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, 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>
  • <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

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions