Gardens and Landscapes from Charles Wood
Landscape and Garden History from Charles Wood.
By Michael Stillman
We recently received the latest catalogue, number 124, from Charles Wood Antiquarian Booksellers of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wood specializes in buildings and grounds, so to speak. His catalogues are some of the best available for those who collect architectural works. However, this month the focus is on the grounds, or more specifically, Landscape and Garden History. For those of you looking to spruce up the grounds around your 17th or 18th century estate, you will find some wonderful guidebooks. The same is true for those who simply collect books in the field. Here are a few examples.
His name was Jens Jensen, but he came from Chicago, not Wisconsin. And he wasn't a lumberman. This Jens Jensen emigrated from Denmark and went on to be one of the most noted landscape architects in the area. He created Columbus Park in Chicago, as well as redesigning several others on the west side. He also designed parks in Dubuque, Springfield, and - yes - Madison, Wisconsin. Jensen believed people needed to keep in contact with nature, and was involved in promoting the state park system. Item 54 is his 1964 biography, Landscape Artist in America, the Life and Work of Jens Jensen, by Leonard Eaton. Item 54. Priced at $200.
The Kitselman Brothers were sole manufacturers of The Duplex automatic ball bearing woven wire fence machine. It was "the greatest invention of the age!" It was capable of making over 100 different styles of fences, 26 of which were illustrated in this catalogue. This catalogue was published in Ridgeville, Indiana, in 1900, but by the 1930s, Kitselman Brothers fence would be a major company in Muncie, playing a prominent role in that city's growth as an industrial power. Founded in 1883, the company was run by the four Kitselman Brothers until 1940, when the last, Alva Kitselman, died. Item 107. $110.
Item 1 is an Album of snap shots of Brightwaters, Long Island, from 1914. Developed by T.B. Ackerson and Company, Brightwaters is a community, then new, near Bay Shore, New York. This pamphlet contains five pages of text and 23 of photographs of the community. Along with houses and bungalows, the pictures show fountains, a harbor, lakes, boathouses, and other features of this community, which might draw city dwellers looking for a more relaxed lifestyle. Two years later, the Ackerson Company went broke, and homeowners banded together to incorporate Brightwaters as a village. Today, Brightwaters remains a desirable residential community. While houses sold for $3,500-$20,000 in Ackerson's day, today's prices are generally in the $300,000-$1,000,000+ range. The album is a more modest $350.
Gardens and Landscapes from Charles Wood
Guidebook to famed Kew Gardens.
For those of you whose collections lack a catalogue on asphalt, there is Seyssel natural asphalte. The only material as yet discovered capable of producing perfect streets and sidewalks. Judging by the condition of most roads and sidewalks today, no other such perfect material has been discovered since. This 1873 catalogue was published by James Callender, described as the "sole agent for the United States" for this French product. Asphalt produced from the mines of Seyssel has been used in European roads for around three centuries, but we are unsure whether Callender was successful in making many sales in America. Item 22. $135.
The Trustees of Reservations of Massachusetts is not very well known, not even in its home state, but they are an outstanding environmental organization that has purchased and set aside tracts of land to be preserved in a natural state. As a onetime member when I lived in Massachusetts, I can personally attest to their good work. Item 147 is only their Second Annual Report of the Trustees of Public Reservations, 1892. The report includes 25 pages of listings of public open spaces in the state, and seven pages of scenic pictures. $150.
Kew Gardens is the common name for the British Royal Botanical Gardens. It is both a beautiful site and home to an extensive collection of plant life. It has been a popular attraction for a long, long time. Item 105 is one of the many guidebooks that have been published for this park. From the 1860s, it is called Kew Gardens; the pleasure grounds and park. A hand-book guide for visitors. It describes many of the structures then in place at the Gardens. At the time, it cost a penny. Today, $175.
The Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland covers 285 acres and is today "home" to over 100,000 residents. It is as much park as burial ground. Among those who reside, but do not live there, are John D. Rockefeller, Eliot Ness, and the subject of this publication, President James A. Garfield. Actually, this is more a description of the huge memorial to President Garfield than the President himself. Published in 1889, eight years after he was assassinated, item 177 describes the structure, its design, and the selection process that chose this massive memorial to the once very popular president. The title is Historic and descriptive sketch of the Garfield Memorial, at Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio. $125.
You may find Charles Wood Antiquarian Booksellers and an online version of this catalogue at www.cbwoodbooks.com. Their phone number is 617-868-1711.