Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2013 Issue

Marc Selvaggio is In Search of Ephemera


In Search of Ephemera!

Marc Selvaggio, Books & Ephemera has issued their Catalogue 140. In Search of Ephemera! They have found it - over 400 items. These may not be memorable literary works. Great writers and illustrators are absent. The inexpensive prices reflect this reality. Most is advertising and promotional material. What this catalogue provides is a whole lot of fun, and many items you can't help but want to have. Advertisers have been trying to sell their wares from the time wares were invented. Some in this catalogue are useful, others pure quackery. Surely there was a sucker born every minute back in the days these were produced, just as there is today. It's fun to look at yesterday's fools, ignoring that we are today's edition. Here are a few samples.


We begin with an amazing advance in aircraft technology from 1929: The Flyworm Aircraft. The First Truly New Principle in Aviation Since Wright Bros. Indeed it probably was, so long as one recognizes that a truly new principle does not mean it is a good one. The Wright Bros. first flight of 120 feet was a good 120 feet farther than the Flyworm ever flew. The precise principles behind this very strange looking aircraft have been lost to history, although its designer, Paul Maiwurm, was evidently an inventive man, but was not prepared for the numerous defects in this invention. The Flyworm featured a large barrel-shaped cylinder, roughly 4 feet in diameter, 6 feet long. It was spun by a motor below, with various forces supposed to achieve lift-off, but apparently achieved violent shaking as well. Part of the contraption broke in his first demonstration, and there is no record of any further ones though Maiwurm continued to try for at least a while. Perhaps it was some sort of early jet technology Maiwurm was employing. Item 46 is a four-page flyer issued as he attempted to gather some financing for his plane's development. In a moment of brutal honesty, it does point out, “Because of certain minor details not yet worked out to Mr. Maiwurm's critical satisfaction, and because of the lack of a modern motor, no effort has yet been made to test the Flyworm in the air, but the results to date have absolutely convinced Mr. Maiwurm and his associates that when all the minor details have been completed the new air ship will take to the air.” The pamphlet comes with a typescript letter and two original postcards. Priced at $350.


Roswell Marsh was a man ahead of his time. Circa 1872 this Ohio native published this broadside headed Hemp-Cannabis-Sativa. It promoted increased production of cannabis, a message that has been taken to heart recently in several western states. However, Marsh was interested in more than having a good time. Hemp was needed for cordage, making ropes, in greater demand in the 19th century for use on ships. Item 19. $100.


Modern technology has protected us from the risk earlier generations faced of falling out of windows, but T. P. Tuite provided an interim solution back in 1896 in the this four-page pamphlet: Fatal Fall from a Fire-Escape While Engaged in Taking in Clothes... Those were the days when women living in tenements hung out of windows and over fire-escapes to reach the clothesline (remember those?) to hang the wash. Tuite has kindly shown us a few images of women falling out of windows just to make sure the message is understood. He offered some sort of “crane” that protected the lady of the house (men didn't do wash in 1896) from falling to her demise. Now let us all be thankful for the clothes dryer. Item 326. $35.


Item 88 is a 1917 employment brochure from J. C. Penney: Men Wanted. Penneys wanted only “men of sterling qualities,” none who drink, smoke, gamble, who lack initiative or are apathetic...” In other words, they wanted “the steel rails of business, which is but another name for MEN.” Only manly men need apply. “It wants men free from defects,” Penneys says, ignoring the fact that such creatures do not exist. $35.


There may be some unusual laws in Illinois, but who knew, as this booklet pronounces, Saving Life a Crime in Illinois. This was the work of James Armstrong, M.D., a self-righteous physician whom the State of Illinois determined to be a quack. For some incomprehensible reason, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Armstrong's Illinois Health University, which consisted of two rooms in a building with a “Furnished Rooms for Rent” sign in the window, was a diploma mill. The Supreme Court felt such things as not requiring class attendance were a sign that the school was sending incompetent men across the country to practice medicine. Dr. Armstrong sets the record state in this 56-page pamphlet from 1895. Item 287. $250.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> George Washington, Letter Signed to General James Clinton, preparing for the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, 1778. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising to send reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Thomas Edison, Autograph Letter Signed, to Western Union President William Orton, 1878. $10,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> William, Bishop of Coventry, vellum charter granting the church of Rochdale to the Cistercian Abbey of Stanlaw, in Latin, 1222. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> FDR, Photograph Signed & Inscribed, framed with wood removed from the White House roof, 1927. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Dubuffet, archive including many letters written while painting in NYC, 1951-72. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Mohandas K. Gandhi, Autograph Letter Signed, describing the source of his patience, 1939. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Lithograph portrait of Albert Einstein by Hermann Struck, signed by both, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Charles The Bold, Duke of Burgundy, Letter Signed to Johann IV of Nassau, in French, 1470. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Jean Cocteau, Autograph Letter Signed, in French, 1919. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Louis Armstrong, two Autograph Letters Signed to Erich Kauffmann, his lip salve purveyor, 1965-70. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 22:</b> Wernher von Braun, Autograph Letter Signed to Jonathan Cross, 1975. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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