One of the things I love about bookselling is the moment of the unexpected “find”. That is, when you’re cataloging a book and you suddenly run across information that changes your perspective on it or gives you a great selling “hook” you had not anticipated. I had two examples this weekend. One was an Americana title that had a small bookplate in it for a book collector named Grenville Kane. Kane was a very wealthy New York collector during the Gilded Age, and the majority of his Americana and Incunabula (books printed before 1500) are now at Princeton. Kane was also a founding member of the "Tuxedo Club", a group of wealthy New Yorkers who gathered in the Summer at a private upstate New York enclave called “Tuxedo Park”. One day one of the members came back from England where he had had dinner with the Prince of Wales, who had worn a new-fangled, short-tailed dinner jacket. The Club members, including Grenville Kane, liked the “mod” jacket so much that they started wearing copies at High Society New York gatherings. The new style caught on, and the tuxedo was born...
The second book was a fairly common 1929 title on historic interiors, featuring 80 color prints of grand interiors from the 18th and 19th centuries. A sort of ho-hum book, except this copy had the rubber ownership stamp, and ink ownership signature, of Joseph B. Platt, who was the Interior Art Director for the Alfred Hitchcock movie “Rebecca”, and also worked on the interior set design for “Gone With the Wind”.
Stuff likes this makes bookselling about the most fun you can have without getting in trouble with the HomeLand InSecurity Dept. Well, that’s not true. There’s plenty of things in bookselling that can get you into trouble with the HomeLand InSecurity folks.
There’s a new bookselling blog out there today- Bibliophile Bullpen, put together by JGodsey of the SicPress blog.
On another topic entirely, fair is fair. If we can call Pat Robertson nutty as a fruitbat for saying the Hurricane Katrina was God's revenge against New Orleans for putting up with homosexuals, then we have to say that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is just as nutty for saying that the hurricane was God's wrath against America for invading Iraq. What passes for political discourse is flaky enough these days without dragging God's Righteous Wrath into everything. Let's have some dignity, fellas.