ABMR – The Antiquarian and Book Monthly Review

There are now no popular magazines in the UK covering the field of rare and antiquarian books. Just seven years ago there were two—Rare Book Review and Book and Magazine Collector –and I wrote regularly for both of them. First to fold was Rare Book Review, a very glossy and well designed affair financed by a wealthy dealer. Previously this had been known for many years as the Antiquarian Book Review, and before this as the clumsily-titled Antiquarian Book Monthly Review, an early issue of which we have here.

When we consider how well designed and glossily produced magazines covering other fields in the arts –such as fashion and the fine arts—it is astonishing how unglamorous this particular magazine must have appeared to the eye of someone familiar with, say, Vogue,  the Burlington Magazine, or Country Life at that time. To arrive at something that could compete in visual terms with these titles it took over 40 years and oodles of dealer's dough. It isn’t as if there had never been glossies that had dealt with aspects of the antiquarian book trade---The Bookman, a product of the twenties and thirties, being the most notable.

The idea for a new popular magazine distinct from the academic Book Collector and the dryasdust Clique, which was then just a list of books for sale and wanted ( it has since extended its range and appeal) came from the antiquarian  book dealer, Paul Minet, who operated from Chicheley House, Bedfordshire. Minet ( 1937 – 2012) provided most of the copy, as he was to do for many years after, but the editing was left to one of his employees, the recently married Elke Sadeghi, then in her early twenties, who was also helping to compile his catalogue of Chicheleana, and was working from Minet’s home and her own flat in the Georgian Brayfield House, near Olney. A local printing firm called Comersgate, based in Newport Pagnell, was chosen and the first issue appeared early in 1974. It is easy to forget that before the advent of digital publishing, which now makes it possible for amateurs to produce magazines and booklets of a professional standard for next to nothing, that back in the seventies a magazine produced cheaply on bog-standard paper by a non-professional art editor would tend to look like this 1974 issue of Antiquarian Book Monthly Review, with its yucky light orange cover, title in Gothic script, and clunky page set-up.

The content was unpromising too, consisting mainly of an exhibition review, some book chat, extensive book lists and a piece on recent science fiction that clearly has nothing to do with ‘antiquarian’ books. There was nothing to suggest that this venture would come to anything. We know that it did, and its eventual success seems to have had something to do with the good intentions of dedicated people like Minet, Sadeghi and her successors as editors, but perhaps more importantly, with the goodwill shown in the letters page, which is dominated by messages of encouragement from dealers and collectors alike, who clearly welcomed what the new enterprise represented.

Sadeghi was eventually replaced as editor and left publishing to start a family with her husband, Dr Majid Sadeghi , who became an internationally acclaimed expert on automotive design and anti-crash impact technology at Cranwell. Around 2002 she became a bookbinder and still practices her art from North Crawley, near Newport Pagnell.

Collectors and dealers now hope that Rare Book Review, the splendid child of Antiquarian Book Monthly Review, will somehow, with the help of another wealthy sponsor, be resurrected.
[R.M.Healey]

An emblematic title page fully explained

Found - this emblematic title page by John Droeshout in TRUTH BROUGHT TO LIGHT AND DISCOVERED BY TIME, or, A discourse and Historicall Narration of the first XIIII yeares of King James Reigne.[London, Printed for Richard Cotes and are to be Sold by Michaell Sparke at the Blew Bible in Green Arber, 1651.]

The book relates the history of the early years of the reign of James the First,the history of the divorce of the Earl and Countess of Essex, the divisions between the Scottish and the English, 'the lascivious courses at court' the arraignment of Sir Jervase Yelvis and an account of the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury. It also "reckons the revenue of the crown, gifts, pensions, disbursements ; and contains the commissions and warrants for the burning of two heretics." The 1870 catalogue of the Prints and drawings at the British Museum describes the title - page thus:

The print represents Truth, a naked female, who tramples on the body of a person with a crutch ; and Time, who tramples on a skeleton, drawing back curtains so as to show James the First seated, as if sleeping, on a throne beneath a canopy of state, his right hand on a skull. Below these are two other compartments : one side represents Memory as an old man, seated in a study with a scroll ; at his feet a female figure reclines and holds a cross. On the other side is History, seated in a study, with books on the shelves of a library, and writing in a book ; at his feet lies Sloth, a sleeping man. Between the latter two designs is a tree which is rooted in a coffin, on which stands a candlestick with a lighted candle in it, and a flower-pot on which is a satyric mask containing a blooming flower ; hanging from the branches of the tree are books and scrolls.

