Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Idiosyncrasies of a C. S. Forester Collector

When my wife goes to her Weight Watchers meeting on Tuesday mornings, I go to MacDonald's for a cup of coffee and a yogurt parfait.  Then I usually visit the Sheriffs Youth Ranch Thrift Store on US19 in New Port Richey, Fl. and check out the book section.  Several weeks ago, I bought these three books for a buck apiece:

I don't think I ever read anything by C. S. Forester before.  And I didn't buy these books because I wanted to start reading him now.   I bought them because I was curious about their former owner, who had a few idiosyncrasies, some normal, and some surprising.

All three books had the Antioch Book Company bookplate of a Raymond J. Doremus pasted on the front pastedown:

I liked the motto on the bookplate:  A BOOK IS LIKE A GOOD FRIEND.  MY FRIENDS I WOULD FOREVER KEEP.

Above the bookplate on two of the books, the former owner stamped the pastedown with his custom address stamp, and wrote "Property of" and the date "12/31/61."

The third book, a special edition of Randall and the River of Times, was published exclusively for the members of the Sears Readers Club.  Raymond stamped his custom address stamp on the half title page, and wrote the date "3/61" along with rather explicit instructions for anyone who had access to this book:

Doremus wasn't finished using his custom address stamp.  He applied the stamp on page 100 of all three books.  Was he a librarian in his day job?

And on pages 100-101 of his copy of Captain Horatio Hornblower, Doremus left a personal note for a future owner:
Re-read Thursday Sept 6, 1984 23 yrs Later - Ray Doremus
Weather - Cloudy - Temp 86 - Time 5:10 PM//GERRY is making Supper
Age 75.6 - 5704 Lisa Pl - Holiday Fl.
All is well!

Gerry was his wife Geraldine.  And yes, The Doremus family retired to Holiday, Florida. As for the address, 5704 Lisa Place,  I suspect the street name was replaced by Lima Dr.  because Pinellas County records indicate that Raymond J. Doremus resided at both 5704 Lisa Place and 5704 Lima Drive.  He lived another ten years passing away on Oct. 22, 1994.

Inserted in two of the book are the dust jacket flaps containing the blurbs about the books and its author.  And to be inserted in the copy of Captain Horatio Hornblower will be a copy of this blog post.  Who knows?  Twenty-five years from now a curious book collector may happen upon these three books on the book shelves of a thrift store somewhere in Florida.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

An Anecdote About Bob Fleck:
Bookman to the End

On October 16, 2005, I gave a talk on William Targ (1907-1999) at the monthly meeting of the Florida Bibliophile Society.  Targ was a Chicago writer and publisher of books about books, who later became editor at World Publishing Company and then Putnam's.  I had brought some of Targ's books about books with me and after my presentation, Lee Harrer, a founding member of the society, picked up my copy of Targ's American First Editions And Their Prices, Chicago, 1930.

I had mentioned in my talk that this copy was formerly owned by Alida Roochvarg, a name that only one other person in the room was probably aware of, and that was Lee.  Alida Roochvarg, (1922-1993) a Long Island book collector, had a sizable collection of books about books, which Lee knew was acquired by Oak Knoll Books.  And the Oak Knoll book label attests to that fact.

Lee had a sizable books about books collection himself (ten times bigger than mine), many books of which he had  acquired from Oak Knoll Books (me too). In fact, Lee was very good friends with the Proprietor of Oak Knoll Books, Bob Fleck.

Bob Fleck was a chemical engineer–that was his day job.  But he was also a book collector.  And when his day job was going to be relocated to a different city, he  made a career change.  On a Friday in 1976, he was still a chemical engineer.  On the following Monday, he became a bookseller.  And his acquisition of the Alida Roochvarg Collection in 1978 was one of his biggest early ventures.

Lee Harrer had an aha moment when he first examined the Targ book.   He was surprised to find a post card from his friend Bob Fleck that was inserted in the book.  The post card was postmarked 28 Nov 1978––almost 27 years earlier!  It was addressed to a book collector in Pennsylvania by the name of William J. Junkin.

Lee made a copy of the post card and sent it to Bob Fleck.  Lee assumed that Junkin wrote the handwritten notes.  And four days later Bob Fleck verified that fact.

If the handwriting on the paper copy of the post card is unreadable, here's a translation:

  Jerry Morris talked on William Targ to our FBS group yesterday.  His copy of Targ's American First Editions and Their Prices has your Roochvarg book label on the front pastedown.  The post card (below) came along with the book.  I'm presuming that the 2 handwritten notes are Junkin's––in reference to your question in p [paragraph] 2

Bob Fleck replied:


This is scary stuff––I must be getting old.


And he wrote "Not Mine" next to the two notes.

William J. Junkin wrote the two notes, which refer to the listings of the Garnett and Evans books in Oak Knoll Catalogue Number 11.  Junkin surely had a copy of that catalogue, and he may have later acquired the combined copy of all six catalogues of the Alida Roochvarg Collection, which was published in 1981 (Catalogue Numbers 10, 11, 14, 17, 19, and 22).

The Junkin copy of Targ's American First Editions... was # 943 in Oak Knoll Catalogue Number 11.

William J. Junkin was born in Lakeland, Florida, attended Lakeland High School and later moved to Pennsylvania.   He passed away in May 2016.   In his obituary,  it was noted that Junkin "was a collector of rare and first edition books."   He was also a railroad enthusiast, and wrote articles in railway magazines.  It was also noted that William J. Junkin "would like to be remembered as a bookman to the end."

And the same goes for Bob Fleck, who passed away on Sep 22, 2016.

Bob Fleck:  Bookman to the End

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

From Whence They Came: Don Brady And His Miniature Books

Don Brady (1926–2006) is one of the bibliophiles in my library.  He was one of the bookies who, for many years, met for breakfast in New Port Richey, Florida on Friday mornings.  My wife called them "bookies" because they all had something to do with books. Don was a printer and a bookbinder.

We have nearly all of the Clearview Press miniature books he printed and bound:

Don's wife Mary still meets us for breakfast in New Port Richey, Florida on Friday mornings.  And recently she gave us some of the books Don owned: one large book and many smaller ones that he stored in boxes.

The large book,  The Vanishing Breed, by Don Brady, is the topic for My Sentimental Library blog post this month.

And some of the smaller books are the topic of this here blog, specifically the very copies of books which Don Brady utilized to print his miniature books. I call these books "mother books," a term Charlotte M. Smith used in her 1984 Books at Iowa essay, "The Joys of Miniature Books."

Below is an image of My Robin, published in 1993, and the mother book from whence it came: a 1912 edition published by Frederick A. Stokes Company.

