31 Varied and Unusual Items from John Michael Lang Fine Books
By Michael Stillman
John Michael Lang Fine Books has issued a brief but fascinating collection of eclectic works: Recent Acquisitions List 21. There are just 31 items offered, but you might find just about anything here. There are obscurities from Lang's Pacific Northwest (his shop is located in Seattle), exploration books, poetry, books signed by presidents, one on boxing, another on Japanese origami, an unpublished travel account, maps of the west, literature, bibliography, a receipt signed by the founder of Olympia, Washington, a pictorial account of a legendary Seattle nightclub featuring cross-dressing performers, military memoirs, a Chinook vocabulary, even an early 17th century European book. And more. All of this from just 31 items! How is this possible? You should contact Lang for a copy to see. Here are a few samples.
Item 3 recounts some of the earliest travels into Montana by whites. Though published by the Montana State University Press in 1950, it is David Thompson's Journals Relating to Montana and Adjacent Regions, 1808-1812. This book was taken from Thompson's original manuscripts and includes an introduction by editor M. Catherine White. Priced at $500.
Item 31 is the quintessential resource for mapping of the American West. It is Carl Wheat's Mapping the Transmississippi West, 1540-1861. It contains five volumes (bound in six), each covering a period of time, from the Spanish explorations to the Louisiana Purchase in volume one, to Civil War to Geological Survey in volume five. Over 300 historic maps are reproduced. The work was published from 1957-1963 in an edition of 1,000 copies. $4,500.
Next we move to the not so serious: The Numidian 1967. This is the yearbook for the Lakeside School, a prep school in Seattle for the well heeled. This one includes 8th grade photos for Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Allen shows up both in his class picture and, with an expression of mock horror, in what appears to be an electric chair. His partner-to-be, Bill Gates, does not appear in this yearbook as he did not enter Lakeside until the following year. Item 2. $75.
Here is that very old book: A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence In Antiquities, by R.V. (Richard Verstegan). Published in Antwerp in 1605, this book includes the first printed reference to the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Item 28. $2,000.
For collectors of bibliography, here is one you don't have: Bibliography on Medicine and Pharmacy in Medievil Islam, by Sami Hamarneh. Well, if you do, you certainly don't have a copy inscribed by the author, such as this one. Although we have not done the research, we imagine that this 1964 book is likely the only bibliography on the subject in English. Item 7. $200.