Books About Books and Bookmen (Good and Bad) from Oak Knoll
By Michael Stillman
Oak Knoll Books has issued its Catalogue 286 in its continuing series of books about books and the book arts. Titles cover book collecting, selling, design, printing, binding and just about everything else pertaining to the book. There are also numerous items from private presses, and a section on bibliography. Here are some of the almost 400 items available in this latest collection.
Color printing was not that old when John Earhart published The Color Printer, a Treatise on the Use of Colors in Typographic Printing. This first and only edition, published in Cincinnati in 1892, contains many examples of color printing, including mixed colors, metallic colors, gold ink on colored enameled papers, and much more. "A magnificent book," says Oak Knoll. This is a presentation copy from the author, and comes with a Christmas card and letter from the Earhart, along with a memorial card for his wife. Item 66. Priced at $1,250.
Item 24 is the catalogue A Selection of Books, Manuscripts, Bindings, and Autograph Letters Remarkable for Their Interest & Rarity... from Maggs Brothers. This catalogue, containing 273 items, was published in 1931, catalogue number 550 from the venerable London bookseller. Elsewhere in this month’s AE Monthly, we review their latest catalogue, number 1,416. $140.
Item 51 is a biography and bibliography of The Unspeakable Curll, Being Some Account of Edmund Curll Bookseller, to which is Added a Full List of his Books. The unspeakable Mr. Curll was an English bookseller and publisher of the early 1700s, with scruples to make a politician blush. He specialized in publishing works of scandal, slander, pornography, pirated works, personal letters (real and fabricated) and the like. In other words, he published the type of books people like to read. The libel and obscenity got him thrown into the pokey a couple of times, but essentially, and fittingly, he made out like a bandit. This limited edition biography, written by Ralph Straus, was published in 1928. $125.
Item 74 comes from another bookman of questionable scruples, Proposal for Putting Reform to the Vote through the Kingdom. Facsimile of Shelley's Manuscript. With an Introduction by H. Buxton Forman. It was not the writer Percy Bysshe Shelley who was ethically challenged, but the introducer, Buxton Forman. Forman knew all about facsimiles as he and master forger Thomas Wise for years created fake old works and pawned them off as the real thing. This copy of Forman's publication is inscribed by him to "G.J.F. Tupper with kindest regards from H. Buxton Forman." Tupper was an expert at producing facsimiles, and one wonders if Forman studied Tupper’s techniques to use for his own nefarious purposes. $350.