Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Grave Affair-

It's Halloween and the book elves are in fine fettle, rigging Foggygates up as a Haunted House. As they pointed out, we had the advantage that the
place is a 100+ year-old Victorian that's full of spiders, squeaky doors and dark corners already, and since we never get around to dusting we don't have to buy fake cobwebs this year. And then there's the resident ghost... but before they rigged up the 1,500-watt speakers on the porch roof and put Bobby Pickett's "Monster Mash" on an endless tape loop, they finished our latest printed catalog, on an eerily relevant topic-

"A GRAVE AFFAIR", a catalog featuring 154 books and other items about gravestones, epitaphs, cemeteries, funeral and mourning customs, how Society deals with death, and related topics, is now posted on our 'A GRAVE AFFAIR' website.

The new website also features a bibliography of 500+ books on graveyards, gravestones, epitaphs, cemeteries, mourning and funeral customs, and related topics, a links page, and some surprises...

While you're there you can also sign up for our 'Grave Matters' email list, where we announce website updates, and will be running catalog-related specials this week.

Please email us if you would like a printed copy.

Have fun, and have a Happy Halloween!

oh, and um...


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Time Tunnel-

I love old postcards. We're still unpacking boxes from the move a year ago, and today I found a stash of postcards from my old office drawer. It's like looking into a Time Tunnel (remember that show?).

The Japanese Garden at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, around 1910-

"Mrs. Jack Gardner's Venetian Palace", now the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston's Back Bay, on a postcard postmarked 1908-

This card is addressed to a "Miss Anne Hitchcock" of Utica, New York and has an interesting inscription- "I still want you but am going away in July. Will write a letter soon, Love FBS". You have to wonder...

Here is the Esplanade in Boston along the Charles River on a 1923 postcard. Today Storrow Drive's ugly four concrete lanes go right through ths scene-

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Did you hear a cracking noise?

Right next to the house we have two huge, 250-year old sugar maples. One of them, by far the larger, lost its main trunk some years ago, but the right half of the tree remained, with three 50+ foot long, very thick limbs/trunks going off at about a 30-degree angle from the main trunk. I had always marvlled at how the old trunk supported all that weight...

Well, on Friday afternoon a cold front came through with 50-mph winds, and right in the middle we noticed a huge crack start to open up in the main trunk, working down from the top. As the winds blew the entire remaining part of the tree went back and forth and we could see the crack get bigger and then smaller, bigger and then smaller. Suddenly several tons of sugar maple were hanging on by an increasingly small thread...

The tree guys took one look at it yesterday morning and shook their heads. So down it cames, before it came down on its own and took out (depending on which way it fell) the carriage house, the kitchen or the porte cochere, removing, whichever way it went, a nice birch which stands directly underneath it.

It's a big, complicated job to get the tree down without smashing things underneath it, and they've been hard at it for two days now.

The episode has inspired some psuedo Haiku-

Storm winds make the big tree sway
and wave -how graceful...
What was that odd cracking sound?????

Big tree falls down and goes BOOM!
uh oh... Say Goodbye to
recently re-roofed carriage house.

Storm winds crack the giant tree-
Tree surgeon tells wife-
"Christmas in Bermuda this year!"

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Our New Fall Catalog-

Fall has arrived at Foggygates and the gold and red maple leaves are falling thick and fast on the lawn. The Book Elves quit work in the Cataloging Cave early every afternoon to go out and rake them into huge piles on tarps and then drag them back into the woods. That's the second way they get rid of leaves. The first involved half a dozen vacuum cleaners they picked up "cheap" on Ebay and about 3,000 feet of heavy-duty extension cord. But before they blew out every fuse in the house and got themselves featured on an upcoming installment of the cable show "Don't Try This at Home", they finished our new printed catalog-

"RECENT ACQUISITIONS AND OTHER INTERESTING BOOKS ON ANTIQUES AND THE ARTS for FALL, 2006" features more than 220 books and catalogs on furnture, glass, ceramics, silver, textiles, art, and related topics. Please let us know if you would like a copy. You can also browse it on our website.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ceramics in America-

The latest volume in an acclaimed series of ceramics essays has just arrived from the publisher-

"Ceramics in America –2006", edited by Robert Hunter. Published in 2006 by the Chipstone Foundation.

A selection of essays on historical ceramical subjects, issued every year. This year's studies include- ceramics representations of Uncle Tom’s Cabin; commemorative wares in George Washington’s hometown; ceramics at Hampton, Maryland; dated examples of pottery by the slave-potter “Dave”; African-American face jugs; 17th –century tobacco pipe production in the Chesapeake region; J. Palin Thorley (1892-1987), potter; Dutch maritime tiles; a Yankee jug in Dixie; early examples of American architectural terracotta in Charleston, South Carolina; many more! Also contains book reviews and a checklist of recently published books and articles on ceramics in America.

This is a softcover book, 8.5”x11”, xiii + 336 pages, color and b/w illustrations. New. $60.00.

Let us know if you would like a copy!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Of Tomes & Trattorias-

A hazy reminiscence from our last Italian trip...

In Florence it always rains at night in September.

It can be cozy - or murderous. I dodged maniac scooters and cars as I ran down the narrow cobbled streets with lights glinting off them like slivers of ice and ducked in for the 8 pm seating at my favorite neighborhood trattoria. A little vino, a dish of white beans in tomato sauce, maybe try the sole, some sambuca.

A companion...

She was tall and dark and slender, her eyes flashing with centuries of Florentine pride and passion. She moved as smoothly and naturally as a river running swiftly between rocky banks, and when she walked into a room everyone would turn and gaze. It was another of her talents that she could slip out of a room without anyone noticing, just the soft scent of perfume, a swift rustle of silk and she would be gone. She was my main contact in this city of brick and stone and soot-stained art, and I had no reason not to trust her. Sure, her last contact here had come to a bad end in vat of boiling rotini, but that was five years ago.

We opened a bottle of Chianti -not the kind you buy back in the States for $5 a bottle, the good stuff. The waiter came with a plate of porcini quickly grilled and drizzled with a little olive oil. She made small talk, asked about my flight, pushed the plate toward me and I reached out with my fork...

Something about the glint in her eye set off an alarm in the back of my mind. The Chianti was working, but there was still that danger flag. I hesitated and she frowned and reached for something in her purse. I wasn't looking, not really, but I saw the cracked leather spine of a small book in there. Faded guilt lettering stamped on the red spine label told me all I needed to know -it was the mushrooms.

I reached for the purse and she struggled with me for a moment, then gave up and went limp. I took the book and handed the purse back to her. Everyone in the trattoria was frozen, watching us. I knew better than to make a move. She gave me a quick, wry smile and got up and walked quickly out the door. No point following. I knew I'd never see her again. I finished off my Chianti and left. I've kept that little 18th century book on poisonous mushrooms for a dozen years, but now I'm going to sell it.

I'm a bookseller.

That's my job.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Upcoming- A Grave Affair-

We've been hard at work cataloging material for a new edition of our "A GRAVE AFFAIR" catalog, which is devoted to gravestones, mourning cutoms, epitaphs and other death and mourning-related material. We've been putting things aside for some time now for the new edition, and have some really interesting material. The schedule at this point is to issue the catalog for Halloween Week, so if you'd like a copy, please let us know!