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Dartmouth College Library Bulletin

Seven Secrets of Collecting
(And Then a Few More)[*]


When I was an undergraduate at Dartmouth, beginning in 1950, I used to spend Christmas and spring vacation with an aunt and uncle in Manhattan. One spring vacation my uncle invited me to come with him to a lecture on collecting. The speaker was Clifton Waller Barrett. He began his talk with the observation, 'When I was a young man I found that I could have whatever I wanted as long as the money held out.' A smile enveloped his cherubic countenance as he added, 'And it always has.' There you have the first secret of collecting. It is obvious but still worth noting: You start with the hand you are dealt. Let us ask if Mr. Barrett really could have whatever he wanted. Obviously, he could not. He meant his statement in a narrower sense. He had defined his collecting. He was engaged in forming a great collection of American literature. He knew what he was doing and where he was going. Today, the collection he was forming back then is handsomely ensconced in the Alderman Library at the University of Virginia. He added a resource to the world of learning.

A third secret of collecting has to do with a world which opens before you as you pursue a special interest. You have the opportunity to become a citizen of that world. Waller Barrett made many friendships within the world of books, and two friends he chose as particular and valued allies as he assembled his collection. Michael Papantonio and John Kohn at the Seven Gables Bookshop, 3 West 46th Street, New York, carried on their letterhead the words 'Old and Rare Books.' They took the name of their shop from Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables, and in the field of American literature they were preeminent. When you entered the shop, on an upper floor of an office building, their offices were at your right. Just ahead in the central room was a table on which were spread some choice American first editions. To the left, somewhat more dimly lit, was the back room--the domain of Waller Barrett. John Kohn and Michael Papantonio presumably had offered their best customer a prime point of vantage on the premises, certainly a sound decision for their business or, perhaps, the arrangement was Waller Barrett's idea. Probably he kept not too strenuous hours, but I suspect he was there most working days, and every volume of Emerson and Thoreau and Hawthorne and Robert Frost and T. S. Eliot and much more that entered the stock of the Seven Gables passed before him. In a way particularly suited to him, and especially advantageous to his collecting, he knew how to inhabit his own world of collecting.

I am going to say something more about the opportunity to inhabit the world of collecting, but I think I should turn at this moment to the meaning of collecting. When I peered into my dictionary at home I found four inches worth of words and meanings, beginning with collect and ending with collector. The immediate neighborhood in which these words dwell is a pleasant one. As you enter, you encounter collation and colleague, giving reassurance that you will be fed and will share the refreshments with people you know. As you depart, you meet colleen, college, and collegial. This is promising territory. Collect is revealed to be derived from collectus, a past participle of colligere, to bind together. A collection is 'an accumulation of objects gathered for study and comparison or exhibition.'

In point of fact, when we think of collecting, we visualize several people huddled together oh-ing and ah-ing over a treasure, be it a coin, a stamp, a picture, a book, a plate, a mug--you name it--as long as it is choice and rare. Collecting books is often thought of in terms of rarities and landmarks, including first books and early books dealing with a particular subject. It is thought of in terms of first editions, association copies, and lavish and luxurious presentation copies. I appreciate such books, but I am not much interested in collecting them, as far as our home library is concerned--nor do I have the budget to collect them. In my career as a curator, I live a lot in the presence of rarity, but at home I can spread my arms wide to experience many different aspects of books, especially their accessibility, durability, handiness, and staying power, making it possible for me to be within reach of many texts that entertain, enlighten, or instruct, and that, above all, bring me encounters with personalities I could know in no other way. It is the human beings I am after, what they can share of their own discoveries in life. In that sense, the library that my wife Cate and I have at home is filled with clues to the art of living. I buy books to nourish my interests.

