A Very Rare Nikola Tesla Inscription

In the original owner of Bell’s Books’ glass cabinet were some very special book treasures: among them a complete set of Shakespeare from 1752, an early 17th Century legal/historical text in Latin from Spain, a complete doubly-illustrated set signed by Joseph Conrad, and a book entitled Memoirs of the Queens of Prussia by Emma Willsher Atkinson from 1858. At first it was a mystery as to why this book was with the others, until we opened to the front free endpaper and discovered a German text in ink and in the cryptic hand of none other than Nikola Tesla(!). The German text is a particularly relevant passage to Tesla, as the following story relates:

One day in 1882, as he was walking with his friend Anital Szigety in a Budapest city park watching the sun set, Tesla quoted a passage from Goethe’s Faust from memory. It triggered an epiphany, and, as Tesla recounts: “…the idea came like a flash of lightning, and in an instant the truth was revealed.” Tesla immediately drew a diagram (with a stick on the ground) of what would become the AC motor, forever changing the future of electricity.

The text quoted from memory was lines 1072-1075 of Goethe’s Faust, which are the same lines of text inked in the front of the Memoirs of the Queens of Prussia. This is an extremely unusual instance of poetry Tesla admired in his own hand, and this particular example represents the most significant in his life’s work.

Here is the page:

“The sun moves on, the day has had its round;

He hastens on, new life greets his salute.

Oh, that no wings lift me above the ground

To strive and strive in his pursuit!”

       – Walter Kaufman translation

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Who Was Richard Bachman?

Richard Bachman (1977-1985) was the pen name for Stephen King, in an experiment he carried on for years to see if he could be a successful writer under a different name. 

Roadwork is the third (published in 1981) in a series of books which were not discovered to be by King until 1985. This first edition was released in mass market format, and, as such, is extremely scarce. 

The story tells of a frustrated laundry service company manager, George Bart Dawes, who must give up his home in order for a new highway to be built. As winter ensues, Dawes considers more desperate and violent measures to combat his ultimate feeling of helplessness.

This book comes with an exclusive custom Moroccan leather clamshell box made by local bookbinder Constance Hunter.

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Our Bell’s Logo Bags Have Returned!

Our brilliantly colorful Bell’s logo bags are back in stock! Made from a medley of patterned fabrics, using remnants from clothing manufacture in India, they come in three styles: large cotton shopper, sturdy canvas book bag, or small organza gift bag.

Every single bag has a unique combination of fabrics, and supplies are limited!

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The Lord of the Rings Emerges from Our Archives!

Fresh from our long-term holdings, we have several new condition editions of Tolkien’s monumental work The Lord of the Rings. These include the 4th and 5th impressions of the one-volume De Luxe edition from George Allen and Unwin (one in a slipcase, the other in a very handsome box), as well as all first editions thus of the earliest multi-volume Folio Society edition, accompanied by the Folio Hobbit for that group. All these were purchased new by Bell’s as they were released in the 1970s. What better way to enjoy this timeless classic than in beautiful and sturdy editions such as these?

AUGUST 4th UPDATE: All Sold Out!

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Expanded Philosophy!

Thanks to recent acquisitions from retiring Stanford professors, our Western Philosophy section has grown by at least six shelves! We now have the largest collection of material by and about John Locke west of the Mississippi (outside of academic libraries), plus numerous works of Derrida, Rawls, Habermas, John Dewey, and many more.

In addition, our collection on the history of the book: printing, publishing, literacy, and the dissemination of knowledge has been enhanced.

We are still open every day of the week from 11 to 5, with extended hours until 8 on Fridays.

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Mask Update

As per the Health Officer of Santa Clara County’s recommendation, face coverings will still be required to enter our store (“… the Health Officer strongly recommends that all persons continue to wear face coverings when indoors.” SANTA CLARA COUNTY ORDINANCE CODE SECTION A18-33). Your nose and mouth must be covered at all times while browsing.

We will keep you updated as things progress, and thank you, as always, for your patronage!

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Larry McMurtry on Bell’s

Larry McMurtry lived in the Bay Area in the 1960s, and he recounts in his memoir, entitled Books, his visit to Bell’s Books:

“The famously grouchy Mr. Bell in Palo Alto ordered me off his second fl0or, although I had a book in my hand and I bought it!” (page 50)

(During that decade the second floor was frequently roped off for book processing.) Today, you are free to browse that area, which includes history, philosophy, sexuality, religion, psychology, translated fiction, genre fiction (mysteries, science fiction, horror), and nature.

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Our Hours in the New Year

We will be OPEN 11 to 5 every day of the week, starting Sunday, January 2nd, 2022, with extended hours on Fridays until 8.

Happy New Year Year!!

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Our Hours through the New Year

We will be OPEN 11 to 6 through Thursday, December 23rd.

On Christmas Eve, Friday, December 24th, our hours are 11 to 4.

We will be CLOSED Christmas Day. 

We will be OPEN 11 to 6 from Sunday, December 26th through Thursday, December 30th.

On New Year’s Eve, Friday, December 31st, our hours will be 11 to 4.

We will be CLOSED on New Year’s Day. 

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A Rare Acquisition

Bell’s Books is pleased to offer a rare set of three first editions from the early Winnie-the-Pooh series, with each copy signed by both the author, A.A. Milne, and illustrator, E. H. Shepard.

These are first editions that were released concurrently with the first trade editions of each title, and were limited to the following print run:

Winnie-the-Pooh, 1927 (350 copies)

Now We Are Six, 1927 (200 copies)

The House at Pooh Corner, 1928 (350 copies)

Each book is individually numbered and signed, and each was printed on large, handmade paper. This set comes in an attractive custom matching clamshell case. A rare addition to any serious book collector’s library.

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