Saturday, January 27, 2018

Fanzine flashback #3.5:
Fantasy Advertiser from 1948

(It's been a redonkulous 174 weeks since the last installment of this series. This will only be a partial treatment, though, so I'm not counting it as full-fledged #4.)

Fanzine flashback #3.5: At a glance

  • Title: Fantasy Advertiser
  • Issue: Volume III, No. 2
  • Date: July 1948
  • Primary purpose: Articles and numerous advertisements
  • Pages: 24
  • Size: 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches
  • Binding: Two staples
  • Planographed by: John S. Swift Co., Inc.
  • Printed in: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Price: 10¢
  • Editor: Gus Willmorth
  • Awesome cemetery-themed cover artwork: Henry Ernst
  • Description: "'The Amateur Professional for Professional Amateurs', published bi-monthly at 1503-3/4 12th Avenue, Los Angeles 6, California, by Gus Willmorth as a service to fantasy fans everywhere."
  • Advertising rates: Ranged from 50 cents for a small ad to $5 for a full page.

Sampling of advertisements

  • King Bros. Books of San Francisco was selling Beyond the Wall of Sleep, by H.P. Lovecraft, for $30. (That's $310 in modern dollars! If this, however, is indeed the Arkham House edition, it would have been a bargain at that price. Depending on the condition, it now sells for between $500 and $2,000.)
  • Will Sykora, a "scientifictionist" and "science hobbyist" living in Long Island, promised to answer all letters sent to him.
  • In a full-page ad, Ernst Schwartz of Tiny Novels Inc. in Lake Placid, New York, promised one free book with every order of 10 or more books. The free book would be The Pocket Book of Short Stories, The Pocket Book of Science-Fiction, or Oliver Twist. Also, if you ordered more than 20 books, the price dropped from 40 cents per book to 33 cents per book.
  • Gorgon Press of Denver, Colorado, was selling a limited edition of 1,000 copies of Moonfoam and Sorceries by Stanley Mullen (illustrated by Roy Hunt). The cost was $3.
  • Volumes being sold by The House of York included Mistress Masham's Repose by T.H. White (89 cents), Star of the Unborn by Franz Werfel ($1.39), and The Beast of the Haitian Hills by Philippe & Pierre Marcelin ($1).
  • Paul Skeeters of Pasadena, California, was offering his full run of Astounding Science Fiction from January 1930 through July 1948 for $150.
  • The Devil's Foot Book Shop in Providence, Rhode Island, in a full-page advertisement, had offerings including John Silence by Algernon Blackwood, The Lords of Ghostland by Edgar Saltus, The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Hans Heinz Ewers, and The Fallen Race by Austyn Granville. Most books were priced between $5 and $10.
  • E.A. Martin of Hartford, Connecticut, was looking for someone who would sell him issues 4, 5, and 7 of the Fortean Society's "Doubt."
  • Joseph B. Baker of Chicago was selling A Treatise of Ghosts, described as "written in French by the Learned FATHER NOEL TAILLEPIED of the Order of the Capuchins, and now first translated into English. With an introduction and commentary by Montague Summers." Price was $7.50.
  • Interplanetary Games of Fulton, New York, was selling, for just $2, Interplanetary, a "game of astronomy" in a "De Luxe Set" with "108 Beautiful Plastic Pieces." Immediate delivery was guaranteed.

Friday, January 26, 2018

1960 book cover & bookmark:
"The Pink Motel"

  • Title: The Pink Motel
  • Author: Carol Ryrie Brink (1895-1981)
  • Illustrator: Sheila Greenwald
  • Dust jacket blurb: "When the Mellens took down the Closed sign on their very own Pink Motel in Florida, left to them by Uncle Hiram, and the regular winter guests arrived, there began for Kirby and Bitsy the most exciting summer of their lives so far. There was Miss Ferry, the artist, who started Kirby on a search for Uncle Hiram's special secret; Miss P. DeGree with her three valuable poodles; Marvello, the magician; and two tall, dark and mysterious gentlemen who Kirby felt pretty sure were gangsters."
  • Publisher: The Macmillan Company (first published 1959)
  • Edition: Weekly Reader Children's Book Club edition published in 1960
  • Price: $2.75
  • Pages: 183
  • Format: Hardcover
  • First sentence: Until Kirby Mellen was ten nothing very exciting had ever happened to him or his father or his mother or his little sister Bitsy.
  • Last sentence: And Kirby shouted back, "You bet!"
  • Random sentence from middle: Kirby even forgot to polish up his J. Edgar Hoover G-Man badge or keep an eye on the gangsters or worry about the pencil which was missing from Uncle Hiram's desk.
  • Amazon rating: 4.6 stars out of 5.0. (62 reviews)
  • Goodreads rating: 4.19 stars out of 5.0 (511 ratings)
  • Goodreads review excerpt #1: In 2009, Helen wrote: "I have the original hardcover copy of the 1960 edition. I loved this book as a child in elementary school. I wanted to inherit a pink motel and go to Florida so I could meet all these interesting people. What a great introduction to the world of mystery solving. I have read it over and over."
  • Goodreads review excerpt #2: In 2012, Bob wrote: "I vividly remember Mrs. Hannah, my 4th grade teacher and one of my all-time favs, (1969), reading this book to us. I can still hear her voice and the 'crinkle' that the pages made as she turned them."
  • Notes: I don't think my scanner did a great job with the shade of pink on this dust-jacket cover. If you use this color guide ...

