Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Featured Item VIII: The Zamorano 80. Food, Fellowship & Books

THE ZAMORANO 80: A SELECTION OF DISTINGUISHED CALIFORNIA BOOKS MADE BY MEMBERS OF THE ZAMORANO CLUB.  Los Angeles: The Zamorano Club, 1945. Foreword by Homer D. Crotty.  x [1] 66 p. Folding frontis., plates.  8vo. Rust brown cloth, front cover and spine stamped in gilt, dust jacket. Limitation: No. 190 of 500.

Inscribed, “For Crosby Gaige, fellow explorer in the realms of typographia and culinariana, with warm regards. Phil Townsend Hanna, June 17, 1946.”
                The selection committee consisted of Phil Hanna (1896-1957), whose earlier work, Libros Californianos, or Five Feet of California Books, served as inspiration, Leslie E. Bliss, Robert E. Cowan, Henry R. Wagner, J. Gregg Layne, Robert J. Woods and Robert G. Cleland.  Homer D. Crotty was the “moderator.” He recounts the somewhat contentious selection process in the foreword.  It took the men a flurry of list making, lively discussions, and two full-fledged dinners to hash out the final eighty selections.  One hundred titles had been the goal but better eighty heartily agreed upon then one hundred that would include lukewarm choices.
                Presentation copies of this influential book are scarce.  The recipient, Crosby Gaige (1882-1949), was a prominent book collector who made a fortune as a Broadway producer during the Twenties only to lose all of it in the Depression.  He also published a number of distinguished literary limited editions via his Watch Hill Press.  In the 1930s and 40s he became known for his writings on fine foods and wine.  He and Hanna shared a common interest in the culinary arts as well as books.  Each formed large cookbook collections.  Gaige was president of the New York Wine and Food Society and Hanna secretary of the Wine & Food Society of Los Angeles.
Gaige’s now mostly forgotten autobiography Footlights and Highlights (1948) is a surprisingly fine read (ghost written by bookman John Tebbel) but devotes only one chapter to his collecting and publishing. David Randall in Dukedom Large Enough recounts how he acquired and sold Gaige’s book collection, a story not without adventure and tribulations.  Randall notes that “the reason Gaige stored his library was to keep this asset from his creditors, as I found out when I tried to sell it.”

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