More from the Great Book Town of Ann Arbor

The fourth bookstore we visited on July 12, 2016 in Ann Arbor.  Here I am in front of Motte & Bailey Booksellers in Ann Arbor, Michigan…


Motte & Bailey offers over 10,000 volumes of used and rare books in a spacious and well-organized store located at 212 N. Fourth Avenue.


“Motte & Bailey” is a type of medieval Norman castle, a wooden palisade rising on a mound of earth, found in many places in England, Wales, and Scotland…this name was chosen to reflect the specialty of the store’s inventory, books concerning all the various aspects of history.  But there are books from nearly all genres here, and all in lovely condition.   We found Gene Alloway manning the desk at the front of the book store; he has been active in the business since 1996.


With Gene Alloway, Proprietor of Motte & Bailey Booksellers, Ann Arbor, Michigan


Here is an example of a title we purchased at Motte & Bailey:

Two volume set of "Ramona" in a decorated binding (Little Brown, 1900) SOLD

Two volume set of “Ramona” in a decorated binding (Little Brown, 1900) SOLD

I highly recommend a visit to this bookstore if you are in Ann Arbor — it was one of my favorites there.

The fifth book shop we visited in Ann Arbor was charming beyond belief.  I felt as if I had stumbled into a time machine and stepped into a bookshop on some old London street.




A wiry, spry man with pale gray hair and glasses greeted us as we came into the shop, in his crisp white shirt and a neatly tailored charcoal gray vest.  This turned out to be Richard Leahy, who takes charge of the night shift at the store.  You must envision him from my description, because he does not like his picture taken.   A shame, because he added so much to our visit at this store…but I guess you will just have to go there yourself (in the evening) if you want to experience the pleasure of meeting him.

By now it was about 6:00pm, and we were starving.  We were assured that the store would be open until 8:00pm, and asked Richard for advice on where to eat dinner nearby.  He directed us to an Italian restaurant just a few blocks away.  It was a delightful place called Gratzi.

Grazi Restaurant, 326 S. Main St., Ann Arbor, MI

Gratzi Restaurant, 326 S. Main St., Ann Arbor, MI

Gratzi had an excellent wine list and their food was fabulous.  You know how we usually take photos of what we are served in restaurants?  Especially when it is beautifully presented??  Well, we were so hungry we didn’t even pause for those photos this time!  Take it from me, the food and wine was top notch.

With full tummies, we walked back to West Side Book Shop, where Richard was waiting to assist us as we combed through their beautiful inventory.

Inside West Side Book shop, 113 West Liberty, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Inside West Side Book shop, 113 West Liberty, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Here are a few of the items we spirited away from this book shop:

The Small Yacht by Edwin A. Boardman (Little Brown, 1923)

The Small Yacht by Edwin A. Boardman (Little Brown, 1923)


Star-Dust by Fannie Hurst (A. L. Burt, 1921)

Star-Dust by Fannie Hurst (A. L. Burt, 1921)

Star-Dust by Fannie Hurst (A. L. Burt, 1921)


The Spirit of the North (Cupples & Leon, 1935) - inscribed by author LeRoy W. Snell

The Spirit of the North (Cupples & Leon, 1935) – inscribed by author LeRoy W. Snell


Join us in the next post, we will be leaving Ann Arbor (sob!) and driving to East Lansing, Michigan.


More Great Book Stores – Ann Arbor, Michigan

You just never know who you’ll find sharing the aisles with you in a book shop.  Here I am in Dawn Treader Book Shop, where I found someone who has been around for a long time.  Much longer, even, than me!


In front of Dawn Treader Book Shop, located at 514 East Liberty Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

20160712_114601_resized                   This book shop boasts over 70,000 titles and has been around for twenty-two years.


Owned by Bill Gilmore, we did not have the opportunity to meet him.  But the staff was helpful and knowledgeable.  Here I am with Mary Elizabeth Parker, who assisted us during our visit.


We had a grand time shopping in this spacious and friendly store which carries something for everyone, from fine literature to science, travel and exploration, science fiction, signed first editions, decorated bindings and much more.

Here is one example of a lovely decorated binding we purchased there…

A Checked Love Affair (First Edition, 1903, Dodd Mead) SOLD

A Checked Love Affair (First Edition, 1903, Dodd Mead) SOLD

And a lovely old Gene Stratton Porter novel in its original dust jacket…

The White Flag (First Edition, Doubleday Page, 1923) SOLD

The White Flag (First Edition, Doubleday Page, 1923) SOLD


Next, we headed over to Kaleidoscope Books, at 200 N. Fourth Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Here we found owner Jeffrey Pickell among his immense collections of books and memorabilia.  Plan to spend some time sifting through a lot of material here if you make a visit…



Jeff Pickell at work in his store, Kaleidoscope Books

Jeff Pickell at work in his store, Kaleidoscope Books, Ann Arbor, Michigan

We found some very nice Modern Library editions in the store.  Here are a few examples…



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All that hunting through books and paper makes one a little dry, so it was time for a thirst break.   So far, three book shop visits (see previous post) in Ann Arbor, all in one day…  and it’s Bloody Mary time!


We wandered into Bar Louie and found they served up a pretty good Bloody Mary!

Ron's favorite part of our book scouting trips!

Ron’s favorite part of our book scouting trips


I’ll be back soon, sharing more book scouting adventures in Ann Arbor, Michigan.



Autumn Book Scouting in Corning, New York

Early October is a beautiful time of year for a drive through the Southern Tier of New York State. The forested hills are splashed with vibrant autumn color, and the air is crisp and clear.  And so it was on Saturday morning, when we drove to Corning, New York.

