Monday, March 6, 2017

Rome by Robert Hughes.

Rome by Robert Hughes.  Hardcover book published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson 2011, 534 pages with some colour photographs and illustrations and a few monotone illustrations.

Rome - as a city, as an empire, as an enduring idea - is in many ways the origin of everything Robert Hughes has spent his life thinking and writing about with such dazzling irreverence and exacting rigour. In this magisterial book he traces the city's history from its mythic foundation with Romulus and Remus to Fascism, Fellini and beyond. 

What does David Hockney read?

Recently I partook of some viewing of David Hockneys works*. I was impressed and that was after realising on arrival that it was only recent works on display in this blockbuster exhibition here in Victoria. I was anticipating more of a retrospective sort of thing but was pleasantly enthralled by the excellent quality of works. I wont go into detail about the exhibition but will answer the question that i'm sure everyone who saw the exhibition had about this piece:

Being a bookseller I tend to notice books. I guess it's my job and maybe it's a little bit of an obsession of mine that when perusing through a wall of David Hockney images that I find the one (there was only the one) with a book in it. I did get a little bit excited (… no, not that excited) and I immediately guessed it to be Rome by Robert Hughes. It was when I got back home that I confirmed my suspicions particularly when looking at the barely decipherable letters near the bottom of the spine.

At a guess David and Robert probably knew each other. This guess is in relation to Roberts writings on art and David... yep... he's an artist, so it doesn't really come as that much of a surprise that there's a copy of one of Roberts books floating around the studio where Hockney is working.  This is all guess work of course... but i did find this on the old youtubes:

...and if you're wondering why the colour in the picure is different… well i'm not 100% sure but most of these images were done using a tablet and a change of colour is an easy thing to do once you've got it on your screen. Anyway it was a great exhibtion... and I haven't read the book... but i do have one for sale.

*National Gallery of Victoria

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Young Misses Magazine: Containing Dialogues Between a Governess and Several Young Ladies of Quality, Her Scholars: Vol. 1, translated from the French of Madamoiselle Le Prince De Beaumont. (1791)

The Young Misses Magazine: Containing Dialogues Between a Governess and Several Young Ladies of Quality, Her Scholars: Vol. 1, translated from the French of Madamoiselle Le Prince De Beaumont. 

Hardcover book with leather binding (no dust jacket) printed for William Anderson, Stirling and Silvester Doig, Edinburgh MDCCXCI (1791), 341 pages with one colour illustration.
(Apologies for the slightly blurry photographs.)

The young misses magazine: Containing dialogues between a governess and several young ladies of quality, her scholars. : In which each lady is made to speak according to her particular genius, temper, and inclination: their several faults are pointed out, and the easy way to mend them, as well as to think, and speak, and act properly; no less care being taken to form their hearts to goodness, than to enlighten their understandings with useful knowledge. : A short and clear abridgement is also given of sacred and profane history, and some lessons in geography. : The useful is blended throughout with the agreeable, the whole being interspersed with proper reflections and moral tales.”
Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (1711 – 1780) was a French author who wrote the best known version of Beauty and the Beast. She had a relationship with the spy for the British Thomas Pichon. Her first work, the moralistic novel The Triumph of Truth (Le Triomphe de la vérité), was published in 1748. She published approximately seventy volumes during her literary career Most famous were the collections she called "magasins," instructional handbooks for parents and educators of students from childhood through adolescence. She was one of the first to include folk tales as moralist and educational tools in her writings.

I had no idea who Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont or the Young Misses was when I picked up this volume. I mainly picked it up because:
a/ It was old
b/ It was cute (small book)
c/ It appeared to be a great candidate for “of interest” status
d/ It's a bit of an adventure (… a jump into the unknown)
e/ It was the right price

Yes, it is old. 1791 is little bit before my time and a little bit before most of my other books of interests time. Beside it's age and inevitable wear and tear, “The young misses magazine” had also been through the wars and was in a very sad state after it's 225 years. It had gotten to what I believe was the saddest/lowest point in it's long existence when someone decided that the best possible option for this bi-centenarian was a repair by sticking a piece of brown velour cloth across the spine in place of the leather that had probably once been there. The brown did match and it did look like... a shoddy repair on a very old book. Still, it was brown.

