September 2013 Newsletter

For those not on our mailing list, here is a look at our latest newsletter. We’ve also embedded our latest new acquisitions list at the end of the post:


Another month has come and gone, and as always we have been busy booksellers. This past weekend we exhibited at the 41st Annual Rochester Antiquarian Book Fair. We had more dealers than usual this year, and enjoyed a record turnout of browsers and bibliophiles. Everyone seemed very pleased with the Main Street Armory, the new venue for this year’s event. Here is a photo taken by one of our colleagues of myself and my fiancee Kristine:

Booths were bustling with activity throughout the day as customers inquired about books on display, or asked questions about their own collections. We purchased a number of items ourselves, including a first American edition of George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, a set of Shakespeare’s works in an attractive silk-lined publisher’s case, and a small collection of travel literature featuring decorative cover designs by A. & C. Black publishers.

Watch for these, and a number of interesting and scarce items acquired at the end of August, in next month’s newsletter. But first, have a look at what we have been working on for the last month:

New Acquisitions – Highlights

New Acquisitions – Complete

See a few things you like? Enter coupon code S10TWO013 during checkout, and when you buy three books you get another FREE! (Please make sure you have at least four books in your shopping cart, or the discount won’t work.)

Below is one of our favorites from this month’s acquisitions, a limited edition of Shakespeare’s complete works inspired by the famous Shakespeare Head Press edition printed in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon (commonly known as the Stratford Town Shakespeare).

The Works of William Shakespeare, in Ten Volumes – Shakespeare Head Press Limited Edition, #585 of 1000


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August Newsletter

I thought followers of this blog might enjoy seeing our monthly newsletter, so I have copied our August issue below in its entirety, and embedded a PDF of our most recent highlights catalog. Those interested in receiving our newsletter monthly, please visit our website at and complete the web form on the homepage.


Before I get to the usual fix for our loyal bibliophiles, I have some news to announce:

I have officially been accepted as one of the newest members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA). This is a respected trade organization which promotes professional and ethical bookselling, and sponsors several of the largest, most respected book fairs in the world. This is a big step in my career, and a bright spot in the history of Yesterday’s Muse Books. Big thanks go out to those who encouraged me to pursue membership, and to the other booksellers who were kind enough to give their time to be my sponsors during the application process.
And now to the rest of this month’s news:

The sidewalk sale we launched last month is going strong – thank you to everyone who has stopped out for great deals. For those who have not heard about the sidewalk sale – every Friday and Saturday through the middle of August, we will be offering bargain books outside our shop. All books are $1 each, or you can fill one of our bags for $8.

A big project we just began work on last month is the Rochester Antiquarian Book Fair, which I am co-organizing this year along with Franlee Frank from Greenwood Books. This year it will be held on Saturday, September 7th at the Main Street Armory. Check out the fair’s Facebook page for more details:

Rochester Antiquarian Book Fair

While you’re at it, drop by the store’s Facebook page to view our This Just In album – check it out regularly to find the latest deals.

Speaking of deals, in addition to the usual in-store coupon we include with our newsletters, here is a coupon for use this month on our website:

Enter coupon code A8TWO013 during checkout, and when you buy three books you get another FREE! (Please make sure you have at least four books in your shopping cart, or the discount won’t work.)

Here are links to our usual new acquisitions lists:

New Acquisitions – Highlights

New Acquisitions – Complete

This month we were lucky enough to acquire a signed first edition of Ayn Rand’s masterpiece Atlas Shrugged, as well as a sumptuously bound copy of Thomas A Kempis’s Of the Imitation of Christ. We also cataloged a few examples of early stock market material, a set of Theodore Roosevelt’s works, numerous books dealing with book arts and decorative arts, and a science fiction serial featuring the first appearance of Orson Scott Card’s Hugo Award winning Ender’s Game.


Below is the full highlights list:

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July 2013 Newsletter

At Yesterday’s Muse Books, we are in the habit of releasing a monthly newsletter detailing goings-on at the shop, and highlighting our most recent acquisitions. Below is our most recent newsletter:


This month’s newsletter comes a bit later – we wanted to make sure everyone had the time to relax and enjoy the July 4th holiday weekend.

