The 10th Catalogue from Honey & Wax Booksellers
- by Michael Stillman
The 10th Catalogue from Honey & Wax Booksellers
Honey & Wax Booksellers has published their catalogue No. 10. Honey & Wax catalogues are always exciting and different if impossible to describe. There is a mix of material that defies description. Perhaps I could say there isn't much in the way of historical accounts, politics, wars and such. Beyond that, just about anything is fair game. We will take a look inside for a few samples of what can be found.
L. Frank Baum wrote a series of books that have been delighting children, and their parents, for generations. The most famous is the first in the series, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900, which became one of the most popular movies ever as well as one of the most popular books. However, that was not the only book Baum had published in 1900. Here is the other one: The Art of Decorating Dry Goods Windows and Interiors. Huh? Maybe its filled with Christmas time displays of toys and games? No. This was serious advice to store managers on how to display goods in their stores to increase sales. In 1900, Baum was a budding children's writer, but he was a professional in store window designs. Actually, before that, he had been a poultry breeder, wrote a book about it, then turned to running his own dry goods store, when that failed became a newspaper editor, and later founded a magazine about store merchandising. However, at that time, he began writing stories and poems for children, one of which was a modest success. And, that is how we come to the odd intersection of store displays and children's fantasy he published in 1900. After the success of the Wizard, it was clear where Baum's career lay, or more specifically, where his living was to made. But, you can still find good advice in this lesser known book for selling in stores, not that anyone goes to stores anymore in the internet age. Item 11. Priced at $8,500.
This next one is for children. It's a game with the title The Laughable Game of What D'Ye Buy. It was created by “Professor Punch” (probably not his real name). It's from circa 1855. The game starts with 12 cards depicting various types of shopkeepers - greengrocer, milliner, ironmonger, butcher, doctor, music seller, fishmonger, tailor, toyman, publican, pastry cook, and poulterer (like Frank Baum). The conductor reads a story and after each sentence, stops and asks a random player to supply a missing item, from 72 separate cards, no matter how ludicrous it might be. So, for example, a woman might be told to dress herself “in a lump of dough” provided by the pastry cook. In this way, the merchants sell products from their wares. The game continues until players are unable to place more cards and they have to forfeit. The principle of the game is similar to today's Mad Libs. Along with the cards, there is a set of instructions and a sliding wooden box to house it all. Item 42. $4,800.
Next we have a copy of Oak and Ivy by Paul Laurence Dunbar, published in 1893 by the Press of the United Brethren Publishing House in Dayton, Ohio. Dunbar was one of America's first African American writers and poets. He was born in Dayton the son of an escaped and an emancipated slave. His literary skills were such that despite the handicaps of his race in the 19th century, he became editor of his high school's newspaper and president of its literary society. By the age of 16, he had poems published in the local newspaper in Dayton. He edited the first African-American weekly newspaper in Dayton which was printed by a couple of his classmates, Wilbur and Orville Wright. Dunbar then decided to publish a book of his poetry which he took to the Wright Brothers for printing, but they weren't able to print books. They sent him to the aforementioned United Brethren printing instead. Dunbar wrote some of his poems in a manner one would hardly do today, using “Negro dialect.” It was popular in his day. However, lest one think he was not educated, his mother saw to his education and much of his material is in standard English. Though his career was rising and respect became widely acknowledged, he was struck by a common tragedy of his times – tuberculosis. He died from it in 1906 at the age of 33. This copy was inscribed on the occasion of the dedication of the Dunbar High School in 1917, with the signature of “Mrs. M. J. Dunbar.” Mrs. Dunbar was the poet's mother. Item 2. $9,500.
Here is a ticket to dinner you definitely want to use. Too bad. You can't. You missed it. The dinner was held on November 2, 1867. But, it would have been special. The honoree was Charles Dickens. It was given at Freemason's Hall on Great Queen Street. The ticket states it is for a Dinner given to Mr. Charles Dickens on the occasion of His Departure for the United States. A week later, he sailed from Liverpool to Boston. It was his final visit to America and he stayed, giving numerous lectures in Boston and New York, until the following April. He was 56 years old, not that old, but he already had health issues and his schedule was vigorous. A year after his return home, he suffered a stroke, and the following year, another which killed him. The ticket shows a price of one guinea and this was ticket number 70. Item 7. $1,500.
This is a book you will want to have if you are among the middling and lower classes. Speaking of the author, Shakespeare, the editor explains “...there is still a numerous class of men to whom he is very imperfectly known. Many of the middling and lower ranks of the inhabitants of this country are either not acquainted with him at all, except by name, or have only seen a few of his plays, which have accidentally fallen in their way.” Here is the book that will enable the lower classes to come across as being as intelligent and sophisticated as educated rich people, Stockdale's Edition of Shakespeare, published in 1784. This is the first single-volume octavo edition of Stockdale's book of the plays found in the First Folio. Stockdale did not want to drive away the upper classes from buying his book too, so he amended his description to note, “It will be serviceable even to those whose situation in life hath enabled them to purchase all the expensive editions of our great dramatist.” For example, if taking a journey in a coach or post-chaise they could bring a copy along for reading. Or, if a dispute should arise among gentlemen as to a passage in Shakespeare, a volume with all of his plays “may, with great convenience, be fetched by a servant out of a library or a closet.” Or, the gentleman could go fetch it himself. Item 16. $2,000.