The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Trash Alchemy [One From the Vaults]

Feeling a bit lazy today so I'm re-posting one of my early pieces. This one's from June 26, 2007 so it will be new to most of you--and I thinks it's particularly appropriate in this crap economic season. The 3 faithful subscribers I've retained since then can move on to the next feed. I've updated some of the specifics.

A friend called me Sunday to tip me off about two large boxes of books being curbed nearby. That always gets the juices flowing, so I thought I would post a salvage report describing my technique for squeezing the last dollar from someone's garbage.

When I got to the books--only minutes after the call--there was already another browser but she was nearly done. I started sorting and putting aside dirt common or truly unsellable books but there weren't many, so I just sealed up both boxes and brought them home before more vultures started circling (Is there a scavenger that drags the whole carcass back to its den to feast in safety? If so, that's my spirit animal.).

The majority of the books were recent and in barely used condition so I turned on my bar code scanner and went to work. There were thirty titles that I added to my Bookhound database (to be listed on Amazon, ABE, Alibris, etc). Most were priced in the $4-8 dollar range--which I normally don't bother with--but they were free. There were a few outliers priced between $50-150 but I can't say that they will ever sell [2 out of 3 did]. All told, I added about $350 worth of books to my inventory.

Once those were listed, I was left with about 50 "penny" books ($.02-$3 used on Amazon). Some booksellers will list these if they weigh 1 pound or less and try to make at least $.80 on Amazon's shipping credit, but the stacking and packing would drive me to violence, so I don't bother. What I will do though is collect common books into interest lots to auction on eBay.

I keep a text file of my lots in progress. Once I’ve added a book’s details, I toss it in my eBay cupboard and forget about it until I have a decent-size list. When the time comes, I insert the new titles into a recycled Turbolister Poster Toaster entry, weigh the books for calculated shipping, take pictures, and upload on Sunday evening. These lots frequently go for my minimum bid (so I set my prices accordingly) but sometimes I get a welcome surprise.

Some lots that I’ve had consistently good luck with are: pulp era paperbacks with suggestive covers; gay/lesbian fiction and non-fiction; single author or series collections; animal books (horses, pigs, mice, etc); New Age/Wicca; westerns, and many more.

[Another outlet I've discovered for common titles is PaperbackSwap. When someone requests one of your books, you get a credit to request a book from any other member. I have a wish list of valuable paperbacks a mile long but since they only show up infrequently--and my credits keep increasing--I often request collector's guides and other hobby books to increase my scouting knowledge. You can also move credits between their sister sites: SwapaCD and SwapaDVD.]

After those two passes, I had about 40 books left that I couldn't find a "hook" for. At this point I pull out books that are suitable for a used bookstore. Make sure they are in saleable condition and cull the heavily marked, dirty, torn, or out of date titles (the book buyer won't give you as much $ if you overwhelm them with crap…and if you do it consistently, they'll remember and eventually ban you). Ask the buyer for credit instead of cash as most stores will give 30%-50% more in credit. If the bookstore doesn't sell online, scoutpal a few titles. If they do sell online, look for flashpoints they may have overlooked: 1st printings of popular fiction, autographed copies, collectible mass markets, etc. If you can't find anything to resell, find something you want to read, or better yet find business or reference books for your bookselling library. Always try to spend more than your credit to give them something towards the rent. [Since my original post 3 out of 4 of the nearby used bookstores have gone under, relocated or are in severe financial jeopardy. Support your local booksellers NOW. They frequently order OP titles from sellers like me so it's a win/win situation.]

When I was done at the used bookstore, I had 15-20 titles left. I walked these down to the Salvation Army/Goodwill, made a donation and got a receipt and write-off come tax time.

Left with an empty cart and box, I went back to Sal's book rack and started all over.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Best Coney Island Souvenir Ever FREE

A major source of anxiety for real New Yorkers (more so even than economic downturn and dirty bombs) is the impending gutting/condoization of Coney Island.

Current plans for the park include the retention of a few iconic landmarks and rides but for many of them the future is hazy.

Astroland's Rocketship and Tower have no new home lined up, and if owner Carol Albert doesn't find a taker before the end of January, they may end up on the scrap pile. Albert is even willing
to pay some moving expenses for the rocket.

So if you need a rocket to launch your offspring to a friendlier star, or you just want to get a SCUD missile trailer and drive it around to freak people out, now is the time to act.

Story and image via The Brooklyn Paper.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Loves of a Girl Wrestler

"A Terror in the Ring...A Tigress in the Boudoir! Can a professional fighting-girl experience genuine tenderness, love? or does she become brutalized, morally impoverished, sapped of all womanly decency by the sordid exhibitions in which she takes part?"

and more new additions to the Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Booksale Jump Bag

Over the last few years of going to booksales, I've been developing a toolkit of essential and useful items to bring along. Here's the contents of my jump bag so far (more or less in order of importance).