This has been a great month for us. We revived our Musings blog, acquired some exceptional and important first editions, and launched our local weekend sidewalk sale.

For those who have not heard about the sidewalk sale – every Friday and Saturday through the middle of August, we will be offering bargain books outside our shop. All books are $1 each, or you can fill one of our bags for $8.

Our commitment to better book images has paid off by allowing us to better promote our stock on social media, our blog, and through catalogs. If you have yet to see our This Just In album on Facebook, check it out to find the latest deals.

For those interested in collecting, and purchasing books online in general, we have posted a number of helpful resources on our blog:

Condition Definitions

Identification of First Editions


Here are our usual new acquisitions lists, followed by a few samples to whet your whistles:

New Acquisitions – Highlights

New Acquisitions – Complete

This month we were lucky enough to acquire first editions of the two books shown below – the first the very first book published by the inimitable Dr. Seuss; the second is is a Pulitzer Prize winning play that inspired an award winning Broadway production. We also cataloged a nice collection of Rockwell Kent titles, and close to a dozen Philo Vance mysteries by S.S. Van Dine (mostly first editions). Have a closer look at the lists, as there is far too much to enumerate here…

And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street First Edition

Death of a Salesman First Edition


Books as Self-Education

I have always believed in the ability of books to be among our best teachers. Many of the fundamental principles that have guided my intellectual development were obtained not from family, not from school, but from the pages of a favorite book. I certainly do not want to diminish other forms of education at all, as they are certainly useful in many ways; I do, though, want to discuss the power of books as tools for the autodidact (i.e., ‘self-teacher’), with special reference to The Harvard Classics as a prime example of this power.

First of all, the use of books as self-teaching tools implicitly involves literacy, which has been demonstrated to be an indispensable skill in the development of the individual, and in successful interaction with other members of the community. It is no coincidence that ‘community’ and ‘communicate’ have the same root; language is what connects us, and allows us to discuss ideas with one another.

Verbal communication is acquired first, because it is used most frequently, generally for simple or current concerns (e.g., ‘please pass the butter’; ‘Help, I hurt my ankle’; etc.). Written communication comes later, and – at least traditionally – is more formalized, allowing communication about more complex topics (e.g., the nature of the human soul), and also about communication itself (e.g., dictionaries; philosophical essays). Where verbal communication focuses on immediacy, writing – again, traditionally – concentrates on exactitude.

In today’s world, it is easy to identify those who read regularly, because their style of verbal communication tends to sound similar to written communication. It is also easy to spot those who do not read at all, because their writing very much resembles speech. A more recent phenomenon is the resemblance of speech to the telegraphic style of text messages, which is a distressing trend, but one I will not elaborate on here.

Back to reading as education. What makes reading particularly suited to imparting knowledge to the reader, and how is it more effective than, for instance, just talking with others? I have my own theory, which relates to the distinction drawn earlier: written communication, by its very nature and construction, is designed to teach concepts (as distinct from verbal communication, which seems best suited to furthering awareness of immediate surroundings or situation – e.g. “Watch out for that car!”).

I believe there are several reasons for this. First, our minds are placed in a specific context when reading. The world is shut out, and I commit myself fully to interacting with the text. My mind tells itself, “It is time to focus on doing this one thing,” and as a result is ready to receive information in a complex form. Second, the very fact that the text itself was printed in the first place- again, traditionally – implies several things: that the writer considered the message worth spreading; that the writer, knowing he/she intended to transmit ideas to many other people, was invested of a certain level of responsibility related to what was said, and how it was said. In other words, if we went to the trouble of putting pen to paper, the ideas are worth considering. Third, the very form of the information itself causes us to use a part of our brain that is functioning at a more conceptual level. This ties in with the context mentioned earlier. My mind understands the difference between thinking about the idea of freedom, and seeing an example of freedom. In the same way, it is in a different mode when it ponders what it means to be free, than when it makes my mouth say, “I’m free!”.

Now, up to this point, this has all been very technical and theoretical. Time for a concrete example, I think:

In the early twentieth century Charles W. Eliot, the Dean of Harvard University, claimed that a decent education could be had by reading for fifteen minutes a day from a five foot shelf of books. In other words, we can teach ourselves most of the concepts we need simply by reading books. P.F. Collier, a prominent publisher at the time, seized on this idea, and requested from Eliot a list of works that he would place on this bookshelf, and upon receiving it published a uniformly bound set of these works, known as The Harvard Classics. Ever since, it has been recognized as a monument to the world’s great works of literature and history, and has been eagerly collected since it was first published in 1909.

The first set included 50 volumes. Subsequent reprints have included the original material along with supplementary volumes, so some sets have as many as 54 volumes. Material ranges from poetry to politics, memoirs to monographs, science to fable, all carefully chosen to provide a well-rounded collection. Below is a complete list of the works included. It is likely you will recognize many of them, while others will seem foreign. While Eliot likely did not envision that his selections would be used to teach us something about the state of academic and intellectual life in 1909, they do this too, by showing us what thoughts survive the onslaught of time, the changes in ideals, and the inevitable march of progress.

And this brings me to perhaps one of the most important distinctions I will make about reading, which is that every written work implicitly includes its own historical context. Every piece of literature, every historical treatise, every philosophical theory, is firmly placed in a very specific slot within the larger chronology of the printed word. Its production was informed by this placement, the nature of its production relates to this placement, and the content of it speaks always from this placement. Unlike any verbal utterance, printed works occupy a place in history. They are historical objects. Even verbal statements recorded for posterity maintain their authority because they were immortalized in ink.

The ability of books to teach may draw some of its power from this phenomenon. Those who understand the historical implications of the simple existence of a particular book are immediately struck with a sense of wonder when in its presence. To think that we are, effectively, drinking history into ourselves with our eyes and our minds when we read, inspires awe, and keeps us coming back for more. Those who truly commit themselves to exploring the vast world that books offer will find that the sea of information is unending, that there will always be more to learn, and that reading floats us from one ocean to the next.

The Harvard Classics, in Fifty Volumes


Vol. 1: FRANKLIN, WOOLMAN, PENN: His Autobiography, by Benjamin Franklin; Journal, by John Woolman; Fruits of Solitude, by William Penn

Vol. 2. PLATO, EPICTETUS, MARCUS AURELIUS: The Apology, Phaedo and Crito, by Plato; The Golden Sayings, by Epictetus; The Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius

Vol. 3. BACON, MILTON’S PROSE, THOS. BROWNE: Essays, Civil and Moral & The New Atlantis, by Francis Bacon; Areopagitica & Tractate of Education, by John Milton; Religio Medici, by Sir Thomas Browne

Vol. 4. COMPLETE POEMS IN ENGLISH, MILTON: Complete Poems Written in English, by John Milton

Vol. 5. ESSAYS AND ENGLISH TRAITS, EMERSON: Essays and English Traits, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Vol. 6. POEMS AND SONGS, BURNS: Poems and Songs, by Robert Burns

Vol. 7. CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE, IMITATIONS OF CHRIST: The Confessions of St. Augustine; The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis

Vol. 8. NINE GREEK DRAMAS: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Furies & Prometheus Bound, by Aeschylus; Oedipus the King & Antigone, by Sophocles; Hippolytus, The Bacchae, by Euripides; The Frogs, by Aristophanes

Vol. 9. LETTERS AND TREATISES OF CICERO AND PLINY: On Friendship, On Old Age & Letters, by Cicero; Letters, by Pliny the Younger

Vol. 10. WEALTH OF NATIONS, ADAM SMITH: Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith

Vol. 11. ORIGIN OF SPECIES, DARWIN: The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin

Vol. 12. PLUTARCH’S LIVES: Lives, by Plutarch

Vol. 13. AENEID, VIRGIL: Aeneid, by Virgil

Vol. 14. DON QUIXOTE, Part 1, CERVANTES: Don Quixote, Part 1, by Cervantes

Vol. 15. PILGRIM’S PROGRESS, DONNE & HERBERT, BUNYAN, WALTON: The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan; The Lives of Donne and Herbert, by Izaak Walton

