Friday 21 December 2012

1934 Magazine Stand and Bookshop

This anonymous photo of an unidentified newspaper stand and bookshop(?) is not really typical of the photos that turn up on eBay, but it is the sort of photo that does turn up regularly—regularly enough to keep me going back to eBay to see what is on offer.

Here we have, it seems, the proprietor and his assistants standing in front of a counter and display-racks of magazines, outside a bookshop or general store which has kites, film and sunglasses on show in the window.

On display are a mix of popular magazines, from the innocuous (Argosy) to the sort that occasionally alarmed censors in Australia (Love Story and Complete Underworld Novelettes). As well as detective and sporting magazines there are endless film and radio titles (Silver Screen, Picture, Radioland and Radio Guide).

This last magazine, at the bottom, right side of the image, appears to be the 1 September 1934 issue.

Since Radio Guide was a weekly—and nothing dates more quickly than a radio or tv programme, this magazine allows me to date the image to the first week of September 1934. (I found the cover here.)

Notice that on display in the window behind the proprietor is a sign “Circulating Library.”

Also captured in the image, in the reflection of the shop-window at the top-left of the image, is a private and engaging moment of a family passing by. Some fiddling in Photoshop brings out a few details.

Having stopped, perhaps, while the proprietor and his assistants were posing for the photo, we see a father has lifted his infant son up onto his shoulders to watch the event, while his wife looks on.

* * * * *

I am not really sure what an image like this adds to our knowledge of book history: I cannot locate the establishment, though I can date it, the range of magazines is not really remarkable, we learn nothing of the Circulating Library, and proprietors, assistants, and passers-by are much the same now as then.

Perhaps images like these, like evidence of reading, book ownership etc in general, are really only useful when brought together in large enough numbers … which is all the justification I need to keep looking on eBay.

[UPDATE: 2 July 2016: After my pictures have disappeared again, I have decided to give up on external hosts for large versions (1000px) of my image files, and will stick with the smaller images (500px) that Blogger is prepared to host.]

Wednesday 19 December 2012

The City Widow Revisited

I did a long post on Haywood’s The City Widow over a year ago (see here), a post which—looking at it again—got quite side-tracked by my discussion of the prospect of editing the complete works of Haywood. Tempting as it is to revisit the subject of editing, I will try to stick closer to my subject. Today, I’d like to bring together some of the evidence for the post-publication history of Ab.44 The City Widow; Or, Love in a Butt (1729).

Trawling through ECCO and Google Book, I have found The City Widow in ten circulating library, bookseller’s and auctioneer’s sale catalogues up to 1900, those from 1752, 1758, 1767, 1784, 1787, 1793, 1821, 1862, 1887 and 1899. (Sadly, it is not possible to trace twentieth-century references so easily.)

What is surprising is how often The City Widow is bound with salacious and erotic works: works on prostitution (The History of Betty Ireland), rape (The Case of Miss C. Cadière against the Jesuit John Baptist Gerard), masturbation (Onania), scatology (Sixpenny Miscellany; Or, A Dissertation Upon Pissing), erotica (A New Description of Merryland), and titillating fiction (Clarinda; Her Escape and Escapades with a Jesuit). By the late nineteenth century it was twice listed under "Facetiae"—which was a euphemism for erotica (see nos. 8 and 10).

From a bibliographical perspective, two items stand out: nos. 1 and 8. The first of these is interesting because it is an early collection of works by Haywood, comprising Ab.44–45, 47–48. It is tempting to see this as a collection put together by the publisher—John Brindley. Whether such a collection was ever advertised as a collection is something I will have to look into.

The second is interesting because it is the only listing that identifies Haywood as the author (even though the dedication is signed “Eliz. Haywood”). The fact that most of these listings do not mention Haywood as the author is indicative of just how rarely authors are mentioned in eighteenth and nineteenth-century catalogues and, we have to assume, just how uninterested the public was in the authorship of The City WidowThe History of Betty Ireland and Clarinda—Her Escape and Escapades with a Jesuit!

* * * * *

[1] Charles Marsh, A Catalogue of a Large and Useful Collection of Books (1752?), 84 (no. 2454)—bound with Haywood’s Ab.45 Persecuted Virtue, Ab.47 Frederick, Duke of Brunswick-Lunenburgh, Ab.48 Love-Letters on all Occasions—priced at 2s 6d.

 [2] Thomas Lownds, A New Catalogue of Lownds's Circulating Library (1758?), 49 (no. 1794)—bound with The History of Betty IrelandFair Concubine and two others—priced at 5s.

 [3] William Bathoe, A New Catalogue of the Curious and Valuable Collection of Books (1767?), 86 (no. 2393)—bound with Amorous Bugbears; Or, The Humours of a Masquerade and Clarinda; Her Escape and Escapades with a Jesuit—priced at 4s.

[4] Ogilvy, David, A Catalogue of Several Libraries of Books (1784?), 144 (no.6062)—priced at 6d. 

