Bibliotheca Titanicana


James Smith

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Dec 5, 2001
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Hi all. I was browsing the catalog of a local library for Titanic books and found an entry for a book called "Bibliotheca Titanicana: A List of Books Relating to the Loss of the S.S. Titanic", compiled by Howard M. Chapin. It was printed in 1926 in New Jersey and evidently was one of fifty copies printed. Is anyone else familiar with this book?

James Smith
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Mike Tennaro's site lists this book as "very scarce". Few will have seen a copy. Howard Chapin is sometimes called the first Titanic Buff. He was a passenger on Carpathia and witnessed the rescue mission. (It interrupted his honeymoon).

After the disaster, Chapin wrote various articles for magazines and published a short account of the disaster. He also brought Captain Rostron to address Brown University and generally worked to preserve the memory of the sinking. He collected all the books he could find on the subject and catalogued them in the book you mention. The books would be the hastily printed ones that were sold in great numbers soon after the sinking. Many would be listed on Mike's site, with information on their availability. They need to be read with caution, as they are a mixture of truth and fantasy. Two of them, by Logan Marshall and Jay Mowbray, are available online.

http://www.titanicbooksite.com/
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Hi James,
I would agree with everything Dave said. Bibliotheca Titanicana is a bibliographer's list of books about the disaster. it was printed in two forms, both are very hard to find. one was the limited edition you mentioned. it was also printed in the January, 1926 issue of The Americana Collector magazine.

the article lists the various 1912 instant disaster books, plus the major publications done by both the American and British inquiries, as well as the major titles like Beesley, Gracey, Bullock, and Young, and even some of the scarcer works, like Hester Julian's book and Moncada's.

as Dave said, Chapin also wrote a short account of the disaster from his perspective as a passenger on the Carpathia. it is even more scarce than the bibliography - it was first printed in a magazine in 1912, and reprinted, with some additions, in another magazine in 1913.

in book form, it was printed only once, and was limited to 20 copies! which makes it the smallest print run of any Titanic book ever published far as I know.

here is the link to Chapin's books on my site:
http://titanicbooksite.com/author%20pages/chapinhoward.html

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
S

Susan L. Romanyuk

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Dave shared: The books would be the hastily printed ones that were sold in great numbers soon after the sinking. Many would be listed on Mike's site, with information on their availability. They need to be read with caution, as they are a mixture of truth and fantasy.

Dave, I believe those first Titanic books written right after the disaster were called: 'Penny Dreadfulls' and were available by subscription. And yes I have 3 of them in my library and they are extremely hard to read. And yes the information has to be taken with a grain of salt.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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There's a site about the instant books at http://personal.nbnet.nb.ca/jay/ I see it's been updated to include information about recent sales.

I think the "Penny Dreadfuls" were actually British comic books of pre WW II days. I'll bet Bob Godfrey knows all about them. The instant books about Titanic generally sold for $1 US.
 
Nov 12, 2000
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far as I know, Penny Dreadfuls were mostly text stories aimed at young working class audiences. here in the States they were known as Dime Novels. they were not comic books, in that most were not illustrated aside from the front cover, although some versions did have some wood engravings in them.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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The original 'Penny Dreadfuls' were Victorian creations, much as Michael has described them. The subject matter was always horrific, often featuring true(ish) crime stories of grisly murder and mayhem alongside mythical villains like 'Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber' and 'Spring-heeled Jack'. Or so I'm told - contrary to popular opinion, I wasn't around at the time!