The Sanctuary Bookshop Diary.
June 21st 2021
We get on average, about 200 books across our desk in a typical week.
These will normally get sorted into: say, a dozen for further research.
The rest are priced and put out on shelves, and then one or two are put aside“to read”.
And so it was last week that we came across a remarkable book: “Shady Characters” by Keith Houston.
In twelve Chapters he tells us the fascinating story behind all those strange tongue-twisting symbols in the typesetter’s dictionary!
The Octothorpe (aka the Hashtag) and the Interrobang are shown above, each side of Keith Houston's book cover.
And so it was we made up a little ditty to share with you below.
“Gram Gram Epizeuxis in a Synedoche”
Shebangs, Hash-bangs, Interrobangs, and Logograms
Dipthongs, Dot-coms, Octothorpes and Nomograms
Minuscules, Manicules, Majuscules and Pictograms
Hashtags, Ligatures, Pilcrows and Telegrams
Cryptograms, Histograms, Monograms and Anagrams
Ideograms, Epigrams, Holograms and Diagrams
These are just some snappy Dythirams
All Ex Cathedra...Houston's shady oral Shebangs!
As this current lock-down eases, one can only say how good it is to have people again filling up our Bed & Breakfast accommodation.
This is above the shop and houses some 5,000 good books.
We can offer two doubles, each with private bathroom, a pull down bed, and a cot should you have a young child.
Our latest guests were Lucy and Lizzie (above)...two confirmed book lovers. They came for a week, but chose to self-cater.
We explained we are still running our offer for guests to run our bookshop, either for a day, a weekend, or even a week. This would make a delightful break for anyone interested in having their own book business, and who would like to get the flavour of running a shop prior to committing. It’s only fair to say that running a high street book business is a daunting challenge, what with Amazon and other predatory chains. So, one would need a deep pocket initially, lots of courage, and, perhaps most important, some hand-on experience. A separate income would come in useful as well...so maybe an unpaid helper (spouse?).
One could go on, but without practical encouragement, where are the next generation of book sellers to come from? Indeed.
Stop Press! Lizzie coming to run our shop on June 19th...!
And so to new life!
Well, it’s good to be open again and to welcome people back into the shop.
The new normal? But hey, it feels like being born again!
Monday is normally a quiet day and this will be no exception.
It will pick up at the weekend as people get time off from their normal routines.
It’s been remarkable how steady the Mail Order business has been. The Government Support Grants were a Godsend, but now balanced by a rather dauntingly increased Tax Bill for the year just ending.
Still, on balance no complaints.
The big feature of our winter, has been the lucky purchase of a comprehensive library of Occult and Masonic books at Auction.
Some of these can now be viewed in our various Catalogues (see below).
This will keep us busy for many month to come.
Please click here to view our Occult Catalogue....
“They told me Heraclitus, they told me you were dead.
They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed.
I wept as I remembered how often you and I…
……had tired the sun with talking, and sent him down the sky”.
Here above, the touching, two thousand year old lament for a lifetime's friendship, rendered into English by William Cory......
So it is that dispersing the library of a customer, perhaps just recently deceased, and often via a grieving widow or children, can be an unenviable task.
Of an acquaintance? Well, often a relief to the bereaved.
But of Joanna Leach and her music library? A library that came to us April 17th?
Personal friend, concert pianist, inspiration to all, who passed away 8th April 2011....surely the most difficult?
What are the guiding principles?
Well, after almost fifty years of friendship, it is simply this.....to do as one would wish of a colleague, having entrusted them with one’s own Library.
In our case, her library of piano music scores.
In the firm belief it would be her wish, we will get the collection to young musicians.
And so, after ten years now, each of these thousand odd scores embarks on a new life, bearing the inscriptions and annotations of their former owner.
R.I.P. Joanna Leach.
To read about Joanna's remarkable life...click here and scroll down the page.
As booksellers we have noticed before, how much sustained interest there is in what one might term, fringe activities.
From our experience we would list the most requested topics (in no particular order) as: Witchcraft, then Paganism, The Tarot, Occult, Arcana, The Esoteric, Magic, the Kabbalah, the Templars & finally, Alchemy.
In addition, the subject sprouts a lexicon all of its own, most of it new to us: Glyphs, the 72 Sigils, ars Goetia, Enochian, Skrying, Grimoire, Qliphoth & Theocrasy, to name but a few. And then there is Devil Worship (see above).
Key figures would be: Dr John Dee, Edward Kelley, Aleister Crowley (The Great Beast), Éliphas Lévi,
Even the great Newton held a lifelong fascination with the occult and alchemy. So, should any of this be of interest to you, you can browse our Catalogues through the various links below, much of this fascinating material having been acquired over the years through various Auction Houses.
In a prior Diary posting (below) we have Dr John Dee (1527–1608) and the early devotional subject of the Calling Down of Angels.
Click here for the very latest selection...
And here, for Tarot Related...
February 1st 2021.
"To listen to one's better angels" (an idiom we still use now, but actually dating from the 16th Century. See below).
One of the most fascinating things about selecting rare books for the internet, is the amount of completely unexpected material one comes across.
Unexpected to whom? Well, unexpected to us, down here in the South West!
One gradually acquires a working knowledge of most topics, but then out of nowhere, something completely new is offered us, and bought in.
We probably scan about fifty books a day on average, and then maybe select six or so of the most interesting, to get before a wider audience.
So, this week it was books on “Conversing with Angels”.
It all goes back to a Dr John Dee (1527–1608). The language one needs is “Enochian” and above we show his alphabet of glyphs, together with its originator.
We note here that we are referring to the character in Genesis 5.24 called "Enoch" (the father of Methuselah).
There we learn Enoch was taken up to Heaven and was then appointed chief of the Archangels.
Now, John Dee was an Anglo-Welsh mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, teacher, occultist, and alchemist.
He was famously Court Astronomer, and Advisor to Elizabeth I, and spent much of his time on Hermetic Philosophy.
As an antiquarian, he had one of the largest libraries in England at the time, or so we learn from Wicki.
