Zephyr Used & Rare Books has issued a Summer Blend, a catalogue of diverse, often quirky and unexpected items. There are promotions for new homes, camping, fishing, golf, heavy equipment, airplanes and cars. Lots of cars. Old cars. Some from when you were young. Others from when your grandparents were young. And maps and travel accounts. There are even a few books, stories for adults and children, children's books you may know, adults' books you never heard of. It isn't great literature but it was entertaining. Here are a few of these items to give you a sense of the type of material Zephyr has to offer.
We begin with an account of a moving project from Hell. It involved transporting a 69-foot long, 220 ton object, all the way from Egypt to New York's Central Park. This was in 1881, before there were gas-powered vehicles to help with the process. The Khedive of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha, was convinced to give a giant obelisk known as Cleopatra's Needle to America. The U. S. had been helpful to Egypt at a time when it was regularly battered by English and French rivalries, so this was a way to show his appreciation. This would be considered nothing short of rape of a nation's heritage today, but this was 1880. The obelisk had originally been built for Thutmose III in Heliopolis in 1475 B.C., but was moved to Alexandria in Cleopatra's time. The job of moving this monster was given to Henry Honeychurch Gorringe, a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy. He was the only one to offer a reasonable plan. The major part of the journey was via the sea, in a large steamship with a big hole cut in it to accommodate the obelisk. Fortunately, it did not sink. The shorter journeys, to the port in Alexandria and from the port of New York, were equally arduous. Item 7 is Gorringe's Egyptian Obelisks, an account of the transportation containing 51 plates of illustrations. Priced at $450.
Charles Lindbergh became an instant American hero in 1927 when he flew his plane across the Atlantic. That may not sound like something special today. Many of you have made that flight or longer ones, but in 1927, he was the first to do so. People all over the country were proud of him, but none more than those in his hometown, Little Falls, Minnesota. It is a small town, about 8,000 people today, 5,000 when Lindbergh lived there. In 1928, the seniors and juniors of Little Falls High School decided to print this tribute to their hometown hero, who was just 25 years old when he achieved his flight, so he was not all that far removed from those students. The 24-page tribute contains photos of Lindbergh, his plane, the “Spirit of St. Louis,” his home, celebrations of the event in Little Falls, and more. Lindbergh has a mixed legacy today. His sympathy for the Nazi German government prior to the war forever tarnished his reputation. He should have stayed out of politics. But in 1927, he was America's most beloved hero. Item 41. $175.
Auto trips today are relatively easy, with interstate highways to take you places quickly, food, fuel, and motels readily available along the way. It was not so easy in 1903. That is when a British couple from Heaton Mersey decided on the spur of the moment one evening to pack up their 1903 Vauxhall and go for a trip across northern Britain. Item 16 is their account of the adventure. They traveled 470 miles which was quite an undertaking. Why they decided to leave late in the evening is a mystery, but in each town they tried to stop, the inns were closed. They slept in the car. They dealt with the car stalling and at times it would not start. They had to climb a hill “steep as a house roof & looking more like a quarry than a road.” The battery wore down. They had to stop and have someone overhaul the engine. Apparently, there was a lot of hostility toward automobiles in those days as the writer notes that if people would drive “at a reasonable speed...there would not be the outcry against them there is at present.” Still, they found most people along the way to be helpful. The approximately 5,000 word account includes two photos and 24 photo postcards. $1,500.
Next is a cartoon archive by Al Hurdle, circa 1960-1978. Hurdle was a talented caricature artist, and he has drawn images of many celebrities of the era, along with complete cartoons such as you see in magazines and newspapers. Athletes, movie stars, politicians, even fellow cartoon characters. There are 55 original drawings on artist's boards, 38 in color. A favorite shows Hurdle at his drawing board, creating a caricature of Jimmy Carter, surrounded by the faces of all sorts of celebrities, such as LBJ, Theodore Roosevelt, Art Carney, Arthur Godfrey, Bob Hope, Fidel Castro, Mark Spitz, Jimmy Stewart, Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, the Katzenjammer Kids, Jiggs, Buster Brown & Tige, and more. However, there is a mystery to this. Who is Al Hurdle? Zephyr has not been able to find anything about him. Was that his real name or a pen name? They have not been able to find evidence that any of these cartoons was ever published. That is hard to imagine considering the skill level of his caricatures and the number he produced, but that just deepens the mystery. Item 67. $1,750.
Item 28 is the March 1938 issue of The Super Service Station, self-described as “the merchandising magazine for one stop stations.” “Be Wise – Modernize!” they advise. They recommend modern designs, stylish waiting rooms, increased lighting, and most of all, modern restrooms, hopefully clean ones. For younger people who wonder what a service station is, there was a day when places that sell gas pumped it for you and performed other services such as washing windows, filling tires, and changing the oil. They also regularly had repair shops. They even gave you free maps. Hard to imagine. What they didn't offer was a place to buy beer and Twinkies, so some things have improved. Item 28. $175.
Zephyr Used & Rare Books may be reached at 360-695-7767 or firstname.lastname@example.org.