 We never miss the Friends of the Southeast Steuben County Library Sale, which is held twice a year (April and October) at the East Corning Volunteer Fire Hall, just off I-86 between exits 47 and 48.  It is a friendly, well-organized sale, and usually offers some interesting material.  This year’s fall sale is offering about 30,000 items, and they always present a “Special Books” area that is worth a careful perusal.

 I didn’t take photos this time at the sale opening – we were running late and the sale was about to begin just as we parked our car!  But here are just a few of the books we purchased at the sale:

An assortment of decorated bindings from the Corning sale

An assortment of decorated bindings from the Corning sale

 They offered a large and interesting collection of material on Panama and the Panama Canal this time around in their Specials area; books on the hydrological and geographical studies which were done for the massive construction project, maps and diagrams, and a great variety of books on the huge and historic undertaking to connect two oceans.

 You can’t go to this sale without stopping in the charming city of Corning.  Besides the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, beautiful Market Street in the historic downtown offers great walking, dining and shopping.

Market Street, Corning, New York

Market Street, Corning, New York

Centerway Square, Corning, New York

Centerway Square, Corning, New York


We were happy to see a new used & rare book store in town, Mecca Books at 65 E. Market Street.   It is always cause for celebration where antiquarian book stores are opening to replace the ones that are closing!

Owned by Steve Mecca, the store location was taken over from Mynotera Books (which still has an online auction site).  Steve offers an eclectic selection of vintage hardcover books, vinyl, comic books and other interesting ephemera, at reasonable prices. 

Mecca Books, 65 East Market St., Corning, NY

Mecca Books, 65 East Market St., Corning, NY

Steve Mecca, Proprietor of Mecca Books, Corning, NY

Steve Mecca, Proprietor of Mecca Books, Corning, NY


The interior of the store is charming, and we were happy to find some nice decorated bindings and books with early beautiful dust jackets here.

Some nice early jackets!

Some nice early jackets!

A couple of decorated American trade bindings found at Mecca Books in Corning, NY

A couple of decorated American trade bindings found at Mecca Books in Corning, NY

 The day was perfect – sun-drenched and warm – for eating outdoors at the Market Street Brewing Co. and Restaurant…

Outdoor dining at Market Street Brewing Co. & Restaurant

Outdoor dining at Market Street Brewing Co. & Restaurant

We walked up and down the length of Market Street, shopping and window shopping. 


Take a look at this gorgeous vintage baby carriage we spotted in the window of a shop that was closed…


We stopped in Brown’s Cigar Store (Tobacconist since 1889) at 6 West Market Street, where we met owner Bejay Smith.

Bernard (Bejay) Smih, Proprietor of Brown's Cigar Store, Corning, NY

Bernard (Bejay) Smith, Proprietor of Brown’s Cigar Store, Corning, NY

Besides an impressive array of cigars and tobacco products, the store displays a century-long collection of tobacco memorabilia, original glass, oak and marble humidors and lovely antique display cases.


There are also several antique shops on Market Street that are worth scouring for books and of course, antiques.

Autumn is a perfect time for book scouting in the Northeast… there are so many pretty and historic places to visit, and Corning, New York is one of the best.  

It’s a Wrap: Summary of our Midwest Book Scouting Adventure

I’m finally squeezing in some time for a summary of the trip for all who may be interested.  We’ve been back home from our Midwest book scouting adventure for just one week.

We have been doing our best to catch up with ourselves – and on gardening, housekeeping, unpacking, laundry, and friends.     Our book store cat, Osa, got really tired watching us unpack all the books…

Osa, one of our book shop cats

Osa, weary book shop cat squeezed between all our new books

 By the way, Osa is oh-so happy that we are home!

 The purpose of our book scouting trips is to find interesting, unusual, high-quality stock for our book store.  We always have our customers in mind while making purchases on these trips.  It is important to know your customer base.  Otherwise, one would lose confidence well before you’d spent your first $500.  For us, this meant we were seeking out vintage decorated bindings, scarcer Modern Library Editions in excellent condition, books with beautiful old dust jackets, important non-fiction works and author-signed literature.

 Here are photos of about 2/3 of our book booty taken while unpacking:

Some of the new inventory from our book scouting trip


 Books are everywhere, but quality older books in excellent condition which are of interest to collectors have become quite hard to find.  We do purchase books locally, but the books offered up are often not what we are seeking.  So, we ferret them out wherever we can find them.

In the past, it was common practice for booksellers to travel countrywide, even worldwide, visiting others in the trade in search of books to suit their particular customers and specialization.  It has become less common.  Without exception, all the booksellers we met were happy to see someone “from the trade” coming in to purchase books.  All were hospitable and helpful, and surprised that booksellers were still making pilgrimages, doing it the “old school” way.

Our trip began on the evening of June 1, 2013 and ended on the evening of June 15.  There were ten days of full-blown all-day (and occasional evening) book scouting; we allowed ourselves five days of pure family time in Minnesota, although we hit the large “Book Em” sale in Bloomington while we were there, and one antique shop in Lyndale, MN.

 On this trip we logged approximately 2,800 miles from Stanley, NY west to Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; then north into the Door County peninsula of Wisconsin; then west across the center of Wisconsin to the western edge of  the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota area.  On our return trip we drove southeast through the Wisconsin Dells to Madison, Wisconsin and on to the Chicago area again, and headed a bit further south to Fort Wayne, Indiana, on up to Toledo, then Cleveland and back home to New York State.

