riverrun - Christopher P. Stephens

     Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.
Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world.   He is an expert bookman. 
     Chris Stephens owns and operates the two riverrun bookshops on a steep street just north of New York City.
Most of the inventory at riverrun comes from the houses of readers and collectors.   If you're ready to let go of your books, call Chris at riverrun bookshop.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Jack London Writes Out Some Thoughts

a few quotes from the letter:

"But I am learning, slowly.  The great difficulty is to get the proper co-ordination of the various parts so essential to good photography..."
"Of course I like beautiful things..."
"...the aesthetic should simply be ...one of the many things for  the raising of the human."

That last paragraph pulls at the heart.  So many great things to do - such limited time.  Jack London died in 1916 at the age of 40.  Look at that handwritten last line.

"Only a little while and I am not."

Sunday, August 23, 2015

More Detective Tales

All 12.  Each 2.75 x 4.25 inches, 64 excitement filled pages.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Detective Tales

Midway in the Golden Age of Pulp Magazines, Detective Tales put out 12 tiny book supplements to the magazine.  These books were only 2¾ x 4¼ inches, printed on poor paper, and bound with double staples.  

So flimsy, they were as ephemeral as butterfly wings.  How could a full dozen have lasted through more than 90 years and found their way to riverrrun?  Perhaps it was the tough guy writing that kept them intact.

Each little book has a dramatically illustrated cover and contains a hot-action novelette or condensed novel.  Each is 64 thin pages of text with slightly heavier covers.  Just holding one of these gems brings you back in time.  They were published 1922 - 1924.  Prohibition.  Rampant crime.  Women gone mad with suffrage, smoking on street corners and whatnot.  Corruption.  Betrayal.  Homicide.  Irresistible reading pleasure!

The tiny book supplements to Detective Tales were published by Rural Publishing Company, founded by Jacob Clark Henneberg and J.M. Lansinger.  Rural published other pulp magazines as well, including the more enduring Weird Tales.  When the publishing company hit difficulties, the founding partners divided assets.  Lansinger kept Detective Tales and retained Edwin Baird as editor.  The magazine went through several name changes, but didn’t print little book supplements after 1924.

It is not only the action packed covers and swiftly moving stories that bring you right into the pulp world.  The advertisements do too.  Each little book has the same three ads.  On the inside front cover, you are invited - urged - to attend the University of Applied Sciences in Chicago to learn the skills for the fast-expanding field of the fingerprint expert.  As the ad says, it’s an uncrowded field and a wonderful opportunity.

On the back cover a 21 jewel Burlington watch beckons.  You can get this watch, plus a free book about watches, for only $1 down and an unspecified monthly payment for an unspecified number of months.

Sure.  Anyone would like a great fingerprinting career and who wouldn’t want a  classy 21 jewel watch?  My favorite advertisement, though, is on the inside back cover.  This ad explains that science has uncovered the secrets of Enrico Caruso’s beautiful singing voice.  For a fee, and no matter what your natural voice sounds like now, Prof. Feuchtinger of the Perfect Voice Institute can train you to sing like Caruso.

I’m sold.  These little books pack lots and lots of fast action, new career possibilities, a splendid watch, and a velvet Caruso-like singing voice. 


related links:
Interesting article featuring Vincent Starret, Edwin Baird, & Sherlock Holmes - brief mention of Detective Tales and subsequent iterations of the magazine

pulp magazine notes - includes an entry for Detective Tales

fascinating history of the long-lived and much sought after magazine, Weird Tales, which was also a Rural Publications magazine and also first edited by Edwin Baird

Pulp Magazine Project: “The Project is dedicated to fostering ties between communities of collectors, fans, and academics devoted to pulp magazines, and will offer opportunities for research and collaboration to both scholars and enthusiasts alike. “

google books: Caruso

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Lipchitz at the Library

Jacques Lipchitz sculpture in front of the Hastings on Hudson Public Library - photo 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"Local" Sculptors: Lipchitz and Zazel