    ... then the actual shade on the dust jacket would be closest to peach. But when I scanned the cover, it resulted to something closer to pink or taffy. Oh well. ... Carol Ryrie Brink wrote many books for children, including Caddie Woodlawn, which won a Newbery Medal. In her biography at the back of The Pink Motel, she is quoted as saying, "Children need the lift and thrill of imaginative writing as well as the tangible foundation of facts. It is this combination of realism and imagination which I wish very much to achieve in own writing." ... Illustrator Greenwald has her own website, which you can check out here. ... The Weekly Reader bookmark that's pictured above is back of the inside-back flap of the dust jacket. ... Among the blogs that feature memories and discussions of this book are Belle, Book, and Candle (great name!) and Book Discussion with Myself.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Damaged but beautiful
postcard from the 1920s

I considered adding this postcard to the list of Papergreat's "water-stained works of art" series. But I'm not entirely sure what this stain is. Water? Rust? Mold? Alien fungus from the planet Santraginus V? I don't have a big enough budget in the Science-Research Division to investigate this thoroughly.

But, as I've said in the past, I still think this is a thing of beauty. The passage of time and the brownish stain have given this still-colorful (and butterfly-filled) postcard more character than it might otherwise have if it was in "mint" condition.

No publisher is listed for this postcard, which has a small logo with a hand holding a torch on the back. The text on the front states:

For You
Deep in my heart
I hold for you
Affection that is
and true

The card was postmarked in Woodbine, York County, Pennsylvania. (Apparently, this unincorporated community once had its own post office!) The date is December 24, sometime in the 1920s — the final number in the year is too blurry to read.

It was mailed to a woman in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, about 16-18 miles northwest of Woodbine, depending on your route. The note, written in cursive and pencil, states:
"Will look for you. Come early as you can am getting ready for Santa. Tell Earl Curt [?] said you shall be sure [?]
The second part of the note wasn't easy to decipher, but it doesn't seem to be of much consequence — like most text messages of today, I reckon. But, unlike today's texts, we still have this lovely postcard to accompany a nearly-century-old piece of everyday communication.

Other damaged works of art

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Mystery photo: 3 girls on a donkey

That's it. No identifying information whatsoever. Just three girls sitting on the back of a donkey that would strongly prefer not to have three humans on its back.

The original image is just 3 inches wide.

This photo would be a great jumping-off point for an educational exercise that Jim Fahringer mentioned in a recent comment:
"When I taught 4th Grade I would purchase all the old (mostly Victorian era) photographs I could find reasonably. We would then study the culture of the era. Each student would receive an antique picture and pretend that they were the person illustrated. They would make up a name and tell all about themselves including things like: why was this picture taken, what were you doing in this picture, what kind of things did you have to do to get ready for your portrait, what were your hobbies and pastimes, explanation of your hairstyle (How did you do it, how long did it take, etc.), description of your clothing (was it comfortable or were things like starched collars and corsets really miserable to wear), family description, difficulties and trials (like disease, death, war, and other disasters), your occupation or chores, how you died, etc. These neat old photos are a wonderful tool that can stimulate creative writing in the classroom."

Other mystery images
from the archives

Monday, January 22, 2018

Mid-century postcard of a posing Persian puddy tat

Here's a Natural Color Card from Kodachrome of a serious-looking Persian cat for your Monday evening enjoyment.