Robert C. Bradbury, in his bibliography, Twentieth Century United States Miniature Books, No. Clarendon, 2000, correctly notes that Don's edition of this book is a reprint of the 1912 edition.   The Clearview Press is listed not on the title page, but on the colophon page:

We have the mother book for Johnny Appleseed:  A Pioneer Hero, published in 1994: a 1967 reprint by the Bunny Press; but all of the pages of our copy of the miniature book are blank.  Mary tells us that Don probably used this copy during one of his many printing and bookbinding demonstrations:

I have two mother books of The Fate of the Schooner Louise H. Randall:  A Story of the Sea, published in 1998:

At first glance, it appears that both of these books are presentation copies from the author.  But when I took a closer look at the presentation inscriptions, I discovered the inscriptions were identical.  It seems that Don photographically reproduced a copy of the book.  And it would be hard to tell which one has the original inscription!

Don even rebound the photographically reproduced copy:

Here's a copy of The Will of Charles Lounsbury by Williston Fish, Clearview Press, 2001, now reunited with its mother book from whence it came: an undated Loring & Musey printing from the 1930s.

The Loring & Musey edition was printed in a french fold.  And wouldn't you know that Don printed and bound his edition in a french fold as well!

Here is the definition of french fold from Etherington and Roberts:   a sheet of paper printed on one side only and folded over from left to right to form a "section" with uncut bolts.  The inside of the fold is blank.

Note to John Carter ABC for Book Collectors afficionados:  Did Etherington and Roberts really write "uncut" instead of "unopened?"

Below is a copy of The Rabbit's Nest by Elizabeth Morrow, published in 2004, along with its mother book, first printed by the Macmillan Company on 1940:

Don photographically reduced the pages of this book:

Here is a copy of Why the Chimes Rang by Raymond Macdonald Alden, Clearview Press, 2006, now with its mother book from whence it came:  a 1934 reprint of a book first published in 1906 by the Bobbs-Merrill Company.

I like the Dedication for Don's edition of this book:

And here's a copy of The Specialist by Charles Sale, Clearview Press 2006, now with its  mother book from whence it came:  a 1962 Putnam & Co. reprint  of a book published in 1932:

Don photographically reduced the pages of this book as well.  He set the type for his earlier books, but for his later ones, he used the photographic reduction process.

Here's a copy of The Great American Pie Company by Ellis Parker Butler, Clearview Press, 2006. along with two mother books from whence it came: A.L. Burt reprints of a book first published in 1907.  Don disbound one copy for use in the photographic reduction process.

I'm surprised that Don didn't print Ellis Parker Butler's most famous book, Pigs is Pigs.  And he had a copy of it.  George Spiero, Don's friend for over 20 years,  tells me that   Pigs is Pigs was Don's favorite book.

One book Don Brady published under the Clearview Press label technically isn't a miniature book because it is 4 11/16 inches tall.  I'm talking about Don's edition of The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. Don published  30 copies of it in 2001.  And here it is with its mother book: an undated Grosset & Dunlap reprint.

Don Brady was eighty years young when he died in December 2006.  And by the looks of some of the books he owned, he planned on printing more than a few more.  Below is an image of photographically reduced pages from The Story of the Other Wise Men by Henry Van Dyke.

Don owned two mother books of this book.  And I will discuss and display them and some of Don's other books in a Biblio Researching blog post in the near future. a series of articles to be published in The Microbibliophile, a bimonthly journal about miniature books and the book arts. My first article appears in the September  2013 issue.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kings of Persia

Reading about Anne Fadiman catching butterflies in her essay, "Collecting Nature," reminded me of a short Trivia piece that Logan Pearsall Smith wrote, comparing writing to collecting butterflies. I have the manuscript copy of that piece, "Kings of Persia."

I have almost all of the books by and about Logan Pearsall Smith, including some of Smith's books formerly owned by the Johnsonian collector and scholar, Mary Hyde. We both liked the way Logan Pearsall Smith wrote. He talked to us.

In More Trivia, the book containing Smith's piece, he left us this greeting:

A Greeting

What funny clothes you wear, dear Readers! And your hats! The thought of your hats does make me laugh. And I think your sex theories quite horrid. Thus across the void of Time I send, with a wave of my hand, a greeting to that quaint, remote, outlandish, unborn people whom we call Posterity and whom I, like other very great writers, claim as my readers –– urging them to hurry up and get born that they may have the pleasure of reading 'More Trivia.'

You have to love a writer who greets future readers!

In Trivia and in All Trivia, there is this Note From the Author:

These pieces of moral prose have been written, dear Reader, by a large carnivorous Mammal, belonging to that suborder of the Animal Kingdom which also includes the Orangoutang, the tusked Gorilla, the Baboon with his bright blue and scarlet bottom, and the long-eared Chimpanzee.

My kind of people!

Although Smith's piece was first published in 1921 in More Trivia, he changed the title of the piece to "Things To Write." He also revised the words a little bit. I prefer the manuscript version over the published version.

Kings of Persia

What things there are to write if one could only write them! My mind is full of gleaming thoughts; gay moods and dreams and mysterious, moth-like meditations hover and fan their painted wings in the garden of my imagination. If I could only catch them, they would make my fortune; me famous; but I can hardly ever catch them - always the fairest, those freaked with the most amazing blues and crimsons, flutter beyond my reach and eternally elude me.

The childish and ever-baffled chase of these airy nothings sometimes seems, for one of sober years in a sad world, rather a trifling occupation; yet have I not read of the great Kings of Persia, who used to ride out and hunt butterflies with hawks, nor deemed this pretty pastime beneath their royal dignity?

Things To Write

What things there are to write, if one could only write them! My mind is full of gleaming thoughts; gay moods and mysterious, moth-like meditations hover in my imagination, fanning their painted wings. They would make my fortune if I could catch them; but always the rarest, those freaked with azure and the deepest crimson, flutter away beyond my reach.

The ever-baffled chase of those filmy nothings often seems, for one of sober years in a sad world, a trifling occupation.
But have I not read of the Great Kings of Persia who used to ride out to hawk for butterflies, nor deemd this pastime beneath their royal dignity?

Smith gave the manuscript of "Kings of Persia" to his friend, Christopher Morley. Both Morley and Smith went to Haverford College, although quite some years apart. Morley sent the manuscript piece to an unidentified publisher in 1947. In 2001, I acquired the manuscript piece in an ebay auction, along with one of Morley's letters.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Birrell, Starrett, Morley, But Who is O.M?

Augustine Birrell's Bookplate:

Vincent Starrett's Bookplate:

Vincent Starrett's Autograph
Christopher Morley Jr.'s Autograph

O.M.'s Note. But Who Is O.M.? I thought O.M was one of the owners of a bookstore in New York. But Steven Rothman, Editor of the Baker Street Journal, provided the answer:
"O.M. stands for "Old Mandarin" or "Old Man." The inscription is from Christopher Morley to his son CM, Jr. "New Suffolk" was a house Morley had bought for war refugees on Long Island and stocked with English prints and books."

The note reads:

--Just found this at Argus Bkshop Chicago & felt we should have it -- may be eventually for New Suffolk -


Front Side of O.M.'s Note: Advertisement for W. Somerset Maugham Lecture

This advertisement tells a lot about when O.M.'s note was written:

There was a British Civilian Relief Fund during WWI. And March 11 fell on a Tuesday in 1919. But Thorne Hall was not constructed until 1925.

