Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ame Bale: Her Art and Life by Peter Perry.

Ame Bale: Her Art and Life by Peter Perry. Hardcover book published by Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum 2011, 151 pages with colour illustrations (art works) and a few black and white photographs and illustrations.

Alice Marian Ellen Bale (1875—1955) is one of Australia’s most significant painters of flowers. She is also known for her subtle and sensitive portraits and for her many evocative studies of interiors and landscapes. She had a strong sense of independence and a firm belief in her own considerable talent, and her life was completely devoted to art. This book, the first monograph, is a valuable new source of reference on the life and work of this noted Australian artist. It contains an authoritative chronology, exhibition list and bibliography. It traces Bale’s formative influences, including that of painter and teacher Max Meldrum, and assesses her achievements and her position in the early twentieth century Melbourne art world. This publication provides a pictorial survey of wide appeal to art admirers and collectors. Of the numerous works illustrated in colour, many have been selected from private collections and have not before been on general view.”

A “painter of flowers” is not a bad thing to be remembered as. But Ame Bale didn't just paint flowers, she painted other stuff as well, all of which is quite stunning.  For some reason it is her flowers that have stuck in the art appreciating publics appreciation... and this booksellers mind... as being something quite special... and it's not as if i'm a passionate fan of the painted flower as such, it's just that she seemed to have figured out how to paint flowers in a way that was quite simply, beautiful. I'm tempted to go out on limb here and even say that there is a peacefulness and tranquility in her paintings that grabs and entrances the viewer into a state of mind that would make the Dalai Lama blush.

This book was published by the Castlemaine Art Gallery (about an hours drive from where I now sit) to accompany an exhibition of Ames work. I didn't see the exhibition, but I now wish I had of.... although I most likely wouldn't have as the name didn't ring any bells with me previous to finding this book. Yes it's true, bookselling has broadened my horizons once again and Ame Bale is now on my horizon.

Reading through a brief biography of Ame, there are a few things that have caught my attention:

She came from a family of botanical appreciators, which more than likely infused her with an interest in flowers.
She had a house in Kew and another in Castlemaine, which is probably why the Castlemaine Art Gallery had the exhibition and published this book.
She never left Victoria, which I guess is not that unusual for someone in the era in which she lived, but is something that I find a bit strange, particularly considering her creative output. (Why this is strange, i'm not so sure about... I just think it's a little odd as most other creative types of that and other eras, tended to travel.)

I was talking to someone here in Clunes recently and they informed me of their interest in Australian female artists, particularly their interest in books about Antipodean ladies of a creative nature. I think this book might fit the criteria of this persons interest and if there's one person interested, I'm sure there are others... even people like me.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Huc & Gabet: Books of interest NOW OPEN by appointment.

There's been some changes here at Huc & Gabet: Books of interest. A few months back and after a few months before that of careful consideration, work began on the new Huc & Gabet storeroom/showroom/bookotorium*. That work is now finished. Yes, Huc & Gabet now has a physical presence, a place where one can browse and if one wanted too, even hold a book. That's right, a place where books are on the shelf awaiting the fondling bookishly inclined book buying public... and yes, we are still in Clunes.

Before anyone gets too excited... No, I haven't opened a shop and Huc & Gabet's main focus of on line sales and presence remains as it is. Over the last 12 months it had become very clear that storage had become an issue as was the desire of some of my more regular customers wishing to physically browse the Huc & Gabet on line stock. With some of that careful consideration I mentioned above, I figured that I can easily kill both birds with the one stone and here we are with a bookotorium ready for anyone wishing to have a browse.

The Huc & Gabet bookotorium is not retail as most of us know it. Among many small differences, Huc & Gabet will only be open by appointment. There are a number of reasons for this, the main reason being, time. Anyone who wants to look/browse/buy is more than welcome, they just need to contact me via phone or email, and arrange a time that is mutually appropriate for all concerned. You're probably wondering how much notice is necessary. Despair not, if you're here in town (Clunes) call me and if i'm here and available, I can open in a few minutes.

Phone: 0437 444 212

* Still looking for a title for the new premises... bookotorium will do for now.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo by Richard Davenport-Hines.

An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo by Richard Davenport-Hines. Hardcover book published by HarperPress HarperCollins 2013, 400 pages with some black and white photographs.

Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Profumo scandal, An English Affair is a sharp-focused snapshot of a nation on the brink of social revolution. Britain in the early 1960s was dominated by the legacy of two world wars. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, the Edwardian stalwart, led a Conservative government dedicated to tradition, hierarchy and, above all, old- fashioned morality. But the tide was changing. A breakdown of social boundaries saw nightclub hostesses mixing with aristocrats, and middle-class professionals dabbling in criminality. Meanwhile, Cold War paranoia gripped the public imagination. The Profumo Affair was a perfect storm, and when it broke it rocked the Establishment. In An English Affair, the masterly biographer Richard Davenport-Hines introduces us to the key players and brings seedily glamorous Swinging London to life, The cast list includes familiar names such as louche society doctor Stephen Ward, good-time girls Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, and Secretary for War John Profumo himself.

