Monday, February 8, 2010

The Adventures of a Treasure Hunter - Book Review

The Adventures of a Treasure Hunter
A Rare Bookman in Search of American History
By Charles P. Everitt
Originally published by Little Brown & Company 1951
Reprinted by Meyerbooks, Illinos, 1987
Full Text of this Book for you to Read
Booksellers who specialized in Americana 1993

There was a letter printed in the Fine Books and Collectors magazine with an anecdotal story of this book.

I am pleased to add a footnote to Kurt Zimmerman’s article, “Armchair Adventures: Ten Classic Accounts of American Book Collecting,” which appears in the November/December issue (#30) of your magazine. For those who do not insist on reading it in the first edition, The Adventures of a Treasure Hunter: A Rare Bookman in Search of American History by Charles P. Everitt is available in a trade paperback edition. I published the reprint in 1987, with an introduction by Jack Matthews. Everitt’s book was actually ghostwritten by Barrows Mussey, a book publisher and collector, who, in a letter to me, explained how the book was written: “My contract with [the publisher] Little, Brown included all the bourbon Charlie Everitt could drink, and in the course of writing I actually bought two or three cases of Old Grandad. It was a relatively moral arrangement, because I, being a rum drinker, did not take more than a glass an evening of the private stock, for sociability.” Everitt’s book was published after his death in 1950 and was a selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club at the time.

David Meyer
Meyerbooks, Publisher
Glenwood, Illinois


As for reading it - well I found it to be a very readable book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There are not a lot of personal details about Charles P Everitt. He came from Orange County in NY, having been raised on a farm, which he left when he was 17 to go work in the book trade. That was in 1890. He mentions having one son named Tom. His wife was Elizabeth Thompson Everitt.

I learned a lot about different things, such as Americana, the early days of US history such as the Revolution, and Exploration of the West, Dr ASW Rosenbach whom Charlie called Rosy, and many many names of Collectors, Librarians and Book Dealers (the vast majority whom I have never heard of) from the first half of the 20th century. A number of authors are mentioned as well.

I also learned that Nathaniel Hawthorne did not write The Last of the Mohicans - which I had originally stated in my previous post about the Secrets of Lost Things (now corrected). James Fenimore Cooper wrote The Last of the Mohicans. Hawthorne wrote short stories, a few novels I never heard of and something called Fanshawe. Everitt told a story of once purchasing a copy of Fanshawe as part of a collection, and selling it for $350.

Another ancedote tells of the Baptist Publication Society looking for a copy of the book Fanny Hill (R18). When the Society called Everitt and asked if he knew how to find a copy, Everitt said he did not. The last man who did know (how to find a copy) got 2 years in jail.

Everitt made regular trips to London, England looking for books. He mentioned Marks and Cohen in this book. As you know, Marks and Company is the setting of the well known book by Helene Hanff - 84 Charing Cross Road - and later the movie of the same name. Everitt mentions a number of other London book sellers as well.

But I am not telling you anything that you cannot read for yourself, The entire book has been archived online for your reading pleasure and enjoyment.

This is not a linear story of Charles's life. Rather it is a collection of stories and anecdotes about book deals he made over 60 years as a book dealer, stretching from 1890 to 1950.

Charles Everitt was born in 1871 and died in March 1951.

I read this book for the Bibliophilic Challenge.

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