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November News from Slightly Foxed
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Most Pressing Problems


The winter quarter is almost upon us . . . Issue 48 has been printed, sewn and trimmed and our printers in Yorkshire now have the mammoth task of packaging up all our subscribers’ copies to be sent out towards the end of next week. Meanwhile, here in Hoxton Square, each day brings a fresh delivery of parcels to keep the office foxes on their toes. Thankfully all the lugging of boxes upstairs, sprinting for the phone, stretching to the top shelves for slipcases, wrestling with cardboard and lunging for the tape gun means we never feel too bad about having just one more mince pie, and it’s always worth it when at last we open up the brown paper parcels and glimpse the new issue’s artwork or the binding cloth on the latest edition for the first time.

Helene Hanff’s much-loved 84, Charing Cross Road, with its pillar box red cloth and royal blue endpapers peeking out is such a treat indeed. It’s a gloriously heart-warming read, the account of a friendship – almost a love story – conducted through books that captures the essence of a slower, gentler era. Now it’s back to the paper-shuffling and post bags for us as we tidy up for the weekend so we’ll leave you right at the beginning, with Miss Hanff of 14 East 95th Street, New York and FPD of Marks & Co, Charing Cross Road, London.
 
14 East 95th St.
New York City

October 5, 1949
Marks & Co.
84, Charing Cross Road
London, WC2
England

Gentlemen:
   Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books. The phrase ‘antiquarian booksellers’ scares me somewhat, as I equate ‘antique’ with expensive. I am a poor writer with an antiquarian taste in books and all the things I want are impossible to get over here except in very expensive rare editions, or in Barnes & Noble’s grimy, marked-up schoolboy copies.
   I enclose a list of my most pressing problems. If you have clean secondhand copies of any of the books on the list, for no more than $5.00 each, will you consider this a purchase order and send them to me?

Very truly yours,
Helene Hanff
(Miss) Helene Hanff
 
 
MARKS & CO., Booksellers
84, Charing Cross Road
London WC2
25th October 1949

Miss Helene Hanff
14 East 95th Street
New York 28, New York
USA

Dear Madam,
   In reply to your letter of October 5th, we have managed to clear up two thirds of your problem. The three Hazlitt essays you want are contained in the Nonesuch Press edition of his Selected Essays and the Stevenson is found in Virginibus Puerisque. We are sending nice copies of both these by Book Post and we trust they will arrive safely in due course and that you will be pleased with them. Our invoice is enclosed with the books.
   The Leigh Hunt essays are not going to be so easy but we will see if we can find an attractive volume with them all in. We haven’t the Latin Bible you describe but we have a Latin New Testament, also a Greek New Testament, ordinary modern editions in cloth binding. Would you like these?

Yours faithfully,
FPD
For MARKS & CO.
 

14 East 95th St.
New York City
 
November 3, 1949
Marks & Co.
84, Charing Cross Road
London, WC2
England

Gentlemen:
   The books arrived safely, the Stevenson is so fine it embarrasses my orange-crate bookshelves, I’m almost afraid to handle such soft vellum and heavy cream-colored pages. Being used to the dead-white paper and stiff cardboardy covers of American books, I never knew a book could be such a joy to the touch.
   A Britisher whose girl lives upstairs translated the £1/17/6 for me and says I owe you $5.30 for the two books. I hope he got it right. I enclose a $5 bill and a single, please use the 70c toward the price of the New Testaments, both of which I want.
   Will you please translate your prices hereafter? I don’t add too well in plain American, I haven’t a prayer of ever mastering bilingual arithmetic.

Yours,
Helene Hanff

I hope ‘madam’ doesn’t mean over there what it does here.
 
 
MARKS & CO., Booksellers
84, Charing Cross Road
London wc2
9th November 1949
Miss Helene Hanff
14 East 95th Street
New York 28, New York
USA

Dear Miss Hanff,
   Your six dollars arrived safely, but we should feel very much easier if you would send your remittances by postal money order in future, as this would be quite a bit safer for you than entrusting dollar bills to the mails.
   We are very happy you liked the Stevenson so much. We have sent off the New Testaments, with an invoice listing the amount due in both pounds and dollars, and we hope you will be pleased with them.

Yours faithfully,
FPD
For MARKS & CO.
 

14 East 95th St.
November 18, 1949

WHAT KIND OF A BLACK PROTESTANT BIBLE IS THIS?

