The Angel and the Unicorn

The Angel and the Unicorn

8th October 2020

According to The New Oxford Book of Carols, this year marks the 125th anniversary of the famous carol known in English as ‘Gabriel’s Message’. It is actually a translation, by Sabine Baring-Gould, of a Basque carol, Birjina gaztettobat zegoen, which was collected by the French musician Charles Bordes and published in his Dix cantiques populaires […]

The Musical Bouquet

The Musical Bouquet

2nd October 2020

This is a copy of the first edition of The Musical Bouquet (1799) by the Welsh harpist Edward Jones (1752–1824); the etched frontispiece is by Rowlandson. ‘Bard to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales’ as the title-page here styles him, he had moved to London from Llandderfel in 1774.  ‘The harp was very fashionable […]

Transvestite antiquarian bookseller

Transvestite antiquarian bookseller

25th September 2020

I’m currently putting together a new list of 18th-century material, and thought I’d share one item from it here. It’s two etchings of the ‘walking bookseller’, Theodora Grahn, ‘Baron de Verdion’, from 1793 and 1803. These are two versions of the much-reproduced image of Theodora Grahn/de Verdion, an émigré cross-dressing bookseller in Georgian London.  The […]

Under another sky

Under another sky

17th September 2020

Under ordinary circumstances, I would have been in Paris today, for the opening this evening of the annual Salon international du Livre rare. But I am in still in beechy Buckinghamshire, enjoying instead some late summer sunshine. My mind, however, has turned to French books, and one in particular which I have at the moment. […]

The New Typography

The New Typography

9th September 2020

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Notgeld. Everyone knows, or thinks they know, the catastrophic German hyperinflation of the early 1920s, thanks to photographs of people pushing wheelbarrows full of money, or burning bundles of worthless banknotes as fuel.  But there was another pecuniary phenomenon to come out of those years: Notgeld, or ‘emergency […]

A ‘strange wild book’

A ‘strange wild book’

3rd September 2020

This is a copy of the first edition in English of Bettina von Arnim’s first book, Goethes Briefwechsel mit einem Kinde (1835), translated in part by the author herself and privately printed in Berlin.  ‘The printing had almost come to end [sic], when by a variance between the printer and the translator, it was interrupted; […]