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Long Island Book Collectors

The highlight of our annual luncheon, held at the fabled Milleridge Inn in Jericho, Long Island, was collector Joe Rainone‘s condensed history of the American Comic and Comic Book. Together we traveled back in time to the origins of beloved super characters and cartoon personalities. Mr. Rainone traced their origin all the way back to the paintings of the Lascaux caves in France fifteen thousand years ago , the earliest Egyptian narrative paintings from 3,000 B.C., and the 1066 Bayeux Tapestry ‘s sequential imagery of the story of the Norman Conquest.

A woodcut on paper of The Burning of Mr. John Rogers accompanying a poem written by the minister of the gospel in London for his nine children in 1554 was cited by Mr. Rainone as exemplary of an early cartoon-like drawing. It was written a few days before he was burnt to death, becoming the first martyr of Queen Mary’s reign. Segueing from William Hogarth’s engraved designs in the 1700s to Ben Franklin’s prominent American paper, The Pennsylvania Gazette (1728-1800) to the Peter Porcupine Gazette, to the appearance of Washington Irving’s Salmagundi Papers (1807-1808) followed by his Comic History of New York (1809) starring the fictitious Diedrich Knickerbocker, and bestowing on the city the name “Gotham”.

Eager to show us the trajectory of America’s love affair with the comic form, Mr. Rainone cited The Idiot (1818), hand set in an early periodical, Elton & Elms Comic Almanacs (1831), and the first original comic book published in New York City in 1842 and The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck as progenitors of such cherished favorites as The Harvard Lampoon (1879), The Yellow Kid (1860-1900 published in Truth magazine), The Katzenjammer Kids (1897 debut in the American Humorist, the Sunday supplement of William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal), and Gasoline Alley comic monthly (1869).
As Mr. Rainone says, “the periodical has always been the cheapest form of popular American fiction available to American buyers.” It follows then that our national appreciation for such comic heroes as Tarzan, Popeye, Dick Tracey, Little Abner, Terry and the Pirates, Spiderman, and DC comics’ The Flash and Green Lantern , have led us from pulp magazines and 10 cent comics to the graphic novels of today.

Cookbooks provided the impetus for our January get-together. The mere presence of the recipe laden books and drink mixing manuals seemed to send each of us back into a specific personal past. One by one we revealed the stories behind the books. A small shirt-pocket size Professional Mixing Guide (1947-1950) published by the Angostura Wuppermann Corporation gave way to memories of home entertaining. Uncle John’s Original Bread Book by John Rahn Braue (1961) was heavily stained with a college student’s enthusiasm and Margaret Wood’s A Painter’s Kitchen: Recipes from the kitchen of Georgia O’Keefe continues to allow its owner to share in the day-to-day life of Ghost Ranch.

A 1954 edition of The Settlement House Cookbook that had its origins in Milwaukee’s Settlement House, conceived of in 1901 to help vast migrations of Eastern Europeans familiarize themselves with the customs of America. The book served to introduce new foods that could perhaps take the place of ingredients used in Europe that were unavailable in U.S. markets. It provided instruction to women on sewing, cooking, nutrition, and economizing in their new home. For its owner, this particular book is a keepsake of her mother’s. Among the favorites passed around our table were The Flavor of Jerusalem (1975) by Joan Nathan and Judy Stacy Goldman with a forward by Teddy Kollek , The Automat Cookbook Published by The Museum of the City of New York that brought forth reminiscences of eating at Horn & Hardart from all; Cooking with Flowers Wherein an Age-Old Art is Renewed, whose owner is a proponent of Yucca flower omelettes, soups, and batters, The Wolf in Chef’s Clothing—a pictorial guide to the kitchen for bachelors ; Candy Bits by Zazou Pitts, The Cartoonist’s Cookbook: Cartoonists & Their Favorite Recipes, Rolls Royce Owner’s Cookbook (a picture of the owners car illustrates each recipe); NASCAR Cooks featuring Tabasco sauce in every dish and finally a copy of the 1901 New Edition of Mrs. Beaton’s Book of Household Management (1st edition 1861).
A beautifully printed and bound copy of La Familia Ceraulo: A Portrait of 10 Families (1880s-1890s) compiled by Laura Rainone Christian lent dignity to our informal gathering. This elegant genealogy containing family lore, family history, and family recipes was designed, written and published by the young graphic designer and beloved sister of Joe Rainone. It has become her legacy.

