Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2009 Issue

Ephemera Calling from Mac Selvaggio, Bookseller

Selvaggio130

Talking our way to victory in 1943 on the cover of Marc Selvaggio's latest catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

Marc Selvaggio, Bookseller, has issued his 130th catalogue: Ephemera Calling, subtitled More Pamphlets, Brochures, Catalogues, & Other Printed Matter. There are several groupings of material delineated, including entertainment, advertising, land promotion, catalogues, tourism and medicine. What we have here is various types of commercial promotion, some subtle, some not. Since the days when most of us stopped being subsistence farmers, our lives have revolved around finding ways to separate other people from their money. Here you will find hundreds of examples of how this was attempted in an earlier era. You may wonder how anyone succumbed to some of these appeals, but if you look at advertising today, you may find that we have not advanced all that far in terms of gullibility. Now for a few of the items we found in this catalogue.

Item 146 announces a spectacular new development in cash registers: National Cash Register. Change Computation Builds Customer Good Will. A youngster exclaims, "Mother look! This register figures our change." Indeed, this 1950s cash register printed out a receipt that showed you the amount of change due. This was certainly a major development at the time, though something that virtually all cash registers perform today. So, if you want to know whom to blame for the fact that so many clerks today are unable to figure out change themselves, look to National Cash Register. Priced at $200.

Eddie Cantor was a comedian, actor, singer and writer of great celebrity in the first half of the 20th century. For whatever reason, he seems to have been mostly forgotten, but he was a multitalented star of the theater, film, radio, and then television for four decades. Item 93 is one of his books, Cantor's Comics, published in 1936. It's filled with many of his radio jokes such as this one:

"Eddie: 'Why do you always say fair lady when you speak to a girl?'
Man: 'Force of habit - I used to be a street car conductor.'"

$45.

You might not think you could win a war by talking on the telephone, but that's how victory was achieved in World War II. Item 76 is Victory Calling. The Telephone in the War. This piece, extolling the virtues of telecommunications, was published by AT&T in 1943. "In foxhole and in factory, dependable communication is absolutely essential to the victory we must win." How much more powerful we would be today when every soldier can carry a cell phone into the foxhole. This item is pictured on the catalogue's cover (click the thumbnail image above to see). $65.

Here's a question for you: in what business are the Warner Brothers? The answer, of course, is corsets. Sure, we all know of the later pretenders whose name is associated with films, but in the 19th century, Warner Bros. meant corsets. Formed by a pair of physician brothers around 1873, they may have been the largest corset manufacturer in the country by the 1890s. Item 296 is Modeled to Fit, printed in 1894. It features their Coraline Corsets. Coraline, manufactured from the fibers of a South American plant (ixtle), was supposedly healthier and more comfortable than corsets stiffened with whalebone. Of course, styles change and corsets are no longer as popular as movies, so we associate the Warner name with the filmmaking rather than the corset-making brothers. But, shed no tears for these Warner Bros. Their business lives on. Now known as Warnaco, their company is one of the world's largest clothing manufacturers, featuring names such as Calvin Klein, Speedo, Chaps, and Warner's. $60.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <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. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on 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. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <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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