Astrolearn astrology library progress report: 9th July 2015
I hope this will be the first of a regular series of weekly reports on progress with the Astrolearn website and the astrological archive that supports it.
Last week, my dearest daughter was here all week on a visit, curtailing my work-related activities in favour of shared computer games and general conversational banter. But she is home again in Stockholm now.
I’ve postponed completing and uploading the cataloguing of the German astrological journals and almanacs to a later date – probably much later, for a couple of reasons. The first is that I can’t access all of them at the moment since many are in awkward piles as a result of shortage of shelf space. I need to save for another IKEA bookcase before I can get to them easily! The second is that I started collecting these at a very much later stage than the English and French equivalents – certainly not before 2008-2009. Cumulatively, my holdings of German astrological journals and almanacs are therefore patchy at best. I would ideally like to have another five years at least to periodically develop them (as and when suitable and affordable opportunities arise) into something more worthy of bibliographical presentation before I upload them at all. In the meantime, there are plenty of other information sources on the Internet to consult about these publications – sources run by native German-speaking astrologers who have specialised in collecting this literature for a lot longer than I have dabbled in it as a sideline.
Presently my chief focus is getting the books section of the archive’s catalogue in better order prior to upload.
I’ve already thoroughly catalogued virtually all the older works up to around 1950 earlier this year, including descriptions of physical format, condition, and pagination.
For modern paperbacks (1950s to present day), in most cases I don’t plan to add pagination, binding format and condition details. There are simply too many and it would take longer than the job would merit. Likewise for 21st-century hardbacks bought from new (the condition is almost invariably unblemished, and details of pagination etc. can easily be found elsewhere on the Internet).
However, this week I am starting to go through the English-language hardbacks from the 1950s to the 1980s and add fuller catalogue details to those. That is likely to take at least ten days yet and see me through to the end of next week.
Beyond that, I want to handle that peculiar breed of hand-bound books that astrologers loved to privately produce from the 1950s onwards – the ones with comb and spiral bindings etc.. They will be fun to describe, and, many of them being quite scarce or substantially different between editions, I think the information will be worth recording (i.e. their bindings and paginations).
In all, I have probably at least 2½ weeks’ worth of worthwhile cataloguing to do on the books before I start to upload the entries for authors beginning with the letter ‘A’. And I plan to have a separate index page for each letter of the alphabet since there are many authors, and I feel that they each deserve their own page so that their works can be seen in relief and not just as part of a cluttered, lengthy ream.
Meanwhile, I’m also making a few late additions to the archive by scrimping and saving from my meagre personal income.
Today, the first four issues of the illustrated French esoteric magazine of the 1970s called “HAMSA”, together with the ninth and tenth, showed up in the mail. I’ve therefore now completed the cataloguing of that title, which was the sole one in the bibliography index as it stood to have been postponed. I previously had the eleventh and twelfth issues. There was an auction for all the earlier ones, in separate lots, last week, and I was the succcessful bidder on the first four and the ninth and tenth, although outbid on the fifth through to eighth, which are two lots of matching pairs. Some of the themes of this journal are astrological, and even the issues that are not nominally about astrology mostly carry at least one astrology-related article.
I seem to recall that my friend Michael Erlewine, an inspiring collector of astrological publications himself, and a genial and generous mentor (he told me at least six years ago, incidentally, that he believed I had a destiny related to the archival of astrological literature), had at his famous private “Heart Center” astrological library most if not all issues of HAMSA that were published. It presumably now resides among the thousands of other holdings from his library at their new permanent home at the library of the University of Illinois.
Also today, my order for a book I’ve wanted for a very long time (it has been on my Top 10 priorities list for at least three years) has been confirmed by a Parisian bookseller:
M. Rollet “Médecins Astrologues” (1910).
It promises to be a Ph D. thesis of 179 pages on the historical use of astrology in medicine by some famous doctors of the past. Although as with most academic works, it’s not all that uncommon in well-established libraries, it does seem to be very scarce on the free market.
This copy was priced at 200 Euros, which I personally felt to be too high, until recently, when it was reduced to 120 Euros, which I reckoned to be a fair price for the original printing of a scarce academic work on the history of astrology from 1910 (even a brand new academic work of equivalent quality will frequently cost 100 Euros or more these days). Of necessity, that will be my sole major purchase for this month.
Works on the history of astrology, including older ones, are among the most important in the archive, in my opinion, and this one, when it arrives, will not be here a minute too soon.
Finally worth noting for this week: my recent work on getting the catalogue for the French-language journals and almanacs in order on this website prompted me belatedly to order a couple of predictive almanacs I’d previously set aside from that most fruitful and historically interesting time-period in French astrological almanac composition, the 1930s. They are the 1937 and 1938 almanacs edited by Dom Néroman, who also edited two of the magazines in the French astrological magazines section: Votre Destin and Sous Le Ciel, and authored many books on astrology and other esoteric subjects. As and when his two almanacs get here, I’ll add them in as another entry in the French-language almanacs section.
Thank you for your interest and support.