Acquisition au SLAM

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SLAM 2019

Comme je l’ai récemment mentionné, la 36ème édition du Salon du livre ancien de Montréal (SLAM) se tenait ce week-end au Pavillon McConnell de l’Université Concordia. L’événement est organisé par la Confrérie de la Libraries Anciennes du Québec. Je n’ai malheureusement pas pu résister à aller y faire un tour et j’ai acquis deux nouveaux titres pour s’ajouter à celui que j’avais acheté en mars et ainsi accroître ma collection de livres anciens.

Le choix a été difficile car les titres vraiment intéressants étaient trop onéreux pour moi — je recherchais surtout des auteurs classiques ou des sujets d’histoire, de belles reliures mais seulement des éditions datant du XVIe ou XVIIe siècle et avec un budget de moins de deux-cent dollars. J’ai donc dû me résoudre à acquérir des titres traitant de sujets moins intéressants mais tout de même anciens (XVIIe). 

IMG_6391Ce salon était toutefois un vrai régal pour les yeux. Parmi les titres qui ont attisé ma convoitise je peux nommer (sans ordre précis): Johannis secondi opera [l’oeuvre du poète néerlandais Jean Second, aka Jan Everaerts] (in-12?, 1651, $350), Histoire des guerres de Flandre par Guido Bentivoglio (4 vols, in-16?, 1769, $150), Stratagematum satanae, libri octo par Iacopo Aconcio (1652, $650), Mythologie, c’est a dire, Explication des fables par Natale Conti (8vo, énorme bouquin de plus de mille pages!, 1612, $5000 !!!), l’oeuvre de Flavius Joseph [Flavii Josephi viri inter Judaeos clarissimi Opera omnia] (2 vols. In-folio, 1611, $500), Disputationes de argumentis, quibus efficitur Christum prius fuisse, quam in utero Beatae Virginis secundum carnem conciperetur [questionnement théologique sur la Vierge Marie], par Josua Placeus (in-4, 1660, $125), l’oeuvre de Tite-Live en allemand [Romainsche historiën van Titus Livius] (in-folio, 1646, $650), Historia Inquisitionis: Cui subjungitur Liber sententiarum Inquisitionis Thololosanae ab anno Christi MCCCVII ad annum MCCCXXIII [histoire de l’Inquisition, suivi du livre des sentences de l’Inquisition de Toulouse, entre 1307 et 1322], par Philipp van Limborch (in-folio, 1692, $2000 !!), Rerum Romanarum [abrégé de l’histoire romaine], par Lucius Annaeus Florus (1683, $325), et Controversiae viginti quinque super regulam fratrum minorum [un commentaire des controverses sur les vingt-cinq règles de l’ordre des Franciscains], par Francisco Luengo de San Bernardino (1642, $300). Que de trésors! Mais tous trop cher pour mon maigre budget. Je me suis rabattu sur deux petits ouvrages moins intéressants mais pas trop dispendieux…

IMG_6393Histoire de Ferdinand-Alvarez de Tolède (…) Tome Premier, [par Antonio Osorio] À Paris, chez Jean Guignard, 1698. Biographie du troisième duc d’Albe, vice-roi de Naples et gouverneur des Pays.Bas. Ce n’est pas la reliure typique pour un livre du XVIIe (normalement en peau de porc) mais ressemble plus aux reliures cartonnées du XVIIIe. Soit que la reliure a été refaite ou alors, comme ce livre date de la toute fin du XVIIe, l’éditeur avait déjà adopté ce style de reliure… Beau in-12 mais ce n’est que le premier tome. Toutefois, celui-ci je l’ai acquis spécifiquement pour en faire cadeau à mon “neveu”, amateur de curiosités et d’histoire…

IMG_6394Instructio Sacerdotum, ac Poenitentium (…) [Instruction des prêtres sur le repentir], par Francisco de Toledo; Sacramento Ordinis, par Martino Fornario; Tractatus de origine et clausura sanctimonialium, par Andrea Victorello;  Institutio confessariorum, par Martino Fornario. Venetia, Caroli Conzatti, 1667. In-quarto, quatre ouvrages en un. Sujet peu intéressant, en condition plutôt moyenne (gondolé, tâché, trace de mouillures) mais c’est mon premier in-4 (et premier éditeur italien), obtenu à très bon prix.

