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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

The Demon Cat

I absolutely love this book! I came across it by accident some time ago and I am surprised it is still on our shelves at the time of writing. Or maybe not...

It is nothing special to look at from the outside.... A Naval Melo-drama. I must admit, I had to look up melodrama in the Oxford Dictionary which states:

A sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions. Definitely the case!

A play interspersed with songs and orchestral music accompanying the action... It would be very interesting to see this as a play... poor cat.

It is not a long read, one can read it through quickly although it rather spoils the fun if one does not take time to scrutinise the accompanying amusing illustrations which are mostly b/w with a few in colour.

The Vintage Alvis by Peter Hull & Norman Johnson

The Vintage Alvis, first published by Macdonald & Co (Publishers) Ltd in 1967, is a mouth-wateringly detailed account of the history of the famous Alvis Car Company during the 1920s and up to 1932.

Although the name Alvis may not be as well known today as Bugatti, Mercedes or Ferrari, the company produced one of the most popular sports cars of all time - the '12/50'. Alvis also developed a number of original concepts and technically advanced supercharged Grand Prix cars, and incorporated all-independent suspension to their sports cars as early as 1928.

Above: The 1926 12/50 T E sports tourer. The father of L.T.C. Rolt bought this car at the 1925 Olympia Show.

The Fairy-Wrens

The Fairy-Wrens - A Monograph of the Maluridae By Richard Schodde. Illustrated by Richard Weatherley

"Fairy-Wren" - what a delightful name for these beautiful little birds which are only found in Australasia. "Fairy-Wren" - where did this name come from? The term "wren" was used from the earliest days of the colony because it reminded homesick settlers of the utterly unrelated Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes). Unrelated and utterly dissimilar apart from the cocked tail and the fact that these birds live in bushes! Nevertheless, the term "Wren" stuck.

But "Fairy-Wren"? The word fairy conjures up a sense of being small and delicate, presumably to reduce confusion with other types of wren but the term does not seem to exist prior to the 20 th century. Tom Iredale, the influential ornithologist, conchologist and zoologist, claimed credit for the name in 1939 although the term was first referenced in the Australian National Dictionary in 1928. Whatever the origin, it was the term "Fairy–Wren" which first drew my attention to this beautiful book by one of the world’s leading field ornithologists.

Orlando Goes to the Moon

For those who haven't previously had the opportunity to read any 'Orlando – The Marmalade Cat' stories (like me before embarking on writing this article), it shouldn't dissuade you from starting with any title in this series.

In 'Orlando Goes to the Moon', the beginning of the book gives you all the introduction you need to become acquainted with the characters involved. It tells us that Orlando is 'striped and the colour of marmalade, with eyes of a beautiful gooseberry green'. It also introduces 'his dear wife Grace' who is a 'tabby with a little stub nose like a tiny ripe apricot'. They have 'three kittens – tortoiseshell Pansy, Snow-white Blanche and little coal-black Tinkle'.

Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving

Although I, and I'm sure most other people, have heard of Rip van Winkle I wonder how many of us know the full story behind the name. The only thing I knew was that he slept for a hundred years, which he didn't, so it seems the only thing I thought I knew was wrong. Rip Van Winkle was written by Washington Irving and first published in 1819 in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. The story is introduced as being a tale found among the papers of Irving's fictional historian Diedrich Knickerbocker, a gentleman who was very interested in the local Dutch history.

Art of the New Naturalists

Art of the New Naturalistsby Peter Marren, Robert Gillmor and Clifford and Rosemary Ellis. Published 2009

This book explores the artwork of the New Naturalist series of books. If you are unfamiliar with the New Naturalist titles, they are a series of Natural History books. The subjects range from 'Butterflies' which was the first book published in 1945 to 'Slugs and Snails' published in 2016.

The books are much sought after and are collected as much as for their artwork as for their content.

Bentley Factory Cars 1919-1931 by Michael Hay

Bentley cars, despite being a subsidiary of Volkswagen, are still British made and are today based in Crewe, England. The Bentley, largely hand built, is a 'British luxury automobile icon' according to Wikipedia.

This book, Bentley Factory Cars 1919-1931, is described as the 'first definitive history of the Bentley golden era, and covers the personalities, the commercial and financial complexities, the engineering and development work – and the primum mobile of the company, racing.'