Despite the condition... and yes there was (and still are) other issues... I decided that the book was of interest and worth giving a go. Even as I picked it up I was already thinking about the possible rescue effort on what was a very cute book despite the velour. I've been buying a few older items over the last few years and it is a bit of a learning curve for me. Usually anything I find as old as this, does have issues which are carefully weighed up against the “of interest”/saleability factors. I've had some luck and also some disappointments but overall it is an area that I keep my eyes and ears open for, as I am interested.

With this volume I decided I would take the plunge after the initial purchase plunge and get some work done on it... professional work, that is. A bookbinder. I've held off on the repair scenario previously due to the cost of such an extravagance. It is expensive and the economics of costly repairs on a not so valuable volume means that usually this is a prohibitive excercise. So the question was/is, will the $ spent increase the overall value of this volume. In this instance due to the scarcity/rarity of this title, I figured it was worth my while giving it a go... that is if it sells.

Irwin and McLaren Bookbinders are people who mysteriously follow me, and I follow them, on Instagram, so it seemed to me that they were the obvious candidates for doing the work. They were very easy to deal with and I am really pleased with the end product (thanks Storm). I am aware that there are some of you out there who will be questioning whether this sort of repair work is appropriate for such a rare antiquarian volume. Just remember, “brown velour”.

Click here to view this book on ebay.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Victorian Railways: General Appendix To The Book of Rules and Regulations And To The Working Time Table: Effective as from 1953, and until further notice.

Victorian Railways: General Appendix To The Book of Rules and Regulations And To The Working Time Table: Effective as from 1953, and until further notice. Hardcover book (no dust jacket) published by Victorian Railways 1953, 784 pages with a few black and white photographs and illustrations.

Every Station-master, Train Controller, Clerk, Operator, Inspector, Roadmaster, Foreman, Driver, Fireman, Equipment Examiner, Train Examiner, Guard, Conductor (Train), Signalman, Signal Supervisor, Signal Fitter, Linesman, Signal Adjuster, Yard Foreman, Shunter, Porter, Ganger, Repairer and Gatekeeper, and every other employee who the Head of the Branch considers should be acquainted with the instructions contained herein, must be supplied by his Superior Officer with, and have with him when on duty, and produce when required, a copy of this Appendix. Every employee supplied with this Book must make himself thoroughly acquainted with, and will be held responsible for compliance with the following Instructions.” 

As a bookseller you occasionally get to meet that rarer breed of book buyer/collector. The someone who is REALLY into their books. Usually they will know their subject back to front and then some, and will already have each and every title that you can comfortably throw at them, possibly as first editions not only in English but in Swedish and German as well*. The secret is to be able to delve even deeper within one's hat and pull out that rarer or unheard of volume that will genuinely impress. Needless to say, this can be a more than difficult task.

Railway people, that is, the real deal railway enthusiast, generally fall within this demographic. There are no smiles when you place a lovely Readers Digest Trains of the World in their paws. Nope. They want... ummm... Well, I don't know what they want, as i've never been able to satisfy the fully fledged rail fan. I've had reasonable luck with on line sales of rail books, but in the flesh and after showing most people what i've got, there's usually a polite thanks but no thanks followed with a slightly sarcastic smirk at the end. I just can't find what these people want and to be honest, I don't know if most of them know what they want.

The “Victorian Railways: General Appendix for 1953” was one of those books where I should have known that a bonifide train man (i've never met a train woman), would already have it. It's sort of obvious if you think about how many of these books were published being that every Station-master etc had one and I imagine that means there were and are still a lot of copies floating around... and this means that it's not that rare a volume. Here in Victoria if you start alluding to this book with a vague description most people in the know that i've met ,are more than familiar with it. They all love it and they all have it.... and then comes the slightly sarcastic smirk.

I guess the secret is to find the new comer to Rail enthusiasm, that is the novice who is keen to pick up the classics, the someone who wants to know about train shunting in 1953... and not the guy who came and saw me a few weeks ago... another smirker

*True story.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Lost World of Irian Jaya by Robert Mitton.

The Lost World of Irian Jaya by Robert Mitton. Hardcover book published by Oxford University Press 1983, 235 pages with colour photographs and some black and white photographs.

This pictorial study of a fast disappearing part of the world is the work of a remarkable Australian geographer and anthropologist. From 1971 until his death in 1976 (he was only 30), Robert Mitton worked, lived and travelled in the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya, formerly West Irian. In notes, letters, diaries and, above all, photographs, he compiled a unique document of his experiences of the cultures and environments of the five distinct groups living along the Baum River, a particularly remote part of the world. Indeed, at that time, there were still groups of people who had never seen Europeans or Indonesians; still groups living a Stone Age style of existence; and still people who were head-hunters and cannibals.