We purchased approximately 300 high quality hand-picked and carefully selected books; mostly vintage first editions both fiction and non-fiction (non-fiction included travel, history, natural history, special interest); author-signed editions, decorated American trade bindings, and Modern Library Editions, plus a few important children’s books.  Now you know how picky we are in stocking our book store!  We looked at thousands of titles each day.

 We combed 16 used & rare book stores; two fund-raiser used book sales (Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and ‘Book ‘Em” sale in Bloomington, Minnesota) and at least 10 antique stores/malls.  Pretty crazy when you mix it in with all that driving!  No wonder we are dog-tired.

Book stops we made on our way West:

 Case Western Reserve University Book Sale, Cleveland, Ohio

Myopic Books, Chicago, IL

Untitled Used & Rare Books, Sturgeon Bay, WI

William Caxton, Ltd., Ellison Bay, WI

The Peninsula Bookman, Fish Creek, WI

Old Orchard Antique Mall, Egg Harbor, WI

Shenandoah Books, Appleton, WI

Blue Moon Books, Stevens Point, WI

Ottawa House Books, Eau Claire, WI

Antique Emporium, Eau Claire, WI

“Book ‘Em” Crime Prevention Association Book Sale, Richfield, MN

 Book stops we made on our return trip east:

 Antique Mall of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin Dells, WI

Tomah Antique Mall, Tomah, WI

Paul’s Books, Madison, WI

Browzer’s Books, Madison, WI

Avol’s Books, Madison, WI

Howard’s Books, Evanston, IL

Amaranth Books, Evanston, IL

Bookman’s Alley, Evanston, IL

Chicago Rare Book Center, Evanston, IL

Hyde Brothers Books, Fort Wayne, IN

Every Other Book, Fort Wayne, IN

Maumee Antique Mall, Maumee, OH

 There were additional antique malls/stores we popped into along the way to look at book booths (if there were any).  Antique malls can be a terrible waste of time when book hunting, but you can’t really exclude them; we did find some interesting and collectible quality books in the ones mentioned above.  There were many others I’m not detailing here that were either bookless or just a boneyard for ragged, tired, common books.

 Our top of the list favorite was Bookman’s Alley in Evanston, Illinois.  The city of Evanston, Illinois in general is a worthy book hunting destination, with at least four quality used & rare book stores.  You don’t find clusters of books shops like this in towns and cities much anymore.

 From Bookman’s Alley:

First Edition of "Sand" in original jacket, SIGNED by Will James.

First Edition of “Sand” in original jacket, SIGNED by Will James.

Will James' signature on front free endpaper of "Sand"

Will James’ signature on front free endpaper of “Sand”

And another from Bookman’s Alley:

A Mountain Woman, by Elia W. Peattie.  First Edition (Way & Williams, Chicago, 1896).  With signed poem by author enclosed.

A Mountain Woman, by Elia W. Peattie. First Edition (Way & Williams, Chicago, 1896). With signed poem by author enclosed.

Poem by Elia W. Peattie, inscribed and signed

Poem by Elia W. Peattie, inscribed and signed, was folded into the book

We also loved Browzer’s in Madison, Wisconsin.  This was our second visit to Browzer’s over the past several years, and we were not disappointed.

 One of our many interesting purchases from Browzer’s:

Leather-bound "Photographic Souvenir - Grand Encampment of Knights Templar 26th Triennial Conclave, Boston, 1895

Leather-bound “Photographic Souvenir – Grand Encampment of Knights Templar 26th Triennial Conclave, Boston, 1895

 It’s a large, heavy book, printed on high quality glossy paper with gilt edges.

Title page from the Knights Templar Photo Souvenir Book

Title page from the Knights Templar Photo Souvenir Book



 Also, Blue Moon Books in Stevens Point, Wisconsin was a nice surprise – not huge, but it was crammed with vintage books, and we found a lot to like there.  I featured some of the fine books we found their in an earlier post on the trip.

 For those interested in scholarly titles or Americana, the trip to Door County, Wisconsin would be very worthwhile to visit both Untitled Books in Sturgeon Bay and Wm. Caxton in Ellison Bay.

 The Case Western Reserve University Book Sale was excellent; it had a higher quality of books than most library sales, and plenty of quality vintage selections.  Although we paid a $20 each entry fee to attend the early morning preview sale, it paid off for us.  There weren’t a great number of buyers at the preview, and we found a multitude of excellent books.

We spent nine nights in hotels, six nights with family or friends.  Our best chain hotel experience was with Carlson Company hotels (Radisson, Country Inn & Suites were the ones we stayed in from this hotel chain) for reasonable price with excellent cleanliness, quality and amenities.  But the best deal of all was at the independent Bridgeport Inn in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, where we had a full-fledged large apartment-worthy suite on the water for $99.  Most places we stayed were $100/night or less for two adults. Gas prices hovered at approx. $3.80/gallon in most states, with a high of $4.59/gallon in the Chicago area ( fill up before you get there!).

 Here are some additional photos of some of the books we acquired on the trip:


First American Edition of “While England Slept” by Winston S. Churchill in original jacket. (ALREADY SOLD)

The Shepheard's Calender, by Edmund Spenser (NY: Harper & Brothers, 1898) Decorated binding and illustrations by Walter Crane.

The Shepheard’s Calender, by Edmund Spenser (NY: Harper & Brothers, 1898) Decorated binding and illustrations by Walter Crane.

