The Gilded Soldier

In any excellent Antiquarian bookstore, fine sets line the walls like Gilded Soldiers. Those colorful, pretty, golden and silver jewelry bindings all handsome with their tinkly medals. They all but twirl their mustaches while riding horseback. Love it.

They are beautiful. Sometimes they are going to good homes. And there are times when they are just purchased for decor and I wonder their ultimate fate. (Perhaps as set design in some off-off Broadway production of a Chekhov play.) And there have been times when I cannot get them wrapped and out of my sight fast enough because they are pretty but dull or because they are plentiful but heavy. In both cases, I am happy to send them to Chekhov.

So, in Manhattan, and Jersey City and Newark and, I suppose, most cities across the world, there are new buildings being built with vast apartments and condos. Most of them will be missing a wall, maybe two. The walls have been replaced with glass.

I call it the Infinity Wall.

These million dollar homes in the sky have included in the price, the feeling of limitlessness. The view from the windows lead to infinity over the landscape as important gardens in the Renaissance led to the horizon through the trees.

And as a result, there are fewer walls on which to build a library. Art has replaced books as, for besides the price and collectibility, they usually come flat packed.

What to do? Move on and press on with books that are visual and delightful but do not take up much real estate. Someday, I have faith, the good, Gilded Soldier will return to the houses of those who are willing to give up a wall or perhaps even an entire room. I’m assuming that day will come when we, as a people, and those of a particular class (let’s be honest), will see the value in leisure time spent with a material book of variable relevance.

Just not MY home…because…well, I’ll admit…I’m addicted to negative space.

Stay beautiful.

On my turntable: Stateless by Lene Lovich

Favorite Song: “Lucky Number”

The Color of Honey

When describing one another, we Black American people have come up with some very descriptive terms. Houston to Chicago to San Antonio to San Francisco — there are as many ways to describe black skin as there is to describe snow. Personally, I like to think of black and brown skin as honey — syrups that are between a rich and dark to an amber and light.

Frankly, it’s morning and I think I’m just hungry as I write this post. It’s been years since I had pancake or waffles so sometimes I just dream about the toppings and apply it to everything.

Nonetheless, I do owe some of this ability to tell the difference between “slate blue” and “french grey” from the necessity of learning the distinctions of skin color from an early age.

A book, bound in a rich color, perhaps the endpapers swirling like a kaleidoscope — all this, is important. It is a CHOICE made by the publisher, sometimes by the author. A VALUE has been placed on the CHOICE of “smoked oak” or “spring green”. For mammals, we see an astounding range of colors, each with an identifier, a message, sometimes Proustian, sometimes primordial. Run, advance, lust, king, earth, virgin, honest.

When colors get more complex, we are drawn to the complexity that experience has given us. Aquamarine reminds me of the color of boats, which reminds me of my father and time on the sea, but not directly the sea itself. (You can imagine how much time I spend in the paint section of a hardware store. I also spent a lot of my summers painting Dad’s boats.)

In books, as in other man-made objects, the hand of the creator and the choice of color is often a marketing decision. The irony is that some marketing decisions can become art unto themselves, containing a subtlety of emotion and instinct expressed in color.

So, I will admit that when I’m scouting for books, I am drawn to the color of a book. There are times when the very ugliness of color entices me. Very brown books hide a lot of secrets! Very red books remind me of books on quilting and diaries. (Why would you want a red diary?) Pink books remind me of dumb girls and black books contain nudity. Now, I never said it had to make sense.

So, I’ll leave it there for now. More on color in another post. It’ll be worth it. For now, stay beautiful.

What’s on my turntable: Under Construction by Missy Elliot

Favorite Song: “Gossip Folks”

Quiet Books and Loud Music

Welcome to the Turntable!

Here, I will discuss the world of rare books and paper and music. What it’s like to be as rare and Brown as some of the books I sell. What it’s like being a gal wearing a cool and comfortable dress at a Book Fair while the dudes are sweating it out in suits.

It’s going to be ALL of that, sometimes more and sometimes much less.

Mostly, this space will be about what is jumping up and down in front of me at the moment. Being a mother, I live for the moment.

It will be a happy coexistence between guesswork and knowledge and my hope is that we will all have fun trying to kick up some dust.

There are lots of other blogs out there about rare book collecting so, it will be my honor if you spend some time with me. I will tell you my experiences so you will see the antiquarian world through my lens.

There will be times when I will stretch to reach and explain and times when I will frankly just wonder why old books have to be so heavy. The assumption is that you will be tuning in to enjoy the conversation so jump in from time to time. I’m excessively chatty — ask anyone.

At the end of each blog, I will also share what I have on my turntable that week.

This week:  The Clash by The Clash

Favorite song on the record: “Police and Thieves”

Stay beautiful.