Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Sir Martin Gilbert (1936-2015)

Martin Gilbert, a giant among historians of the twentieth century died on 3 February.  He wrote over 90 books, but is best known for his monumental official biography of Sir Winston Churchill, which occupied 25 years of his life (starting as research assistant to Randolph Churchill).

Daily Telegraph obit

Our Part of the Gilbert mountain

Sunday, 15 February 2015

A Rant On the Parceling of Books

In his extraordinarily kind review of Diplomatist Books, Gary Amos (ever the practical sort) makes the point of praising our packaging.

I come to bookselling as someone who has spent decades buying secondhand books through the post.  Like Gary, I'm a curmudgeonly Northerner and deplore the recent-ish tendency to send books out in thin cardboard envelopes or plastic bags.  Books (and postage) are expensive enough: I don't want to receive them in a damaged state!

There is no real need for it - once you're sending even a small book through the post you have almost certainly sent what the Post Office defines as a Small Parcel.  At that postal rate you can go up to 2kg, so can go to town on packaging.  The real culprits are the soulless sellers who think in terms of economies of scale and 'time spent' (and then have the cheek to charge a 'handling fee'!).  Yet Jiffy Bags and bubble-wrap are not expensive.
If you buy a book or books from me, the minimum packaging will be a Jiffy Bag (let's face it - they're convenient and designed to fit in the post box on the corner of the street).  If it's too big to go in a Jiffy Bag, then I will parcel it and take it to the Post Office counter or courier drop-off point.  That parcel may be in a box (which will contain packing material so the books don't rattle about) or it may be (sufficient!) bubble-wrap and brown paper.  All the seams will be sealed, it will have my return address on it and, if appropriate, will have a Customs declaration.
I can't guarantee that your postal handler won't damage the books but if any damage come to them before they arrive with you, get back to me.  If like me you have a dog who delights in waiting for the postman and destroying whatever is crammed through the letter-box, that is your problem to solve.

When he can't get post...
My favorite delivery of books was some years ago when I bought some maritime journals from a man who ran a Museum of Knots - they were in a heavy-duty carton which was wrapped in brown paper and then tied with tarred string.   The knotting was constructed in such a way as to provide a handle to carry the parcel and the knots untied so it could be kept and reused (I kept it for years though I never used it - it smelled wonderful!).

A last point, by popular demand I have added the 'Follower' widget to the blog layout.  I'm sorry not to have done this before, but blogger seem to have hidden it deeply among the extra gadgets (I suspect part of a ploy to get us using Google+ for everything).  But a fellow blogger has pointed it out, so, if you want to add Diplomatist Books to your blog-roll, it's now easier.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

History of Wargaming Project

As announced last month, we have decided to stock publications of the History of Wargaming Project.  This is something of a leap for us - unlike our other titles, they are not remaindered or second-hand.  Initially we have chosen ten titles: these have now arrived and are listed in the Modelling, Wargaming and Counterfactual section of our inventory.  Those of you who reserved volumes should have received an e-mail from me.

The titles on offer include new editions and reprints of classic works of wargaming literature - Donald Featherstone and Paddy Griffiths - as well as studies on the origins of recreational wargaming.  For those interested in professional wargaming, there is Andrew Wilson's The Bomb and the Computer as well as the scarily topical Dark Guest: Training Games for Cyber Warfare.

Do let me know what you think of the mix of titles!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Defeat of Austria As Seen by the 7th Division

As promised, here is one of the titles picked up at auction last week

Crosse, E C, The Defeat of Austria As Seen by the 7th Division: Being a Narrative of the Fortunes of the 7th Division from the Time it Left the Asiago Plateau in August 1918 Till Conclusion of the Armistice With Austria on November 4 1918,  H F W Deane & Sons (1919), Maps and sketches by Sgt E Luton, RGA, hb, 115pp; plates; fold-out maps and maps in pouch. Some marks to the cover. Ownership inscription, £18.00
This is an unusual divisional history, covering a campaign that doesn't often get the attention it deserves - that up through Italy into Austria in the closing months of the War.

The Revd EC Croose, DSO, MC, CF
The author was the Revd (later Revd Canon) Ernest Courtenay Crosse, senior chaplain to the Division.  He was born on 18 March 1887 and educated at Clifton College and Balliol College, Oxford.  He was ordained in 1912 and served as assistant chaplain at Marlborough College before volunteering as a Chaplain to the Forces.  He was attached to the Devonshire Regt and arrived in France in 1915, serving on the Somme.  After the War he taught in New Zealand but later returned to England, becoming headmaster of Ardingly College in Sussex,  He died in 1955.

The book itself has seen some wear, but despite staining to the covers is still in Very Good condition.  The large ownership inscription, with its change of address might put some off, but to me it is added history - after all A T Knight was almost certainly a veteran of the 7th Division.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Auction News

Several people have asked how I got on at the auction I mentioned last week; and in honesty, it's only fair to update you having raised it.

Imagine a 1930s warehouse/workshop in ruralish Norfolk.  Three-quarters of the space is take up by trestle tables on which are piled hundreds of banana boxes (there's a dissertation to be written on the contribution made by Fyfes to the second-hand book trade).  There are about 40 cinema seats and room for the same number to stand.  It's well-lit, but not heated.  I had hoped the bad weather might have kept some  people away, but as Thermos flasks and car blankets appeared I realised that wasn't going to be the case.

Bidding was brisk and there seemed to be a number of telephone bidders (the bulk lots aren't on the internet).  There were very few unsold items and prices were more or less as I'd estimated at the viewing.  A slight surprise were three lots of motorcycling books which took off, but knowing how bike enthusiasts are, it wasn't a great surprise.

The lots I bought were almost exclusively twentieth century history.  Of note was a collection of works on and by Winston Churchill, intended to restock our recently depleted section on him, some interesting WWI titles from the 1920s and '30s, and a number of professional directories, school registers and knightages.

These will appear on the website in due course (though where I know of customers' interests, I have managed to pair some off - why not send me your Wants List?).