Minsky’s Magnificent Catalog

20140814_193724_resizedWhat could be more awe-inspiring to a lover of fine bindings than a magnificently produced book filled with eye-popping images and meticulous descriptions of beautiful books from America’s past? 


Yesterday we received our long-anticipated signed limited edition of American Trade Bindings with Native American Themes 1875-1933.  Richard Minsky has done it again, turning out another gorgeous catalog of American Trade Bindings.  All imaging, page design and binding artfully done by his skillful hands and his great eye for detail.

Every nuance about this book is beautiful, from the nubby texture of the green cloth on the dust jacket…

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to the beveled edge around the design insert on the red cloth cover

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and the beautiful gilt page edges…

20140814_195802_resizedThe images leap from the page with a three-dimensional quality.

20140814_194511_resized  Descriptions of the bindings include intricate details, explaining how certain effects were achieved by the artists.   Fascinating histories of the book artists lend importance to each example of their work, especially as some of these artists were Native Americans.


All of the books featured in this catalog were collected by Richard Minsky for his Native American Theme Exhibition held earlier this year at his gallery near Hudson, NY, and the end result is this beautiful production which has been years in the making.  You may remember that I did a blog on this Exhibition back in early April of this year.

Richard Minsky is a scholar of book binding, a book artist and founder of the Center for Book Arts in New York City.  He is also a warm, generous and witty man who is passionate about beautiful books and his work.  To learn more about Minsky, his book art, and his magnificent catalogs on decorated American trade bindings, click here.

We were most astounded and honored to be mentioned in his preface… 


and continue to be grateful that he has brought so much attention to the beautiful bindings of an American publishing era that should never be forgotten. 

This catalog, along with his others, will remain treasured through the ages.


If you are interested in decorated American trade bindings being offered for sale here at Old Scrolls Book Shop, click HERE.

Cazenovia, NY Book Sale 2014

Last weekend Ron and I made our annual trek to the Cazenovia, New York Friends of the Library Book Sale.   We haven’t missed this sale in fourteen years.  It’s always a good sale, and usually blessed with beautiful clear weather — as it was on this Saturday morning (July 25, 2014).

Cazenovia, NY Public Library

Cazenovia, NY Public Library

Book buyers soon started lining up for the 9:00am opening of the sale, which is in three locations on the library grounds — in the barn, under the tent, and in the spacious basement community room.

Book buyers lining up at the Cazenovia, NY 2014 book sale

Book buyers lining up at the Cazenovia, NY 2014 book sale

I love their penguin, who unfailingly stands guard at the head of the line…


They almost forgot to put his apron on him this year…but here he is, all decked out!


This is  a pleasant book sale, because the books are spread out in three locations so there tends to be some breathing room.  Cazenovia is a gorgeous town, the books are fairly priced, and the library volunteers are always so friendly and welcoming.

Here are just a few of the books we found this year at the Cazenovia sale:

To Rule The Night, signed by author and astronaut James B. Irwin

To Rule The Night, signed by author and astronaut James B. Irwin


The Mind of Leonardo da Vinci by Edward McCurdy (Dodd Mead, NY, 1928, 1st Edition)

The Mind of Leonardo da Vinci by Edward McCurdy (Dodd Mead, NY, 1928, 1st Edition)


Scarce first edition of "The Fox and The Hound" - winner of the Dutton Animal Book Award, 1967

Scarce first edition of “The Fox and The Hound” – winner of the Dutton Animal Book Award, 1967


Endpapers of "Man-Hunters of Scotland Yard"

Endpapers of “Man-Hunters of Scotland Yard”


Association copy,  inscribed to Bahamas' first Prime Minister, Sir Roland Symonette and his two boys, with author-drawn arrow pointing to their frontispiece portrait next to inscription

Association copy, inscribed to Bahamas’ first Prime Minister, Sir Roland Symonette and his two boys, with author-drawn arrow pointing to their frontispiece portrait next to inscription

We inevitably follow this sale with lunch in the open air courtyard at the Lincklaen House, a lovely historic hotel and restaurant just across the street. They always serve fresh homemade popovers(!) with a tray of butter to smother them in, and offer a seafood bisque that is hard to beat.

