Monday, January 31, 2011

Find your way to the Miami Map Fair

Detail of 1850 map. Please click to enlarge.
This weekend, Lighthouse Books will be exhibiting at the Miami Map Fair and we'll have plenty of maps from our collection.  The fair is a cartography lover's paradise. Miami Today called it "the Super Bowl of mapdom."

No wonder. Fifty dealers from across the country and overseas gather with a treasure trove of cartographic artifacts guaranteed to vibrate the Mercator projections of the most discriminating collectors.

The event is hosted by the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, part of HistoryMiami, the go-to organization for celebrating South Florida history. HistoryMiami includes the museum, a research center, South Florida Folklife Center, Miami Circle and much more.

Some of our favorite maps, of course, depict our home state of Florida; the older, the better, though if you were using some of the earlier specimens to get from St. Petersburg to Miami you might have some problems. Those cartographers of yore didn't always get it right.

Case in point: The Pinellas peninsula as represented in this 1850 map published by Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co. of Philadelphia. (You can click on the image to enlarge it). Give them credit for having the general idea, but they missed subtle details of the peninsula's shape. Still, it was the best you could get in 1850.

In those days, Florida had only 28 counties. Hillsborough (spelled HIllsboro) was huge, stretching all the way over to the Kissimmee River and down to present-day Cape Coral.

Sen. Thomas Hart Benton
North of the Tampa Bay area rested Benton County, and an interesting tale in Florida history. When it was established in 1843, it was originally named Hernando County for the Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto. But in 1844 the name was changed to honor Thomas Hart Benton, a senator from Missouri who was a fiery advocate of territorial expansion. He helped get the county established. The county existed under that name for about six years.

But Benton County residents became disenchanted with Benton when he supported the Missouri Compromise, a measure the pro-slavery residents viewed as detrimental to their cause. The Missouri Compromise ultimately failed, but it didn't matter. Benton was no longer a local hero.

Forgotten was the help he gave in getting the county established. Forgotten was his support of territorial expansion. Ah, the winds of politics!

The name reverted to Hernando and remains so today.

Sen. Thomas Hart Benton shouldn't be confused with the famous landscape painter of the same name. The painter was the senator's great-nephew.

This map is interesting for another reason. It was relatively peaceful in Florida in 1850. The Second Seminole War had been over for eight years. The Third Seminole War (known as the Billy Bowlegs War) wouldn't start for another five years.

Still, no one wanted to forget the key dates of clashes between Seminoles and settlers, including the massacre of Major Francis L. Dade and more than 100 soldiers on December 28, 1835. They are duly noted on the map.

We hope to see you at the Miami Map Fair. As for getting to it, Google it or put it in your GPS. Save the maps for fun.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

LIKE us on Facebook

We're on Facebook now and you should be, too. You can get notices on your Facebook News Feed when we update the Lighthouse Books, ABAA blog. That way you won't miss out on any articles we publish on  interesting and unsual books in our collection. It's easy to find us. After you're logged into Facebook, just search for "Lighthouse Books, ABAA." Or, even easier, click on the LIKE button in the box on the lower left of this page. If you're already connected with us on Facebook, invite friends to join us, too.

Print this coupon and bring it to the fair

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Old tales, old courthouses and old books

The Old Courthouse was opened in 1912.
On Saturday we’ll be at the Inverness Festival of Books at the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum in downtown Inverness. What a great historical setting. It’s the perfect place for appraising antique books, which is what we’ll be doing. If you have some treasures you want us to look at, stop by. We’ll also have a good sampling of the kinds of books we have at Lighthouse Books, ABAA, including Florida fiction and Florida history.

Inverness has quite a history itself. The town was originally known as Thompkinsville. The name was changed in 1889, according to a local historian, at the behest of a lonely Scotsman who said Lake Tsala Apopka reminded him of the lake region around the city of Inverness in his native country.

The Old Courthouse was built in 1912, and sports an eclectic mix of Italian Renaissance, Neoclassical, Mission, and Prairie School architectural styles. It replaced a tall white Victorian structure that served as the courthouse for many years. But before that there were the sorts of political shenanigans you can’t make up.

In his book Back Home: A History of Citrus County Florida, well-known historian and writer Hampton Dunn relates the story of how the courthouse was stolen one night and Inverness became the county seat.

