Friday, October 19, 2012

Bookseller Henry Stevens Recollects Mr. James Lenox

I recently purchased an 1868 autograph letter from bookseller Henry Stevens (1819-1886) to a potential American client.  The letter itself is lengthy and informative but I'll save that for another time.  Enclosed with the letter as an after-thought, and not mentioned by the seller, was a four-page promotional leaflet for Stevens' classic bookseller autobiography Recollections of Mr. James Lenox of New York and the Formation of His Library (1886).  The rare little leaflet surprise stirred me bibliophilic juices.  Not only did it describe the book itself but cited excerpts from fourteen contemporary reviews.  These excerpts provide a glimpse into the contemporary reception of one of the greatest bookseller accounts written. The leaflet itself is quite a piece of marketing.  The opening salvo still holds true:

 Full of humorous and romantic anecdotes of rare
 and unique books, and of desperate struggles in
 the Auction Room, interspersed with in-
teresting bibliographical gossip of the experi-
ences of half a century of book collecting

  The leaflet is reproduced below for your enjoyment:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Featured Item No. III: Bookman's Valhalla, The R. B. Adam Auction Catalogue (1926)

(R B Adam).  ENGLISH LITERATURE FROM THE LIBRARY OF MR. R. B. ADAM, BUFFALO, N.Y. TO BE SOLD BY HIS ORDER. New York: The Anderson Galleries, February 15 & 16, 1926. 433 lots.  Frontis., text illus. 8vo. Original flexible pebble cloth, spine stamped in gilt, original wrappers bound in as issued (see below).

Lathrop Harper's copy, inscribed "For Lathrop, the kindest and best, E. Byrne Hackett." Signed by twenty-five bookmen during the pre-auction dinner party hosted by A. Edward Newton for the highly respected collector, R.B. Adam--one of the most famous such gatherings in the history of American book collecting.  Signers include Ralph Isham, Seymour de Ricci, Barnet J. Beyer, Jerome Kern, Louis B. Shaw (?),  A.S.W. Rosenbach, Owen D. Young, William Jay Turner, James F. Drake, Charles S. Osgood, Lathrop Harper, Walter M. Hill, Gabriel Wells, Carl Pforzheimer, Christopher Morley, E. Swift Newton, Chauncey Brewster Tinker, R.B. Adam, A. Edward Newton, Mitchell Kennerley, Edgar H. Wells, George H. Sargent, and E. Byrne Hackett.