Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Let the Sunshine In-

As I have mentioned before, sometimes I come across books which have interesting stories behind them. Usually the stories concern either the author or the history of the book itself, but sometimes they have to do with prior owners.

We have a copy of an 1884 book by Arthur Charleston titled "Tin: Describing the Chief Methods of Mining, Dressing & Smelting it Abroad". An interesting enough book itself, if you are inclined tin-ward, but additionally, this copy bears the ownership signature- "Rev. M.A.G. Himalaya, Braga, Portugal, 1907" on the title page, and therein lies another story.

Manuel Antonio Gomes 'Himalaya' [1868-1933(?)], "Father Himalaya", is considered to be the father of solar energy in Portugal, and a visionary pioneer in the field of renewable energy. After taking Holy Orders in the Society of Jesus he studied natural sciences, physics, chemistry, mathematics and astronomy, and traveled to France where he studied with the noted chemist Marcelin Berthelot.

In 1899 he was granted a patent by the French government for a device to produce heat by focusing the sun's rays; in 1900 he constructed a test device in the Pyrenees and attained a temperature of 1100 degrees centigrade.

In 1902 an experiment in Lisbon attained 2000 degrees, and he made a final, startling demonstration of the power of such a device at the St. Louis Exposition in Missouri 1904. There he constructed his "Pireliofero", a 3-story high parabolic mirror mounted on a monstrous iron framework which focused sunlight on an oven mounted at the top of the structure. The oven reached a temperature of 3500 degrees, melting a test chunk of basalt, and Father Himalaya won a Grand Prize for his efforts.

He promoted other forms of renewable energy as well, including tidal energy and hydroelectric power, wind power, and geothermal power. Alas, there was plenty of cheap coal and oil available, and his work was generally ignored and forgotten. Father Himalaya retired to become chaplain at Viana Castle, a charity home, where he died at the age of 65. His work has excited interest in Europe in recent years, and his ideas have only lately attained a measure of the respect which eluded them in his lifetime.

Father Manuel Antonio Gomes 'Himalaya' and his "Pireliofero"

Friday, May 26, 2006

Gutters and Moles and... Bears?? Oh my...

Well, the bucket-truck has been called off. Our contractor has a new roofer who thinks the job of removing the old gutters and replacing the facia on the house crown can be done with scaffolding, so next week they're going to put that up. It'll be less dramatic, but also better for the lawn- we weren't all that thrilled about a big truck driving all around the house, though with the front lawn currently a Mole Paradise I'm not sure it would have looked all that different. If you used to have problems with moles under your lawn and you don't have any this year, they're all at Foggygates, chawing down.

Speaking of wildlife- I walked down to the local barbershop yesterday (about a quarter mile away), and on my way back, in the middle of a sunny afternoon, I saw a big black bear come across the church rectory's lawn (right next door to us), wait for a passing car, and then lope across the street and wander off into the woods on the other side. That caused a little excitement in town for a while. I'd never seen a bear in the wild before; Amy saw some years ago while camping at Yellowstone, but I think the operative words there are "camping" and "Yellowstone", which seem more appropriate venues for bear watching than "the neighbor's lawn".

And our cats wonder why we don't let them out...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Auction Catalogs-

The Book Elves have been pruning the trees and shrubs here at Foggygates, and somebody (I'd really, *really* like to know who) sent them a little book titled: "Erotic Topiary Designs for Beginners" which they have been using on the azaleas. We now have a thirty-year old azalea shaped like the picture on the cover of the latest Madonna album, and traffic on our little street has increased tenfold this week.

However, before they got us summoned before the next meeting of the Board of Selectman, they finished our new printed catalog #274, "Going Once... Going Twice... A Selection of Auction Catalogs from Our Stock", which is now available.

This issue includes catalogs covering Collectors & Collections; French Decorative & Fine Arts; Furniture & Americana; Folk Art; Metals; Garden Furniture & accessories; Ceramics; Glass; Silver; Jewelry; Judaica; Russian Arts; Miniatures; and Horology.

