My own private ephemera

Today I opened up a cabinet in my library and rediscovered all sorts of things I forgot I had. When I first set-up my new shelves a few years ago, I didn’t know what to do with various things that didn’t fit in with my general organizational scheme so they got chucked (carefully) into a cabinet. The only problem is, out of sight, out of mind. On the other hand that made for a rather fun Saturday morning having a good fossick through the contents.

So let’s have a look…

The main theme of this cabinet is really simply overflow. Even though there are some odds and ends in here, many of these books are things I would read, but I simply ran out of room on my shelves. They ended up in here mainly because they were too fine the be reading copies and so did not need to be easily accessible.
When I mentioned once that I wanted to find the Mapp and Lucia books in similar editions John ran with that and surprised me at Christmas with this Folio Society boxed set. They are lovely, but they take up a lot of darn room.
Mapp (L) and Lucia (R) floating away on flood waters on an upturned kitchen table.
And speaking of boxed sets, this Bill Amberg set from Penguin was a special edition from their 75th anniversary, I think. Another gift from John.
I’ve had these for about 10 years and only took the shrink wrap off of one of them.
Amberg is a leather goods maker and these books are packed in tissue like a fine pair of shoes or handbag.
The leather is buttery smooth and the attached luggage tag can also serve as a bookmark.
Out of the six books, this was the only one I had never read which is why I took it out of the shrink wrap.
A limited edition Main Street illustrated and signed by Grant Wood.
I include the bookmark from the bookseller because he went above and beyond. I’ve never been to The Captain’s Bookshelf but John was in there mentioning to the owner the kinds of things I liked. The owner said that he had just the thing, left the shop, went home home, got this book, and brought it back for John to buy.
Grant Wood was the artist who painted the famous American Gothic. He captures Lewis’s characters perfectly.
Small town Minnesota ‘slum’.

This boxed set isn’t particularly valuable, but it is in pristine shape. I already own an unboxed set of Faber editions that live on my shelves, but when Nonsuch Book and I were on one of our book hunts I saw this and couldn’t pass it up.
A bunch of little things that would have have kind of disappeared amongst all the bigger books if I had included them on the shelves.
Some bona fide ephemera. If I wasn’t careful I could find myself collecting ephemera. Who doesn’t love old pieces of paper?
In this case, two pamphlets from 1964 and 1968 that were issued by the Philadelphia Free Library to aid patrons in finding books they may like. I bought these at a really lovely antiquarian bookstore Wickhegan Old Books in Northeast Harbor, Maine, right near Acadia National Park. I really wanted to buy something there but their stock was so fine and expensive, I had to limit myself to some pamphlets.
Lots of wonderful exhibition catalogs that would have gotten lost among the shuffle of the art books.
I came across this artist when I saw a work he was commissioned to do for a federal courthouse in Davenport, IA.
Xiaoze Xie specializes in photo-realist paintings of books and other printed matter. Certainly a subject after my own heart.
Information graphics with a twist by Matthew Vescovo. I believe the cover image is titled ‘Dark and Curly’.
‘Cats are not Dogs’
I doubt I will ever read Canterbury Tales, but John and I do really like Rockwell Kent.

A bit of a memoir (I think) of Rockwell Kent’s time in upstate New York. So far I have only looked at the pictures.

This makes me think that Kent and Nevil Shute should have teamed up to create some illustrated editions of Shute’s work.

No way can I get rid of this. I even have a print out of the sale prices for all of the lots.

The central thesis of my thesis for my first Master’s degree still holds up but could use an update. Who wouldn’t want a copy of this on their shelves? Turns out, me.

18 thoughts on “My own private ephemera

  1. Desperate Reader March 11, 2018 / 3:04 pm

    Some really nice things in that cupboard. Main Street especially, I love Grant Wood.


    • Thomas March 15, 2018 / 5:11 pm

      I do too. Of course most people only know him for American Gothic. I find his work so deeply pleasing.