In March Mike Marell presented his collection of books by Robert Louis Stevenson; sharing sixty different illustrated copies of A Child’s Garden of Verses, the first book read to him by his mother. It has remained in print since 1885. Familiar to many readers for Kidnapped, Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson, born in 1850 in Edinburgh, was also a poet, essayist, and travel writer. A sickly child, who made up stories that he dictated to his nurse and mother, even before he had learned to read, Stevenson’s verse and prose was well-loved by both children and adults. Toward the end of the 20th century his work fell out of favor and only recently has it reappeared in literary anthologies. Joe Rainone showed a copy of Jekyll l and Hyde in wraps, probably the first American pirated edition of which no other copies are known to exist.

Herewith the poem Stevenson wrote for his epitaph:

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me
Here he lies where he longed to be
Home is the sailor, home from sea
And the hunter home from the hill.

April’s meeting was devoted to the Bible. Our guest, Daniel Buttafuoco, founder to the Historical Bible Society, book collector, biblical scholar, and trial lawyer spoke on the historical significance of the Bible and the documents that it comprises. Several copies of early illustrated manuscript bibles on vellum, predating the invention of the printing press were displayed along with a printed and illustrated leaf from the Gutenberg Bible (c. 1455). Among the bibles later produced and made available for purchase were William Tyndale’s illustrated Bible (1553) printer: Robert Jugge, an illegal and banned copy of the New Testament printed in English, a King James 1611 Bible—First edition (1611) printer: Robert Barker, the first printed Bible with chapter and verse—Geneva Bible (1560)—First edition, and Textus Receptus Greek New Testament (1550), printer: Robert Estienne, aka “Stephanus. Mr. Buttafuoco is an ardent champion of the Bible as a document that continues to speak to people around the world today, as it did in times past—forever worthy of continuous study and adherence.

In May, collector Bill Tetreault presented a lecture on William Wilberforce, Hannah More, and their Clapham Circle, a group of friends who in their dedication to Christ worked as abolitionists to end slavery in Britain in 1771. In 1798, an American edition of Wilberforce’s A Practical View of Real Christianity served as a blueprint for those in the colonies seeking an enlightened interpretation of Christianity. In 1787, Wilberforce wrote in his diary “G-d Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.”His writings along with those of Hannah More inspired abolitionists in America. The first private black college in the United States (founded 1856), Wilberforce University, and the town in which it still thrives in Ohio bear his name. Mr. Tetreault’s books include many early American editions of inspirational works including Wilberforce’s 1836 Memoir, a volume of letters to his children, and an 1856 edition of Private Devotion: A Series of Prayer Chiefly from the Writings of Hannah More. Mr. Tetreault has curated exhibits on William Wilberforce in Danbury, CT, Durham, NC, New York City, and Falls Church, VA.

 

