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Posts Tagged ‘New Castle’

A successful mini-fair

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

This past Saturday, The Bookshop in Old New Castle hosted a mini-book fair sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the ABAA. Thirteen booksellers participated in the fair, and author Joel Silver signed copies of his new publication Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly. The day was very successful, and we were excited to see those involved enjoying the opportunity to sell and purchase books. One participating bookseller, George Krzyminski from Certain Books, had wonderful words to say about the event:

“Speaking only for myself, I did very well, in buying as well as selling – better than some all-day or all weekend events I’ve exhibited at in the recent past. I met at least 3 new customers, quoted them some other material afterwards and met several dealers with which I’d had no previous contact – all to the good. I believe others at the show had similar experiences. We also had the opportunity to purchase & have Joel Silver sign his newest book, “Dr. Rosenbach & Mr. Lilly.” And of course, we all dipped into shopping the shelves at Oak Knoll the entire time…

I repeat Penny’s compliments and thanks to Bob & Millie & Rob Fleck and their staff, to all the other Bookshop in Old New Castle dealers – Bordentown, Kelmscott, Between the Covers- for their willingness to ‘share the space’ and custom with us all – and to all the dealers and their partners and staff that showed up for the workshop & show, who fully participated and had a good, profitably-spent time!”

Thank you, George for your kind words. We are happy you had such a great experience, and we hope all the rest of the booksellers had a great time as well! We look forward to participating in other similar events in the future.

Click here to view more pictures on facebook.

The journey behind publishing Line, Shade and Shadow

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment

We recently announced that Line, Shade and Shadow: The Fabrication and Preservation of Architectural Drawings by Lois Price won the 2011 Historic Preservation Book Prize. It was chosen as the most significant contribution to the intellectual vitality of historic preservation in America. A book of this excellence takes years of research and work. Read about Lois Price and her journey in creating such a fascinating work.

This book began with a search for information that was not there. As a paper conservator working at a busy regional conservation center, the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) in Philadelphia, I never knew what kind of material would appear on my roster of treatments, and it was impossible to ignore the increasing number of architectural drawings and blueprints that entered the lab in the late 1980s. The wonderful images, unfamiliar materials, and mysterious reprographic processes piqued my curiosity. They reawakened a somewhat dormant interest in architecture that began in my undergraduate days during a course in American art, continuing through my senior honors thesis on American architecture and even into a few additional graduate courses. Interest renewed, I began a largely unsuccessful search of secondary sources looking for information about materials and techniques. Collection curators had some answers but not in the depth and detail I needed. Architects were distinctly uninterested in discussing the craft of creating their drawings, though I learned a lot about design theories, competitions, and the big one that got away. And so, the odyssey through original source material— drawings, trade catalogs, builders and drafters manuals, and technical treatises on the manufacture of specialty materials, began.

Fast forward a decade and a half through many libraries, a job change, several research grants to a manuscript, and a list of possible illustrations, and enter Oak Knoll Press in the person of John Von Hoelle. He had much encouragement and a commitment for publication. Little did I know that another odyssey was just beginning. With Oak Knoll’s encouragement, the list of possible illustrations grew to over 350, including images that illustrated every facet of the text. Securing them and writing the captions was a huge and time consuming challenge that took almost five years, but thanks to the wonders of digital photography and the generosity of several institutions, particularly the Athenaeum of Philadelphia and the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, everything finally came together. If you can call a motley collection of black and white prints, color transparencies, 35mm slides, and a large stack of CDs, together.

When my manuscript was finally ready for editing, Laura Williams took on the task, and began making sense of the daunting stack of images. She patiently saw the manuscript through two rounds of copy editing and finally typesetting and design. That first look at the text in print and the stunning design will remain a memorable moment. Next, we traversed several rounds of galley proofs as I fretted about typos, color accuracy, and image resolution. The best part of the editing and publication process, of course, was the need to visit Oak Knoll in New Castle on a regular basis and peruse the bookshelves. I occasionally brought my students and we never left empty handed.

I still see the transformation of my initial vision of what we needed to know about architectural drawings to a beautifully printed book as rather miraculous. Oak Knoll is a small press and things do take time, but there is a real commitment to working with the author and getting it right. For that I am extremely grateful.

We want to congratulate Lois Price again on winning the 2011 Historic Preservation Book Prize. We are excited to see all of her hard work pay off!

Click here for more information on Line, Shade and Shadow.

Danielle Intern!

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment
Danielle

Danielle Ellis

Hello everyone! As a senior English major at The University of Delaware, I am pleased to be sitting at my first internship desk and writing my first Biblio-Blog entry at Oak Knoll. I’ve only been traveling into Old New Castle for a week, and already I have been exposed to more of the book world than ever before.

Luckily for me, I came in at the most exciting time of the year—Oak Knoll Fest. I had never put much thought into how intricate the process of creating a book could be, but as I witnessed the creativity and the quality of materials used throughout the exhibit hall, I was blown away. I’m so used to reading my favorite stories, like “The Yellow Wallpaper,” in dull, chunky textbooks, and there it was in front of me, a unique and delicate copy of the book with beautiful pages of yellow wallpaper placed throughout. If only every story and its book could be so inspiring.

Although I was reluctant to place my favorite copy of “The Yellow Wallpaper” back onto the table and walk away, I will always look back to it when I think of how beautiful a book can be.

Like the artists and their books displayed at Oak Knoll Fest, I am sure Oak Knoll has a great deal of pleasant surprises and learning experiences in store for me, and I am sure that I will take in and come to love every single one.

I look forward to our time together, Oak Knoll family!