We were fascinated to learn that there are 269 Enochian Angels (according to our count), arranged in nine hierarchies, ranging from Aaan (who is just a very Minor Angel), to one named Zurchol (a much more important angel, an Angel King in fact).
Readers can explore this remarkable sixteenth century alternative world, by clicking on the above text links, shown on your screen in blue.
However, one can't help noticing that there even seems to be an angel looking after us down here in Lyme..!
He goes by the name "Lavavoth" (he resides in Capricorn) and he's listed by Dr John Dee as:
"The Angel King of the South West"..!
Now, isn't that curious? Those amazing clouds above the shop recently, and the very day we acquired these angel books...(see below)?
As my colleague remarked: "Don't these clouds strike you as...well...heavenly!"
"Altostratus angelorum Lavavoth" perhaps?
To research these volumes..click here.
Probably the most read of all our past Book Chats was the one we wrote in 2019.
We note it was last updated exactly twelve months ago, in February 2020, just as the Covid pandemic crept up on us..
We called it
"So You Want to Have a Bookshop..?".
And it quoted the Hesiod aphorism from way back in 700 BC.: "A Profit badly made can be the same as a loss".
The unexpectedly positive response took us a little by surprise...as we found we were swimming in a sea of Goodwill, so here we offer a second and updated version.
Also, we decided to move it over to our Bookshop Diary column, as this is by far our most read page.
The original posting had several purposes, firstly to amuse, secondly to give any aspiring reader a glimpse of the harsh realities of High Street trading in second-hand books, and now thirdly to counter the prevailing Doom and Gloom.
Hence we couched it in mathematical terms (our early career background) and with hindsight, we have to acknowledge that many will find this off-putting.
But there's a steely reality about formulae and equations. In short, one is left with very little wriggle room.
If you really can't abide maths, then sadly, it's probably best to quit here.
But...if you got to GCSE maths, then a willingness to persevere may bring you some unexpected insights.
Our opening assumptions are....you want to move on from an apprenticeship in Internet Selling and Boot Fairs?
Or, perhaps you are just retired and hankering for a gainful and enjoyable occupation?
In short: (a) You want a life in books and (b) We want to encourage more high street book shops.
So, after forty years in the business, we offer this to you, the next generation of book sellers, and urge you to forget Amazon, profit fixated with its robotic book factories...and perhaps read instead Shumacher's uplifting“Small is Beautiful”.
Also, we choose to assume that the lock down aspect of Covid is only with us pro tem..so what better time than now, to bring together your own plan for the future?
We started small too. Very small. A hundred books at home in 1982. So, let's get started.....
First, a few definitions.....
Let Q equal the total Annual Turnover in pounds (the shop “take”).
Now, let E be the Expenses (the Overheads)....rates, electricity, gas, water, telephone, ISP, casual labour, car, restoration, advertising, accountancy, bank charges, shop maintenance, sundries....(everything one would claim that is justified when calculating one's Tax Allowance. Also, in our case: no staff).
Let T be the Profit (take home money, before tax).
Let P be the Purchases for the year (the stock acquisitions).
Then, just to break even, it is self-evident that....
Q-E-P = 0
(i.e., no profit, but no loss).
N.B. In our case, The Sanctuary Bookshop in Lyme Regis, Q, E, and P are known (How? Because we keep daily, weekly, and monthly records, plus all associated paperwork. This is for tax purposes. Also we keep Moving Annual Totals, MAT's, on Q, E, & P. These have proved indispensable, but you may need to look that up).
Now here is the key.... in equilibrium, i.e., the buying and the selling of the stock to be in balance and stable (a state we only reached in 2000, after an initial three years trading), then
P = Q/m
[The test for this, is that the figure calculated on the annual stock take remains approximately constant year on year.....]
Also, here “m” is the the “markup”, i.e., the factor, or average multiplier on the trade purchase price, sufficient to yield a trading margin (more of this later in our next Diary article).
Q-E-Q/m = 0
...again, just to break even.
...to take home T = £X a month clear (profit: before tax: all bills paid), one needs to ensure that
(1-1/m)Q – E = 12X
Now Q = 313 q (a six day trading week), where q is the average daily receipt (the daily take, averaged over the year).
313(1-1/m) q – E = 12X
q = m(12X + E)/313(m-1)
This equation yields a fascinating insight into the challenging realities of High Street book trading, and is definitely worthy of further discussion (we will keep that for a later Bookshop Diary).
(Aside: Its worth noting here that we mean second-hand and antiquarian bookselling. The selling of new books by Independents operates under completely different constraints. Independent Bookshop numbers have almost halved in the past 15 years, in 2005 there were 1,535, while in 2019 just 890. These are Independent bookshops that are members of The Booksellers Association. The comparable figure for the USA is 2,320). The only figures we can find for the number of secondhand and antiquarian bookshops are: 940 (1984 Driff's Guide) and 1,280 approx in 2017 Wormwoodiana.blogspot, broadly matching the figures above for Independents.
For the time being, let us take two examples close to home that illustrate the problem...
1. Just to break even (no take home income), then X = 0, assuming m = 3 (more on this later), and E= £30,000/year (reality), readers can check and see that they will need a turnover (averaged over the year), of q = £145/day approx.
2. However, to take home £1000/month clear, with m = 3, again taking E = £30,000/year (reality), then one will need an average daily take of q = £200 approximately, every trading day of the year.
These are gruelling figures for a sole trader, and explain why so many fail (or in fairness, are unable to start...). There is no avoiding the fact that High Street Trading is extremely Darwinian. It ruthlessly winnows out the weak, and is certainly not for the faint hearted. In the words of Paul Minet*....the best security one can hope for, is: an independent income, a non-salaried partner (wife, husband, colleague...), and the ownership of one's own freehold premises!
So, not for us Charity Bookshop retail cloud cuckoo land: reduced rates, free donated stock, unpaid volunteer staff, fat cat executive salaries milked from your free donations*.......
The reality of these figures, just to break even, is: £20/hour for a 10.30 am to 5.30 pm day, or ten £2 paperbacks sales hour (it is important to emphasise that these are figures that are averaged over the year). In fact, in normal times, August in Lyme can see us with queues all day! By way of contrast in February..most retailers here in Lyme will find it hardly worth opening....maybe just a few pound's worth of sales on an average weekday!
