Yet more books about books. Can you blow your Horn book?

History of the Horn Book, by Tuer, 1979, reprint of the 1897 original. Cloth hardcover with dust jacket. Bookplate but otherwise most decent. Originally a horn book was a printed sheet affixed to a wooden back and covered with a thin sheet of horn – thin enough to read through – which protected the page from the Grubby and Destructive hands of Children. With time, many began to refer to any child’s ABC book or primer as a horn book. Once there were millions of the genuine article, horn and all, but now they are scarce. The passenger pigeon of books?  If they were so rare in 1897, what are they now? Have more been discovered? The author of this book knew of so few copies that each almost has its own biography. Just the kind of specialized, obscure reference book that so delights.

A New History Of Stereotyping, Kubler, 1941. Hardcover. Another fairly comprehensive book about printing history. In good condition. A secret surprise inside: a loose sheet of blue paper on the letterhead of the Certidied Dry Mat Corporation in New York, which ends with “Please grant me the pleasure of accepting this volume, together with my heartiest good wishes. Yours respectfully, George Kubler” with what I assume is a printed signature. Lots of history, lots of photographs, lots of drawings. This book is notable for the amount of space and illustrations devoted to would-be replacements of stereotype machines which the author scornfully derides. Since many of these machines never made it into commercial use, they may not be as well documented in other History Of Stereotyping books I have seen. Entertaining! 

The Life Of The Book, by Lehmann–Haupt, 1957. Cloth hardcover with dust jacket. Nice condition. “How the book is written, published, printed, sold, and read.” Doesn’t seem to include “made into a cute end table by some yahoo with a glue gun.” Don’t get me started. I’m an old curmudgeon who likes books as books, and I hate to see pretty old books  made into handbags when they could have been in my library. Wait, I have too many books already. Well, après moi le deluge, right? This small book is a gem. Some history and some advice on getting published and on collecting. I can’t let this go without a lengthy but marvelous quotation. ” The interesting and important thing about the public library in America is that it offers free reading facilities and a great number of varied services to every member of the community, young or old, rich or poor, regardless of race, color, or creed. Its doors are open to the highly educated as well as to the average reader, to the citizen and the immigrant, to persons in search of practical or special information as well as to those who wish to broaden their education generally and enrich their minds. The public library is host to the person who wishes to while away an idle hour as well as to the professional author and the scholar. Every day many thousands of people in the United States use their public library without ever realizing how privileged they are in comparison with the citizens of many other countries.” Can I get an amen? Maybe I can’t let this one go…I owe all that I am to a library and to librarians and this little volume is a beautiful love poem to the book.Edit

The Printed Book by H.G. Aldis, 1929. Small cloth hardcover with dust jacket. Bookplate, torn jacket. Lovely little thing with history, illustrations, and admonitions. Lots of pith in a small space.


The Art of The Book, by Ede, 1951. Cloth hardcover with dust jacket. “Fifty separate contributions by authorities from various countries …headings Type Design and Lettering, Printing the Text, Illustration and Graphic Reproduction (Including Dust Jackets), Commercial Binding, and Hand Binding.” Many great illustrations in a largish book, including whole page reproductions and gorgeous as-in-Gaw-Jess fine leather bindings. Like Itchikoo Park, it’s all too beautiful.


Basic Bookbinding, by Lewis, 1957. Sewn paperback binding. Surprisingly detailed descriptions and illustrations of tools and techniques for the novice, but even the experienced binder might learn something new. For me, it was the trick for positioning large pasted sheets exactly. If you have to start somewhere, you could do worse.  

Some more books about books. Mostly history of books and printing.

The Book, by Douglas McMurtrie, 1989. Hardcover with dust jacket, no markings, very nice. A history of bookmaking and printing. Starts way back in the dawn of literate time and works its way up into the present. THIS IS A BIG BOOK WITH NICE BIG PRINT. I mean, not huge, but you shouldn’t need the cheaters for this one. Lots of illustrations and informative digressions. Very complete, very well written, very useful.


Books and Their Makers in the Middle Ages, Putnam, 1896. Cloth hardcover, fading to cover but amazingly good for the age. Clean pages inside with a few pencil marks on the front flyleaf, but some dirt on the fore-edge deckle.  Very thorough treatment of what the title says. Not so much a how-to book as a how-it-was book and sometimes that’s what you need.

The Golden Book, Douglas McMurtrie, 1934. Pages slightly yellowed but not brittle or dirty. The origin of the alphabet! The invention of printing! A typographical messiah! Techniques and the art of bookmaking. Sorry, I’m getting punchy. It’s really quite the serious and detailed tome, full of nearly forgotten lore and a fascinating read.