Kindly inform the Church of England they have loused up the most beautiful prose ever written, whoever told them to tinker with the Vulgate Latin? They’ll burn for it, you mark my words.
   It’s nothing to me, I’m Jewish myself. But I have a Catholic sister-in-law, a Methodist sister-in-law, a whole raft of Presbyterian cousins (through my Great-Uncle Abraham who converted) and an aunt who’s a Christian Science healer, and I like to think none of them would countenance this Anglican Latin Bible if they knew it existed. (As it happens, they don’t know Latin existed.)
   Well, the hell with it. I’ve been using my Latin teacher’s Vulgate, what I imagine I’ll do is just not give it back till you find me one of my own.
   I enclose $4 to cover the $3.88 due you, buy yourself a cup of coffee with the 12c. There’s no post office near here and I am not running all the way down to Rockefeller Plaza to stand in line for a $3.88 money order. If I wait till I get down there for something else, I won’t have the $3.88 any more. I have implicit faith in the US Airmail and His Majesty’s Postal Service.
   Have you got a copy of Landor’s Imaginary Conversations? I think there are several volumes, the one I want is the one with the Greek conversations. If it contains a dialogue between Aesop and Rhodope, that’ll be the volume I want.
Helene Hanff
 

 

Will Madam get her Imaginary Conversations? Will FPD be able to procure a copy of those Leigh Hunt essays? Find out in the next installment on 26 November!  And if you can’t wait until then, please scroll down to buy the book right now and browse a selection of Slightly Foxed wares.

 

New in cloth-bound hardback


In the drab and traumatized post-war London of 1949, Marks & Co., second-hand and antiquarian booksellers at 84, Charing Cross Road, received an enquiry from a Miss Helene Hanff of New York City. It was not the kind of letter they were accustomed to receiving, and it was one that would make history.
 

UK £16
Europe: £18
USA & ROW: £19

2016 Wall Calendar


Last year a number of readers expressed disappointment that we weren’t producing another Slightly Foxed calendar. So we’ve put our heads together and come up with what we think is a very handsome version for 2016. Measuring 310 x 250mm and featuring twelve of our favourite seasonal covers, the new, slightly larger design allows space each day for vital notes and engagements.


UK £12.50
Overseas: £15

 
Thank you to our April artist Rebecca Campbell for this lovely photo showing her calendar and issue of SF and her own matching greetings card.

Bookplates


Most Slightly Foxed readers, we suspect, have some irritating gaps on their bookshelves left by favourite titles lent and never returned. A personal bookplate is an elegant and practical way of solving the problem and gives the book itself a special interest, identity and provenance. But commissioning an original bookplate is costly, and with this in mind, we’re offering readers the opportunity to acquire a personalized yet affordable bookplate featuring a wood-engraving by one of our favourite engravers, Howard Phipps . . . More
 

From £115

The Christmas Card

 
Based on an original drawing for Slightly Foxed, our convivial card, coloured in the Victorian manner, is available in packs of 10.
 

Pack of 10, with envelopes
UK £11.50
Overseas: Â£13

New! The Canvas Bag

 
Our gorgeous new bag, with stout, non-slippery straps that fit snugly over the shoulder, is elegant and unusually capacious. Made from attractive natural cream canvas with duck-egg blue trim, it’s exceptionally strong but light and folds easily. It has an inner pocket, a magnetic fastener to keep your purchases safe, and – most important of all – a generous gusset. Both sides are printed with a specially commissioned print-themed design by one of our favourite cover artists, James B. W. Lewis, so it can be worn either way.


UK £14.50
Overseas: Â£16.50

Art Workers’ Guild Fundraising Auction


Our friends at the Art Workers’ Guild are holding a secret postcard auction as part of their ongoing fundraising for the new courtyard project, which will transform the central courtyard of the building. It is the first fundraising event for Phase II, the installation of a glass roof and creation of a new exhibition space, and follows the success of Phase I for the introduction of wheelchair access.


Bidding until 10th December

 

Our readers write


We are always touched and delighted by the notes, letters, postcards, emails and photos we receive from you. Here is a recent favourite from one of our booksellers:
 
Can I please have 12 copies of the Winter issue of Slightly Foxed, as well as 5 copies of 84, Charing Cross RoadThis book has a special place in my heart. My wife and I had a long-distance courtship, which began with sending each other favorite books. The first book she sent me was a hardcover of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, and I sent her a first-edition 84, Charing Cross Road. We both knew we were on to something good. It will be our 10 year anniversary this January, and I enclose a picture of the apple pie she made a day or two ago as evidence that I made a wise choice. (Her mother’s side of the family are generations-old apple farmers, and this was from her grandmother’s recipe. An astoundingly good pie that relies for its excellence simply on the right combination of apples & the best, though exacting, crust recipe we’ve ever come across). I send a large slice in spirit to everyone at Slightly Foxed & I look forward to sharing my beloved Foxes with our Christmas shoppers!

E. Heywood, Book/Shop, San Francisco
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