Also, one might think in the second illustration, that a free disposable income of £1000/month seems quite modest, but remember, this is after all bills have been paid!
Finally, the hidden assumption in all this is that good saleable second-hand book stock is somehow flowing into your shop, at attractive prices sufficient to allow a decent margin.....
Ah-ha! Could it be the art of second-hand bookselling is in the buying? (But more on that later)...
* Paul Minet. "Bookdealing for Profit". Richard Joseph Publishing. 2000.
P.S. January 2021. Now closed again !
Well..here we are, open at last after four weeks of a National Lock-down. Tier 2 Restrictions in place.
It's been necessary, painful, but like other small businesses and small town communities, very survival has been at stake.
We are biased of course, but to put it bluntly, we would suggest that reading is essential for mental health and relaxation.
Books give life meaning, interpret the past and prepare one to meet the future without fear. It is an endless journey.
Surely such gifts are even more necessary when forced into isolation? So, to all our friends and colleagues in Lyme Regis, the West Country and around the world, we would just say "Keep the Faith", enjoy Nature's wonders where you can (above: an amazing red sunset above the shop), and we will always do whatever we can to keep you safe and supplied with good reading (even as entropy encroaches with its remorseless grip! Shop image panorama above.).
Thank You All.
In 2002 one of the nations most loved comedians died. Terence Alan Milligan (above left), aka “Spike”.
Milligan’s farewell, written in Gaelic and adorning his gravestone in Winchelsea Churchyard, East Sussex, reads (image above right):
"Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite."
This translates as: “I told you I was ill”, and was subsequently voted the nation’s favourite epitaph.
For many years now, we have placed in our shop window a monthly poem of choice, with an invitation to step inside and collect a free copy.
In September we chose Spike's poem titled “Smiling is Infectious”..on the theme of epidemics, but in this case an epidemic of smiles. It simply seemed to say something rather relevant to our current woes.
The response has been absolutely astonishing, our printer kept busy coping with a steady stream of smiling readers.
So, well done Spike..we miss you, and, wherever you are, you are not forgotten.
To read the poem, click the link below to reach our Poetry Page, and Thank You all.
"Smiling is Infectious" by Terence Alan Milligan. 1918 - 2002.
September 30th 2020
Running a largish bookshop single handed raises various logistic problems…the most pressing being...how does one get out to acquire stock? Well...our solution is called “Harold” (above center). Before the Internet c 1990 there was a profession of the “Book Runner”.
A runner would record in memory the various "Wants" of all the book dealers and bookshops in his or her orbit…and locate them.
The first necessity is a car and a working knowledge of all Boot Fairs, Charity Shops, Recycling Centers within say a hundred mile radius. Our runner is a gem..(now known throughout the UK and in remote parts of Australia), especially as he has now learned the ins and outs of book buying. In short, to be honest, we could not function without him.
In this August and November, for example....not one, not two, but...three signed Harry Potters (two shown, above left, and right)..!
September 27th 2020.
At a rough estimate on average, we see fifty books and pieces of literary ephemera pass across our desk a day, year in year out.
That’s 1500 a month, 20,000 a year. So, in 23 years trading here in Lyme, some 450,000.
What are the high points we can share?
Well, a 1590 first edition of Spencer’s “The Fairie Queen” with a handwritten manuscript glossary or small dictionary of unusual words.
That was perhaps the greatest thrill. Then last month, in the August just gone, two small pencil drawings came in, each signed "L. S. Lowry 1959".
These are fabulously valuable, if genuine (we think they are), but provenance is everything for this sort of material, and in this case we had very little (see above).
Still, as guitar legend B B King would say…”The thrill is there”. Other highlights have been books from Napoleon’s Library…and a 1515 copy of Gli Asolani...love poems by Cardinal Pietro Bembo shown to Lucretia Borgia (Byron..”The Most Beautiful Poems in the World”).
Just being able to hold and marvel at these things, before passing on to their new owners, is a great privilege.
Saturday 12th September 2020
Sometimes one can't help chuckling at the inquiries customers make. There are several books that recount them.
But, if you are not immersed in books (and why should you be?), then an unknown bookshop environment alone, can be overwhelming on first visit.
We share them here, out of goodwill and affection.
Here are a few of the most memorable in nearly forty years trading.
“I don't read them. I hold them”. Customer requesting books by Emile Zola.
“It was in your window three years ago. Do you still have it?”. Visitor to Lyme.
“I can't sleep here, there are books in the bedroom”. American lady guest, checking into our Booklovers B & B.
“Are all your books the same price?”..teenager, showing us a 50p paperback.
“Have you anything special...well actually, very special?”. ..very elderly OAP on Zimmer frame.
“Do you have any red books?”. ..elderly lady fitting out her retirement flat.
“I was a child. It was a blue colour..about a fairy. Do you have it?” Lady.
“I need twelve yards of books ASAP, preferably leather”. New country house owner.
“Can you recommend a book. I read one once when I was young”. We did.
“I'm looking for Fleming's "Casino Royal", in dust-wrapper. First Edition”. So are we.
“Do Morer. Woman writer I think. Possibly lived in Cornwall”. Ah-ha. Daphne perhaps?
“Can I pay by credit card?” On a 25p purchase of a post card.
“Do you sell proper stamps. I want to send a postcard?”. Customer viewing our philately section.
“Get me a book please...and two gin & tonics”. American lady guest in our Booklovers B & B.
“I only have 50p”...8 yr old bringing rare £24.00 Beano Annual to the till. It was enough.
“Can you offer on 950 unsold copies?”. 1998 museum inquiry. It's now 2020, and we have only a mere 250 left to sell..!
“I live in a village in China. Can you send me a list of all your books?”. 2018 inquiry.
“Ah..I have been looking for these”. A disbound tatty set of 19th C Walter Scott, in stock for thirty years.
Saturday 8th August 2020.
We have been advised by a kind and supportive colleague that we have attracted a criticism for “rudeness” on Social Media.
