Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - March - 2011 Issue

The Library of Ben and Bernarda Shahn from Lorne Bair and Between the Covers

Seeitnow

Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly inscribe Murrow's book to Shahn.

By the 1950s, there would be a new set of political issues to confront. It was the era of the Red Scare, and in 1954, television journalist Edward R. Murrow took on the red-baiting Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy. Shahn was so impressed with Murrow's courage that he produced two drawings, one featuring David and Goliath, the other St. George and the Dragon. Each used the likenesses of Murrow and McCarthy to make its point. He sent one to Murrow and the other to producer Fred Friendly. It was undoubtedly in response to these gifts that Shahn received a copy of Murrow's See It Now (named for his television program), inscribed to him by both Murrow and Friendly. Item 35. $1,200.

 

Item 52 is a signed copy of Poet Marianne Moore's Tell Me, Tell Me:  Granite, Steel, and Other Topics, published in 1966. However, Shahn did not receive it from Moore. Instead, it came from Ben Sackheim, a noted New York advertising executive who retired to a second career as a bookseller in Tucson. Sackheim would send out signed copies of books to his friends at Christmas, along with a humorous note, which is included. This one tells of Ms. Moore's being called on by Ford Motors to come up with a name for their new car in 1955. The thinking was a poet would have a way with words. Sackheim notes some of Moore's suggestions:  Mongoose Civique, Taper Racer, Andante Con Moto, and Dearborn Diamente. All were rejected. Indeed, one can see how bad her ideas were by Ford's ultimate choice of a name for the creation of their $250 million project - the Edsel. The only thing worse than the name was the car. $400.

 

Item 101 is Art As A Function Of Government:  A Survey. This pamphlet was put out by the WPA Federal Art Project in 1938. Even in the midst of the Depression, the government was funding works of art, keeping America's artists employed until better times returned. It seems hard to imagine today that there would be funding for such projects, though times are not nearly as bad. Perhaps our priorities have changed. $100.

 

To find out more about this catalogue or purchase items from it, contact Lorne Bair Rare Books at 540-665-0855 or info@lornebair.com. The website is www.lornebair.com.

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