Walter Crane's monogram, stamped on front and rear boards of "The Shepheard's Calender"

Walter Crane’s monogram, stamped on front and rear boards of “The Shepheard’s Calender”

A lovely example of a decorated binding done by the Decorative Designers (stamped with a double D)

A lovely example of a decorated binding done by the Decorative Designers (stamped with a double D)

A beautiful Margaret Armstrong binding in excellent condition

A beautiful Margaret Armstrong binding in excellent condition

Two Volumes (complete) of "Cape Cod" by Henry David Thoreau (Boston: 1899, Houghton Mifflin) with original slipcase.

Two Volumes (complete) of “Cape Cod” by Henry David Thoreau (Boston: 1899, Houghton Mifflin) with original slipcase.  Book decoration by Sarah Wyman Whitman.

Label on original cardboard case for "Cape Cod"

Label on original cardboard case for “Cape Cod”

Headlong Hall; Nightmare Abbey by T. Love Peacock (London: Macmillan, 1896)

Headlong Hall; Nightmare Abbey by T. Love Peacock (London: Macmillan, 1896)

So many fine examples, hard to choose!

Travel was pretty much trouble free, and we are grateful for that.  Although…Ron and I truly run on Dunkin’ Donuts, and we were running on empty much of the time.  Our favorite coffee is almost as hard to find as rare books, east of Ohio.   It’s the Double-D that keeps us going (Dunkin’ Donuts AND Decorative Designers!).  Hence, a few incidents of inside-out clothing and misdirection.  But we sausaged through!!  Met wonderful people, and had such fun relaying our adventures to you, our readers.

We are thrilled with the results of the trip.  Love the books we brought home, and have already sold some of them even though I have barely scratched the surface in beginning to sort and catalog them.

You can view or purchase books we gathered from this trip by going to our website at and scrolling down to “recent acquisitions” near the bottom of the page.  I will be adding more books daily (barring interruptions!) over the next several weeks.

The last word is from Osa, who says he doesn’t want to look at any more books!

Somebody stop them!  I'm trying to sleep here.

Somebody stop them! I’m trying to get some shut-eye here.

One Weekend, Two Antiquarian Book Fairs in New York City

53rd Annual Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America - New york Antiquarian Book Fair - Park Avenue Armory

53rd Annual Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America – New York Antiquarian Book Fair – Park Avenue Armory

New York City was a happening place for book collectors and book sellers this past weekend.  We made the trip to the Big Apple to combine a visit with our son and to take in the 53rd Annual New York ABAA Book Fair and the Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair (AKA “The Shadow Show”).

Entrance to the New York Antiquarian Book Fair

The ABAA Antiquarian Book Fair was held again at the beautiful Park Avenue Armory at 643 Park Avenue.   Although you enter the fair through an atmosphere of dark wood paneling, chandeliers and stained glass…



it’s all bright lights and glass cases in the exhibition area…


  This is one of the few places you will see booksellers dressed to the nines (we are generally a casual lot – sometimes downright scruffy, even).  Security is tight.  Your coat and any bags must be checked at the door.  Much of the best that is available and collectible in the whole wide world of books is on display here, everything from signed modern first editions to ancient maps and manuscripts.  Prices ranged from around $50.00 to rarities running into five and six figures.


We attended on Friday at noon, the first general opening of the show (there is a preview night on Thursday evening, with a $50.00 entry fee for the privilege).  There is a vibe of tension and excitement in the air – booksellers pay a premium to exhibit here — they are all hoping to “crack the nut,”  and there are collectors roaming the aisles who are willing to drop serious cash.  The attendance seemed high — the crowds grew as the afternoon progressed.


 It is always worthwhile to attend this fair, to see what is being offered, some of which you may never see again anyplace else.  It should be considered a learning experience as well an opportunity to buy.

Michael Manz and Earl Manz of Babylon Revisited / Yesterday’s Gallery Rare Books (my husband Ron is on the right).

We were happy to see Earl and Michael Manz, father and son team of Yesterday’s Gallery and Babylon Revisited Rare Books  at their booth, where I purchased a lovely first edition of Twenty-Four Hours for my Louis Bromfield collection.  (Thanks for bringing it to the Fair, Michael!)

First trade edition of Twenty-Four Hours (NY: Frederick A. Stokes, 1930)

First trade edition of Twenty-Four Hours (NY: Frederick A. Stokes, 1930)

They specialize in books from the jazz age and depression era in beautiful old dustjackets. We share their area of interest, and it is always a joy to roam their booth or website.

Nearby we found another favorite bookseller, Robert Dagg, of Robert Dagg Rare Books, San Francisco, California, whose specialty areas are Modern First Editions and Mystery and Detective Fiction. 

Robert Dagg, Robert Dagg Rare Books, San Francisco, CA

Robert Dagg, Robert Dagg Rare Books, San Francisco, CA

The Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Show, or “Shadow Show” is held in a lovely building at 135 West 18th Street, and is a much more relaxed atmosphere.  This show ran Friday, April 12 from 5-9 p.m. through Saturday, April 13 from 8am – 4pm.  We were waiting at the door on Saturday at 8am.

Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair at the Altman Building (The Carriage House) 135 W. 18th St., New York, NY

Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair at the Altman Building (The Carriage House) 135 W. 18th St., New York, NY

The quality is very good, and prices are within the reach of more book lovers and collectors.   This fair opened on Friday April 12 from 5-9pm and ran through Saturday April 13 (4am-4pm).

Tina Bruno, President of Flamingo Eventz, LLC (Organizer of "The Shadow Show"

Tina Bruno, President of Flamingo Eventz, LLC (Organizer of “The Shadow Show”)

We purchased a lovely decorated American trade binding here from Ben Koenig of The Country Bookshop (Plainfield, Vermont).