Irian Jaya? How fast things change, particularly when it comes to geographical/political names. A friend of mine once commented on the current lack of Yugoslavians anywhere let alone where what was once called Yugoslavia. They've all gone. It's not just the Yugoslavians that have gone, I've got family that lived most of their lives in a country that no longer exists (East Germany, and yes the East Germans have all disappeared as well). The Irian Jayans (?) have also now vanished (...possibly in more ways than one). Irian Jaya is now Papua and West Papua and wasn't a country at the time that these photographs were taken, nor is it now. It was a province of Indonesia and had been so since 1961 after they took over/invaded in 1961. Before that it was Dutch and before that it was...

There is an active resistance movement in Papua and West Papua and somehow this book is even more important and of interest now than it was back then. With my limited knowledge of what is happening just that hop, skip and jump from this island (Australia), things aren't going so well for the locals and the world that the title is referring to as “Lost” in 1983, has probably now gone. The Indonesians have been actively settling their own people into Papua and minoritising the locals such as those depicted in this book, whilst collecting big $$$ from Mining in the region. Yes, it all comes down to money.

This is not the first time i've had a copy of this book. Many years ago I had an ex library copy, which had seriously seen better days. It did sell despite the wear, which at the time I thought had to do with it's uncommonness. This copy isn't ex library and has some slight wear only, so I think it will be moved at some stage and hopefully at a nice price. “Yes, it all comes down to money,” but it will be cheaper than the cost the Papuans are currently paying.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Huc & Gabet News Update Xmas 2016

Hello. Yes, there is some news of interest here at Huc & Gabet international headquarters in Clunes, Victoria, Australia.
As of this weekend (first weekend in December... and not long before Xmas), the Huc & Gabet Bookatorium will be open on Sundays from 11 till 4, but only in December and no, we will not be open on the 25th. There will be signage on the street (sandwich board... and balloons) and from there it is only a few metres to the Bookatorium. You are all welcome to come and have a look and even purchase if you so desire... but just having a look is perfectly acceptable.

The address is 60 Fraser Street, Clunes, Victoria. It's next to the IGA.

I hope to see you there.

(Shelves on the following picture are now considerably fuller)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New Huc & Gabet postcard

This is what the new Huc & Gabet postcard size promotional postcard looks like.  Someone asked me if the design was mine and i replied that i hadn't designed it, but i had stolen it. I think it looks pretty nifty. The original business that used this advertising a long long time ago was proud of their weekly shipments of new books... which is why there's a ship in the picture.  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby.

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby. Hardcover book (no dust jacket) published by Secker & Warburg 1958 (first edition), 247 pages with some black and white photographs and a few black and white maps including 2 fold out maps.

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush is a 1958 book by the English travel writer Eric Newby. It is an autobiographical account of his adventures in the Hindu Kush, around the Nuristan mountains of Afghanistan, ostensibly to make the first mountaineering ascent of Mir Samir. It has been described as a comic masterpiece, intensely English, and understated. Publications including The Guardian and The Telegraph list it among the greatest travel books of all time.

I agree, it is “among the greatest travel books of all time”... 
and yes, I have read few other globe trotting wayfaring adventures in my time and it is genre that I still regularly dabble in... which doesn't mean i'm an expert in things travel book related, but rather a keen armchair dabbler.  Newby's book is a great example of British travel writing particularly from the second half of the 20th century in that it does incorporate those various aspects of Englishness including humour, that make British travel writers so unmistakably British. A Short Walk could never have been written by an American... or an Australian and it's not that the Yanks or we Aussies can't take or make a joke... or be toffy, it's just that there's something very British about Newby and this book, that really does shine.

When I found this copy I ummmed and ahhhed a bit before figuring that it was worth the punt. No dust jacket, a few marks to the cover was the reasoning behind the hesitation (...yep, i'm picky). The fact that it was a first edition swung it across the line as did my own appreciation of the book. As bizarre as this may sound, I asked myself whether I personally would want a first edition of this classic in my own personal collection and in the blink of an eye came up with the affirmative (it is that good) ...and now of course after deciding that I would want it, I'm selling it.  It's not worth the big $. If it was signed by Eric or had some of Wilfred Thesiger's DNA attached to it, it would be a different story... and if you don't get the connection between this book and Wilfred Thesiger, you really need to read it.