Weird Science, Religion, Poetry, Etc. from Garrett Scott, Bookseller
By Michael Stillman
We receive many fascinating catalogues here at AE, but none quite so entertaining as those of Garrett Scott, Bookseller. Scott specializes in not just the obscure, but the bizarre. His catalogues are filled with treatises from the strange if not deranged minds of people who might better have been institutionalized than published. There is mad science, terrible poetry, fanatic religion, and novels deservedly forgotten. Occasionally, these odd writers hit upon some true insights, but more often, they are just strange. This is not to say that all of the works in a Scott catalogue are peculiar. There are some serious obscurities here as well. Still it is the weird that fascinates us. For those looking for books to collect that are rare yet inexpensive, and quite entertaining, Scott has a catalogue full of them. His latest is Catalogue 21: Autumn Miscellany.
Edward Hammond Clarke was not a feminist, not even by 1874 standards. Clarke, a Harvard medical professor no less, argues that women's reproductive systems make education dangerous to their health. He quotes another physician describing a 16-year-old girl who studied civil engineering and trigonometry: "...schools such as the one this girl went to do more to unsex women than all the anomalies who prate about the right to vote and to wear trousers." Item 42 is entitled The Building of a Brain, and will make an excellent gift for the anomaly in your life for just $50.
As long as we're on the topic of sex and medicine, item 195 is Regeneration: A Discussion of the Sex Question from a New and Scientific Standpoint, by Sidney Weltmer. This 1899 book certainly offered a new standpoint, though the scientific claim is dubious. Weltmer, a Baptist preacher, believed that sexual fluids produced in the genitals of a child at night were taken in by absorbant glands in the morning and distributed throughout the body to generate growth. We believe Weltmer was the last Baptist minister to hold this view. $75.
Item 56 sounds like the title of a children's book, although it appears Henry DeWeese was trying to say something more profound: Fifty Reasons Why Wheat's Not Rye; or, The Spider and the Fly. DeWeese's thoughts had a tendency to wander. In this 1904 first edition, he explains, "It's to keep the people ignorant as long as printers' ink will flow without being clogged for want of ads or sensational news, while the one whets the other and both pull together, it only goes to show the drift of mind of the people. It's the caterer and that - $ just like a Pullman car porter, who would bare your feet in your sleep for a tip, no tip no sip, for one whets the other and they pull together." Well said, Henry. $45. If you enjoy this work, item 57 is DeWeese's What is Love? Good luck deciphering his answer to that question. $30.