Lipchitz was born in Lithuania in the last decade of the 19th century.  He lived in Lithuania until he was 18 and then he moved to Paris to study art.
Paris was the center of exciting art and now-legendary artists at that time.  Lipchitz flourished.  Considered the first Cubist sculptor, he broke new ground and met with much success.
World War ll brought great danger to Lipchitz.  He escaped to America in 1941.
After the war, Lipchitz settled in America – in the lovely river town, Hastings on Hudson, New York.
riverrun bookshop settled in the same lovely river town 30 years later.  Lipchitz died in 1973, 5 years before riverrun, but the store’s original founder, Frank Scioscia, did live in Hastings on Hudson at the same time as Jacques Lipchitz did.  I don’t think they knew one another. No doubt, however, they both admired the same majestic palisades towering over the Hudson River and both liked the same comfortable streets in town.
By this time Lipchitz was spending months of each year working in his studio in Italy. I’ve heard a story – possibly true – that the village trustees mistook his long studio trips for a permanent move away from Hastings on Hudson.  The sculptor was a village treasure. The trustees tried to purchase one of his sculptures for the town to commemorate his long-time residence here.  According to the story, Lipchitz laughed, assured the trustees that he and his wife had no intention of moving, and GAVE a large sculpture to the village.
However it happened, Hastings on Hudson does have an impressive Lipchitz sculpture mounted in the prominent grassy space by the town library and courthouse.
The artist himself died in Italy and is buried in Jerusalem, but part of him presides over the village from the hill by the library.  You can see that sculpture on your walk to riverrun.  Or, in case you are too far to stroll over to riverrun, I will post a photo shortly.  As well as the little I know of Zazel.

A lengthy and fascinating article about Lipchitz, his art, his life, and his religion.  There is a sense  of immediacy in this article that makes the reader feel privy to inside knowledge:

Tate Gallery artist biography:

art directory biography:

searchable interview plus photos of work:


Thursday, July 4, 2013

John Hancock and the Declaration of Independence


John Hancock put the most famous signature to the Declaration of Independence even though he was not the most famous signer.  His signature made its way into riverrun en route to The University of Texas. 
The document was an appointment, of someone name Robbins, to military office.  Hancock signed in his capacity as governor of Massachusetts. With awe, I scanned the document.
The Hancock signature is large and bold.  He signed the Declaration of Independence as the president of the Continental Congress.  The confidence expressed in that signature lent additional authority the Declaration that we celebrate today.

But isn’t it interesting that we have selected that document, that event, to mark the beginning of our country?
Lots of revolutionary activity went on beforehand.  The Committees of Correspondence were established well before 1776.  The Boston Tea Party took place in 1773 and the First Continental Congress met in 1774.  Those key early battles at Lexington & Concord were fought in 1775 and so was the Battle of Bunker Hill.
The Green Mountain Boys captured Fort Ticonderoga and valuable cannons and the Second Continental Congress sent “The Olive Branch Petition” to King George lll all before the Declaration of Independence was issued.

If I were writing the history books, I wouldn’t date the beginning of the USA to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  I would date it neither from the restive disturbances and outright battles of the early 1770s nor from any of the many battles of the Revolutionary War, not even the one at Yorktown in 1781 when General Cornwallis surrendered.
For myself, I select the 1787 summer of the Constitutional Convention as the birth of the United States of America.  My USA is 230 years old this summer.  Not everyone would agree, but I have my reasons. Nevertheless, I am perfectly happy to celebrate on this day that others have chosen.
Actually, I am impressed with my fellow Americans in selecting the publication of our Declaration of Independence as the most significant moment in the birth legend of our country. 

It is with the glory of oratory, not of battle, that we choose to date our beginning.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Helen Keller

Two incredibly talented women, Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan, somehow wove communication out of some other warp than sight; some other weft than hearing.

Keller was “trebly defective”: blind, deaf, and mute.  Sullivan also faced triple obstacles: partially blind, mistreated in childhood, and parentless young. How did they manage to overcome such formidable hardships?  It couldn’t have been done with only one incredibly talented person.  Both had to be remarkable.  Both were.

Helen Keller went on to live a generous life of helping others, especially children.  She campaigned for better treatment of people with physical disabilities.  This letter, which found its way into riverrun, is of another one of her areas of interest.

The civil war in Spain, just like any war anywhere, left children without family, without country.

The sentiment in the letter is well expressed.  It is the careful signature at the bottom, though, that is so very poignant and so very admirable.  

A 1930 newsreel with Keller and Sullivan demonstrating how Keller learned talking from Sullivan.  Fascinating.

very moving newsreel of Helen Keller speaking to disabled youngsters in Australia

American Foundation for the Blind includes a biography and photos of Helen Keller
AFB bio & photos of Ann Sullivan

Article about Basque child refugees in UK

Spanish Civil War: Refugees

autobiographies of Spanish child refugees in a Quaker Home in France