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>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.

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions