Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Callum James: Catalogue Whore



Yes, I confess, I will do almost anything for the feel of freshly minted catalogue paper slipping between my fingers. The recent book fair at Olympia was, therefore, something of a high-point in the satisfaction of my cravings. The above are just a sampling of the catalogues gleaned from the fair.

Among the highlights I suppose would have to be the single leaf from a Gutenberg Bible being offered by Douglas Stewart Fine Books of Melbourne in Australia for the equivalent in sterling, roughly of 55,000 GBP. Or, if you like a good atlas, and this one isn't even secondhand, the Altea Gallery of London had copy number two of Earth Planitum, the largest atlas every printed. When open it measures aprox 9' x 6' ! (just stop and think about that for a moment), it has been produced in an edition of only 31 copies and would set you back a cool 100,000 GBP. But of course, at a fair like Olympia there's going to be a level of showing off and that kind of eye-catching catalogue bravado and among that there are others who offer much more workable and realistic catalogues.

Maggs Bros has a great catalogue at the moment full of 20th century literature, Bernard Stone's Books, the remains of the late lamented Turret Bookshop. Also good for the kind of thing that Front Free Endpaper readers might be interested in are the catalogues of Julian Nangle. For a brief while Nangle had a great little shop in Chichester and it was always an exquisite torture to visit as pretty much every book on the shelves was one that I would gladly transferred to my shelves. And then of course, there's the always fascinating catalogues issued by Paul Rassam, now of Oxfordshire. Paul seems to be able to find always the juiciest and most remarkable association copies of books from just the right people. In his latest catalogue, I am particularly envious of a copy of Walt Whitman's Specimen Days inscribed from Gleeson White to Kains-Jackson and with flowers pressed inside that the accompanying note claims were picked by Whitman's own hand and sent with a message to his 'English Student'.

Ah yes, show me a good catalogue and I'm anybody's...

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