Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bookplates and Hiram E. Deats

Hiram Edmund Deats (1870-1963) was an important figure in both the philatelic world and the library world which makes him of special interest to a collector of postal librariana. I wrote a previous post about Deats on March 12, 2011. This post is prompted by my acquisition of two artifacts that relate to the interest of Deats in bookplates. The first is his personal bookplate (on the left). The bookplate was designed by Edmund Henry Garrett. The bookplate shows the Greek deity Hermes bowing before four women representing four continents. On the lower right of the bookplate is a group of books including a stamp album. A copy of the bookplate is included in the collection of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.  [Note: This bookplate also exists in a reddish color. Deats had at least three other personal bookplates at various times in his life.] The second artifact (see below) is a postal card mailed from Plymouth, England to Deats at his home in Flemington, NJ on July 20, 1893. The postal card was mailed by W. H. K. Wright, Secretary of the Ex Libris Society in London, England (which became defunct in 1908) and Editor of the Journal of the Ex Libris Society. Wright covers two topics in his message on the postal card to Deats. The first topic relates to the book Ex Libris Imaginaire which he has purchased for Deats from its author L. Joly of Paris, France. The second topic concerns a lot of 1800 bookplate examples which Wright has sent to Deats in "three packets securely fastened and sealed".  Wright refers to this lot of bookplates as the "last lot" which indicates that previous lots had been sent. I came across an entry in WorldCat for a publication authored by Deats titled The collection of American and foreign bookplates of H. E. Deats ...sold 1909. A microfilm copy is located in the New York Public Library. More about the philatelic and library connections of Hiram E. Deats can be found in this article in the American Philatelist.   I also have a page on the Library History Buff website with more information about Deats.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Whole Library Handbook 5

The American Library Association (ALA Editions) has just published The Whole Library Handbook 5 edited by George M. Eberhart. Like its four predecessors this encyclopedia of library information contains an unbelievable amount of useful and interesting information about libraries and librarianship. I highly recommend it. As a library history buff and collector of librariana, I am especially appreciative of the many items in the handbook that relate to library history. Not to mention an entire section on "Librariana". It, of course, also includes up to date information on library statistics, technology, and dozens of other topics. The handbook would make an excellent text for an introduction to librarianship course in library schools. The handbook can be used as a reference source for all kinds of elusive information about libraries, but it can also just be read as an entertaining overview of our library profession. The material contained in this edition according to Eberhart is 98 percent new or substantially revised from previous editions. I have all of the previus editions and continue to find them very useful. The first edition contains Eberhart's article on "Biblio-philately" which had a life changing impact on me. It was the stimulus for my becoming a collector of postal librariana which led in turn to my becoming a library history buff and ardent promoter of library history. I was pleased that my article "Bibliophilately revisited" was included in the third edition of the handbook. I also have an article on postal librariana in the fourth edition. In each edition, Eberhart has invited a collector of library postcards to pick out their ten favorite library postcards. I was honored to be asked to take on this task for the fifth edition. The Whole Library Handbook 5 has two "Web Extras".  One is a list of 100 great libraries of the world and the other is a compilation of libraries and librarians in film and TV

Monday, May 13, 2013

ALA WWI Poster on a Postcard

Enlarged detail from postcard
One of the most impressive World War I posters is one that promotes the American Library Association's participation in the United War Work Campaign which took place the week of November 11, 1918. The poster was designed by the prominent illustrator John E. Sheridan. I'm fortunate to own one of the posters which is shown below. Recently I came across a Real Photo Postcard (shown above) which included one of the posters being used for what it was intended - helping to raise money for books for soldiers and sailors. The postcard appears to show some kind of rally or parade. The most prominent aspect of the postcard is the depiction of of a man in uniform on a donkey. I surmise that it was intended to ridicule German soldiers. There are a number of young boys around the man on the donkey who appear to be amused. Even though the United War Work Campaign opened on the same date of the Allied victory it was still a huge success. The goal was to raise a total of $170 million and it raised $35 million more than that. ALA received $3.8 million as its share.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Reserve Book Notice Sells for $54,625

During World War I the cost of sending a government issued postal card in the U.S. was increased from one cent to two cents to help pay for the war effort. After the war the cost was lowered back to one cent. During the war the two cent Grant postal card which was intended for international mail destinations was frequently used for domestic mail. The postmaster of Long Beach, CA wrongly overprinted the Grant international postal cards at the reduced one cent rate for domestic mail after the war. He inadvertently created a philatelic rarity. Only three to four of these miss-marked cards are known to exist. Two of those were mailed by the Long Beach Public Library in 1921to notify patrons that reserve books were waiting for them.  At a philatelic auction conducted by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries on March 21 in New York one of the Long Beach Public Library reserve book notices sold for $54,625. A preliminary value for the postal card was set at $100,000 by Siegel which means that the buyer got a real bargain. I previously wrote about these rare postal cards in a post on January 30, 2011. In that post I reported on the second of the two Long Beach Public Library postal cards which sold for $95,000 in 2010. In that post I also noted that I actually had the chance to buy one of the postal cards for $30,000.  I still don't understand why my wife wouldn't let me do it. The auction catalog for the Siegel auction on March 21, 2013 can be found HERE (large pdf file). The listing for the for the Long Beach Public Library postal card in on page 72.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Postal Items from a German WWII POW Camp

Woldenberg Oflag IIC was a German World War II prisoner of war camp for Polish officers. The Articles of the Geneva Convention entitled POWs to the right of self-government which led to the development of postal services and library services in some POW camps including Woldenberg. As part of the postal services at Woldenberg, the prisoners developed their own postage stamps and postmarks. A special postmark (shown above) was designed for DNI KSIAZKI or Book Week which took place August 29 to September 4, 1943 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the printing of the first Polish book.  An exhibit at the camp library was also organized by the the Council for the Camp's Library for Cultural Instructions to celebrate the occasion.  The postmark and stamp above are on part of an envelope given to me by friend and fellow bibliophilatelist Jerzy Duda of Krakow Poland. It was Jerzy who also made me aware of the story behind the items on the envelope. Roman Sobus is an expert on the postal history of Woldenberg Oflag IIC and has developed a philatelic exhibit on this topic. Ironically,
as Sobus points out in the
introduction to his exhibit, the postage stamps and special postmarks that were created by the Polish prisoners of war "are most often of a strong cultural or religious nature, depicting events or persons from Poland's history, and its battles for independence, a fact seemingly lost on the prisoners' captors." I also have in my collection a postal card sent by the camp library to one of the prisoners (shown below). For more on these and other similar postal items click here.