Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Holiday Season


We were fortunate to spend the Christmas weekend in NYC with the Brooklyn branch of the family, staying at the sister's Central Park West apartment while she was staying in her Colorado home. (sounds so much bigger than it really is, we are, after all, humble folk)

While on a bit of free time, we went to the McNally Jackson Bookstore, and went right to the M section. It reminds us of the beauty of the printed book. The cover art, the binding, the feel of the page, the diversity of the editions, all are value added by the publishers. Some might question the worth of these endeavors, but not those folks whose livelyhood derives from this work. It may seem a small thing, but generations to come will be able to hold in their hands this work. 

Have a happy Holiday from TMDC!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Presentation at Emma Willard School

Last night we spent an hour at Emma Willard School, with a display of some of the collections highlights.

After a short talk, (below) the students in a question and answer period asked fabulous questions... truly a motivated and intelligent bunch.

"Have you read all the foreign language books?" one young lady asked. "Ha, no, sadly I can't read them. Like who reads Icelandic?"  The whole place erupted in laughter since the joke was on me, the young lady proved to be Icelandic. How utterly ironic.

Thanks to all involved for putting together this evening, it was an exciting and fun time!

Text of the talk:

“I write my name in books”

The Moby Dick Collection

Moby Dick was first published in 1851. There were perhaps 4 printings in the 1800’s. During  the 20th centurary there have been hundreds and hundreds.  I set out to collect them all.

My first copy was my boarding school copy. I was assigned to be read it in junior english lit. I didn’t read it. What are you nuts. It was ridiculously long, there was a lot of other work to be done and I didn’t have time to read the book, plus absolutly everyone said it was boring.

However, after graduating I kept all my books from school. Dragged them all over the place. And IN 1986 at the age of 36 I decided that was the year to read all those books I was supposed to read and didn’t. I read Jude the obscure, catcher in the rye etc.

That summer a business trip took me to Japan so I grabbed Moby Dick on the way out of the door to the cab.  The flight was like 20 hours so I read it on the plane,  found it very funny, amusing, Melville had the driest of sense of humor.  Some of that shows in Bartlby.

In  albany,  there was for many years a neat used book store around the corner. So I would buy my books there.   At some point I bought an illustrated moby. that gave me 2 copies… eventually I bought a sweet old leather bound one. And then one that was heavily underlined and read hard. I bought that.  Soon I had seven or eight different ones.

My son finally noticed my book shelf of MD s and asked me why I had so many and I said because I can….

It was then that I recognized that this was a collection, and I asked myself why don’t I see how many there are and how many can I buy.

Thru the internet I found that there were editions in foreign languages. I bought one, then two then

Many many

My only regret at this point is that I did not buy the Braile copy. Some day I will.

Soon an obsession was born.   I admit its weird … odd … unusual… I am unaware of any one else collecting just the same book in all the different printings, paper back hard cover. Forieghn language.

Often I am asked: isnt it all the same words? 

There are copies from every decade of the 1900’s there are about 200 different copies, there are  copies in Italian, chinese, japanese, icelandic, lituatian, dutch, german, spanish, french, check, and russian.

Some are illustrated some are not.

These are interesting to see how the illustrator chooses to depict Ahab, or Queguee.

The used ones are very interesting when there is underlining and notations. They gernerally are school copies.   You can see exactlay where the reader stopped reading. Sometimes you can find out what school they went to

They signed the inside cover and often put their put a dorm room under their name.  Google searching the dorm always brings up the school, cross referencing the alumni function you can find out what year and some times who the english prof was.  Sometimes the google search brings up the reader himself…. You find out where they are or what they did for a career. . . All because they wrote their name and dorm on the inside cover.

Now I have a collection of books that is unique.   You cant do this with a kindle…
The kindle is an electronic device assembled by machines,  that by its nature of impending obsolesence longs for the land fill, in a single object it can hold hundreds of books, that have a half life of just years, while a book is the product of hundreds of skilled craftspeople in addition to the author, the illustrator, the printer, the binder….  In its being it longs to be held by generations of readers who appreciate the combined efforts of that production team.

Bartleby is a story about free will.  Bartleyby exercises his free will by “perfering not to.” A negative free will.

I prefered not to read Moby Dick when it was assigned, what the conscquenses of that decesioin at the time were, must have been minor, I don’t remember.    But decades later that decision not to read the book turned around and I decided read it then.   And from that came a decision to buy more and more until The New York Times came to me to use some of them for their Sunday book review, and someone here at Emma saw that and asked me to come here and talk to you … and thus, my decision to prefer not to read moby dick in 1967 resulted me in talking to you today. 

 Here is my  copy of Bartleby,:  Great Short Stories of Herman Melville, 1969 

Who ever owned it once underlined and noted Bartleby… used two different pens…. From his phaseing he was not the first owner….  “narrator going wacko”  not the way we would have said that in 1969.

I only wish he had signed his name inside this book…  we will never know him..

By the way :  “Why DO we read?”

I like what Anthony Hopkins said in the movie “Shadowlands”, a movie about the life and love of C. S. Lewis, author of the Narnia Chronicles.   He said

We read to know that we arent alone.

