Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Unusual books and ephemera fill Ann Arbor seller Garrett Scott's latest online catalog, 'Verify the Truth'

Posted By on Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 12:21 PM

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Ann Arbor-based bookseller Garrett Scott has been selling obscure, rare and unusual books, pamphlets and ephemera since 1998. The shop's motto is "interesting books by unusual authors." Scott issues three or four printed catalogues a year in his specialties, which he describes as "18th, 19th and early 20th century American and English literature, religion and social thought." 
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If you love weird old books and have  bit of disposable income, or are currently bored at work and want to look like you are doing something (if not both), I highly recommend getting lost in some of his listings, unusual categorizations (see for yourself), and online catalogs, which are archived as PDFs, and which are published far more regularly than the printed catalogs. 
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The most recent list was posted last Wednesday, "Occasional List 27: Verify the Truth." It's described as "an online-only illustrated catalog of 29 new arrivals, ranging from the account of a woman outside Dodge City killing a rattlesnake in 1885, to a fine lie detector trade catalog, to a couple of nice 19th century American vernacular homemade dust jackets, to a bit of pirated children's tattoo fiction from 1835. And relevant perhaps to booksellers is a nice early broadside having to do with poorhouse regulation in Macomb County, Michigan."
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I wonder if anything in the older "Get Right with God" list is still available? So much cool stuff in there. As to items that seem to still be for sale, this one pamphlet from 1829, Life and Adventures of Robert, the Hermit of Massachusetts, Who has lived 14 Years in a Cave, secluded from human of society . . . Taken from his own mouth, and published for his benefit, looks super fascinating, and is described as follows: "The sympathetic account of the life of a celebrated cave-dwelling African American hermit Robert Voorhis, taken directly from the subject by a sympathetic white author; Roberts was born ca. 1769 into slavery in Princeton, N.J., and later taken to Washington, D.C.; his savings to purchase his freedom were stolen, but he later escaped from a master in Charleston, S.C. aboard a sloop bound for Philadelphia, though he is there kidnapped and returned into slavery before escaping again on a brig bound for Massachusetts, eventually serving some nine years as a merchant seaman. His wife evidently killed herself during one of his voyages and his children apparently died soon thereafter—"I then felt but little desire to live, as there was nothing then remaining to attach me to this world—and it was at that moment that I formed the determination to retire from it—to become a recluse, and mingle thereafter as little as possible with human society."
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Scott looks to be one of Ann Arbor's most interesting people. I'd love to grab a coffee with him one day. 
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