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.)