Dining patio at the Lincklaen House, Cazenovia, NY

Outdoor dining at the Lincklaen House, Cazenovia, NY

Thanks to all the volunteers who manage to put on one of the most enjoyable book sales in New York State.  This was their 40th year – congrats!







Beautiful Book Scouting Day – Central New York

Yesterday we rose with the larks and took a two and a half hour drive to the annual book sale on the Village Green in Clinton, New York.   Clinton is a quaint historic village in the town of Kirkland (Oneida County) not far from Utica, New York.  It is home to Hamilton College, and has lovely tree-lined streets with cute shops, and a lovely fountain in the middle of the village green.

Fountain in the village green, Clinton, NY

Fountain in the village green, Clinton, NY

College Street, Clinton, NY

College Street, Clinton, NY

Each summer the Kirkland Town Library sets up a terrific and well organized used book sale under tents on the green.  This year’s sale runs July 11-13 (Fri 11-8, Sat 10-8, Sun 10-1).

Kirkland Town Library Book Sale 2014

Kirkland Town Library Book Sale 2014


They  offer a good selection of collectible books in their Special & Collectible book tent, which are priced individually.   We always find nice books here!

There is also a homemade pie sale at this event, with many tempting flavors.

This year, someone was offering birdhouses made from old books!

Bookish bird house

Bookish bird house

For the literary bird

For the literary bird

The weather was perfect (as it usually seems to be for this sale.)

Writing out the check!

Writing out the check!

Afterwards, just a block away, we took a break for a nice lunch and cold & spicy Bloody Marys at a sidewalk table at an old favorite of ours, Alteri’s.

A beautiful book scouting day!!

A beautiful book scouting day!!

Next, we were off to the 36th Annual BERRY HILL BOOK SALE (Friday July 11 through Monday July 14, 2014).   This shop is only a few miles from Clinton, NY at 2349 Rte. 12B, just south of Deansboro, NY.

Berry Hill Books - Deansboro, NY

Berry Hill Books – Deansboro, NY

Berry Hill is a great place to visit, even when there’s not a sale.  Thousands of old books at reasonable prices on three floors in a barn.  What more could you want??

Berry Hill Books - Deansboro, NY

Berry Hill Books – Deansboro, NY

Cars were parked all up and down the road for this ever-popular sale.  It’s a place where there is something for everyone, from reading copies to collectibles, in just about every genre.

On our way home we paid a visit to Stomping Grounds, in Geneva, NY — only about 15 minutes from our own home and book shop.   I could kick myself for not taking photos here (I promise I will on our next visit).  They have moved into new digs at 22 Castle Street, and their new location is GORGEOUS and as always, so tasteful.  Old books, lovely art, stationery, handmade jewelry and more, all artfully arranged on two spacious floors.  It is owned and operated by husband and wife, James and Bethany Haswell.   Be sure to visit them if you are in our area!





The History Behind the Fourth of July

Happy 4th of July! I apologize for not posting for awhile, but aside from being engaged in spring clean-up activities here at Old Scrolls Book Shop, I’ve been busy fighting a war.   I’ve just finished reading Kenneth Robert’s 836-page epic of America’s War of Independence, Oliver Wiswell.   It had me hooked from page one.

Oliver Wiswell, by Kenneth Roberts (1st Trade Edition, Doubleday Doran, NY, 1940)

Oliver Wiswell, by Kenneth Roberts (1st Trade Edition, Doubleday Doran, NY, 1940)

Independence Day seems a great time to write about author Kenneth Roberts, who is most famous for his splendid historical novels covering early American history, particularly the Revolutionary war era.


Kenneth Roberts, photo from the back panel of dust jacket on his book “Boone Island.”

History is most often written by the winners; therefore we usually don’t get “the rest of the story.”

