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- Describe your stock and/or specialities. Bookbinding creates a delight for the tactile and sight senses. There are important elements to consider such as typography and layout when starting a book from scratch and we have that specialism in house. When printing the book, there is an abundance of beautiful papers to choose from such as the paper chosen for the books we bound for The War Graves Commission recently called Somerset book white paper which was made in a mill in Wells, Somerset. For endpapers we have some gorgeous paste papers, stunning hand marbled papers as well as hand carved Lino block printed papers in styles that are reminiscent of those designs made in William Morriss’s time. Eco friendly, vegetable tanned leather from Nigeria in earthy shades are available as well as smooth calf for a more traditional look. We have lots of colours to choose from for books bound in book cloth, including but not limited to natural linen weave and a hardwearing Arbelave buckram book cloth. We can edge gilt, sprinkle or paint book edges before binding and after sewing. We decorate the covers of the books we bind with traditional brass tools and gold leaf using techniques little changed from those used by our bookbinding forefathers in the 12th Century. We also specialise in the repair of antiquarian books. We have repaired many Family Bibles, as well as books of all ages which arrive in various states of disrepair. There is no such thing as an unrepairable book in my experience.
- What or who brought you to this world? I had a natural love of crafts from a young age. The boarding school I attended had a very strong craft focus with pottery, carpentry, weaving and art. I remember feeling utterly absorbed by the feeling of clay in my hands and the sense of satisfaction that I felt when I created egg cups in saucers, crooked coil teapots, candle sticks and vases on the wheel. In weaving, our teacher showed us how to dye wool from locally sourced vegetables and plants to great effect and I loved that and had a weaving loom. The art department had an encouraging and beautiful art teacher who celebrated all of our immersions into the world of painting and I remember loving oil pastels and making a large oil pastel of flamingoes which went on to be exhibited in the Art show. I was so chuffed at the time ages all of 10. When I was 11 I was shown some medieval manuscripts held in a Safe at the archives at Aberystwyth University and I think subconsciously that stuck as it seemed very natural later on to find myself studying bookbinding and book conservation. I love my craft because it encompasses all the best parts of being an artist with those of being a crafts person and there is an attention to detail required that is utterly absorbing.
- When are you at your happiest? When I am being creative. Alongside my bookbinding interests a recent happy highlight has been the acquisition of a beautiful West African 21 stringed harp. Known as a ‘Kora’ it is made from a calabash (Gourd) and covered in vellum. It sounds a little like a Western harp and I’ve literally just started learning it. My other kind of happy is hanging out with animals. I have two dogs and a cat who are extremely entertaining. I also have a great love of horses who keep me fit and get me outdoors. Galloping along the beach at low tide during sunset is exhilarating.
- What is the strangest question you have ever been asked? A potential customer phoned and asked whether I sold swan quills, which I thought most odd! When I responded that I’m sorry but I don’t, he sounded so disappointed and then enquired as to whether I might at least sell ‘goose quills’?
- What is your most treasured possession? I think in the now, it would have to be my beautiful Kora.
- If you could invite anyone, current or historical, who would attend your dream dinner party? Michael Cardew, the potter, William Morris and Caroline Lucas.
- What is the most amazing item you have bound or repaired and why? Rather appropriately I bound a book for the Middle Temple in 2008 which was presented to the Queen in recognition of the 400th Anniversary of the land having been bequeathed in trust for the use of lawyers by King James Ist. You can see a photo of the Queen being presented with the book I bound on page 15 here . More recently we were asked to do all the typography and layout and then bind two volumes to be exact facsimiles of the originals held in a Cabinet on display in Westminster Abbey on behalf of the War Graves Commission to include the names of Civilian war dead killed in the Second world War. You can see the books here. The books were printed on Somerset Book white, with hand tooled gold starred endpapers, hand rough edge gilt and bound in a Natural tan Morocco leather before being tooled to the exact format as the originals.
- What is your favourite piece of music? An irresistably beautiful piece of music by Welsh harpist Catrina Finch and Senegalese Kora player Seckou Keita called Bamba.
- What trait do you most deplore in others? Dishonesty
- Alternative career? Natural horsemanship trainer, and Kora musician.
- What is your secret vice? Marrons Glace ́
- What would you like your epitaph to say? Love is not changed by death and nothing is lost and all in the end is harvest. (Edith Sitwell)
- One secret for success? To have faith and believe in yourself.
- Your favourite bibliography or reference source (book or digital)? The Archeology of Medieval Bookbinding by J. A. Szirmai
- Describe 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.
[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.
Describe your stock and/or specialities. I specialise in fine and rare books on the art and culture of the 20th Century, with a strong focus on Cecil Beaton and the Bright Young Things, Photography and Fashion.
What or who brought you to this world? My uncle John Collins, when he was at Maggs.
When are you at your happiest? On holiday with my family.
