Monday, April 1, 2013

Ok, so what do Shirley MacLaine, Jackie Gleason, Philip Glass, Brooke Shields and the Queen of Spain have to do with DoverPictura, this blog or each other?

One can only speculate as to what may have gone on in private between the five of them, but according to John Riess, a good friend and one of Dover's acquisitions editors, they were all regulars at Samuel Weiser's Occult Books– the now defunct Manhattan bookseller of esoterica.

John was in a position to know this because he used to work at Weiser's, and he has some great stories—like... there was this time that the street in front of the store had to be shut down so that Sophia Margarita Victoria Frederika (the Queen of Spain) could shop. John actually got to show her a selection of some of the rarer antiquarian materials, and while he was doing so all of the Queen's security guards headed over to...

I'm sorry, but I've just realized that it would be indiscrete to continue, after all, they were the Queen's men...

Anyway, the real point is that his time at Weiser's brought John into contact with a lot of amazing esoteric and occult materials, and it was there that the DoverPictura collection Esoteric & Occult Art had its genesis.

John amassed an enormous selection of arcana—from alchemy and mysticism, to tantra, astrology and freemasonry—for this collection. A favorite for me was The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall; the illustrations were by J. Augustus Knapp. The image below, Mithra in the form of the Leontocephalic Kronos, is from that work. In it, "...the figure symbolizes the inevitable victory of boundless Time (Eternity) over every creature and condition. The resurrection of the figure from the darkness of the tomb reveals the ascension of boundless duration from the narrow limitations of man-conceived time. The three kneeling figures are the limitations of the three-dimensional world—length, breadth, thickness—which bow before the limitless ├ćon..."

Also springing from this same fount is the soon-to-be-released collection The Art of Tarot. It comprises images of 794 tarot cards from famous and infamous decks (there are nine complete decks within this collection). I'll post a notice here when it appears on

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to the _Art of Tarot_ collection! Another one I definitely want to get my hands on...

    Incidentally, and I know this is out of the blue, but do you think that you're likely to ever produce a collection of the art/prints of Jean-Theodore Descourtilz? ( I realise it's unlikely, but I recently bought a couple of prints of his work after running across it in an antique bookshop, and I thought it can't hurt to ask.