Saturday, 26 May 2012

Review - Ray Safford: Rare Bookman

Exhibiting 15 Feb - 13 April 2012
Last post I mentioned that a review of this book appearing in the Spring 2012 issue of the Bookplate Journal prompted me to order a copy from Oak Knoll Press, and I am pleased to say the decision to do so did not disappoint.  Authored by Mark D. Tomasko, this short biography and catalogue of the life and artifacts of Scribner's bookseller Ray J. Safford (1866-1930) offers a tremendously interesting insight to the world of books, bookplates, dealers and collectors during the Golden Age of rare book and literary buying and selling in America.

Ray Safford, avid collector, buyer and seller, was considered one of the United States' most knowledgeable subject matter experts in the book trade at the turn of the last century.  Employed by Scribners for nearly four decades, he rose to become head of the retail department where he was both witness and party to several landmark book sales.  This included the sale of a Shakespeare First Folio in 1903 among other things.  Safford's life was also enriched by the many people he came into contact with, as well as the many friends he made over the course of his long and distinguished career.  He was good friends with Frank Nelson Doubleday, for example, the legendary publisher.

In addition to a short biography, the book includes a catalogue of Safford's papers, photos, and ephemera in the private archive of the author, as well as elaborations on some of the highlights of his career.  The book itself, as one can expect from Oak Knoll, is superbly designed and produced.  Soft cover, 6x9, and perfect bound (stitched), the 84-page volume includes many sepia toned and full colour illustrations of book covers, bookplates, and portraits.  Very reasonably priced at $15, this is a worthy addition to any private library.

This month has been devoted mainly to reviews of new bookplate related literature, and not so much about bookplates themselves.  My apologies for this, but a good collection or interest deserves a good reference library to explore it further, so I want to give relevant books and journals some attention to.  Until next time...


Monday, 7 May 2012

The Bookplate Journal - Spring 2012

Spring 2012 Issue
The Spring 2012 edition of the The Bookplate Journal arrived this past week and as usual it is jammed with an excellent variety of articles, research notes, items of interest, illustrations, and reviews.

Volume 10 No.1 of the new series features five excellent articles covering a wide range of topics.  Bryan Welch has written an insightful piece on 'Mary Watt's bookplate for her Husband', while his shorter piece on Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, is similarly gripping.  Jim McCready's homage to the work of Daniel de Bruin (1950-2010) is both informative and touching.  Meanwhile the articles by Benoit Junod and W.E. Butler reveal the interesting and often overlooked fringes of the traditional bookplate world.

The remainder of the journal is stuffed with research notes and reviews covering topics too numerous to list here.  However, one item I will mention specifically is the review of Mark Tomasko's recent book on 'Ray Safford: Rare Bookman' by W.E. Butler.  I found this review exceptionally informative, and have subsequently ordered the book from Oak Knoll Press for my private library as a result.  I am grateful to W.E. Butler, and the Bookplate Society, for including such reviews in the the journal.

The Bookplate Journal is published twice a year in the spring and autumn, as is available to all subscribed members of the society.  A tremendous resource for book and ex libris historians, researchers, and collectors, I highly recommend this publication for your private library.  Please take a moment to check out the society and its publications.  Now back to reading the journal.  Until next time....

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Bookplates of Miss C. Helard

ISBN 978-0-9555428-2-4
Authored and compiled by Colin R. Lattimore, this year's extra offering to members of The Bookplate Society is a wonderfully illustrated book examining the bookplates of Miss C. Helard and other related matters.

Mary Ellen Blanche Crookes (1870-1935) aka, Miss C. Helard, was the wife of Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, a noted Edwardian lawyer, author, and expert on heraldry.  When the library of his estate came onto the market in the late 1970s, the author was able to acquire a substantial archive of material that, combined with other research into the history of this family, culminated in this impressive work.

As the author explains, C. Helard was 'born' in 1895 as the pseudonym that Crookes used for her heraldic drawings and bookplate designs.  Why exactly she chose this name remains something of a mystery, but her portfolio of work as C. Helard was impressive.  The author has meticulously catalogued all known examples of her work, and has reproduced in superb quality many illustrations of her ex libris in this book.

The book itself is softcover, approx. 8 1/2 x 11; 135pgs; illus; biblio; index; and limited to an edition of 450 copies.  Well-researched, very readable, and beautifully illustrated throughout, this book will make yet another great addition to the private libraries of bookplate collectors and historians.  I highly recommend that you visit The Bookplate Society's website and get a copy, or better still, consider joining the society and receive both the journal as well as access to many other books like this.  Until next time...