Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Letters, drama, and dramatic letters!

Because someone talked Doug into selling her the dish we were using to collect pennies, Joan has brought in yet another store mascot!

I keep meaning to ask Joan what its name is, and to think seriously about the gastronomy of a dragon that breathes pennies instead of fire.

But on to serious topics ... such as letters! Letters, while charming, have only rarely been something I spent much time on. However, I once sent a friend a postcard that reached the wrong recipient, viz., the woman across the hall from my friend. The lady put pictures of the postcard on her blog, and was thereby discovered by both her neighbor (the recipient -- whom she had never met) and myself! Truly we live in a strange age, with this Internet ... but the point of this story is that, when Ms. Postcard Discoverer first posted those pictures, she speculated that she'd found her very own Griffin and Sabine! Whoever could Griffin and Sabine be?

As I discovered later -- and as you yourself might discover with these Affordable and Interesting books -- Griffin is a young artist who, one day, receives a mysterious postcard from a woman named Sabine. It addresses him in the manner of an old friend, asking for a postcard he recently designed. The problem? He has neither met nor heard of Sabine before! From there, the plot thickens in a more and more fantastical manner. The book's story (and those of its sequels) are told through the correspondence of Griffin and Sabine; the best aspect is certainly the original presentation -- postcards shown front and back, while letters are presented in envelopes stuck to the pages:


I seem to recall that my third grade teacher had us all do a class project in a similar manner, creating our own fictional correspondences between two characters. But these books are not merely for children -- the story they tell is more than charming enough to pull in adults, and the art is remarkable. If you would merely like to investigate the beginning (or middle) of Griffin and Sabine's story, you may acquire either the first or second in this three-book series for $7.50. But if you'd like to gleefully snatch up the three-volume set, then we are also selling that, for $25.00! *

I uncovered Griffin and Sabine lost in our Books on Books section -- now that, gentle readers, was a confused mishmash of a place! But it has any number of wonderful things in it, and as I whip the section into shape, I'm oohing and ahhing a lot. Take this Collector's Item:

I believe I have mentioned the Caxton Club here before; they've published a number of beautiful Limited Editions, many on book-related topics. This particular book, Printers' Marks and Devices (number 272 of only 600 copies printed), gives brief biographies of 78 historical printers, then offers lovely illustrations and deconstructions of their devices. Heinrich Petri of Basel, for instance:

The Petri device was apparently inspired by a Biblical motto: "Is not my word fire, like a hammer that shatters stone?" Those fiery words seem to have fit Petri well -- he was "a zealous promoter of Lutheran books", and at one point he got in trouble with the city's nobility for publishing Luther's Christian Warning to the Nobility. Later in life, he secured his own noble title (and presumably thumbed his nose at past detractors). You could read 78 stories like this -- in an attractive linen binding to boot! -- for $75.00.

Sometimes I think I don't talk enough about old bindings on this here blog. I write too much about odd little paperbacks and bizarre antique cartoons, and not enough about the kind of bindings that make one swoon. What are antiquarian bookstores for?! Well, I aim to change my regrettable tendency with this week's Favorite:

Now, these are just gorgeous. The pictures don't do the gilt patterns, the restrained coloring of the leather, or the lovely rose image justice. Unfortunately, we don't have the complete set of these books -- which all together would comprise a survey of the humble topic, "The Drama: its History, Literature and Influence Upon Civilization" -- but we do have four individual volumes. Fortunately, however, each volume covers an area in full, which makes them very nice as separate books. We're offering Oriental Drama, Drama of Great Britain, Drama of Spain and Portugal, and Russian Drama.

The set was originally published in 1903. Some have silken bookmarks. All are printed on exquisite paper with gilted edges and lovely full-color illustrations. And the bindings ... the bindings! Each book has the beautiful covers you see above; the insides of the covers make me sigh, too:

Best of all, each of these books is only $20.00. So if you decide you'd like to convince some dramatic person that you spent an absolute fortune on an exquisite, collectible gift for them, you can easily do so without actually breaking the bank. Perhaps the lucky recipient will stage some hysterics for you!

I consider sowing the seeds for such philanthropic dishonesty to be my good deed for the day! Gentle readers, I charge you to consider who you know who'd love these theatrical books; I will do the same, and meet you back here next week.

* i.e. We have two copies of the first and second books.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.