car bringing a large bag filled with cans of beer. He had obviously been enjoying the highlights of Glasgow and was now quite well prepared for his journey back to Oban.  Much to the amusement of the other passengers on the train, my car-mate started singing old Scottish songs at the top of his voice with only brief pauses to refresh himself from the slowly diminishing supply of beer that he had brought along. Song after song was sung with no sign of slowing. Finally, the conductor came through the car, and I thought my concert was surely going to be ended. “Hi Jamie,” says the conductor, “I see that you have been having fun.” With that the conductor joined him in a song, and then left for the next car. Our concert continued until the beers were gone and sleep overtook my musical friend.

The ferry to Mull from Oban had spectacular views, and Ruari was there at the ferry dock waiting in his car to drive me to his home. We looked at books he had for sale all afternoon, though none turned out to be ones that I wanted. He had already either sold or given away most of his better books. However, he still had a number of manuscripts for books that he had written that were of interest to our publishing program. He cooked a meal for me that evening preceded with and ended by a selection of single malt scotches that I could not refuse out of politeness. The next day I have a hazy recollection of seeing the island of Iona before being put back on the ferry for my long trip back to London. I met him once more when Millie and I and our youngest son Rob went to Scotland for a two-week traveling holiday in 1999. We stayed at Traquair House, the oldest Scottish castle, for a few days, and Ruari drove down to have lunch with us. He was pressing me to publish his war memoirs, but I had to turn him down. Oak Knoll Press co-published How Typography Happens (Bib. #132) with The British Library in 2000 and co-published Ruari’s autobiography True to Type (Bib. #147) with Werner Shaw at the end of 2000.

Bob, Ruari McLean, & Rob Fleck at Traquair House

Bob, Ruari McLean, & Rob Fleck at Traquair House

Books about Books Part 9: The beginnings of Oak Knoll Fest

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Another new idea for promoting Oak Knoll occurred in the fall of 1994 when we sponsored the first Oak Knoll Fest, using the second floor of the New Castle Opera House (more about this later). We thought that a good way to emphasize our specialty area of books about books and fine press printing would be to host an event that combined speeches, a shop sale, and tables of private press books with their actual printers standing behind the table.

That first Fest attracted ten private press printers. John Randle, the noted English private press owner of the Whittington Press, gave our key-note address on Saturday evening. We have held a Fest every year since and now attract an average of 40 private presses each year to this two-day event. Hundreds of presses have participated over the Fest’s fourteen-year history. The Fests have provided an excellent venue for customers to view our publishing titles and for Oak Knoll to solicit new publishing manuscripts. The Fine Press Book Association was founded by printers sitting in my living room during our Fest and has become the premier organization of private press owners.

Quickly jumping ahead to 2000, I must show you a picture from our Oak Knoll Fest VII in which Gloria Stuart of Titanic film fame came to New Castle. I’m sure that many a publicist would have died for this opportunity. Gloria Stuart had won an Oscar for her role in the 1997 movie Titanic, but not many of her movie fans knew her as a letterpress printer. She came to New Castle this year and “held court” in such a sweet and gentle manner that she captivated the hearts of all who met her. Our publishing sales went up during that Fest!

Bob with Gloria Stuart and Henry Morris at Fest VII

Bob with Gloria Stuart and Henry Morris at Fest VII

We published the seventh edition of ABC and Oak Knoll’s first reprint of Gaskell’s New Introduction to Bibliography in 1995, which completed our trilogy of the three most important bibliographical manuals, which also included McKerrow’s Introduction to Bibliography for Literary Students and Bowers’ Principles of Bibliographical Description.

However, there were the beginnings of troubled waters in late 1995. An unfortunate marriage to an American girl had made Paul’s life in America very difficult, so he took a leave of absence and traveled home, and in early 1996, he announced that he had decided to resign and return permanently to England. His resignation left us with a big void to fill. We interviewed many people in hopes of finding just the right person who could fit into our small publishing/antiquarian business (and do the work for as small a salary as possible!). I hired a young man who met these criteria, but he immediately proved the old adage of you get what you pay for. He was a disaster. Meanwhile, Paul had already returned to England. I then interviewed and hired John von Hoelle, one of the great decisions I have made in my life.

Check back next week to hear how the Press fared under “the good ship von Hoelle”!