Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Book cover: "Fresh Water Fish"

  • Title: Fresh Water Fish
  • Subtitle: A Guide Book Illustrated in Cover
  • Title-page title: The Blue Book of Fresh Water Fish
  • Blue? What's up with that? Not sure. More in a bit.
  • Author: Joe Godfrey Jr.
  • Illustrator: Gordon Ertz
  • Publisher: Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin
  • Year: 1939
  • Pages: 62
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Dimensions: 5½ inches wide by 3½ inches tall. This likely makes it the fourth-smallest book featured on Papergreat, behind Book of Brief Narratives, Warren's Pocket History of Winchester, and Jack the Giant-Killer.
  • Provenance: I purchased the book at The York Emporium. The inside front cover has the following inscription, in pencil: "Jack Frey, 170 S. Albermarle St. [sic, it's "Albemarle"], York, Pa. I bought this for $.10."
  • Excerpt from preface: "This book contains enough information regarding common and technical names, distributions and habits, to identify each of the fresh-water fishes. It is dedicated both to anglers and to those who are generally curious to know more about the inhabitants of our inland waters. It also provided helpful hints on bait and fly casting."
  • Random excerpt from middle: "There are at least 40 correct ways to spell muskalonge. The Indians called this fish maskinonge, and this spelling is now commonly used in Canada. The French called it masque-al-longe. It is also called by such names as muske, lunge, kinongĂ©, mascallonge, mascanongy, maskallonge, maskanonge, maskenosha, muscallunge, muscalunge, muskellunge, and noscononge.
  • Notes: So, the cover is green and the title is The Blue Book of Fresh Water Fish. And this book is, indeed, about fresh-water fish. So it looks like somebody screwed up the cover designs. There were two volumes in this set: The Green Book of Salt Water Fish and The Blue Book of Fresh Water Fish. But somehow we ended up with a green-covered Blue Book at some point. It appears that several editions of these books, with different covers, were published over the years, so I'm probably the only person who noticed and is dredging up the apparent mistake nearly 80 years later. ... Whitman published numerous nature guides in this format, including The Red Book of Birds in America, A Guide to Wild Flowers: Field Flowers, Trees of North America (aka Trees You Want to Know), The Green Book of Birds of America, The Blue Book of Birds of America, and The Yellow Book of Birds of America. ... More interestingly, Whitman was known for Penny Books starting in the late 1930s. This PDF article at www.biglittlebooks.com notes the following: "The Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin, copyrighted the term 'Penny Book' and used it to describe several types of small soft cover books. All of Whitman’s Penny Books were published during the Silver Age of Big Little Books (mid-1938 into the 1940s)." Penny Books included comics, puzzles, cowboy stories, detective tales, fairy tales and even content from Disney Studios. You won't be surprised to learn that Whitman's Disney titles have gone from being Penny Books to costing a Pretty Penny:

Final note: The original working title for this post was "Abe Vigoda."

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