I am fortunate to have married a bookish woman who collects in the same way. I can be eccentric, whimsical, quixotic in what I collect at home, and when I am sober and methodical as in the building of what is getting to be a large library of art history and art reference books, there is more fun in those books than you might guess. Books on artists in whom I have a special and enduring interest, including Rowlandson, Goya, Daumier, and Toulouse-Lautrec, cannot be confined to a room. They crop up all over the house. I could not bring these books with me for fear of breaking the car, but since I have fewer books on Piranesi--six to be exact--I thought that for fun I would bring those.

Art historians who write about Piranesi have the formidable task of chronicling and analyzing his very large body of work: Thank heavens for those among them who do not let such labors distract them from presenting the man himself. Jonathan Scott, in his study of Piranesi, shows a persistent interest in passing on to us every revealing personal detail and anecdote he could glean from the early biographical writings, and from letters and other sources. Scott tells us of Piranesi:

In the early years he used to go round to Bouchard's shop daily to see how his sales were doing and to hear how the customers had praised or criticised his latest plate. As his reputation grew, curious collectors started to interrupt him at work by calling at his lodgings which were only a short distance away from Bouchard. To avoid these importunate visitors, he moved 'for greater quiet,' as Legrand explains, 'to a little house behind the Monte Cavallo to a quarter called the Boschetto. He refused to see anyone so that he could have time to study and think and practice his art.' There, alone in his studio, he used to talk to his plates as the rough drawings which he had made during the day were transferred to the copper. 'Ah, we'll see,' he would mutter, 'how you can bring out the sunshine of Italy. You shall be brick, and you shall be marble.' Even here he was pestered by visitors. 'Piranesi isn't in,' he would shout through the door when they knocked. 'You'll find him at Bouchard's one evening.'[1]

I can think of days in the Print Room of the Boston Public Library when I felt just that way.

When I began to accumulate books, I was not aware, at first, that I was beginning to form a library. I was not aware that this was to be a lifelong interest, pastime, and occupation, nor did I perceive that I had started down a road. As you walk down the road the landscape changes, and you understand better where you are. You know yourself better, and you know many people and places in the world of books you did not know before. W. E. Deming, the management guru, offered as the first of his fourteen points for management the advice, 'Establish constancy of purpose.'[2] I still have my early interest in poetry, in the writer with a gift for story telling, in books about alphabets, typefaces, and printing, and in artists' biographies, all going back to my undergraduate years at Dartmouth, and in poetry and narrative going back to my childhood and growing up. I have added other interests as I went along. Why not? It is my life and my library. I can indulge myself. To the extent that some of these interests go back for decades and continue today, I have gained the advantage recommended by Mr. Deming. Over years and decades, occasional or sporadic purchases can add up in a surprising way. Whatever the eccentricities in my collecting, there is a strong American vein of self-improvement. One of my earliest favorite books, and a favorite book of many other Americans--I discovered it when I was in my teens--was Benjamin Franklin's autobiography. It is still a favorite. The same is true of Thoreau's Walden.

When Franklin lays out his various schemes of self-improvement, he speaks to something in his countrymen just as Thoreau does when he explains the economy of his bean field. A number of these schemes are impractical but they fascinate us, nevertheless, and are ancestors of the endless stream of how-to-succeed books. Just as Thoreau's budgets for the agriculture of his beans and account of the building of his cabin are to be viewed with suspicion, yet they captivate us, nevertheless, in their appeal to a deep-seated American longing for self-sufficiency: My own farm, or ranch, or hundred or smaller, encompasses 'an acre of independence.'

Built into collecting are potential opportunities for the collector that come from disparities of time and place and age and even weather. In the spring of 1963, I spent three weeks in London, and my most memorable evening was a visit in the company of Draper Hill, the caricaturist and historian of caricature, to Leonard Duke. Draper knew Mr. Duke and introduced me to this quiet, alert, elderly man, whose comfortable apartment contained one room with oak cabinets along the walls. When the doors were opened, shelf after shelf of solander boxes filled with British watercolors offered riches far greater than we could comprehend. Mr. Duke was a civil servant and a bachelor; he was not wealthy, he was frugal and saving. He kept careful track of his resources and he was unfailing in his attendance in the auction rooms. 'Some days it rained,' he remarked, 'some days nobody came.' On those days he bought at fairly affordable prices. Disparities of place can be symbolized by a book collecting trip--I vow to take this trip some day--from city to city, and including country places, too, across the United States, or England, or choose your territory. Prices will vary from place to place and you will make discoveries from place to place.

