In 2002 Bravo’s Arts and Minds shot this piece on my career as a private librarian. The channel, then devoted to the arts, was purchased by NBC and remodeled into a vehicle for Reality based TV – Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Project Runway – and never showed in the US.
My family and I have since moved from Brooklyn Heights to Sugar Hill in Washington Heights/Harlem, where in 2005 I opened Jumel Terrace Books. The out-of-print and rare shop specializes in local history: African and American.
The Private Library is now in its 28th year providing services to Bibliophiles: cataloguing, bibliography, appraisals, archival services, organization, moving, book searches and research. We specialize in made-to-order and custom made libraries on all subjects.
Some of you might remember autodidact/bibliophile Earl Hadley’s AfroAmerican Bookshop (1972-1985) on 145th. Herb Boyd recalls that when ConEd turned the electric off on Mr. Hadley, he lit the place with candles. A good selection from his shop is now at Jumel Terrace Books, where we keep the flame burning. This is just a small sample.
Muhammad Speaks. (Chicago: September 25, 1964 thru September 20th, 1968. 4 large folios, Vols. 4, 5, 6, 7. Extremely scarce. Library bound by Books and Things, New York. Extraordinary. Enquire for price.
Washington, Booker T. A New Negro for a New Century. (Chicago: American Publishing House, 1900) Very Good. No Jacket. First edition, early printing. Includes sections written by N.B. Wood and Fannie Barrier Williams. Eighteen chapters on notable African Americans of the Victorian era, including writers, soldiers, lawyers, politicians, doctors and society people, with portraits of the subjects. Green diagonal-fine-rib-grain cloth with gold, red, and blue stamping. Photo portrait of Washington in white paper onlay printed in brown ink on front. Gold stamping to spine. No decoration on back. Green endpapers. No DJ. Very good with some rubbing to gilt decoration, binding loosening but intact. Text block clean and near fine with some minor aging to paper. 428 pp. $350.00
Heldman, Marilyn with Stuart C. Munro-Hay. African Zion: The Sacred Art of Ethiopia. (New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1993) Wraps. Very good +. A well illustrated monograph on the Eastern Coptic Christian tradition of Ethiopia. $200.00
Jones, LeRoi & Larry Neal, eds. Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing. (New York: William Morrow, 1968.) Second Printing. Signed by Larry Neal.
1 ½” closed tear to dj, chipping to top of spine, otherwise very good. $170.00
Van der Zee, James, Owen Dodson, Camille Billops with a forward by Toni Morrison. The Harlem Book of the Dead. (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Morgan & Morgan, 1978) First printing, First edition. Signed by Camille Billops. Cloth/dj. Chips to dj, small closed tears, minor soiling. Scarce. $350.00
Other titles include Dr. Ben’s Black Men of the Nile, Malcolm X Speaks, Basil Davidson’s biography of Kwame Nkrumah Black Star, Harold Courlander’s Tales of Yoruba Gods and Heros, Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth and Black Skin, White Masks, and ornitologist R.W. Shufeldt’s scurrilous The Negro: A Menace to American Civilization, 1907.
Lauren Bilanko shot a portfolio of photographs, a picture play, on the hottest day of last summer’s early August heat wave here at the house. I was recruited to pose as the effete elite collector. She’s wisely obscured me – for I’m looking rather Monty Wooley in a George Sanders role – as the focus is on the muse.
I am no more accustomed to seeing my muse than you are but Lauren’s shown it to me as in a symbolist fever dream. In one of the photos, titled Duality and Death, Indira’s perfectly poised freak Wodaabe chic is just out and there I am with my hands out. My Phoenix arises from the ashes in that dynamite picture of the piano and takes flight in the back yard. As the young people say, nowadays, It’s all about the Holy Ghost.
Highlights from an enlightening talk Bob gave recently at the Brooklyn Public Library. Watch this space for our announcement of his forthcoming visit to Jumel Terrace Books, when Bobito will represent the Mambo in New York in his own inimitable style. Wear your dancing shoes.