Citrus County was established in 1887, and the county seat was to be Mannfield, named after lawyer and citrus grower Austin S. Mann, who had built a political following and been elected to the Florida Senate. It sat in the geographical center of the county, just two miles south of Lecanto. Mann had influence with Henry B. Plant’s railroad operation that was coming to the area, and the tracks would go right through his new town.

But there was another group of community leaders that included Sheriff Jim Priest. That group bought land and laid out the town that became Inverness. They put out the word that Inverness would become the county seat.

There developed a bitter dispute over the location of the county seat, with some of the participants resorting to fisticuffs to make their points. An election was called and the battle was on. Finally, in 1891, Inverness won over Lecanto 267-258. Still, the vote was so close that each side claimed victory.

Elvis Presley spent some time in Inverness.
The Mann faction decided to take the matter before a judge, who was holding court in Dade City for the day and planned to return on the train to Tampa. The group was represented by a Col. Dupre, who rode a mule to see the judge. Col. Dupre made it to Dade City just in time and got aboard the train to argue the case all the way back to Tampa. Unfortunately for him, the other side had wired ahead to ask the state attorney to plead their case before the judge. The colonel lost, spent the night in Tampa and returned to Citrus County the next day.

Meanwhile, the Inverness faction, leaving nothing to chance, decided to go ahead and move the courthouse to Inverness even as the arguments aboard the train were being heard. Two mule-drawn wagons, including one that belonged to the sheriff, were packed with the furniture and records and taken to Inverness.

There was only one hitch in the plan, though. The Clerk of the Court, Capt. W.C. Zimmerman, opposed the move and refused to vacate his office in Mannfield. He wouldn’t budge. So the sheriff ordered two men to pick him up along with his desk and put him in the wagon. The sheriff declared that Zimmerman was not allowed out of his chair until they got to Inverness.

The sheriff hightailed it to Inverness on horseback and beat the wagon. When the Clerk of the Court was safely installed in his office, the sheriff forced him to come to the front door of the rented courthouse building and declare the Citrus County courthouse officially moved to Inverness. As for Plant's railroad, even though work had been done on a track bed headed toward Mannfield, the line was rerouted at Holder to run toward Inverness.

A local landowner donated a parcel of land as the new courthouse site in 1891, and the tall Victorian was built. 

That was the old, old courthouse.

The new Old Courthouse–the one that opened in 1912 and is there now–has the distinction of being the location for part of the 1961 Elvis Presley movie, Follow That Dream.” They used the courtroom on the second floor. There were so few interior photos of the courthouse available that when it came time to restore it, historians were at a loss.

But MGM Home Video, which owns the Presley movie, gave the county permission to copy stills from the movie to use as a reference for the renovation. Presley spent four days in Inverness for the courtroom scenes. Courthouse employees and local teens were the courtroom audience in the movie.

It’ll be a pleasure to spend a few hours in such a storied location. Hope to see you there.

The Inverness Festival of Books from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, January 29 at the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum, One Courthouse Square, Inverness, Florida. There'll be authors, storytellers, poetry readings and more. We'll have antique books for sale and we'll be appraising books as well.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Shooting stars and the Milky Way man

E.E. Barnard, astronomer
When he was a boy, E.E. Barnard became interested in photography. He became a photographer’s assistant at the age of nine. As a teenager, he became interested in astronomy. He bought a telescope when he was 19.

So it was probably inevitable that he’d combine the two interests. He was among the first scientists to do so. He died at the age of 65 in 1923. Four years later, his photographs of various regions of the Milky Way were published. His niece, Mary R. Calvert, helped with the editing of the two-volume set, a copy of which is in the collection at Lighthouse Books, ABAA.

Bernard's book in two volumes.
Edward Barnard grew up poor in Nashville during and after the Civil War but he had a continuing interest in astronomy. In his 20s, he discovered his first comet. He entered a competition sponsored by patent medicine tycoon Hulbert Harrington Warner, who offered $200 for each new comet discovered. Barnard found at least five. He built a house for himself and his wife with the proceeds.

Barnard’s activities gained him the attention of amateur astronomers in the Nashville area who raised enough money to give him a fellowship to Vanderbilt University. He didn’t graduate but he received the only honorary degree ever awarded by Vanderbilt.