Oliver Wiswell is a thoroughly researched and well-written historical novel, telling the story of America’s war for independence from a different side– the Colonial Loyalist’s point of view.

Covering the eight years of grueling societal division and conflict, Roberts brings to light events and issues that were never exposed in your average American History class. All your standard heroes, like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and others are here seen as the imperfect, three-dimensional characters they actually were. Important battles are set forth as they actually happened – often won by the Loyalist side, and yet lost by retreating British generals who had no interest in victory.

Map on front endpapers of "Oliver Wiswell"

Map on front endpapers of “Oliver Wiswell”

This was truly America’s first civil war, dividing families, friends and neighbors in a great clash between those who believed they should avoid the bloodshed and suffering of a war with Great Britain and those who wanted to engage in war at any cost to gain complete independence. Both sides were patriots who loved their country, with different ideas on the best course to follow for the future of the colonies. It was not a matter that was put up to a vote. Well respected citizens and educated people were driven out of their homes if they were believed to be Loyalists; tarred and feathered, tortured or sent into hiding by mob rule. Families, homes, farms and businesses were destroyed –neighbor against neighbor.

Rear endpapers, "Oliver Wiswell"

Rear endpapers, “Oliver Wiswell”

Not without humor, Roberts succeeds in exposing the absurdities of war, and the follies of the military leadership and troops on both the British and Colonial side. He also conveys the resilience and strength of civilian men and women who, caught in the circumstances of war through no fault of their own, suffered great loss and hardship. His well-drawn characters are appealing and his scenes descriptive as he takes us from Boston to New York to England, France, and back to the colonies as his main character, Olive Wiswell, struggles to preserve his American homeland in the best way he knows how.

To experience this time in our history from the Revolutionist side, read Kenneth Roberts’ Arundel (1929) – the American Revolution through the Battle of Quebec and Rabble in Arms (1933), where he presents the conflict from the viewpoint of the Colonial rebels who are fighting against all odds to halt the advancing British invasion. The struggles of soldiers and civilians alike are vividly brought to life, amidst the miseries of war when food and supplies are scarce because of human greed and faulty links in the chain of command.

Arundel, by Kenneth Roberts (Doubleday Doran, 1933)

Arundel, by Kenneth Roberts (Doubleday Doran, 1933)

Rabble in Arms, by Kenneth Roberts (Later printing - Doubleday Doran, NY, 1943).

Rabble in Arms, by Kenneth Roberts (Later printing – Doubleday Doran, NY, 1943).

All of these books are compelling reads and make for a thorough education on America’s beginnings.

The great thing about an intensely researched and well-written historical novel is this; as you become involved with the characters, you absorb the facts of history in a way that never happens when reading a textbook, and hear the story as it can never be told in a book without characters. You experience life as it happened for people of the time, in detail.   As history unfolds in this compelling way, it stimulates a hunger for further reading and research.

I came late to appreciating the writing of Kenneth Roberts. Now I know why his books have quickly left our shelves, year after year.  He was a great novelist of America’s historic past, and wrote his novels with the same dispassionate truthfulness that made him a great journalist for The Boston Post and The Saturday Evening Post in the early twentieth century.

*Key historical novels by Roberts and their topics include:

Arundel (1929) – The American Revolution through the Battle of Quebec
The Lively Lady (1931) – War of 1812
Rabble in Arms (1933) – Sequel to Arundel; the American Revolution through the Battles of Saratoga
Captain Caution (1934) – War of 1812
Northwest Passage (1937) – French and Indian War and the Carver expedition
Oliver Wiswell (1940) – The American Revolution from a Loyalist’s perspective, from the Siege of Boston to the United Empire Loyalists
Lydia Bailey (1947) – The Haitian Revolution and the First Barbary War
Boon Island (1955) – 1710 shipwreck on Boon Island, Maine

In 1957, two months before his death, Roberts received a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation “for his historical novels which have long contributed to the creation of greater interest in our early American history.”  He died, aged 71, in Kennebunkport.

*taken from Wikipedia

Collectible first editions of Kenneth Roberts works are almost always available here at Old Scrolls Book Shop.


