Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

Rare Book Lore
Selections from the Letters of Ernest J. Wessen

By Ernest J. Wessen
Edited by Jack Matthews

“Anyone with even a remote interest in buying, selling or collecting books should enjoy reading and owning this book. After all, one of Wessen’s letters could be great therapy after a long day at the office or sop. In fact, if the book trade had a required reading list, Rare Book Lore should be right at the top.”

Sam Melfi, Book Source Monthly

Ernest J. Wessen was one of the legendary rare bookmen of the mid-twentieth century, and his letters, like his famous catalogs, Midland Notes, are a treasure of Americana. Wessen’s anecdotes of the chase, his wry comments upon collectors and fellow dealers (and, indeed, the world at large), his alternating moods of genial tolerance and peppery impatience with the scouts who brought him books and pamphlets…all combine to give a wonderfully informative, useful, and fascinating compendium of rare book lore — just as the title promises. Wessen’s important role in building the famous Streeter collection is richly documented in the scores of his letters to Streeter that occupy a central place in this fascinating anthology of a man who was not only a great and inspired bookman, but an extraordinary human being. As Yeatman Anderson III, Archivist for the Cincinnati Public Library in Wessen’s day, wrote: “A study of Wessen’s letters would provide the best course in Americana anyone could ask for.”

Matthews has edited the text, written the introduction, and supplied footnotes for this bountiful compilation of letters that are historically and bibliographically informative, wonderfully insightful, and filled with lively tales of bookish adventure.

Jack Matthews is Distinguished Professor of English at Ohio University and recipient of numerous writing awards. In addition to his novels, poems, and short story collections, he has published Memoirs of a Bookman (Ohio University Press, 1989), Collecting Rare Books for Fun and Profit (Ohio University Press, 1977, 1981), and Rare Book Lore: Selections from the Letters of Ernest J. Wessen (Ohio University Press, 1992).   More info →

Order a print copy

Hardcover · $27.96 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $34.95 · Save 20% ($27.96)

Buy from a local bookstore


US and Canada only

Cover of Rare Book Lore

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon


Desk Copy Examination Copy Review Copy

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center


Retail price: $34.95, S.
Release date: December 1991
280 pages
Rights:  World

Related Titles

Cover of 'The Realm of Prester John'

The Realm of Prester John
By Robert Silverberg

Robert Silverberg, whose work is well known to science fiction fans, originally published The Realm of Prester John in 1972. The first modern account of the genesis of a great medieval myth—which was perpetuated for centuries by European Christians who looked to Asia and Africa for a strong ruler out of the east—Silverberg's romantic and fabulous tale is now available in paperback for the first time.

History · International History · Asian History · European History · Literary Studies · Creative Nonfiction · Biography · Christianity · Religion

Cover of 'Memoirs of a Bookman'

Memoirs of a Bookman
By Jack Matthews

These memoirs are the reminiscences of Jack Matthews: his adventures in seeking out, collecting, and reading old and rare books, along with reflections upon time, memory, and other mysteries.

Literary Studies · Biography · Memoir · Ohio and Regional

Cover of 'Rare Bits'

Rare Bits
Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes
By Patricia Bunning Stevens

In terms of geological time, good cooks are a young species. They've been evolving for a scant half a million years, since fire was first tamed and tended. Rare Bits is a delightful and illuminating account of humankind's progression from skewering meat to whipping up a batch of Strawberries Sarah Bernhardt. The range is wide, from Bismarcks to Green Goddess dressing.

Food Studies · History