Between The Covers Rare Books and James Cummins Bookseller have released Catalogue 259 – Holiday Miscellany. This catalogue includes more items from the inventory of Waiting for Godot Books, a major Massachusetts bookseller that closed a few years ago, as well as from other private collections. As expected of a miscellany, there is a mix of material, something for everyone. Here are a few examples of what can be found.
There are lots of books about movies. Here is the first one. It dates back to 1895 when motion pictures were first being developed. The title is History of the Kinetograph, Kinetoscope and Kinetophograph. These were the earliest devices for recording and displaying movies before they were called movies. The authors were W. K. L. (William Kennedy Laurie) Dickson and Antonia Dickson, brother and sister. Antonia was a concert pianist and writer who cooperated with her brother on projects, such as writing this book. William was the inventor involved with movies. In 1883, he took a job with Thomas Edison. Having already invented recorded sound with his phonograph, Edison assigned Dickson the job of figuring out how to do the same with sight, finding a way to record it in action rather than stills. Dickson at first tried to use a revolving cylinder as Edison had used for sound but realized that running a reel of film worked better. It moved on sprockets and behind it, a light shined through, it flashing so as to go on while the image was in front of the light, off as the film rolled between images. With a brief stop at each image, it created the illusion of motion. The first movies were viewed through a peephole but later a projector was added. It was also Dickson who selected 35mm as the ideal size for film, still used today. Edison is remembered for his role in developing motion pictures, not surprising as it was created in his laboratory and Edison had already displayed his ingenuity through the invention of the phonograph and light bulb. Dickson was essentially forgotten, his name resurrected some in recent years but it is unlikely most people are aware of his importance, even if they regularly watch movies. His book is exceedingly difficult to find today. Item 52. Priced at $175,000.
It's unlikely Dickson realized what his invention would lead to. Here is one thing – Groucho Marx. Groucho and his brothers created some of the funniest movies ever made. I don't know whether Dickson ever got to experience the Marx Brothers and take pride in helping to create them, but since he lived until 1935, he might have. On the strength of his reputation built on films, Groucho became an author. Here is his first book. This is not a literary masterpiece and it is a very quick read, but it is filled with Groucho's deadpan humor. The title is Beds, and it is all about beds and activities that take place thereon. It was published in 1930. Item 67. $600.
This is a poster for a famous modern art exhibition in the 1930s. Actually, the word “infamous” is more appropriate. It was not meant to celebrate the art but rather to condemn it. The poster heading is Entartete Kunst, Degenerate Art. It was a traveling exhibition put on in Germany by the Nazis from 1936-1938. It was meant to show the moral decay of abstraction and other modernist deviations from what they liked. Of course, it also focused on the genetic inferiority of the artists, many of whom, naturally, were Jews. There were 740 art works put on display. Along with the poster item 5 includes a printed leaflet and three photo postcards, two showing artworks displayed. $9,500.
“'David infected Nolan,' Carla mumbled normally. Automatically standard blind midnight escaped her for 'weirdos,' Jane stated curiously. 'The observation chamber continued to emit resonant extravagant glyphs,' Barry snapped.” Surrealism? Stream of consciousness? Stream of unconsciousness is more like it. This is from David Benedetti's novel novel, published in 1982. Between The Covers explains that this was likely the first computer generated novel ever “written.” Benedetti programed 1,088 words into his computer and wrote a program designed to put the words in sentences and paragraphs, but let the computer decide which words to choose. “I did not change one word of the output, add to it, or subtract anything from it,” he explained in the introduction. “You see it just as it came printed out as a result of running 'a job' on an IBM 370/158 computer.” With all due respect to the machine, it didn't follow IBM's motto to “think.” A mathematician it may be, but not a novelist. I don't know how long this novel is but hopefully very short. Today, there are computer programs that can practically write a book for you, at least take your effort and polish it up to make you sound more intelligent. They can also write songs and take “pictures” of scenes and people that don't exist. Who needs humans anyway?The title of this original-if-nothing-else book is Social Climax Text, and it is a great rarity, presumably because the author did not print too many copies. Item 15. $6,500.
There has not been a manned landing on the moon in 40 years. No wonder so many people believe there has never been a person on the moon! It is an antiquarian event to most of the world's population. Yet amazingly, there were six such trips between the years 1969-1972. The most famous is the first, Apollo 11, which landed on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong became the first to set foot on the moon, followed closely by “Buzz” Aldrin. The third member of the crew, Michael Collins, remained in the command module circling the moon. Item 8 is an account of that momentous event, replete with photographs, by Gene Farmer and Dora Jane Hamblin: First on The Moon: A Voyage with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., published in 1970. The three authors presented their own story of the preparations and the journey and lunar landing. This copy is inscribed by all three of the participating astronauts “To Gareth L. Pawlowski With Best Wishes,” followed by their signatures. Pawlowski wrote books about aircraft carriers and the Beatles, an odd combination, but is best known as a major collector of material related to the Beatles. $6,500.
Between The Covers Rare Books may be reached at 856-456-8008 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is www.betweenthecovers.com.