Astrology Library Progress report – 8th October, 2015

Astrolearn astrology library progress report

– No. 11: 8th October, 2015

The enhanced cataloguing continues. Various hardbacks that were sitting in the walk-in-closet I turned over to an extension of my library space have been dealt with, as too have the unbound dissertations (to the degree that was possible while many of them are still shrink-wrapped). Now the cataloguing has progressed into the domain of large-format books with unconventional bindings, of which many were produced on astrology in the late 20th century in particular. There are still hundreds of these to get through; and because they tend to be narrow, there can frequently be as many as 80 to a shelf, and it can take a couple of working days to properly catalogue a single shelf including all relevant information. I strongly feel that it is worth covering these unconventional books, however, because they tend by their nature to be relatively scarce (non-mass-market) and of particular interest to the history of modern astrology. Once these large-format ones are finished (unlikely in the next week though I am expecting to get close), there is also over a shelf of small-format books with unconventional bindings (such as comb-bound) to get through. Many of these will also provide worthwhile details to the catalogue, quite a lot of them being Ballantrae Reprints of old, scarce texts whose original publishing history is worth noting.

At this stage I am expecting it to take at most another couple of weeks to get through all of the above. After that, however, the job will still not yet be complete, because there are hundreds of German books bought at auction in the summer of 2014 from the collection of a late esoteric bookseller in Pforzheim, Germany, which have only been catalogued in a basic way so far, and are worthy of enhanced cataloguing. These are not even in proper bookcases yet, but rather about half are stacked on a chair and the other half are stacked on the very top of another bookcase. They will be moved out to proper bookshelf space when I can afford another bookcase, but this is not a priority while funds remain scarce. All of this extra cataloguing will of course take more time – at least a week. This is why I estimated this time last week that I’d need the whole of October to basically complete the job.

However, even after that, there will be more work to do. I have yet to convert the contents of the German journals and almanacs section of the catalogue to the standard used (as uploaded here in the early summer) for the English and French equivalents. And it is also the case that when I began the enhanced cataloguing on existingly shelf-placed German books in the early Spring this year, I had not yet developed the comprehensive standards for pagination and other references that I later evolved in my cataloguing methodology. These therefore will need reviewing one book at a time, and this is likely to take at least another week. Furthermore, it may be that the small vintage English-language hardbacks and paperbacks (three wide shelves of narrow publications) that I catalogued following the German books back in the Spring will also need reworking in this way. Ergo another week’s work. That should take me through to mid-November.

Beyond that, I also have to think carefully about indexing. If I’m going to produce a printed version of the catalogue, as is my plan, I really want to include topical indices on popular subjects such as mundane astrology, medical astrology and predictive astrology. How much time will be required for that I do not yet know. I can only take things one logical step at a time and keep in mind that it is better to do a good job than a rushed one.

On Wednesday this week, I collected the set of the 25 instructive letters from Hans Baumgartner’s “Astrologische Universal-Harmonien – Fernlehrgang der Astrologie” series (undated but estimated to be from the early 1950s) from the post office. They all appear in excellent condition. Those from the 2. Brief to the 25. were presented as singly staplebound gatherings of A4 sheets, whereas the first was an A5 staplebound pamphlet and seems to be much more common. It is apparent that a subscription order form was included in the original issue of the 1.Brief, but can be presumed that only a small number of those who obtained the first went on to subscribe to the whole course, which was complete in 25 letters.

What is also historically interesting is that these 25 letters (which are folded down the centres) retain, laid-in loose in their middles, the original issues of the first 22 or so numbers of Baumgartner’s periodical “Der Auskunftsbogen”. Initially these were just single sheets, and it would appear that they were originally issued just as small supplements to these letters. But as anyone familiar with the history of astrology in the mid-late 20th century in Germany will know, from those humble beginnings they took on a life of their own, becoming a long-running printed monthly astrology magazine (retitled “Astrologische Auskunftsbogen”) that finally ceased publication in the mid-1980s.

Also received this past week, at long last, an original copy of A. Volguine’s scarce pamphlet “L’Utilisation du Tarot en Astrologie Judiciaire” (Éditions du Chariot, 1933). This is the one standalone astrological work by Volguine that had hitherto eluded me in any edition. There had been a very expensive copy offered by an Italian bookseller for quite some time, but I felt it was overpriced and shunned it. My patience finally got its reward at an auction a couple of weeks ago. It is probably scarce precisely because it was a pamphlet on a relatively niche topic and one published by Georges Muchery’s publishing house in its relatively early days. Had it been published by Volguine’s own Éditions des Cahiers Astrologiques, it would probably have been printed in considerably greater numbers than it evidently was.

There is one more historically noteworthy mid-20th century French-authored publication on order, but it’s unlikely to arrive before the update two weeks from now, and details will not be divulged until it does.

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