Sunday, July 8, 2012

Front covers and opening passages from four old books

Tom Swift and His Great Oil Gusher

This book was written by Victor Appleton1 and published in 1924 by Grosset & Dunlap. Its alternate title is "The Treasure of Goby Farm." Here's the opening passage:
"A grand day for a spin in the air, Ned," remarked Tom Swift, as he stretched his arms and looked through the window of his office. "What do you say? Come along and let the wind blow some of the cobwebs out of your brain."

"Get thee behind me, Satan," replied Ned Newton, the young financial manager of the Swift Construction Company. "I've got a heap of work yet to do in checking up this last monthly statement."

"That'll keep," said Tom. "You'll find the figures waiting patiently for you when you get back. I know you're well ahead of your work, anyway, and a whirl in the circumambient will do you good. You see, I'm only thinking of you."

"Yes, you are, you old hypocrite!" laughed Ned, who was about the same age and on the warmest terms of friendship with his talented young employer.

Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates

This edition of Mary Mapes Dodge's beloved 1865 book2 was published by Grosset & Dunlap (there is no publication date). The opening passage:
On a bright December morning long ago, two thinly clad children were kneeling upon the bank of a frozen canal in Holland.

The sun had not yet appeared, but the gray sky was parted near the horizon, and its edges shone crimson with the coming day. Most of the good Hollanders were enjoying a placid morning nap; even Mynheer von Stoppelnoze, that worthy old Dutchman, was still slumbering "in beautiful repose."

Now and then some peasant woman, poising a well filled basket upon her head, came skimming over the glassy surface of the canal; or a lusty boy, skating to his day's work in the town, cast a good-natured grimace toward the shivering pair as he flew along.

Meanwhile, with many a vigorous puff and pull, the brother and sister, for such they were, seemed to be fastening something upon their feet -- not skates, certainly, but clumsy pieces of wood narrowed and smoothed at their lower edge, and pierced with holes, through which were threaded strings of raw hide.

Not Like Other Girls

This novel was penned by Rosa Nouchette Carey (1840-1909), who was known for writing "wholesome fiction" for young girls.

This version is not dated, and it was published by Hurst & Company of New York.

Many of Carey's books were originally published as three-decker novels -- a standard format for British fiction in the 19th century that consisted of the narrative being split into three books, which were sold separately.

Here is the opening passage of "Not Like Other Girls":
Five-o'clock tea was a great institution in Oldfield.

It was a form of refreshment to which the female inhabitants of that delightful place were strongly addicted. In vain did Dr. Weatherby, the great authority in all the concerned the health of the neighborhood, lift up his voice against the mild feminine dram-drinking of the modern days, denouncing it in no measured terms: the ladies of Oldfield listened incredulously, and, softly quoting Cowper's lines as to the "cup that cheers and not inebriates,"3 still presided over their dainty little tea-tables, and vied with one another in the beauty of the china and the flavor of their highly-scented Pekoe.

In spite of Dr. Weatherby's sneers and innuendoes, a great deal of valuable time was spent in lingering in one or another of the pleasant drawing-rooms of the place. As the magic hour approached, people dropped in casually. The elder ladies sipped their tea and gossiped softly; the younger ones, if it were summer time, strolled out through the open windows in the garden. Most of the houses had tennis-grounds, and it was quite an understood thing that a game should be played before they separated.

Grace Harlowe's Plebe Year at High School

The alternate title for this book is "The Merry Doings of the Oakdale Freshmen Girls" and it was published in 1910 by the Henry Altemus Company of Philadelphia.4 It was written by Jessie Graham Flower, who is, according to Wikipedia, "apparently a pseudonym for American author Josephine Chase."

This was the first book in the Grace Harlowe series. It begins like this:
"Who is the new girl in the class?" asked Miriam Nesbit, flashing her black eyes from one schoolmate to another, as the girls assembled in the locker room of the Oakdale High School.

"Her name is Pierson; that is all I know about her," replied Nora O'Malley, gazing at her pretty Irish face in the looking glass with secret satisfaction. "She's very quiet and shy and looks as if she would weep aloud when her turn comes to recite, but I'm sure she's all right," she added good naturedly. For Nora had a charming, sunny nature, and always saw the best if there was any best to see.

"She is very bright," broke in Grace Harlow decisively. "She went through her Latin lesson without a mistake, which is certainly more than I could do."

1. The Tom Swift series was established in 1910, and most of the titles were published under the pen name Victor Appleton. Many volumes were actually written by Edward Stratemeyer or Howard Garis (of Uncle Wiggily fame). Read more about Stratemeyer in this April 2011 post.
2. "Hans Brinker" was a best-seller not just because of its now-famous plot. But because it was full of details about Dutch history and customs. Dodge, an American, herself writes in the preface:
"This little work aims to combine the instructive features of a book of travels with the interest of a domestic tale. Throughout its pages the descriptions of Dutch localities, customs, and general characteristics, have been given with scrupulous care. Many of its incidents are drawn from life, and the story of Raff Brinker is founded strictly upon fact."
3. "The cups, That cheer but not inebriate" is a quote from William Cowper's 1785 poem "The Task."
4. The Henry Altemus Company also published "The Story of the American Flag," which was featured in this July 2011 post.

1 comment:

  1. Great site! Love these vintage series, especially Grace Harlowe.