Firstly, may we say that it's very difficult to counter anonymous criticism.
This is for the simple reason we don't enjoy the luxury of running a very popular book-store anonymously.
Why? Well, our public customer goodwill is beyond value and treasured. In short, it is our lifeline.
What many may not realise, is that just to keep trading and to even have a book-store for you when you next visit, we have to operate The Sanctuary Bookshop without any full time staff.
In fact, our next door fully staffed heavyweight neighbours, and competitors for your custom, are Costa, Co-Op, Boots, Smiths & Tesco (gulp)!
The reality is that with five book-rooms to cover, a queue forming, the telephone ringing...and then to be asked to do a card transaction on a 50 p purchase, well... a sort of existential angst can take over momentarily (you may need to look that up!).
So, Dear Anonymous, please call in ..enjoy a 50% discount on any books you may choose, and share a glass of wine, or a coffee with us...
...and a friendly book chat.
With Complete Goodwill.
Bob & Jessica.
Thursday 30th July 2020.
We have been open now since Monday 15th June. We are not exactly rushed off our feet, but trade is steady and increasing as summer sets in.
Internet trade has been particularly interesting with a steady rise in sales and inquiries.
We reopen our Booklovers B & B July 15th. Looking back we can only thank the Chancellor Rishi Sunak for his support of small business enterprises and demonstrating political strategy at its most impressive.
Maybe there will be life after coronavirus…we shall see. We wish all our customers well and happy reading.
Wednesday 20th May 2020.
We suppose many of you will have seen the article in yesterday's Time newspaper, repoduced above.
Well it seems we are non-essential. No suprise then for us to record that we have another view.
We sympathise with James Daunt and Waterstones, but that must be the reality we are all up against.
They are setting a very high standard for us all. We wish them well.
Saturday 16th May 2020.
“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by”.
It’s curious to be sitting here in an empty bookshop, empty of people that is.
I feel surrounded by the ghostly voices of countless writers.This is, as Hesse would say "...a massive treasury of thoughts, experiences, symbols, fantasies and dreams that the past has bequeathed us".
:As Rabindranath Tagore so eloquently put it…
“I hear the countless voices of the human heart flying unseen, from the dim past to the dim unblossomed future.
Not here, Not here. Somewhere far beyond”. It does however open new opportunities. Perhaps to read those volumes that have slipped by for all those years?
But just look at the numbers! Say one read a book a day…that’s 400 in a year of lockdown.
But even that’s only 4000 in a decade...and there’s ten times that number here.
And so it was I came across Douglas Adams and George Burns to share with you.
Douglas (images above) was fascinated by his initials “D.N.A.”. He had a delightful offbeat humour and was concerned with the presumptions of mankind.
Take the humour example above, and then this wonderful riff on the speciesism of mankind below…
“This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise.
I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.”
And maybe George Burns (1896 – 1996) had the secret of living to one hundred.
Famous American comedian, actor, and writer.
This below is verbatim:
On his 100th Birthday he was interviewed live by Walter Cronkite, anchorman for CBS Television News.
“George..is it true…six cigars a day……?”
“And whisky……half a bottle a day..?
“Yes….yes…..but always with a little soda….”
“And the ladies….?
“Oh Yes….I loved the ladies…always have….”
“George….what do your doctors say about all this….?”
“They’re all dead”.
P.S. Should this rouse anyone's interest then we recommend his biography "Living It Up". W H Allen. 1977.
Or, enjoy this Chat Show!
Monday April 6th 2020.
It’s certainly not every day one gets an email from a “Nubiian Gyrl” (so, welcome Na'im Asra El: above centre).
A Book Order in fact, for our ABE Listing “Morocco as It Is. With an Account of Sir Charles Euan Smith's Recent Mission to Fez”.
It turns out this is a scarce travelogue by Stephen Bonsal (q.v.), and first published by W H Allen in 1893.
Incidentally, we see that we first listed this For Sale Online in February 2012..! So it has taken only eight years to find its rightful owner!
Looking back in our Sanctuary Bookshop Diary, we see that the last time this happened was in May 2016.
This is recorded on our page: http://ex-lib.com/Book-Chats-on-Booklovers-, (scroll down to the extraordinary letter from China).
So, one of the joys of bookselling on the internet, is discovering people who one would never normally meet, each with their own fascinating story.
The real pleasure is that some become “internet friends” and one has the enjoyment of sharing life stories.
Correspondence led to a 2nd find for Na'im. Namely Hugh Millington Stutfield’s 1886 “El Maghreb. A 1200 Miles Ride Through Morocco ” (see above right).
We have been unable to locate an image of this particular author, although there is a published book about him.
However, we had some unexpected success with Stephen Bonsal.
He is the central figure in the photograph above left, taken at the USA-Mexico Commission at the Biltmore Hotel in New York City on September 9, 1916.
If anyone can forward an image of Hugh Stutfield, we would be most grateful and give full acknowledgement.
We will post more news as this story develops.
Thursday 19th March 2020
2020 Program: U3A Rare Book Group Meetings: 1st Friday of: April: June: August: October: December.
ALL CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
Friday 7th February saw the fifth (or possibly sixth) meeting of the U3A Rare Book Group (image above center). We have about two dozen members now (including three overseas!), and meet on the first Friday of alternate months (see program above). The right formula seems to be emerging at last.
Our next meeting was scheduled for 7.30 pm on Friday April 3rd but is now cancelled, as all other RBG meetings till further notice.
Our Guest Speaker was to have been: Dr Mark Byford. We look forward to another time.
A rare three volume Elzevir imprint was discussed from 1658 (image above, top left). Publii Ovidii Nasonis Operum. Lived: 43 BC to 18 AD.
“The Works of Ovid. The Art of Love, etc".
An unexpected discovery was five pages of neat contemporary manuscript commentary at the rear of Volume 11, but in Latin (see three images above).
This had previously been overlooked. Our colleague and Latin scholar Bijan Omrani is currently attempting a transcription. More on this as it progresses.
We were then shown the remarkable literary achievements of the Marriage Family over four generation, by local RGB member John Marriage.
