FABS Newsletter April 2013

Ron Woods, collector par excellence of miniatures was our first guest of the new season in December. Generously, passing around numerous books, (dating back to the Eighteenth Century) from his 9,000 volume collection, all acquired in just 30 years. Members were able to hold in their hands beautifully crafted and illustrated books of an inch high to several inches high; many of which incorporated gold leaf on the bindings. One book came in its own miniature case with a magnifying glass.
In January our group was honored by the visit of artist, educator, and computer consultant Peter Falotico. He holds a B.F.A. in painting; an M.S. in Media Studies and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration. Mr. Falotico has been active in the arts for over forty years. As owner of Stony Book Print, he purchases and sells original art and rare books with limited first edtions. (Browse a copy of the catalog at www.stonybookprint.com . )LIBC was privy to a viewing of his extensive collection of books illustrated, designed or authored by American Impressionist painter, William Edward Bloomfield Starkweather(1879-1969). Books included titles by Allen, Barrie, Doyle, Emerson, Kipling and Harriet Beecher Stowe containing cover designs, title pages or illustrations by the artist. The entire collection of 80 books and 11 magazines may be seen on the website of the Hickory Museum in North Carolina where it was exhibited from March through June 2013.
Mr. Falotico has declared himself a “book detective” devoted to researching and collecting both the paintings and the printed materials created by William Starkweather during his lifetime. His goal is to bring recognition to this largely forgotten American artist. It is well worth a visit to the William Starkweather website at : www.williamstarkweather.com. FABS members, please note that Mr. Falotico is actively building his Starkweather collection. Should you have in your possession any Starkweather works, please contact Mr. Falotico directly through the Starkweather website.
February’s meeting was skillfully presented by the debonair David Allaway, director of the heritage program for the Saint John’s Bible project and former fashion industry VP sales & marketing for power players Tommy Hillfiger, Sean John, Donna Karan and Calvin Klein. Perhaps his change of career , promoting the first Benedictine-commissioned, hand-written, hand illuminated Bible in 400 years, in cooperation with the Benedictine monks and the University of Saint John’s abbey in Minnesota was his way of answering to an even higher power. From the beginning, the Benedictine monks envisioned a heavily illustrated Bible that would be in the vernacular in order to engage all faiths.
In 1998, calligrapher Donald Jackson (Chief Scribe of Queen of England), was commissioned to spearhead this enormous undertaking. Fifteen years later seven oversized volumes containing 11050 hand written heavily illustrated pages with 160 illuminations is nearing completion. A team of eleven scribes and artists worked together finishing 2 columns or one page of vellum per day. The team adhered to the ancient traditions of producing ink by mixing candle smoke with egg whites, and using egg yolk to bind and heighten color. Gold, platinum, and silver were used throughout for illumination. All writing was done using either a turkey or a goose feather quill.. Both the seven-volume set and individual plates are available for sale. The Bible is being printed in a limited edition of 299 copies to be purchased by communities the world over, in keeping with the Heritage Project. Details are available on the The Saint John’s Bible site at: www.saintjohnsbible.org.
Dara Zargar, returning guest collector of rare Islamic texts, among them reference books painstakingly embellished in decorated cloth and lacquer covers; some dating from the Thirteenth Century. Flower motifs and gilded pages were evident in abundance. Often the texts were dated by the calligrapher. Mr. Zargar mentioned both the Ruben Museum and the Metropolitan Museum as formidable resources for viewing Islamic art. He also highlighted Sotheby’s as a reliable source for Jewish manuscripts. He has observed that cultural tastes among collectors may differ in the Islamic rare books field. In Europe, France in particular; perspective buyers will pay a premium for a perfectly repaired volume, while in the United States an untouched, original text tends to command a higher price.
Ever candid and articulate, Mr. Zargar’s second visit ignited an impassioned conversation delving into the intricacies of Inheritance. Passing on one’s collection in order to insure that one’s children will have an informed comprehension of any notable and particularly valuable works in the collection was discussed. Ideas and concerns flew around our table: how to leave one’s collection to heirs; how to sell one’s collection so that it will remain intact and properly taken care of; varying attitudes in contemplation of letting go of what is in many cases the result of a lifelong endeavor; wording a Will and engaging in frank conversation with heirs about the nature and risks of collecting. The group has agreed to pursue the subject next year with an eye toward obtaining expert legal and accounting advice from a professional speaker.
Honorary Member Joe Rainone, also returned to lecture at LIBC. Mr. Rainone is the foremost collector and scholar of American Popular Fiction dating back to the founding of our country. Ever effusive, Mr. Rainone led us on a whirlwind tour of an impressive sampling of magazines, penny novels, dime novels, and the first paperbacks, works published during the years before and after the Civil War including Minstrel songsters featuring Minstrel Singers, nickel weeklies, story papers, pulp magazines, dollar magazines, highwayman stories, most on rag paper produced in the North including, Daniel Boone 1774-1800s, The publishing hub of America at the time was: Philadelphia, Boston, New York. In the first American magazines the publishers controlled content, even writing some of it themselves. American Among early popular novels that were passed around: pirated copies of Alexander Dumas and Victor Hugo titles—quickly translated from the French upon being smuggled into New England ports; pirated works from our English “cousins,” included sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe and Charlotte Bronte’s’ Jane Eyre.
Listening to Mr. Rainone talk about distribution via the general store, one visualizes a time of great change for the reading public and one-upmanship by all in the book and magazine trade. By the late 1800s the spirit of experimentation had taken hold. Mystery titles such as “Gasparone: the Italian Detective” and “Hide and Seek in New York” were for sale. During the Civil War, copies of a rapidly written “Booth the Assassin” came out in July 1865, recording a conspiracy theory that soon made the rounds among everyday citizenry. Listening to Mr. Rainone’s rapid fire narrative a snapshot of the reading habits of a new nation and the evolution of Publishing in America comes in to view. What was once common has become rare. We look forward to hosting Mr. Rainone again and to learning more about our own history.
A highlight of 2013 will be our joint end-of-the-year party with the Long Island Antiquarian Book Dealers Association in July at the home of Joe Perlman in East Northport, marking our summer hiatus. Our fall plans include launching the LIBC website. We wish you a summer of sunshine and successful book hunting and collecting.