There was a British Relief Fund during WWII as well. At the outbreak of WWII, the British Government asked Somerset Maugham to appeal for US. aid to Great Britain. In 1941, March 11 fell on a Tuesday. Morley wrote his note in 1941.

The title of the book itself is The Coming of the Friars And Other Essays by the Rev. Augustus Jessopp. The book was published by T. Fisher Unwin in 1889. Unwin was the founder of the Johnson Club, of which Birrell was a member. Birrell was an acquaintance of Jessopp as well. Both of them contributed articles to the periodicals of the day.

I acquired the book from All Books Inc., Chattanooga, Tn.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

CATALOGING DEAD PEOPLE'S BOOKS; Namely, the Libraries of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, and Charles Lamb

A presentation by Jerry Morris before the Florida Bibliophile Society on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

There are people in this room, myself included, who, in days gone by, have suffered from a disease which Eugene Field called "catalogitis." Each day, we would check the mail, hoping for either a catalog from one of our favorite booksellers, or for the most recent issue of AB Bookman's Weekly. We would then spend hours and hours poring over the offerings listed in the catalogs. Today there is a different kind of malady which bears the name, catalogitis. I have that disease as well. But instead of reading catalogs about books for my library, I am cataloging books from dead people's libraries.

In December 2007, I joined Library Thing and cataloged my entire library on their website. The next month, Dave Larkin, a bibliophile from the Cape Cod area, invited me to join a group called "I See Dead People's Books." This group, plain old bibliophiles just like you and me, catalog the libraries of famous people who are deceased. Dave contacted me because I had the largest Samuel Johnson collection on Library Thing. He wanted me to help him catalog Johnson's library online, a feat that had never been done before. We have been cataloging ever since. After we finished cataloging Johnson's library, we cataloged Charles Lamb's library. Currently, we are cataloging James Boswell's library. Each library presented unique challenges.

The greatest challenge to cataloging Samuel Johnson's library was the auction catalog itself. One Johnsonian, Donald Greene, said, "It is quite possible that this 28-page pamphlet can claim the distinction of being the worst catalogue ever produced."

I have an unbound straight-off-the-press facsimile copy of the auction catalog of Samuel Johnson's library. It was published by Oak Knoll Books in 1993, and also includes the auction catalogs of the libraries of James Boswell and Hester Thrale. I shall read the descriptions of the first two lots in the Johnson catalog:

Lot Number 1. Eleven Miscellanies... Pause

Lot Number 2. 12. L'histoire de France, par Mezeray, 7 tomes &c.

By far, the most frequent notation in the entire catalog was the symbol for the phrase, "et cetera." Lot number 2 calls for 12 books, 7 of which were supposed to be for Mezeray's History of France. There were several editions of this work published, but the largest edition only contained three volumes. That leaves 9 books unidentified for lot number 2 and 11 book unidentified in lot number 1. All told, only 1/5 of the 3000 books sold at the auction were identified by title in the catalog. Total prices realized was a measly £247.9, or, roughly, 19 pence per volume. On the brighter side, it was better than the £85 an enterprising bookseller offered for the library!

Samuel Johnson was no stranger to cataloging books. In the 1740s, Thomas Osborne, the bookseller, hired him to catalog the great Harleian Library. Here's what Johnson said about cataloging that library:

"... the books shall be distributed into their distinct classes, and every class ranged with some regard to the age of writers; that every book shall be accurately described; that the peculiarities of editions shall be remarked, and observations from the authors of literary history occasionally interspersed; that, by this catalogue, we may inform posterity of the excellence and value of this great collection, and promote the knowledge of scarce books and elegant editions. For this purpose men of letters are engaged, who cannot even be supplied with amanuenses, but at an expense above that of a common catalogue."

Unfortunately, a common catalog is what Johnson got and what we got. Sir John Hawkins, one of Johnson's executors, had tried to engage the services of Samuel Peterson, one of the best book catalogers around, but he was in Holland. My question today is, "Was Samuel Peterson the only competent book cataloger available?” Here's a brief description of the catalog from a paper that another Johnsonian, A.W. Hutton, read before the Johnson Club in Oxford in the early 1890s:

"It is but a very sorry production, sadly unworthy of the occasion that called it into existence. That the cataloguer of the Harleian Library should have had his own books thus catalogued is a melancholy thought, and makes one reflect on what may happen to any of us when we are gathered to our cataloguers and bibliographers. The first Christie, the auctioneer who is responsible for this catalogue, and who sold the books in Pall Mall in February, 1785, had resigned a commission in the navy in order to become an auctioneer. It is a pity that he did not remain in the navy. Hardly any entry in the catalogue is free from mistakes; hardly any book is adequately described, so as to place the edition beyond doubt; some of the entries are so incomplete that the book is unrecognisable; while every lot contains a number of books that are not named at all...

Maybe Christie, the ex-navy man should have been made to walk the plank? Maybe Johnson's executors as well?

To better catalog Johnson's library, Dave Larkin used Donald Greene's book, Samuel Johnson's Library. An Annotated Guide, published in 1975. It wasn't long before I acquired a copy of Greene's Guide as well. Together, we searched the holdings of over 600 university libraries on Library Thing for the titles Greene identified. We selected the appropriate editions, and included remarks or reviews of the books whenever possible. Searching the university titles by author was difficult, especially for the Latin and Greek books, because the names of the authors were spelled differently than the way we spell them today. For instance, I found Homer spelled as Homeri with one i, Homerii, with two i's, and Homerus with no i's. If we guessed right on the spelling of the name, the library at Oxford was the best source since one could enter the author's name, a few words of the title, the date of publication, and presto! After a few moments, the listing would appear. Dave was good at combing such references as Boswell's Life of Johnson for comments Johnson made about particular books. For instance, "Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, he said, was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise." As a finishing touch, we would try to find images of the title pages online, and insert them in the listings. In some cases, we would insert images of title pages from copies of books in our own libraries.

Johnson's library contained much classical literature, both Greek and Latin: Aristotle, Homer, Plutarch, Pindar, Horace, Seneca, Cicero, and many names I don't recognize. He had books on English literature, and French, Italian, and Spanish Literature. He had grammar books, dictionaries, poetry books, and books on science, law, medicine, philosophy, and religion. Although the catalog says he had the 1623 First Folio edition of Shakespeare, that was incorrect. He had the 1632 Second Folio edition and the 1664 Third Folio edition.

Samuel Johnson shared at least 163 books with Thomas Jefferson, 69 books with John Adams, and six books with me.

In his Guide, Greene referred to four previous articles on Johnson's library, written by C.W. Hutton, Austin Dobson, Percy Hazen Houston, and Sir Sydney Roberts.