I have long been fascinated by old family businesses. The founder is dead and the business of the book shop is run by a child or grandchild who, in turn, has lived almost a lifetime. Whoever that person is, he or she may be playing the game according to rules learned in youth or middle age. Today I know of certain businesses that are being run in the 1990s according to a pattern established in the 1920s, and with certain overtones going back to the turn of the century. The proprietor, being advanced in age, reads less, gets about less, and is less in touch with the market. Books in such a shop may be overpriced or underpriced, sometimes strikingly so, because they are no longer aligned with the prices generally prevailing in the world at large. There are other disparities. Edgar Bridenbaugh, chief of the prints division of the Library of Congress thirty years ago, told me: 'I buy books in printsellers' shops and prints in booksellers' shops.' I thought of this the other day as I was looking at an exceptionally interesting antiquarian bookseller's catalog, that contained, among many books, single sheet prints. The prints were overpriced, but if you walked into a shop with an old stock of books and prints you might find that some of the stock was underpriced. It just had not been repriced for a number of years.

The most fundamental disparity has to do with money as the way we express value. The monetary values assigned to a book never reflect in an exact way certain other kinds of value. A bookseller decides that a book is worth such-and-such, but this particular book for personal reasons to you may be worth more, and you were very glad to make the purchase. Years ago, in the shop of David L. O'Neal Antiquarian Booksellers, I came upon a volume called Italian & French Book Papers, and pencilled in is David and Mary O'Neal's price, fifteen dollars.[3] Well, to me this book was worth more than fifteen dollars, because, when I saw this book, I could hear Herbert Ferrier, a friend of many years earlier, telling me about Thomas N. Fairbanks. At the time Herb founded the Boston branch of the Japan Paper Company in 1916, Mr. Fairbanks was, and continued to be through the 1920s, vice-president of the Japan Paper Company. I am sure he was charming to those he considered his equals in life, but he was a terror to those who were under him. Herb and Cora Ferrier trembled at his bitter, cutting sarcasm as he asked Herb, 'Why haven't you done this, why didn't you think of that.' Mr. Fairbanks was imprinted in an undeniable way upon their memories. Eventually, Fairbanks broke off from the Japan Paper Company and started his own firm. I come across the tracks of this very interesting man in various places. In the Grolier Club in New York there is correspondence revealing his friendship with the then librarian, and it all ties into a great story in collecting, because between about 1915 and 1930 the Japan Paper Company conducted one of the finest advertising campaigns ever waged in this country. They issued innumerable paper samples, and sometimes little books, to persuade people to use handmade paper. And, as Cora Ferrier said to me one day, 'Herb and I know how to make paper.' They had given demonstrations of handmade paper to clubs and groups all over the place. That was part of the Japan Paper Company program.

In the late 1930s, the Japan Paper Company, due to increasing tension with Japan, found it advisable to change its name, first to Stephen Nelson; eventually this firm was absorbed into a larger, merged firm called Andrews, Nelson, Whitehead. Herb Ferrier became vice-president of that firm. After Ferrier's death, eventually, after lengthy negotiations, I was able to obtain for the Boston Public Library the Japan Paper Company material that Cora had, including her sample books. She called up the New York office and said, 'The Boston Public Library wants these. Do you think it would be all right if I gave them to them,' and they said, 'Yes, it's all right.' The scrapbooks contained all sorts of wonderful paper samples designed by Rudolph Ruzicka, D. B. Updike, W. A. Dwiggins, and every other leading designer in the United States. You can still collect Japan Paper Company material. It is around. You will come upon it in various places.