It was mailed from Philadelphia to York, Pennsylvania, in 1953 with a red, two-stamp John Adams stamp. The short note, written diagonally and in cursive (with circle dots on the I's), states:
We brought Danny along & if its [sic] nice we want to take her to the zoo tomorrow.
Dot & Emory
Given the postcard, I want to believe that Danny is a housecat that was going to visit the lions and tigers and other big cats at the Philadelphia Zoo. But Danny is probably a human.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Cornwall: The County of Hidden Treasure (and pirates)

This wonderful postcard, published by Murray King Studio, was postmarked in Penzance, Cornwall, on December 12, 1970, two days before I was born. (Also, Penzance is the town in which Ruth Manning-Sanders was residing when she died in 1988.)

The illustrated postcard is full of pirates, pirate ships, treasure chests, swords, bad mustaches, secrets, buried gold, rum, legends and more. What more could you want for an adventure? A parrot, perhaps? Also, you'll need a shovel to dig for those chests.

Here are some links (some perhaps more dubious than others) to read more about Cornwall and its treasures:

Meanwhile, for posterity, here's the message that was written on the back of this 1970 postcard:
Saturday 1 p.m.
Having a pretty quiet tour down here. Beat Camborne 14-8 on Thursday. Playing Redruth today and Penzance Monday. Weather pretty good. Will phone up on Tuesday but it will be about six p.m. when I get back to Oxford.
Any guesses on what sport Alan is referring to? My best guess would be rugby.

Finally, here's the stamp and stamp cancellation from the back of the card.

It might be possible to be *too* kind to an old book

"Japanese Craftsman Masterfully Restores Old Book into Like-New Condition"
is an interesting 2015 post by My Modern Met's Sara Barnes. The article itself was given new life when it was shared into my Facebook feed last week. It details the restoration of a "tattered" English-Japanese dictionary, as featured on a Japanese show (not sure whether it's TV or YouTube) called Shuri, Bakaseru.1

Tweezers and irons and something ominously called a "guillotine book cutter" are used to give the book a fresh look ... and it all left me kind of disturbed. On Facebook, I commented:
"I have mixed feelings. This is a beautiful job. Some of this, though, is part of the book's inherent character, and I think that's been lost. I would have done the rebinding and the page ironing, but maybe left the purple-stained edges and not used the guillotine book cutter."
And then Brendan D. Strasser, owner of the Saucony Book Shop2 in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, posted a comment that I think should be shared and preserved. It dovetails with my sentiments in a much more eloquent fashion:
"Hmmm ... Admittedly, I've repaired my share of books over the years, typically to eliminate minor issues such as dog-eared leaves, stressed or broken bindings, cracked hinges, that sort of thing. I use archival-grade (acid-neutral) glues and tapes, Japanese paper, etc. When a book is too badly damaged to be usable or too ugly to be resold but commands some interest due to subject matter or scarcity, I'll have it rebound mainly because the only alternative is to pitch it into the ashbin, but I'll use as much as I can of the original binding -- mounting the original cloth over the new binding when appropriate. But I tend to want to retain ownership marks and usage wear, and there's something almost unsettling about a pristine copy of a 'used' book. The antiquarian world is filled with trophy hunters looking for flawless copies of century-old first editions, and I do my best to avoid that whole scene. I have books in my personal library that I keep primarily because of their wear and use: marginal notations, drawings on the endpapers, etc. In fact, I have a shelf of books that probably nobody else would ever want to own; I call them 'books once probably owned by madmen.' This restoration shown here appears so extreme that many booksellers might assume this copy to be an undesignated facsimile reprint of the original edition."
What are your thoughts on this topic, Papergreat readers?

1. So, if you're following the chain of communication...
  • 1. Original source of content: Japanese show Shuri, Bakaseru
  • 2. Summarized in April 2015 post on My Modern Met
  • 3. My Modern Met link shared onto Facebook on January 16, 2018, by
  • 4. post shows up in my Facebook feed.
  • 5. And from there to Papergreat.
This was just one of many possible paths. Multiple news sites "aggregated" the Shuri, Bakaseru book restoration in 2015 and I'm sure it's show up in a million possible iterations on Facebook, some sourced properly and some not sourced properly, in a digital game of Telephone.
2. The Saucony Book Shop has this advertising pitch on its website: "Chockablock with the Quaint, the Curious, and the Utterly Obscure." If you're interested in checking them out, however, please note that their barn-turned-bookstore is only open by appointment and occasionally "by chance" from April through November. Also: "We make no attempt to be a general-service book shop. Our inventory is highly selective, individually chosen with discerning readers and collectors in mind from among the hundreds of thousands of books to which we have access annually at auctions, library and estate sales, and through individual scouts and vendors. We do not handle material that does not meet our expectations in terms of condition or interest to our specialized, idiosyncratic customers."