Hutton's paper, "Dr. Johnson's Library," was published in the 1899 edition of <>Johnson Club Papers By Various Hands. Greene felt that Hutton's paper was a "short, chatty essay" that was too "clubbable." In Hutton's defense, I must say he was instructed to limit his talk to "a quarter of an hour, less if possible."

Austin Dobson's essay, "Johnson's Library," was first published in his book, Eighteenth-Century Vignettes, Second Series in 1894. Greene felt Dobson's article was also too “clubbable."

Percy Hazen Houston imposed his own limitations. In his "Appendix: An Account of the Sale Catalogue of Dr. Johnson's Library." Houston sorted the books in Johnson's library by category, whereas Greene sorted them by author. But Houston didn't feel it was necessary to include any of Johnson's books on science, law, medicine, religion, or philosophy. Consequently, Houston eliminated 440 of the 760 books listed by title in the catalog. Houston's appendix was included in his book, Doctor Johnson, a Study in Eighteenth Century Humanism.

Sir Sydney Roberts 's essay, "Johnson's Books," Greene felt, was the most scholarly of the four works. Even so, Greene thought Roberts was too concerned with the provenance of the books and not with the books themselves. Roberts's essay was included in his book, An Eighteenth-Century Gentleman and Other Essays, published in 1930. The title of this book is the title of the first essay in the book, which is not about Johnson; it is about Lord Lyttleton.

When Greene was finishing the first draft of his Guide in the 1970s, he heard about J.D. Fleeman's work on Johnson's books, sought his assistance, and included Fleeman's corrections and additions to the present Guide. Fleeman wrote a companion volume to Greene's guide, a facsimile of another copy of the auction catalog. Fleeman, you will later learn, played a part in our future research of Johnson's library.

Accordingly, in May 2008, we cataloged the last book listed in Greene's Guide, and called our catalog complete - except for books that would be identified through additional research. Greene's Guide had been our Bible. And Greene wrote his Guide not for the Johnsonian scholar, but for the student of Johnson. He limited the scope of his Guide to identifying books listed in the auction catalog. He spent little time tracing the provenance of the books, a study he admitted would be beneficial, but said he had neither the time or the expertise to complete it.

Greene also imposed limitations on what he told us about the information in the four articles on Johnson's library. What he did not tell us was that two of the four articles contained a list of books possessed by Johnson which were dispersed by the executors of Johnson's will. A copy of one of these four books, Austin Dobson's book, was in my own library. But I had not read the essay in years. It would be weeks before I happened to take the book down, and discover the list.

In his Introduction to the Johnson catalog, Donald Eddy suggested several other ways to find out what books Johnson owned:

Examine Samuel Johnson's own writings.
Read Johnson's personal letters to see which books and authors he discussed.
Examine the letters of Johnson's friends.
Locate the actual volumes Johnson owned.
Find out to which books Johnson subscribed.
Identify which books Johnson reviewed.

My humble opinion at the time was that these suggestions were for scholars and not for bibliophiles who suffered from catalogitis. Within weeks, though, we were using some of these tactics to identify books in Charles Lamb's library. Within months, we were using them to identify books in Boswell's library, and additional books in Johnson's library.

Once we completed the last entry of Greene's Guide, I invited Dave Larkin to help me catalog the library of Charles Lamb! I had a copy of the Descriptive Catalogue of the Library of Charles Lamb that was published by the Dibdin Club in 1897. This was Vincent Starrett's copy, by the way. I had read some of Lamb's letters, and he interested me. I thought cataloging his library would be fun, and also less challenging than cataloging Johnson's library. Boy was I ever wrong!

Charles Lamb died from a bad fall in 1834. His books were bequeathed to his friend, Edward Moxon, the bookseller. But Moxon did not take possession of the books until Lamb's sister, Mary, died thirteen years later. In the meantime, some of the books went out the door, under the arms of Lamb's friends. In 1848, Moxon went through the remainder of the books, selected "upwards of sixty" - remember that phrase - of the best volumes, and destroyed the rest. At least that is how the story goes. Moxon had good reason to destroy some of the books. Charles and Mary Lamb liked to cut engravings and portraits of authors out of their books and paste them on the walls. One of Moxon's friends, Charles Welford, convinced him that Lamb's books would sell better in America. Welford brought the books chosen by Moxon to the United States in 1848. They were individually sold at the store of Bartlett & Welford in the Astor House in New York. They sold rather quickly. The list of books was published in The Literary World in 1848. An enterprising auctioneer convinced some of the buyers to put their books up for auction. Eighteen of the 60 lots went on the auction block in October, 1848. But most of them sold for less than what Welford the bookseller sold them for.

In his book, The Book Collector, W. Carew Hazlitt provides one of the best introductions to Charles Lamb's library:

"The history of Lamb's books is more humanly interesting than the history of the Huth or Grenville library; as chattels or furniture they were worthless; they were generally the poorest copies imaginable, but if they did not cost money, they often cost thought; they sometimes involved a sacrifice, if the price was in the high altitude of a sovereign. In the case of Lamb, the sister's opinion was sought, and the matter lay ever so long in abeyance before the final decision was taken, and Lamb hastened to the shop, uncertain if he might not be too late, if the person whom he saw emerging as he entered might not have 'his' book in his pocket. Here was payment in full for the prize; the coin handed to the vendor was nothing to it; Lamb had laid out more than the value in many a sleepless night and many an anxious calculation. Lamb, although he never bound a volume in his own life, or purchased one for the sake of its cover, could grow enthusiastic over his favourite Duchess of Newcastle, and declare that no casket was rich enough, no casing sufficiently durable, to honor and keep safe such a jewel.

Here's what Lamb's friend, Henry Crabb Robinson, had to say:

"I looked over Lamb's library in part. He has the finest collection of shabby books I ever saw; such a number of first-rate works in very bad condition is, I think, nowhere to be found"

Here is Henry Crabb Robinson again:

“Mr. Lamb's taste in books is also fine and peculiar. It is not the worse for a little idiosyncrasy. He does not go deep in to the Scotch novels, but he is at home in Smollet or Fielding. He is little read in Junius or Gibbon, but no man can give a better account of Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy or Sir Thomas Brown's Urn Burial or Fuller's Worthies or John Bunyan's Holy War. No one is more unimpressible to a specious declamation, no one relishes a recondite beauty more. His admiration of Shakespeare and Milton does not make him despise Pope and he can read Parnell with patience and Gay with delight. His taste in French and German literature is somewhat defective nor has he made much progress in the science of Political Economy or other abtruse studies though he has read vast folios of controversial divinity merely for the sake of intricacy and to save himself the pain of thinking.”

The Dibdin Club catalog of Lamb's library was available online at Google Books, so Dave worked from the catalog. I knew from reading some of Lamb's letters, that he discussed a number of his books in his letters. I had two volumes of the Marrs edition of Lamb's letters and a set of Lamb's letters the Bibliophile Society published. Lamb wrote over 760 letters. Volume II of the Bibliophile Society set contained an index of authors and titles mentioned in Lamb's letters. I worked from the Index, and then from the letters themselves, identifying books I believed were in Lamb's library. For instance, here is a portion of Lamb's October 28, 1796 letter to his friend, Coleridge:
"...Among all your quaint readings did you ever light upon Walton's Complete Angler? I asked you the question before [June, 1796]; it breathes the very spirit of innocence, purity, and simplicity of heart; there are many choice old verses interspersed in it; it would sweeten a man's temper at any time to read it; it would Christianize every discordant angry passion; pray make yourself acquainted with it."