Vol. 16. THE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS: Stories from the Thousand and One Nights

Vol. 17. FOLKLORE AND FABLE, AESOP, GRIMM, ANDERSON: Fables, by Aesop; Household Tales, by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm; Tales, by Hans Christian Andersen

Vol. 18. MODERN ENGLISH DRAMA: All for Love, by John Dryden; The School for Scandal, by Richard Brinsley Sheridan; She Stoops to Conquer, by Oliver Goldsmith; The Cenci, by Percy Bysshe Shelley; A Blot in the ‘Scutcheon, by Robert Browning; Manfred, by Lord Byron

Vol. 19. FAUST, EGMONT, ETC. DOCTOR FAUSTUS, GOETHE, MARLOWE: Faust, Part I, Egmont & Hermann and Dorothea, by J.W. von Goethe; Dr. Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe

Vol. 20. THE DIVINE COMEDY, DANTE: The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri

Vol. 21. I PROMESSI SPOSI: I Promessi Sposi, by Alessandro Manzoni

Vol. 22. THE ODYSSEY, HOMER: The Odyssey of Homer

Vol. 23. TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST, DANA: Two Years Before the Mast, by Richard Henry Dana, Jr.

Vol. 24. ON THE SUBLIME, FRENCH REVOLUTION, ETC., BURKE: On Taste, On the Sublime and Beautiful, Reflections on the French Revolution & A Letter to a Noble Lord, by Edmund Burke

Vol. 25. AUTOBIOGRAPHY, ETC., ESSAYS AND ADDRESSES, J.S. MILL, T. CARLYLE: Autobiography & On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill; Characteristics, Inaugural Address at Edinburgh & Sir Walter Scott, by Thomas Carlyle

Vol. 26. CONTINENTAL DRAMA: Life Is a Dream, by Pedro Calderon de la Barca; Polyeucte, by Pierre Corneille; Phèdre, by Jean Racine; Tartuffe, by Molière; Minna von Barnhelm, by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing; Wilhelm Tell, by Friedrich von Schiller



Vol. 29. VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE, DARWIN: The Voyage of the Beagle, by Charles Darwin

Vol. 30. FARADAY, HELMHOLTZ, KELVIN, NEWCOMB, ETC; Scientific Papers: Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Geology

Vol. 31. AUTOBIOGRAPHY, BENVENUTO CELLINI: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini

Vol. 32. LITERARY AND PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAYS: Montaigne, Sainte-beuve, Renan, etc.

Vol. 33. VOYAGES AND TRAVELS: Voyages and Travels: Ancient and Modern

Vol. 34. FRENCH AND ENGLISH PHILOSOPHERS, DESCARTES, VOLTAIRE, ROUSSEAU, HOBBES: Discourse on Method, by Rene Descartes; Letters on the English, by Voltaire; On the Inequality among Mankind & Profession of Faith of a Savoyard Vicar, by Jean Jacques Rousseau; Of Man, Being the First Part of Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes

Vol. 35. CHRONICLE AND ROMANCE, FROISSART, MALORY, HOLINSHEAD: Chronicles, by Jean Froissart; The Holy Grail, by Sir Thomas Malory; A Description of Elizabethan England, by William Harrison

Vol. 36. MACHIAVELLI, MORE, LUTHER: The Prince, by Niccolò Machiavelli; The Life of Sir Thomas More, by William Roper; Utopia, by Sir Thomas More; The Ninety-Five Theses, Address to the Christian Nobility & Concerning Christian Liberty, by Martin Luther

Vol. 37. LOCKE, BERKELY, HUME: Some Thoughts Concerning Education, by John Locke; Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous in Opposition to Sceptics and Atheists, by George Berkeley; An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, by David Hume

Vol. 38. HARVEY, JENNER, LISTER, PASTEUR: The Oath of Hippocrates; Journeys in Diverse Places, by Ambroise Pare; On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals, by William Harvey; The Three Original Publications on Vaccination Against Smallpox, by Edward Jenner; The Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever, by Oliver Wendell Holmes; On the Antiseptic Principle of the Practice of Surgery, by Joseph Lister; Scientific Papers, by Louis Pasteur; Scientific Papers, by Charles Lyell