Ma collection (XVIe et XVIIe s.):

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De g. à d.: Summa Toleti (1667), Svmma Omnivm Conciliorvm et Pontificvm (1633), Lucien (1664), Valere Maxime (1659), Qvinti Horatii Flacci Poemata (1643), Aesopi Fabulae (1593), [Iustiniani] Digestorum sev pandectarum (1581)

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CODEX_TRAVERSÉE DU SILENCE

La salle de diffusion de Parc-Extension (421, rue Saint-Roch) est une fois de plus l’hôte d’une exposition en arts visuels du 5 septembre au 13 octobre. Sous le commissariat de Mariza Rosales Argonza, cette exposition, intitulée Codex_Traversée du Silence est présentée dans le cadre de la 11e édition du Festival LatinArte.  C’est une “prise de parole qui transcende les frontières culturelles et temporelles pour rendre visibles la pluralité et la permanence des voix ancestrales en tant qu’acte conscient afin de percer l’invisibilité“.

C’est une belle “exposition” mais c’est plutôt pauvre puisqu’on n’y retrouve que sept grandes oeuvres par Dinorah Catzalco et deux installations audio-visuelles (par Rodrigo Velasco et Teo Zamudio). Cela vaut quand même la peine d’y jeter un coup d’oeil si vous passez par la bibliothèque de Parc-Extension, qui est juste à côté…

Photos du vernissage, le 5 septembre 2019, on l’on retrouve (dans le désordre) les artistes [Teo Zamudio, Rodrigo Iván Ramírez Velasco et Dinorah Catzalco], la mairesse d’arrondissement [Giuliana Fumagalli], la Conseillère du quartier Parc-Ex [Mary Deros], et les représentants de la salle de diffusion [Martin Hurtubise], du Conseil des Arts de Montréal, et de LatinArte [Mariza Rosales Argonza]. 

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Fête Nationale

Bonne Saint-Jean à tous!

Saint-Jean-Baptiste_et_l'Agneau_de_DieuNe trouvez-vous pas étrange qu’un état qui viens de passer une loi pour forcer la laïcité célèbre l’anniversaire d’un saint catholique comme fête nationale? N’est-ce pas absurde, voir hypocrite? Comprenez-moi bien: j’ai toujours été en faveur de la laïcité mais une laïcité pour tous et pratiquée dans le libre choix.

De toute façon, je crois qu’il est malgré tout plus approprié de se baptiser dans la bière au nom du solstice (fête de la musique, midsummer, etc.) que pour célébrer Saint Jean le baptiste

Vive l’été !

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[ Illustration: “Saint-Jean-Baptiste et l’Agneau de Dieu”, par Liénard de Lachieze (enlumineur français du XVe s.), Missel romain copié en 1492 pour l’évêque de Comminges Jean de Foix, feuillet 252r. (Sources: Wikimedia; BnF – Gallica, ms. latin 16827).]

Cabinets of curiosities

My nephew, Sébastien, has just started a blog (in French) about how he is building and assembling his own cabinet of curiosities. It is very interesting. He is suggesting lots of crafty and thrifty ways to create such cabinet. I particularly like his entry about old books. He is very creative (he is a writer after all) and has a very strong background in science (molecular biology); he really succeeds to combine both aspects with great ingenuity. With this blog he is sharing his passion for the scientific wonders and natural oddities of the past. I am quite impressed. It is fascinating and I recommend to have a look.

My nephew also reminds us that my great friend Mario Tessier, the venerable and learned scholar known as the “Futurible”, had introduced us to the history of the cabinet of curiosities in one of his famous “Carnets” published in Solaris #191 (p. 111-125). It is quite an edifying article that I encourage you to read if you want to push further your knowledge on this subject.

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Athenian Tetradrachma (5th c. BCE)

I have myself been collecting such curiosities since I am a child. When I settled in my home I placed a glass case in the center of the library room where I gathered a few of those items collected over the years. Unfortunately, for lack of space, it is a small display and most of my collection is still in boxes, spread around the house on top of bookshelves or even (for my most precious items like my Athenian tetradrachma, my Marc Antony or Lucius Verus denarii or my Leo I the Thracian solidus) in a safe. I have already introduced my collection in an entry about old books. However, inspired by my nephew, let me now elaborate a little more about my own cabinet of curiosities.

