May 2, 2017

Sigmund Freud, Otto Pfister, Rudolph Brandt

"John Nomland Booksellers" - the plural of the sales personnel is plain exquisite. And fake. It shuts you up nicely right away. Booksellers who?  The hidden beauty of "booksellers" is "booksseller" - sells many books. Many books indeed. As previously reported, "John Nomland Booksellers" placed his poetry safely with Hugh Miller in 1977. His Spanish material is awaiting dispersal now. A further book "density" from his warehouse, a book knot perhaps, goes back to Otto Pfister, an early Swiss psychoanalyst. Or Rudolph Brandt, a student who is known as the author of The Origins of Psychoanalysis, A Propaedeutics, a MA dissertation from Ottawa dated 1955.

The beauty of such book knots is the history embedded in their compilation. Rarely do you have the 13 linear feet of archival material to tell the story how the collection has come together. Once the dispersal starts, all the evidence that occurs when books are together disappears.

Lets see what we got:

The Otto Pfister Row

This is the Otto Pfister Row. Uniform bindings, library strength binding. Let's get a bit closer:

Reprints. The volume contains a collection of offprints, "Separata". Some authorial corrections and notes are present. But the word on the spine is not a word that is found on these titles. They may be called Separata, but the spine lettering "Reprints" indicates the work of a English speaking binding workshop, or an intended audience of that tongue. 

The binder did splendid work. He has the umlaut for Schönheit, he spells Psychanalyse, just as it must be in the early days of Freud, and he places the quotations marks properly in the German way. But the missing Umlaut in Religiosität again indicates a bookbinder working outside of Pfister's Switzerland.

On the other hand, the books do clearly have an authorial provenance. 

Another copy is inscribed "Leihexemplar.  O. Pfister, Pfr" [Pfarrer], designating it  for the use of friends or visitors who may want to borrow the author's work.

Other traces found among these books are biographical: Pfister's academic diploma from 1897 and the original certificate for his membership in the Verein für Psychatrie und Neurologie in Wien, issued in 1921, was also inserted among the books. 

Pfister is mostly known for the correspondence with Freud which has been published in 1963. The copy in our collection is inscribed "Rudy Brandt" and contains a few annotations in ink, including some dates in ink between printed letters that may indicate letters that have not been not published.

Included in the lot were also multiple photocopies of the original of the first letter by Freud to Pfister, dated 1901. At the bottom of the letter a note in ink has been added in an aged and somewhat insecure hand: "Geht mit wärmsten Grüssen als Andenken an Herrn Prof Dr Rudolf Brandt in Ottawa, Canada - Zürich den 16 Nov 1955, Dr Oskar Pfister, Pfarrer" - "With heartfelt greetings a memento for Professor Dr Rudolf Brandt."

Pfister passes on Freud, scan from photocopy

The original letter by Freud was passed on to Brandt. Pfister valued the collection of letters greatly, in the correspondence with Freud he mentions that for a long period the box which contained all these letters was presumed lost or stolen, and his great joy when it was found again (31/7/1930). The introduction to the volume of letters, edited by Heinrich Meng, mentions the "sehr anregende Freundschaft mit dem heute in Los Angeles lebenden Professor R J Brandt, der die Publikation der Briefe, - auch für Amerika, sehr begrüsst."

The "sehr anregende Freundschaft" involved the present of a Freud letter, the collection of Pfister books which were then uniformly bound by Brandt in North America, and the academic certificates. Pfister died in 1956, 83 years old. The friendship continued with his widow Martha, and we have a letter from her dated 1963, addressed to Brandt in Los Angeles, at the Linde Medical Center.

Brandt is also listed as a member of the Society for Projective Techniques and Research in 1951 and 1954.

Books, what to do with them? I guess Brandt had the idea donate Pfister's books to a library, and proceeded to have them bound to library standards. Apparently he never got around to complete this intention. So they fell into the hands of booksellers, Nomland etc, who make it their mission to find a home for them. Perhaps this time around a safe place will be found for this collection.

May 1, 2017

John Nomland sold his modern poetry collection to Hugh Miller in 1977. The lot was said to comprise of 30.000 titles. It was packed in 652 boxes and was duly delivered to the premises in New Haven Ct. Sixty boxes were found dented upon arrival, but no damage to report. John Nomland was a librarian and bookseller, also the son and brother of Kemper Nomland, modernist architect father and son team. In his correspondence, safely housed at special collections at UCLA, he presents himself as a weekend bookseller and a weekday librarian for the Los Angeles City College, today known as Los Angeles Community College.

Librarianship may have been in crisis there. There were disputes if the Encyclopedia Britannica would be appropriate for the library, or if their students would better be served by the less demanding World Encyclopedia. Somehow this inner city college library gave its librarian enough time to venture into bookselling. Big time.

The bookseller's archive at UCLA  is substantial: 26 boxes (13 linear ft.) of archival material. About his work for the library we know very little. Just imagine the conflicts of interest that are bound to occur when librarian and bookseller is the same person. Imagine you deal with a publisher in your official capacity, and then you add a PS in your private capacity. That earns you a great discount right from the start. Imagine you want to sell to another library and you can do so with colleague and librarianship credentials. No end of temptations, it seems. Well, it's nice if you can get it.

Nomland did have some issues. He disliked the smell of deceit. Some UK publishers would issue lists with prices in £ and $. Currency rates being what they are, he was keen to buy in £, even if he resided in Los Angeles, and that led to some cancellations and returns, if UK publishers would not play ball. The correspondence include disputes about discounts, anger about rogue booksellers taking advantage of him, and the memorable "I guess I just had my second unfortunate experience with you," addressed to a colleague, George Milkey - "but I do not intend to be victimized." Rogues all over!

 "I guess I just had my second unfortunate experience with you..."

Our Nomland also wrote a book on the Teatro Mexicano Contemporáneo: 1900 - 1950 (1967). It was based on his 1957 UCLA dissertation, which was written in English. He was travelling often across the California border for his book expeditions. Here is one of his Mexican additions.

Buying Books in Mexico City

His business letterhead and the library letterhead alternate in the archive, but the matter is always the commerce of printed matter:

In 1977 Hugh Miller took on the entire collection of his poetry and small press books. Adding up the books must have been quite a challenge, as we can see from the calculations here.

29,901 books counted

Shortly afterwards, Hugh Miller announced his haul in the American Bookman

But what happened to the rest of his collection? A colleague and friend reports that his estate was well ordered, after his death in 1988. The widow apparently had detailed instructions about what each book was worth. My friend was unable to buy from the front rooms with shelves of high expectations. So he asked to see the garden shed. There he found a collection of Spanish language material, mostly poetry, but also political and local history. He got that lot and sold some of it in Los Angeles. I think he was a little intimidated by the material, so he put it into the side room, closed the door, and showed it only to the occasional visitor. Occasionally.

Then came Rexford Elegant Appartments LLC. His bookstore faced closure because the shop premises are being developed. I helped him with this Wunderkammer, and the Spanish language material is now available at this link.