50 years!!! I guess we're all getting older, even this humble bookseller can feel the years behind him when he realises that he was alive at the time that John Profumo and his comrades were poncing around in 1960s London. Sure, I can't remember it, as I was only a babe in arms at the time, living in a completely different country and in a completely different social environment. (This means that I was a newborn, living in Australia as part of a migrant family... as apposed to living in London and moving (?) and poncing in the diplomatic circles of the time.) Nevertheless, despite my lack of years, foreign upbringing and social background, I am aware of what this book is all about. Why this is, is a little unclear to me at this point in time. But I've got a fair grasp of the story. The question is, does any one else here in Australia has a grasp and if they do, do they really care enough to buy a book about it?

I'd like to think that the answer is yes, but if you ask anyone under 30 here in Australia who Christine Keeler was, I'm fairly certain that 99% of the time you would get a complete blank as an answer. So how do we get people to pick up a book such as this. Well, the answer is very simple, put a picture of someone who looks like, or rather, dresses like, John Cleese on the cover, and then people will pick up the book. It's not John Cleese on the dust jacket, but my first thought upon seeing it was that here was a book about Mr Cleese or Monty Python. It isn't. But it did get me to pick up the book and figure out what it was and hey presto here we are in Blog land writing about a book that I don't think the kids will go for. Let's hope i'm wrong.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Early Houses of Northern Tasmania: Abridged Edition by E. Graeme Robertson and Edith N. Craig.

Early Houses of Northern Tasmania: Abridged Edition by E. Graeme Robertson and Edith N. Craig. Hardcover book published by Georgian House 1966 (abridged edition with revisions), 323 pages with black and white photographs and a few black and white illustrations.

The sale of all sets of the original two volume, limited edition of EARLY HOUSES OF NORTHERN TASMANIA within three months of publication in 1964 clearly indicated a far wider interest in the subject than had been anticipated. The present abridgement in one volume has been prepared in response to many requests from those who were unable to acquire the limited edition. This richly illustrated work provides a pageant in word and picture of the houses built and occupied by the early settlers of Northern Tasmania. Today many of these beautiful old houses are occupied by descendants of the original settlers to whom their preservation is a duty handed down by those who have gone before. Others have come into the possession of new owners, who bestow equally loving care on their preservation. Franklin House, Clarendon and The Grange arc owned by the National Trust, whose excellent work earns for its members the gratitude of all who feel conscious of the need for protecting such properties from the vandal and the “developer”. More than 130 houses are illustrated and described in some detail, some being represented by a number of superb plates, and many more receiving brief mention in the narrative. The text contains brief accounts of the original owners, their arrival in the colony, their grants or purchases of land; and accounts from early travellers of their visits to some of the houses, as well as the names of present owners. The book contains 269 plates and eight itinerary maps—frontispieces to the eight chapters which deal in detail with each house as it is met with during the authors’ travels. The endpapers reproduce an early map of Tasmania. This abridged edition includes all buildings appearing in the original edition and three dwellings and two churches, which did not previously appear, have been added. Additional photographs of some houses, previously illustrated, have also been included where recent restoration or repainting has enhanced the aesthetic quality of the building.

Tasmania. It's not really that far from here, but far enough and over water enough for me to not have visited it. It's not that I have anything against the Apple Isle, it's just one of those places that whilst on the list, never seems to make it to the top of the list. I really must do something about this.

Despite not having ventured there, I am aware of the book buying publics appreciation for all (or most) books Tassie. Yep, a good Tassie book is as good a thing as you can get. I've got a few theories about why this is with the main theory being that people of Tasmania really do love Tasmania, more so than say those people who just live somewhere and like it. The people of Tasmania REALLY like it. Whenever i've flicked through any books about our southern most state, I start to dream a little about how nice it would be to live somewhere as nice as that*. I'm sure the reality is not all beautiful scenery and historic sites and there is no doubt a dark underside to Tasmanian living as much as there is elsewhere here in Australia... but possibly less than somewhere like Syria.

This book is not a first edition as the publishers blurb above indicates, yet it is still worth more than a few $$$... a bit like some of the houses in the book... but maybe not quite as much. I recently sold a book about Tasmania's National Trust properties which is possibly another way of getting a glimpse at historical Tasmanian architecture. I didn't have a thorough look at the National Trust book but I get the feeling that this one whilst not covering all of Tassie, it is a little broader in scope and is heading towards the bees knees of books looking at the Early Houses of Northern Tasmania.

*... and then realise I live somewhere just as nice.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Legacy of Eureka: Past, Present and Future, essays compiled and edited by Anne Beggs Sunter and Kevin T. Livingston.

The Legacy of Eureka: Past, Present and Future, essays compiled and edited by Anne Beggs Sunter and Kevin T. Livingston. Paperback book published by Australian Studies Centre, University of Ballarat 1998, 73 pages.

These essays are drawn from a conference called The Legacy of Eureka. Part of the Eureka 140th Anniversary celebrations, it was organised by the University of Ballarat in association with Sovereign Hill, the Australian Catholic University, the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery and the City of Ballarat. Contributors include Geoffrey Blainey, Weston Bate, John Molony, Barry Jones, A.O., Peter Hiscock, Shirley Swain and Cheryl Saunders. The aim of the conference was to explore the significance of the events which occurred at and around the Eureka Stockade on 3 December 1854. The contributors examine the meaning of Eureka in the past, looking at ways in which the events have been memorialised and celebrated, at the local level as well as nationally. They also reflect on the meaning of Eureka in the present and in the future, examining its role in tourism and its contribution to current political and constitutional debates.

