By Greg Gibson
It was a beautiful morning, one of the last fine days of the summer, with trees just beginning to turn the corner toward the explosion of colors that precede winter's monotone. But instead of going into the woods, where I know the swamp maples along the brook are already flashing their pinks and deeper reds, I got in my car and drove to Paper Town.
That's what promoters John and Tina Bruno call it, anyway.
Actually, it's nothing more than a large conference room in a former Radisson (I think) Hotel, now repurposed as a slightly seedy, past-its-prime Holiday Inn. Which is, of course, a perfect setting for the paper dealers within.
The Brunos claim this is "The Only Show of it's kind in New England, featuring everything and anything On or Of Paper!" That claim conveniently fails to consider the Papermania shows held twice a year in Hartford, CT, or the Ephemera Society's annual show, which they themselves promote. But, to give them their due, there is nothing quite like the Paper Town experience.
The close aisles and the low lit overhead give this venue a feeling of concentration lacking in Hartford, and this makes the vast range of material on display – from junky paper to rare manuscripts and documents – much more evident.
Not that I am denigrating any of it. That range is necessary for a healthy show, for it is from those heaps of "junky paper" that the "rare manuscripts" are sometimes plucked. Indeed, what could be more fun, on an Indian Summer morning, than sorting through mounds of paper in search of rare finds?
Walking in the woods, that's what.
I shouldn't be complaining, though; I found a few neat things in Paper Town (see below). And it's always fun jawing with my colleagues. Shopping these shows is an exercise in intense scouting combined with social interaction of the "How's the wife and kids?" variety. It is, for me, a pleasant mix.
So hats off to the Brunos. Despite some recent misadventures (see my Bookman's Log entry of June 16 for an account of the Philly fiasco) and their continued inability to spell Flamingo Eventz correctly, they have managed to survive in a business that has become increasingly difficult. They've kept Paper Town from going the way of the New Hampshire Book Fair (another event that used to take place about this time of year – cancelled for lack of interest) by offering $50 tables, and by getting the word out. The fellow in line ahead of me told John Bruno that he clipped his ticket for the show from their ad in the Lowell Sun.
Paper Town may never be more than a sleepy little village, but it's just about perfect for this time of year.
Anon. Francis and Mary. The dangers of the deep; or, Interesting narratives of shipwrecks & disasters at sea.
With large coloured plates. Isleworth: O. Hodgson, (1825). 16mo. 16 pp. Folding hand colored plate. This is the sort of thing that makes a bookseller's heart sing. It is a rare pamphlet containing accounts of the shipwrecks of the "Francis and Mary" of St. Johns, New Brunswick, and the Dutch East Indiaman "Vryheid" off the English coast. Here's what Huntress, writing about another version of the account, has to say about the"Francis and Mary" after she was wrecked. "The people on board were able to get some provisions and water from below decks, but still suffered greatly from hunger and thirst... On February 22 John Wilson, a seaman, died; he was cut up and eaten by the survivors, and the same horrid pattern was followed with a half-dozen others. James Frier, cook, was engaged to Ann Saunders, a passenger. When he died his fiancee, who was among the strongest of those who lived, 'shrieked a loud yell, then snatching a cup from Clerk, the mate, cut her late intended husband's throat and drank his blood! insisting that she had the greatest right to it.'" - Huntress 234C. The folding color plate shows Ann Saunders, knife in hand and flashing generous cleavage, slitting her fiancee's throat. Great stuff! Rare. Not in Huntress. Worldcat shows only one library holding a copy of this pamphlet. Original printed wrappers bound in half polished calf over marbled boards. With the bookplate of Eugene Field and his dated signature on the front blank. $750
Manuscript. "A Journal of a Voyage from Boston to Batavia (Island of Java and Indias) Latitude 6' 10"S and Longitude 106' 51" west, in the shipo Juno, Steven Williams Master. Kept by William L. Forbes." December, 1815 - March 1817.
Folio, unpaginated. About 100 pages of manuscript entries. In an unusually legible and correct hand, Forbes keeps track of sail handling, weather, vessels spoken, land marks sighted, and events on board. The "Juno" rounded the Horn without too much difficulty about 60 days out then had a good run through the central Pacific. Such notations as, "all possible sails set" are frequent. They arrived at Batavia April 20, 1816, after 113 days at sea. The delicate navigatgion into port is recorded in detail. There they took on food and water, discharged ballast, and tended to sails and rigging. A number of the crew got sick from an unspecified disease, and some were sent to a hospital onshore where at least one man, Peter Thompson, died. On May 13, "John Brown put in irons for mutiny." On June 26, "Perkins departed this life at midnight in the hospital." They took on a varied cargo of hides, cordage, tin, arrack, coffee, and sugar. Periodically they sent money ashore, as noted on May 25, "sent on shore 5 Boxes of Dollars." Finally, on July 18, "Capt Williams came on board to proceed to sea." On the return to Holland they developed a serious leak but again were favored by good weather. On November 5th, after another death at sea, they reached Texel, Holland. They got underway for New Orleans on January 28, 1817 and arrived March 18. I cannot find a William L. in the familes trees of Robert Bennet and John Murray Forbes, but he seems to have been an educated man. Lloyds "Register of Shipping" shows a 220 American ship of this name operating in 1815. Clean and legible, bound in handsome sailcloth covers. $1250
Posted on Bookman’s Log, presented here by permission oft he author. Picture: Bookmans Log)