• Laura Massey from Alembic Rare BooksDescribe your stock and/or specialities I sell books on science, technology and nature, and have particular expertise in nuclear physics and atomic weapons, early computing, 18th and 19th-century natural history and specimen collecting, genetics and evolution, anatomical illustration, women in science, and popular science. I also stock material related to women’s history and literature.
  • When are you at your happiest? When I get into a good cataloguing groove. I love writing, so being able to do a lot of research on an interesting piece and then bring it all together in a nice write-up is an absolute joy.
  • What is your favourite piece of music? The album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel.
  • What trait do you most deplore in others? A few years ago I probably would have answered this with something inane like “hypocrisy” or “twirling obliviously in front of the Tube train doors”, but at this point I’m afraid I have to go with tendencies toward Nazism.
  • Alternative career? Antique jewellery dealer, no question. It’s difficult to pick a favourite era or type, but I love Georgian jewellery, particularly mourning pieces. I’m also incredibly jealous of the jewellery dealers I follow on Instagram, who are very glamorous and seem to sell every new item instantaneously.
  • What is your secret vice? That horrifically unhealthy, ultra-sweet icing on sheet cakes from American grocery stores. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live there anymore.
  • What would you like your epitaph to say? Died doing what she loved most, eating cake icing.
  • One secret for success? Learn to take good photos of your books and have a 30 second elevator pitch for each item in your stock. If you can’t come up with one you probably shouldn’t have bought it.
  • Your favourite bibliography or reference source (book or digital)? I have two favourites. The Norman Library of Science and Medicine, which is fantastically catalogued by Diana Hook and just incredibly useful, and the Online Dictionary of National Biography – I’m a big fan of the list of occupations provided with every entry because wow, there are some weird ones.

Highlight

Rare Books - Highlights[Franklin, Rosalind] Franklin, Muriel. Rosalind. Frome & London: privately printed for Muriel Franklin by Butler & Tanner Ltd., [undated but sometime between 1962 and 1976]. 28-page pamphlet, stapled. Original blue-green wrappers, title to upper wrapper in black. Frontispiece from a photograph of Franklin. Wrappers just a little rubbed and toned at the extremities, the contents fresh and clean. Excellent condition.
First and only edition of this rare biographical sketch published privately by Franklin’s mother Muriel, and signed by her at the end of the introduction. Though it is undated, she mentions the Nobel Prize awarded to Watson and Crick in 1962, and so this pamphlet must have been published between then and her death in 1976. The possibility arises that it was written in part as a response to her daughter’s relative lack of recognition during her lifetime, and the sad fact of her ineligibility for the Prize after her death. One copy of this pamphlet resides in the Franklin archive at Churchill College, Cambridge, but a WorldCat search locates no other institutional copies, and this is also the only one that has appeared in auction records.

 

 

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