Vol. 39. FAMOUS PREFACES: Prefaces and Prologues




Vol. 43. AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: American Historical Documents: 1000-1904

Vol. 44. SACRED WRITINGS 1: Confucian: The Sayings of Confucius; Hebrew: Job, Psalms & Ecclesiastes; Christian I: Luke & Acts

Vol. 45. SACRED WRITINGS 2: Christian II: Corinthians I & II & Hymns; Buddhist: Writings; Hindu: The Bhagavad-Gita; Mohammedan: Chapters from the Koran

Vol. 46. ELIZABETHAN DRAMA 1: Edward the Second, by Christopher Marlowe; Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth & The Tempest, by William Shakespeare

Vol. 47. ELIZABETHAN DRAMA 2: The Shoemaker’s Holiday, by Thomas Dekker; The Alchemist, by Ben Jonson; Philaster, by Beaumont and Fletcher; The Duchess of Malfi, by John Webster; A New Way to Pay Old Debts, by Philip Massinger

Vol. 48. THOUGHTS AND MINOR WORKS, PASCAL: Thoughts, Letters & Minor Works, by Blaise Pascal

Vol. 49. EPIC AND SAGA: Beowulf; The Song of Roland; The Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel; The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs

Vol. 50 INTRODUCTION, READER’S GUIDE, INDEXES; LECTURES: The last volume contains 60 lectures introducing and summarizing the covered fields: history, poetry, natural science, philosophy, biography, prose fiction, criticism and the essay, education, political science, drama, voyages and travel, and religion.


Jonathan Smalter, Bookseller
President, Yesterday’s Muse Books
Vice President, IOBA
Sellers of fine books in all categories, with specialties in:
Castles & Military Fortifications; Dystopian Literature
32 W Main St Ste 1
Webster, NY 14580
Phone: (585) 265-9295

Published in: on July 6, 2013 at 10:24 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Ophelia Paige’s Meet and Greet!

This is Ophelia Paige, our bookstore cat. Ophelia

A few weeks ago, probably 3 at this point, this sweet little cat wandered to our door. Jonathan was at the store alone for once and I was over at the apartment getting ready to have dinner with a friend. He calls me and says: ‘Kristine! There is a cat meowing at our door… what should I do?’ And of course I respond ‘Let it in! It’s freezing out!’ I brought food over for her but apparently by the time we had gotten off of the phone she was already gone, wandering off in search of other adventures.

Being the bleeding heart that I am I call my friend, Sam, and tell him that I needed to rescue a cat and was going to be late. He grudgingly understood  and Jonathan and I bundled up for the winter night and headed out in search of the elusive feline. Behind our bookstore is a construction site where they are building a new firehouse (yay!) and rolling around in the dirt is a shadowy figure who looks suspiciously like an adorable kitty.

We talk to her from where we stand and she meows back, almost as if to say ‘Hey, I was wondering when you’d get here. Can we go inside now?’
She allows Jon to pick her up and take her in where she explores the store fearlessly — eating her delicious canned food and indulging in some fresh water, content to finally be in a warm, safe place.

We took her to the vet in the following weeks after no one called us to claim her from the ads we posted.
She was not microchipped and was indeed a feral cat who had chosen the perfect home.

Ophelia Paige now enjoys the same creature comforts as every bookstore cat, such as never-ending attention, a soft cat bed, many mice toys, a gigantic cardboard box fort, and a boundless amount of love from all who meet her. Anyone interested in coming to meet her is welcome, though we can’t promise she won’t be sleeping in her favorite spot — a J. Jill paper shopping bag under the checkout counter.

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 4:02 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Our Newsletter.

Yesterday’s Muse Books is proud to present it’s new online subscription form for our newsletter. All our members receive coupons, discounts and event news for the store and the website. We ship all over the world. If you are interested in joining click here.

Thanks again!

Published in: on April 10, 2009 at 3:09 PM  Leave a Comment  
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