I recommend ephemera to you as one of the branches of collecting. I have my own little ephemera collection, and it ranges all over the place. It is purely for fun. One of the attractions of ephemera is that even a very small thing, like a printed notice if it is in the hands of somebody who cares, really has to be perfect. It becomes something worth collecting later. I also bought, at a later date from the O'Neals, a little paperback book called Handmade Paper, Its Method of Manufacture.[4] The price was thirty dollars. To me, it was worth more than thirty dollars, because this book is my memento, and maybe I will have more as time goes on, of a remarkable man who was a great missionary for handmade paper in the 1930s for the Japan Paper Company. His name was Harrison Elliott. In the 1930s, the Japan Paper Company printed on their letterhead--and we have copies of it at the Boston Public Library--'Not responsible for losses or delayed deliveries due to wars, revolutions, and other uncertainties.'

The business of disparities is something you can explore to the limit and if I were giving you a talk on investments and telling you that the best thing to invest in right now would be this or that, I might be talking this way, too, because people over the centuries have made fortunes on this phenomenon. The world sees something in a certain way, but you see it in a different way. In the world of selling art, the world of selling books, and the world of publishing, these businesses thrive on repetition. In the art publishing field we really do not need another book on Cézanne or Toulouse-Lautrec; we certainly do not need one every year. But I can assure you that we are going to get them anyway. In these worlds, the rich get rich and people of high reputations continue to get even more attention paid to their reputation. A great many worthwhile artists, writers, and others, never get attention, and they never will get attention, unless somebody sets out to put them on the map. There is a well-defined way to do that, and one of the ingredients is having one or several hardcover books about them, with their name stamped in nice big gold capitals on the spine, that will find their way into our libraries.

If you choose to differ from the prevailing modes of collecting, you automatically have an advantage. During World War II, Archibald Hanna had the idea that, from time to time, people have written what he called social novels. These novels are fundamentally about life in the steel plant, life in the merchant marine, life as a secretary in a business in New York, or whatever occupation. Hanna began thinking there were probably quite a lot of these. There certainly are quite a lot of them. He eventually formed a collection of thousands of social novels, and he put the subject on the map. What did he buy these books for? He bought them for twenty-five cents, fifty cents, a dollar, in book stores all over the place, and they only began to obtain significance when Hanna had amassed a large collection of thousands of them and then eventually wrote about them. Finally, people said, 'Ah, social novels. Social novels. Yes, well, that is a category, isn't it.' It became a category for collectors. These things do not happen automatically. Meanwhile the book trade was going on with its first editions, its rare examples, the earliest book on dentistry, and so on. Those things fetch high prices.

Another thing that perhaps does not have the attention that it should have is that you live over a period of decades; there are buyer's decades and seller's decades. I hear collectors of the last fifty years praised to the skies and they deserve that praise, collectors whose collections are in libraries today. But nobody ever points out that these collectors started, let us say, in the thirties, and during the twenties you could sell almost anything. If you gave thought to it, you could figure out whom to sell it to and what price you wanted, and you could get that price. After 1929, that situation was reversed, and many of these collections came back on the market. Sometimes the seller would say in a low voice, 'What can you offer me?' That person needed the money badly in the thirties. The forties was a buyer's decade. It was a flat decade. At a scholarly conference in Bermuda years ago, I was taken to one of those wonderful Bermuda whitewashed houses, and hanging on the walls of the living room were prints by Rembrandt and Whistler, including a Rembrandt hundertgulden print. Now if there's a print among the many millions of prints that have been made, the etchings and woodcuts and others over the centuries, that is more famous than other prints, it is Rembrandt's hundertgulden print. It is his biggest print and it is filled with human incident. It really symbolizes his genius. It is one of those prints that derives its value not from its rarity but from its content. It is a magnificent thing. The last place I would have expected to see this print was on the wall of a house in Bermuda, so I asked the old man who owned the house how he acquired the print. He said, 'I was in London just after World War II. The print sellers were very glad to see me.' The forties, also the fifties when I came along, and the sixties were still a buyer's market. My first year's budget, first full year's budget at the Boston Public Library, to buy prints with was $1,214, and you would be amazed at what I bought with that money. From Kennedy Galleries in New York, I bought five prints by Martin Lewis that cost $275--and they knocked off ten percent for an institution--and one of those prints was Lewis's 'Glow of the City,' that climbed in the 1980s to thirty thousand dollars. You just have to live a while to see these disparities in price take place.

