Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2009 Issue

The Unusual, Odd and Inexpensive from Peter L. Masi Books

Masi202

There are all sorts of unusual publications in Peter L. Masi's latest catalogue.


By Michael Stillman

Peter L. Masi Books has published Catalog 202, a collection of odd and obscure publications priced for any budget. What we have here are publications by various organizations, institutions, schools, religious groups, corporations, medical societies, advertisers, agricultural associations, and the like. You will get a good look at American culture from the early 19th through the mid-20th century through these obscure publications. And, while most of these items are undoubtedly rare, they are not priced like rare books. The great majority of the 500-plus publications are priced $10-$20. It's like eBay, only cheaper. Here are a few of the unusual items Masi is offering this month.

We've heard of the businessman and businesswoman, but how about The Business Hen? This 1904 work edited by Herbert W. Collingwood is more about various breeds and operating a poultry business than about putting chickens in charge of the henhouse. Item 8. $10.

If you prefer a more exotic animal farm, there's Practical Muskrat Raising. Apparently, muskrat was more popular in 1927 when E.J. Dailey wrote this piece than it is today, both for its fur and as food. According to Wikipedia, muskrat is a popular dish in Michigan. I don't necessarily believe everything I read in Wikipedia. Item 11. $15. For those whose tastes are vegetarian, item 31 is T.B. Terry and A.I. Root's The ABC of Potato Culture, printed in 1911. This is not about the customs and ethnicity of Mr. Potato Head, but contains the latest techniques on growing the tubers. $15.

Item 219 is a most ironic title, American Prosperity: Its Causes and Consequences, by Paul M. Mazur. It was published in that most prosperous of years - 1928. American prosperity was soon to end. To complete the irony, the book was published by Lehman Brothers. It was their collapse that triggered last year's stock market fall and the greatest recession since the one that followed the publication of this book. $10.

Speaking of irony, how about this one - Johns-Manville Asbestos Flexboard for the Farm. You don't want this stuff on your farm or anywhere else. This brochure displays asbestos being used in barns, portable buildings, tourist cabins, cottages, bunkhouses for seasonal workers, and anyplace else you want people or animals to become very sick. Of course, in 1947, no one knew how dangerous this was, least of all the Johns-Manville Company. In 1982, it became the largest bankruptcy in American history as a result of claims for asbestos poisoning. Item 119. $10.

What are appropriate careers for women? The Vocation Office for Girls had answers in 1911, and they published them in a group of bulletins called Vocations for Boston Girls. At the top of the list is telephone operator, followed by other choices such as stenography, nursery maid, dressmaking, straw hat making, hairdressing, and - here's a bit of a surprise - bookbinding. Item 558. $50.

Here is an intriguing title - What Mrs. Dewey Did with the New Jell-O. Do you really want to know what Mrs. Dewey does with Jell-O? Okay, I'll tell you. She makes lots of tasty dishes and desserts. You can read her recipes in this brochure, published by the Jell-O Company in 1933. Item 294. $8.

Here's a catalogue for the child in you: Illustrated Catalogue of Iron Toys Manufactured by the Dent Hardware Co. This circa 1910 catalogue has chariots and automobiles, ox carts, ice wagons, sleighs, steamboats, trains, fire engines, horses, lions, elephants, and much more. Item 328. $25.

Item 163 will interest all serious book collectors. It's American Book Collectors and Collecting from Colonial Times to the Present, the "present" in this case being 1941. You will read about all the great American names up to that time, Jefferson, Isaiah Thomas, John Carter Brown, Brinley, Morgan, Ticknor, Huntington, Folger, and many more. $10.

Peter L. Masi Books may be reached at 413-367-2628 or masibook@verizon.net.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Doyle: Hunting Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson. Online only auction Aug 3-14</b>
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>The Sportsman's Portfolio of American Field Sports.</i> 1855. Est: $600 to $900
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Bishop's Birds. Etchings of Water-Fowl and Upland Game Birds.</i> 1936. Est: $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Hunting Big Game in Far Northwest British Columbia</i>. 1904. Est: $500 to $800
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Mananaland. Adventuring with Camera and Rifle Through California in Mexico.</i> 1929. Est: $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle: Hunting Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson. Online only auction Aug 3-14</b>
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Grand Canyon Trails.</i> 1924. Est: $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>A Sporting Trip through Abyssinia. A Narrative of a nine months’ journey..</i> 1902. Est: $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Hunting in Tanzania [...in Zimbabwe; ...the Sudan; ...in Botswana; ...in Ethiopia; ...in Zambia; ...in South Africa; ...in Kenya]</i>. 1991-2000. Est: $800 to $1200
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Hounds and Hunting through the Ages ... with an Introduction by the Earl of Lonsdale</i>. 1928. Est: $600 to $900
  • <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:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000

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