Lamb received a number of books from his author friends and thanked them in his letters. When Lamb received a copy of Widow's Tale and Other Poems from Bernard Barton in 1827, this is what he wrote:
"My dear B.B.,
A gentleman I never saw before brought me your welcome present - imagine a scraping, fiddling, fidgeting, petit-maitre of a dancing-school advancing into my plain parlour with a coupee and a sidling bow, and presenting the book as if he had been handing a glass of lemonade to a young miss - imagine this, and contrast it with the serious nature of the book presented! Then task your imagination, reversing this picture, to conceive quite the opposite messenger, a lean straight-locked, whey-faced Methodist, for such was he in reality who brought it, the genius (it seems) of the Wesleyan Magazine."

It wasn't long before I realized that Edward Moxon didn't destroy all of the books like they said he did. W. Carew Hazlitt, whose father was one of Lamb's friends, came out with a list of Lamb's books which had remained in England. This list was included in his 1874 book, Mary and Charles Lamb. There were errors in this list because Hazlitt didn't have the opportunity to review the proof copy before publication, so he amended the list and included additional books belonging to Lamb in his 1897 book, The Lambs: Their Lives, Their Friends, Their Correspondence. When he identified additional books from reviewing his father's papers, he included them in his 1900 book, Lamb and Hazlitt; Further Letters and Records Hitherto Unpublished.
I also discovered that I wasn't the first person to read Lamb's letters and identify books he discussed. E.V. Lucas did that long before me, and provided a list of books belonging to Lamb in his 1906 book, The Life of Charles Lamb. Lucas also provided a list of authors whose books he believed may have been in Lamb's library, but did not provide any of the titles.

In a November 1827 letter to his friend, Bernard Barton, Lamb wrote, "One likes to have one copy of everything one does." Accordingly, I cataloged everything Lamb wrote from my copy of Renee Roff's book, A Bibliography of the Writings of Charles and Mary Lamb.

My cataloging partner, Dave, was doing quite well with the Descriptive Catalogue. Compared to Johnson's catalog, it was far superior, but it could have been better. "Upwards of 60" - do you remember that phrase? In truth, there were quite a bit more than 60 works in Lamb's library. Lamb had many of his tracts, plays and poems bound together. Entry number 53 contained 11 miscellaneous tracts bound in one volume, only one of which was identified. Entry number 34 contained 15 works of minor poets bound in one volume, only two of which were identified. All told there were over 100 tracts bound in ten volumes, many of which were unidentified.

Charles Lamb shared at least 10 books with Samuel Johnson, 22 books with Thomas Jefferson, 8 books with John Adams, and 8 books with me.

We were able to trace the provenance of some of Lamb's books and manuscripts from researching on the web, and from researching some of the books in my own library. Dave traced The History of Philip de Commines, Knight, Lord of Argetan from the Welford sale in 1848 to the Charles Scribner Collection of Charles Lamb at Princeton University Library.

I traced the autograph manuscript of Lamb's Dream Children from an auction in England to a bookstore in Boston. Dream Children first appeared in print in the January 1822 issue of The London Magazine, and was included in the first edition of The Essays of Elia in 1823. Lamb wrote the essay shortly after his brother John died. The original title was My Children, but Lamb reconsidered, and thought Dream Children would be a better title for a bachelor. It is considered the most beautiful of Lamb's writings. The autograph manuscript first appeared at a Sotheby's auction on May 10th, 1892, where Stuart M. Samuel, an English politician acquired it for £57.  He bought it purely as an investment.  It next appears at the July 1, 1907 Sotheby's auction of Samuel's library, where A. Lionell Isaacs, a bookseller from Pall Mall, bought it for £108. Harry B. Smith may have been the next owner because Dream Children appears in his Sentimental Library, published in 1914. For years, Smith bought presentation copies and association copies of famous authors. But when millionaires started to spend vast amounts of money on books and libraries, he could no longer compete. He sold his entire collection to A.S.W. Rosenbach for $79,000 in 1915, ten times what he paid for them. Later on he would say the books were worth millions. Rosenbach sold it to A. Edward Newton, where it became "The Golden Crown" of his Charles Lamb Collection. The manuscript next went to Mrs. Landon K. Thorne, the noted William Blake collector, who paid $7,500 for it at the Newton auction in 1941. The manuscript next surfaces at a bookstore in Boston, Bromer Booksellers, where it is currently being offered for $85,000.  Bromer Booksellers reportedly acquired it "at a country auction." I am surprised that Mrs. Landon K. Thorne did not bequeath the manuscript to either Princeton University Library or the Pierpont Morgan Library because she bequeathed items to both libraries. Princeton has the Charles Scribner Collection of Charles Lamb. And Pierpont Morgan already had the autograph manuscript of Lamb's Dissertation On Roast Pig. Dream Children would have been a nice companion.

If Princeton and Pierpont Morgan had some of Lamb's books, I knew other libraries had copies as well. I had already cataloged Lamb's books from the Houghton Library at Harvard. So in June 2008, I queried the librarians via the exlibris mailing list on the web. I was amazed by the response. The following libraries reported they had at least one book from Charles Lamb's library in their holdings: Cambridge University in England, the Dunedin Public Library in New Zealand, Boston Public Library, the John Hay Library at Brown University, the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University, the Spencer Research Center at the University of Kansas, the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of North Texas, and the Lilly Library at Indiana University.

Many of these books were "Relics of Charles Lamb. Purchased at Edward Moxon's Sale by Francis Jackson" - at least that's what the bookplate said that was pasted in each book. Remember Edward Moxon? He was the bookseller/friend to whom Lamb bequeathed his books. I was vaguely familiar with the phrase, "Relics of Charles Lamb." Luther Brewer mentioned it in My Leigh Hunt Library: The First Editions. In the listing for Flora Domestica, a book for which Leigh Hunt provided the poetry, Brewer duly recorded that the book was bought at Moxon's Sale. Then Brewer added a note from his friend, Edmund Charles Blunden, who wrote a book or two on Lamb and Hunt: "Mr.Blunden doubts this, saying that Jackson was accustomed to make all sorts of claims that were false. A similar doubt had been raised recently by a California bookseller selling a nonce collection of plays "supposedly" once owned by Charles Lamb. In the listing, the bookseller, John Windle, reported that a number of such Relics acquired by Harvard after the sale of the estate of Jackson's grandson showed no proof that they were from Lamb's library.