Now, a bookseller might say, 'Well, you know, this is not book collecting in the fullest sense of the word, because this isn't a rare and precious thing. It's a . . . who knows what.' I am sure that my library resembles the library of many college professors in that, like me, they collect in areas of their interest. But one book also brings up--I do not necessarily call this a secret of collecting, but it might be---it is more fun when you are doing this to participate in the world of books, not just collect books. You can do more than that now. One volume would be described by a bookseller as 'cover spotted, interior fine.' It is not a notable copy and it has pencilled inside the mark 3. I paid three dollars for this book, A Woodcut Manual, by J. J. Lankes.[5] If I were compiling a list of a hundred books of the 1930s that really to me conveyed the feeling of that decade, this would be one of them. In this book, Lankes tells you concisely and in very direct prose where to buy artists' materials, he tells you about printing, he discourses on the making, even, of your own Christmas cards, you can do this or that. He tells you about packing, mat cutting, all kinds of things. By the time he is through, with a brief bibliography and brief historical notes, he has covered the whole subject with a love and an authority that is absolutely unrivaled. Something that comes out of the pages of this book is a period, a period in which people valued taste, and they felt that really to show other people that they had taste, they had to have a Christmas card that was printed by a reputable printer, or perhaps it was cut on wood for them by J. J. Lankes. That showed that they were the right kind of people.

Today we are all very busy. In America, it is a status symbol to be busy so that if somebody said to you, 'How are you doing?' and you said, 'Oh, I don't know, I'm just sort of taking it easy,' there would be this look of contempt and dismay. We all say, 'I'm very busy, terribly busy.' We are too busy to have our own Christmas cards, our own letterheads, these nice little ephemeral things that exist in such marvelous quantity from the 1920s and 1930s. Honestly, we should be a little less busy. I have to confess that many years ago when our boys were teenagers, I said to my elder son, Hamilton, 'Ham, you're a real man of the twentieth century, you think about computers morning, noon, and night. Now, for many years I've been trying to work my way back into the eighteenth century, and I'm making real headway. Instead of typing letters, I now write them by longhand and sometimes I make longhand copies of letters. I avoid airplanes as much as possible. I walk a lot, the rhythm is very restful. I pursue conversation, and I spend considerable amount of time in coffee shops and sidewalk cafes.' He looked at me and he said, 'Dad, you haven't changed now. You answer the telephone, you have a driver's license. You're a modern man in spite of yourself.'

To go back to theme of participating in the world of bookmaking, the graceful things that you can do, there is a book about a German restaurant. It's called A Seidel for Jake Wirth, [6] and I was lucky in my early years in Boston, in the 1960s, to get in on this book. Reproduced on the title page is a W. A. Dwiggins drawing. It is called 'Fritz Heuser in Asgard,' and it shows that Fritz, after he died, was transported to the Norse heaven where he brought seidels of beer to the Vikings. This book was planned on the hundredth anniversary of the ownership of Jacob Wirth's restaurant by the first Jacob Wirth and by his son. Those two men spent a hundred years, and then the son-in-law took over and the restaurant is still there. I am sorry to say it is not owned by the family anymore, and the food is not what it once was. We all contributed essays to this book, and Rocky Stinehour designed it and printed it at the Stinehour Press. It is a most marvelous thing. It contains menus, it contains all kinds of things, including an advertising poster of the 1870s advertising a thing called the boss lager, and Jacob Wirth's emporium is in the background. The implication of the lithograph seems to be that drinking lager enhances virility--I cannot go into it--but anyway, this whole business of book collecting becomes more fun when you begin to do this kind of thing. As examples to deal with quickly, I would cite several little books from the age of Gutenburg that existed as late as the 1960s. These were books of essays that were designed by Rocky Stinehour, and they are still in print. They are pure letterpress books. I looked up my records of these books; it cost two dollars a copy to produce these books, binding and all, and they are really quite lovely things. Because of Ray Nash and because of Rocky Stinehour, during my years at the Boston Public Library we published various books on printmakers, catalogs, and that sort of thing. Many of them have been done by the Stinehour Press and some by other printers.

