Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bone on Bone

Fate has pitched me a curveball, folks.

For years I’ve had a bad right shoulder, probably the result of a mis-spent youth painting houses instead of studying library science or apprenticing with A.S.W. Rosenbach. Suddenly it got really bad – pain and no range of motion - and I went to see the doc. “Bone on bone arthritis,” he told me, “With bone spurs, arthritic damage and deposits, and a frayed rotator cuff. We’d better get you a new one.”

So in I go, this Friday, for a new shoulder. They tell me I’ll be laid up for 4 to 6 weeks. No driving. So how am I going to conduct my business, buy and sell my books, make my living? Feed my family?

Easy! I’m going to contact all my Internet-savvy friends and find out how they buy books online. ABE, eBay, Craig’s list, iGavel, and every grungy bookseller listserv, auction and marketplace known to man. I’m going to wheedle advice from my more knowledgeable compatriots, and try everything they tell me.

Each week, as part of this blog, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned, if I was able to apply it, and how well it worked. Typing with one hand, I should be plenty busy during my recovery, though the blog might be a little short on pictures.

So if you’ve got any tips for navigating Americana Exchange, searching eBay, or, gaming ABE, take pity on a poor wounded vet and send me your secret tips for Turning Spare Time Into Intenet Gold.

Meanwhile, back in the cynical, hardnosed world of rare maritime books and manuscripts, here’s a wonderful manuscript item that just came in. It was scouted up by a colleague who saw a small ad for an auction in a good neighborhood, got in his car at 4 AM and drove hard, arriving just as the auction began. His gamble was rewarded with:Manuscript. PRIZE BOOK FOR THE PRIVATEER AMERICA ON HER THIRD CRUISE, JANUARY 17 - MARCH 12, 1814. WITH SUMMARIES OF HER FIRST TWO CRUISES. 12mo. 11 pages manuscript entries. The ship America, owned by the Crowninshield family of Salem, was one of the most successful and famous privateers in the War of 1812. A merchantman built in 1804, she was razeed and reinforced at the outbreak of hostilities, raising her tonnage from 473 to nearly 600 tons. She carried twenty guns and 150 men. Her first cruise, a successful one, began on September 7, 1812. The second cruise, March 29, 1813, was also successful, but shortened by lack of supplies. The third cruise, whose results are detailed in this book, began December 3, 1813, under Captain James Cheever, Jr. After two near mishaps - pouncing on strangers who turned out to be British warships - Cheever and the America lucked into a convoy of 140 sail and fed like a hungry wolf. This was followed by good hunting in February and March, before the America returned to Salem on April 8, 1815. Over her three cruises she landed twenty-five prizes returning $1,100,000 to her shareholders. Ten of them are recorded here, in considerable detail. The author of this book records type of vessel, master, cargo, location of capture and the names of the prize crew put on the captured vessel. The final three pages of the book summarize the results of the first and second cruise. The only similar documents I’ve seen are folio ledger sheets tallying prizes. This is a more immediate kind of record, probably made at the end of the final cruise. Pages clean and legible. In beautiful condition, absolutely contemporary, on paper watermarked 1808. $3000

Next week: Things you can do with one hand.

1 comment:

  1. I've recently discovered your blog and have been enjoying it. Sorry, though, to hear of your shoulder problems and the surgery, which I hope went well. I understand fully what you're about to go through with taking care of business post-op. I tore a bicep tendon last fall and the surgical repair and recovery knocked me out of commission for a few months and for a few months afterward I was barely in commission. For lifting anything heavier than a book that is. But you'd be surprised how quickly you can adapt with your good arm and how creative you'll be in getting around most obstacles. From the vantage point of 8 months out, I can say it goes by quickly. Your opinion of that will differ significantly for the next 4 to 6 weeks. Best of luck!