Martin Stone and the Forgotten Shelf

Found-- Martin Stone's Forgotten Shelf book catalogue no. 5: Modern Literature Fantasy and Detective Fiction - November 1982. The macabre cover was hand-coloured by impecunious students and the image from the cover taken from a Marcel Schwob novel Coeur Double (Paris, 1891.) Martin, now an expat in Paris, is still going strong but has not done a catalogue since the 1980s. The dedication reads..

Thanks should go to Mr. D. Attoe of Wapping and Mr. Robin Summers  for sterling excavation work in the compiling of this catalogue. A tip of the hat also to Iain Sinclair of Albion Village Books for light shed in some obscure bibliographic corners and to Skoob Books for the use of congenial office facilities beyond the boundaries of the East End.

There follows a poem by David Attoe, now a US expat and at that time poet, book collector and Ford Madox Ford expert. He later published a novel Lion at the Door (Little, Brown, 1989) which had a great succes d'estime, even carrying a blurb from Thomas Pynchon.

New Edition

Little change from the turkeys
take a sift look at Priapus bones
splinter rinse with ferocious light
against old walls

in a cup of wine
in a septic tank
monk beats crucifix
no new songs for sale

will settle a deal 
for the right price

unemployed adjectives
house no meaning
hold no heat
but when the fury kneels to obey
dog-eared foxed and shaken
those bumped bent words
relinquish no authority
prisoners too

talons falcate beak dive
rip rat no news
plough wrecks seed on electric spike
surrendering furrows charge devil doctor magic
risers spit out form
craving new shape

1982 David Attoe

Here are a few of the books listed, the first being a great sleeper and probably worth several times the 1982 price - it looks like a classic Edwardian boy's book worth a fiver...

403. (URANIAN LITERATURE) NICHOLSON, J. G: In Carrington's duty-week. Ousely (1910): 1st ed. red pictorial cloth. Ink notation after prologue else a fine copy. Very scarce. £45

528. FITZERSE, Alfred: THE TRANCE OF FITZERSE: A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES. London, Literary Society (1888): 1st ed. A few pages water-marked at top and fore-edges, lower cover slightly damp spotted, some foxing: good-VG tight copy of a scarce S.F. novel of suspended animation. £40

604. (THREE-VOLUME NOVEL) FOGERTY, J.: MR. JOCKO. Ward and Downey, 1891; 1st. ed. three vols., slate-blue cloth, lettered gilt, pictorially blocked in red gilt, fronts. vol. one, 16pp ads. at rear vol. three. A little light foxing throughout, small mark for-edge of upper cover vol. three; near fine set. Anti-clerical novel of Darwinian ideas, dedicated to Prof. T. H. Huxley; set in the circus world, its discussion of Mr. Jocko, an intelligent monkey, as the "missing link'" just tilts it into the science-fiction category. £115

608. WESTBRROK, H. W. and Lawrence GROSSMITH: The purple frogs. Heath Cranton and Ouseley (c.1910); 1st ed., purple cloth, gilt. Spine sunned and slightly worn at head, name on front endpaper else VG copy. Long, impenetrable vanity publication, with probable fantasy content, concerning an organisation for blackmailing the senders of confessional messages-in-bottles. A curious production, with six "illustrations" in music. £8

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3 thoughts on “Martin Stone and the Forgotten Shelf

  1. Anonymous

    I once spotted Martin Stone scouting a table of books in Clignancourt, a table I had thoroughly searched a few moments before, or so I thought. Utterly fascinated, I watched him gingerly pluck book after book out of each row for further negotiation with the dealer. I had spent nearly an hour going through the offerings while Stone brought about this amazing assemblage of purchases in a few minutes. Euros were exchanged and the books stuffed in tatty carrier bags. I approached him as he was walking off, introduced myself and asked if I could look at his books. He was wonderfully gregarious and brought out his finds from a few moments ago. I wanted five of the books, all rare and interesting. How on earth did I not see them myself? He kindly told me he had buyers for most of them already, but we came to terms for two. I learned that being a good collector and having a respectable amount of book knowledge does not make one a good book scout. Martin Stone is often said to be the best of the lot and after watching him seemingly summon previously invisible rarities by running his hands over rows of books, I agree. He is more a magician, a conjurer, than a mere scout.

  2. Sandy Robertson

    I have another of Martin's fab catalogues which had an amazing selection of Clark Ashton Smith books, including poetry first editions at very reasonable prices. They must be worth a fortune now. Great musician, master book scout.

  3. Sandy Robertson

    I have another of Martin's fab catalogues which had an amazing selection of Clark Ashton Smith books, including poetry first editions at very reasonable prices. They must be worth a fortune now. Great musician, master book scout.


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