My all-time favorite is a book that we commissioned at the Boston Public Library, Samuel Chamberlain's autobiography.[7] I said to him--he had designed his own books for Hastings House for many years--'Listen, you know, we can't pay you for this book. Public libraries don't do that kind of thing. There won't be any royalties. But we can offer you something. We'll pay for the book and you can design it. You can choose a typeface, you can design and set the margins, you can lay out every page, end papers, binding, dust jacket, you can design all of those things.' He did and did them meticulously. He filled this book with illustrations, with reproductions of his drawings, and photographs. The text is wonderful. It's the text of a man who really knew how to enjoy life. I said to Cate not long ago, 'Thank God I married a woman who knows how to cook.' And she said, 'I didn't at first, you know, you should really thank Sam Chamberlain and Craig Claiborne.' Sam Chamberlain gave us at the time of our wedding a book called Clementine in the Kitchen, a thinly disguised description of the Chamberlain family's return from France.[8] He describes how they brought with them their French cook from France when they had to return at the end of the 1930s, her searches to find good markets, the Italian groceries in and around Boston that yielded treasures, and so on. At the end of every chapter is a recipe, and so Cate started pursuing those recipes, and we still use some of them today. David Godine recognized the merits of this book, and after Samuel Chamberlain's death he got together with Narcisse Chamberlain, known as Biscuit; he and Biscuit got out a new edition that may still be in print.

My field is American graphic art from the beginnings until the mid-twentieth century and right on to the present. I would like to offer you the definition of a library. A library is not just books you read or accumulate. A library at home really should be all the books you are ever going to need at any time. If you cannot reach out onto your shelf when you need that book, forget it. The whole thing is sort of futile. Books are just essential for me. As you walk down the road in art history you discover certain things. Charlie Childs, the Boston art dealer, used to talk to me about the exhibition 'Life in America,' that was conducted at the Metropolitan Museum at the end of the thirties.[9] William Ivans, who was then the acting director of the Met, was in charge of the exhibition, and his job was to assemble American paintings that would reflect America. While he was working on the exhibition, he got an idea, and he said to a colleague, 'I want you to go to the New York Public Library and look up the travelers' accounts of America. I don't want to just reproduce these paintings. There's got to be something more. I want to hear voices in this catalog. I want to hear the voices of the people who knew Audubon, who traveled up the Mississippi. Let's hear from the people themselves.' So they did that. Every entry in this catalog has quotations from the travelers. Well, Charlie pointed out to me that this book really touched off a whole series of exhibitions and Charlie had been to these shows. He used to reminisce about visiting shows like 'American Processional, The Story of Our Country.' 'Life in America' set the pattern, and as so often happens in history, other museums followed that pattern.