What is the strangest question you have ever been asked? There are so many that I always mean to start writing them down, but then, like jokes, I forget them. “Are these books for sale?” comes up quite a lot.
What is your most treasured possession? My phone. I broke it recently and felt sadly lost.
If you could invite anyone, current or historical, who would attend your dream dinner party? Cecil Beaton, Rex Whistler, my husband Nick, Patti Smith, Van Eyck and Dolly Parton.
What is the most amazing item you have owned/sold and why? Trading as Beaux Books it would have to be Sacheverell Sitwell’s copy of Cecil Beaton’s first book The Book of Beauty. It was beautifully inscribed by Beaton to Sitwell and found it’s way to the perfect owner.
What is your favourite piece of music? Faithless – Insomnia.
What trait do you most deplore in others? Lateness (although I’m guilty of it too).
Alternative career? Interior Designer.
What is your secret vice? That’s a secret.
What would you like your epitaph to say? I’m not sure that’s for me to decide.
One secret for success? Do what you enjoy.
Do you collect yourself? If yes, what and why? Sporadically, but nothing stays with me for long. I’m always on the lookout for biographies on the artists I cover.
Your favourite bibliography or reference source (book or digital)? The National Art Library at the V&A.
Cecil Beaton’s first book The Book of Beauty
Describe your stock and/or specialities? We are auctioneers, specialising in rare books, manuscripts and works on paper.
What or who brought you to this world? My mother’s godfather was Adrian McLaughlin, a member of the Roxburgh Club, who had a fabulous library of mostly 17th-19th century French and Italian books in armorial bindings. I visited his house in Barnes, West London on numerous occasions and the book bug probably infected me by osmosis. Sadly, he died just before I entered the book world and his library was sold by Sotheby’s in Monte Carlo in 1980.
When are you at your happiest? Personally, with my family, professionally, on the rostrum.
What is the strangest question you have ever been asked? This is right up there…
What is your most treasured possession? My dog, Delilah
If you could invite anyone, current or historical, who would attend your dream dinner party? John Lennon, Hannibal, Dr. Brian Cox and Marilyn Monroe.
What is the most amazing item you have owned/sold and why? A previously unrecorded copy of Shakespeare’s first folio, very defective but still a six-figure book (sold, not owned!)
What is your favourite piece of music? Very difficult to narrow it down to one piece – either Grieg’s Piano concerto or Simon and Garfunkel’s The Boxer.
What trait do you most deplore in others? Inhumanity.
Alternative career? Sport commentator or journalist; archaeologist.
What is your secret vice? Jelly Babies (not that secret to those who know me)
What would you like your epitaph to say? “He auctioned, lots”.
One secret for success? Build long-term relationships.
Do you collect yourself? If yes, what and why? WW1 privately printed memoirs of men killed. Interest started when my parents lived in Belgium and, as a young teenager, I tramped the battlefields of Flanders.
Your favourite bibliography or reference source (book or digital)? ESTC.
Milne, A.A. When We Were Very Young, 1st ed., 1924. An exceptionally fine copy in dust-jacket.
Potter, Beatrix. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 1st ed., 2nd printing, 1902. With A.L.s mentioning “the rabbit book” dated February 7th, 1902.
Describe your stock and/or specialities: Photographs, photo albums and early photo-books with the theme of early travel and exploration.
What or who brought you to this world? Bernard J Shapero
When are you at your happiest? Out at sea.
What is the strangest question you have ever been asked? Are these photographs actually for sale!
What is your most treasured possession? I never hang onto material possessions for long….
If you could invite anyone, current or historical, who would attend your dream dinner party? Timothy Leary, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Micky Flanagan, Stephen Fry.
What is the most amazing item you have owned/sold and why? A Chinese collection of early photographs, dating from the Opium Wars. It was a very thrilling, due to the length of time it took to finalise the deal, the actual circumstances surrounding the delivery of the items and looking back in retrospect, the realisation that it is highly unlikely I could ever repeat this deal!
What is your favourite piece of music? Penny and the quarters ‘You and Me’.
What trait do you most deplore in others? Greed
Alternative career? Yachting Skipper
What is your secret vice? Too much Netflix
What would you like your epitaph to say? I wouldn’t want one.
One secret for success? Don’t be afraid to take a loss.
Do you collect yourself? If yes, what and why? Central Asia, a fascinating area photographically.
What is your favourite bibliography or reference source (book or digital)? The British Library.
Bucks on The Bookshelf Steve Eisenstein and Leo Cadogan June 2017
The program’s mission statement is to promote the world of rare books, and other collectibles, through guest interviews and remote broadcasts at antiquarian book fairs around the country and world. We also have a call-in line for questions. More people know the values of coins, stamps and objects of art that they do not own than they do the values of the book on their home library shelves!
You can now listen to the show anytime on BOB$’ Facebook page!
Calls from listeners make host Steven Eisenstein exceedingly happy! The number is 727.498.0459. Steven can also be reached by email at email@example.com.