I wonder if any of the disgruntled 1854 gold diggers of Ballarat ever seriously considered that their legacy would still be discussed/debated/worshipped all these years later. Somehow I don't think legacy was on most of their minds at the time with most of the stockaders being more concerned with dodging gunfire (etc) and surviving than having a pub named after them.

The Eureka stockade is a big deal here in Victoria and also across Australia, and an even bigger deal in Ballarat which is only 25 minutes as the car drives from where I now sit. It's one of those events that is a true milestone in our short Australian European history. Anyone reading this that doesn't have a connection to Australia is probably wondering what the hell Eureka was (click here if this is you) which is why i'm of the firm belief that when this book does sell it will be within Australia as I can't really imagine someone sitting in Sweden (or anywhere else) thinking “Oh yeah. I would be really interested in reading about the Eureka rebellion. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Polaroid Book: Selection from the Polaroid Collections of Photography, edited by Steve Crist, essay by Barbara Hitchcock.

The Polaroid Book: Selection from the Polaroid Collections of Photography, edited by Steve Crist, essay by Barbara Hitchcock. Hardcover book published by Taschen 2011, 351 pages with colour and black and white photographs throughout.  

In existence for over 50 years, the Polaroid Corporation’s photography collection is the greatest collection of Polaroid images in the world. Begun by Polaroid founder Edwin Land and photographer Ansel Adams, the collection now includes images by hundreds of photographers throughout the world and contains important pieces by artists such as David Hockney, Helmut Newton, Jeanloup Sieff, and Robert Rauschenberg. The Polaroid Book, a survey of this remarkable collection, pays tribute to a medium that defies the digital age and remains a favorite among artists for its quirky look and instantly gratifying, one-of-a-kind images.

Those people at Taschen sure know how to slap an interesting book together... or is it the people who have convinced Taschen to publish this book that know how to put a book of interest together? Either way, Taschen have published it and I think it's a job well done. I didn't realise that the Polaroid Corporation even had a collection, which is I guess why this book exists.

I've never owned a Polaroid. My mother had one back in the 70s and I remember it was a great novelty at the time and there are a bunch of Polaroid photos from a family Christmas gathering. After that I don't remember her using it all that often and then after a few years she didn't use it at all. Whatever happened to that camera and the photos? Fortunately for anyone having a peak at this book, my 1970s family Christmas photos didn't make the selection, unlike Andy Warhol who is in the book but a long way away from Christmas.

Photography and art fans, will love this book. I love this book. There's something about the instant photograph, which is slower than my phone, that is quite appealing. I think it has to do with an understanding that there was (is?) an immediacy about these pictures. It was something you snapped and then looked at a few minutes later without the benefit of photoshop to enhance and without an option to do copies*. These were one-of-a-kind pictures not designed to be shared around... unless of course they ended up in this book.

* I think you could do copies but it wasn't easy... I could be wrong.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mountains of Books Fair 2015.

This weekend (Saturday and Sunday only... not Monday, which isn't really a public holiday, or Tuesday which is a real public holiday... if you live in Melbourne) I will be selling books person to person with the interwebs nowheres about, at the Ferny Creek Recreational Reserve Hall. This will be my first visit to this book fair and it comes about after being mucked around by the people from the Port Fairy book fair a few months ago where I found out at the very last minute that they didn't have space for my book gems.  A fellow bookseller kindly suggested I try the more organised and pleasant to deal with people from the Mountains of Books Fair. I'm looking forward to it and if you want to put a face to this blog and live close enough to Ferny Creek, drop by. I'll be there.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Industrial Dust Explosions: Symposium on Industrial Dust Explosions sponsored by ASTM Committee E-27 on Hazard Potential of Chemicals, edited by Kenneth L. Cashdollar and Martin Hertzberg.

Industrial Dust Explosions: Symposium on Industrial Dust Explosions sponsored by ASTM Committee E-27 on Hazard Potential of Chemicals, edited by Kenneth L. Cashdollar and Martin Hertzberg. Hardcover book with pictorial boards (no dust jacket) published by ASTM 1987, 363 pages with black and white photographs and illustrations.

The purpose of the Symposium on Industrial Dust Explosions was to provide a forum for the discussion of dust explosion hazards. In the coal mining, electric power generation, grain handling, plastics, chemicals, wood products. and metal powders industries, dust explosions and fires have been a continuing problem. Various preventive and protective measures must be taken to ensure safety.”

Once again I took a punt on a number of books on a subject I know absolutely nothing about. What I do know is that they were all on a very specific technical subject that whilst i have no knowledge or interest in that subject, i realised that these books are probably of interest to someone... somewhere.

I casually mentioned these items to technical wizz and bookseller extraordinaire, Paul Perry of All Sorts books (Northcote) and he of course knew all about the subject, directing me to a number of youtube videos:

Yep, even icing sugar can explode. One second you're happily eating a boston bun and then “BANG”... (maybe not). I guess that's why there is so much information on the subject of dust explosions. It is serious and realistically nobody wants a bun accident.  So next time I ice a cake (or a bun) I will be extra careful...

And finally... and please excuse my complete rudeness and ignorance... Is Cashdollar really a name?

You can view this book on ebay here.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann by Steven C. Smith.