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The Art of Swimming 1819

From a book published in Venice in 1819 L'Arte del Nuoto: Teorico Pratica this plate of a man swimming with a horse. The first plate is fairly self explanatory with the swimmer leading the horse through water with a bridle. The second less so - according to the text it is probably about using a  horse in water if you cannot swim...

Chiunque, non sapendo nuotare sarà costretto di passare con un cavallo in un'acqua non gaudiosa, quand'il cavallo  sia mansueto o gia accostumato deve piutosto entrarvi con esso lui (Fig. 26) tenendolo per la criniera colla testa appogiata all'inietro sull'acqua accanto all sua, evitando dal fissarlo in faccia perche avanzi e così lascerassi in balia di un animale dalla natura dotato di una facoltà che il solo studio puo sviluppare nell'uomo. Che se poi il cavallo ricusasse di avanzare in tale positura puossi anche starsene sul suo dorso, avvertendo di tenere la testa più vicina che sarà possibile a quella del cavallo.

Google translates this thus - Anyone, not knowing to swim will be forced to go with a horse in the water is not joyful, quand'il horse is meek ​​or already accostumato piutosto must enter it with him (Fig. 26) holding the mane with his head on appogiata all'inietro 'water next to her, avoiding the stare in the face because leftovers and so lascerassi at the mercy of an animal by nature endowed with a faculty that study alone can develop in humans. What then if the horse declines to advance in this posture one can, also sit on its back, warning to keep his head closer than it will be possible to that of the horse.

1920s Rare Book ‘Wants’ list

An old list (a 24 page pamphlet) put out by a superior antiquarian bookshop (Walter T. Spencer) in 1920s London. The bookseller has noted almost every single desirable book at that time. Many titles are now forgotten, no longer wanted, impossible to find OR still extremely valuable or even more wanted now than then (e.g. Jane Austen, The Brontes, Beardsley, Wilde.)


BOOKS AND PRINTS 

SPECIALLY WANTED TO BE PURCHASED 

- BY - 

WALTER T. SPENCER, 

27, NEW OXFORD STREET, LONDON, W.C. 

(Opposite Mudie's Library and near the British Museum). 

Telephone No. 5847 Central. Telegraphic Address- "Phiz, London." Private Address- CULVER HOUSE, THE ESPLANADE, SHANKLIN, ISLE OF WIGHT.



Bankers - LONDON & COUNTY (New Oxford St. Branch).


Any Parcels of Books sent, I willingly pay carriage both ways, if we do not come to terms.



Cash always sent by Return Post. Established 1884



→ Shall be glad to hear of Imperfect Copies or Odd Vols of any Books or odd plates in this List.

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Bay Psalm Book, 1640

This is an edited  reposting from our sister site Bookride first posted in June 2007. Sotheby's NY is selling a copy in November 2013 and expecting $30 million. It is about to go on a tour of America. Sadly our archive does not have a copy although it is worth noting that the same printing press (shipped over by the pilgrims) also produced some ephemera...

"...we have therefore done our endeavor to make a plain and familiar translation of the psalms and words of David into English metre, and have not so much as presumed to paraphrase to give the sense of his meaning in other words; we have therefore attended herein as our chief guide the original, shunning all additions, except such as even the best translators of them in prose supply, avoiding all material detractions from words or sense." From the introduction to the Bay Psalm Book, 1640.

THE WHOLE BOOKE OF PSALMES. Faithfully translated into English Metre. (The Bay Psalm Book.) [Cambridge, Mass.] : Imprinted by S. Daye, 1640. Compiled and translated by John Cotton; Richard Mather; John Eliot; Thomas Weld; Stephen Day; Matthew Day; Adrian Van Sinderen.

The Bay Psalm Book was the common hymnal of the Massachusetts Bay colony. An American icon, a piece of heroic history - it was both the first book printed in the Colonies and it was also the first book entirely written in the Colonies. Printed 20 years after the first arrivals in Plymouth in 1620 on the first printing press in New England which was purchased and imported from London specifically to print this book. In 1639 the press printed first the Freeman’s Oath and then an almanac, no copies of which are extant. The mind boggles at the value that could be attached to these.

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