Please let us know if you would like a printed copy. You can also browse it on our website.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Well, the sun has finally come out at Foggygates -but it's cold! It seems that this May we either have rain or chilly weather. I miss Spring. The rains of the last few weeks caught our roofers just as they were about to remove the gutters and replace the facia boards around the top of the house crown, but they hope to do that in the next few days. It's going to be quite an operation- because of the shape of the roofs, they can't get up there safely with ladders to remove the facia, so they are going to bring in one of those bucket trucks. It's going to be quite a sight for the neighbors, and I'll try to get some pictures.

We've got our new Catalog of Auction Catalogs hitting the streets tomorrow- let us know if you would like a free copy. It will also be on our website. More about that tomorrow.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

New Titles in Our New Catalog-

If you have glanced through our new May-June catalog, you will have noticed by now that we have added quite a few in-print titles to our stock. We started adding in-print titles a few months ago, and it proved so popular that we are augmenting that area of our stock, and will continue to expand it in the coming months. There are some great new books out there, so why not carry them? This month we feature important new books on windsor chairs, mocha ware, Gothic Revival decorative arts, Pairpoint glass, and Georgia furniture. If there is anything in the way of in-print antiques references you are looking for, please let us know.

You can browse our new May-June catalog on our website, or if you would like a printed copy, please let us know.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Our New May-June Catalog-

It's been raining for about 10 days now, with no end in sight. The Book Elves are busily constructing an ark. However, before they loaded the shovels and rakes and implements of destruction into the old clawfoot bathub in the basement and tried to drag it down to the Connecticut River, they finished our new May-June catalog, which is available either in printed format, or on our website.

Please let us know if you would like a printed copy, or you can browse it here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

An Impressive Collection of Judaica-

We just bought the remaining copies of a very nice small catalog of an impressive Judaica collection-

"Catalog of the Bernice and Henry Tumen Collection of Jewish Ceremonial Objects in the Harvard College Library and the Harvard Semitic Museum" by Violet Gilboa. Published by the Harvard University Library in 1993.

This volume features photographs and descriptions of 166 Jewish ceremonial objects including wine cups; beakers; Sabbath lamps; candlesticks; spice boxes; Hanukkah lamps; Torah pointers; crowns, shields, and finials; plates for the Passover Seder and other occasions; charity boxes; Esther scrolls; containers for the etrog fruit used on Sukkot; marriage rings; amulets; and others. The vast majority of the objects are made of silver, with some additional pieces of pewter, a few brass and ceramic objects, and some textiles. Violet Gilboa is Littauer Hebraica Technical and Research Services Librarian at the Judaica Division of the Harvard College Library. Softcover. 6”x9”, 172 pages, b/w illustrations; bibliography. $25.00

We're offering a special price on them this week-
Single copies- $15.00, postpaid (Media Mail)
5 copies- $6 each ($30.00 postpaid -Media Mail)
10 copies- $5 each ($50.00 postpaid -Media Mail)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Victorian Fashions-

We are still unpacking boxes here, and recently came across several interesting Victorian fashion plates from McCall's Magazine, which we promptly plopped up on Ebay. These are somewhat stylized (think wasp waists and oddly shaped bodices) and quite colorful. We put in starting bids down at $9.99, with no reserves, so if you need something to spice up your walls, click the "Our Auctions" link in the right-hand column!

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Gothic Revival-

We have a new exhibition catalog in stock- "In Pointed Style. The Gothic Revival in America, 1800-1860".

The catalog is by Elizabeth & Stuart Feld, and accompanies the current exhibition at the Hirschl & Adler Galleries in New York, the first comprehensive exhibition of Gothic Revival furniture and arts in 30 years.

This is a wonderful catalog, featuring furniture, architecture, glass, lighting, silver and other decorations. It is illustrated with many period prints and artwork, as well as stunning new color photographs,and has an introductory essay by David B. Warren. Softcover. 9”x11”, 144 pages, color and b/w illustrations. Bibliography. [90200] $45.00

Friday, May 05, 2006

Point of View-

Cincinnati's Rookwood Pottery is legendary among art pottery collectors, and probably the best known American art pottery. I recently found several ca.1910 postcards showing the pottery which I thought were interesting.

