Certainly, cigars and pipes after. But first a meal of better fare, then adjourn to the private library. Oh yes, and drinks, pick your fashion. But overwhelmingly books, a few brought for show, but the focus on talk—lively talk – nothing perfunctory or mundane, for these bibliophiles are most comfortable in the details, the aura of the book itself bringing whatever one’s pleasure. It is New York City, ca. 1926, and outside the world is roaring but within it is timeless, the same for the first bookmen long ago and the same now when I gather with my fellow bibliophiles. Today we admit all races, genders, and creeds, but the fundamentals unite us.
This is a gathering of the Quarto Club, established in New York City by a small group of bibliophiles headed by lawyer Mark G. Holstein (1873-1952) who serves as president. You may recall meeting him recently in my essay “Three Ardent Bibliophiles and the Greatest Book in the World.” He owned the copy now in my library of The Greatest Book in the World (1925), inscribed to him by the author A. Edward Newton, with a carbon of his cheeky reply to Newton tipped in (Newton had humorously disparaged lawyers.)
A biographical note on Holstein in The Colophon: A Book Collector’s Quarterly begins, “Mark Holstein is president of the Quarto Club.” The club’s name is vaguely familiar to me. I research, and although I discover little secondary information about the club, I find three published volumes of papers (1927-1930) originally read by members at monthly club meetings. The club’s effort to preserve them in book form saved the Quarto Club from almost certain historical oblivion.