A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann by Steven C. Smith. Hardcover book published by University of California Press 1991, 415 pages with some black and white photographs.

No composer contributed more to film than Bernard Herrmann, who in over forty scores enriched the work of such directors as Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Fran├žois Truffaut, and Martin Scorsese. From his first film (Citizen Kane) to his last (Taxi Driver), Herrmann was a master at evoking psychological nuance and dramatic tension through music, often using unheard-of instrumental combinations to suit the dramatic needs of a film. His scores are among the most distinguished ever written, ranging from the fantastic (Fahrenheit 451, The Day the Earth Stood Still) to the romantic (Obsession, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) to the terrifying (Psycho). Film was not the only medium in which Herrmann made a powerful mark. His radio broadcasts included Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre of the Air and its most notorious presentation, The War of the Worlds. His concert music was commissioned and performed by the New York Philharmonic. As chief conductor of the CBS Symphony, Herrmann gave important first performances of music by such composers as Ralph Vaughan Williams and Charles Ives, whose work he particularly championed. Almost as celebrated as these achievements are the enduring legends of Herrmann’s combativeness and volatility. In this painstakingly researched biography, Steven C. Smith separates myth from fact. Yet Herrmann remains as complex as any character in the films he scored—a creative genius, an indefatigable musicologist, an explosive bully, a generous and compassionate man who desperately sought friendship and love.

What a great book... a truely great book. I actually have a copy of this book on the personal book shelf. For me it was one of those titles that you read about somewhere and take a punt on it being as good as the review... which fortunately it was.  I remember that I paid quite a bit for it as at the time it didn't get a local run. Being only available overseas, I had to order it in from a bookshop that would take the time and effort to do this sort of thing (...possibly Hill of Content in Melbourne).

Why Bernard Herrmann you may ask? I like his stuff. I've had an interest in Bernie for many years. It started with the Hitchcock soundtracks, which even today I would rate as some of the best sounding music in films that I have ever heard. If you can't remember what he did listen to this

which is something you don't forget. It's also not really indicative of what his work sounds like overall, but in my opinion it is probably one of the most memorable bits of soundtrack there ever was.

The book goes into some detail about Bernards attempts at be taken as something other than a soundtrack composer. There was an opera and various attempts at “serious” classical compositions, but overall he is best remembered for his soundtrack work and there was quite a bit of it with one of his final soundtracks being

A biography of this important composer should be on everybodies shelf. I highly recommend it... and I am selling a copy of it. HERE

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fred Williams by Patrick McCaughey. SIGNED COPY

Fred Williams by Patrick McCaughey. Hardcover book published by Bay Books 1980, 340 pages (a few pages fold out) with colour and black and white illustrations as well as a few black and white photographs. SIGNED COPY (Fred Williams).

One of Australia’s leading landscape painters, Fred Williams stands at the peak of a prolific career. Since the late 1950s, Williams has maintained consistently successful showings virtually every year in Australia and overseas. Described by leading critics as ‘brilliant but unknown’ in 1961 and ‘at his peak’ in 1977, he is nevertheless by no means as widely recognised as his considerable achievements merit. Patrick McCaughey’s study of the artist is the first comprehensive and fully researched attempt to inform a wider public of the worth and significance of Williams’s work. The author covers Williams’s career from his student days to his years of mature achievement in a text that owes a great deal of its intimacy to the ready collaboration of the artist. The many reproductions cover every facet of Williams’s work, including many items not previously shown or published. This scholarly and splendidly produced book deserves the attention of every serious student of Australian contemporary painting and its artists.”

For some unknown, or relatively unknown (...actually, I do know but I don't wont go into details) reason, I remember when this book was published. I was a young bookseller working at Monash University at the time and this book was a big deal as the author, Patrick McCaughey had been up until that point the local professor of Fine Arts, having only recently moved on to becoming the Director of the National Gallery of Victoria. There was a certain buzz about the book as not only was it a local that had scribbled it, it was also considered to be an important work of art history. With all the fuss and brouhaha that was going on at the time, I remember having a good look/flick through the pages and... oh boy... I didn't like it. Nope, Freddy was not my thing in 1980.

Here we are 35 years later and i'm happy to report that I now have a more positive view of the work of Fred Williams, so much so that I have even contemplated keeping this volume if it should fail to make the $$$ that i'm hoping it will sell for. The big $$$ that is. Soonish after this volume was published, Fred was diagnosed with cancer and rather sadly passed away. He did manage to sign all of the copies of a deluxe edition of which I also currently have a copy for sale, and some of the regular copies of the first edition. This is one of the lucky copies of the first edition to have passed through his hands. Later editions are all unsigned.  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A System of Modern Geography; or, The natural and political history of the present state of the world by John Smith, LL. D. in Two Volumes.1810 and 1811

A System of Modern Geography; or, The natural and political history of the present state of the world with numerous engravings by John Smith, LL. D. in Two Volumes. 2 Hardcover leather bound books (no dust jackets) printed for Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, Paternoster-Row; by Gillet and Son, Crown-court, Fleet-street 1810 (V.1); by James Gillet, Salisbury Square, Fleet-street 1811, 914 pages and 1058 pages, with black and white maps and illustrations, Vol. 1 has a colour map. (PLEASE NOTE: I have checked if all the plates are present against a list of plates at the back of vol. 2. Vol. 1 has 1 map missing. Vol. 2 has 5 illustrations missing. Also, I found that vol. 2 has been slightly misbound. Pages 813 to 820 are between pages 1044 and 1045.)