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Aesope’s Fables [1593]

Of course, most of my collection is articulated around books — mostly old ones. However, as a kid, I started collecting stones, minerals, fossils and coins (very few of those are displayed). At some point, because I was studying the origin of metallurgy in ancient Mesopotamia, I started collecting metal cups (mostly in silver and tin — choose wisely your graal!) and my roman studies prompted me to acquire many greek, roman and byzantine coins. Whenever I can I try to add some antiquities (pseudo or authentic) or pieces of old technology (but those are rare and expensive, so I’ve acquired them so far from family or friends). But I am mostly into old books and metal stuff… Here is the core of my cabinet of curiosities:

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Left side

Top: my collection of cups and (plated) silver plates; note the authentic 4th c. roman terracotta on the left. Bottom: my oldest books (16th-17th c.), some fossils, amethyst and native copper samples, a few coins, more metal cups and some Japanese-style tea cups (on top of a portable Go board).

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My oldest books

Detail of the fossils and old books (Svmma Omnivm Conciliorvm et Pontificvm [1633], Lucien [of Samosata] [1664], Valerius Maximus Factotum ac dictorum memorabilium libri IX [1659], Qvinti Horatii Flacci Poemata [1643], Aesopi Phrygis: Fabulae [1593], and [Iustiniani Augusti] Digestorum sev pandectarum (Pars quarto [liber XX-XXVII]), De Pignoribvs et hypothecis [1581]).

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Right side

More old books (18th-19th c.), metallic gobelets, non-metallic cups (the smallest is in walrus ivory), a pair of small wooden masks of unknown origins (Balinese? Malaysian?), an (half-hidden) incised Malian knife with leather scabbard, some Inuit art, a false skull (an ashtray in pottery) and various mementos.

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On top of the shelves: a metronome, my grandpa’s French horn, an 18th c. tradesman’s balance scale, Chinese art reproductions, fake katanas, an original Rubik’s Cube and an authentic (undated) Chinese ding (ritual bronzes).

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On top of the shelves: a 70s helicopter’s pilot helmet, an (African? Undated) bronze mortar & pestle, a transportable Lumex microscope, an old 1-A Kodak Jr folding camera [1912] and a terrestrial globe (60s or 70s).

I have many more interesting items that I could display. Following my nephew’s example, I will do my best in the future to find clever ways to share them with visitors (and seek to acquire — or make — new ones; although I am far less creative than Sébastien). And you, do you have a cabinet of curiosities?

To be continued?

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Solde de livres 2019

abm_2019_affiche_vf_tgpComme tout les ans, les Amis de la Bibliothèque de Montréal organisent leur solde de livres pour offrir à petits prix aux Montréalais les livres dont les bibliothèques ne veulent plus (mais qui sont encore en très bon état). Vous y trouverez tout les genres de livres (plus de cent milles romans, documentaires, bandes dessinées, magazines, pour adultes, pour enfants, en français, en anglais et même parfois dans d’autres langues!) à très bon prix: 0,50 $ (livres jeunesse et magazines), 1,00 $ (livres adultes), 2,00 $ (BD et manga), et 3,00 $ (Dictionnaires, encyclopédies et « beaux livres »).

Le Solde de livres 2019 se tiendra du samedi 25 mai au dimanche 2 juin, de 13h00 à 19h00, à l’aréna Martin Brodeur (300, boulevard Robert, Montréal, juste à côté de la bibliothèque de St-Léonard). Les quantités sont limités sur certains types de documents (BD, dictionnaires). Le paiement doit être comptant seulement; il y a pas d’échange ou de remboursement possible. Et, S.V.P., veuillez apporter vos propres sacs. Pour plus d’information vous pouvez visiter la page Facebook.

Le but de cet événement est “de prolonger la vie utile de ces livres, d’aider à répandre le goût de la lecture et de permettre aux citoyens de Montréal d’enrichir leur bibliothèque personnelle à faible coût.” De plus, les revenus de la vente serviront à financer des activités d’animation dans les bibliothèques. Les documents invendus seront ensuite offert à des associations sans but lucratif et organismes communautaires, puis à Renaissance et finalement à la Fondation des parlementaires / Cultures à partager (qui les expédie dans des pays en voie de développement — comme en Afrique francophone et en Haïti). Ultimement, les livres qui restent après tout ça sont recyclés pour le papier. Rien ne se perd! Quelle entreprise louable…

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“Natural History” – final research

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My mystery book

Recently, the interest for one of my old books was rekindled when I found some new information about it on the internet. Since the prefatory pages of the book are missing the author and date of publication are unknown. I had only the title, Natural History, and the publisher:  William Milner of Halifax. Further investigation on WorldCat revealed more details allowing me to identify two possible authors for the book. Finally, I was able to compare my book with a microfiche copy at the University of Montreal, definitively identifying it as Richard COPE’s Natural History, which lead me to order a monograph about the work of William Milner in order to (hopefully) learn even more on this particular edition.

