Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Protectors, Inc.

We found a new one this week. Our copy of the "Colonial Edition" of Stephen Crane's Last Words (London and Bombay: George Bell and Sons, 1902) is housed in a Masonite box painted yellow with a faux spine tricked out in red leather. The box alone is an oddity, with a sliding top to allow access to the book inside. Then we saw what was inside the box other than the book...

Two strips of white tape manufactured by "Book Protectors, Inc. Lake Helen, Florida." The strips each have three dots over small circular wells. The instructions for one say "Pierce Dots to make Anti-Mildew wells operative," the other says "Pierce Dots to make Insecticide wells operative."


Oooh, who knows what nasty chemicals reside under the (thankfully) non-pierced dots? Of course, if ever you needed protection from mildew and insects, it would be in Florida. We recommend washing your hands after using this one. Ask for Crane PS1449.C85 L34 1902.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bloomsbury Trifecta

We have written about the aura of the Hogarth edition of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, but our recent acquisition of the first book Leonard and Virginia Woolf produced at Hogarth Press is positively spine tingling. Two Stories (Richmond: Hogarth Press, 1917) is a simple 32-page, pamphlet-style book. The wrapper appears to be a blue woven wallpaper (but we can't tell for sure) loosely sewn on to protect the text block and add a bit of decorative appeal. The book has the feel of two people trying to figure out how to wed their new-found book aesthetic with their literary style.

It offers a perfect entry point into the Bloomsbury group: our copy belonged to Virginia's sister, the artist Vanessa Bell; the woodcuts are by another Bloomsbury artist, Dora Carrington; and, of course, its authors are key figures in the group. Two Stories also reflects their struggle for artistic independence as Hogarth was founded in part to free Virginia and Leonard from the conservative tastes of the literary publishing establishment. It gave them complete control--they could even bind in wallpaper if they saw fit.

To see this unique window into an artistic flowering, ask for Rare PR1309.S5W6 1917.