2 leather bound volumes dating from 1810 and 1811. The books contain information and descriptions of various countries of the world as it was known in 1810.”


Yes, I “Wow”ed. It's wasn't a “Wow” followed by “I've found something great”. No, this was a solitary “Wow” followed by silent mouth open contemplation. The reason for this dumbfounded monosylabic proclamation, is quite simply the shock of finding something as rare and wonderful as this two volume set. I wont go into the details of where and how I found these, as this is something this bookseller keeps firmly under his dust jacket, but I will share a wee bit of the thought process with those of you who are still reading this blog entry.

OK. So here I am holding these volumes that are over two hundred years old. What do I know about Smith's Geography? Nothing. This is a problem as these volumes are not cheap and will require some serious investment/commitment on my behalf. So this is the point where I pull out the phone connect to the interwebs via a tiny screen in the middle of a busy street, away from prying eyes. Yep, the little screen... and not much information other than one copy for sale in Germany at a phenomenal price. I have previously been caught out by these sort of quick miniscule phone searches thinking I was buying gold and later finding out that I had a lump of Pyrite. The big question is should I take the plunge? … obviously I did.

So what do I now know about A System of Modern Geography? Not a lot. It's rare and worth $$$. Unfortunately the copy I have is not in the best of conditions. But at 205 and 204 years old, they ain't too bad. There are a few illustrations missing, which is not uncommon with these old tomes, and one of the maps in also missing. I am tempted to hypothesize that they weren't bound in with the pages to begin with as there doesn't seem to be any indication that pages have been removed and a few of the maps and illustrations have been bound a few pages either side of where they are supposed to be indicating a certain lackadaisical approach to the correct placement of the plates by the binder. I was sort of hoping to find out a bit more about these volumes on the real internet (not the phone internet) when I got home, but I nearly came up a complete blank other than a few library listings and smatterings of uninformative data.

I like these books. I think they are beautiful even though they are worn, they are definitely books of interest. Well worth my investment. Do I think they will sell? Maybe not today or tomorrow, but i'm fairly sure that someone other than myself will one day demonstrate a true appreciation of these volumes. In the meantime they will sit nicely on the shelves of the new Huc & Gabet showroom... (more information soon).

(Apologies for the slightly blurry photographs.  The were taken on my phone... yep, the same phone.)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lincoln and his Generals by T. Harry Williams.

Lincoln and his Generals by T. Harry Williams. Hardcover book published by Gramercy 2000, 368 pages.

This is the human, dramatic, and fascinating story of Lincoln as commander in chief of an army at war against its brothers. It is a riveting look at his search for a winning general, and of his own emergence as a master strategist. Here is the Lincoln who, in loneliness and doubt, bore the whole burden of forging a modern command system that would serve a nation in years to come.”

There are many people who read books on history. I read books on various histories preferring to keep it as broad or as narrow a range as I feel like at any particular time. I do have a slight bias towards books about the history of India. This interest came about whilst travelling and it was due to a desire to better understand what I had seen whilst journeying and not having had a full comprehension of the whole story at the time (...and what an amazing story it is). Over the years I have become a little more enlightened about the sub continent and i still find the odd tome to tempt me.

Some people like to read about the American Civil War. From memory there are more than a few past prominent Australians who count themselves amongst those with more than a passing interest. My tastes haven't ventured towards this area of the world's history and at this point in time I can't see it happening all too soon. I'm not sure why this is, or why others with no obvious link here in Australia, should have a fascination with a war that was more than a few years ago. I guess i'm no different as I also have no obvious link with my favoured historic topic/place other than spending a bit of time there.

A final observation: I've noticed that the Civil War is not so popular with the on line book buyers here in Australia. Yep, I don't seem to be able to sell books about Americans killing Americans on ebay. From experience though, these books did sell over the counter in a bricks and mortar situation... mmmmmm... Stay tuned for some important Huc & Gabet news in the next few weeks.

Click here to view this book on ebay.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers by Daniel Leader.

Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers by Daniel Leader. Hardcover book published by W. W. Norton & Company 2007, 355 pages with some black and white illustrations and colour photographs.

Is this how they make them in France?” As Dan Leader watched Rolf, one of the bakers at Tobias Maurer’s Stuttgart bakery, shape French loaves, Dan thought that he had misheard Rolf’s question. Stuttgart is a six- hour train ride from Paris, and it was incomprehensible to Dan that this master baker, who spent his life making different kinds of German rye breads, wouldn’t be aware of French baguettes. All over Europe, the bakers Dan visited in his search for unique artisan breads were, like Rolf, devoted to baking locally. It is this commitment to place and tradition that accounts for their greatness. Although globalization has made its way across Europe, Dan managed to discover local bakers in great numbers making breads handed down from their grandfathers and great-grandfathers, improving on the old recipes and adapting them to new technology, but always with an eye to keeping tradition alive. In Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe ‘s Best Artisan Bakers, Dan provides us with both colorful stories of the people he found — local artisans making local breads — and their treasured recipes, which he has translated for American home bakers.

