Salmagundi Library Newsletter | Spring | 2023 | Jay B, Percy Smith and your librarian

Dear Salmagundi members,

This is the seventh library newsletter on a book by artist Percy Smith, recently revealed by research librarian Jay Barksdale, concerning sixteen dry-points and etchings on World War I. This book was given to the club by the artist and was beautifully bound.

Please enjoy this rediscovery.

Alexander Katlan
Salmagundi Library Committee Chairman

The forest green cover of a book by Percy Smith, featuring an intricate ivy pattern forming a central circle.
A vertical shot of a library bookshelf after some much needed dusting. Worn spines face the viewer, and a square slab featuring the profile of a woman by Alphonse Mucha is displayed on a middle shelf.

In the Library, we all see the books at eye-level.  But what about the top shelves?  Too remote.  The bottom?  Too scary.  So for our convenience, I am making shelf lists, beginning with Bay B.  Printed, it is in a yellow folder on the left side of shelf 4, arranged by access number, with titles.  If the title doesn’t give an idea of the subject, and it usually does, look within the parenthesis.

As for dates, think old.  The subjects are still pretty much as the Founders organized – numismatics, architecture, gemology, metal work, archaeology, and runs of annuals from early 20th  clubs, mostly architectural.  While working through the books, I gave them a dust and a bit of TLC, pictured here – sweet, yes?

An excerpt :

[B]7-09 Sketches in Germany and Spain
7-10 The Georgian Period (American colonial) 3 volumes
7-11 a catalog of watercolors [in French]
7-13 Domestic colonial architecture in New England
7-14 Studies in ancient (English) domestic architecture
7-15 Colonial architecture in South Carolina and Georgia
7-16 industrial terms [in German]
7-17 Detail and ornament in the Italian Renaissance

Last week I came across a cool souvenir of the Club’s past : a letter from Percy Smith, 1882 – 1948, British artist and veteran of the WWI trenches, the Somme specifically, to Gerald Leak [sic]. Mr. Leake, RA 1917 – 1975, was on the 1929 Entertainment Committee and otherwise active. In any case, he seems to have arranged Mr. Smith’s stay at the Club while in New York. The letter makes mention of the “good comradeship and kindness” of its members, and is placed within a gift to the Club’s Library, Smith’s own Sixteen Etchings & Drypoints of the Great War, inscribed (N8-36). That the etchings are decoratively bound with the Club’s logo is testament to the esteem from both sides. I wonder what guest rooms looked like in 1927, and who Stafford was?

A letter, written by Percy Smith regarding his hospitable experience at the Salmagundi Club during his visit to New York.
Interior title page of "Sixteen drypoints and etchings", by Percy Smith.
Handwriting, addressed to the Salmagundi Club by Percy Smith.
Etching of the depiction of death, watching over a barren land; by Percy Smith.
An etching, showing silhouettes of dead tree trunks against a rising moon; by Percy Smith.
An etching of a howitzer; an artillery weapon pointing at the sky.

Allow me to introduce myself – Jay Barksdale, patron member since 2022, librarian at The New York Public Library until 2015. It is wonderful to be back among books, and I’m in the Library on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from two to five o’clock (barring weddings, funerals and the toothache) pottering about and cataloging the collection. I’ll be happy to do light reference work for anyone, or other pertinent duties. Say you want Holbein, I’ll do my best to have those books ready when you next come by, for they are not in one place. Regardless, please do drop in for a browse or a chat or just some quiet time for yourself. The couch is comfy.

P.S. Most of us born & bred Texans grew up thinking the Alamo was mostly reconstructed. Well, maybe some, but I found a book that proves… out of space. See you in the Library.

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