  2. lauratfrey March 11, 2018 / 4:00 pm

    Such beautiful things… and I’d like to peruse your thesis, living in the shadow of the (once) biggest mall in the world (West Edmonton Mall)


    • Thomas March 15, 2018 / 5:14 pm

      The thrust of it is that malls (and their successors) like to pretend they are town centers or town squares, but they are highly managed private spaces that generally don’t tolerate free speech, the right of assembly, etc. in the way that public squares or streets did in the past. There, I just saved you the tedium of reading it. I should also mention I was in high school I think when the Ghermezians brought their Edmonton snake oil to Minnesota in the form of what became the Mall of America. Of course, Edina, Minnesota, just minutes from MOA, was the birthplace of the *enclosed* mall in 1954 I believe.


  3. Kate W March 11, 2018 / 5:58 pm

    I recently read Queen Lucia and Miss Mapp for the first time – such fun.


    • Thomas March 15, 2018 / 5:18 pm

      Just wait until you get to Mapp and Lucia. You are in for a real treat. And if you haven’t seen the TV version from the 1980s you are really missing something. The one from a few years ago, IMHO, isn’t worth the time to watch it.


  4. RareBird March 11, 2018 / 6:43 pm

    Love those Rockwell Kent illustrations! I’d never heard of him until you decided to look in that cabinet. Now I’ll be on the lookout. Thanks!


    • Thomas March 15, 2018 / 5:19 pm

      He was wonderful. He spent a lot of time in Maine so I think I first came across his work while on vacation.


  5. Annie D. March 12, 2018 / 7:37 pm

    Kind of like keeping the good dishes away in cabinets and always using the “every day” ones. Some very lovely books hidden away.

    I work in the rare book business and there is a 1930 limited edition of Moby Dick illustrated by Rockwell Kent, which was issued in a very unusual metal slipcase. It’s known as the “whale in the can”.


    • Thomas March 15, 2018 / 5:20 pm

      I love that. Whale in a Can. I think I have seen the illustrations. It is a good thing I didn’t enjoy Moby Dick or I might end up buying that edition.


  6. Kazen March 13, 2018 / 2:05 am

    I love that copy of Main Street. I don’t know if you’re into podcasts or radio documentaries but your thesis immediately made me think of City X by Jonathan Mitchell, a 20 minute piece about how malls have shaped cities. If you’re interested you can have a listen here:


    • Thomas March 15, 2018 / 5:21 pm

      That sounds very interesting. Thanks for the link.


  7. Sarah Faragher March 13, 2018 / 3:38 pm

    Great collection of this and that… sometimes the only thread connecting an otherwise unrelated mass of books and ephemera is the person who assembled them. Which is as it should be! I have a few shelves of “just because I love them” in our book room. Wait a sec, that may describe *all* of my books, hmmm.


    • Thomas March 15, 2018 / 5:22 pm

      You must have been to Wickhegan Old Books in Northeast Harbor once or twice. The ephemera was all I could afford.


      • Sarah Faragher March 16, 2018 / 10:20 am

        I visit once in while, when I have some money to spend! I will say that the books I have gotten there I have never seen anywhere else. One in particular, that I will be forever grateful for, for reasons too many and varied to go into here. They buy my books too, from time to time.

        p.s. thank you for the kind twitter mention – I see some new visitors to my blog because of it… xxoo.


  8. ASD March 13, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    Hello Thomas,

    This is a true cabinet of curiosity. How marvellously thoughtful John is (he knows exactly what you like)! If I was a literal bookworm, I wouldn’t mind living in this cupboard as a custodian of all the literary treasures. Even if I am bored of reading, there is enough to sustain me just by turning the pages of beautiful catalogues on the artist, Jon Schueler who loved Scotland.


  9. Annie March 17, 2018 / 2:01 pm

    I am jealous of your gorgeous leather and Folio Society books!


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