I've eaten bread more than a few times in my life and it is something that I enjoy eating, particularly if it is tasty and is as far away from the taste of tasteless cardboard, as possible. Discovering new breads is a real joy. A few weeks back I was at a function here in Clunes, when someone I know wheeled out a basket full of home made Parker House rolls. If you're as up to date with breads of the world as i am, you are probably as perplexed as i was. What is a Parker House roll? (Click here and all will be revealed.)  The reason i mention these rolls is that they were quite simply outstanding in both taste and texture and they were picture book is appearance (they looked great).

Parker House rolls are not European and therefore are sadly not in this book. European bread is what this book considers in all its doughy glory. I've travelled through Europe a few times and i have to say that i don't particularly remember the breads i ate. I do remember the beers and various other bits and pieces, but bread is not something that i came back to Australia wanting to share anecdotes with others about. I wonder if that's me or was it the bread. I think we have some amazing breads from all over the world here in Australia so there is the possiblity that my taste buds were tasting what i've already known and loved for many years. This sounds a bit arrogant but seriously if you go out of your way, don't shop at a supermarket and avoid mass produced tasteless white bread, the bread here is pretty damn good. Which leads me to another theory about why i don't remember much about European bread and that has to do with knowing where to go to get the good stuff and avoiding the bad stuff. Travelling through Europe, i wasn't focussed on bread and clearly, according to this book, i have missed out. I should have been exploring the bakeries and tasting their wares...which is exactly what the author of this book did. This is something to look forward too the next time i venture forth.

Regardless of why or how i missed out on the breads of europe, this is a book filled with many varied and detailed recipes from “Europe's Best Artisan Bakers”. Maybe this is how i can taste the breads of Europe... bake them myself.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Day Of Creation by J. G. Ballard. SIGNED COPY.

The Day Of Creation by J. G. Ballard. Hardcover book published by Victor Gollancz 1987, 254 pages. SIGNED COPY.

Here at Huc & Gabet we are just a little bit excited about the new J.G. Ballard film. OK, the film is not made by Ballard (he died in 2009) but it is based on one of his magnificent books, namely, High Rise. This film is starting to get a bit of interest on the www... or maybe it's just me, a Ballard fan, wanting people to be interested. Either way, there is a film coming soon. Thinking back to the last time I read it (it was this century), I can well imagine High Rise on the screen and for some reason the image of the drowned dog is one that I hope they keep in the film.... not because I think that drowned dogs are a good thing, but rather it's a powerful image that has stuck with this High Rise reader.

Film adaptions can at times be a bit dodgy... or even a lot dodgy. A few of Ballards books have made the transition previously (Empire of the Sun and Crash). Crash in particular seems to polarise viewers. The book is about sex and car accidents and amazingly, so is the film. I guess if you don't want to watch a fetish movie about sex and car accidents then it's probably not a film for you. Personally, I thought it was a fine adaptation and yes it was a bit disturbing, a bit like the book.

I don't currently have either a copy of High Rise or Crash for sale. I do have a copy of The Day of Creation which is a later book by Mr Ballard. Here in Australia, this is not an uncommon book to find in hardcover and at a more than reasonable price. What is not that common is to find a copy that has been signed by the man himself:

Despite signed copies being uncommon here in Australia, this isn't the first copy i've found that has been signed during what was probably a promotional tour. I think it's a nice thing to have particularly if you're a fan... as I am.

I mentioned this book to a fellow bookseller the other day and his response was rather interesting. He said that he wasn't that keen on any signed copies of anything as they tended to ruin/damage a book. Despite enjoying an authors scribble, I sort of understand this concept... but that doesn't mean that I don't get excited... and it doesn't mean that one of the earlier signed copies I unearthed isn't in my personal collection.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Pyramids For Gymnastic Displays: With a chapter on how to pose by Staff-Sergt. Moss.

Pyramids For Gymnastic Displays: With a chapter on how to pose by Staff-Sergt. Moss. Hardcover book (stiff card)(no dust jacket) published by Athletic Publications (no date, probably early 20th century), 74 pages with a few pages of advertising.

PYRAMIDS are a fitting termination to all gymnastic displays owing to the fact that every individual performing may take part in the final event, and show that not only do they excel in individual gymastics, but that they can work successfully in combination. Pyramids are, indeed, frequently the most effective and pleasing item in the programme of displays. The original idea of the Pyramid was to form a number of men in such a manner as to represent the outline of the famous Pyramids of Egypt. This idea has now, however, been largely lost sight of in subsequent development, and, to-day, a great deal of variety obtains in connection with gymnastic tableaux. Of course, the main thing to be studied in the presentation of a Pyramid is a graceful and striking effect. Care must be taken to ensure that the appearance of the tableaux is graceful and finished, as obviously, if the arrangement is clumsy, the general impression is bad, even although the desired outline may, to some extent, be obtained. In the succeeding pages there are illustrated many kinds of Pyramids, calling for a varying number of men, and arranged in many different ways. Any particular one may be selected, if necessary, ideas may be selected from a number and worked into one figure. This, however, should not prove necessary, as much time and thought has been used in making the selections thoroughly representative and complete. A few of these pieces have names, but the names have not been inserted, as, after much trouble, it has been found.

Oh yeah. I couldn't help myself.

Maybe it's just me but when I find a book such as this one and regardless of the condition (this copy has spent quite a bit of time tumbling and twirling), I feel the urge...