Interesting? I could and will do a whole paper on the "Relics of Charles Lamb." But not today. I will tell you that the Moxon Sale is not mentioned in Harold Merriam's biography of Edward Moxon. Nor has a copy of a catalog of the Moxon Sale ever been found. I did locate a copy of the auction catalog of the grandson's estate at the Victoria and Albert Museum of the National Art Library. The librarian, Kirsten Pairpont, was kind enough to send me a copy of Jackson's Lamb Collection, 116 books bought by the London bookseller, Thomas Thorp, in July 1923 for 4.4£s. Unfortunately, the books are not identified by title. You can learn more about Charles Lamb, the Jacksons, and these so-called relics in Claude A. Prance's book, Companion to Charles Lamb. In Reginald Hine's book, Charles Lamb & His Hertfordshire, you can read about the Relics that Reginald Hine owned, and which his wife presented to the Charles Lamb Society, of which he had been a member.

I must relate one anecdote about Hine, though. In October 1948, he heard that one of Lamb's Commonplace-Books from the Rowfant Collection was being offered at Sotheby's. Hine went to Sotheby's before the auction and examined the manuscript. It contained Lamb's notes on Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher and others. Hine wanted that book! On the way out he bumped into the bookseller, Percy H. Muir, from whom he had acquired some of the Relics. Together they concocted a plan that, hopefully, would make Hine the next owner of Lamb's Commonplace-Book. Muir was to wear his best suit and, in the auction room, act like an agent who was representing a millionaire. Muir played his part well. Maggs Brothers and other booksellers stopped bidding because they didn't think they could compete with the money that Muir was representing. All the while, Hine was in his office giving lawyerly advice to a man who's wife had just left him. The man literally jumped when Hine answered Muir's telephone call and shouted, "this is terrific!" Muir won the auction for £220!

We called our cataloging of Lamb's library complete in the latter days of September of 2008, except for books we could later identify. On October 2nd, we began cataloging the library of James Boswell. Anna Ritchie, a bibliophile from Scotland joined us in the fun. We also had my friend, Ed Schaeffer, the James Boswell collector and webmaster of the website, JamesBoswell.com to assist us in our research.

Boswell's catalog is far superior to the other two catalogs. It is everything Samuel Johnson said of the catalog for the Harleian Library. There were problems with the catalog, though. It is not entirely a catalog of the Library of James Boswell, the Biographer. The auction catalog includes books from his sons, Sir Alexander Boswell and James Boswell the Younger as well. The waters get murkier. James Boswell inherited some books from his father Lord Auchinleck. James Boswell the Younger inherited some books from his friend, Edmond Malone, who also had a healthy appetite for books. Hence, one cannot assume that all the books published before 1795 belong to James Boswell the Biographer. James Boswell the Biographer died in 1795. James Boswell the Younger died in February 1822. Sir Alexander Boswell died from a duel in March 1822. The auction was held in 1825.

Another problem with the catalog is the number of items which have no purchaser or price realized recorded. In some listings, the purchasing information was mistakenly omitted by the recorder. Several listings were duplicates, but the errors weren't discovered until after the catalog was printed. Purchasing information was omitted on over 20 items because they went missing between the time the catalog was prepared and the time of the auction.

James Boswell shared at least 84 books with Thomas Jefferson. I say "at least" because we just finished cataloging our first 1000 books and have another 2000 books to go. Boswell shared 30 books with John Adams, 44 books with Samuel Johnson, 18 books with Charles Lamb and 8 books with me.

I recently discovered that not all of the Boswell family's books were sold at the auction in 1825. There was an auction of the Auchinleck Library in June 1893, which consisted of 782 lots. A copy of this auction catalog is hard to be had. One book which is not listed in the 1825 catalog, and which may have been sold at the sale of the Auchinleck Library in 1893 is Boswell's copy of John MacLaurin's Essays In Verse. This copy was lot number 84 in the Catalogue of an Interesting Collection of Rare Books, Autographs and Illustrations Sold in New York by the Anderson Galleries on June 12, 13, and 14 '16. The copy next appears in the auction records of the sale of A. Edward Newton's library in 1941. In 2006, John Crichton at the Brick Row bookshop in California offered it to a Boswell collector who stood before you on this very floor about three years ago: Paul Ruxin. Paul's presentation about the book, “Synonymy and Satire By Association,” was the feature article in the May 2006 issue of the Caxtonian.

I don't have any books from Boswell's library, or Lamb's library, or Johnson's library in my own library. But I do have a number of books which identify other collectors who had copies of books from these libraries. Smith's Sentimental Library lists books from all three libraries. Rosenbach: A Biography, by Edwin Wolf and John Fleming identify collectors who owned books from these libraries. A Shelf of Old Books by Mrs. James T. Fields identifies a book from Lamb's library that Edward Moxon gave to James T. Fields. Provenance Research in Book History by David Pearson tells us of unrecorded books from Johnson's library acquired by Charles Burney which are in the British Library. Old and Rare by Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine Stern, tells us of a battered copy of a book from Lamb's library that they found in upstate New York. Four Oaks Library by Gabriel Austin tells us of the books in the Hyde Collection which were from the libraries of Johnson and Boswell. Dr. Samuel Johnson and James Boswell Esq. Bibliography of the Arthur G. Rippey Collection tells us of a book written by Johnson that was reportedly bought at the Moxon Sale and which contains the so-called bookplate, Relics of Charles Lamb. Eighteenth Century Vignettes, Second Series by Austin Dobson identifies a book Dobson owned that was in Johnson's library. It was an edition of Homer given to the surgeon Cruikshank in accordance with Johnson's will. Dobson's essay contains a list of the people who received books from Johnson's library as well as the ten individuals who were permitted to select a book from his library before the auction took place. Both lists were included in the Roberts essay as well.

Recently, the George Birkbeck Hill scholar, Catherine Dille, pointed me to another source of books belonging to Johnson: one of Samuel Johnson's letters written to Mr. Gilbert Repington on 18 May 1735, requesting him to send the books Johnson had left at Oxford when he had to leave school. The letter is contained in the Hyde Edition of Johnson's letters. The catalog Johnson mentions in the letter, consisting of 86 books from Johnson 's “Undergraduate Library” is included in A.L. Reade's Johnsonian Gleanings, a copy of which is available for viewing online at the Internet Archive.

Finally, I have recently acquired an even greater source of books formerly owned by Johnson: A Preliminary Handlist of Copies of Books Associated With Dr. Samuel Johnson by J.D. Fleeman. This handbook contains books Johnson used to prepare his Dictionary, books he gave to friends, and books which contain his inscription, Sam: Johnson, with a colon between his first and last name. All told, the handbook contains 285 verifiable listings and another 44 listings of doubtful origin.

Slowly but surely, Dave, Anna, and I have become more than mere catalogers, taking up Donald Eddy's suggestions on how to identify additional books from these three libraries through research. We, catalogers three, will concentrate our efforts on completing the cataloging of Boswell's library. Then, before we even think of cataloging any other dead people's books, we researchers three, will catalog the additional books we found which were not identified in the catalogs of the Johnson and Lamb libraries.

