Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Literary and Other Treasures at The Bennington Museum

When last I toured the Bennington Museum at the eastern gateway to the beautiful city of Bennington, Vermont, it was a darker, cluttered, dusty sort of place. This was probably twenty years ago. I remember a lot of cases full of brown and yellow Bennington Pottery poodles and jugs and lots of brightly painted works by just-across-the-border artist Grandma Moses. I always thought Grandma Moses herself was pretty darn cute,

but her artwork just never caught my fancy.

There are still lots of Grandma Moses paintings in the museum collection, an interactive schoolhouse where kids can touch and play with reproduction items that comprise a schoolhouse circa Moses' childhood, and even an exhibition of Moses-inspired paintings of the bucolic upstate New York and Vermont hills transformed into a post-industrial apocalypse over  years of potential hydro-fracking by Linda Finch.

A case of print type and pamphlets and books printed in Vermont
A couple of rooms are still devoted to examples of Bennington Pottery and those weird pottery poodles, but the Museum is so much larger and brighter now and has so many new rooms of all kinds of art and historical objects. There are wonderful folk art portraits, maps, a room of cool household furnishings, Victorian hair jewelry, antique toys, patent medicine bottles and cabinets, scientific and musical instruments of all kinds,

Medicine cases, home pharmacies and an 1862 broadside advertising the the medical talents of  Mrs. Richardson, the "celebrated doctress", who had spent many years ministering to the Indians. 

Bibliophiles and history geeks will enjoy the display cases featured many early Vermont imprints on religious, historical and educational subjects, and there were two shelves devoted to hymnals and other music books, including some very interesting shape note singing books.
 Other galleries featured artwork of Vermont and by Vermont artists, including this scene of Mount Equinox by Old Saratoga Books favorite, Rockwell Kent.

There is currently a special exhibition of artwork by various Bennington College art professors, including Dan Shapiro, who also merited a small showing of his prints in a new gallery space adjacent to the Museum gift shop.
Another exhibition focused on Alcohol in Vermont, from temperance banners and court documents to photos of gently inebriated Green Mountain State residents, syllabub glassware and one of Ethan Allen's hefty bar tabs.

Why is the man on the right posing with a shredded umbrella? Apparently this accessory was de rigueur at this well-marinated Labor Day Clambake.

Dan was lusting over the lines of this antique Martin-Wasp automobile

but I most loved this painting of "Charley Smith and His Barn" by Francis Colburn, circa 1939.

The Bennington Museum also maintains a library of Vermont history and genealogy, so this really is quite a splendid museum.

Hours: Thursday through Tuesday, 10 am to 5 pm.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Literary Temptations from Angels and Devils

There are devils and angels on the shelves here at Old Saratoga Books, beckoning folks with their siren songs. Here are some of their literary temptations...

1) Sharpe's Devil: Richard Sharpe and the Emperor, 1820-1821, by
Bernard Cornwell,  London: Harpercollins 1992, first printing. Very Good in Very Good dust jacket. Remainder mark on page bottoms, jacket price-clipped. The
twelfth title in the Sharpe series, in which our hero, British naval
officer Richard Sharpe, tries out retirement as a gentleman farmer in
Normandy, but is called to sea when the wife of an old ally asks for
his help in rescuing her man. Jacket art by Gino D'Achille. 286 pp.

2) Avenging Angel, by Kwame Anthony Appiah, NY: St. Martin's Press
1991, first American edition. Very Good in Very Good dust jacket. The
author's first novel about a secret society at Cambridge University.
Author photo on rear jacket flap. Jacket lightly scuffed. 207 pp. $15

3) The Devil's Backbone: The Story of the Natchez Trace (American
Trails), by Jonathan Daniels, NY: McGraw Hill 1962, first edition.
Very Good in Very Good dust jacket; Jacket art and illustrations by
Leo and Diane Dillon, the two-time Caldecott Award winners. Index,
sources. A colorful history of the Natchez Trace, which follows the
Mississippi River through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. Library
of Congress number 61-18131. Brown cloth binding. Two small tears at
lower edge of rear jacket panel. 278 pp. $20