We read to know that we arent alone.

Reading is a very very intimate process, between ourselves and the author. when you are reading you are talking with, maybe not a two way conversation but you are in the mind of the author.

I can be siting in my chair book in hand, my friends gone, my children living in boston and brooklyn, utterly and solidly alone, as if its the night before leaving school for christmas holiday, not a sole around I begin to read, and I am no longer alone,

Many many books have shown me ways  of life. When I read I see how someone does something , how someone reacts to loneliness, how they cope with despair  or how they find joy in the simplest things.  With a book you can stop and re read and think and absorb.

Why do we read ? We read so we know we arent alone.

Melvile wrote Bartley at Arrowhead, his farm outside of Pittsfield Mass.  Not 50 miles from here. in 1853, two years after he wrote Moby Dick .  that was 5 or 6 generations, ago

Page 50

The narrator is just getting to know this stange weirdo Bartley.
HE says:

“He lives, then, on ginger nuts, thought I; never eats a dinner properly speaking: he must be a vegetarian, then, but no; he never eats even vegetables he eats nothing but ginger-nuts.”

you’re a vegitarian You read these lines,  you know you are not alone, 150 years ago, people ate vegatarianly.  They have been doing it all along.  So you can go home and say Dad Im a vegitarian skip the turkey, - you become a bit more of a person. Slowly building internal strength. From reading…

Keep your books, write you name in them proudly… and give your kindle to you little sister, she’ll love you for it, till she figures out the brillance of why you gave her the kindle and you kept the books,  and then she’ll idolize you. ..


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gifts for the Holiday Season

Last Christmas, The Duchess gave us a tee shirt with the cover of the Rockwell Kent edition on it. 

This year we thought that was such a good idea that we searched the internet for some Moby Dick themed gifts for the holiday season.. HAHA  Enjoy, 

My only regret this season is that Olympia is sold out...S, my daughter, who is getting married in June, needs a new clutch.

A hand bag, from Olympia Le-tan    Alas its sold out.   1140 euros!  yikes...
 Its hot stuff but should it be?  Someone else did the book jacket design ... thanks to LG for the tip.

A hoodie, and much more affordable.$45... from Miles to go

From the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Bow Ties!!!! $26.00
Matt Kish's One Drawing for every page... Amazon 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

TMDC and Emma Willard School

We have been scheduled to give a talk to some of the Junior Class of the Emma Willard School, Troy NY.!

In conjunction with these students reading Melville's 1853. Bartleby, the Scrivener, we will be giving a short talk and displaying some of the collection. 

Bartleby is a story about free will, determinism, and to some extent existentialism. 

On a week night, in a few weeks, about 80 students will gather in the Library and hopefully stay awake for some words of dubious wisdom. We will report back on the success or failure of this event. Having spent four years in boarding school, we know a thing or two about extra curricular events like this. Is it free will that brings these students to hear us?

Monday, November 21, 2011

1926 Modern Library Moby-Dick Cloth Cover

Recently aquired, the green cloth cover Modern Library Edition of Moby-Dick is the more deluxe version of the book already blogged in the  two prize post.

Chapter VI The Street

"Still New Bedford is a queer place."

Alas, in 1851 New Bedford seems such a fun town. Cannibals on the street corners and Green Mountain boys looking for adventure at sea.   Already alive and perhaps looking out the window of her father's stately mansion, Hetty Green, maybe even seeing Melville himself.

Hetty Green: we would first be aware of when passing the Hetty Green Motel in far away Bellows Falls VT on the way in 1964 to some ski adventure in the back seat of Dad's Buick Electra.  Only years later after much research did we understand the Victorian life of Hetty Green, to the point of making a pilgrimage to her grave in 2008.

Our mother summered at Salters Point, and her father would take her on Sunday visits to the Charles W. Morgan, at that time the play thing of Col. Ned Green, Hetty's son.

During our salad days when we would want to experience some form of prep school hi jinx, we would steal out of the dorm and drive to New Bedford. Really steal, we would obscond with one of the school cars, usually a black Ford Beach Wagon. We had keys made.

Melville: Whaling: Hetty Green: Ned Green: Charles W. Morgan: Family: New Bedford: YOUTH: SKIIING: HI JINX all intertwined and circling around the same being, those are touchstones that define lives.

Monday, November 14, 2011

1950 Modern Library Edition Moby Dick

The dust jacket illustration features Ahab, left pegged leg, sighting his position by shooting the sun with a sextant.

This copy, near perfect, is the #119 in the Modern Library series, published in 1950, right after WWII, in time for the economic expansion of the 50's. TV's just around the corner.

Chapter XV Chowder

As its getting colder here in Albany, I reread this chapter, a chapter of warmth and comfort, for there is nothing more comforting to this old salt on a cold day than a cup, no a bowl, of clam chowder.."the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt."

We love how Melville mixes it up: not salt and peppa but pepper before the salt. 

Chowder for breakfast, chowder for lunch, chowder for dinner, and never never never a red chowder, Manhattan chowder is not Chowder, I don't know what it is, but its not chowder.