This concludes my presentation. You can review it at my blog: http://bibliophilesinmylibrary.blogspot.com

Any questions?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

William Targ, Bibliophile

A paper read before the Florida Bibliophile Society by Jerry Morris at the October 16, 2005 meeting.

The genus bibliophile is hard to define. He is a book lover, a collector and omnivorous reader of books and bookseller's catalogs; he may also be a book scout, or a scholar or a librarian. He may be mad about typography and fine paper. He/she may not know the properties of a hypotenuse or the nature of a silicon chip, but in the end, his/her tombstone will read, simply, BIBLIOPHILE. A lovely word." William Targ, Abacus Now, 1984.

William Targ was a book lover, a collector and an omnivorous reader of books and bookseller's catalogs. He was mad about typography and fine paper. He was also a bookseller, an author, a compiler, a magazine publisher, an editor, and a fine press publisher.

He began his career in the book business in 1925 at the age of eighteen as an office boy in the Chicago branch of the Macmillan Company. For four years he read hundreds of books in the Macmillan stockroom. He formed his opinions of the books and then compared them with the reviews after the books were published.

In 1929, at the age of twenty-two, he opened his own bookshop in Chicago. He had eight hundred dollars in capital, which he borrowed from his mother, a stock of used books he bought from antiquarian booksellers, and hundreds of "damaged" books he bought at a sixty percent discount from Macmillan.

Targ lost his savings after the Crash of 1929 --his bank never reopened--and attempted to supplement his income by publishing books as well as selling them. Under the Black Archer Press imprint, Targ published books on book collecting and occasional limited editions. I have some of the "Books About Books" that he published during this period:

Targ's First Editions and Their Prices, Chicago, 1930 (Alida Roochvarg's copy). The Pauper's Guide to Book Collecting, Chicago, 1933 (Francis M. O'Brien's copy). Adventures in Good Reading, Chicago, 1940. American Books and Their Prices, Chicago, 1940, 1941, two vols.

I have another copy of The Pauper's Guide to Book Collecting which contains a TLS (typed letter signed) from William Targ. This copy belonged to John Richard Starrs, a book collector from Detroit. After reading what Targ had to say about "points," Starrs underlined all of the errors in the book and notified Targ. William Targ typed his reply on Black Archer Press letterhead dated September 27th '33:

My dear Mr. Starrs,

It is a decided pleasure receiving a letter such as yours. Its effect is positively bolstering. No one to date has evidenced signs of having read my little pamphlet so painstakingly as you have. My wife and assistant both read proof, and shall be called down at once for having passed up those horrifying typographical and grammatical errors. If there is to be a second edition, these will certainly be corrected.

Oxfordain or, Oxonian---the meaning we trust is clear. What I tried to convey was that certain types of collectors feel they are slumming when they enter a second hand bookshop---the dust on the shelves annoys them--

I asked an expert typographer to examine my cover for errors (after I had discovered the double C in Chicago)---he read it carefully and failed to note the mistake. You must read with a magnifying glass---or, if you will pardon the expression, with malicious intent.

However, I appreciate you writing me. Your criticism has been comparatively mild. A few customers have actually expressed doubt as to my having written the damned thing---it seems inconceivable that a bookseller should be capable of writing English. Come in again, when you are in Chicago.

Sincerely yours,
William Targ, Bookseller

P.S. I have never personally felt that any discussion of religion was pertinent.

NOTE: Among the grammatical errors were Chicaco, grammer,and literatire. As for a discussion on religion, William Targ was a card-carrying atheist.

One of the limited editions published by Targ at the Black Archer Press was Poems of a Chinese Student by Charles Yu, Chicago, 1941. These poems originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune. They were submitted to the newspaper as being the poems of a Chinese student attending the University of Chicago. The book was a success, and Charles Yu was invited by a woman's literary club to speak before them. This caused a dilemma because William Targ wrote the poems himself. When "Charles Yu" appeared and recited two of his poems, some of the women were suspicious: he did not look Chinese!

Here is one of the poems Charles Yu wrote:


After three exciting days
And nights in which
I have devoted my keenest energies
Toward entertainment
Of my friend from China
I am weary...
Sitting in my room now
Over our cups of rice-wine
And viewing the rosy sky
Of sun-down on the Campus
I ask my friend Wang
What, of all he has seen
Has most impressed him.
Sighing he replies:
You have shown me wonders
But none So exquisitely gratifying
As the incomparable
The Delight of All Eyes,
The dancing girl Gypsy Rose Lee.

Needless to say,Targ decided to refrain from writing any more poetry.

Except for minor revisions, the following anecdote first appeared on the web in a thread I posted to the rec.collecting.books newsgroup on December 11, 2003:


On Dec 04, 2003, there appeared on ebay an auction for eight issues of The Book Collector's Journal. William Targ began publishing this monthly periodical in 1936 when he was still a bookseller in Chicago.

The auction wasn't even an hour old before the first bid was made. The very next day, an Aleister Crowley collector made his first bid, bidding a maximum of $35 and taking the lead. The seller had noted that there was an article on Aleister Crowley in one of the issues, "The Elusiveness of Aleister Crowley" by J. Chris Kraemer. William Targ always had a passion for the occult and the paranormal.

On Dec 08 at 09:22:15 PST, the Aleister Crowley collector increased his maximum bid to $78. He still had the lead at $23.27. There was no further bidding until the day the auction ended.

On Dec 11 at 10:03:57 PST, the Aleister Crowley collector increased his maximum bid to $101.

On Dec 11 at 15:10:13 PST, A William Saroyan collector bid $75. The Crowley collector was still in the lead. The seller had noted that William Saroyan contributed two articles to these issues.

On Dec 11 at 15:10:49 PST, the William Saroyan collector bid $100. The Crowley collector was still in the lead, but only for a few more minutes.

On Dec 11 at 15:13:34, the William Saroyan collector took the lead with a maximum bid of $107.

With less than five minutes left in the auction, the bidding stood at $103. I had my snipe bid already set up, but I was beginning to have doubts. How high did the William Saroyan collector bid? Should I increase my maximum bid? Will the Aleister Crowley collector bid again?

I reviewed in my mind why I wanted these eight issues of The Book Collector's Journal. William Targ published it. I collect William Targ. There were no copies of the Journal listed on the web. They weren't even listed at the LOC.

I had another reason for wanting one particular issue of this periodical. Although the seller did not mention it, one of William Saroyan's articles was "Those Who Write Them and Those Who Collect Them." William Targ made some extra money on this article, publishing fifty pamphlets without Saroyan's permission. I have one of those fifty copies. The minimum listing on the web for the unauthorized publication is $300.

If one squinted at a photo in the ebay seller's listing, one can make out the title on one of the periodicals: "Those Who Write Them and Those Who Collect Them." With less than three minutes to go in the auction, I was hoping nobody squinted.