The book contains a chronological history, also covering events prior to 1919 where an understanding of them is required to appreciate later developments. It concludes at 1931 when Bentley Motors ceased to exist and Bentley Motors (1931) Ltd took over, acting as a subsidiary of Rolls Royce.

Stories by Firelight by Shirley Hughes

I love this book. In winter when it is early evening and the light fades in the late afternoon it is comforting to pass houses with their lights on shining out from the windows. Sometimes you can't help glancing inside as you pass and you catch glimpses of activity within. This is my favourite time of day in winter. People are returning home and planning to stay in. Fires are lit, heating is turned up, lamps are turned on and meals are prepared. This is the time when this book should be read to children as they cosy up on the sofa.

It is a collection of short stories and poems that are beautifully illustrated. The pages seem to capture the coldness of the world outside and the contrasting warmth within our homes so well. I particularly love “A Midwinter Night's Dream” with no text, just wonderful pictures capturing the dream of a young boy before Christmas.

Audubon's Birds of America

Birds of America was first published as a series during 1827-1838 and is the result of more than 14 years of field observation and drawings by John James Audubon (1785-1851) who was a naturalist, painter and ornithologist.

Audubon's birds were drawn from real models. He would first find and shoot the bird using fine shot and then use wire to position the bird into a natural pose. This is different from the common method of many ornithologists who would prepare and stuff the body into a rigid pose. When working on a large specimen, for example an eagle, he would spend up to four 15 hour days preparing it, studying it and sketching it. The birds were drawn life-size and this is the reason some of the birds appear to be in a contorted pose as he struggled to fit the bird on the page!

The Forest Ring by William C. de Mille

The Forest Ring is a charming tale for children, written at the start of the twentieth century, in which a young girl is instrumental in helping the Fairy World and by so-doing also transforms the lives of those in the human world. It is a tale in which the Queen Fairy and her court of helpers rub shoulders with the animals of the forest, including bears, foxes, stags and one very sleepy owl...

The author, William C. de Mille, was a successful playwright, screenwriter and film director. If you think the surname looks a little familiar, you are correct: William was the elder brother of the famous filmmaker Cecil. B. DeMille (who changed the format & capitalisation of the surname). Although he was not quite as famous as his brother, William was one of the most respected directors of the silent movie era and specialised in adapting Broadway plays into silent films.

History of the Horn Book by Andrew White Tuer

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This lovely 2 volume vellum bound edition came to us through auction recently.

Having done a little research on horn-books and battledores for my article on ABC books a while ago, I was excited and interested to have a look at this original set by Andrew W. Tuer.  What would be his definition of a horn-book?

First published in 1896 by Leadenhall Press (of which Tuer was a partner), this set is still seen as an authority on horn-books. It contains much detailed research and many photographs and illustrations of the horn-books and describes how they were used to help many, many generations learn their alphabet and eventually how to read and write.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - illustrated by Errol le Cain

Since starting work at Stella & Rose's Books I have been privileged to see many special books: from Beatrix Potter 1st editions to signed Blyton books, from rare 1st editions to well remembered childhood favourites – and all points in between! It is still exciting to see something rare and unusual and this book certainly comes into those categories.

This copy of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was published in 1972 by Arcadia Press to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Coleridge's birth. It is one of 110 limited editions (nos 101 – 110 were not for sale) – this copy is number 5, signed by the illustrator (Errol Le Cain), calligrapher (David Howells) and the paper maker (Phillip H. Rowson). It is a large book contained in a slipcase.

Paisley Patterns – A Design Source Book by Valerie Reilly

So how did Paisley in Renfrewshire become synonymous with a pattern that can trace its ancestry back to ancient Babylonia? Here is a potted history...

One of the main sources of food, shelter and house building was the Date Palm. The Date Palm came to be seen as the 'Tree of Life' and the tightly curled palm frond was a symbol of fertility and much prized by the Babylonians.

From Babylonia this motif was to spread all over the world. In India, particularly Kashmir, an early example of a shawl with this pattern dates back to the 1600s.

THE RESCUE & REBIRTH OF A LEA-FRANCIS 14HP SPORTS CAR

Revised & Updated Edition 2015

Limited edition of 100, A5 Perfect Bound, 112 page booklet.

