Books About Books and Bibliography from Oak Knoll
By Michael Stillman
Oak Knoll Books has issued its Catalogue 287 featuring "books about books" and bibliography. These are great catalogues for those who are interested in information about books or who collect within the field of the book arts. However, there is also an occasional first edition classic thrown in, so once in awhile, you may be surprised by what you find. Nonetheless, if you are looking for artistic books, bibliographies, limited editions and such works as usually carry the "books about books" moniker, this is the place. Here are a few.
Item 35 is an example of a thorough review of a very targeted subject: The Craftsman's Guide to Edge Decoration, by John Mitchell, published in 1993. Edge decoration is a major feature of books as art, ranging from simple coloring all the way to fore-edge paintings, but there aren't too many books about it. This one covers equipment and techniques of edge decoration, along with coloring, marbling, gold, gilding, painting, and more. Priced at $225.
Item 408 takes a look at early American children's books: A Bibliography of American Children's Books Printed Prior to 1821. This bibliography is found within six volumes of the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society from 1963-1967. Compiled by D'Alte Welch, Oak Knoll notes that there are more entries in the listings within the Proceedings than appeared in the book form issued later. Over 1,000 complete descriptions are present. $350.
Here is a book which would have appeared in that bibliography had it been published just 141 years earlier. It is one of the classics of children's literature: James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl. This is a first edition, published in 1961. While Dahl was British, this counts as an American work, as the first edition, published in New York, preceded the first British edition by six years. Item 64. $5,000.
It's always nice to hear from Mom, but perhaps there is a point where she should leave you alone. Item 180 is Letters from the Marchioness de Sevigne to Her Daughter the Countess de Grignan. There are ten volumes of these letters, published in 1927. Oak Knoll describes this as "one of the most celebrated correspondence in French literature," which surely it must be as who else could write so many letters? $100.
Item 282 is an oddly titled limited edition (249 copies) from the Black Cat Press: Oriental Encounters, Two Essays in Bad Taste. Indeed, the title is appropriate for the two subjects discussed, eunuchs and "honeycarts." The latter refers to those carts that collected human waste in the days before indoor plumbing. You think you have a tough job. This book, published in 1938, is inscribed by author Vincent Starrett to Mrs. Charles Phelan, "for furtive reading." $135.