Rare Books and Mystery Buff: Bancroft Cataloger Showcases Recent Donations at Oakland Book Fair

While most of Randal Brandt’s work involves sleuthing out cataloging information for the rare volumes that routinely cross his desk, he also finds time to curate Bancroft’s California Detective Fiction Collection.

Randal Brandt. Photo by Cade Johnson for the University Library.

This collection will be showcased, along with examples of fantasy and science fiction and western fiction, at the upcoming 50th California International Antiquarian Book Fair, Feb. 10-12, in an exhibit Brandt curated. Many of the exhibited books are recent donations acquired through Brandt’s extensive network in the mystery writing community. Some of these include:

  • Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller presented the library with a gift of over 700 volumes in 2015, of books written, compiled, or edited by the “Mulzinis,” as they are affectionately known by their friends.
  • The Thomas H. Reynolds Collection of Ross Macdonald was received as a gift by Bancroft in 2016. Comprised of 37 exemplary copies of first editions and other rare volumes by Ross Macdonald, the collection was compiled by Thomas H. Reynolds, who, before his retirement, was the foreign and comparative law librarian at Berkeley.
  • The Anthony Boucher Collection was donated to the Bancroft Library in 2016. Boucher, who earned an M.A. from Berkeley, was a prolific writer of mysteries and science fiction, but is noted primarily for his reviewing and other activities. His renown in the field is such that the premiere annual conference of mystery authors, fans, and aficionados is known as Bouchercon.
Anthony Boucher

Also featured in the exhibit will be materials from other recent Bancroft acquisitions.

  • The Kenneth Perkins Papers were donated in 2015, including a wide-ranging array of hardcover novels, manuscript drafts, plot outlines, summaries, and synopses, research notes, correspondence, personal materials, newspaper clippings, and ephemera. Perkins, a prolific writer of westerns and mysteries, graduated from Berkeley in 1914.
Photo by Joseph Driste
  • The library also acquired the Frank M. Robinson Papers in 2015. Robinson moved to San Francisco in the 1970s to be a speechwriter for politician Harvey Milk. Shortly thereafter he started writing techno-thrillers and science fiction novels. The collection comprises books, manuscripts, and photographs, including shots taken during the 2008 production of the film Milk in which Robinson had a small part playing himself.
Photo by Joseph Driste