Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lion of New Hampshire spotted

2007 is drawing to a close. Folks are setting goals, evaluating old ones. For instance, a couple months ago I decided to go ahead and write a little on bookseller ephemera, my own book collecting, and getting a collector club started. I really shouldn't let the blog drift into a being all about "Stuff I couldn't afford on eBay". After all who wants to read about that? And look at this monster: Who would call that ephemera? I don't have absolute answers here, but I am the only one shouting into the darkness at this webress, so I get to do as I please. That, and I just had to share this wonderful object, even though it is not en route to my house. I tried. It looks to be a cast brass embossing stamp (embosser?) for EJ Copp & Company of Nashua, New Hampshire. I wonder if they used it on stationery, invoices and receipts, or if some of these embossed stamps made it into books. For shame! After some light digging at Google, a couple details about this man emerge. Like many men of his generation, EJ Copp was a veteran of the Civil War.

According to John H. Goodale, author of History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire (Philadelphia: JW Lewis & Co., 1885) page 182, "In the battle of Drury's Bluff, May 13, 1864, while making an advance on Richmond, this regiment bore the "brunt" of the contest. Major James F. Randlett, now captain of a cavalry company in the regular army, was wounded. Adjutant Elbridge J. Copp, who, entering the service as a private at seventeen, had won promotion, was also wounded. On the 16th of August a fierce engagement took place at Deep Bottom, at which Adjutant E.J. Copp was severely wounded, which compelled him, in October following, to return to Nashua." An obit from 1887, for his father gives us a shade more info about his war service and the years after "Mr. Joseph Copp, a prominent citizen of Nashua, NH, died recently at 86. He left a married daughter and five sons, among the latter being Rev. H.B. Copp, Capt. C.D. Copp and Col. E.J. Copp, the last-named in command of the Second Regiment of the State National Guard."

I'm going to assume that Mr. Copp was not yet in business at the outbreak of the war, being 17 years old. However, it doesn't seem like he waited long after the war. An insurance report from a fire in Nashua in April 1870 records a slight loss at "C. D. & E. J. Copp, books, etc."

Well our stamp doesn't mention a CD Copp, so I have to track him down. Searching for a CD Copp from Nashua in the latter 1800s reveals one Capt. Charles Dearborne Copp. He turns out to be a Medal of Honor Winner. According to the internet, he was born April 12, 1840, entered the US Army from Nashua NH. He earned the Medal of Honor during the Battle of Fredricksburg December 13, 1862. "In action against Confederate forces, Second Lt. Charles Copp seized the regimental colors after the color bearer had been shot down, and waving them, rallied the regiment under heavy fire."

Being in the book business, Elbridge Copp's own contribution came to light in 1911. One bookseller describes Reminiscences of the War of the Rebellion 1861-1865. "Copp claimed to be the youngest commissioned officer in the Union Army during the war. This Scarce reminiscence of the 3rd NH volunteers is nicely done with numerous maps, illustrations and photos of members of the Regiment." One offering also includes this information "Long inscription by the author's widow: "Colonel Copp fought his last great battle, with his usual bravery and fortitude, in the summer of 1923, responding to the "roll call" on high on August 3rd, taps were sounded on August 6th." So, if we presume he was 17 in 1861, he would have been about 79 in 1923.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Harper Brothers in 1855, A Treasure Trove of Images



"The enormous Printing, Stereotyping, Binding, and Publishing Establishment of HARPER BROTHERS, which has been for many years one of the most magnificent monuments of private enterprise which our City, and indeed our country, could boast, was entirely destroyed by fire on Saturday last,-and now lies a shapeless mass of mouldering ruins..."

So the headlines of December 12, 1853 read in The New York Times. The four brothers pose for Matthew Brady about 1860. I'm not sure which one is which.

Harper & Brothers was a prominent New York City book and magazine publishing firm which founded Harper's Magazine, and published books for decades, surviving today in the Murdoch publishing empire as HarperCollins.