Thank You one and all.
To explore John's fascinating website, a real visual treat, click here...
Wednesday 15th January 2020
We are just a couple of weeks into the New Year...and there have already been a number of surprises. For a start Christmas sales were well down, but New Years sales were well up, and by enough to make a net gain. Could this be that more people are receiving Christmas gifts in cash and then spending at the first opportunity in the New Year? Gift purchases seem to be higher value items than previous years, but this could just be that the quality of our stock is improving. We have also noted that paintings and artwork are selling well, in particular Lyme Regis harbour scenes by Terence Anton (above left) and Paris scenes (above right) by the American woman artist, Caroline Burnett*, and so this is area we will expand over the coming year.
A remarkable play script was acquired just in the New Year. A “Prompt” copy from 1909. It was immediately acquired by the Houghton Library at Harvard.
We have now written this up in our “Book Chats on Discoveries” page for January 2020.
*Caroline Burnett is reputed to be an American who lived and painted in Paris. She was from the USA and went to Paris in the early part of her career, which was late 19th and early 20th century. She was a member of the Societe des Beaux-Arts and exhibited with the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1898. She was inspired by the scenes surrounding her. Caroline Burnett's paintings use oil as her preferred medium.
She signs herself BURNETT, normally on the bottom righthand corner (see above).
Sunday 29th December 2019
As the year draws to its close, one can look back and take stock of both the highs and the lows. Losing our book colleague Jean Vaupres to retirement after twenty-two years has been a big blow, but we wish him well and no doubt will keep in constant touch over the coming months and years.
Life in the Bulgarian countryside must be calming and peaceful compared to the August crowds in Lyme and the never-ending drama of Brexit.
So, enter and welcome: Jessica Easter, our new assistant.
Our Mail Order Book Club continues to flourish. Now in its second year, the secret seems to be to surprise people with the unexpected.
It’s a fine line...the temptation constantly hovering in the background…to send books one has enjoyed personally. Encouraging Feedback seems to be the key, then one gradually builds up a picture of what ticks all the boxes. We seem to get as much fun choosing and sending them, as members do in receiving them.
One member is in the Australian outback and runs a tiny bookstall, so anything and everything we send seems to delight.
It’s all rather reminiscent of the Buena Vista Social Club, but for books.
Friday 6th December 2019
2019 has seen some remarkable acquisitions.
The 1636 Gerarde’s "Herball" was a high point, as featured in our Diary mailing for November 14th below. Then in September, we were offered some very early books by and about Sir Francis Bacon. We show one of them above left from 1711. The volume was interesting for having what appeared to be a very early or contemporary Bacon pastedown (bookplate?) dedicated to the great author. We show this above centre. Then in late 2018 a 300 page black leatherbound Manuscript Book of Mathematics was uncovered, but only investigated in 2019. Signed in many places “Thomas Blackmore” with an earliest signature date of 1657. It appears to be an exercise book, compiled over several generations of pupils.
Our researches continue. All updates here when we have them.
Note to the reader: There can be many excuses for writing a Book Shop Diary, and sometimes there may even be sufficient and successful reasons...
e.g., a Publication.
However, we offer no excuses, but will give what reasons we have for committing to your screen our day to day highs and lows of a High Street Bookseller.
It's not easy.
Amazon is a predatory competitor, committed to destroying high street bookshop competition, but hopefully, Jeff Bezos (who?) will soon be going into space.
We hope you will all join us in wishing him well.
Thursday 14th of November 2019
Sunday the 27th of October 2019
Friday 8th November saw the fourth meeting of the U3A Rare Book Group (left image above). And what fun was to be had. A collection of rare Jacobean & Elizabethan Volumes were examined, including John Gerarde's "Herball" 1636 showing 2766 botanical woodcuts (above center). This copy in superb condition, ex libris Charles Sarolea (q.v.). The high point of the evening? A toast to Steve Blackey (above right)..our member in absenta, somewhere in the Australan outback! Havacracka Stevie!
And Thank You: Paul Starck, Jessica Easter, Valerie McAuley, Della Nash, Richard Malin, Joe Tesoriere, and John Marriage for all your contributions.
P.S. Gerarde's 1636 Herball sold two days later on November 10th. Am rather sad really as it was such a lovely thing.
[For a modern take on this wonderful book see: "Leaves from Gerard's Herball". Marcus Woodward. 1972. Thorsons].
One of the more unexpected aspects of running our Book Club has been the assortment of delightful characters we have met (we say met...but in reality we have not met any. It's just that through the medium of emails and feedback, we are delighted to be on Christian name terms with all of them).
The Club, now in its third year, has thrown up some unusual problems (not to speak of unusual characters).
The Club economics were predicated on a 2 kg parcel, with a £3.00 second class next day UK mailing. This allowed us an average of £27 of good books (shelf price) per mailing, leaving a small profit margin for us from the annual subscription. So far so good. But what to do for our member in the deepest Australian outback (let’s call him Steve)? Here the economics become inverted. £27 per mailing, ten week surface delivery, leaving £3.00 for the books!
The solution has proved unexpected, yet mutually gratifying all round.
In the deep recesses of most antiquarian book stores are volumes that have lain dormant for decades...clearly valuable to that someone who never arrives!
So…after thirty years with no takers, we found:
Victorian occasional books…
A 200 page disbound French farm machinery catalogue, mid nineteenth century, with our purchase date code of 1980….
A Working Man’s School Account Book from the 1890's..with handwritten Committee Minutes faithfully recorded over five years.
Past issues of Book & Magazine collector, not to mention long discarded single topic bookdealers catalogues.
All of these produced ecstatic responses..!
(One can see a business opportunity here!)
And then there is the correspondence...we quote from some verbatim below...
"Woohoo! It's THEN... AGAIN! Seriously, man, this is the best thing I've ever signed up for!" (Steve. Somewhere in the Australian outback).
“We have just returned from a 3000 mile journey to find your parcel waiting. We liked the chocolate!” (Nick & Lois).
"I recently finished 84 Charing Cross Road and loved it. It was calming and gentle. Thank you for the crisps, they were delicious!". (Freya. Aged 13).