Richard Minsky’s Native American Theme Exhibition


On Saturday, March 29, 2014 we were back on the road again, this time to attend Richard Minsky’s latest exhibition, Trade Bindings with Native American Themes 1875-1933.   The exhibition was held at his home and gallery in Hudson, New York, and coincides with the upcoming publication of his latest exquisite catalog of this book collection.



20140329_155751_resized_2There is much to grab your attention upon entering, even before you get to the book gallery.





In the book gallery at Richard Minsky's.  The woman in the center of the pic facing camera (blue jacket) is Janet Steins of Tozzer library of anthropology at Harvard.

In the book gallery at Richard Minsky’s. Facing us in the center of photo, woman in blue jacket at end of glass case is Janet Steins of the Tozzer Library of Anthropology at Harvard.

This was the first “subject” theme exhibition in Minsky’s series covering the Golden Age of publisher’s bindings.  It features beautiful decorative and pictorial cover designs incorporating Native American themes which were created by artists such as Margaret Armstrong, Frank Hazenplug, Rome K. Richardson, George W. Hood, The Decorative Designers, and many others.





"The Indian Book" The design of Richard's latest catalog is based on this book's cover

“The Indians’ Book”
The design of Richard Minsky’s latest catalog is based on this book’s cover. Original was an unsigned cover design, likely by Angel de Cora ((Hinook Mahiwi Kilinaka, Winnebago) Harper and Brothers, 1907




Richard Minsky, his lovely and talented life partner Barbara, and my husband Ron sharing a laugh



Richard’s exhibitions are well attended by a wide range of delightful and interesting book people, including rare book librarians from large universities, authors, book collectors, friends and bibliophiles…and a select few rare book dealers who he purchases his stock from!!

Richard Minsky (left); Rebecca Rego Barry and husband Jeff (center), and me

Richard Minsky (left); Rebecca Rego Barry, Editor of Fine Books Magazine and husband Brett (center)… and me

Ina Saltz, art director, designer, author,  and Professor of Art at The City College of New York

Ina Saltz, art director, designer, author, and Professor of Art at The City College of New York

There are so many fascinating conversations going on, you have to keep moving to take it all in…




Richard and Barbara are excellent hosts, and they make sure a good time is had by all…



Richard talking with Joan K. Davidson (wearing red), President of Furthermore grants in publishing and former Chairman of the NY State Council on the Arts.

Here is part of the workshop in the gallery where Richard does his fine book binding…


Can’t wait to have our copy of the catalog in our hands!  For information on obtaining your own personal copy of Richard Minsky’s  Trade Bindings with Native American Themes 1875-1933 click HERE.  




Black Swan Books – Lexington, KY


The last book shop stop we made on this trip was in Lexington, Kentucky at Black Swan Books.   We had visited the shop two years ago, and were happy to find it still as nice as we remembered it to be.

There is street parking in front of the store and we found a spot without difficulty.

Black Swan Books, 505 E. Maxwell St., Lexington, KY

Black Swan Books, 505 E. Maxwell St., Lexington, KY

This shop has been in business since 1984, and is run by J. Michael Courtney.   Here one can comfortably browse the pleasant spacious rooms filled with neatly shelved books in a wide variety of genres.  The books are  in clean, solid condition.


The shop offers Americana, Kentuckiana, Military History, Literature, Art, Poetry, Horticulture, Modern Firsts, Modern Library Editions and more.  There is a beautiful rare book room containing a wide variety of collectible books.

Rare book room at Black Swan Books, Lexington, KY

Rare book room at Black Swan Books, Lexington, KY

We found several nice decorated cloth bindings here (Michael has collected them himself for years).

Black Swan has something for every serious book lover in a wide price range (reading quality to highly collectible).  Prices are moderate…but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some good natured dealer-to-dealer haggling going on, as you can see below…

Michael and Ron negotiating

Michael and Ron

I told Michael he wins the prize for the nicest book store restroom.  Sorry, I didn’t take a photo — you’ll have to stop in and see for yourself!  Bring a friend.

