More of the Unusual from Garrett Scott, Bookseller
By Michael Stillman
Garrett Scott, Bookseller has issued Catalogue Twenty-Two (A miscellany). Scott's catalogues certainly are a miscellany, a group of interesting works, many of which are quite unusual, both in the sense of being uncommon and that of being odd. Scott's catalogues are always entertaining for their descriptions of works by authors whose minds, to put it gently, don't always function the same as those of others. Most of these items are pamphlets, primarily from the 19th century, and range from the well-reasoned and rational to flights of fantasy and the irrational. Here are a few.
Some folks may remember their parents recounting the evils of rock and roll. Good people stuck to proper dances like the waltz. It was not always so. Faulkner (Thomas, that is, not William) gives us the true lowdown on the waltz in The Gates of Hell or Eastern Ball Room, published in 1896. His thesis was that, for women, it was a short step from the waltz to the brothel, while men went straight to Hell. I never much cared for the waltz, for which I am now most grateful. Item 43. Priced at $85.
That item you see on the cover of this catalogue is a Gospel and Colportage Carriage, as described in Gospel Carriage Songs and Description of Gospel and Colportage Carriage. This was something of a trailer for itinerant preachers circa 1878 when this promotional was published. It had a platform on the back for open-air preaching, with all of the comforts of home on the inside. Item 26. $50.
Here is an item for women, finally invented in the year of 1915: Perfect Bust Development Now a Reality. The Olive Company explains that this is "the only real bust developer that merits scientific endorsement," and that with it, "any flat-chested woman may have a beautiful bust." The order form is still present if you would like to try it. However, the disappearance of this contraption can only lead me to believe it was a bust. Item 95. $85.
Women get a device to enlarge their busts, while all men get is something to warm their prostates. Item 40 is Why Many Men Are Old at Forty: A Study of Prostatology, the Science of Old Age Deferred. This brochure from around 1921 promotes the "Thermalaid," an electrical prostate warmer put out by the Electro Thermal Company of Steubenville, Ohio. Evidently the secret to youth is a warm prostate (meaning women are doomed to becoming old). Item 40. $25.
Item 21 is an 1878 book by Rev. David Riddle Breed on The Locust Scourge in Minnesota. In 1877, Minnesota's governor, John Pillsbury, was running out of ideas as to how to combat the critters when he called for a day of prayer, fasting and humiliation. Rev. Breed was all for the idea. "Gov. Pillsbury is, however, wise in exhausting all remedies to relieve the farmers of Minnesota, and if prayer will do it, it is the most economical of methods." Certainly it was an inexpensive means of insect eradication, and a snowstorm shortly after this day of prayer, April 26, 1877, did help some, although a later claim has been made that Pillsbury picked this day based on meteorological forecasts. $100.