“Off to the Galapagos next week snorkelling. What can you send...?”. (Steven).
“Your parcel was received with the same delight as the inmates of the various Stalag Luft camps would have greeted their Red Cross parcels!”. (Jeff).
“WOW! JUST WOW! How many different Odd Volumes do you have…?” (Steve).
It has all been great fun, good for the soul and, despite only just about breaking even, the returns in terms of pleasure and goodwill have been immense.
The best cure yet found for existential angst!
3rd October 2019
Westerns are steady sellers throughout the year.
So, imagine our suprise when a 90 volume Zane Grey collection was brought in recently (see above)!
Normally we might have just one or two in paperback, typically in the £2.00 to £4.00 price bracket.
So, at a 6 ft 8 inch shelf run, this is really something special.
Someone must have spent years putting this collection together.
So, it seemed only right to offer this Collection Intact on ABE.com.
1st September 2019
Rescued in the nick of time! A tea chest of Solicitor's documents.
Mid Victorian to c1900.
Land Deeds, Wills, Probate, Powers of Attorney, Rent Books, Mortgage Deeds, and letters by the hundred.
After two weeks only half way through.
Much the dross of everyday life, but then, suddenly, the Rent Book of His Lordships Castle (sic), a clutch of penny red entires (above right), the day to day Account Book of a Victorian Butchers....and so it goes on.
(And Thank You Mike Finch, for all your hard work!).
Here below is the high point of our last week, only the third such request in twenty-two years trading.
5th August 2019
Every now and again the opening inquiry by a customer catches one completely off balance.
And so it came to be this last July 29th.
"Have you any books from the Fifteenth Century?".
This is the very dawn of printing..Incunables and..Incunabula.
What heavenly fun!
What a delightful counterpoint to retailing Jeffrey Archer & Enid Blyton second-hand paperbacks.
The day passed for all, in a haze of excited talk. It will be long remembered!
July 15th 2019
A curious thing happened on Wednesday July 10th. We were returning from a late evening trip to Seaton, when, for just a few moments, the most stunning colour covered the sky in the West. By chance, we had a camera with us. Here above are the untouched images. Above center, just prior, with the Bookshop in the background. To right and left a few moments later. According to folklore, with good Met Office scientific backing, the next day would delight shepherds.
This was indeed the case and we enjoyed a glorious Thursday.
Photo credits: Sean Speer.
28th June 2019
A most remarkable WW2 photo album arrived last month.
Compiled by someone in RAF 6th Squadron and serving in the North African Campaign.
All Originals. Here we have an extensive WW2 Africa Campaign photo album stretching from 1940 to 1945. The collection comprises 260 items as follows. 1. Corner mounted in an album: 190 original B & W photos, each typically 3.5 x 4.5 inches, and 2.5 x 2.5 inches. 2. Twelve photos with detailed information on their rear. 3. 27 B & W loose small photos. 4. 28 B & W loose large photos. 5. 3 Newspaper cuttings. The physical album itself, 20 x 30 cms, is Egyptian, leather and decorated with Pyramids etc and distressed. The Newspaper cuttings relate to: (a) The statue of General Gordon in Khartoum and now in Chobham., (b) The Aircraft Carrier Indomitable., and (c) The Desert Rats and the "Marble Arch" tribute to Mussolini in Agheila. The twelve photos with information give us some clues as follows: Three relate to "Six Squadron Xmas Dinner" in 1942, 1943, and 1944, and one for 6th Squadron 30th Birthday Dinner Egypt 1944. There is then a photo medallion for 6 A.C Squadron Royal Air Force "Oculi Exercitus". There is then a 6 x 4 inch B & W Group photo (see image above left) "C.Flight at Ramleh Palestine 1940. Westland Lysanders A.C SQD". Forty men are then named on the rear (image above left taken in Ramleh). Officers seated in the front row of three rows. Behind the Group Photo (left, top center), one can just make out their Westland Lysander (a modern image of this plane is shown above right for comparison). This is by far the most informative image. The remaining five photos are as follows: "Montgomery and Eisenhower had a bet".,"A Village in the Nile South of Wadi Halja Nov 41"., "Grave of Ft/Sgt Harris Killed in action Mareth Push. March 43"., "Rome '44 Jack Horner, Bert Brazier"., "Italy April '45"., "5th Squadron Xmas Dinner 1943. On the rear eleven signatures including the cryptic line "Happy Xmas to Cpl Lunelberg" (could this be a German P.O.W?).
The 190 album photos have not been disturbed to read any possibly information on their rear.
It is clear the collection was compiled by a serviceman in RAF 6th Squadron, name unknown but possibly deducible.
In one remarkable photo a crashed aeroplane is caught moments after inpact with the aircraft carrier flight deck, the crew scrambling to escape (below left).
Our plane expert Sean Speer suggests the plane is almost definately a Fairy Swordfish (a carrier-born Torpedo Bomber, shown below right for comparison).
The collection merits further research. Weight 1.4 kg. Stock Ref: # 005470.
18th June 2019
National Geographic, formerly The National Geographic Magazine, (above left), is the official magazine of the National Geographic Society.
It has been published continuously since its first issue in 1888, nine months after the Society itself was founded.
As these wonderful magazines are often discarded, we decided some years ago to form a collection and offer them for sale at £1.00 each (back to 1960), and £2.00 each (prior to 1960). We now have well over three thousand. They are all housed in our shop basement room open to the public (see above centre) and in date order, with settees and chairs where customers can relax and browse.
Currently, our earliest issue dates from July 1949 (above left). The war years and prior are particularly difficult to locate.
Some issues are very sought after, due to their remarkable cover images and articles (click through here: above right).
They are slippery to shelve (when in their loose yellow covers we stack them horizontally).
Also, binding in hard covers (in six month runs) is expensive, and so this is one reason they are often discarded.
However, we find there is a steady interest, mainly from people searching for a particular birth date & month, to give as gifts.
Should you have any prior to 1960 and are looking for a good home for them, then please bring them in and we will make an offer.
New! Julia's University Page...
