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>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>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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