1950 is the birth year of the editor of TMDC, and he too is shooting the sun to find his location.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

1964 Bobbs-Merrill Company Moby-Dick

Here is the fifth printing of the 1964 Bobbs-Merrill Company edition of Moby-Dick. Already blogged is the 1980 Bobbs-Merrill edition that I purchased at a tent sale accompanied by my friend, LG., one fine day this summer. But I digress.

This early edition lacks cover art, but the internals are identical to the later book. As with all used books, ephemera can sometimes be included, and here stuck in the book is a letter from the Maulding Clinic, apparently a physician and surgeon who lived in NYSSA, OREGON. This letter is his dreaded "Approximately 1000 calories" diet plan. His recipe for Golden Salad dressing calls for 5 drops of orange food color. - eh gads.

Other than Doc Mauldings diet plan, there is no other indication of the former owner, but there are no underlinings and the condition of the spine indicates that the book was never read. We hope that he or she at least stuck to the diet plan, cause you have to believe back in '64 if your doc gave you diet instructions you prob needed to shed a few....

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

1972 Norton Critical Edition

Here is the 1972 Norton Critical Edition of Moby-Dick, the iconic book for any English Class be it high school or college. 

The inside is inscribed: Best to Mr. Badgley, from Ted.  Other than that, there is not a mark in the volume. Too bad, as we always like to see the parts that are important to the reader. Perhaps, Mr. Badgley already had a copy and he was too shy to own up to Ted.

1972 is the year I graduated from Middlebury College, which reminds me that Chapter 2 contains the following: "as I stood in the middle of a dreary street shouldering my bag, and comparing the gloom towards the north with the darkness to the south..."  

That sentence conjures up for me the memories of those rare crossroads of life I have been at, as in 1972, when I was forced to compare the darkness of the past with the gloom of the future. 

So too is Ishmael, not just at that moment having to decide where to lodge for the evening, but also he must make a choice with his life which the out come is uncertain.

Again, I find myself at one of those crossroads.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

A bit of the background to The Moby Dick Collection

And here is an interview with Mary Darcy for All Over Albany. It is a decent overview of the whole THE MOBY DICK COLLECTION blog... Thanks for all the support!

Mr. Pettit

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

1947 Oxford University Press Deluxe

This is a lovely volume, in size and shape. Good to hold in the hand, and the feel of the cover boards is substantial.

The type setting is clean, even, and elegant. It would be an awesome book to hold and read.

At some point Marty Matheson signed the inside fly leaf with her name and June '74. Clearly by the ware on the boards, she read some if not all of it.

In looking over this volume, I reread the first paragraph, where Ishmael puts down that when ever he gets out of sorts, especially in November, whenever his dark side begins to win the struggle, and when he is fighting the urge to step into the street, and methodically knock peoples' hats off, he then knows its "high time to get to sea"

He states that going to sea is his "substitute for pistol and ball."

In preventing his becoming a mass murderer, Ishmael chooses to leave a world of independence and solitude and chooses interdependence and involvement by here in this story signing up on a whaleship which by its own nature is a small concise world where it is impossible to be alone.

It is getting colder here in Albany, November is around the corner, and some days I want to step into the street and knock guys ball caps off.  

I am reminded that my dad and my grandads hats did not have ball teams logos on them. Those guys had style and were men of independence and solitude. That is my world too. Yet deep within the sea is calling me.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Now is the time to sign up for the Marathon reading of MD.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Moby-Dick Marathon celebrates its sixteenth annual non-stop reading of Herman Melville’s literary masterpiece with a 3-day program of entertaining activities and events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, January 6-8, 2012.
Should you want to participate here is the URL to sign up http://whalingmuseum.org/prog/marathon2012.html

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Melville's Marginalia Online

Here is a fascinating website. Its a digital library of Herman Milville's books. Not only that,  it is a collection of the pages with his markings on them.http://melvillesmarginalia.org/browser.php?page=1

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New York Times Book Review

The other day we got an email from Laura O'Neill, Photo Editor, The New York Times. Seems they needed some books for an upcoming cover of the New York Times Book Review.  They are planning some sort of MD cover.

Heck ya!

So the above photo shows Nathaniel Brooks, New York Times Photographer, shooting covers of The Moby Dick Collection editions, many of which have been featured in previous blog posts.

The up coming cover will be made up of these photographs from this MOBY DICK COLLECTION!

On the left is a Currier and Ives print of "Little Willie" which had been in White Foam for years. That PRINT is about 150 yrs old.   Its all been kind of a weird and fun summer.

Oh yea, and in 50 years if the NYT Book Review wants to feature covers of Moby Dick, The Moby Dick Collection will still exist (we have made provisions) and be ready to supply, but most of the kindles, IPADs, Nooks, that exist today will be in the land fill, and the Moby Dick edition on them is just digital. Its just digital.

We love ink.

Just got word from the NYT that the 10/23 edition will contain the photos of the covers and there will be a slide show on line beginning a day or two earlier. !

Friday, October 7, 2011

Lake Zurich Public Library Moby-Dick

Recent purchase from EBAY, the Grosset and Dunlap edition of MOBY DICK. Ex Lib from the Lake ZURICH PUBLIC Library, marked with the big D on the front, D for discard.