James Harper and his brother John, printers by training, started their book publishing business J. & J. Harper in 1817. Their two brothers, Joseph Wesley Harper and Fletcher Harper, joined them in the mid 1820s. The company changed its name to "Harper & Brothers" in 1833. The headquarters of the publishing house were located at 331 Pearl Street, facing Franklin Square in Lower Manhattan (about where the Manhattan approach to the Brooklyn Bridge lies today).

On the night the old building burned down, the brothers met and unanimously decided to rebuild on the original location. According to the family, they ordered 20 new presses, and sent notices to the newspapers that Harper & Brothers would remain in business.

The Harper Establishment; or, How the Story Books are Made, by Jacob Abbott (1855)

On completion of the new cast-iron building housing Harper Brothers, children's author Jacob Abbott turned his talent for thorough description to explaining the mechanics of how books were produced. This heavily illustrated work explores everything from how type is made to the mechanics behind the building's wrought iron structure.

Many of the detailed engravings of the building and the machinery are linked to high-resolution versions. The first image is of the Cliff Street front. The second is a wonderfully detailed cutaway of the same building.

Of course, there are some wonderful engravings of printing and bookbinding, but also details of paper marbling, typecasting, sewing, gilding, etc. I had never heard of this book until an original 1855 printing came across ebay. I lost the auction; I had no idea what the book was worth.


Searching online I discovered there have been a couple reprints. One in 1956, and another in 2001 by Oak Knoll . The Oak Knoll edition has a very nice introduction by Joel Myerson and Chris L. Nesmith which helps place the book in context. Oak Knoll also produced theirs as a facsimile edition, which appeals to me for some reason. Long after I had made an Oak Knoll copy my own, I found the website Nineteenth Century American Children and What They Read by Pat Pflieger. At this very well done website you will find exactly that, including magazines. Many magazines and some books are reproduced at the website as text with high quality scans of any images. Harper Establishment is one such book, because of the prolific children's writer Jacob Abbott.

Of course all of the pertinent images were gathered and loaded at the American Book Trade Index for those searching out further information on publishing, book selling, and book making, etc. in America before 1900.

A big thank you to Pat Pflieger for making this wonderful book and images available to everyone.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Festivus and Blog Love

Well, the holidays are in full swing. We celebrated Festivus at work yesterday with a potluck, airing of grievances and feats of strength. Airing of grievances done "suggestion box" style. Anonymous. Well, as anonymous as possible. For our feats of strength we had a brutal Rock-Paper-Scissor tourney. The physical feat of strength determines our Head of Household for the following year. We then broke up into teams and had our mental feats: 1980s edition Trivial Pursuit. My team did not do all that well. The other teams got questions related to sit-coms, we got Czech politics. While I'm wasting electricity telling strangers about my week, my folks are visiting for Christmas and will be arriving tonight. TO-NIGHT! Add it all up and it makes me think of the town I grew up in, Lincoln Nebraska. I loved living there. I was thrilled a couple months ago to find the deed issued from a bookseller there. I added this cover from the same seller to my collection as well. Turns out, it's from the same year, only a couple months earlier. I still don't know a whole lot about Leighton and Brown. There was a Leighton Ave. I recall. I wonder if there's a connection.

Sarah, from Sarah's Books- Used and Rare alerted me that my email is not listed anywhere! Like I said, I'm not the best with this computer stuff. is now visible in my profile.

From the blog love files, Marty at the Ephemera Blog was kind enough to include me in the Ten Great Book Blogs list. Thanks Marty!

I subscribe to both of these blogs in my Google Reader. They should be in yours!