No, not the urge to get a group of people together and form a pyramid, but the urge to share this book with someone who genuinely loves this sort of thing... and who doesn't.

It was a different time back then and you may have noticed that I haven't listed a date, that's because there is no date on a book that is as timeless as this one. This was a time when fun meant doing very strange things for other people to admire. This was a time before the internet, a time when...

...ummm, this is a bit weird.  What's with the leopard skin? ... and no pyramid!!!... i guess this is posing. 

This is such a crazy book and it reminds me how much fun book hunting and selling can be. If only everyday could be a Pyramids for Gymnastic Display day. I love it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Complete Course In Pick Pocketing by Pierre Jacques.

Complete Course In Pick Pocketing by Pierre Jacques. Hardcover book published by Tannens Magic Manuscript 1983, 91 pages with black and white photographs.

Fortunately I have never had the displeasure of experiencing a strangers hands inside my pockets. That doesn't mean that there has never been a strange hand in my pocket as anyone who puts the information in this book to use would supposedly not be detectable and therefore I wouldn't notice this sort of thing happening:

I find these photos fascinating as they are so anonymous and victimless, yet we all know that pick pocketing is a crime... unless of course it's done in the name of entertainment!!!

When I first saw this book I hesitated and then noticed it was published by a Magic publisher... and still hesitated. Something that is so evil, could be used for evil... unless of course it is used for 'fun' magic purposes. I'm fairly sure that someone pick pocketing me in front of others would not be a 'fun' experience... but maybe that's just me and my perverse desire to not have things stolen from my person. As I write this with a little distance from my purchase point, I'm still a bit torn between whether this book is a good thing or not. It's definitely of interest, I just hope that I don't bump into the person who buys it, at a later date. …here, take my watch.

I'd like to see the face of someone who steals my watch when they realise that it's worth less than a fiver.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Paxette Guide: Making the most of the Paxette and Super Paxette Models by W.D. Emanuel.

Paxette Guide: Making the most of the Paxette and Super Paxette Models by W.D. Emanuel.

Paperback book (approx 12cm x 16cm x 4mm) published by The Focal Press 1957 (fourth edition), 72 pages with black and white illustrations and a few black and white photographs. Also contains a single page (folded) brochure for Agfa film.

This book is a guide to the Paxette and Super Paxette Cameras. The Paxette belongs to the small group of early post-war cameras which, through their original design (breaking away from many pre-war traditions), helped to create a new look and new trend in modern photography. At the same time they paved the way for numerous latecomers in the field of the inexpensive 35mm camera. The Paxette has no bellows, the lens being fitted rigidly to the camera front, thus doing away with opening up of the camera. It is fitted with a film transport coupled with the shutter tensioning and exposure counter. The viewfinder is an integral part built into the camera body.

Cameras have changed a bit since 1957. Most often they are now called “mobile phones” or “mobile devices”. Don't let the “phones” in the first one confuse you, it's a camera and sometimes a phone. You can still buy a camera, but I think I can confidently and arrogantly assert that more photos are taken on mobiles than on Cameras. Correct me if i'm wrong.

Despite the changing world of picture taking, there are those that persist with the camera and there are even those who appreciate the vintage camera. I know of at least 3 people who own and regularly use a real camera, 2 of these I would even catagorise as collectors of vintage cameras. It was with this knowledge of appreciators that saw me pick up this guide/manual for the Paxette. I had no idea what a Paxette was at the time, but fortunately due to the picture on the cover and the format of the book (small booklet size bordering on ephemera), I figured out that it was a camera and that this book had something to do with it. I guess it's all part of the learning curve that this bookseller is still curving through.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Born In A Tent: How Camping Makes Us Australian by Bill Garner.

Born In A Tent: How Camping Makes Us Australian by Bill Garner. Paperback book published by University Of New South Wales Press 2013, 288 pages with black and white photographs and illustrations as well as some colour illustrations and a few colour photographs.

Breathtakingly original, this book shows that the history of Australia can be told through a history of camping. Bill Garner reminds us that Australia was settled as a campsite — the nation was born in a tent. But while Europeans brought tents, they did not bring camping. Australia had been a camping place for millennia. And so it continued to be. For more than a hundred years, settlers — women as well as men — colonised the country by living under canvas. It changed them into a new sort of native Australian. It gave them a feel for the place, a wry can-do attitude, and a lasting taste for equality and it led to a sense of belonging.”

My family emigrated to Australia in the 1950s, which was a few years before I sprung into this world. It was post war (the second big one) and there was this thing known as assisted passage meaning that the Australian Government would pay you to come by boat and set up shop here in Australia... which is as far way from current Australian policies on immigration as you can get. It was that whole thing of better opportunities here, compared to post war Europe over there.

The story goes that my parents weren't 100% sure what would happen when they got here. I think there was a thought that they (my parents and 2 brothers who were both toddlers at the time) would be left standing on a pier with suitcases and a trunk... without any friends, absolutely no grasp of English and no where to stay. So my father hit upon the idea to pack a tent at the top of the trunk. They were coming by boat and he figured that they would be on or near a beach and they could set up a tent as temporary accommodation. In the end this was not necessary as Australian officials took care of them.