This one, the oldest of the two, shows a front view that makes the pottery look almost like a rambling tudor mansion in some suburb-

This view, apparently taken a few years later, shows a more business-like viewpoint-

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Liar, Liar?

He sailed the Mississippi...
or did he?

Father Louis Hennepin was a Franciscan Friar who accompanied La Salle on his Western expedition of 1679 to reach the Gulf of Mexico from Canada, via the Mississippi River. After the trip Hennepin wrote his famous “A New Discovery of a vast Country in America”, originally published in French in 1697 and in English in 1698.

Hennepin tells of his travels with La Salle on the Griffon, the first ship on the Great Lakes, to Green Bay and across the Mississippi by the Illinois route. From there Hennepin was sent with an expedition, led by Michel Aco, which was the first to explore the upper Mississippi valley. They ascended the river to Minnesota, where they were captured by the Issati Sioux. The party was eventually rescued by Duluth who insisted on their release, though some claim that Hennepin’s constant complaints and lectures had already become so tedious to the Sioux, that they were happy to be rid of him.

Unfortunately, Hennepin was a notorious liar. In his accounts he claims close association with La Salle, but La Salle thought little of Hennepin, even warning his colleagues about Hennepin’s habit of exaggeration. Prompted by his efforts at political maneuvering and his own penchant for tellings fibs, Hennepin’s accounts of his journeys along the Mississippi vary from only slightly overblown to outright plagiarism. He claims to have traversed both the upper and the lower Mississippi all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico, but the time between his departure from the country of the Illinois and his capture by the Issati is not sufficient for such a long canoe voyage.

Despite the falsehoods about some aspects of the expeditions described in his narrative, Hennepin’s book became a standard text on North America. It should also be said that he was an acute observer, and his books contain detailed and accurate descriptions of the characteristics, arts, and customs of the Indians. He made careful note of the wildlife they encountered, and his descriptions of natural history convey not only a physical description of the animal in question, but Hennepin’s own personal reaction to the creatures as well. His is the first written description, complete with illustration, of Niagara Falls and his examination of every facet of American Indian culture is a gold mine of information.

In 1903 Reuben Gold Thwaites edited a new edition of “A New Discovery of a Vast Country in America”, with facsimiles of the original title-pages, maps and illustrations, and a new introduction, notes and index.

We have a copy of the 1903 edition up for auction this week -click our Auction link in the right-hand column.

We're hard at work on our new May-June catalog, which will be mailed in a few weeks -if you're not on our mailing list and would like a copy, please let us know.

We're also hard at work (or hardly at work) on the new edition of A Grave Affair -Books on Gravestones & Memorial Arts -again, let us know if you would like a copy of the catalog when it is ready.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A New Windsor Chair Book-

We just got a case of that nice new book on windsor chairs everyone's talking about-

"Windsor-Chair Making in America -From Craft Shop to Consumer"
By Nancy Goyne Evans. Published by the University Press of New England in 2006. Hardcover, 9"x12", 496 pages, color and b/w illustrations, dj. $65.00

"The definitive work on the production of Windsor furniture, from one of America’s premier authorities. Drawing principally on original source materials, Nancy Goyne Evans’s elegantly written and extensively illustrated book presents an authoritative and absorbing historical picture of the vernacular chair shop and industry. Of the book’s five chapters, three deal extensively with the craft shop. Evans discusses everything from structure to tools and equipment, from shop personnel to power sources, and from raw materials to ornament, both painted and stenciled. A chapter on marketing explores the booming Windsor-chair trade in the American coastal South and the islands of the Caribbean, furniture distribution to local, overland, and overseas markets, and general methods of doing business. Another section explores consumerism and the use of Windsor furniture in domestic and public settings."