A Daughter of New France, by Mary atherine Crowley.  Signed decorated binding (Amy Sacker)

A Daughter of New France, by Mary Catherine Crowley. Signed decorated binding (Amy Sacker)

Many fine books to browse at "The Shadow Show"

Many fine books to browse at “The Shadow Show”

The Shadow Show

The Shadow Show

 Two great book fairs, and a great selection of fine books in the  City that Never Sleeps.

I’ll be back soon with the rest of the story…

A New Departure in Book Collecting: Grosset & Dunlap’s “Novels of Distinction”

In book collecting, reprinted titles are usually considered a step down from true first editions, but when collecting famous literature, they are often the only reasonable choice because of scarcity or expensive prices on first editions.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (Grosset & Dunlap "Novel of Distinction")

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (Grosset & Dunlap “Novel of Distinction”)

One attractive and affordable collecting niche is Grosset & Dunlap’s “Novels of Distinction” literature series from the early 1900’s, which consisted of at least 120 titles. Grosset & Dunlap is a well-known publishing house that produced reprints almost exclusively, and still exists today as part of The Penguin Group of publishers. We love some of the early Grosset & Dunlap books, particularly their “Novels of Distinction” series, and here’s why: They selected highly acclaimed works by respected authors, used quality materials and paper, and manufactured solid, attractive books and illustrated dust jackets. The reprint edition in this series was often more attractive than the original first edition.

Elmer Gantry, by Sinclair Lewis (Grosset & Dunlap "Novels of Distinction" edition)

Elmer Gantry, by Sinclair Lewis (Grosset & Dunlap “Novels of Distinction” edition)

Elmery Gantry, by Sinclair Lewis (Grosset & Dunlap "Novels of Distinction" edition

Elmery Gantry, by Sinclair Lewis (Grosset & Dunlap “Novels of Distinction” edition

Books in this series had especially high quality cloth bindings, sometimes with decorated endpapers.  Here’s how to recognize them:

"Novels of Distinction" listed on front inside flap of dust jacket

“Novels of Distinction” listed on front inside flap of dust jacket

The front and/or rear inside flap of dust jacket  listed all the currently available titles in the series.

A bio of the author with a photo appeared on the rear panel of the dust jacket.

Bio and photo of Ernest Hemingway, with review of the book on rear DJ panel

Bio and photo of Ernest Hemingway, with review of the book on rear DJ panel

A special logo was blind-stamped on the front board.

Grosset & Dunlap's special "Novels of Distinction" logo

Grosset & Dunlap’s special “Novels of Distinction” logo

The same logo almost always appeared on the spine of the dustjacket:

"Novels of Distinction" logo on DJ spine

“Novels of Distinction” logo on DJ spine

Sometimes a few paragraphs about the series appeared on the front inside flap, with the list of books then appearing on the rear inside flap:

Front inside flap from "Nocturne" by Frank Swinnerton

Front inside flap from “Nocturne” by Frank Swinnerton

From the front flap of “Nocturne”:

A New Departure in Bookmaking

 Haven’t you often wished that the more distinctive novels of the day could be secured in popular priced editions that sacrifice none of the taste and quality of the original higher priced printings?

That very end has now been achieved in the new departure of Grosset & Dunlap—the reprinting in deluxe editions of a group of novels appealing to that growing body of readers with refined and sophisticated taste.

Ask your bookseller to show you these latest issues of the NOVELS OF DISTINCTION.”

Occasionally they had decorated endpapers:

Decorated endpapers from "Jeremy" by Hugh Walpole

Decorated endpapers from “Jeremy” by Hugh Walpole

Decorated endpapers from "Dark Laughter" by Sherwood Anderson

Decorated endpapers from “Dark Laughter” by Sherwood Anderson

They are fun to collect, because they are handsome books, good literature, and can be challenging to locate; yet they are still inexpensive and relatively “undiscovered” as collectible material.

The first Grosset & Dunlap “Novel of Distinction” appears to have been The Perennial Bachelor by Ann Parrish (1926), as it tops the list on the inside flap of early Novels of Distinction titles (before they went to alphabetizing them). It is an historical romance of Lord Nelson and the beautiful Lady Hamilton, who was the inspiration of his great naval victories for England, culminating the Battle of Trafalgar in which Nelson died, leaving Lady Hamilton and his daughter as a legacy to his country.

Below are a few highlights from a list of the series titles taken from the front flap of A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, which was published by Grosset & Dunlap as a Novel of Distinction in 1929:

  •  The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Thornton Wilder)
  • Early Autumn (Louis Bromfield)
  • Brief Candles (Aldous Huxley)
  • Bright Metal (T. S. Stribling)
  • The Haunted Bookshop (Christopher Morley)
  • The Moon and Sixpence (W. Somerset Maugham)
  • The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway)
  • The Professor’s House (Willa Cather)
  • Of Human Bondage (W. Somerset Maugham)
  • Marching On (James Boyd)
  • The Way Things Are (E. M. Delafield)

…and over a hundred more, by authors such as Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, Ford Madox Ford, H. G. Wells, and other great writers.  The full collection would make an impressive literature library.  These are great books at moderate prices, when compared to the first editions of any of these titles.

Some Grosset & Dunlap "Novels of Distinction"

Some Grosset & Dunlap “Novels of Distinction”

I am unsure in what year the series ended, or of the last published title in the series.  I have made inquiries with the Grosset & Dunlap division of The Penguin Group to see if they have any historical data, but have not yet received any pertinent information.  The earliest publication date we have seen in these books as they pass through our store is 1911 (which I think in this case was the copyright date of the original first edition); most seem to have been published in the 1920s.  The latest publication date we have seen is 1931.

