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Vibrant story of the dynamic art scene in British Columbia: Gary Sim’s collection at National Gallery of Canada

The current exhibition at the foyer of the National Gallery of Canada’s Library and Archives, B.C. Artists: The Gary Sim Donation, ‘allowed curator Katherine Stauble to shine a spotlight on a significant, recent donation by collector Gary Sim of almost 1000 publications. “Over the past twenty years, Sim has assembled an outstanding collection of books, periodicals and other publications related to the artists of Western Canada, particularly British Columbia,” Stauble writes in her essay about the exhibition. “With documents dating back to 1907, his library recounts the history of art and craft in that province, from frontier times to today, documenting both little- and well-known artists.” Stauble says she chose the material based on value or rarity; importance to the NGC collection; significance to BC art history; as well as significance to the Gary Sim collection itself.’

Read the full article https://www.gallery.ca/magazine/exhibitions/vibrant-story-of-the-dynamic-art-scene-in-british-columbia-gary-sims-collection 

1930s sheet music from the collection of Terry Berger

During the 1930s Tin Pan Alley produced the most tuneful popular music the world will probably ever see. Because the phonograph was still being developed and was not in general use, the populace produced their own music at home—generally on the piano. The success of a new song was gauged by the sale of the sheet music printed up so people could play it at home. And what wonderfully designed covers were produced to attract customers in the music stores. Art Deco was the style of the day, and here it is in abundance. And the performers’ photographs have become an archive of the great professional musicians, band leaders, and singers who were the superstars of their day. For a while Terry went through a mania of collecting sheet music and has boxes of it, from which a very few of the more interesting ones are shown here. Continue Reading…

Book collecting: Rationalizing Collecting #2 – The Vancouver Poetry Society

In my last “Rationalizing Collecting” post, I started by noting that as a long-time student, book buying is hard to do on a limited budget unless you can justify the collecting as contributing towards your research. Most of my friends from the Master’s in English program at UBC fall quite heavily into this category, as their apartments burst at the seams with lovely books of all kinds. I was the only one of the group who actively collected antiquarian books, which to their amusement, often consisted of rather bad early Vancouver poetry. Hold your judgement: there is a good story behind this.

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Collecting beer coasters

Anyone with a graphic sense must be delighted with the variety of designs on beer coasters that are slapped down on the bar to await your impending glass of beer. Some are marvels of graphic design and well worth saving. The few shown here are Canadian and American, but the British also produce some collector’s items. My favorites here are the Checker Cab coaster because I loved those Checker Cabs that made life in New York bearable, the Egyptian Pyramid coaster because I’m crazy about all things Egyptian (ancient Egypt, that is) and the Moosehead Beer coaster that reminds me of the many happy times I’ve enjoyed that fine Canadian Lager in a variety of settings. Continue Reading…

Book collecting: Rationalizing Collecting #1 – Canadian Children’s Literature

Until last summer, I had been a student for almost a decade when I graduated from the combined Master of Library and Information Studies and Master of Archival Studies program at UBC. Being a student means a limited budget for book collecting, but I found one way to continue to rationalize the buying of books: use them for your research. It’s not like I got to write off the costs, but at least I could justify book buying as contributing towards my education, right?

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The Savoy Cocktail Book

In the 1920s Harry Craddock was the doyen of Cocktail Bartenders in New York, working at the Knickerbocker Hotel and the Hoffman House. Prohibition, the attempt to stem the social and domestic abuses of alcohol, commenced in 1920, forced him to leave New York and move to London where he joined the American Bar at The Savoy Hotel.

In 1933 he authored the Savoy Cocktail Book which contained 750 cocktail recipes, including the Corpse Reviver #2 and the White Lady for which he was renowned. The book was published by the Savoy Hotel which probably accounts for its distinctive Art Deco ‘decorations’ by Gilbert Rumbold  with its cover’s lavish use of gold. Continue Reading…

Book collecting: Edward Gorey’s Doubleday Anchor paperbacks

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In the 1950s, the Anchor imprint began publishing sturdy pocketbooks for an American literary and academic audience, eschewing the lurid and glossy style that dominated the mass-market for subtler, matte covers that had sensitive and artistic interpretations of the texts. Well-known visual artists Leo Lionni, Ben Shahn, and Antonio Frasconi provided brilliant and distinctive graphics, but the most prolific and memorable designer on payroll was certainly Edward Gorey, whose illustrations of either exquisite loneliness or apartness, usually against expansive skyscapes, captured a magical existential moodiness then disrupted by flashes of pink and yellow detail. The uniform lettering of title, price (U.S. and then slightly higher in Canadian dollars), serial number, and publisher lends a holistic feel to the composition (how jarring when you encounter a later printing, where the price has risen and Gorey’s hand-lettering is replaced by a soul-less numeral, as in Henry Green’s Loving). Continue Reading…

Very rare book to be auctioned at the Penticton Art Gallery’s annual fundraiser this Saturday

Each summer the Penticton Art Gallery holds an auction to raise funds for its endowment. Most of the items to be auctioned are paintings or graphics, but this year there’s one very rare book that was donated to aid the gallery. It is an incunabulum – a Latin word meaning cradle or beginning – which is used for any book printed in the 15th century, during the infancy of printing in Europe. The vast bulk of incunabula are already in public collections or private libraries, so they do not come to the market very often. In addition, most editions from the period survive only in a few copies. Hence their ever-rising prices in the rare book market. Continue Reading…

Readers, Accumulators and Collectors

After working in a used/antiquarian bookstore for a reasonable length of time a bookseller learns to identify at least three distinct classes of buyers. After reading the following brief essay you should be able to determine where you fit into to the used bookstore hierarchy for book buyers. Continue Reading…

Book collecting: a working collection – bibliography

(Editor’s note: after the publication of Ralph Stanton’s post, Book collecting: a working collection, he received some requests for a full bibliography of his collection of books on “vocabulary of the book; manuscript books and calligraphy, bookbinding, bookselling, book design, typography, printing, publishing, book collecting, ink, paper and even special terms used for creating Pop-up books”, and we thought you might be interested too, so here it is.) Continue Reading…