Rare Moby

My column on Moby-Dick prompted an invitation to the rare book room of Scripps Colleges Denison Library, where librarian Judy Harvey Sahak, who tendered the invite, brought out a special edition of Melvilles classic for me to peruse.

It was my first visit to the rare book room, and the place is impressive, with scads of old and limited edition tomes, including an enormous Medieval choirbook from the early 1500s.

My copy of “Moby-Dick” was purchased at a Starbucks, of all places, where it was sold amidst mugs and bags of coffee. The novel’s first mate is named Starbuck, the apparent connection.

This version, as Harvey Sahak had suspected from comments in my column, is a paperback reprint of the deluxe edition published by Andrew Hoyem, a Pomona College alumnus and much-lauded printer, in 1979. Photographs of each page were taken for the paperback to reproduce the way-cool type and the woodcut illustrations.

Well, Harvey Sahak showed me Hoyems hardcover original.

Only 265 copies were printed. The paper is heavy and bluish-gray, like the sea, and was handmade in England. Consequently, the book is six inches thick. Its dimensions are roughly 18 inches by 30 inches. Original cost: $1,000. It’s a thing of beauty.

We rested the book on a table oof! and I read a few favorite passages. Quite a novel, and quite an edition, and it was very nice of Harvey Sahak to invite me over.

Bang for the buck, though, Im content with my $25 Moby-Dick. Especially since it was discounted to $10, which represents 1 percent of the original hardcover price.

Call me practical, as well as Ishmael.

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  • Mason

    Yes, but when do you get to see the original masters of the Moby Grape debut album?

    [Snort! — DA]

  • Brian

    Good job, finishing Moby Dick. How about a new challenge? As an American historian, when I was in my senior year of high school, back in Virginia, I read a book called “A House Divided.” A great tale of our American Civil War. Or as us Southern folk called it, “A war between the States.” It’s about as big and long as the Bible, I needed to re-check it out of the library for almost six months, but really enjoyed the history of the novel. It’s a great read.

    [First I should probably read the (wild guess) 300 books I’ve bought and paid for but haven’t read! — DA]