Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dust jacket: 1910's "The Motor Girls on a Tour"

Here's a quick post for posterity.1 It's a crumbling dust jacket for 1910's The Motor Girls on a Tour, which was issued by The Goldsmith Publishing Company of Cleveland, Ohio. The listed author is Margaret Penrose, but that was a Stratemeyer Syndicate pseudonym.

The front flap of the dust jacket describes the book and Motor Girls series as follows:
"The adventures of Cora Kimball and her friends are many and varied. They go on auto tours, spend vacations by the seashore and even take a yachting trip to the West Indies.

"While their adventures are exciting enough for the veriest tomboy, the distinctive feminine appeal is not lacking.

"Cora and her friends are, in the final analysis, just wholesome, everyday girls. In spite of their unusual adventures their daily lives are filled with the sort of activity that every girl knows and enjoys.

"They design clothes, they shop for the newest in hats and they give marvelously clever parties.

"What girl doesn't enjoy these things? What girl doesn't enjoy reading about them?"

Clearly, the publishers were trying to have their cake and eat it too, with this series.2 It was exciting enough for tomboys (and perhaps even young male readers), but it was also non-threatening and dainty, with nothing that would upset a perfectly matched hat and motoring scarf. So, even if there were some tiny steps toward women's liberation with these books, nobody wanted to be too overt about it. After all, shopping and party-planning still came first.

There were 10 books in the Motor Girls series from 1910 through 1917. The main titles were always bland. Along the lines of "The Motor Girls on/at [generic place name]." The alternate titles were a bit more interesting, but hardly hinted at true danger or thrilling adventure. Secondary titles included:

  • A Mystery of the Road
  • Keeping a Strange Promise
  • The Hermit of Fern Island
  • The Secret of the Red Oar
  • The Gypsy Girl's Secret

Keeping a Strange Promise was the alternate title of The Motor Girls on a Tour and, according to this webpage documenting the whole series, the book opens with an exciting incident in which the Motor Girls ... drive their car over a hamper.

If you want to see another cover featuring the Motor Girls gang, check out this August 2012 post.

1. Well, it was going to be a quick post. Then some tangents happened.
2. "You can't have your cake and eat it" is one of the strangest entries I've ever come across on Wikipedia. It touches on opportunity cost, forensic linguistics, the Unabomber, Latin didactic poetry, goats, cabbage and donkeys. My favorite part of the entry is a list of idioms similar to "you can't have your cake and eat it too" in other languages. A few examples:
  • Czech: Aby se vlk nažral a koza zůstala celá – The wolf is full and the goat stayed whole.
  • Danish: Man kan ikke både blæse og have mel i munden – You cannot both blow and have flour in your mouth.
  • Switzerland: Du chasch nit dr Füfer und s Weggli ha – you can't have the five cent coin and a Swiss bread roll.
  • Hungarian: Egy fenékkel nem lehet két lovat megülni – It is impossible to ride two horses with one butt.
  • Romanian: Nu poți împăca și capra și varza – You can't reconcile the goat and the cabbage.
  • Tamil: மீசைக்கும் ஆசை கூழுக்கும் ஆசை – desire to have both the moustache and to drink the porridge.

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