Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2003 Issue

Catalogue Review – Oak Knoll Catalogue 251

Oak251

Oak Knoll Books Catalogue 251


By Mike Stillman

Oak Knoll Books is noted for selling “books about books,” and this latest catalogue is no exception. However, rather than breaking its offerings into many categories as usual, they have used just two this time: books about books and bibliography. And, while Oak Knoll always offers a healthy selection of bibliographies, they’ve outdone themselves this time with over 500 listings. There seem to be bibliographies of just about any kind of book you could dream of collecting.

There are numerous state bibliographies, and not just for California or Texas, but for smaller states like Rhode Island, Nevada, Alaska, Alabama, and Hawaii. Many bibliographies are offered for authors, some well-known and others I’ve never heard of. Bibliographies for important historical figures are also available. Then there are subject and book type bibliographies. For example, those interested in collecting the westward expansion and Oregon Trail will want item 755, Merrill J. Mattes’ Platte River Road Narratives, A Descriptive Bibliography of Travel over the Great Central Overland Route to Oregon, California, Utah, Colorado, Montana, and Other Western States and Territories. It contains 2,082 listings covering the period between 1812-1866 and includes a forward from James Michener. Priced at $85.

An example of a bibliography of a particular type of book is item 756, American Diaries, an Annotated Bibliography of American Diaries Written Prior to the Year 1861. I can’t imagine how much research author William Matthews must have needed to track down all of these one-of-a-kind items when he put together this bibliography back in 1945. $45.

For those who question whether Oak Knoll really has a bibliography about everything, there’s The Invisible Empire, a Bibliography of the Ku Klux Klan. I didn’t know that there was a bibliography of the Klan, but there was and Oak Knoll has this chilling item. Number 620. $45.

For those who think bibliography is dull, how about Russell Ash and Brian Lake’s Bizarre Books? This contains 18 chapters on strange titles, author names, and the like. Indeed, this could be the source for an interesting collection. Who could resist a copy of “The Inheritance of Hairy Ear Rims,” “A Toddler’s Guide to the Rubber Industry,” “The Pleasures of the Torture Chamber,” or “Fish Who Answer the Telephone?” And then there are the useful and practical books like “Teach Yourself Alcoholism,” “How to Boil Water in a Paper Bag,” and “Old Age, It’s Cause and Prevention.” It’s too late for me to make use that last title, but some of you may still have time. Item 8. $30.

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