-Danielle, Intern

Two booksellers, the beach, and some wine

August 4, 2010 2 comments

Millie and I just returned from a very pleasant weekend spent with Tom and Heidi Congalton (owners of the rare book business, Between the Covers). They have a beautiful home in Cape May Point within a block of the Delaware Bay. Tom and I managed to solve all the problems of the book world over a few glasses of wine on Saturday night.

Tom and Heidi are leaving for the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar where Tom has taught for a number of years and participated on their Board. The seminar is a great educational experience for anyone who wants to be a bookseller. I was on the faculty of the School one year as the specialty dealer. It was during this time I met a student who eventually bought my old book store building and moved his business to New Castle.

That’s all for now. I’m off to work on the latest collection to come into the store (from India – more later!)

Books about Books Part 4: New friends, a new house, and a new employee

July 16, 2010 Leave a comment

The third Oak Knoll publication was also a Christmas keepsake (for 1980) and was an excerpt from Lawrence Block’s The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling, relating a humorous story of what happened to a book thief when caught in Rodenbarr’s bookshop.

Millie Fleck & RDF on left at the Morris moving party

Bob & Millie (left) at the Morris moving party

This pamphlet was printed by hand by Henry Morris of the Bird & Bull Press. Henry and his wife Pearl were new-found friends in 1980, and Millie, my wife, and I had one of our first dates going to Henry and Pearl’s moving party, as they bid farewell to Elm Street in Philadelphia. It was a great party, involving lots of wine and funny speeches that made no sense whatsoever. But it started a relationship that lead to many publications and the establishment of a friendship that continues stronger than ever.

As is typical with all bookselling businesses, Oak Knoll kept running out of room. From our start in 1976 in the second floor bedroom of my Newark home, we had moved to the renovated two car garage and then to New Castle. The first floor of 414 Delaware Street in New Castle proved to be too small as well, so Millie and I moved our home and the business up the street to 212 Delaware Street in 1985.

The Booth House

The Booth House

This historic house (the Booth house, named after Delaware Chief Justice James Booth) was built in stages with the first section built in 1713, a wing added in 1795, a lawyer’s office added for the Judge and then his son (both Chief Justices) in about 1830, and two additional sections after that. Four rooms had been added behind the lawyer’s office. We bought it in August 1985 from a DuPont attorney whose wife had used the four side rooms for a daycare business.

Millie and I had looked at this house three years earlier but didn’t have the money to buy it. This time around we successfully convinced the bank to lend us the money to buy the house, with the proviso that we would move the business into the daycare center space and sell 414 Delaware Street. Once in there and functioning, I saw that if we could rent out 414 Delaware Street, we could hold on to both properties. Our friend and banker Gordon Pfeiffer had stood by us since the beginning and he came through once again. Renters were quickly found and the old 414 property stayed in the family. Our youngest son, Rob (keep that name in mind!), had been born in July, so he got to live in two homes in his first month.

Mollie & Bob Sr. (Mom and Dad)

Mollie & Bob Sr. (Mom and Dad)

I also had a new employee start in May of 1986, my father. He just retired this year (2008), thus earning credit as the Oak Knoll employee with the longest tenure. My father and mother moved to New Castle from the Chicago area when my father retired as Director of Research for the Griffin Wheel Company, and Dad immediately started working for me at the bookstore. He was our inventory management person and major fixer-upper. His eldest son (me) happens to be hopeless at mechanical things, so his fix-up skills became an important part of his job description. And when the occasional cash flow problem occurred, I knew where a short-term loan could be procured.

Bob Sr. passed away in June of 2009, and he is greatly missed here at Oak Knoll.

Check back next week for more of Oak Knoll’s history, including the hiring of our first publishing director. If you can’t wait, check out the book on our website.

Books about Books Part 3: A 2nd publication and the move to New Castle

July 9, 2010 Leave a comment

The second Oak Knoll publication was about as ephemeral as one can get: a 1979 Christmas keepsake printed by John Anderson at the Pickering Press. I had developed a friendship with John, a noted typographer whose small private press books were some of the best contemporary examples of fine printing.

Over the years John and I had alternating lunches between Maple Shade, New Jersey, and New Castle, Delaware, and I got to hear some of the classic tales of typography in action. (His best tale was of Beatrice Warde and the animated talk she gave to a group of Philadelphia printers. Beatrice’s talk was so animated that one of her breasts fell out of her dress, and she nonchalantly placed it back with a smile).

414 Delaware Street

414 Delaware Street, New Castle

I moved my business from Newark to New Castle in December 1979. John and Emily Ballinger moved up from North Carolina and bought into the business, and their  down-payment was just enough cash to allow me to buy 414 Delaware Street from Herb Tobin, a legend in New Castle lore. Herb was the last in line of the family butchers and knew every reputable historical fact (and many disreputable) about the city of New Castle. This Victorian storefront had been a butcher’s shop during its entire life before I turned it into a bookshop.

The building had great “history” to it, which meant there were cracks and creaks everywhere, and when winter came, the drains froze. There was a typical New Castle basement—low headroom and dirt floors—and the original slaughterhouse behind the house came with my purchase and was quickly converted into a wine storage area. We had a first floor shop, and I rented the second and third floor to the Ballingers as their living quarters. It is a wonder that we all managed to work and store the books that we had in the four rooms on the first floor.

The Ballingers had different ideas about running a business than I did, and they departed in 1982 for Williamsburg, Virginia, and the Bookpress, another antiquarian book business.

Tune in next week for more from Books about Books: A History and Bibliography of Oak Knoll Press.