Make sure you check back soon for our 2014 Spring book scouting trip summary.  We’ll show you some of our finds, and  share a few stories I may have left out along the way.





Book Scouting in Tennessee and Kentucky

Our travels took us northward again on I-75 into Tennessee.  Our first book shop stop was  The Book Company in Chattanooga.  This is a family-owned used book store which carries both reading quality and collectible books.

The Book Company, 3205 Old Ringgold Rd., Chattanooga, TN

The Book Company, 3205 Old Ringgold Rd., Chattanooga, TN

The store offers a large selection of both hardcover and softcover books in all genres.  The staff was friendly and helpful! They have been in business for 35 years, 5 years at their present location. They have easy access free parking.

Interior view of The Book Company - Chattanooga, TN

Interior view of The Book Company – Chattanooga, TN

We purchased a decorated cloth binding and several Modern Library Editions here.  They did have a very nice fore edge painting book!  Most of their collectible stock is offered only online.

Checking out at The Book Company, Chattanooga, TN

Our second stop in Chattanooga was downtown at All Books. We found on-street parking right near the store.

All Books, Inc., 410 Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN

All Books, Inc., 410 Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN

All Books is a huge one-floor store that is now in the process of conversion to a yarn store (!)  The store has been open since 1989 and is owned by Polly Henry.  There is an inventory of about 50,000 books (mostly hardcover) in varying conditions, and many are of collectible quality.  I think there may be some collectible quality yarn there too!!

Interior of All Books, Inc. - Chattanooga, TN

Interior of All Books, Inc. – Chattanooga, TN

Here we purchased an 18th century cookbook, some decorated bindings, and a few Modern Library Editions.

Me and Polly packing up our treasures

Me and Polly packing up our treasures

After we loaded our booty in the car, Polly was nice enough to come out and tell us about another downtown area book store.  Unfortunately, time was up for us in Chattanooga — we were already behind schedule in our northward travel.

Our next stop will be in Lexington, Kentucky!


A Visit to Dogwood Books – Rome, Georgia

Before saying goodbye to Georgia we left I-75 and traveled west on Rte. 411 to the charming city of Rome.  Tucked in the foothills of the ancient Appalachian Mountains, this city of about 96,ooo people boasts three rivers (Etowah, Oostanaula and Coosa), one university and two colleges.  The highway through the rolling hills and pine forests was beautiful ride, and the approach to the city had lovely flowering trees.


Here we visited Dogwood Books, a used & rare book shop which carries over 20,000 books and is the largest used book store in Northwest Georgia.

Dogwood Books, 240 Broad St., Rome, Georgia

Dogwood Books, 240 Broad St., Rome, Georgia

The store is owned by Kenneth Studdard, and has two floors of   inventory in a wide variety of genres, with a nice selection of children’s series books, signed collectible books, mystery, literature, and non-fiction categories.  The store is spacious, neat and well arranged. Below are some interior views of Dogwood Books:


Second floor, Dogwood Books, Rome, GA


First floor viewed from second floor staircase, Dogwood Books


Second floor, Dogwood Books

Kenneth Studdard, Proprietor of Dogwood Books (and me)

Kenneth Studdard, Proprietor of Dogwood Books (and me)

This store is definitely worth a visit if you are a book lover, and if you go, plan to spend some time — there is a lot to look over.  And it’s such a pretty city at every turn, you may want to explore it further than we were able to…


for our book scouting adventure was pulling us northward to Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Join us there in our next post!








Book Scouting in Georgia

As we headed north into Georgia, our first stop was to be Books Again in Decatur, GA on Atlanta’s edge.   Usually we call ahead before arriving at a store (just to make sure the store is open and the location hasn’t changed), but we didn’t this time.  When we arrived we were sadly disappointed to find the store empty.  A call to the store owner rang but went unanswered.  Disappointing, because we had been here two years before and really enjoyed this shop!

We moved on to Atlanta Vintage Books in Chamblee, Georgia just a few miles away.