While the book is undated, it perhaps is a 70's imprint since the Library was formed in 1973. 

The only date stamp in the book is Apr 18 1979, presumably the patron returned it since this book was clearly discarded from the system.

Library bindings are purposeful and well thought out. This book has decades more use in it, and thus can be viewed as a testament to our wasteful society, there is no rational reason that this book could not have sat on ELAArea Public Library's shelves for years to come and been recirculated thru the population. Other than it is not perfection. Perfection is never achieved, by the way, its only a phantom.

We enjoy folks who aim for perfection, enjoy them a lot.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

1990 Great Illustrated Classics Moby Dick

This Collection has shied away from abridged children's books, for a variety of reasons, as has been discussed in the past.  Yet, here is just that. A twenty one year old copy of the Great Illustrated Classics Moby Dick, a children's abridged book, lovingly inscribed in a female hand: Chris love Gram and Grampy.

The Collection received this copy from SHP, daughter of the editor, who is an ELL teacher at the Donald McKay School in East Boston, Mass.  

That school is a just  a few blocks north of the site of school's namesake's ship yard, where in 1851 he built the Flying Cloud, perhaps the most extreme of extreme clippers. A mere 99 years later the Editor of TMDC would be born west of the site by sixty miles.  Ironic, no?

When SHP gave us this copy, she was in the company of several other gradeschool teachers from the Donald McKay School. There was a most interesting and lengthy conversation about the quality of the Great Illustrated Classics as a body of work, whether they were good for young children, true to the original work, and a viable teaching resource. We think that the opinions tended to be on the negative side. 

We just love imagining who Grampy was. He could still be alive, he may have lived in East Boston and worked at one of the remaining ship yards there, but most certainly he was something special to a young reader.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The MOBY DICK collection on display, again


Several editions from TMDC will go on display at the Providence Athenaeum as stated in their press release (the Japanese, German and Icelandic editions) :

9/19 – 12/31/11 – “Hark!  The White Whale!”  Moby-Dick Illustrated. Our Moby-Dick program series continues this fall with an exhibition exploring illustrated editions of Moby-Dick including the 1930 edition by Rockwell Kent, along with adaptations from popular culture, including Moby-Dick in comics.  We are also fortunate to have the loan of several foreign language editions of the book from the gracious Moby-Dick collector W. O. Pettit III; The Moby-Dick program series continues as well; please see the calendar cards or website for program details.

Check the Providence Athenaeum website for full listing of the MOBY DICK programs thru the fall.

Monday, September 5, 2011

1956 Riverside Edition Paper Back Moby-Dick

One of our favorite previous posts involved the 1956 Riverside Edition of Moby Dick from Houghton Mifflin.

Interestingly, here is a new addition to the collection, which for all intents and purposes is identical to the aforementioned book with the exception of the cover. A cover which is clearly not of the 1950's, yet no where within the book is an indication of the year of printing.

The book is a gift to TMDC from Ford Mclain, a local Albany, NY artist, the featured artist at a local art party recently.

This cover tells us so much more than the original edition:  The Riverside Editions, it is explained on the rear cover, are "a series of classic American, British and continental literature distinguished by its textual purity and authoritative editorial material."

Quoting again from the rear cover: "Moby Dick combines grandeur... friendship, tragedy with the intense anguish of a lonely human soul."  A fitting quote.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1980 Bobbs-Merrill Moby Dick

LG and I went to a used book sale, Saturday last, Round Lake NY, under the tent, books by the inch, local library thing.

Beautiful sunny day, one of the best days of the summer so far - tent sale was, well a tent sale.

And of course, there amongst all the boxes was one copy of Melville's Moby-Dick, the Bobbs-Merrill 1980, dark blue cover, one that exists in the collection already. 

"Should I get it, even though I already have one?"

"Ahhhh...." - LG

"Its my purpose to rescue all MD's no matter what, when I stumble on them, gives me copies to hand out to folks who request them, and its by the inch so what's this going to cost? a dollar?" Into the already expanding pile it went post haste. I bought $11 worth of books.

When I got home and compared it to the already existing Bobbs-Merrill I was surprised. Yes, they are the same book down to page layouts and page numbers, identical in all respects but one.  The newly rescued book is a half inch thicker! 

The one on the left is the original 1964 Bobbs-Merrill paper back, with original bill of sale,  and the one on the right is the newly rescued edition from Round Lake.  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2009 Chinese Language Moby Dick


A second Chinese language edition arrived the other day. We used google translator to obtain the "Call me Ishmael" phrase above, and we are betting its not really close.

There are 42 chapters and 169 pages so we figure its abridged, dah..

The cover art, however, gets the golden TMDC WTF award, as the all time weirdest cover art.

That clearly is Venice, that clearly is a transparent Moby Dick flying thru the air, that clearly is  a motorized ferry boat at the dock on the other side of the canal, and there is someone, not Ahab, not Queegueg, holding a harpoon with his back to us.