4) The Farm Boy and the Angel, by Carl Carmer, Garden City, NY:
Doubleday and Company 1970, first edition. Ex-library copy. Good in
Good dust jacket; Jacket flaps glued to endpapers, usual library
stamps and markings. Author photo on rear jacket flap. "Drawing
extensively on the actual writings of the early Mormons, he paints
stunning portraits of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other leaders
and describes in vivid detail the movement's dramatic growth: its
early persecution, Smith's brutal lynching, the colorful trek to found
a new Zion in the wilderness, and the rapid conversion of "Gentiles"
in America and abroad. " 237 pp. $9

5) Rasputin: The Holy Devil, Rene Fulop-Miller, Garden City, NY:
Garden City Publishing 1928. Reprint. Good in Good dust jacket; Red
cloth binding. Insect damage to front endpapers and front flyleaf,
pages toned, owner name on front free endpaper, jacket creased and
tattered. Index, photos. Great Art Deco dust jacket art of crazy-eyed
Rasputin giving benediction framed by Russian folk art designs. 386
pp. $13

6) Angel Food Cookbook, Fort Myers, FL: Covenant Presbyterian Church 1973. Fair. Blue stapled wraps. Sketches of Fort Myers scenes by Regina Majewski
and Eleanor Mobley. Many pages stained and dogeared center section
loose. 94 pp. $8

7) The Devil's Red Nickel, by Robert Greer, NY: Mysterious Press
1997, first edition.  Very Good in Very Good dust jacket. The second
mystery featuring black bail bondsman and bounty hunter C. J. Floyd as
he investigates the murder of Chicago DJ Daddy Doo-Wop. Author photo
on rear jacket flap. Jacket lightly scuffed. $7

8) Angel on My Shoulder: an Autobiography, by Natalie Cole with Digby Diehl,
Boston: Warner Books Inc 2000, first printing. Very Good in Very Good
dust jacket. Index, discography. An up-and-down life tale by the talented
singer/songwriter, with some poignant chapters about her childhood and
talented father Nat King Cole. Many photographs, including a great
shot of Dad with Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams and Count Basie. Jacket
lightly scuffed. 353 pp. $8

9) The Devil's Toupee, by Gene Hatfield, River Road Press 1989. Softcover Fair.
Missing title page and front flyleaves. Author photo on rear cover.
The sequel to the author's novel "Enola Victrola". Illustrations by
the author. ; An Arkansas Misadventure; 203 pp. $8

10) The Angel Tapes, David Kiely, NY: St. Martin's Press 1997, first
printing. Very Good in Very Good dust jacket. "The first in a new
Irish mystery series featuring Blade Macken, a Dublin detective
superintendent -- crisp writing, a tough, charming hero, and plenty of
action make this a sure bet for an Edgar" (front jacket blurb). Jacket
lightly scuffed. 280 pp. $10

11) Devil in a Blue Dress, by Walter Mosley, NY: W. W. Norton and
Company 1990, first printing. Very Good in Very Good jacket. Signed by
the author on the title page. The author's first book and first
mystery in his hardboiled series set in 1940s Los Angeles featuring
Easy Rawlins, an African-American World War II veteran, who decides to
earn some money after being laid off from his factory job
investigating the whereabouts of a blonde bombshell and jazz
aficionado. Winner of the 1991 Shamus Award. The book was later made
into a 1995 film of the same name featuring Denzel Washington in the
title role. 219 pp. $70

12) Swamp Angel, by Dorothy Langley, Chicago: Academy Chicago 1982
First Edition. Ex-library copy. Good in Good dust jacket; The author
was a teacher in rural southeastern Missouri in the 1920s and wrote
this novel and submitted to Simon and Schuster in the 1940s. It was
rejected and she reworked parts of it heavily into portions of her
three published novels, but this volume contains the original
manuscript. Introduction by the author's friend, Helen Bugbee. Usual
library stamps and markings. 166 pp. $7

