Category Archives: Book Finds

Chapter 673 Trade Catalog and Book of Designs for Bakers and Confectioners

Autumn always puts me in the mood to bake — cookies, cakes, scones. Last week I made the most delicious pumpkin bread. I love pumpkin bread and I add a special ingredient to it when I make it. Would you like to know my special ingredient?

I am sure longtime readers have immediately guessed — the secret ingredient is chocolate. I add a few mini-chocolate chips to the loaf of pumpkin bread and it is delicious. Thoughtful Husband thinks that the combination of pumpkin and chocolate is odd, but I think it is a match made in heaven.

All this recent baking called to mind two fun pieces of ephemera I plan to bring to the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair this weekend. Come by and check them out in person or send me an email or leave a comment if you’re interested but can’t make it to the fair.  These little booklets were published by H. Hueg and Co. in 1896.  Herman Hueg was a baker and confectioner who expanded his business by selling the tools needed for baking and the instructions on how to use these tools.  I have a trade catalog called Patent Tools for Bakers, Confectioners, and Decorators. The catalog is accompanied by a Book of Designs for Bakers and Confectioners. Here’s a closer look:

The cover of the Book of Designs (a bit beat up, but internally very good) and catalog:

Illustration of the H. Hueg & Co. building in Queens, New York:

Title page:

Advertisements for other H. Hueg publications:

Tools for baking and making candy:

Things you can bake and make using H. Hueg tools:

I have a lot of respect for anyone able to make such intricate designs out of sugar.  I like to decorate cakes, as we have seen in past posts, but my own baking designs tend to be a little simpler.

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Chapter 671 Bookseller Tickets

Look what I found in the back of some books I am cataloguing: bookseller tickets — and all of them from San Francisco!

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Chapter 669 Book Hunting Trophies

It was a record-setting weekend for book-buying for me. Only once before have I bought so many books at one time. This weekend’s purchases were due to the combination of a particularly bountiful estate sale in the picturesque and well-to-do town of Woodside and to a local bookseller who called me Friday offering me a great book at a great price that I just couldn’t refuse. Here are photos of a few (but not all) of my purchases. Expect to see some newly catalogued items for sale soon both on the Book Hunter’s Holiday website and at the upcoming book fairs in Sacramento and Seattle!

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Chapter 668 More Good Summer Reads

Earlier this summer, I told you about reading Wendy McClure’s The Wilder Life, N. John Hall’s Correspondence: A Novel in Letters, and Charles Everitt’s Adventures of a Treasure Hunter. All three were entertaining and about books.  Since then, I’ve added a couple more good reads to my list.  The first is Louis Bayard’s School of Night. A biblio-mystery that takes place in both past and present and that involves a present day disgraced scholar, an eccentric bibliophile who fakes his own suicide, and English scientist Thomas Harriot (1560-1621), this story held my attention. Minor characters include Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. And what would any good biblio-mystery be without a bit of alchemy and The Plague thrown in?  This book was an entertaining beach read while I was on vacation.

I also began reading David Pearson’s The Book as History: The Importance of Books Beyond Their Texts.  This book has reinforced my thinking when it comes to printed books as intrinsically interesting objects — objects whose meaning and value is altered (and not necessarily for the better) when their contents are presented in a different format. It’s also led me to consider some new avenues for collecting books.

And for some inexplicable reason, I had a hankering to re-read a book I read for History when I was a sophomore in high school:  The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Emmuska Orczy. I have no idea why I wanted to re-read this book. I just remember that I enjoyed reading it in high school. I also remember a particular rhyme from the book:

“They seek him here,
They seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere,
Is he is heaven?
Or is he in hell?
That demmed elusive pimpernel.”

I couldn’t remember much else about this book before I began re-reading it. I recalled that the hero was British and that the story took place during the French Revolution and Reign of Terror.  I could, however, recall the above rhyme; I just couldn’t get that rhyme out of my head. So I picked up the book and started reading. I haven’t finished it yet, but I will soon.