Happy Holidays all!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Bibliophiles of Oklahoma

A big THANK YOU to Mr. Lewis Jaffe of Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie for mentioning the Bibliophiles of Oklahoma. I've certainly noticed that Lewis's blog is read not only by bookplate collectors, but bibliophiles of all stripes. I hope those residents of Oklahoma would come on over and help me found The Bibliophiles of Oklahoma. It has been about a year since I decided to put myself out there to start a book collector club. Of course, I need other book collectors. The problem is, I haven't met any. I do have the name of a university librarian who is willing to join once things get off the ground. I've also had an in-state bookseller offer lots of... feedback on the place holder website I threw up. If you've used your eyes at my blog (rather than on google reader or such) or ventured over to the BoOK site, you'll see right away that I'm not very web savvy. Suggestions on improving the BoOK website, or my blog are welcome. Anyone know how to widen the usable area in the middle?

Thanks Lewis!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Stereoviews and Booksellers Update

More bookseller back stamps found. My favorite to date is the ad from Frank B. Clark from Portland Maine. Mr. Clark features a circulating library, and informs us that stereoscopic views are 5 cents. Not only do we get an interesting look at Mr. Clark's business, but whoever did the typography and chose the ornaments did a very nice job. Then I looked at the offering of JR Barlow and noticed it's the same frame. Did the printers of the stereoviews print the frames on the back, allowing for the retailer to insert their information? Providing blank space seems to have been the norm for things like trade cards during the later 1800s. Why not on stereoviews? I did find a paper label, like those placed in books, usually at the bottom of the front or rear endpaper, on the back of a stereoview. Did find another back stamp from Bergquest and Johnson in Duluth, Minnesota. This example, from the New York Public Library does not mention that they are booksellers, rather that they are "SPECIAL AGENTS/ For Whitney & Zimmerman's Celebrated Views of/ Minnesota Scenery. /(Send for Catalogue)." Also, in this week's findings, another rubber stamp. I had read on a stereoview collector's website that generally paper labels precede rubber stamps. When rubber stamps came along, did they eclipse the use of paper labels? I know some bookstores today still use rubber stamps, especially paperback exchange types. You don't see many shops using small labels today. I can think of one...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Booksellers and Stereoviews

Scouring the world for bookseller ephemera for the American Book Trade Index, I've discovered stereoviews. I love 'em. Stereoviews are taken with a special camera which will produce two very similar images, when placed side by side in a special viewer, create a 3-D experience for the viewer. I really like ones featuring print shop interiors. Apparently these were very popular, beginning in the years following the Civil War until well in to the 20th Century. That's a guess, as there are millions of these things still in every antique shop from here to anywhere, and private stashes are still being rediscovered. I remember going to an estate sale, I got some very nice WWII related books and stuff, and there were tens of thousands of stereoviews and an huge viewer thingy. I wish I could have bought them, but I was a broke and ignorant grad student at the time. She only wanted $300 by the time I got to the sale. Kinda like the time I passed on a hefty box of matchbooks. The newest ones were from the mid-1940s. Dumb. Back to the stereoviews at hand. It wasn't only photographers and lithography companies producing and selling these images. I've found that booksellers also, at a minimum, sold these little delightful images. Now, I've learned that stereoview aficionados collect these images by several methods. By method of photography, only original prints, and content of images. These can be broken into predictable categories like location, trains, cowboys, early racing, ships, military, ooh-la-la (this is a paraphrase), and to my delight: occupational. In occupational categories one can find printers, paper mill inspectors, and booksellers. Lots of crossover collecting going on here, I'm sure. A few brave souls even collect stereoviews according to the back stamp. The first two images have big crisp labels added to the backs, which suggest a regular trade in these views. One featuring a view of the local marina, the other a shot from Yosemite National Park, another hot collecting area. The third is different on several accounts. It is stamped at the back with an ink hand stamp one would see inside books sold by dealers from early on down to today. The first view is an overall shot of the back, the second of the stamp in detail. I close with an image at the front of this interesting piece, which is the establishment of A. Burt and Co. with the proprietor and the Co. standing proudly in front. The seller theorized it was made as a give-away novelty judging by the age (1870s) and the overall "feel". Oh, this image was like my earlier experiences... it got away from me too... Of course, larger images can be accessed by clicking any of these. Anyone know anything more concrete, or have other examples of booksellers selling stereoviews?