Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2022 Issue

Book of Books: How many trees must die for this thing to exist?


The Book of Books

Many people hope to have a book in them.    A few do.  Those who have experienced their lives through the words, stories and experiences of books seem the most likely to succeed.  One such effort was sent to us recently in the hope one of us would read and write about it.  I did and both applaud the effort and see their outcome as a reminder how difficult it is to capture the attention of the reader.  I say this carefully because, if time allows, I too hope to leave a printed account of my meander.  Such efforts should be encouraged even if they aren’t entertaining.  I can promise mine won’t be.


The book at hand is a self-published Book of Books coauthored by James Mathew and Kent Bicknell.


The preface lays out the plan.


This book provides a guided tour of their museum of rare books, manuscripts and historical artifacts that apparently does not exist.  Visitors are invited to explore the collector’s selected pearls, apparently relying on the printed texts provided in this book when and if you buy it.  If not, if the authors were also providing a website to induce passersby to grasp and appreciate its wisdom, that might be a worthwhile investment.   Without links to dangle on their strands of wisdom, many of the unenlightened may find Google searches easier and cheaper to brighten the darkness.  The price is 30 British pounds plus shipping for the softcover version.


Elsewhere, searches for the collector whose material is being explained, Thamaravelil Geevarghese Mathai, is unknown to Mr. Google who claims to know everyone.   Neither are there any links to its imagined museum so the only sure fire way to plumb this volume’s depths will be to succumb to this article or find their publisher’s website:  libripublishing.co.uk where you can search for its title:  Book of Books: Pearls from the Meandering Stream of Time that Runs Across Continents. 


Where this collection is isn’t clear.  One of the authors mentions he’s hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Another mentions Bangalore.  The museum is possibly parked on some random shelves.  Where they are matters less than what their selections become when pulled together into a book.  Bravo to them to cross the author’s Rubicon.  Many hope to, few ever reach that far ashore.


Such efforts must surmount the clog of ego.  Selections impose a heavy burden on the selector and imply judgment, after which it becomes the reader’s opportunity to absorb, applaud or reject.  No matter what the outcome, the book will become heavy lifting for those that buy the book, given 338 royal octavo pages must be read to be considered.


Such celebrations of ego in print have a long history.  Collections can go in many directions.  Unhappy spouses may leave them on the front steps when the trashmen are coming.  Others may be detailed and explained in their wills leaving to good friends random books and artifacts that mattered personally to the donor.  Family members are the frequent recipients who are usually left to briefly treasure  or convert them into treasury notes.  In most cases the second option is selected.  Sentiment doesn’t travel or age well.


Such opportunities to become published writers have now become opportunities to become self-published authors and this suggests there will be new categories of book collecting that my advanced age will spare me from experiencing personally.  On the short list of advantages of aging I’ll put this at or near the top.


As to the actual subject of the book, it is transcendentalism – as described on Google as:



an idealistic philosophical and social movement which developed in New England around 1836 in reaction to rationalism. Influenced by romanticism, Platonism, and Kantian philosophy, it taught that divinity pervades all nature and humanity, and its members held progressive views on feminism and communal living. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were central figures.


a system developed by Immanuel Kant, based on the idea that, in order to understand the nature of reality, one must first examine and analyze the reasoning process which governs the nature of experience.


Such a luxurious subject absolutely needs to be rationally explained.


For those willing to skip a two martini lunch to save some money to buy this volume your decision will lengthen your life as certainly the two martinis will shorten it.


Here’s a link to the book: 



Here is another link about this volume, this one to Booktrib:  https://booktrib.com/2022/03/02/the-genesis-of-book-of-books/

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> George Washington ADS, One of the Earliest in His Hand, A Survey from 1752, the Same Year He Inherited Mount Vernon.
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    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Daniel Boone Signed Receipt as VA Delegate; During His 1st of 3 Terms, Boone Was Kidnapped by British Forces Gunning for Gov. T. Jefferson & Other Legislators.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipt for “Pennsylvania Gazette,” Important & Beautifully Displayed
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    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Jefferson Davis ALS: “the negroes are humble and generally inclined to cling to their masters…neither crop or stock could be protected from their thieving” – Incredible!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lee Harvey Oswald Signed Letter: “if we finally get back to the states…maybe we’ll…settle in Texas,” Warren Commission Exhibit.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Babe Ruth First Edition Biography Signed Just Months Before His Death, Excellent Signature!
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> “B Arnold” ANS on Pre-Revolutionary War Promissory Note Dating From His Days as a New Haven Merchant
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Bob Dylan Signed LP “Blonde on Blonde” with Jeff Rosen COA.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio Signed Checks, Handsomely Displayed.

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