The Battle of the Horizons, by Sylvia Thompson

The Battle of the Horizons, by Sylvia Thompson (1928)

Grosset & Dunlap was purchased by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in 1982 and today is part of the British publishing conglomerate, Pearson PLC through its American subsidiary Penguin Group (USA). Since the 1940s, Grosset has published the Illustrated Junior Library, a collection of hardcover editions of Little Women, Tom Sawyer, and more than twenty other classics. Today, through the Penguin Group (USA) they publish approximately 170 titles a year.  Perhaps best known to collectors for their Photoplay Editions (books on which early films or photo plays were based and containing scenes from them), they also published popular children’s series books such as The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, and Tom Swift among others.

If any of my readers have more information about the “Novels of Distinction” series of literature published by G&D, please contact me or share with readers in the comments section.

To view books available for sale in this series at Old Scrolls Book Shop, click here:   NOVELS OF DISTINCTION

The Boxer who Loved Collies

Albert Payson Terhune with his collies (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

Albert Payson Terhune is best known for writing Lad: A Dog (1919) and over thirty other books about the dogs of beautiful Sunnybank Farm where he lived and kept his kennel of fine collies. On this idyllic 44-acre Wayne, New Jersey estate he bred a long line of champions, and his kennel became internationally famous.

Many people aren’t aware that Terhune wrote stories and books about two-legged characters for over twenty years before publishing his first story about dogs.  He also wrote travel narratives as a result of his early journeys abroad which are highly collectible, such as Syria From the Saddle (NY: Silver, Burdett and Co., 1896) and Columbia Stories (NY: Dillingham, 1897).

Terhune was also an outstanding amateur boxer, who boxed exhibition matches with James J. Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons and James J. Jeffries.  His book, How to Box to Win (written under the pseudonym  “John Terence McGovern”) was published in 1900 by  Rohde & Haskins, New York and later by Shrewesbury Publishing Co., Chicago, 1920 bound in decorative paper wrappers.

Albert Payson Terhune in 1922 (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

His civil war novel, Dad (NY: W. J. Watt, 1914) was written with the help of Sinclair Lewis, who anonymously wrote chapters 21 through 23 for his friend Terhune who was having trouble meeting an urgent deadline.  It is quite a rare book, with first editions being valued in four figures for a copy in collectible condition, and is sought after by collectors of both Sinclair Lewis and Albert Payson Terhune.

Still, when I think of Albert Payson Terhune, I think of beautiful and loyal collies, don’t you?  And of the book, Lad: A Dog.  A well-worn copy was on our family bookshelf as I was growing up, as it has been on the bookshelves of millions of other households around the world.  The novel was a best seller in both the adult and children’s markets and has been reprinted over 80 times; it’s success set Terhune on his course to fame as a writer of stories about dogs that are beloved to this day.

A prolific writer of 67 books and numerous stories for magazines such as Saturday Evening Post, Ladies’ Home Journal and Atlantic Monthly, many of Terhune’s books and stories have been adapted for cinema.  See his filmography HERE.

Albert Terhune died February 18, 1942 at age 69 at Sunnybank, among the collies that won him international fame as an author.  He is buried at the Pompton Reformed Church in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey (not far from Sunnybank).  Most of Sunnybank’s land was gobbled up by developers after his wife, Anice, passed away in 1964.  Sadly, the beautiful old house and barn had fallen into disrepair and were bulldozed in 1969.  Some of the grounds were saved by dedicated citizens and exist today day as Terhune Memorial Park – Sunnybank.    Occupying a few acres between Pompton Lake and U.S. Route 202 in north Jersey, it is a public park maintained by Wayne Township.  Visitors can view the graves of many of the dogs mentioned in Terhune’s works and see a collection of Terhune’s book and dog awards at the Van Riper-Hopper Historic House Museum.   Historical and family items from the Terhune home “The Place” can be found at the Pompton Lakes Historical Museum.

View our current offering of a rather scarce book by Albert Payson Terhune.  It is a dog story, a mystery, and a romance all rolled into one…and very difficult to find even in the Grosset & Dunlap reprint edition:

Unseen, by Albert Payson Terhune (NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1937)

Unseen, by Albert Payson Terhune (NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1937)

View a biography and bibliography of Terhune’s books HERE.

Book Scouting Under the Tents – Skaneateles and Clinton, NY

A few days ago we took a road trip to beautiful Skaneateles, NY to attend the Skaneateles Library Book Sale, held every summer under a tent on the library grounds.   The weather was hot and sunny (as it has been most of this season).

Skaneateles Library Book Sale 2012

Here is a scarce book we were lucky enough to find there; we had two Los Angeles buyers eager to obtain it within twenty-four hours of our return home.  Unfortunately we could only make one of them happy.

Picture People, by Olga Rosmanith (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Doran, 1934)

It is a first edition of a novel written by Olga Rosmanith in 1934 about an ambitious starlet’s rise and fall in the capricious swirl and glamour of Hollywood during its golden era.

Skaneateles is a lovely town situated at the top of Skaneateles Lake – one of the prettiest Finger Lakes just south of Syracuse, NY.  It is a bustling place in the summer, with a small public beach right in town, lots of interesting unique shops and places to dine.

Public lakeside park, Skaneateles, NY

We had dinner at the Sherwood Inn, always reliable for good food.  This year we spent the night at  Finger Lakes Lodging, which is under the umbrella of Mirbeau Inn & Spa, and located just across the highway from the main Inn.  Finger Lakes Lodging offers very reasonably priced rooms with an Adirondack flavor, right on the edge of town.

