More Books About Books From Oak Knoll
Catalogue 259 from Oak Knoll Books.
By Michael Stillman
Oak Knoll Books is one of today's most prodigious book catalogue publishers. They regularly publish catalogues in their specialty, and most carry around a thousand listings. They have now issued their 259th catalogue in the field of books about books, and it offers 978 listings. We will offer just a handful of examples, though they may not be the most typical listings. Among the other 970 entries you will find much material about the details of book publishing and printing, including such specialties as papermaking, marbling, typography, binding, private presses, illustrations, and bibliography. For those interested in the details of book production, Oak Knoll catalogues are a requirement.
One of the most collectible and favorite American books of all time is Audubon's "Birds of America." What can be forgotten is that while one of the earliest, he was not the first to study American birds. Item 6 is a book that will tell you more about the pre-Audubon era, and some of the books that would form such a collection. Written by Elsa Allen and published in 1979, the book is The History of American Ornithology Before Audubon. Priced at $45.
An important biography of the nation's first president, aptly called George Washington, was published by an obscure New Jersey teacher in 1897. It looks at how the times shaped the man, and how that great leader in turn shaped his times and, ultimately, the nation in which Americans live today. However, what makes this biography particularly intriguing is that its obscure author, fifteen years later, would himself rise to the high office Washington had pioneered, president of the United States. The author is Woodrow Wilson. Item 628. $75.
Everyone knows George Washington was America's foremost "founding father," but who was its "founding horse?" The answer is Messenger. Messenger was a successful if not spectacular English racehorse brought to America in the 1780s not to run, but to sire. What a tough life. In a nation of ordinary horses, Messenger brought a pedigree that would enable the country to develop a stock of racehorses. His descendants today fill the nation's race tracks, both thoroughbred and trotters. Descendants include such names as Man o' War and Secretariat from the thoroughbred side, Hambletonian from the trotters. His influence is far more widespread than Messenger could ever have imagined, if a horse can imagine. The book is Messenger: The Great Progenitor. Published in 1935. Item 203. $275.
Item 304 is the program for an exhibition held in Leipzig to honor the 500th anniversary of Gutenberg's invention of the press. The book, which details the exhibit, was helpfully translated from German to English to assist English-speaking visitors. Still, one wonders how many such visitors attended. The title is Gutenberg, Reich Exhibition, Leipzig, 1940. How many English speakers would have wanted to travel to Germany in 1940? $35.
More Books About Books From Oak Knoll
A genuine signature from forger H. Buxton Forman.
Oak Knoll even has a book for all of you Trekkies out there. It is by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens titled The Art of Star Trek. It includes a history of the art and design used in the original television series and the many movies which followed, concluding with "Generations" from 1994. It includes numerous color photographs and sketches. Very logical. Item 633. $35.
Here's another book at the cutting edge of technology: Cyberbooks, by Ben Bova. In it, fictional computer developer Carl Lewis creates a device which will allow text to be read on a hand-held electronic reader, without need for books and print. Doesn't sound all that cutting edge? Ho-hum? Well, the year this book was published was 1989. Can you remember that long ago? I hadn't even heard of the internet at that time, and Google, which is now about to make countless millions of old books available electronically, was still many years from existence. The world has changed at what Captain Kirk would call "warp speed" since then. We may not yet have reached the age of beaming up, but we certainly have reached the age of loading down, or "downloading" as they say in the trade. Item 110. $20.
Item 676 is from Edgar Lee Masters, best known for his "Spoon River Anthology." However, the name of this one is Mitch Miller. Mitch Miller? The title just makes you want to sing along. But wait. The publishing year is 1920. Radio had barely been invented then, let alone sing-along TV. Who is this Mitch Miller? It turns out that this Mitch never heard "The Yellow Rose of Texas," let alone heard of television or even radio. Miller was a boyhood friend of Masters who was tragically killed by a freight train at the age of 10 in 1879 while trying to hop aboard. $35.
Item 250 is a presentation copy of Shelly's Rosalind and Helen, printed in 1888, from H. Buxton Forman. Forman was a book collector, writer, and expert on 19th century British literature. He dabbled in poetry, though creating books about, and bibliographies of, the works of others were his forte. Of course, Forman is remembered for none of this. What he is remembered for is using his great knowledge to aid master forger Thomas Wise in the creation of his notorious forgeries. Forman's career would have ended in disgrace but for his having the good sense to die before he was found out, something Wise neglected to do. This book includes a few lines in verse from Forman to his good friend Louis Vanuxern in 1897. $300.
Oak Knoll Books is located on the web at www.oakknoll.com and on the wire at 302-328-7232.