I want to mention one of my great abiding interests and also a wild card in collecting. The wild card is that you can also inherit books. My wife and I have all kinds of children's books that have come down to us. In the case of my mother, I do not know how she saved these books because she came from an army family. Her father and grandfather were army officers. She married an army officer, and she spent her life moving around. In my father's last years they lived in Spain. Yet somehow or other there came into my possession through her the books she had owned as a little girl. She was born in 1910. And these were books that were given to her by her godmother, her aunts, and so on, between 1910 and 1920. At the Back of the North Wind, The Red Fairy Tale Book, The Little Colonel stories, now forgotten, and others. Those books are battered and no bookseller would look twice at them, but to me they have all kinds of family resonance. Cate inherited from Aunt Hilda Foster various books, and Aunt Hilda loved Howard Pyle. I think that generation of American women, perhaps men, too, who were born in the 1880s, developed a taste for Howard Pyle. There is my Aunt Christine's copy of The Wonder Clock,[10] by Howard Pyle and his sister Katharine, bound by my aunt who was an amateur bookseller and a bookbinder. The story of these American amateur binders in the 1920s and 1930s is an interesting story that would make a book in itself. One of my most memorable experiences with children's books was sitting up in bed in the house at 21 Linnean Street, propped up on pillows, with one boy aged about five or six on one side of me, the other boy aged about seven or eight on the other side of me, with a story for every hour of the day. Katharine Pyle wrote verses that are like the chiming of a clock. Then Howard Pyle tells a story with his drawings that are in the manner of Dürer, and he is a wonderful storyteller. My older boy got the idea very quickly. He figured out that if the younger son is thrown out of the house or sent out into the world because there is nothing for him there, and he arrives at a dry and dusty square where there is a fountain and a toad or a frog hops up on the little piece of stone surrounding the fountain, that is a significant thing. That frog could be a prince later on, you know. Something big is happening here. It could slip right by you if you did not pick up these details. We had a lot of fun with this book and I still prize it.

I have a small group of editions of Judge Shute, The Real Diary of a Real Boy, having to do with a boy in Exeter, New Hampshire, whose nickname was Plupy Shute. According to Judge Shute, he went out back one and was rummaging around in one of the sheds out in back of the house and he came upon this boyish diary. 'And,' said Judge Shute, 'well, you know, here it is.' Twenty years later the books had been so successful that Judge Shute was still going out back and discovering further diaries of Plupy Shute, and Plupy--it is one of those American books that are written in dialect that is often criticized--tells about his various adventures, the mischief he gets into. There is quite a lot of emphasis on food and drink. Again, this had a visible impact in our family. Our older boy began keeping a diary, and I have always hoped I could find this diary. Cate and I were speaking of it today. It seemed to be mainly about food. But every day's entry began with the words 'brite and fair,' the title of the second book by Judge Shute. He kept turning out these Plupy Shute books.

The Real Diary of A Real Boy was printed in Boston in the early years of this century by the Everett Press.[11] That was a period just after the 1890s in which there was a great ferment in typography. People knew what good design was. It is a most unusual book because it is printed in a kind of fat-faced type, like Dutch Roman, and it has running heads across the type that are in heavy upper and lower type, letter spaced. Now in the annals of typography lower case letters were meant to fit together, you do not letter space them, but anyway across the pages of this book run the words 'Real Diary of a Real Boy.' They put in a lot of letter spacing. You look at this book and you say, 'There was an imaginative book designer who picked up this book and ran with it,' and of course it went through edition after edition. Some day I will have the story of who designed that book and I will know something about the Everett Press that I do not know today.

Now, one more disparity that I want to call to your attention. I insert this just in case I have not given you enough secrets of book collecting. At heart, I am a biographer and a social historian, but my occupation compels me to be an art historian and I like that. Museums care only about high art. That is all they care about. Many of the things that we collect at the Boston Public Library are not high art. When I began there I sought the advice of Carl Kipp at The New York Public Library. He said, 'You know, in a public library you're really interested in the visual record of society, the visual documentation of society. That doesn't mean that you wouldn't collect high art, but it does mean that you could collect all kinds of other things.' So today our print department at the Boston Public Library resembles not an art museum print department so much as the Library of Congress, which has lots of Rembrandts and other old master things, but it also has the archives of Look magazine with twenty thousand prints, and again this kind of disparity has affected my book collecting advantageously both at home and at the library.