IMG_4437A little less than three weeks after filing the Inter-Library Loan (PEB) request, the Bernard BARR’s document about William Milner arrived at the National Library (BAnQ). Unfortunately, the whole process was utterly disappointing. The NYPL refused to lend its copy, so the book came from the University of St-Andrews’ library in Fife, Scotland, therefore the loan incurred a fee of $C 42.00 ! Not only the book was just a self-published monograph of sixty single-side pages with a simple plastic spiral binding, but the lending library requested that it had to be consulted on site, at the BAnQ. The book was on hold at the National Collection, a secure place where you have to check your coat and bag in a locker room before entering and you have to put all the material you need (notebook, pen, laptop, wallet, etc) in a basket that you carry with you. It was the first time I was visiting that place and it was all quite unexpected. Luckily, the staff was very nice and helpful. Instead of spending hours reading the book, I was allowed to digitize a copy on the photocopier (its control menu was not user-friendly at all and source of many frustrations). 

IMG_4441The book title is: “William Milner of Halifax: printer and publisher. Checklist of a collection of books printed by William Milner and his successors and imitators.” The only publishing information is “York: Ken Spelman”. No author is listed on the cover, but the notice from the University of St-Andrews’ library is helpful on that subject: the author is NOT Bernard BARR (who simply wrote the foreword) nor Ken Spelman (the “publisher”, but who was given as author by Amazon) but Peter MILLER and T. FOTHERGILL (who compiled the information).

Disappointingly, the book is of little use to me. It is far from exhaustive; its main source of information seems to be the Spelman’s bookshop collection as well as a few articles in Yorkshire’s newspapers and historical magazines (the bibliography also list a few references that briefly mention Milner, like Victor E. NEUBURG, The Popular Press Companion to Popular Literature, pp. 132-33 or Leslie SHEPARD, The History of Street literature, pp. 104-106). I was expecting a complete list of all titles published by Milner but it seems that such reference doesn’t exist. A search on Google doesn’t yield much either. In fact, the most useful tool in this research was probably WorldCat

IMG_4440William Milner of Halifax: printer and publisher mentions Richard COPE’s Natural History only ONCE (“Cope (Richard) Natural History … New Edition, Improved and Enlarged. Roy 8vo. 730 pp. 425 ills. Maroon cloth”) in what the book calls the “Imprint 7”—which falls into the third incarnation of the publishing company, Milner & Co, located in London between 1883 and maybe 1900. “Maroon cloth” seems to describe well the cheap cover of my edition (and “Roy 8vo” means that it is a Royal octavo format, i.e. 10″ by 6¼” or 253 mm x 158 mm, therefore about the same size than my copy) but my book was clearly printed during the “Imprint 1” period (Halifax: William Milner, 1834-1851). Also the copy that I have seen at the University of Montreal unmistakably falls into the same imprint as it is dated from 1846 (while mine unfortunately has no printing date left—or never had one as it happened often with this publisher). This fact confirms that the Miller/Fothergill monograph is obviously incomplete.

I was not able to acquire more precise information on my book. However, it was not a complete waste of time since it has allowed me to learn more about the printing industry in nineteen century England. It seems that William Milner was a pioneer of cheap literature and remains an unsung hero of the poor Englishmen as he provided them with affordable literary classics (selling for as little as a shilling or even a sixpence) that would have without any doubts further their education and culture. Several other publishers, like William Nicholson, followed his example. 

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The Spelman’s collection ?

They printed books not only in great quantity (printing titles by the ten of thousands with total circulation often amounting over a hundred thousand!) but also in variety as they covered a large array of subject matter (from BurnsPoems, to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Arabian Nights, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Richard Johnson’s The Seven Champion of Christendom, etc.) and offered a “range of plain and variously ornamented styles to suit differing tastes and pockets” [cf. Bernard Barr’s introduction to William Milner of Halifax and Shepard’s History of Street Literature]. The life of those publishers (and particularly of William Milner) and their cultural missionary work would certainly make quite an interesting subject for a historical TV series. 

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