Finger Lakes Lodging – Skaneateles, NY

In the morning we took about an hour’s drive east to Clinton, New York, where the Kirkland Library was holding their annual book sale on the village green.  The “green” was rather brown this year, due to the drought we have been experiencing.

Kirkland Library Sale on the Village Green, Clinton, NY 2012

Here is a first edition of a book by James Thurber which we purchased at the Kirkland Library Sale:

The13 Clocks by James Thurber (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1950)

Written in 1950 and illustrated in color by Marc Simont, it is a cheery, philosophical book that is written in the style of a fairy tale.  It is fairly scarce in nice condition in the first state (illustrator’s name incorrectly spelled “Mark” on title page), and in a clean unclipped jacket.

Berry Hill Books in Deansboro, NY is only about five miles south of Clinton on Route 12B, so after scouring the sale and lunch at Alteri’s, we made our requisite stop there.  Berry Hill has thousands of vintage books in their multi-level barn.  Among our finds were a couple of novels in lovely old jackets.

The Street of Seven Stars, by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Venus In The East, by Wallace Irwin

We were home again by Friday evening, dragging garden hoses for the umpteenth time to water trees, lawn and flowers as we try to limp through this dry spell.

And this morning I awoke to the glorious sound of rain pattering against the window.  It became a good drenching downpour, and lasted for an hour or more, ceased for a little while, and now we have a nice steady rain again.  I can visualize rivulets of water trickling into the empty wells, and toward the thirsty roots of trees. Blessed rain!

We had delightful visitors from New York City in our book shop today – Nahum Waxman and his wife Maron, proprietors of Kitchen Arts & Letters, Inc., 1435 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY.  They were on a “bookman’s holiday” from their store which has been established for more than 25 years and specializes in books on the culinary arts and food writing.  Both of the Waxmans have a background in publishing.  It was fun to talk with them, as they seem to enjoy road trips to visit historical areas and book shops as much as we do!  We were delighted to learn they carry WPA guides with them on their trips, and use maps rather than GPS to find their way.

If you just want to get from point A to point B, GPS is great.  But if you are touring, and curious at all about the ground you are covering, GPS leaves you blind to the fun and  interesting places that might lay just off the beaten path.  A map gives you a better idea of the lay of the land, and the alternatives at your disposal for getting from A to B.  Maps help you visualize where you’ve been and how you arrived there.  The big picture, you know?  There were piles of old maps for sale at the Clinton Book Sale for a dollar a piece — with a sign suggesting they might be used as wrapping paper!  I hope some of them were purchased for framing.  We need to look at more maps.

Happy travels!

Wrap-Up of our Book Scouting Road Trip

Once each year, we escape from the shop for a two-week book-scouting adventure.  We take a road atlas, our cell phones (no data plan, no GPS), a small bag of clothes and hit the road.

We recently completed a 16-day book scouting road trip through ten states in search of fine books to add to our stock at Old Scrolls Book Shop.  While traveling, I posted a blog here at WordPress nearly every day of the trip, which you can see in detail on earlier posts; this is our wrap-up.

Some of the Decorated American Trade Bindings we unearthed on the trip

These trips allow us to get out and meet fellow antiquarian booksellers in other regions of the country.  We get to see their shops (each with their own personality and unique approach to the business), talk books, and buy stock.  We also get to see some of this beautiful country of ours.

Sunrise on the coast of Georgia (Jekyll Island)

This year our trip took us from our home and bookshop in Stanley, NY (about 30 miles S.E. of Rochester, NY) west to Ohio, then South on I-75 through Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and the along the gulf coast of Florida.  On our return trip we crossed over to the East coast of Florida to St. Augustine, then drove up through Georgia, the Carolinas, the Virginias, Pennsylvania, and back home to New York State.

Our heaviest book scouting was done on the way south, where I had researched ahead of time many of the book shops we wanted to visit along the route.  There were many more places we would have liked to have stopped on our way back up through the Virginias and Carolinas.  One must put a deadline of some kind on the trip to stay on budget and return to doing business with our own customers.  I could have kept on going!  We purchased books in all ten states, shipping some home via media mail, packing most home in our vehicle.

Our main objective in acquiring stock was to find antiquarian books in early jackets in excellent condition, decorated American trade bindings, better books in the Adventure/Travel narrative genre, and some of the scarcer Modern Library Editions.  The trip was successful in all regards.  We visited a total of nineteen antiquarian bookshops, six antique stores carrying books, two consignment shops, two thrift shops, and one flea market.

Here’s more of what we found:

More decorated American trade bindings

We uncovered a multitude of antiquarian books (mostly novels) in beautiful early jackets from 1900-1940’s.

Antiquarian books in early dust jackets

We bought a total of around 200 books during our travels, sticking resolutely to our  standards of quality in our search for books and jackets in the best condition.  This involves going through every nook and cranny of each shop; it is a time-consuming treasure hunt.  At night when we close our eyes, what do you think we see?  A parade of titles on the back of our eyelids!

We purchased a number of books in the Adventure/Travel area.  This is our favorite:

“Rolling Stone” by Lowell Thomas, first edition, inscribed to famous NY City Restauranteur Gino Circiello (owner of “Gino’s”), along with two letters in their envelopes written to Gino by Lowell Thomas during his later travels and signed by him.

Three of the book shops we visited were selling off their inventory in preparation for closing their stores.  We are sorry to see them go — we found really nice stock at each of them.  I believe all have some plans to continue to sell books on line.  If you want to visit these shops, you shouldn’t waste any time:

Significant Books, Cincinnati, Ohio

Wolf’s Head Books, St. Augustine, Florida

Tappin Book Mine, Atlantic Beach, Florida

We enjoyed all the book shop we visited, and made purchases at every one.  Each had a special quality — unique atmosphere, stock, personality, and variety of titles.  I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to scroll back through earlier entries for details on the book shops we visited.