Ah.. we dont get it... hence the award.

from coorespondence to the editor from V S one of our dearest chinese speaking friends:
Your current translation up there translates better as "phone me Ishmael." A better translation would be 称我(insert sinoticization of Ishmael here). I don't know what the official translation would be but 乙石馬 seems good to me and has the bonus of translating as "yi (a meaningless word) stone horse." That sounds pretty cool. Hope that helps. NOTE to VS: we sailed out of the STONEHORSE YACHT CLUB, Harwichport so its ok with us. Ed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

White Foam

This past weekend was the last weekend at White Foam, summer home at Chatham, Mass, for a couple of decades of William and Sally Pettit.

Sometime in the 1920's Mr. and Mrs. W. O. Pettit of New Brunswick NY,  with their two children began to take their summers at Harwichport Massacusetts renting here and there. Owning boats, sailing and fishing.

After the 1938 hurricane destroyed his summer home at Salters Point, Mr. and Mrs. D. C. Daniels of Worcester, Massacusetts began to summer at Harwichport, bringing along their two daughters.

Eventually the families would meet and William Jr. and Sally Daniels, fell in love, married and continued the summer tradition. The original White Foam is pictured below, on the beach at Harwichport, this was the summer home of William Pettit, Jr and Sally Pettit for most of the later part of the 20th century.

We are all thankful for having almost one hundred years of Cape Cod experiences, the stories we heard, the stories we experienced, the times of our lives, were ledgend.

William O. Pettit, Jr. became among other things a master boat modeller, although he would never admit to it. In the possession of the editor of TMDC is this whaling ship model built by W. O. Pettit, Jr., it is a model of the last active whaler to operate out of the eastern sea board in the early 20th century about the time that WOPettit and his family began to spend summers on the "Cape".

Some things are sad, and some are happy. Leaving Cape Cod behind is sad, the memories are happy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

1956-Czech Language -Rockwell Kent - MOBY DICK

Rikejte mi Izmael.

Lets see: here is a beautiful edition of the 1956 Czech language Moby- Dick. Printed in Praque an imposing size and signed and book-plated (left)

Even 1956 has to be slap dab in the middle of the Cold War...

Getting the info from the sales description: Bila Velryba (Moby Dick) by Herman Melville. Illustrated by Rockwell Kent. Published in Praha (Prague) in 1956 by Statni Nakladatelstvi Krasni Literatury, Hudby A Umeni. .... 663 pages. Hardcover. 7" x 9.5." ... The book itself is clean and in very good condition. Light wear only to dust jacket with dust and short closed tear on white rear panel.

biela velryba

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Moby Dick Bookmarks...

Here is a link to some terrific Moby Dick bookmarks created by Pietari Posti
a Finnish illustrator, graphic designer and artist who lives in Barcelona, Spain.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

1992 Penguin Classics Definitive Text Moby Dick

Here is a fat paperback, obtained thru the good graces of the Lark Street Bookshop, now defunct.

What should be pointed out is the cover art. It is taken from the Garneray "Peche du Cachalot" located at the Whaling Museum in New Bedford Massachusetts, just a stones throw from TMDC's editor's childhood boarding school, to which he was exiled by his parents where they hoped he would be molded into something other than what he was molded into.

Speaking of High Schools, the cover art is identical to the cover art on the 1980 Signet Classic already blogged about.

Recently, at the store, music playing thru Pandora, we heard Que Sera, Sera by Doris Day. Someone mentioned that every time they heard that song, they thought of the late 80's classic movie Heathers. So being in a melancholy reflective mood and a complete Winona Ryder fan (the shop lifting thing only adds flame to our fire), we Netflixed it and watched it. To our astonishment, Moby-Dick makes a supporting role as Heather Dukes' highschool text of choice, and the edition, 1980 Signet Classic with the Garneray "Peche du Cachalot" on the cover is one of that Heather's prominant accessories.

Great pate, mom, but I gotta motor...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Collection Update

An additional Chinese edition is on the way from China to the collection and will be arriving in several weeks, also, several other editions are being negotiated and hopefully will be successfully purchased.

There are still several hundred other books to blog about. So a lot is going on.

Also, I am in the process of putting together a show of my artwork, Bill Pettit. com, and will post here when the show opening will be. The gallery, The Wayout Gallery,  is in the small upstate town of Rennselaerville, NY.

Most of my paintings are of upstate New York, with a small smattering of Cape Cod.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

1975 Enriched Classic Pocket Edition Moby Dick

The cover art is almost the only thing that warrants mention about this edition.

Its abridged, and "enriched" by the addition of some supplemental material in the middle of the book.  Some of it is moderately interesting.

But the cover art? A left pegged Ahab  screaming with harpoon in hand.  What is he waiting for? Why is he facing the viewer when Moby Dick clearly is behind him and going down .   I want to scream "turn around you freak!"

The book is abridged and goofy which is not a formula for success.

1975? I was out of college 3 years, working in manufacturing for my father, married and living in our first home.

Nelson Rockefeller was vice president, and if I had the ability to choose how and when and who I could be, I would choose to be Nelson Rockefeller.....