26th May 2019
A super discovery!
William Salter (1804 – 1875) Artist. An Archive.
1. Comprising an Album, gold blocked with the name “Salter” (above center).
2. A list of all the figures in the Salter painting “The Waterloo Banquet at Apsley House”.
3. A four page manuscript letter addressed to W. Salter Esq. and signed “J.P.R.”. Discussing “The Trial of Socrates” (above right).
4. A typescript of this letter. N.B. Relates to the Salter painting “The Judgement of Socrates”.
5. A ten page publication by Mr. Salter: “Il Giudizio di Socrate” in Italian, dated 1830. Firenze Tipografia All’Insegna Di Dante (above left).
6. A printed slip “Directions for the Coachman”.
7. A 16 pp booklet offering Proofs and Prints by F G Moon of “The Waterloo Banquet” at 15 guineas each.
The 21 x 25 cms album comprising 46 filled pages and a number of blanks, contains the following:
1. 48 individual contemporary newspaper cuttings relating to W Salter and various paintings of his, including the important work “The Waterloo Banquet at Apsley House”. The earliest cutting from The Times is dated May 14th 1837. The last from The Daily Telegraph is dated March 27th 1860.
2. Nineteen sepia tone original photographs of works by W Salter.
3. An original admission ticket with red wax seal “Public Dinner to William Salter, Esq. M.A.F. Dolphin Inn, Honiton. 3rd December 1838 at Four O’Clock. Signed R.B.
4. A page from The Court Journal P 416 announcing the publishing of “Important Engravings of The Waterloo Banquet at Apsley House, from a picture by William Salter”. This is contemporaneous with the first appearance of the painting as it states: “Mr Moon…has received from His Grace the Duke of Wellington the Exclusive Privilege of Being Present at the Banquet on Tuesday last, with a View to its Completion”.
We understand this archive was collected and mounted by a member of the Salter family.
14th May 2019
Last autumn we were offered the literary remains of a distant relative of R D Blackmore, author of the famous West Country novel Lorna Doone.
It eventually transpired we had an important and unique collection of R D Blackmore material.
The collection comprises nineteen R D Blackmore related volumes and a packet of c 32 documents, all from the literary remains of an A S G Blackmore, each with the bookplate "Ex Libris Alfred Stanley Gardner Blackmore". "Ad Finem Fidelis". The book collection comprises: (1) Three Lorna Doone volumes (1 - 3) then: (2) Books about R.D. Blackmore (4 - 7). then finally: (3) the collected copies of his remaining novels (8 - 19). Of particular interest is a prize copy of "Lorna Doone", awarded in the summer of 1900 to A T G Blackmore from Blundell's School , for Mathematics (n.b: R D Blackmore was educated at Blundell's). This edition bound in full tree calf gilt (see far left image below), gilt very bright. 517 pp, five raised bands, edge gilt dentelles, all edges marbled. Spine sl. sunning. A Very Good association copy. Together with a bundle of c 32 letters, detailed Blackmore family lineages (see central image below), and early newspaper clippings relating to R D Blackmore and the family of A S G Blackmore. Anyone interested in R D Blackmore can acquire this collection as one lot, but it is heavy at 10 kg with packing. Please enquire postage costs.
There is a fascinating research project here for someone.
For a complete R D Blackmore Bibliography see: Book & Magazine Collector. No. 202. Jan 2001. pp 86 - 99.
For a more detailed description, please click here...
30th April 2019
Sale! Sale! Sale!
A generous 30% sale on all books by Lighthouse Books, 65 Broad St. Lyme Regis DT7 3QF, due to the imminent retirement of our book colleague Jean Vaupres.
Jean opened his Book Room here in the Autumn of 1997 and has traded here ever since.
Books to suite all tastes (with an unusual Russian stock), and including many...
23rd April 2019
...which reminds us that the next U3A meeting of the Rare Book Group is scheduled for 7.30 pm Friday Evening the 7th of February 2020.
Membership of the U3A is a modest £12.00/pa.
If you have something of interest, please bring it along.
Contact details: email@example.com.
14th April 2019
A week of suprises!
From the dawn of aviation, a rare mahogony pre-WW1 German "Garuda" propeller has surfaced (see above). Embossed in the central hub we can read (see below): "D 250"., 50 HPS"., "GNOME"., & "RECHTS".
It measures 2.5 meters long, has "V" blades and is very heavy. We are currently investigating any history with our researcher colleague:
We understand that it was purchased at auction in the 1960's. Apart from that, we know very little.
There must be a story here, possibly relating to the pilot?
If anyone can shed any light, please contact.
More on this as it develops.
Ah-ha! April 16th update.
Richards Andrews of Aviattic (click link here) has contacted and writes as follows:
"I measured from the centre of the “hub” - where the clock face is - to a tip and the tape said 125cm - double that and you have 250cm - which is what the stamped “D 250” is referring to (see close-up below left).
50 HPS is 50 horse power. Gnome is the engine the prop is designed for. “Rechts" means “right” in German - the direction of turn. Timber looks like mahogany but was often walnut, who’s grain is very similar and combinations of the two (alternating laminates) was common in this period. German wartime propeller production eventually included ash and even pine as imported timber became difficult to source.
The “V” splaying of the blades (for centrifugal effect) is what date the design to 1912-14, a period where manufacturers where not bound by war and still able to purchase another country’s products so it is possible this prop/engine combo could have powered any number of prototypical early flyers, I found one possible 50hp Gnome powered contender in Canada! Details of which prop was used with which engine are scarce and difficult to judge.
The splintered nature of its condition suggests an accident, with the central clock perhaps signifying a memorial to it’s pilot but mere conjecture without any more info".
The story continues to amaze as it unfolds.
Richard Andrews, our air historian contributer, writes in as follows (April 18th)....
"The image above right illustrates the fate of most WW1 propellers. German machines were destroyed in France and Germany by order of the Versailles Treaty (Article 198) and here in the UK stockpiled propellers were sold off for a penny a piece for firewood, hence: (a) scarcity, and (b) the numbers of central boss (hard to saw up) mantle clocks and coat racks etc that were made as reminders of lost relatives or friends.