This second edition has been updated and re-printed with a print run of 100. Primarily intended for owners of the batch of 109 Lea-Francis 14 HP Sports cars built at Coventry in 1948 but invaluable for anyone interested in classic British sports cars or contemplating owning one of these rare cars.

The author explains how he became a Lea-Francis owner and enthusiast and how after retirement restored two cars to achieve his ambition of owning and driving one of these, quintessentially British, sports cars.

The Tale of Jemima Puddle-duck

28th July 2016 will be the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Helen Beatrix Potter, better known as Beatrix Potter. Her life-long love of animals and the natural world began as a child when she and her brother had many 'pets' including rabbits, mice and frogs which would one day become the subjects of some of her books. Her love of the countryside was developed during family holidays in Scotland and later in the Lake District. In later life she would settle in the Lake District and bought several farms which she would bequeath to the National Trust thus preserving the countryside.

The Secret Garden

A good friend of mine - Amy Goddard - is a folk singer and has recently released her second Album – “Secret Garden”

I asked her why “Secret Garden” and she said it was because she loved the book and also she loves 'secret' places where you can escape for peace and quiet.

As a child The Secret Garden was one of my favourite books as well so I thought I would feature it in this month's article.

Written by Frances Hodgson Burnett and first published in 1911 the story begins when Mary Lennox, a spoilt young girl living in India, loses her parents to a severe plague of cholera and is forced to go and live with her mysterious uncle (Archibald Craven) in his large manor house (Misselthwaite Manor) on the Yorkshire Moors.

Bunnikin's Picnic Party

A delightful, descriptive story in verse. Originally written and illustrated by A.J. Macgregor, the verses in this Ladybird book were later revised by Walter Perring.

Bunnikin's Picnic Party tells the story of little Bunnikin and his brothers and sisters, Loppy, Fluff, Bobtail and Whiskers. Bunnikin decides one day that 'A picnic would be grand!' With their picnic all prepared by Mrs. Bunnikins, the four bunnies hop off to enjoy some fun near the 'shady woodland'.

Bobtail comes running to them when they are wood gathering 'Her excitement was intense: "Robbers, Fluff!" she stammered, breathless, "I could hear them, by the fence!" But brave Fluff finds out it's not robbers but a sleeping Pig!

The Discontented Pony

This pony story tells of a very discontented pony named Merrylegs. Even though having everything a little pony needs - a field to run about in, a kindly farmer owner and farmyard friends Daisy and Squeaker -Merrylegs still begins to feel discontented with his lot in life.

After hearing stories about his great-great-grandfather who had been a great race horse, Merrylegs begins to think that "he was much too well-born to work".

The story continues with a trip with the farmer to the market, where it was 'Fair Day'. Even though still feeling above his work, Merrylegs begins to enjoy the fair day, watching all the comings and goings, hearing the happy music playing and even a Punch and Judy show! It is at the fair day that the little pony finally realizes what it is that he should become in life. He notices a roundabout and to his great surprise, it is not chairs that the children are riding on - but horses - "What horses!". 'These were lordly creatures, with proud, flashing eyes, and wide nostrils. Their long manes and tails floated out behind them, their fore-feet pawed the air, and they had coats of scarlet, with here and there a touch of gold'.

The Lorax by Dr Seuss

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I am afraid I am biased, I LOVE Dr. Seuss' stories. What do I like about them? Mostly the nonsense rhyming as the story is told – sometimes it is very silly e.g Green Eggs and Ham ('Do you like green eggs and ham?' - anyone in their right mind would say no!). Also, the simple, colourful illustrations that accompany each story play as much a part as the text.

The Lorax is story with a moral... The plight of our Earth and the damage we humans can do...

John Wyndham: Three Novels

This month's Featured Book is strictly speaking 3 books, but they do come in one slipcase, published by the Folio Society.

The illustrations are by Patrick Leger, who gives all three volumes a fabulous fifties vintage look.

It has been a long while since I have read these books. I probably read them in my early teens and if my memory serves me right, it was my first foray into the world of Science Fiction books.

When I looked at the John Wyndham bibliography, I realised that I must have liked his writing quite a lot as I have read six novels and two books of short stories.