Apponinaire CalligrammesNovember 2018, will mark the Centennial Anniversary of the end of the Great War. In April, 1918, French poet, writer, critic and theoretician of art, Guillaume Apollinaire, published his work subtitled “Poems of Peace and War 1913-1916” under the title Calligrammes. This collection of poems is very special and unique for a number of reasons:

First, the composition of the poems was inspired by events that took place during World War I, including the poet’s war injury, in 1916. The complete work was dedicated to his friend and fellow writer, René Dalize, who died on May 7, 1917, in battle, at Chemin des Dames.

Second, the composition of the poems included calligrams: – text visually arranged in a way that forms an image associated with the text’s contents and is enhanced through the use of handwriting. Apollinaire, influenced by figurative poems from Greek Antiquity and the Renaissance, wrote what he called “lyrical ideograms” before inventing the word “calligramme.” In those days, publication of his manuscripts was made possible through the use of “cliché”, a typography method that allowed reproduction in large numbers with the use of metal plates bearing the imprint of the calligrams.


Calligrammes by ApollinaireAnd thirdly, each verse, stanza, sonnet, and rondeau had a specific typeface or lapidary arrangement of words on the page, which added to the meaning of the compositions. There were no free verses left isolated, without association to the totality of the work. Multiple artistic compositions united into a poetic expression.

The first edition of the Calligrammes, was published on April 15, 1918, in Paris, by G. Roy for Mercure de France, in paperback form to an unspecified print quantity. It had 205 pages, and a portrait of the author by Pablo Picasso, engraved on wood by R. Jaudon. A second edition was published shortly after Apollinaire’s death, in November 1918, the same month that World War I came to an end. The limited availability of the first edition trades for €1500 – €2000.

The collection is composed of six parts: “Ondes”, “Étendards”, “Case d’armons”, “Lueurs des tirs”, “Obus couleur de lune” and “La tête étoilée”. The order of the poems in the collection evolved throughout the period of creation of the work. Reading of a calligram is like a balancing act: first we see a drawing, like a painting, and then we proceed to read it without any indication of where to begin. The capital letters seem like the start of a verse, but then, which direction does one follow? The image seems to match the translation of the text, and apparently there is no reading rule, from left to right, or from top to bottom. Apollinaire provided the tracks; the reader seeks the meaningful interpretation.

Apollinaire poem


Gentle stabbed faces
Dear floral lips MIA MAREYE YETE LORIE ANNIE and you MARIE where are you, young girls?
BUT near a fountain that cries and prays this dove is in rapture
All memories of the past
O my friends gone to war
Gush towards the sky
And your glances in the water
Die feeling melancholy
Where are Braque and Max Jacob
Memories my soul is full of
Derain with gray eyes as dawn
Where are Raynal Billy Dalize
Whose names are melancholy
Like steps in a church
Where is Cremnitz who pledged
Maybe they are dead already
Memories my soul is full of
The spurt of water cries over my pain
Those who went north to war are fighting now
The dusk falls oh bloody sea
Gardens where profusely bleeds the rose laurel, warrior flower


Greatly influenced by Cubism and Futurism, and by Gide and Albert Thibaudet, Apollinaire, abandoned normal typographical conventions, and viewed the page as a canvas on which he drew with letters, arousing the visual imagination. British poet, literary critic, biographer and astrologer, Martin Roger Seymour-Smith, in his 1998 book, The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written: The History of Thought from Ancient Times to Today, wrote of Apollinaire’s Calligrammes: “In the erotic poems, describing the simultaneity of battle action and sexual desire, he displays an insight into the nature of male sexual desire perhaps unique in twentieth-century poetry…”



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Toys for the collector

by Admin on November 28, 2017

mcloughlin1More than 100 years before the invention of educational gaming software, there were “novel and game,” educational board games which came complete with game pieces and instruction booklets, and were often accompanied by the novels which provided the basis of such creations.  Educational resources that combine gaming and education into one can be very effective tools in motivating children to learn. A number of small-scale presses are targeting educators’ curricula which combine learning with fun activities. These presses have been republishing old picture books, by repurposing antiquated texts.

In the United States, before companies such as Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley popularized board games, publishers such as Elton & Co., (active 1840-1851), and McLoughlin Bros.,(active 1858-1920), printed and issued toy books, comic almanacs, valentines, cheap chapbooks, large folio picture books, linen books, puzzles, games, mechanical paper toys and paper dolls. The New York publishing firm,  McLoughlin ,employed illustrators such as Thomas Nast, William Momberger, Justin H. Howard, Charles Howard, Palmer Cox, and Ida Waugh to pioneer the systematic use of color printing technologies in children’s books and games. They also integrated religious topics into their products in an attempt to teach children proper behavior and religious beliefs.  John McLoughlin, Jr.’s death in 1905 caused the firm to suffer from the loss of his artistic and commercial leadership and in 1920, McLoughlin Bros., Inc. was sold to Milton Bradley. The Brooklyn factory was closed, and game production ceased.

