Zephyr Used & Rare Books has published a Winter Farrago - 2022. “Farrago” is not a word used in most people's everyday vocabulary but it refers to a mix of things, usually a confusing, not well organized mix. That could be said about this collection, but that does not make the material uninteresting or unappealing. Quite the contrary. It is filled with unusual things you won't find elsewhere. There are books, generally mysteries from the early to mid 19th century not well known, along with some science fiction. There are personal archives or photographs, salesman's material, personal travel accounts and photographs, even some moon landing photos. A farrago. These are a few samples.
We begin with Disney Animation. The Illusion of Life. That may sound like some deep philosophical title, but it's actually a book by Disney cartoonists Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. They did many animation drawings for characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bambi and Sno White, creating the illusion of life. The book contains 489 color plates and thousands of black and white illustrations. The cover features Disney's Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket. Published in 1981, this copy is signed by both authors and comes with an original 12-inch filmstrip of animated illustrations. Item 52. Priced at $400.
Next is an ordinary-looking brochure, salesman's catalogue, and 11 photographs for a product that revolutionized the way we fuel automobiles (the state of New Jersey and urban areas of Oregon excepted). The brochure is headed Go Self Service Now, and the material was created by the Tel-Gas Leasing Division of Tel-Gas Corporation in 1965-66. At that time, gas stations were still service stations, where an attendant pumped your gas and provided other services such as washing the windshield and checking the oil. Tel-Gas provided the equipment that enabled the pumps to be operated by the customer, resetting the pumps and collecting the fee inside. In 1973, they would introduce the equipment that enabled customers to use credit cards at the pump, so that even an inside attendant was no longer necessary. As the need for anyone familiar with automobiles disappeared, most gas stations evolved from providing repairs and other automotive services to becoming convenience stores. You'll have to wash the windshield and check the oil yourself, but now you can pick up a cup of coffee and a package of Twinkies to go. $300.
Antonio Scarfoglio didn't find any self-service pumps when he went on his long journey. I have no idea where he found gas at all, or even roads for that matter. The year was 1908 and he and his team were in a 'round the world road race. Roads were terrible in the U.S. It took his team 6 weeks to get from Buffalo to the west coast. Then they went through Alaska, Japan, China, Siberia, and on to Paris. The trip was 22,000 miles and only three teams finished. Scarfoglia finished second, 26 days behind the leader. They drove a Zust, a car you may not remember. It was an Italian car, manufactured from 1905-1917. Theirs was a 1906 model. The title of Scarfoglia's book is Round the World in a Motor-Car, published in 1909. Item 14. $550.
If you don't know how to read, you probably aren't reading this review, but just in case, here is your key to learning. It is a first edition of the Teacher's Edition of the Easy Growth in Reading series from 1940. This one is Our Picture Book, by Gertrude Hildreth and others from the Columbia Teachers College. You get to meet the lead characters, Nancy & Bob, their dog Mac and cat Muff. Does this sound distressingly like Dick & Jane? They were Dick and Jane's competition, and why anyone thought we need to sic another similarly insipid series on children to make them hate reading even more is beyond me. Dr. Seuss where are you? Corinne Waterall's illustrations even look similar to Dick & Jane except maybe the children's cheeks are a little rosier, like the Campbell's Soup kids. Not surprising. Waterall also drew posters for Campbell's Soup. Item 53. $200.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was not a self-made man, but he was enormously wealthy anyway. That can happen when your father is the richest person in the world. He engaged in a lot of projects, some profitable, but many were of a charitable sort. This may have been a combination. He is best known as the lead family member in the building of Rockefeller Center, but he also built some cooperative apartments in New York, designed to be reasonably affordable. Jr. had already developed several other co-ops when he undertook the Van Tassel garden apartments with architect Andrew J. Thomas. These were located in Westchester County, north of the city. Item 107 is 26 time-lapse photographs of progress as it was made in building the apartments, starting with one just showing the framing in April 1929. They were spacious apartments, but later on, with the financial disruption of the Depression, they were divided into smaller, more affordable units. The apartments are still in use today. $950.
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