A print seller, Ray Lewis, who still is active out in California, did us a very great service at the Boston Public Library. He received from a man named Fleischman, a Vancouver, British Columbia, collector, a Rowlandson collection that had taken decades to build up. He sold these Rowlandsons to the Stanford University Art Museum, the Boston Public Library, and other places, and when he had dispersed the Fleischman collection, he called me up. He said, 'You know, I have something here I don't know what do with. It's Fleischman's reference library. He collected every article on Rowlandson. When he couldn't buy the actual magazine or auction catalog he had them photostated.' Those were the days of photostats. He had the books on Rowlandson, and so on. Lewis said, 'I was thinking since the Boston Public Library has a good collection of Rowlandson drawings that perhaps you'd like to have his reference library.' I said, 'I would.' We had two hundred single-sheet Rowlandson drawings, we had numbers of single sheet prints, and any Rowlandson collector has to have the books, including the editions of Doctor Syntax, The Microcosm of London, and many other books that Rowlandson illustrated. We had them, by and large. But these reference books added what, to me, are a fourth dimension. I put them on shelves with the Rowlandson books we already had, and then I began to collect around them, and now we have a long shelf of auction catalogs that have markers in them. Open these auction catalogs and you see that a cache of Rowlandson drawings had reached the market, and page after page is filled with reproductions of Rowlandson drawings. Then, an old Rowlandson collector in the last years of his life, Maurice Serafin of New York, knew he did not have too much longer to live. He packed up all his Rowlandson books and his correspondence and put them in a cardboard box and shipped them off to me. Today I can look at these shelves of Rowlandson reference material, quite appropriate to one of the great research libraries in the world, something we have in common with the Dartmouth College Library, and I can say that not even in the British Museum can one find all this material on Rowlandson. This is that added dimension. It is definitely a part of my thinking at home and also at the Boston Public Library.

[*] This essay is an excerpt from a paper read at the Book Collectors' Workshop, sponsored by the Friends of the Dartmouth Library, on 7 May 1994.

[1] Jonathan Scott, Piranesi (New York: St. Martins Press, 1975), 27.

[2] Deming's fourteen points have been articulated in many of his essays and monographs. See, inter alia, W. Edwards Deming, The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education (Cambridge, Mass.: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Advanced Engineering Study, 1993).

[3] Thomas N. Fairbanks Co., Italian & French Book Papers, Showing Sizes 22 x 28 [and] 28 x 44 (New York: Thomas N. Fairbanks Company, Import Division, United States Envelope Company, 1930).

[4] Stevens-Nelson Paper Corporation, New York, Handmade Paper: Its Method of Manufacture as Described in the Novel 'Storm in a Teacup' by Eden Phillpots (New York: Japan Paper Co., 1932).

[5] Julius John Lankes, A Woodcut Manual (New York: H. Holt and Company [1932]).

[6] A Seidel for Jake Wirth (S.n.: s.l., 1964). The volume was printed by the Stinehour Press.

[7] Samuel Chamberlain, Etched in Sunlight: Fifty Years in the Graphic Arts (Boston: Boston Public Library, 1968).

[8] Samuel Chamberlain, Clementine in the Kitchen, by Phineas Beck, vignettes by Henry Stahlhut (New York: Hastings House, 1943). The Godine issue, still in print, is Samuel Chamberlain, Clementine in the Kitchen, by Samuel Chamberlain (Phineas Beck), Illustrated with Drypints and Drawings by the Author, revised by Narcisse Chamberlain (Diane Beck), 3rd ed. (Boston: D. R. Godine, 1988).

[9] Metropolitan Museum of Art, Life in America: a Special Loan Exhibition of Paintings Held During the Period of the New York World's Fair, April 24 to October 29 (New York: Scribner Press, 1939).

[10] Howard Pyle, The Wonder Clock (New York, Harper and Row, 1915).

[11] Henry Augustus Shute, The Real Diary of A Real Boy (Boston: The Everett Press, 1902).

Last Updated: 5/3/12