Friday, July 8, 2011

1988 The Northwestern-Newberry Edition MOBY DICK

This is the collection's Northwestern Newberry Edition of Moby Dick.

In Moby Dick circles this is the accepted text for the novel. The editors, Hayford, Parker and Tanselle, aimed at presenting the text as near as Melville's intention as the "evidence permits."

I purchased this book new in 1988, and long before the nugget of The Moby-Dick Collection was found.

Whenever I look at this book I remember 1988 as a watershed year in my life. The year I lay about the pool reading Jude the Obscure, already noted. The year I bought my first business and the unfortunate year of my separation and ultimate divorce from the mother of our children.

Perhaps, in buying this book, I knew I was beginning a quest of sorts myself.

This book reminds me too that 1988 was the year I declared my love to the second of the three great female loves of my life. She left my life in 1991 and I never have spoken or acknowledged her since, except to a very very small number of intimate friends to whom I have detailed her importance in my life.  It is only recently that I have begun to talk openly about my love of her with people who knew her. People who are not intimate friends of mine, but friends non the less.

Such is the journey of peoples lives: complex, wonderful and ever changing. Some call it baggage, I think it is fascinating.

This blog was meant to be a catalogue of books, aimed at highlighting the importance of the printed bound volume in contrast to the temporary fleeting electronic media.  However, I feel that when a book has a personal connection and meaning, I need to divulge that as well. In cataloguing these books as not only objects but objects with meanings and memories the purpose of the blog achieved.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Madmen meets Moby Dick

Thanks to NCF, long time TMDC reader!

This is the art of LA artist Josh Agle, aka SHAG.

Samples here.

His web site here. 

A bit Disney, a bit Madmen, a bit Moby Dick.

Reader MFanning pointed out that the glass bottle is in the shape of a TV screen.   Old school shape by the way... soon to be forgotten as the flat screen becomes completely ubiquitous.

NCF works at the SMFA, and has been fof for ever!   Thanks Nicole!

Friday, June 24, 2011

1926 Modern Library Moby-Dick - Two Prizes

Here is the 1926 Modern Library Moby-Dick, classic red cloth cover from the house of Bennett Cerf, already covered in a previous post.

On the inside is a large award plate from the Halifax Academy, June 19, 1942 given to Douglas Rogers, for the Grade 10 prize in mathematics.

A search from Halifax Academy failed to produce anything for the school, only the motto E Mari Merces confirms the connection with Halifax Canada.

In thinking about this volume, given 69 years ago to a young Doug Rogers, we pondered how proud he must have been to receive it. We can see him walking up to the person who today would be called "head of school", shaking their hand and almost defiantly walking back to retake his seat among his peers.

We then recalled a similar award, given almost 19 years later to the editor of TMDC, who remembers all too well the elation he felt when he received the Armstrong Award at the Sheppard Knapp School, outside of Worcester Mass. - now defunct.  The Armstrong award was given in memory of a lad who fell from a tree to his untimely death. The precise characteristics of the children who received the award were always a mystery, it was not academic nor sports related. Now it could be said it was a catch all kind of thing, given to some kid otherwise left out of the award stream, perhaps too shy to have close friends, too normal to have successes in sports, too smart to excel in main stream academics. But a likable child non the less, a child everyone would agree was a good kid.

The letter in Olson's Small Boat Seamanship, with yellowing tape, is in the controlled precise and neat hand of Mrs. Halkyard, the wife of the Headmaster, and the woman who began Mr. Pettit's latin journey. There is a decided left learn to the letters, signaling perhaps left handedness, and an erie hand writing quality that is exactly similar to little Billy Pettit's own left handed mother's precise, controlled and neat handwriting.

We will assume that if the Armstrong Award were given today, or the Halifax Academy X Grade Math Prize for that matter,  in the form of an ebook, 40 years from now, that E Book would no longer function. It would have been recycled or jettisoned into the land fill long before. The memories just that, vague memories of a lad proudly receiving yet another electronic device, cutting edge for the moment. Fleeting... gone... dust... nothing left to share.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Herman Melville's Travel Desk

Up for auction is Herman Melville's travel desk, thanks for the heads up from avid TMDC reader ESD from our ancesterial home of Worcester Mass. See the item at Booktryst Blog
Sold for US$34,160 inclusive of Buyer's Premium

Also today or tomorrow TMDC will surpass 4000 individual hits, and we want to thank everyone who has made this blog a stop on their digital experience.

Monday, June 20, 2011

1956 Riverside Edition Paper Back Moby-Dick

Here is the 1956 Riverside edition, measures about 5 by 8.  Having attended highschool in the 1960's I had several classic books printed by the Riverside Press in Boston, listed as Riverside Press Cambridge. 
Notably, I had Jude the Obscure. Never touched it in highschool.  That book I choose to read the summer I got laid off from Norton Company, 1988.   

By the swimming pool at the country club, while I was working on buying the first of several businesses I would buy over the years, I read Jude the Obscure...  Ykes, what was I thinking?  Dark, depressing, wonderful...   I ended that summer with a nice tan.