FABS Newsletter April 2013

FABS SUBMISSION April 2013
Ron Woods, collector par excellence of miniatures was our first guest of the new season in December. Generously, passing around numerous books, (dating back to the Eighteenth Century) from his 9,000 volume collection, all acquired in just 30 years. Members were able to hold in their hands beautifully crafted and illustrated books of an inch high to several inches high; many of which incorporated gold leaf on the bindings. One book came in its own miniature case with a magnifying glass.
In January our group was honored by the visit of artist, educator, and computer consultant Peter Falotico. He holds a B.F.A. in painting; an M.S. in Media Studies and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration. Mr. Falotico has been active in the arts for over forty years. As owner of Stony Book Print, he purchases and sells original art and rare books with limited first edtions. (Browse a copy of the catalog at www.stonybookprint.com . )LIBC was privy to a viewing of his extensive collection of books illustrated, designed or authored by American Impressionist painter, William Edward Bloomfield Starkweather(1879-1969). Books included titles by Allen, Barrie, Doyle, Emerson, Kipling and Harriet Beecher Stowe containing cover designs, title pages or illustrations by the artist. The entire collection of 80 books and 11 magazines may be seen on the website of the Hickory Museum in North Carolina where it was exhibited from March through June 2013.
Mr. Falotico has declared himself a “book detective” devoted to researching and collecting both the paintings and the printed materials created by William Starkweather during his lifetime. His goal is to bring recognition to this largely forgotten American artist. It is well worth a visit to the William Starkweather website at : www.williamstarkweather.com. FABS members, please note that Mr. Falotico is actively building his Starkweather collection. Should you have in your possession any Starkweather works, please contact Mr. Falotico directly through the Starkweather website.
February’s meeting was skillfully presented by the debonair David Allaway, director of the heritage program for the Saint John’s Bible project and former fashion industry VP sales & marketing for power players Tommy Hillfiger, Sean John, Donna Karan and Calvin Klein. Perhaps his change of career , promoting the first Benedictine-commissioned, hand-written, hand illuminated Bible in 400 years, in cooperation with the Benedictine monks and the University of Saint John’s abbey in Minnesota was his way of answering to an even higher power. From the beginning, the Benedictine monks envisioned a heavily illustrated Bible that would be in the vernacular in order to engage all faiths.
In 1998, calligrapher Donald Jackson (Chief Scribe of Queen of England), was commissioned to spearhead this enormous undertaking. Fifteen years later seven oversized volumes containing 11050 hand written heavily illustrated pages with 160 illuminations is nearing completion. A team of eleven scribes and artists worked together finishing 2 columns or one page of vellum per day. The team adhered to the ancient traditions of producing ink by mixing candle smoke with egg whites, and using egg yolk to bind and heighten color. Gold, platinum, and silver were used throughout for illumination. All writing was done using either a turkey or a goose feather quill.. Both the seven-volume set and individual plates are available for sale. The Bible is being printed in a limited edition of 299 copies to be purchased by communities the world over, in keeping with the Heritage Project. Details are available on the The Saint John’s Bible site at: www.saintjohnsbible.org.
Dara Zargar, returning guest collector of rare Islamic texts, among them reference books painstakingly embellished in decorated cloth and lacquer covers; some dating from the Thirteenth Century. Flower motifs and gilded pages were evident in abundance. Often the texts were dated by the calligrapher. Mr. Zargar mentioned both the Ruben Museum and the Metropolitan Museum as formidable resources for viewing Islamic art. He also highlighted Sotheby’s as a reliable source for Jewish manuscripts. He has observed that cultural tastes among collectors may differ in the Islamic rare books field. In Europe, France in particular; perspective buyers will pay a premium for a perfectly repaired volume, while in the United States an untouched, original text tends to command a higher price.
Ever candid and articulate, Mr. Zargar’s second visit ignited an impassioned conversation delving into the intricacies of Inheritance. Passing on one’s collection in order to insure that one’s children will have an informed comprehension of any notable and particularly valuable works in the collection was discussed. Ideas and concerns flew around our table: how to leave one’s collection to heirs; how to sell one’s collection so that it will remain intact and properly taken care of; varying attitudes in contemplation of letting go of what is in many cases the result of a lifelong endeavor; wording a Will and engaging in frank conversation with heirs about the nature and risks of collecting. The group has agreed to pursue the subject next year with an eye toward obtaining expert legal and accounting advice from a professional speaker.
Honorary Member Joe Rainone, also returned to lecture at LIBC. Mr. Rainone is the foremost collector and scholar of American Popular Fiction dating back to the founding of our country. Ever effusive, Mr. Rainone led us on a whirlwind tour of an impressive sampling of magazines, penny novels, dime novels, and the first paperbacks, works published during the years before and after the Civil War including Minstrel songsters featuring Minstrel Singers, nickel weeklies, story papers, pulp magazines, dollar magazines, highwayman stories, most on rag paper produced in the North including, Daniel Boone 1774-1800s, The publishing hub of America at the time was: Philadelphia, Boston, New York. In the first American magazines the publishers controlled content, even writing some of it themselves. American Among early popular novels that were passed around: pirated copies of Alexander Dumas and Victor Hugo titles—quickly translated from the French upon being smuggled into New England ports; pirated works from our English “cousins,” included sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe and Charlotte Bronte’s’ Jane Eyre.
Listening to Mr. Rainone talk about distribution via the general store, one visualizes a time of great change for the reading public and one-upmanship by all in the book and magazine trade. By the late 1800s the spirit of experimentation had taken hold. Mystery titles such as “Gasparone: the Italian Detective” and “Hide and Seek in New York” were for sale. During the Civil War, copies of a rapidly written “Booth the Assassin” came out in July 1865, recording a conspiracy theory that soon made the rounds among everyday citizenry. Listening to Mr. Rainone’s rapid fire narrative a snapshot of the reading habits of a new nation and the evolution of Publishing in America comes in to view. What was once common has become rare. We look forward to hosting Mr. Rainone again and to learning more about our own history.
A highlight of 2013 will be our joint end-of-the-year party with the Long Island Antiquarian Book Dealers Association in July at the home of Joe Perlman in East Northport, marking our summer hiatus. Our fall plans include launching the LIBC website. We wish you a summer of sunshine and successful book hunting and collecting.