13) Devil to Pay, by C. Northcote Parkinson, Boston:Houghton Mifflin
Company 1973  First American Edition; First Printing. Very Good in
Good dust jacket. Jacket lightly tattered, else a clean, tight copy.
The exploits of Lt. Richard Delancey, a spy and mariner seeking
intelligence about France and Spain during the 1790s. $17

14) Angel, by Curtis Lucas, NY: Lion Library 1953 First Edition. Mass
Market paperback in Good condition. First edition of this paperback
original novel of "love that crossed the color line". Covers creased
and rubbed at margins, page tops and fore-edges grubby. "She joined
his church. She bought him a car. She got him a job, gave him money,
paid his rent. She was white. He was Negro." (from front flyleaf).
Lion 162.; 160 pp. $21

15) The Devil in Music, by Kate Ross, NY: Viking 1997, first printing.
Very Good in Very Good dust jacket. The fourth novel in the Julian
Kestrel historical mystery series by the late Kate Ross. Before her
life was cut tragically short by cancer, Ms. Ross wrote four mysteries
featuring Kestrel, an 1820's London dandy with an eye for fine
clothes, beautiful women and the solutions to various acts of murder
and mayhem. Together with his manservant, Dipper, a somewhat reformed
pickpocket, Kestrel solves crimes in various corners of Regency
England (and Italy in this fourth book). Author photo on rear jacket
flap. 447 pp. $30

16) Death of an Angel, by Clay Richards, Indianapolis, IN:
Bobbs-Merrill Company 1963 First Printing. Very Good in Good dust
jacket. Jacket price-clipped and soiled. Library of Congress number
62-19317. A Grant Kirby adventure in which our intrepid Postal
Inspector hero investigates the death by exploding parcel of a Gay
Nineties New York City big wig. 175 pp. $18

17) The Devil's Code: a Kidd Novel, by John Sandford, NY: G. P.
Putnam's Sons 2000, first printing.Very Good in Very Good dust jacket.
Signed by the author on the front flyleaf. Jacket lightly rubbed.
Author photo on rear jacket panel. A thriller featuring ex-Army
soldier, computer whiz and artist Kidd and his sidekick and sometimes
lover LuEllen. 320 pp. $15

18) Look Homeward, Angel, by Thomas Wolfe, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons
1929, first printing. Good with no dust jacket; Navy cloth binding
with gilt lettering stamped on front boards and spine. Slightly
cocked, boards lightly worn, spine faded, bookseller ticket on rear
pastedown (Holliday Bookshop, NYC) , pages toned. First printing
points evident on pages 308 and 506. The author's first novel and a
classic coming-of-age story loosely based on the author's North
Carolina hometown. 626 pp. $200

19) The Devil's Defense, by Florence May Varley, NY: Exposition Press
1954 First Edition.Very Good in Fair dust jacket. Signed by the author
on the front free endpaper. Jacket tattered and waterstained, else a
clean, tight copy of this rumination on the author's spiritual
beliefs. Grey cloth binding. Library of Congress number 54-11690. 230
pp. $15

20) Flashman and the Angel of the Lord: From the Flashman Papers, 1858-59, by George MacDonald Fraser, NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1995, first American edition. Very Good in Near Fine jacket.  Signed by the late author with his full tripartite name on bookplate glued to half-title. Hint of foxing to page tops, lower rear corner bumped. Jacket design by Chip Kidd. Jacket art by Arthur Barbosa. The tenth novel in the Flashman series featuring the titular rapscallion in which he leaves India and then Calcutta for American shores and finds himself embroiled in events at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia at a pivotal time in history. 394 pp. $125

Prices above include media mail shipping to the U.S. If interested in any of the titles, please send us an email.