Books and Printing, a Treasury for Typophiles, by Bennett, 1963. Paperback, perfect bound. A collection of essays and articles about design, about type, about printing, about the reason for the curious arrangement of type trays…the variety of authors gives a refreshing variety to the reading, with more serious and scholarly articles alongside sea stories from grizzled printers and hand binders. There’s something for every print lover in this book.

English Printed Books by Meynell, 1948. Cloth hardcover, ex library book. Not just books printed in English, this is mostly books printed in England. A slender, elegant volume packed full of color and b/w illustrations. Some history of printing, illustration, design, type…many subjects for a small book and absolutely fascinating.

The Bibliophile’s Almanack for 1927, sewn paperback, Simon & Child, 1927. A small book that doesn’t look its age.  Starts with a 1927 calendar, essays, book reviews, artwork, lots of tidbits for book lovers. Sample? OK. ” …the perils of the young bibliophile are numerous: they lurk in the bookseller’s pleasant groves as well as on the street which is called Farringdon, and as tempting drabs in the Caladonian Market. Yes, my elderly aunt would have been relieved ….that her nephew had at least fallen in love with a minor classic when he might have formed an unfavourable attachment for an early Bradshaw, become ensnared with the less desirable of the Erotica, or, more romantically, conceived a passion for some unattainable scion of the Incubabula.” Its like “as the page turns” or “all my volumes” – a bookbinding soap opera. Health life in the library. In my secret heart I, too, burn for the unattainable Incunabulus …

Some books about actual art in bookbinding


Lithographic Prints from Stone and Plate by Manly Banister, 1974.

Paperback, good condition. For the rank beginner at lithography, telling you everything you need to know except for where to get the darn litho stones. I’ve been looking for years for a larger stone. Lots and lots of detail and photographs showing every step including how to flatten a stone, how to build the wood stand, arrange the print shop, I mean everything. I don’t dare read any further or I’ll be tempted to take up the art, and we’ve already established that I don’t have the stones for it.

The Encyclopedia of Lithography by Miles, 1938. Brown cloth hardcover with an owner’s name inscribed in pencil inside. Otherwise clean and tight. A most encyclopedic work and perhaps you will be entertained by some excerpts. I am. “No other graphic industry for instance has presses that will use completely planographic plates, that use water fountains, that use an offsetting cylinder or that use a stone as the reproducing medium. Neither do other graphic processes use a colloidal phenomena to achieve their printing plates.” Well, duh. Long reprint of a technical paper The Theory of Three Color Reproduction with way more graphs, charts and equations than you the artist probably want, and all in glorious black and white. What’s wrong with this picture? Redeems itself with wonderful entry under Letter Construction which includes ” … The H goes to the uttermost extremes a letter can occupy in space, and every letter with which it is associated with must conform to it in size or the area it occupies in order to get uniformity of quantity. Even the W and the M have to be whipped into line if the Orthodox idea of excellence is the criteria, though both of these letters are much wider than the H.” Such stern threats against poor W and M. Is this why they have to stand on the doors of public toilets everywhere? are they being punished for some sort of insubordinate width?

A Collection of Interesting And Historic Prints, 1909, State Street Trust Company. Being a single section paper covered book of …. Here, let them explain it: “The State Street Trust Company takes this means of presenting to you its compliments. It hopes this booklet of historic prints will be of interest to you. All of the reproductions are taken from copies or originals in the possession of this company, which are to be seen at its main office, 38 State Street. Many of them to depict some interesting phase of Boston’s history. Please consider this booklet also as an invitation for you to inspect the prints from which these reproductions have been made.” I think they are just trying to get you into the bank so they can talk you into opening a Christmas club account. If you go, check and see if all the pictures are still there. I bet some of them have been smuggled home over the years along with other office supplies.  It is a nice collection of historical prints.  I’m particularly fond of one described thusly:  celebration incident to the introduction of Cochituate water into Boston in 1848, and first exhibition play of the fountain in the frog pond on the Common. In left foreground, with a dog behind him, is Daniel Webster.” It’s quite the gathering of the masses. I didn’t see any port-o-lets in the etching … Perhaps some advantages accrue to wearers of hoop skirts, after all. 

Prints And Books, Ivins, 1926. Cloth spine over paper hardcover, Newberry Library bookplate in front, not stamped discarded so there may be some overdue fines. A little dirty, front joint is contemplating  loosening up, but good condition. May I quote? “The following …papers were written because the writer, in the course of his work, became so enthusiastic about certain things that he wanted other people to be interested in them, too.” Written for the regular non scientific reader who would like to learn about prints and books and maybe look at some nice illustrations. Utterly fascinating, srsly.

The Illustration of Books, by David Bland, 1951. Pretty yellow cloth hardcover with dust jacket. A history of book illustrations with black and white and color images, discussion of processes and techniques. I just read the section on William Morris, and I can only sigh with delight. A wonderful book.