Barnard joined the Lick Observatory near San Jose, California. He observed the third moon of Saturn, Iapetus, as it passed behind Saturn’s rings. He discovered, Amalthea, the fifth moon of Jupiter. Galileo discovered the first four, the last one in 1609. Old records don’t stand though. Astronomers have confirmed 63 moons revolving around Jupiter.

Glossy photographs of stars are included in the atlas.
In 1895, Barnard became a professor of astronomy at the University of Chicago. During several decades working at the university’s Yerkes Observatory, he photographed various parts of the Milky Way. In 1916, he discovered a faint red dwarf star that was named for him. Barnard’s Star is in the constellation Ophluchus (the Snake-holder).

His niece, Mary Calvert, served as his assistant and computer from 1906 until his death. In astronomy, a computer was a person who performed mathematical calculations.

After Barnard’s death, Calvert worked with Edwin B. Frost, then-director of the Yerkes Observatory, to produce A Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way. The set was published by Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1927.

Click on the photographs to enlarge them.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Home of the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair

Thirty years ago the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association put on the first Florida Antiquarian Book Fair in the ballroom of the old Plant Hotel (University of Tampa). Fourteen years ago, having outgrown that venue and others, the book fair moved to The Coliseum in St. Petersburg. It has been there ever since and will be in March.

Not long ago we were reminiscing with Larry Kellogg, who ran the book fair for more than two decades, for a video that will be published on the new Florida Antiquarian Bookdealers Association blog. This is some of the video.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Lakeside Press chooses Bartram

Every year in December, R.R. Donnelley, the publishing and printing giant, publishes a petite volume in the series The Lakeside Classics. The company has been doing this since 1903.

The company never sells the book. It is given as a gift to customers, company retirees, some employees and shareholders who request them.

Thomas Donnelley
The project was the brainchild of Thomas E. Donnelley, son of the company’s founder, R.R. Donnelley. Thomas began the series to demonstrate that the company’s “machine-made books are not a crime against art, and that books may be plain but good, and good though not costly,” as Thomas put it in the first of the series, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

So, it was a marketing piece, an example of the kind of quality work the company could do.

Each book in the series highlights an individual experience in American history. Some are on early exploration, others on the Old West or the Civil War. The newest volume is a reprint of William Bartram’s Travels Through South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, originally published 1791. A copy of it was recently added to the Lighthouse Books, ABAA collection of rare and unusual books.

We spent some time discussing Bartram’s book last month when we featured a 1792 British edition in our collection. Considering the lack of success Bartram found early in his career as a merchant and the fact that it took him 15 years to finally publish Travels, we wonder if he’d find the longevity of his famous book somehow quietly satisfying and somewhat amazing.

This volume contains a portrait of Bartram by Charles Willson Peale and a portrait of Dr. John Fothergill, who was Bartram’s patron. The book also has some of the original illustrations by Bartram, to which color has been added as well as illustrations by Mark Catesby, George Catlin and John Trumbull.

This volume was edited by Thomas F. Slaughter, the Arthur R. Miller professor of History at University of Rochester.

Florida history lovers will, no doubt, be pleased at Donnelley’s selection of this Florida classic for its Classics series.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Let them eat cake – and buy antiques

German chocolate cake, a show favorite.
It’s always a delight to go to the Pilot Club of Jacksonville Antiques Show. That’s where we’ll be this weekend.

The show runs Friday, January 21 through Sunday January 23 at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds. This is the 62nd annual show, and, no, we haven’t been exhibiting there quite that long (despite what some may think). Here's a link to the Pilot Club's antiques show Web page with all the details.

Of course, it’s the antiques that are the main attractions – furnishings, paintings and the like. We’re always happy to add vintage books to the mix. But our favorite major side attractions are the mouthwatering desserts that are offered each year.

In years past, perfectly serious antiquers have been known to come barreling through the doors and head straight for the dessert table first thing, no doubt believing in the adage that life’s short – eat dessert first. Though there were many varieties of delectable confections, the German chocolate cake was always a hit.

We’re certain the dessert elves have been working hard to come up with another amazing array.