Thrift shops, most (not all) antique shops, and flea markets are a shot in the dark, and can be a huge waste of time…once in awhile you get lucky, but generally they are overpriced, and seldom offer the quality, variety or condition of a selective antiquarian book shop. In our opinion, they often  are a dumping ground for book sellers’ overflow stock they haven’t been able to move or items left over from estate sales that didn’t find any takers.

Every antiquarian book shop is unique, which is what makes them so interesting.  The inventory we saw seemed to be mixed as far as condition — we struggled at times to find collectible copies in our areas of interest.  For the average reader, good reading copies are readily available.  Collectible quality books in top condition are more difficult to locate.  We look for books that are clean and sound, without cracked bindings, missing or loose pages, frayed or dirty covers…in other words, “Very Good+” condition or better.  So the search  for books that can meet the grade is always challenging.

Foot traffic seemed good in the each of the book shops we visited.  There were always other customers present.  The most high traffic stores were the least appealing to me — but they have definitely found an audience — and those were the stores offering cheaper mass market used-but-recent hard and soft cover books in a big box store atmosphere.   They offered  little in the collectible book genre, but their parking lots were full and the check-out lines busy.

As usual, all the booksellers we met were extremely hospitable and helpful to us in our search for stock and in our travels — offering us great information on where to look further for books, and where to find good food and lodging. Some drew us maps, made phone calls for us, gave us mementos (such as a book shop t-shirt or coffee mugs), and just generally made us feel happy and proud that we belong to the brotherhood of antiquarian booksellers.  No official club or association can make you quite as assured of this “brotherhood” as being on the road where the dots on your map take you from bookseller to bookseller on a cross country trip, and you find these wonderful book people who are willing to help you “connect the dots.”  Our hats off to all of you!

Advice for book hunting travelers:

1. Do some research ahead of time via the internet and sites like Literary Tourist, ABAA and IOBA, to learn what book stores are available to visit in each state.

2.  Two to four book shops a day is about the limit if you want to really search their inventory, get to talk with the owners, and learn more about the area.  Most book shops don’t open until 10 a.m. or later, and often close by 4:30 or 5pm, so there is limited time each day for the hunt.

3.  It’s very helpful to have a state-wide or regional guide to book stores in the area you are visiting.  These can usually be obtained at the first antiquarian book shop you visit upon entering new territory, or you can request the information ahead of time by searching the internet for antiquarian book associations.

4.  Introduce yourself as a collector or bookseller when you enter the store.  Take time to talk with the staff and proprietors — you will learn much and they can be very helpful to you.

5.  Be flexible.  We have a general plan in mind when we leave on a book scouting trip, but we find it pays to be open to suggestions, which you will surely receive if you talk with people along the way.  We have found books and book shops we never would have located just by being friendly, open and willing to get a little lost!

If you have questions about our book scouting road trips, please feel free to contact us.









Let me show you this other beach…

I actually have some book scouting to report, but let me tell you,  it’s awfully easy to get sucked into the Floridian way of life…which is a much slower version than the one we are used to.  Wake up, slide open the door to the lanai and sit down  to sip some coffee and watch the rising sun;  have a morning swim; pick a juicy orange, peel it and eat it.  Go the beach.  Poke around in antique shops, book shops…go to another beach.   Life is good.

Early morning...adrift in the pool. Feels like heaven.

After breakfast, Ron and I got back to business, gathered our maps and made our way north to Sarasota, where we visited Book Bazaar, Inc. (A. Parker’s Books) at 1488 Main Street in Sarasota, Florida.    When we arrived,  I whipped out my camera to snap some pictures of the store and staff and realized (after pressing buttons to no avail) that I left the camera’s battery back at the house on the charger (45 miles away).  Oops.  See what Florida is doing to me?

So take it from me, it’s a nice store with thousands of books,  a rare book room, and friendly, helpful staff.  Free two hour street parking (we had to move the car once, we stayed that long).  Here’s a photo of a few books we purchased there today:

The book on the right is a 1900 decorated binding with original jacket just above it.

I love this children's book about ants, with many nicely drawn detailed illustrations inside.

Yesterday we went searching for shells and shark’s teeth at Englewood Beach in the early evening — and yes, we found some shark’s teeth!  We’ve decided the sharks in this area must gum you death if they get hungry, there are so many shark’s teeth and shark tooth hunters.  But then I read that each shark sheds about 24,000 teeth in a lifetime.  That’s a lot of teeth.

It was windy and cool by the time the sun went down, as you can probably tell by this photo.

Ron (with the pink towel wrapped around him), Jerry, Cathy and Gloria

My Lord, we had fun!  And we snapped some sunset photos…

Englewood Beach at sunset

This evening after our trip to Sarasota, Gloria and Jerry drove to meet us in Venice, Florida, where we had dinner at Sharkey’s, a great little restaurant and tiki bar right on the beach. (And they brought my camera battery!!)

Walkway to Venice Beach

Walkway to Venice Beach

Dining at Sharkey's

Ron enjoying the waves at Venice Beach

Tomorrow we are leaving Port Charlotte and starting our book trek northward.  Our first planned stop will be Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg, Florida.  We’ll be back on the road tomorrow with regular reporting from our book scouting adventures.

I leave you tonight with a picture of Ron, helping “Domingo” the neighborhood snapping turtle get safely across the road…

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