Anyways I digress, the feel of these books captivated me and I bought anything printed in this series that I ran across in my travels. Currently, in a different section of the library I have a dozen or so titles, alas not Jude the Obscure. I tied up about a half dozen Riverside Press books neatly with hemp string and put that package aside in one of the moves I made after the divorce. Somewhere, somehow that package went missing and I have never seen it or Jude the Obscure since. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

1975 Now Age Illustrated Moby-Dick

Over the years, TMDC has given as gifts editions of Moby-Dick and conversely has received as gifts editions.

More often than not, the gifts received are treasured childhood books, prized by the donator and embibed with fond memories.

Here is a donation to us from J, a long long time friend.

Stamped with the Mercy High School Library stamp on the title page.

We treasure the gift and our friendship.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Call me Ishmael - Only the Lonely

We say the sea is lonely; better say
Ourselves are lonesome creatures whom the sea
Gives neither yes or no for company
—William Meredith

Thus begins a piece written my my niece Cindy Daignault, readable on her tumblr account. The piece is a review of the work by artist Sean Landers.

Cindy, like all of my relatives is awesome in her own right. She has a current solo show of her art work at the
White Columns in New York City.

Cindy's work is a series of paintings that take us thru the mysterious world of projection. We see canvases of projectors and canvases of the projections on the opposite walls, which enables the viewer to relate to a modern day object, yet its not real. So its virtual reality but not. Things that are but they are not... It was at the opening reception of her show that Cindy told me about this review. Cindy is a avid reader of TMDC and she was excited to share with me these links.
What I failed at the time to understand and has come as a great surprise to me, was Landers fascination with the ill fated Golden Globe race of 1968. I too have been completely mesmerized by that disasterous race as well. Specifically I read everything I could about Donald Crowhurst. Here was a sort of modern day Ahab, kind of.. Mr. Crowhurst was obsessed with winning the race, but he lacked the skill, experience and backing to complete a solo navigation around the world, so he basically realized that he was out of it right before he left, and he tried to flim flam the world that he was winning by hanging out around South of America, Rosie Ruiz style, and falsifying his progress reports. Ultimately he just walked off his boat into the deep, in a fit of delusional madness. His bizarre madness is so accessible to the modern tech head, it is frightening.
Cindy draws solid connection between Ahab and Landers. And as an artist my self (Billpettit.com) I like the connections she makes to the whiteness of the canvasses and the battles we rage in our artistic lives.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

1998 Dutch Language Moby-Dick

Noem me Ismael.

When my tenants, Peter and Lynn, told me that they were moving out, I was saddened. They lived in the third floor flat of building I own here in Albany, and had been there for several years.

I remember the day that I rented to them. There were several people who were interested in it, thanks to Criags List, and I said I was going to show it on this particular Thursday at noon. Lynn came and several other people.

Lynn immediately said she loved it and wanted to move in. Great said I. We did the paper work and she told me that she was moving in with her boyfriend, Peter. Both were studying at SUNY Albany for advanced degrees and Peter was Dutch.

They were great tenants, always curteous and pleasant. Lovely people, and when they got married I silently rejoiced. So it is the normal course of events that my tenants move on and sure enough they got jobs in the lower Hudson River Valley.

The day they left Lynn called and said she had a gift for me. And thus this addition to the Moby-Dick Collection arrived. Words will never properly convey the sum of our relationship for those years, it was easy going at its best...

Good Luck Lynn and Peter!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Father of the Groom Speech June 4, 2011

Saturday June 4th, 2011 I witnessed, along with many many friends and family members, my son's wedding, as I mentioned in the previous post.

During the dinner, a few of us stood and gave a some kind words of encouragement.

Here is the text of the speech which I gave:

One day, during the summer of 2004, on Cape Cod, in the middle of the afternoon, I was standing inside my parents house in Chatham, it was one of those clear beautiful blue sunny days.

I looked out to the porch and Rob and Sasha, who had been togther by then four years, were sitting and talking to to each other.

I could not hear them, I don't know what they were saying.

But they were talking with each other, unaware of not just me but everything around them.

It was not a moment of love,
it was a moment of being,
and is that not ultimate love?

In those few seconds, I knew Sasha and Rob were good for each other.

A measure of this wedding today, will be if in 20 years we stumble upon Rob and Sasha and they are still talking in that way.

Since what I saw that day was true, I know they will be.

Sasha, you know I love you, and am so glad to welcome you as my daughter in law.

Finally, Robert, as a father to his son, I want to tell you this: you are the man I wanted to be.


The reaction to the last two lines was astounding. I wrote this from the heart.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Taking a tack off course

On June 4th my son and his beautiful partner will be wed in New York City in a fantastic celebration at one of Gotham's boutigue hotels.

I will resume posting again after that.

Needless to say I am thrilled and am looking forward to this particular gam with all the excitement of the proudest father in the world.

Friday, May 20, 2011

1955 Pocket Library Paperback Moby-Dick

Our first idea for this post was the nice comparison of the cover art between this edition and the previous post.

Essentially, this is the same depiction of a whale destroying the whale boats with the whaling ship in the background, allowing the viewer to know that there is some measure of safety in the trade, despite the obvious dangers.