Atlanta Vintage Books, 3660 Clairmont Rd., Chamblee, GA

Atlanta Vintage Books, 3660 Clairmont Rd., Chamblee, GA

We visited this shop about two years ago and we are happy to report that this store is still thriving.  In business for over twenty years, the store has 5,000 square feet of space on two floors and over 70,000 books.  Inventory ranges from reading quality to highly collectible.

Inside Atlanta Vintage Books

Inside Atlanta Vintage Books

The folks here are always friendly and helpful! This was our second visit to Atlanta Vintage Books; we posted a blog about this store two years ago when we traveled through the area.

Proprietor Bob Roarty (Atlanta Vintage Books) with Ron

Proprietor Bob Roarty (Atlanta Vintage Books) with Ron

Moving north, we stopped for the evening in Acworth, one of our favorite Georgia towns.  We always look forward to eating at Henry’s Louisiana Grille!

Henry's Louisiana Grill, Acworth, GA

Henry’s Louisiana Grill, Acworth, GA


crawfish races in Henry’s Louisiana Grill – proceeds go to charity

Crawfish boil dinner at Henry's

Crawfish boil dinner at Henry’s

After eating a superb meal at Henry’s, we wandered up the street and discovered this wonderful book store, and to our delight, it was still open…


Acworth Book Store and Coffee Shop, Acworth, Georgia

This store stocks new books, used books, local history, gifts and some of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted!  The store is owned by Guy W. Condra, and he is very knowledgeable about the area’s history.  He also had some interesting antiquarian books and signed local history in his store. We made some purchases, including a German WWII “cigarette stamp” book, complete with original dust jacket.


Here I am with Guy Condra, Proprietor of Acworth Bookstore & Coffee Shop – Acworth, Georgia

In the store we also had the pleasure of meeting Todd Beckett (below) enthusiastic publisher of the local newspaper, the Northside News, which serves the communities of Acworth and Kennesaw, Georgia.


Todd Beckett holding the first edition, first issue of the Northside News!

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Guy and Todd were wonderful hosts and put the crowning touch on our evening in Acworth!

The Old Book Store – Madison, Florida

After spending time at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair in St. Petersburg, we headed the car north toward New York State, stopping to visit open antiquarian, used & rare book stores along the way.

We like to visit used book stores in out-of-the way places, and so we found Lucille Cherry running The Old Book Store in the little town of Madison, Florida.  Madison has a population of about 3,000 people, is the county seat of Madison County, located in the Florida panhandle about 55 miles east of Tallahassee.  It is home to North Florida Community College.

Lucille Cherry, Proprietor of The Old Book Store, Madison, FL

Lucille Cherry, Proprietor of The Old Book Store, Madison, FL

Lucille and her husband opened The Old Book Store about twenty-five years ago.  Both had long careers as teachers, and shared a love of books.  After Mark passed away fifteen years ago, Lucille continued running the store on her own.

The Old Book Store, Madison, FL

The Old Book Store, Madison, FL

With an inventory of about 30,000 books, there is a lot of browsing to do here…



The shop’s inventory includes nonfiction, Americana, Biography, Military, Fiction, mystery and natural science.  Although we didn’t find many collectible items here in our particular areas of interest, there is plenty of reading material.  And we did come away with three or four nice early Modern Library Editions in jackets.

It was obvious to us that the town loves Lucille and her book store.  A local librarian stopped in while we were there and she told us that The Old Book Store is THE favorite shop in town!  Here is a framed newspaper article about Lucille, her husband and the bookshop that we  spotted in the store:

20140318_164848_resizedAs you can see, Lucille has always been photogenic!  And she really knew her inventory, guiding us around the store to find every kind of book we named.  She is a charming woman, and it was a true pleasure to meet her.

Me and Lucille!

Me and Lucille!

I’m running a litle behind on my posts, as we have been spending our evenings enjoying the people we meet along the way!  But I promise to update you soon on our book scouting stops in Atlanta and Acworth, Georgia.





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