[5] John Boosey, A New Catalogue of the Circulating Library at No. 39, King Street, Cheapside (1787), 104 (no.3137)—bound with The Ungrateful Wife and the Life of Daniel Defoe—priced at 3s. 

[6] Thomas King, Appendix to T. King's catalogue for 1792 (1793), 145 (no.5117)—priced at 6d.

[7] Thomas Rodd, Catalogue of twelve thousand tracts, pamphlets and unbound books, in all branches of literature, Part 5 (1821), 321 (no.14,927)—priced at 2s.

[8] Messrs. Leigh Sotheby & John Wilkinson, Catalogue of … the Extensive Library of a Gentleman, Deceased (14 November 1862), 77 (no.924)—bound with five other works, including Onania (1722), Modest Defence of Public Stews Answered (1725), The Case of Miss C. Cadière against the Jesuit John Baptist Gerard (1732) etc—under the heading “Facetiae.”

[9] Messrs. Sotheby, Wilkinson, and Hodge, Catalogue of the Valuable and Very Extensive Library of the late James T. Gibson Craig, Esq. (6 July 1887), 140 (no.2388)—bound with more than ten other works, including A New Description of Merryland (1741), Sixpenny Miscellany; Or, A Dissertation Upon Pissing (1726)—with the bookplate of the Hon. C. Hope Weir.

[10] Pickering and Chatto, An Illustrated Catalogue of Old and Rare Books (1899), 112 (no.1275)—under the heading “Facetiae”—priced at 10s (sewn).

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Ambrotype of a Woman Reading (late 1850s)

This photo of a woman reading a book dates from the late 1850s. It can be dated by both the process used to capture the image and the image itself.

The photo is a one-sixth-plate ambrotype and pinchbeck metal mount in an original embossed leather case. According to Wikipedia: “Ambrotypes first came into use in the early 1850s … By the late 1850s, the ambrotype was overtaking the daguerreotype in popularity; by the mid-1860s, the ambrotype itself was supplanted by the tintype and other processes.” This image has been hand-tinted—which was common—to add gold-painted jewelery.

The hairstyle of the woman reading her book is distinctive. Her hair is parted in the centre, is severely-flat on top and sides, covering her ears, with straight sausage (or bottle) curls at her shoulders. This style was popular with younger women in just prior to 1860. (See here and here.)

The pose is (typically) formal for a studio photo. The background curtain has been washed out to a blank, the studio furniture is very basic. Most likely, the book is also a prop.

This is the oldest photo I have. I have seen earlier photos of people reading for sale, daguerreotypes from the early 1850s, but these are enormously expensive and so this is likely to stay my oldest photo!

Thursday 13 December 2012

James Hammond's Circulating Library

New York Society Library (NYSL; NNYSL on ESTC) recently announced on the SHARP-list that it has completed an online catalogue of its Hammond Collection, which is comprised of 1,152 novels, plays, poetry, and other works from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (i.e., mostly 1770–1820).

James Hammond's Circulating Library (information here), which operated out of Hammond's store in Newport, Rhode Island, reflected the popular reading interests of the time: including Gothic novels, romances, epistolary fiction, musical comedies, and other genres. A number of the books are quite scarce; in a few cases, being the only known extant copy.

I read through the entire catalogue in the hope of finding something of interest and wasn’t disappointed: there are only two Haywood items, the first of which I already knew about (Ab.64.4 Epistles for Ladies (London: H. Gardner, 1776) [No.542; here]; Ab.70.5a The Wife: interspersed with a variety of anecdotes and observations … (Boston: A. Newell, 1806) [No. 655; here]).

But there are also copies of Jacques Cazotte, The Devil in Love: Translated from the French (New York: C. S. Van Winkle, 1810) [No. 993; here], Memoirs and Adventures of a Flea (London: T. Axtell, 1785) [No. 1317; here] and Denis Diderot, The Nun (Dublin: Brett Smith, 1797) [No. 1372; here].

The 1810 New York edition of The Devil in Love had escaped my notice when I was compiling a list of early editions of this novel. Looking further into this omission, I realise I have missed all the nineteenth-century American editions of Cazotte, so I will have to update my post on that subject (here).

What I have not yet done, but will, is read through the Catalogue of James Hammond's Circulating Library, 142 Thames Street, Newport, R.I. (Newport, RI: Mason & Pratt's Power Press, 1853) (online here)—which claims to list eight thousand volumes. The Charles Sumner copy of this catalogue, held at Harvard—contains both of the items now at NYSL—Epistles for the Ladies, by the author of the Female Spectator [No.542, on p.21] and Wife; advice to the married of all conditions [No. 655, on p.70]—but it is possible that there are more Haywood items that did not make it to NYSL.

It is good to see that the NYSL is continuing to make information about its important collection available online. For my post on the NNYSL borrowing register (July 1789 to April 1792), see here.