We love working with Karyl DeSousa, the antiques show manager, and Gail Pender, the dealer manager. The Pilot Club is a volunteer service organization of professional businesswomen. The show supports the group’s charitable activities, helping the community.

The Pilot Club of Jacksonville was founded in 1921. The name was inspired by the riverboat pilots of the day “who represented leadership and guidance, staying on a steady course.” After 90 years, looks like the Pilot Club has lived up to that inspiration.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Miniature books offer a glimpse of history

Miniature Olympic Oath book is printed in five languages. It comes in a Plexiglas case with built-in magnifier.
With the rise of Hitler and Nazism in the late 1930s, many Jewish professionals began to leave Germany. Among them was Walter Schatzki, a young antiquarian bookseller who settled in New York City in 1937.

The antiquarian book trade in the United States was, at that time, quite different from the well-established, organized field that existed in Europe. That was about to change, with the help of emigré booksellers fleeing the tyranny of anti-Semitic Arians.

Within a dozen or so years, there were sufficient numbers of antiquarian booksellers in the country to form the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America. Schatzki was on the original board of governors for ABAA.

Schatzki became an authority on rare children's book and, indeed, assembled one of the most famous catalogs of children's books ever created by an American bookseller. Schatzki also was interested in miniature books, a phenomenon that had been around almost since the beginning of books but enjoyed a sort or resurgence in the 1960s.

It's unclear whether Schatzki commissioned the production of a series of four miniatures that included The Lord's Prayer, Lincoln's Freedom Oath, Serments d'Amour (Oaths of Love) and the Olympic Oath. In 1966, he told Julian Edison, editor of Miniature Book News, that he was the distributor of the tiny books that had been published by Waldmann & Pfitzner in Munich. He is often credited with being the publisher, though.

A copy of the Olympic Oath book is in the collection at Lighthouse Books, ABAA. The micro-miniature books measures 3/16-inch by 1/8-inch. It is bound in navy blue leather with the Olympic rings stamped on the front cover. The text of the oath is printed in five languages. It comes in a Plexiglass case with a swivel magnifier. The books originally sold for $3.75 each or the set of four in a mother-of-pearl-like cassette for $17.50.

The first miniature book was probably a prayer scroll commissioned by the Japanese Empress Shotoku in 770 A.D. It was printed on a scroll 2-3/8 inches wide from wooden blocks and distributed throughout the country to help the spread of Buddhism.

Miniatures were popular among the educated classes in the Middle Ages before Gutenberg created moveable type. These were colorful illuminated manuscripts. One of the earliest miniature books printed after Gutenberg's bible was the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which contained prayers and songs. It was printed in 1475.

Perhaps one of the most popular small books was known as the English Thumb Bible. Though the tiny books were published as early as 1614, they acquired the Thumb appellation apparently as reference to General Tom Thumb, the English dwarf made famous by P.T. Barnum.

It's not clear whether Walter Schatzki was fascinated with miniatures as an avocation or merely as a business proposition but two of the most well-known miniature enthusiasts in the country – Julian Edison and Ruth Adomeit – met in Schatzki's bookshop on 57th Street in New York.

Adomeit was editor of The Miniature Book Collector, a series of informative booklets, for a few years. She left her considerable miniature book collection to the Lilly Library at Indiana University.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Good advice from an antiques expert

My friend Blake Kennedy was appraising antiques people brought to the Sunshine City Antiques & Collectibles Show at The Coliseum in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday.

Appraisal work is specialized. It takes a lot of knowledge and Blake is very good at it.

People were invited to bring their treasured items to the antiques show on Saturday and have them appraised. Blake spent most of the day sitting at a table on the mezzanine level at The Coliseum patiently listening to stories from antiques lovers who had brought their items for him to see.

We do book appraisal work at Lighthouse Books, ABAA. It is sometimes a long an tedious process, and much goes into the final answer. I have much regard for the kind of work that Blake does.

Blake stopped by the booth toward the end of the day on Saturday and chatted a bit. I asked him a key question about what he would like people to know if they have antiques and are considering selling them.

His answer was similar to what I tell people who have potentially valuable books and are considering a sale. Listen to the short video above to hear his answer.

And, Blake, thanks for stopping by.

The Sunshine City Antiques & Collectibles Show runs through Sunday.