FABS Letter January 2013

An eclectic group of collectors, the interests of our members range from Rolls Royce and Bentley books, catalogs and literature to Judaica, cartoons, Japanese prints, film and women’s craft magazines. Newly elected president, Paul Belard, is not only a collector of fine bindings, explorations, American civil war, and books with original works by illustrators, but an author and Master Bookbinder trained in Paris at the shop of renowned French bookbinder Paule Ameline. Some of his work can be viewed at newyorkbookrepair.com.

To kick off the fall season, Gerry Deutsch , who bills himself as a professional magician and an “accidental collector” of the literature of magic, regaled us with stories of magic societies and the besmirched legacy of Robert Hudain, whose creative genius was upstaged by admirer and rival Harry Houdini. Mr. Deutsch prides himself on his skills at sleight of hand which he terms “perverse magic,” for its characteristic quality of seeming to conspire with the audience, only to produce an unexpected result.
In October we had the privilege of an informative presentation by Dara Zargar on his collection of intricately crafted Islamic manuscripts and books showcasing the various scripts and decorative traditions used from the tenth to the fifteenth century. His talk touched on the art of the deal and the financial ups and downs of collecting books; including caring for and maintaining a sizable library of rare books.

Our annual holiday luncheon at the fabled Milleridge Inn in Jericho, Long Island was well attended. Post -storm spirits were buoyed by LIU’s Provost, Dr. Paul Forestell, who treated us to a lecture and slide presentation of both material relating to his maritime book collection and footage of whales along the coast of Costa Rica where he has been leading studies in the social habits of whales for over thirty years. A marine biologist, a lifelong professor, and an ardent book collector, Dr. Forestell shared a personal account of his efforts to date to replicate the bibliography used by Herman Melville in writing Moby Dick. Along the way, he has traced the path of many of the lives that have touched his, as previous owners of the volumes now in his possession.

This season, several LIBC members have acquired the much lauded Bibliophile’s Bookruler, brainchild of Main Street Fine Books in Galena, IL. The 18” ruler makes easy work of determining the size of rare books.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy we are happy to be meeting once again in the beautifully appointed Hunt Room at Winnick House; part of the Tudor style former estate of cereal heiress Marjorie Post. Our final guest speaker of 2012 will be Ron Wood, collector and connoisseur of miniature books.
We welcome all to browse our archive, now online. The Archives of the Long Island Book Collectors can be accessed by going to www.liu.edu/University Libraries, LIU Post, and clicking on the Special Collections & Archives option at the left of the screen.