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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

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!

(Published 1st Oct 2016) Read full article

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.

(Published 29th Sep 2016) Read full article

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.

(Published 6th Sep 2016) Read full article

Biggles and the Gun Runners

This is the 87th Biggles book to be published. The book was originally published by Brockhampton Press in September 1966. As with all of the later Biggles books it is an Air Police adventure where Biggles and his cohorts are based at Scotland Yard in London under Air Commodore Raymond, although as normal this does not stop them chasing around the world after criminals.

Story

As the title to the book suggests, Biggles is on the hunt for some international gun runners. Quoting from the wrapper front flap gives us a flavour. "Biggles advertises his Services in the hope that he can pick up the trail of a gun-running racket which is causing international concern. The Mysterious character of the Count who answers his advertisement, and the suspiciously high salary he offers, suggests to Biggles that he might be on to something big. When he is shot down, Biggles decides that the Sudd - 400 miles of mud and water - is no place for a picnic, let alone a big commercial airliner."

(Published 16th Aug 2016) Read full article

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.

(Published 15th Aug 2016) Read full article

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.

(Published 11th Jul 2016) Read full article

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.

(Published 18th May 2016) Read full article

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.

(Published 5th May 2016) Read full article

Biggles Sees It Through

When I read this book a few years ago, my first question was 'why is this book called "Biggles Sees it Through?"' With most Biggles books you instantly have an idea of the story from the title; however I would argue that "Biggles Sees It Through" could aptly describe the majority of the Biggles books as Biggles and Co. will never leave the job half done! This book could equally have been entitled "Biggles In Russia" although the story starts with Biggles being assigned to an international squadron to help the Finns in their battle against the Russians.

This is a very fast moving story which is highly enjoyable as long as you don't mind reality taking a sideways step. The whole story revolves around a mission to collect some missing papers from a Polish scientist who lost them during a plane crash which Biggles discovered during his initial reconnaissance flight. The majority of the action takes place on or near a frozen lake just to the Russian side of the Finland-Russian border.

(Published 16th Apr 2016) Read full article

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.

(Published 11th Apr 2016) Read full article

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!

(Published 6th Apr 2016) Read full article

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'.

(Published 6th Apr 2016) Read full article

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...

(Published 4th Mar 2016) Read full article

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.

(Published 25th Jan 2016) Read full article

W.E. Johns Space Books

I feel it is important to set any science fiction book into the context of the time the book was written. In this instance, the set of 10 books in the Space Series were written before Man had gone to the moon, although plans, I assume, were in motion. The series was published between 1955 & 1963.

W.E Johns is famous for his Biggles books, of which there are around 100. He did try his hand at other genres including a couple of romance novels, gardening magazines and books. However, it will always be his children's books for which he is remembered including Worrals,  Gimlet, and Steeley. Some of my personal favourites are his Space or Science Fiction novels. As with all W.E. Johns’ books, they are good easy reading yet fast paced novels. Unlike some of the Biggles books which can become a bit formulaic, at the end of each Space series book there are unanswered questions which draw you straight into the next book - not so much a cliff-hanger, as in modern television, but more intrigue.

(Published 14th Jan 2016) Read full article

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne

Exploration. Curiosity. Mystery. All of these ideas are often central to a good adventure narrative, and all of them are very much plain in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: the tale of a scientist, his manservant and a witty whaler, all three of them captured by a mysteriously glowing vessel beneath the deep and taken forth into a whole new world by the mysterious and captivating Captain Nemo.

20,000 Leagues is considered to be one of Verne's best-known books, along with A Journey To The Centre Of The Earth and Around The World In 80 Days, but since 1979, Verne has been the second most widely-translated author in the world, in between Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare, and he's often named as one of the primary fathers of modern science fiction – Verne has in his writing an incredible penchant for describing a foreign aspect of the world in a way that pulls the reader indescribably.

(Published 11th Dec 2015) Read full article

33 - The Observer's Book of Lichens by K.A. Kershaw & K.L. Alvin

To describe the contents of this book in just a few words I can't do better than to quote from the front flap of the black and white version of the dustwrapper:

"The Study of lichens is a fascinating subject and in this book the authors have sought to provide an introductory volume for the layman, teacher and student, as well as a handy reference book to the subject. The book fully covers the structure and reproduction of lichens together with the methods of collecting and examining. Also included are explanations of technical terms to help the reader. These terms have been gathered into a glossary for easier reference and there is a key to the identification of the genera.

(Published 24th Nov 2015) Read full article

The Observer's Book of Glass - No. 62

The Observer's Book of Glass is No. 62 in the series. Written by Mary and Geoffrey Payton, it was first published in 1976, primarily for those with the collecting bug - but is also an easy reference book.

An introductory chapter is included with this book and chronicles the early development of glass. It briefly looks at the influences of differing time periods from ancient Egypt through to 'Roman Glass' and concludes by looking at more modern glass makers, such as Tiffany or Bristol Blue.

Above: the Warne edition (left) and the Bloomsbury edition (right)

For ease of reference, this book has an A-Z of glass, accompanied by 95 half-tone illustrations and eight pages of colour photographs - showing some exquisite examples of glass types and styles.

(Published 24th Nov 2015) Read full article

17 The Observer's Book of Common Insects & Spiders by E.F. Linssen & L. Hugh Newman

Being an excellent reference guide to the Insects and Spiders of Britain this book has stood the test of time and been published many times. For a summary of the contents of the book see image left of the wrapper flap from the 1971-75 version of the Wrapper.

There has been 7 Different dust wrappers for this book, whilst the book was published by Warne, who finished publishing the observer's in 1983. You can see some of the different designs below.

To give you a flavour of the content see the images below.

Prices for this observer's vary greatly according to condition and edition for example a reasonable copy of a 1st edition with a dust wrapper will go for something over 20 pounds, whilst the edition with the cyanamids wrapper will cost you between 50-80 pounds. Most other editions will be around or just under the 10 pound mark. (Prices correct 2007)

(Published 23rd Nov 2015) Read full article

13 - The Observer's of "British" Architecture by John Penoyre and Michael Ryan

From the blurb on the front panel of the 1st edition dust wrapper, we get a flavour of what this book tries to cover: "This pocket guide, with its comprehensive Visual Index, contains 270 different illustrations, 125 of which are in colour. It describes the development of English architecture from Saxon times until the present day, and is designed to provide the observer with an adequate background of the development of building, planning and technique through the centuries."

From some of the images you can see how the book is well illustrated with simple colour and b/w illustrations with addition of annotation when it was consider necessary. The book takes us through a journey through history starting with the Buildings of the Medieval Period, including the Pre-Conquest or Saxon period, it ends with the Buildings of the Industrial Era with a chapter each on the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century.

(Published 18th Nov 2015) Read full article