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Here at the BTC Blog we have decided to avoid the usual pitfalls of most New Year’s resolutions by focusing our attention not on petty goals like working out and eating healthy, but instead on spending more time with those closest to our hearts, our latest acquisitions. First up is a previously unknown 1856 broadside poem from B.D. Bozoth, a teacher from Fislerville (now Clayton), New Jersey, apparently intended to be sung to a specified devotional hymn and priced “Three Cents” in type at the bottom.
The poem is an anthem for the students of Fislerville, at the time a center of glassmaking situated between Glassboro and Vineland, wherein they pledge themselves to scholarly industry and demeanor, as well pledging good behavior:
“Our thoughts and acts we’ll form in prayer
Nor chew tobacco, curse nor swear;
For drinking rum and doing bad
Will only make our parents sad.”
On this particular copy, Bozorth has used the entire verso of the broadside to write a letter from “Fislerville, Gloucester Co., Jan. 16th 1856” to E.L. Cowart, asking for his assistance in finding a better paying teaching position, offering to pay him a commission dependent on the salary he can secure for Bozorth, and asking Cowart to contact him within six months.
Benjamin D. Bozorth (1826-1892) spent his life as a teacher, the 1880 census found him still working as a teacher in nearby Maurice River, N.J. He died in Porchtown, N.J. in 1892. The recipient of the letter, Enoch L. Cowart was a prominent farmer and merchant in Freehold, N.J., where he owned a farm on the Revolutionary War site of the Battle of Monmouth. *OCLC* locates no copies of this broadside.
A complete description is available on our website.
One of the disad-vantages of having a quarter of a million books for sale is that sometimes it is easy to forget what you have, even with a database to help you. This morning Ken [BTC’s cataloguer Ken Giese, who works on archives and pre-20th Century material for us] walked into my office and said, “So, this Transit of Venus…” Having just had my first jolt of caffeine, and having spent the weekend trying to get at least one of my children the least bit excited about witnessing a celestial event that will not occur again in their lifetimes, I immediately jumped in, “Corey [BTC’s photographer, Corey Bechelli, with whom I share an office] and I were just talking about it. We might go up to the roof around 6pm. We figure we’ll have an excellent view from there and I brought in binoculars to make one of those safe viewing thingies [caffeine apparently not doing much for my vocabulary of astronomical instruments just yet].” (BTC’s flat-top roof was featured in a previous blog post)
It is not often that one discovers the work of an overlooked or forgotten genius, or a previously-unknown work of an established master. This is, of course, the hope which moves us to carefully examine all sorts of periodical publications and ephemera. So when Tom asked me to catalog two large folio volumes of the Philadelphia-based Saturday Evening Post, from 1827 and 1828, I was pleased to find the puzzle poem “Enigma” attributed to Edgar Allan Poe, and “Psalm 139th” by his brother Henry Poe. Perhaps the most interesting contributions to these volumes are not the Poeiana, but rather a whole series of botanical sketches and other contributions by an eccentric genius with the evocative name Rafinesque. More on him further down. Here is the unsigned “Enigma,” from the March 10 issue of 1827:
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We are presenting a month-long exhibition of rare Tennessee Williams books, typescripts and assorted memorabilia in honor of the playwright’s 100th birthday at The Bookshop in Old New Castle running March 1-31. Among the notable and rare items is an original script for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof which was used during the Philadelphia tryout of the play. The copy contains a sexually charged scene between Big Daddy and his daughter-in law that was removed before its run on Broadway. Also on display is one of only a handful of known copies of the original script for A Streetcar Named Desire bearing its original title, The Poker Night. This early version includes scandalous dialogue that was cut before production, implicating Stanley Kowalski’s wife, Stella, in the sexual assault of her sister, Blanche Du Bois.
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A few years ago we purchased a collection that contained a sizable number of mimeograph and literary magazines. We naturally did what any good bookseller would do. We pulled out the books and ignored the rest. Well, that’s a bit of an overstatement. Certainly a few of the magazines were cataloged but most were placed on shelves to be taken care of at a later time. That time came when I showed some interest and was promoted to “Head of the Mimeos.” (Don’t be too impressed, in the last week alone I’ve been promoted to “Head of Wrestling Photos,” “Head of Reference Guides” and, my favorite, “Head of Children’s Books About Ducks.”) The result is our first catalog dedicated to the mimeograph revolution.
One of the great things about working for a bookseller is you get to see some very cool items. One of the best in recent days is a collection of letters from the writer B. Traven – best known for his novel The Treasure of Sierra Madre – sent to the model and actress Ruth Ford. If you’re only familiar with the classic movie starring Humphrey Bogart, you’ve been missing out because B. Traven was a man of mystery worthy a movie all his own.
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I wasn’t born until 1972, but I grew up experiencing the Sixties through the cultural wake it left behind. Scattered about my house were bell bottoms, classic rock albums, copies of Khalill Gibran’s The Prophet, my parents’ assorted long-haired friends, and a cool-looking scale on the top of the refrigerator that I wasn’t allowed to touch. It’s no wonder that I’ve always been fascinated by Woodstock, The Beatles, The Summer of Love, and all number of hippie-related culture. That’s why I was pretty excited last week to catalog the first three issues of The International Times — the underground newspaper at the center of the London scene.