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We're at the Sunshine City antiques show

There certainly are a lot of antiques lovers in the Tampa Bay area. Many of them are at the Sunshine City Antiques and Collectibles Show at The Coliseum in downtown St. Petersburg this weekend. And we've had a good share of antique book lovers stop by the booth. We're in the first alcove on the left as you come in. We brought a van load of vintage books, maps, prints and photographs to share.

In this slide show, you'll see some of the treasures we brought to the show and also some of our friends who have stopped by. We hope you will, too.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

D.B. McKay and the mystery photographs

Portrait of D.B. McKay. | Click on photographs to enlarge them.

A couple of articles in the St Petersburg Times the other day about minor mysteries surrounding some Bay area personalities brought to mind a collection at Lighthouse Books, ABAA.

10 children on a buggy.
Jeff Klinkenberg was looking for the story behind the legend of a seven-foot man who used to fish off the St. Petersburg Pier for years. John Barry was getting the lowdown on a box of papers from Cuba about Vicente Martinez-Ybor, the founder of Ybor City. Both were dealing with different parts of the colorful tapestry that is Tampa Bay's history.

D.B. McKay was no less a personality was in the region's past. He served two terms as mayor, was owner and publisher of The Tampa Times, a bank director, a founder of the University of Tampa, and argueably one of the area's most influential people.

Longtime history buffs delighted in his Pioneer Florida page in the Sunday Tampa Tribune, a feature he began in 1949 when he was appointed historian for Hillsborough County. The stories from the newspaper feature eventually were collected and published as a three-volume set called Pioneer Florida. There is a Pioneer Florida set at Lighthouse Books, ABAA.

Nine men in suits.
But it is a collection of ephemera and photographs relating to McKay that has us intrigued. For one thing, there is the photograph – a portrait of the venerable gentleman puffing a cigar and reading a newspaper, presumably The Tampa Times. Inscribed in the lower right corner is the legend "Gerald B. Smith, Tampa. 34." It is unclear whether that is a reference to 1934. If so, McKay would have been about 66. His second term as mayor would have been over. He would have been serving as publisher of The Tampa Times.

Two other photographs in the collection beg explanation as well. One shows 10 children on a one-horse carriage in front of a house, perhaps sometime after the turn of the century. McKay and his wife, Aurora, had 10 children, according to a typewritten sheet in the collection. Perhaps this is a photograph of the McKay children.

Birthday cake for D.B. McKay's 90th.
The other picture shows nine men dressed in suits standing in front of cabbage palms. Eight of the men sport handlebar moustaches. The clean-shaven man holds a cigar. This photograph appears to be a copy of a dilapidated original. Neither photo has identification of the people shown.

Other ephemera in the collection includes a handwritten poem about a fruit stealing blue jay, an anecdote about a fruit canning project gone awry and a typewritten article entitled "Thank You, Friends," apparently written after the publication of the Pioneer Florida volumes. And there are other assorted items.

One photo, though, offers no mystery at all. The legend on the back proclaims that it is D.B. McKay's 90th birthday, and pictured with him are seven children, apparently his grandchildren. The children are identified with family names Ott, Burnette, Manry and Guyton.

Our specialties

Our specialties include Floridiana (Florida History, Florida Authors, Florida Related Ephemera), American History, Literature of the South, Military History (including, but not limited to, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Korean War), Children’s Literature, Maps, Leather Bindings and Rare & Unusual items.

We also have a wide variety of general stock, including a large Landscape/Gardening section, a great selection of Christian/Church History/Bible Study titles, Beat Literature, and much more. Please browse our extensive category list.

Appraisal service

Michael F. Slicker, is one of about 450 qualified members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, Inc., and its affiliate the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers.

Condition of the book, demand for it and history of comparable sales are among the factors considered in evaluating the value of a book. Other factors may apply as well.

Please contact us for more information regarding our certified appraisal services. We encourage you to visit our website, Lighthouse Books, ABAA

Florida Antiquarian Book Fair

Michael Slicker was the founding president of the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association and has served as chairman of its annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair since its inception.

The 36th annual book fair is set for April 21-23, 2017 at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg.

The fair is the oldest and largest antiquarian book fair in the Southeast. Learn more about the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair and the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association.

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