Yet, upon further review of the 1955 Pocket Library cover, we all agreed that there is a bigger issue here to be illuminated.

The cover price of the book is 35 cents. That lead to a lively discussion of money, wealth, financial security and ultimately things treasured. In 1955 the purchaser turned over, most likely, a quarter and a dime in exchange for this book, would this be the only purchase.

Today if we were to sell it we would accept as fair 35 cents for it. Hence it could be argued that the book held some of its original value over the decades. We all are aware obviously that the 35 cents today is worth a whole lot less than the 35 cents of 1955.

The coins tendered in 1955 would have been silver, and the coins received today would not. That alone would account for a huge different in the intrinsic value of the book, then and now.

Thus this book is illustrative of the importance of safe guarding ones investments. For over time, those investments degrade and lose their value, despite all efforts to the contrary. It is the natural order of the universe: decay with time.

Wether we are concerned with Moby-Dick editions or stocks, bonds, real estate, or silver one must keep an alert eye on ones investments, it is important not to let them lose value because there is no whaling ship out there to rescue you when your investments decay. The 35 cents of 1955 is not the 35 cents of 2011. Each one of us is captain of our own whale boat and solely responsible for those in it with us, trite as that and this post seems.

As this is published we are managing our elderly parents in the last leg of their voyage, and that makes us aware of our voyage and hopefully we manage that for our children, so that there is some treasure of love left for them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

1980 Signet Classic Moby-Dick paperback

Bent corners, warn parts, underlining and check marks, dirty end papers, all the hall mark of a read book.

Here is the 1980 Signet Classic Moby-Dick that is inscribed G. Eric Lilja Mallory house . Actually G. Eric Lilja wrote his name in 3 locations, just to be sure that this book screams "Belongs to me!".

Maybe Mallory House is the same house of that name at Oberlin College. There is a small linkage between Albany NY and Oberlin. Perhaps someday Eric will stumble on the post or some one who knows him, and comment. That would be brilliant! Please do.

Eric underlined and noted in the margins in a very elegant creative and precise hand. The kind of handwriting that TMDC adores.

Monday, May 16, 2011

2008 Webster's Afrikaans Thesaurus Edition

When we first conceived of The Moby-Dick Collection, we envisioned a catalogue of the various printed editions of the masterpiece. It was to be a kind of a stamp collection like endeavor. At the least it was to be a catalogue of each of the known printed editions, with the collection's holdings to be examples of as many books as could be gathered together given the resources.

As many of you seasoned TMDC readers know it quickly turned into more than that, with the edition of foreign language editions. And as this blog progressed, the individual books themselves begin to tell stories, who owned them, where they came from, and so on.

This post is a combination of all of the finest quirks of TMDC.

Here is a recent addition, the 2008 Webster's Afrikaans Thesaurus. As the picture shows, this is the english text of the book with a thesaurus on each page with the Afrikaans words for various english words, presumably this is for the Afrikaan speaking person, who is learning to read English. So one can see that the Afrikaan word for Whale is Walvis. If we are not mistaken there is a Walvis Bay in South Africa.

This book came into our position this year as a birthday gift from my sister, Sarah, to celebrate my 61 st birthday.

Sarah P. D___ is a world traveler for her vocation and avocation. There is not a month that does not go by that she is not off to some far off land. Immediately, Dubai, Manila, Istanbul, and Ireland all come to mind as places Sarah has been in the last year or two.

When she went to Manila,I began silly requests like, "bring me some envelopes" and last year when she was in Vienna, "Hey, how about bringing back some sausages.. you know the little fellas in the can!"

Im not sure Sarah at first appreciated my oblique humor. But she became a bit of a sport.

This year she travelled to South Africa, and it occurred to me to combine my silly requests with The Moby-Dick Collection, so I asked her to pick up an Afrikaans edition of Melville's classic. She had a bit of a layover between safaris and work, and she searched the bookstores but to no avail. However, she did manage to score this edition, which she proudly shipped to me, and it arrived in time for the big birthday doings! Three Cheers to Sage (as we called her in our youth)

Which brings me to this picture: Here is a little something I have kept in the WOPettit archives all these many years, this is Sarah's passport foto from I believe 1966 when she traveled overseas for the first time from our childhood home to Germany. Since that moment she has never really looked back....

Bravo Sarah!

Monday, May 9, 2011

1944 Modern Library Giant Edition

The 1944 Modern Library Giant Edition Moby Dick features this blue binding with silver type and lighter blue offset.

We had always known that the Modern Library was the domain of Bennett Cerf, as he was a favorite of ours on the TV show "What's My Line" which ran from 1951 to 1967. As youths we were mesmerized by his patrician ways and seemingly endless knowledge while trying to guess the occupations and other "secrets" of the contestants.

Right up until the time we were shuffled off to boarding school, we watched him on Sunday nights. Perhaps, Bennett Cerf was one of our early "friends" keeping us company on those lonely solitary nights while the Duke and Duchess were off at some cotillion or other.

What we didnt know was that the Modern Library was started by Albert Boni, previously covered in this blog.

That running guy is the "Promethean bearer of enlightenment", for your information.