With less than two minutes to go in the auction, I prepared to pick up the pizzas my wife had ordered for dinner. I took my flip flops off, put my socks and shoes back on, made sure I had enough money in my wallet for the pizza, and then, instead of jumping in my truck, hurried back to my library to check the outcome of the auction! To hell with the pizzas!

On Dec 11 at 15:49:27 PST, with only eight seconds to go in the auction, Auction Stealer made my snipe bid.

I won the eight issues of The Book Collector's Journal for $109.50!

Jerry Morris, One Who Collects Them!

For twelve years, William Targ survived from day to day as a bookseller and part-time publisher in Chicago. Finally, in 1942, he left Chicago and the bookselling business and moved to Cleveland. Ben D. Zevin, of the World Publishing Company, offered Targ the job of editor of the Tower and Forum Books Divisions. These books were inexpensive reprints bound in hard cover. In his first autobiography, Indecent Pleasures, New York, 1975, Targ notes some of the authors whose works he reprinted in Tower Books: Carter Dickson, James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, Ellery Queen, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Erle Stanley Gardner, Edna Ferber, John O'Hara,and W. Somerset Maugham.

In 1945, paperbacks proved to be too competitive, and World Books discontinued the Tower series. William Targ moved to New York to start a new trade-book division for World Books. Anthologies were the bread and butter of World Publishing, and Targ said he developed an allergy to these "scissors-and-paste books." Targ edited three anthologies himself on book collecting: Carousel for Bibliophiles in 1947, Boillabaisse for Bibliophiles in 1955, and Bibliophile in the Nursery in 1957. Perhaps his greatest personal acheivement in publication at World was publishing a facsimile edition of the Kelmscott Chaucer in 1958. It went through four printings.

Targ once owned an original Kelmscott Chaucer. He had examined a copy as a boy at the library of the Chicago Art Institute and always wanted to own a copy. One day, during the most desperate time of his first wife's illness (she eventually died of renal failure), he received a Philip C. Duschnes catalogue which listed a Kelmscott Chaucer in the white pigskin Doves Press binding for $1650. He had to have this copy and went to Duschnes's store. Duschnes let him have the book, telling him to pay for it when he could. At the time, Targ was swamped with his wife's medical bills. Holding the book gave Targ comfort when he needed it the most.

Targ was primarily responsible for the publication of the biography of A.S.W. Rosenbach. In his own Autobiographical Sketch," written in 1987, Edwin Wolf II, relates that he and John Fleming were approached by the New York office of Oxford University Press to write about the life of Rosenbach. Wolf submitted 1200 typed pages of the biography. Oxford said it was much too long. Wolf cut it down and submitted 800 pages. Oxford said it was still too long. Wolf had Donald and Mary Hyde, Bill Jackson and several other book people read the manuscript. They all advised him not to cut it any further. William Targ heard of the manuscript, read it,and within days World Publishing took over the contract. The book was published in 1960.

After twenty-one years as editor at World Books, William Targ resigned in 1964. The Los Angeles Times-Mirror Consortium had taken over World Publishing. In Targ's words, "World Publishing was suddenly in the hands of megalomaniacs, financial katzenjammers, packagers, and wheeler-dealers. There was hardly a bookman in the crowd."

Within days, Walter Minton of Putnam's hired Targ as senior editor, then eventually as editor-in-chief. One of Targ's greatest achievments at Putnam was to sign Mario Puzo to a contract for $5000 to write The Godfather. In his autobiography, Targ says that Puzo did not have to submit an outline or sample chapters. Targ had read Puzo's two previous novels, both of which were commercial failures, but first-rate books. As of 1975, there were fifteen million copies of The Godfather printed in various editions in the United States alone. Fawcett, the paperback reprinter, bought the paperback rights to The Godfather for a record $410,000.

There is not enough time left in this day to adequately cover Targ's achievements as a book collector, much less his other achievements as editor at Putnam's. William Targ was a book collector all his life. He also collected autographed letters to insert into his books. In 1971, he already had 2,635 autographed letters in his collection. He sold many of his books to the University of Texas. Targ mentions some of his book collecting achievements, along with an assortment of recommendations for specific books and authors in the 428 pages of his autobiography, Indecent Pleasures. One can buy this book for as little as two dollars, a steal. I often wonder if his choice of title affected the sale of the book. With that title, one can imagine a memoir of bed-hopping and immoral what-have-yous. Targ provides a glimpse on his choice of this title in the chapter, "A Spree in Gomorrah: September 20,1971." It is Rosh Hashanah, and Targ records how a Jewish book editor and confirmed book atheist shuns all work and dedicates himself to pleasure throughout this entire holy day. Targ reads the newspaper, eats breakfast, and relaxes in a hot cologne-drenched tub. "The fragrant steam is pure indecent pleasure." Targ then reads the poems of Gerald Manley Hopkins, a Jesuit poet, and decides he wants an autographed letter by Hopkins to put into his first-edition copy of the book. He acquires the letter from Mary Benjamin, who had just received it out of the blue only the day before....Indecent pleasures for sure!

In 1974 Targ decided that being editor-in-chief was just too hectic; however, he continued on at Putnam's as senior editor until 1978, at which time he resigned from day-to-day commercial publishing. But Targ did not retire; instead, he started up a fine press: Targ Editions. From 1978 until 1985, Targ published 25 Targ editions, including Abacus Now, a short sequel to Indecent Pleasures. This book was the collaborative effort of three printers. It is bound in one masterpiece of a book. You can't touch a copy for less than one hundred dollars.

I had to laugh when I read Targ's note on the copyright page of Abacus Now. He still was not a proof reader: "Letter-perfect books virtually do not exist; we suspect there are a dozen or so typographical errors in the following pages, for which our apologies. In view of the recently disclosed 5,000 errors in James Joyce's novel, Ulysses, we feel humble. To our friends we can only say--To err is human..."

William Targ died in 1999 at the age of ninety-two. On his tombstone should be a lovely word: BIBLIOPHILE.

There is even a sequel to "The Battle of Those Who Collect Them," my anecdote concerning the acquisition of the copies of Targ's Book Collector's Journal. The Aleister Crowley collector contacted me a few days after the auction, asking if I could send him a photocopy of the Crowley article. I made the photcopy and mailed it to him in High Wycombe, England. About a week later I received two keepsakes from the Fine Madness Society, "founded for the provision of relief to those unfortunate individuals with an incurable attraction to the first editions of Aleister Crowley." In addition, there was a copy of the Revised Notes Towards a Bibliography of Austin Osman Spare, which was signed, "For Jerry, With the compliments of the compiler, Clive Harper." Clive was the Aleister Crowley collector I had been bidding against!

Finally, in June 2004, I received another surprise:

Number 2 of 49 copies of The Elusiveness of Aleister Crowley by J. Chris Kraemer.

"Reprinted from The Book Collector's Journal, (1936) for the members of the Fine Madness Society. June 2004 ev.

The Committee wish to acknowledge the kind assistance of Mr. Jerry Morris, without whom this publication would not have been possible."