Some such items were sold to raise funds for care and respite homes for veterans.
The propeller blade obviously would have taken pride of place in the home of the poor lad's parents".
In an update of June 17th, Richard Andrews offers the image below as showing a Garuda propeller of exactly the same type.
Thank You Richard.
A Note to the Reader
Our new Shop Diary page seems to have struck a chord with our readership (we are currently averaging
400 readers a day).
So, we have moved the page up, next to our Home Page (mouseover the vertical green left hand Page Column on your screen).
The idea is to run an informal Sanctuary Bookshop News trial through 2019, but update it weekly.
Think of it as a sort of running commentary on day to day events in a busy high street second-hand bookshop.
This sounds possibly quite boring, but, human nature being what it is, we have found that the opposite is often the case!
Sceptical readers could try Shaun Blythell's delightful Diary of a Bookseller, where the idea has been expanded over a full year in book form.
Your commentators (below) are Julia and Bob.
Incidentally, you can always come and help run our bookshop for a day or more, should you wish. See our entry for January 22nd below.
If that is of interest then please: Click Here.
Our first thought for the main body of a shop diary, was to pick the most interesting, or the most amusing, event of each week, starting January 1st 2019, and then drop them off at the bottom of the page, after say a dozen weekly entries.
The idea here? To keep everything fresh for readers, although exceptionally, some past events have remained vividly in the mind (e.g., our entry for Jan 8th below). What we have noticed over the years though, is that customer queries and interactions can be highly informative, leading to whole new areas of book knowledge for us, so, we plan to include those as well.
Wherever possible we will provide click through links, should there be anything of interest you might wish to follow up.
Above and below, our first series of weekly trial runs.
Incidentally, should anyone be able to help, by linking us to their Social Media say, we would be most grateful.
6th April 2019
All went well yesterday Friday April 5th. We had the first get together of the U3A Rare Book Group.
Topics focussed on looking at books from the library of Lord Raglan, in particular his personal copy of Tennyson’s “Poems”. This was particularly poignant as it was Lord Raglan who gave the order for The Charge of the Light Brigade, subsequently immortalised in Tennyson’s famous poem of that name. This unique association copy was bound by Edward Moxon (image above left) and then passed by descent to Lord Raglan's Daughter in Law, Georgiana Lygon, here shown above right. Discussions then ranged across a number of other topics and settled on agreeing the next meeting on Friday June 7th. Anyone interested please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. U3A Membership is a modest £12.00 per Annum.
Further reading: “The Destruction of Lord Raglan”. A Tragedy of the Crimean War, 1854-55. Christopher Hibbert. Penguin. 1984. P.S. Our first visiting book colleague (see below), here to learn the running of a High Street Bookshop, has now returned to New York after a most enjoyable week long stay.
28th March 2019
What a week! Packed with drama. Who should be browsing in the shop on Saturday 23rd, but none other than John le Carre (image far right). Then, on the same day, our first trainee bookshop enthusiast Juana Abreu flew in from New York (above centre). This is working out very well and we hope the beginning of many more Cooperative Ventures of this kind. On Wednesday patience was rewarded with an exceptional trouvaille, an all original 1652 full leather copy of Thomas Cranmer's "Certain Sermons or Homilies", but, in the 50p box of a local supermarket book exchange!
Not something one would necessarily choose for light reading, but brilliantly anti-catholic and an amazing survivor none the less.
Cranmer himself did not survive and was burnt at the stake for heresy, on March 25th 1556, just 463 years ago.
The Mary Anning filming opposite continues apace (left) and then ends today (March 28th). More on this as it develops.
18th March 2019
Filming continues opposite apace on the Mary Anning movie Ammonite. The next filming session being March 21st through to March 28th. Books continue to pour in, for which we are very grateful, but, as always, storage is the main problem. We are now half way through transcribing the c1800 Indian Recipe Manuscript (see March 4th entry). It's a laborious business, as many key words are either local Indian patois, or hidden behind an unusual handwriting. If you look closely at the images above..on the right the receipt for "Oyster Patties", on the left "A receipt for small Drop Cakes" ("Receipt" here is the early Victorian word for Recipe). We have discovered one particularly fascinating entry...how to to provide a substantial main meal for a working man for 2p..! About six of the 360 recipes we intend to try, as they look unlike anything seen before. More on this later.
11th March 2019
(Update: Current Filming in Lyme concluded: Thursday March 28th).
No shortage of things to report this week! In fact, the town is abuzz as filming has started on the palaeontologist Mary Anning feature film Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan (see above center). This is just 50 meters from our shop, opposite, on Bell Cliff, see images above. A team of carpenters has transformed the area into an early-Victorian village scene, gathering much interest from the locals. The Storyline goes as follows:
"1840s England, a famous fossil hunter and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever". Update: Filming Dates are now given as: March: 11th, 12th, 13th, 21st, 22nd, 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th. When filming started on the 13th, a crowd of onlookers rapidly formed outside our shop on 65 Broad St (see below).
4th March 2019
Last November we were asked to clear a large country house library at very short notice. This always creates a difficulty, as it takes time to appraise a large collection containing possibly valuable books, and without being able to go through them carefully. Anyway, a sum was mutually agreed and some ten boxes of books graced our storeroom until this week, when the job of sorting and collating was finally finished. It's a curious thing, but we have often found that for some arcane reason, the most interesting items surface at the end. And so it was in this case. A very early manuscript Recipe Book..but with a difference (see below). Here we had some 194 pages containing 360 recipes, but from all the signs and clues, compiled between 1800 and 1850 in Colonial India, when the British East India Company was at the height of its powers. The item had clearly been treasured, as it had been rebound around 1900 and then passed down through at least three generations. What particularly caught our eye was the fact that the original writer was clearly colonial English...but the majority of the measurements of ingredients she used were in unfamiliar Local Indian Units (...such as "Chittucks" & "Tolaks"). There is the basis for an interesting publication of an historic document here, and that is our current plan. More on this project later, as the research and manuscript transcription struggles, word by word, with a particularly difficult early handwriting....