Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2013 Issue

Outside of the Mainstream from Brian Cassidy Bookseller


The counterculture and more.

Brian Cassidy, Bookseller recently published catalogue 7: summer 2013. In looking for a word to describe the material offered, about the best one that comes to mind is counterculture. There are a lot of pieces that definitely don't come from the mainstream of society. From beats to punks, they are out there towards the edges. That is not to say everything herein fits this category. Perhaps the circus or bullfighting aren't mainstream either, though they wouldn't exactly be classified as counterculture. Whatever the word is, we will present a few items and let you decide what to make of it.

We will start with an actor who played in the quintessential counterculture film of the 1960s, Easy Rider. It was a tale of two drug smugglers cum motorcycle riders, as they make their way across the American Southwest and South. They hit the counterculture venues of the day, a commune, hippies, peace and love, and lots of drugs. In time they make their way to the Old South, and eventually their demise in the face of the hatred and intolerance of that time and place. The creator of this book portrayed one of those riders. That would be Dennis Hopper, and if most still know him as an actor, he was also an artist, and a photographer in particular. In fact, he was that before he was a famous actor. Item 7 is Hopper's Out of the Sixties, a second edition of a book of his photography published in 1986. It harkens back to the era of Easy Rider, and includes pictures of people who would have fit well in that movie, as well as notable celebrities such as Paul Newman, Andy Warhol, and the Rolling Stones. This copy is inscribed by Hopper. Priced at $750.

Here is a book that had nothing to do with illicit drugs, at least not at the time it was published. How it was used in later years is another question. Item 92 is Traite de la Fabrique des Manoeu-Vres pour les Vaisseaux ou l'Art de la Corderis Perfectionne. This is a book on the fabrication of rope for ships. Rope production for ships was a major business at the time this book was published in 1747, and through the next century as well. The resource from which the rope was made was hemp. Of course, hemp can produce other products, notably marijuana, and perhaps some readers were later interested in learning from this book how to grow the plant for non-cordage related reasons. And that is how a book on 18th century rope making ends up in a catalogue with 20th century counterculture. $2,000.

Next up is... I don't really know what this is. The title is Bus. It is a photograph, life-size of a Greyhound Bus. It was the creation of Mason Williams. Williams is an artist, but not a typical one. He is a poet and writer, though he is more familiar as a television comedy writer, and most known as a musician. He wrote for the Smothers Brothers show, once the most popular program on television, and Saturday Night Live. The bus was used for scenery during the Smothers Brothers show, and was featured on the cover of Williams' most popular record album – The Mason Williams Phonograph Record from 1968. The album introduced the Grammy Award winning Billboard #2 song Classical Gas. Williams' classical bus is item #24. $15,000.

Rare Book Monthly

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