The reason I mention this is of course related to the whole tent/camping thing that this book, Born in a Tent, is all about. For my family it was a real option to live under canvas as many people had done before. They were part of the European colonisation of Australia, not necessarily early colonisation, but colonise they did. The book doesn't look at post war immigrants camped on the shores of Port Phillip Bay but does cover a large swathe of Australian history. I'd like to think that my parents “wry can-do attitude” re camping upon arrival was the beginning of their Australianisation and in a way they were part of the history of Australian camping... even though they didn't do it. It was an idea and in retrospect, it was an Aussie idea... at least i'd like to think so. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Rude Kids: The Unfeasible Story of Viz by Chris Donald.

Rude Kids: The Unfeasible Story of Viz by Chris Donald. Hardcover book published by Harper Collins 2004, 378 pages with colour and black and white photographs, one colour illustration and some black and white illustrations. SIGNED COPY

This is the fascinating rag-mag-to-riches story of Viz, as told by its creator Chris Donald, who started the magazine in 1979 and remained its editor for 20 years. Chris tells how the tasty fanzine he threw together in his Newcastle bedroom became one of the UK’s bestselling magazines. He explains the origins of comic characters like Roger Mellie, Biffa Bacon and the Fat Slags. As Viz flourished and those characters became household names, Chris’s life changed dramatically. He was invited to St James’s Palace for dinner by Prince Charles, and to New Scotland Yard for questioning by the Anti-Terrorist Branch. He wined and dined the lovely Catherine Zeta-Jones, played celebrity football with, erm... Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards and caught his wife up to no good with Keith Richards in Peter Cook’s attic. But it’s not all celebrities, sex and drugs. Chris also gives a unique insight into how Viz affected himself, his family and friends, and tells of the fall-outs and controversy that came with the magazine’s phenomenal success.”

...and who hasn't had a chortle at Viz at some stage in their lives. I mean, it's not the sort of thing one want's to read everyday or over an extended period of time*, but you haven't lived unless you've read at least one issue of Viz from cover to cover**. Fat Slags, Finbarr Saunders and his double entendres, Johnny Fartpants etc, hilarious... well... at least interesting and they are all part of the phenomena which has something of a cult following here in Australia, unlike in the UK where it is so much more than a quaint, crude/rude, politically incorrect, offensive and out there magazine.

This book was written by the founder of this phenomenon and very kindly he even managed to scribble his name on it ('s signed). To think that a man who could dream up a character with oversized testicles, has touched this book. Amazing. He mostly retired from the magazine in 1999 which is not really that surprising... If you look up Viz on line there have been many court cases and controversies over the years and i'm sure that by the time anyone, in this case Chris Donald, gets to the age of 39, fart jokes just aren't as funny as they once were*. What I am most impressed about is that his wife was “up to no good with Keith Richards in Peter Cook’s attic.” Now there's a story that's worth telling and I guess that's what Chris has done in this book.

**A bit like Moby Dick.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Backyard Poultry: Naturally by Alanna Moore.

BackyardPoultry: Naturally by Alanna Moore. Paperback book published by Bolwarrah Press 1998, 153 pages with black and white photographs and some black and white illustrations and colour photographs.

What’s the difference between a Frizzle and a Fav? a Pekin and a Polish? a Welsumner and a Wyandotte? How do you successfully determine the sex of day-old chickens? What natural products can be used to treat lice infestation? And what should you do if a broody hen won’t get off the nest to feed? Backyard Poultry — Naturally answers all these questions and more. From housing to feeding, from selection to breeding, from pets to production, and from the best lookers to the best layers, the book covers everything the backyard farmer needs to know about poultry husbandry including preventative and curative herbal medicines and homeopathics. Backyard Poultry — Naturally is an excellent resource. It is entertaining and informative, and will appeal to amateur and avid poultry farmers alike.

It's been a while since I thought of writing about chickens or chicken books. I think my decision to go down this path has to do with some very rare poultry books I saw at the Rare Book Fair at Melbourne University last weekend. There were a few other choice items from the fair that have stuck in my mind and a few of them even tempted this book seller to crack open his wallet (… I didn't...), but the truth is that I don't have any rare books on Mongolia and the Great Game, or books about Pop Art with signed ink stamped illustrations ($12,500) to write about, so it's a chicken book that will have to do.

There's always a demand for a good book about our feathered friends... even if they are friends that some of us eat. A bit like bee keeping, many buyers/collectors want that rare item that no one has seen since the Colonel took fried chicken to a whole new dimension. Then there are those other buyers who want to know the basics, which is where a book like this one steps in. Most of us don't know the difference between a Frizzle and a Fav and most of us want the best layers possible. A good book is a good beginning to finding the answer to these and all those other tricky chicken questions that we all might have.

As some of you might know from my past blog posts, I was involved in a bricks and mortar retail book shop here in Clunes as well as selling through my on line book selling empire(?). Chicken books were something that I was always on the look out for, as I found out pretty quickly that this is a subject that sold to those casual chicken owning book buyers who happened to stumble upon the shop. They didn't sell as quickly as bee keeping books, but chicken books did tick over. I'm no longer in the shop... it's a long story, which has a lot to do with a distinct lack of cooperation from others... so I no longer have any direct contact between myself and chicken enthusiasts. Despite this, chicken books will still be on the menu here at Huc & Gabet... as well as bee books... and any rare signed Pop Art books that I might find.

Click here for my ebay listing of this book.