Racks, Rascals and Recusants; The Search for the Hunted Book
Privately Printed, 1967. Limited edition. Octavo (9 1/2 inches tall), stapled in original stiff paper wrappers, printed in red. Faint toning to upper margin, shallow vertical crease to front wrapper. A near-fine copy. Item #1206
"THE APPARATUS OF THE STATE FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF CATHOLICISM WAS EXTENSIVE"
Limited edition of Charles Fracchia's Racks, Rascals and Recusants, describing the San Franciscan bibliophile's pursuit of "the hunted book."
When Charles Fracchia died in July 2021, the City of St. Francis lost a dedicated son: "the City’s history, going back to before the Gold Rush, its Catholic traditions, its place in the 19th century American West, the rich Italian American culture and the political and historical characters were what drove Fracchia’s passion for San Francisco" (Lincoln Mitchell). After a brief time in the Society of Jesus (where he befriended Jerry Brown), followed by a successful career in banking, Fracchia decided to focus on other interests—namely, a passion for book collecting. As the founder of the San Francisco Historical Society, it could be assumed that Fracchia would pursue Western Americana.
Inspired by Evelyn Waugh's biography of Edmund Campion and studies of Robert Southwell, Fracchia decided to concentrate on the English Recusants (1558-1640), the "determined opposition on the part of English Catholics to the government's policy of ecclesiastical schism." Fracchia describes his overall philosophy and the acquisition several of his most-prized volumes. His collection consisted of three types of books: the Polemical (Robert Persons), the Devotional (The Douai-Rheims New Testament), and the Literary (Robert Southwell). These were either printed on the Continent and smuggled in to England or printed underground by means of a "secret press." With titles, first initial and colophon printed in red. One of 500 copies privately reprinted for Fracchia from the book Club of California Quarterly News-Letter (Fall 1967). Lincoln Mitchell. In Appreciation of Charles Fracchia: A truly unique San Franciscan (San Francisco Examiner, July 26, 2021).