Books About Books, Bibliography and the Oak Knoll Fest
By Michael Stillman
Oak Knoll Books' latest catalogue, number 270, offers a new selection of titles in their areas of specialty, books about books and the book arts. This catalogue is divided into three sections, Oak Knoll Fest books, books about books, and bibliography and reference books. There are 703 items listed.
Oak Knoll Fest is the bookseller's annual gathering in New Castle, Delaware, which brings many specialty printers together. Of course, others who would like to meet representatives of these presses are welcome, so mark your calendars for October 7 and 8 of this year for the next annual get together. This section of the catalogue contains items from the presses of firms that participated in at least one of the last three Oak Knoll Fests. This includes names like Aralia, Arion, Bird and Bull, Incline, Tern, Whittington, and many more. In most cases, it's more the quality of the printing, binding, illustration, etc., that is of significance than the particular title itself. However, a few titles are notably intriguing, such as The Area Code of God, The First Poet Travels to the Moon, and Being Boring. I'm not sure I'd like to read the latter.
Next, here are a few samples of the "books about books" being offered. Here's an interesting title for those who collect early children's books: A Moral Tale, Children's Fiction and American Culture, 1820-1860. This 1975 books describes how children's fiction of the era reflects American culture and values of the time. After all, while children's stories ostensibly are meant to entertain, they are a primary method of inculcating the values and beliefs we want our offspring to adopt. Item 232, written by Anne MacLeod. Priced at $25.
Here's a worthy addition if you are one of the many who collects Grabhorns: Memorium Edwin Grabhorn 1889-1968, by David Magee. This is one of 150 copies of this 1969 tribute printed at the Grabhorn Press and presented to members of the Roxburghe Club. It includes photographs of Grabhorn on the job and samples of his work. Item 291. $375.
This is an item that's even better than a complete bibliography - it's all of the author's works themselves. Item 335 is a Limited Editions Club printing, The Complete Andersen: All of the 168 Stories by Hans Christian Andersen (Some never before translated into English, and a few never before published)... This six-volume 1949 set is perfect for either a Limited Editions Club or Andersen collector. $450.
Item 480 will make great reading for anyone interested in book forgeries. It consists of letters between two of the most notable forgers of our or any time. The title of Fannie Ratchford's book is, Between the Lines, Letters and Memoranda Interchanged by H. Buxton Forman and Thomas J. Wise. Wise, in particular, is noted for his skillful forgeries, many of which ended up unwittingly in the University of Texas' library. The "between the lines" heading indicates the two attempted to be circumspect in what they wrote, but Oak Knoll notes, "This amazing book establishes beyond doubt the fact that Wise and Forman conspired to produce forgeries." $120.