Mark and Nora Butler Anderson have been in the book trade for 15 years, but today we celebrate the issuance of their first catalogue. Not to sound disrespectful, but this is not a timeless catalogue. Anything but. Their Catalog Number 1 goes by the title It's About Time! And here we have a double meaning. It is certainly about time they published a catalogue, but also, their catalogue is about time. Everything in it has some connection to time. Some connections are obvious, a few more subtle, but nothing is timeless. So, we will set ourselves out for some time travel today, courtesy of Andersons Books and Prints of Seattle, Washington.
We start with a book by the notable turn of the century illustrator and writer of books for young people, Howard Pyle. Many artists and illustrators, including N. C. Wyeth, studied under Pyle. Pyle was particularly notable for tales and illustrations of pirates and knights from the Middle Ages. Item 93 is a collection of short stories by Pyle published in 1888, their first publication in book form: The Wonder Clock, or Four & Twenty Marvelous Tales, being one for each hour of the day... The stories are based on goings-on at each particular hour of the day. Priced at $250.
Next up we have the book First Four Minutes. What could this be about? The answer is it is a biography of the career of Roger Bannister. Bannister was the English runner, a man who recounts how as a schoolboy he just loved to run. In 1954, he achieved one of the greatest milestones in the sport – he was the first person to run a mile in under four minutes. His book was published in 1955 and he has inscribed this copy. Item 117. $500.
Item 8 is an almanac, but also so much more. One of the great things about medicine in the old days was that one remedy could cure just about every disease imaginable. There was no need for specialists. This item is Dr. S. S. Fitch’s Almanac for 1854, and Guide to Invalids, Comprising Directions for the Treatment of Consumption, Asthma, Bronchitis, Heart Disease, Liver Complaint, Dyspepsia, Costiveness, diarrhea, dysentery, falling of the womb, piles, salt rheum and scrofula, female diseases, & c. Dr. Samuel Sheldon Fitch was a dentist who graduated to the more lucrative trade of selling patent medicines and medical devices. He may have had a cure for costiveness, but his patients needed a cure from costliness. Actually, I had no idea what “costiveness” was. It's an old word for constipation. $100.
Here is a debate over time, the outcome of which is of enormous consequence. Item 120 is Rev. Alexander Brown's An Address and a Few Letters to Niel Douglas: In Which it is Attempted to Point Out, the Fallacy – Impropriety – Unscriptural Nature – and Dangerous Tendency of His Doctrine and Reasoning, in Favour of the Punishment of the Wicked in Hell Being Only for a Limited Time. It was published in 1812. I am no theologian, so I can't pretend to know who had it right, but I certainly prefer Mr. Douglas' limited time in Hell theory. I really, seriously like that one better. $250.
The moon has long been a measure of time. Indeed, for a long time people used a lunar calendar. Many still do. The Indians used to speak of time in moons. At least Tonto did. Hollywood Indians. I have no idea whether real Native Americans ever said “many moons.” Item 95 is a collection of 100 vintage postcards featuring the moon from various locales in America. Some have been circulated, others not. They were printed circa 1910-1950. $500. Item 96 is 12 photo postcards of lunar eclipses, circa 1900-1930's. $1,250.
This next item is an unusual “calendar” that was really more of a political statement. It is called The Official Nixon Countdown Calendar, published in 1973. It is the creation of artist Robert Cenedella, who often used art to express political opinions. This one is unmistakable. It has a photograph of President Richard Nixon with a light grid of small boxes superimposed over it, one for each day in his second term of office, which began in 1973. The idea was you filled in a box each day until you totally obliterated Nixon's portrait. It's safe to say Cenedella didn't much care for this President. Of course, it became unnecessary to fill in all of the squares as only a little over a year into his second term, Nixon resigned in disgrace. Item 48. $125.
Here is a history of a timing device you don't like. It's probably an item into which you fed some coins, but never gave much thought. Item 101 is Reminiscences of the Development of the Parking Meter, by H. G. Thuesen and LeRoy H. Fischer, published in 1967. It is described as a “scholarly reprint.” $50.