One of my favorite things about summer is that I have time to truly dig into the stack of books to be read (also known as the TBR stack).  Now that I’ve read these, I’ll be compiling a new TBR stack for the fall.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 662 More Gems from Charles P. Everitt, Treasure Hunter and Bookseller

I so enjoyed re-reading Charles Everitt’s Adventure of a Treasure Hunter that I have to record a few more excerpts from Everitt here. I highly recommend reading it yourself. Here was man who was — ahem — not afraid of his own opinions  and who clearly relished sharing them with other booksellers, collectors, and librarians. He also enjoyed a good laugh at his own expense once in a while. I’m just going to list some of the comments that caught my eye here. Everitt’s words need no embellishment by me.

About what he called a  “true collector”:  “He cared only for books; not at all about their value in dollars.”

“I have almost no use for librarians; but I doubt that 2 per cent of our librarians even know the function of a library.” Everitt goes on to say that he lunches with the two per cent who do.

“You probably know about the hunger and thirst of the Donner Party, the travelers who, caught in the Sierra Mountains in winter, finally ate one another.  That hunger and thirst is mild compared to that of a collector lacking one volume to complete his collection.  Hunger for books is, in some people, the thing that will break down all inhibitions and hesitations.  It is no respecter of person or station.”

“A bookseller who does not know what he’s got has nothing — unless he knows where to find out.”

“Really good book catalogues are works of art, and sometimes downright bibliographical masterpieces.”

“Some dealers specialize in subjects; some in methods of operation; and some in customers.”

“If the rare book trade seems to you a fabulously profitable calling for a strange breed of adventurous yet profoundly learned beings, I can tell you why.  Every dealer who does not die broke (say one in five hundred) makes occasional big killings.  Like me in these pages, he remembers and tells about the jackpots.  Averaged out over a business lifetime, the killings melt down to a living wage, sweetened by the adventure of the chase.  The adventure is there, no doubt of it.  And the learning is there, too, much of it or little, depending on its possessor.  Fundamentally a bookseller or any dealer in antiquities has no capital, no equipment, nothing but his knowledge.”

Quoting J. Frank Dobie:  “Luck is being ready for the chance.”

“The first rule of sound practice for any collector, and indeed any dealer, is to establish a firm connection with someone he can trust, and not keep shopping around in search of an extra dollar. Quite aside from the time you will waste, dealing with a friend often shows a better dollar balance.”

“Of the millions of words that have been written about bookselling and rare books, most are damn nonsense.  The whole thing is really nothing but a battle of wits.”

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 661 Summer Reading

One of the best things about the long drive to visit my brothers in Southern California recently is that I had time to read a few books which have been in my TBR (to-be-read) stack for quite a while. No, not while I was driving. Thoughtful Husband was driving; I was reading. I am sure that many of you would not like to read in a car, but I have somehow managed to be able to do so without it making me feel nauseous. I think this is why:  When riding in a car, I cannot get up to answer a phone, to ship an order, to make a meal, or to do laundry. My children are strapped seat-belted into immobility safety in their seats. Thoughtful Husband is busy concentrating on the road and the route. It is the perfect time for me to pick up a book and read uninterrupted. To have a long drive ahead and to not have to drive the car is a rare gift and it is best not to reject this gift by letting it make me car-sick.

I finally had time to read Wendy McClure’s The Wilder Life:  My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie. I also read Correspondence:  A Novel in Letters, by N. John Hall. Next, I re-read a book I first read several years ago, Charles P. Everitt’s Adventures of a Treasure Hunter, an antiquarian bookseller’s memoir. Depending on whether you’re reading my blog because you are a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder or a bibliophile who loves Victorian literature or an antiquarian bookseller, I can happily recommend every title I read. I am so glad that I liked each book. There is nothing worse than making the time to read for pleasure and then having to read something you don’t like. Life’s too short for that.

A little bit of food for thought, from Adventures of a Treasure Hunter.  Everitt quotes a privately printed book, Housed on the Third Floor, by book collector Bruce Cotten:

Book collecting, whether an acquired taste or an acquired nuisance, is in either case acquired.  It develops by degrees, and passes through numerous forms and phases, rather curious to look upon.  At first you only want certain sorts and kinds of books and reject innumerable volumes that in after years you are violently seeking.  You only by degrees overcome your prejudices and dislikes and gradually find yourself including and exploring in ever larger fields.  Then there is always, and for a long time, a struggle, when you realize that the disease has really gripped you; and numerous determinations are made to stop this thing entirely and not to permit yourself to be classed with those mildly deranged people who collect things.

I’ve enjoyed many bookseller memoirs, but this one, for its explanations of the mind of the bookseller and the mind of the book collector, is one of the best I have yet to read.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 656 Cornucopia of Curiosities, Or, Bits and Parts of Stuff to be used in Practical or Impractical Ways

Say what you will about antiquarian bookselling. It is never boring.

A few days ago, I received an advertisement from an estate sale company explaining that their upcoming sale would be held, “in a large, underground basement of a coffee shop”. The location sounded odd to me, so I looked up the coffee shop online and found that it was “once owned by an Irish-American thug family”.  The sale’s advertisement promised interesting “bits and parts of stuff to be used in practical or impractical ways” and a “cornucopia of curiosities”.  No books were advertised, and I note for those new at treasure hunting that sales advertised in such a vague way usually offer a whole lot of nothing for an antiquarian bookseller. It looked like a waste of time to me.

But all through last weekend’s 4th of July celebrations, Larry McMurtry’s Cadillac Jack kept whispering in my ear. “Anything can be anywhere.  Anything can be anywhere.”

Indeed, I have found enough good things in places that are the equivalent of nowhere enough times that, well  . . . maybe you have a point there, Jack.

How could I resist?

Since they’re off school for the summer, I woke Tom and Huck early and we clambered into the Bookmobile, headed for an area on the border of San Francisco and her southern neighbor, Daly City.  I was seeking whatever I could find that might catch the eye of an antiquarian bookseller. Being of partial Irish-descent myself, I wondered what sort of things might be in the basement of a coffee shop “once owned by an Irish American thug family”.  Tom and Huck were seeking items they might use as movie props. Their current hobby is making movies with the other kids on the street. They all work together and then edit the movies on the computer with music, credits, etc.  Cheap props and costumes go a long way toward helping them to make their films look the way they want them to.

The sale was, as advertised, in a dark, multi-roomed basement beneath an old coffee shop. Every treasure hunter’s dream.

Maybe.

We lined up and when the clock struck ten, we were let in and found that the sale offered a strange array of random items:   large pieces of metal, lighting equipment, lamp parts, hand tools, and other assorted things. At the back part of the back room were several boxes of original photographs, books, posters, and bits of ephemera.  I jockeyed for position (it gets crowded quickly in a small basement) and searched through each box as carefully as I could. After a few minutes,  I came away with a couple of 19th century San Francisco photographs and San Francisco trade cards, one poster, and a couple of books. I also found a press photograph of an early 20th century author and another press photograph of a man arrested for “B of A [Bank of America] hold-up” (according to photographer’s notes on back of the inscription).  Perhaps he is the “thug” mentioned in online description of the coffee shop? I’ll have to do some research. Tom and Huck each found a few odd items, such as spent bullets (perhaps belonging to the “thug family”?) and old metal gears and parts that they plan to use in their films.  There were no “jackpot” type finds, but all-in-all it was not a bad haul for a morning’s work.

As an added bonus, there was a Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop near the sale, and at Tom and Huck’s insistence (as if they  had to twist my arm!) we stopped for fresh, warm doughnuts on our way home.

Summertime is a great season for book hunting.

See you in the stacks!

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