The McLoughlin line of children’s books was sold to Grosset & Dunlap in June 1954. Since that date, several books bearing the McLoughlin Bros. imprint were issued, but the name dropped out of print by the 1970s. Since 1970, McLoughlin products have enjoyed great popularity with collectors, and their visibility continues through displays at book fairs and in catalogs, like New York book dealer Justin Schiller’s Catalogue 35 (1978), devoted to the McLoughlin wood engraving blocks.1

The McLoughlin book and game combinations set the standard in gorgeous artwork. Their games featured beautiful chromolithographs, lithographic box covers, hand-spinner and playing boards, beautifully designed, during an era lacking modern innovations. Today, they are quite scarce, especially the ones in good condition. Games were made to be played primarily by children whose enthusiastic hands would often be the cause of severe deterioration to the attractive condition of the original. The limited, surviving copies usually come in below average condition, with leaves or pieces missing, loose joints, tape repairs, and  re-glued with scribble marks or stains. As a result, the fewer in better condition are sought by the serious collectors, and are rarely a bargain.

The Game of Bulls and Bears

One of the most popular, (and highly collectible games, today) , is The Game of Bulls and Bears – The Great Wall Street Game. The Game of Bulls and Bears was introduced by McLoughlin Brothers in 1883, and was based on the financial panic that occurred 10 years earlier. On the corners of the board, are caricatures of ultra-rich railroad magnates William Henry Vanderbilt and Jay Gould, along with notable successful investor Cyrus W. Field. The complete game in good condition trades for over $25,000.

Round the World with Nellie Bly

One of the most popular games, again by McLoughlin, is Round the World with Nellie Bly, released in 1890. The vibrant chromolithographed board game, featured the 72-day around the world trip, completed by 25-year-old Elizabeth Cochrane ,(also known as Nellie Bly), in 1889. Inspired by Phileas Fogg, the hero of Jules Verne’s 1873 novel, Around the World in Eighty Days, feminist reporter Bly, traveled alone from Hoboken, New Jersey to London, made her way across Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and raced back to New York via train to complete her circumnavigation in 72 days, a world record. This particular collectible can be found trading for around $500, because it is a lot more common than its 1883 counterpart.


1 Laura Wasowicz, Curator of Childrens’ Literature



Introducing the Rare Book Sale Monitor – Artist Breakdown

October 27, 2017
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The Rare Book Sale Monitor has given collectors new ways to structure their search for new additions to their collections using market trend indicators. Our view is that genre and author strategies can complement one another, and, that additional breakdowns can improve visibility and help structure collections to produce the desired results. In the case […]

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Feminist author led women’s movement with works in multiple genres

September 30, 2017
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Charlotte Perkins Gilman, (also known as Charlotte Perkins Stetson), was born in New England, in 1860; a descendant of the prominent and influential Beecher family. Her mother, Mary Fitch Westcott, had married a second cousin, the well-known librarian and bibliophile, Frederic Beecher Perkins, grandson of Lyman Beecher, nephew of Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher […]

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Highsmith, Hitchcock and Homosexuality

August 28, 2017
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There is no doubt that 20th-century genre novels which inspire unforgettable film productions, are on collectors’ target lists. And there is no better group of novelists that continue to inspire an endless procession of films than the ones that include Stephen King, J.G. Ballard, Phillip K. Dick, Elmore Leonard, and of course, the ringer of […]

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Rare Book Sale Monitor update – 2nd Quarter, 2017

August 11, 2017
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Factsheet: Rare Books as an alternative investment: Tangible assets, such as Rare Books, are by nature, illiquid. Collectible books of interest have shown value appreciation over the years. Many more collectible books of less interest have not appreciated or have declined in value. Supply outstrips demand for all but the rarest books. Tangible alternative investments […]

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The High Price of Baskett’s Mistake

June 8, 2017
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In 1709, John Baskett, purchased the exclusive, royal patent to print Bibles in England. His edition of the Bible is also his most important work and is described by Darlow/Moule as: “A magnificent edition, printed in large type. With many plates at the beginning and end of books, engraved on steel from the designs of […]

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I am a pre-1950 Pocket Book with Leo Manso cover art, paperback collector

May 17, 2017
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  During a recent visit to Provincetown MA, I had the opportunity to spend some time at the Julie Heller Gallery.  Provincetown’s rich heritage as an art colony was quite unexplored by me, up until I took this walk through the gallery’s walls filled end to end with striking treasures of artists who helped develop […]

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Rare Book Sale Monitor update – 1st Quarter, 2017

April 24, 2017
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Rare book sales in the first quarter of every year are usually kept in balance by a slow auction season start on one hand, with two major book fairs on the other. The California International Antiquarian Book Fair, which takes place in February, is the world’s largest, both in terms of attendance and dealer participation.  […]

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Interview with Laurent Ferri

March 21, 2017
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We recently had the opportunity to speak with Laurent Ferri, Curator of the pre-1800 Collections Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, at Cornell University. RBD: Within the scope of your definition of a book [“a closed/bound container of ideas and symbols which reflects and supports the intentions and worldview of its “author(s)”], what are some […]

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