  1. Electronic lookup tools: There are many variations (scanner + DB, phone browser, laptop, etc). I use a Palm Treo with Scoutpal that lets me input 10 ISBNs per query and I can check pre-ISBN title on ABE. Not state of the art certainly (and it's dependent on cell phone reception) but I haven't felt the need to upgrade.
  2. Scouting Book: A collection of title lists and identification points compiled through research and experience. Two lists I find very useful are a) $$$ Titles That Book Clerks Don't Know About and b) Out of Print DVD and VHS. I keep these lists on my Treo which I sync before heading out. [No, I'm not posting them. Make your own.]
  3. Bill McBride's Points of Issue (0930313046) and Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions (0930313062). Compact and very informative.
  4. Pocket Atlas or GPS and a list of nearby thrift/antique shops.
  5. $100 or so in cash and a checkbook.
  6. Business cards.
  7. Packing supplies: collapsed boxes, tape, pocket knife, sharpie, bungie cords. Don't count on finding decent supplies at a sale.
  8. Canvas Bags: I buy these whenever I see one in the right size. They're strong, and easy to maneuver through crowded aisles.
  9. Folding Wheely Cart: I'm fond of these models. Good wheels, folds small and carries 100+ pounds.
  10. Trash Bags or a small tarp: To cover your purchases in case of rain. Also useful in staking a claim.
  11. Clif bar and bottle of water: Staying sugared up and hydrated keeps the brain focused, and if your food is portable you can keep looking.
  12. Gloves and a dust mask: Overkill in most cases but you will eventually be glad you brought them along.
  13. Back-support belt: Try to keep your boxes manageable, lift with the knees, and avoid cramped/unnatural browsing posture (still you WILL develop a sensitive back as a bookseller).
  14. Carrying handle: Plastic hand grip that you can hang shopping bags from so they don't cut off your circulation.
  15. CD walkman, batteries and headphones: To preview CDs and check for playability. Vinyl junkies should consider a battery powered record player.
  16. A few bubble envelopes and small plastic bags: To protect and transport delicate items or ephemera.
  17. Handi-wipes and moisturizer: Few things are more disgusting than the gray and dried out hands you get after hours of digging through old books. If you plan to bring your hands anywhere near your face (or other people) handi-wipes are essential. I like the individually wrapped ones you find at Chinese restaurants.
Allergy tablets: Pop a few at home before heading into a dusty cat haven and keep some handy.

A Weapon?
: There's been some talk on the Biblio list lately about self-defense for the bookdealer. While I haven't yet felt physically threatened at a sale, I've certainly found myself in bizarre and uncomfortable environments. I firmly believe you shouldn't pack a weapon that you don't want turned on you, but maybe learning a little book-fu is a good idea. An OED would make a formidable bludgeon, pocket books fly like throwing stars.
Additions from Readers
Hat / Sun Shade: "I would add a light-weight collapsible hat for outdoor events. Sunburn and heat exhaustion are dangerous possibilities for those of us with library tans. " [suggested by Mr. JM]

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I haven't posted new plates in a while. It's not because I'm not finding them it's more because I'm adding so many to the collection that I have to be selective or drown out my other posts.

Here's a few recent additions.

First this Esther Nelson plate found in an 1889 Bound volume of Baily's Magazine, London.

I like the graceful curves and the white-on-black scratchboard effect.

Next this skeleton flautist plate belonging to Bob and Mary Sullivan, found in a DIY book from 1938.

Skeletons would be a fun and fruitful bookplate theme to collect.

Next two plates from my soon to be Mother-in-Law and a faithful reader of this blog (who keeps putting little red stars on my visitors' map in far-flung parts of the globe).

Her personal plate...

which I'll let her describe:
Diana huntress was made for me by my Canadian godmother about 1946. She was from Scotland and was spending the summer of 1939 in Toronto on a student exchange before she started the Glasgow School of Art in Sept 39. I always thought the bookplates were very cool and loved pasting them into my books until some nasty kid saw them and made a big fuss about having naked ladies in my books, so I stopped using them I suppose that is why I have a stack of unused ones.
and this plate from her father-in-law, Charles Summers Stevenson who was the first American doctor to enter Nagasaki post bomb.

Charles was featured in the PBS Documentary "Mission of Mercy" and was the first American doctor to enter Nagasaki with the intention of treating survivors of the 1945 atomic bomb. He went in on a tender off his ship which was anchored out in the bay off Nagasaki with 2 orderlies and a sack of sulfa drugs (which were cutting edge at the time). He said it was unlike any thing he could have ever imagined and he realized in short order that there was basically nothing he could do despite all the best drugs that he had with him. Years later he joined Physicians for Social Responsibility on the strength of his experiences.

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Pulp Covers

Rubber Goddesses, Swinging Senators, Traveling Salesmen and Teenagers with comb-overs in the Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Piano Tuner's Tool Chest

Alice just sent me a link (translated from Portugese) to a post on the Henry Studley piano tuner's tool chest. I saw an article on this chest year's ago in a back issue of Smithsonian (which I can't bring to hand right now) and I've always found the image beautiful and inspiring.

A chest like this would be total overkill for me, but I'd love to find a large high quality photo print.

Go See This

Coming of age, vampire story. It doesn't cheat or fall back on lazy genre conventions, and it's wistful and tender (while still being horrifyingly violent).

Probably the best and most subtle depiction of a vampire's supernatural abilities I've ever seen.

It's playing at the Angelika NYC (and other Landmark theaters). See it in the big screen if you can but I believe the DVD will be released March, 2009.

Lifestyle Change

Getting a jump on my New Year's resolutions and changing my routine to allow for some exercise. Frequently the only physical activity I see in a day is lugging my packages to the post office by bus and then running a few errands.

I've decided to take advantage of the PO's free pickup option and use the time savings to go for a bike ride or a run. You need to be mailing at least one priority package (that's usually not a problem but I can always upgrade one) and I need to pack and schedule the pickup the night before but that's the only real change.

Today was my first pickup. My packages are gone already, and I'm not even out of pajamas. No fuss, no muss.

Now I just need to get on the bike and not be lulled into a blissful nap.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


So, I thought I could run but I was caught in the meme crossfire and hit TWICE with this one (by Joyce Godsey of Bibliophile Bullpen and Ian Kahn of Lux Mentis) . Looks like the only defense is an inoculatory post.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
Six Random Things:

1. As a kid I set up all of my Transformers and G.I. Joe figures in an elaborate table-top battle diorama with grenades, rockets, and body parts flying (suspended by fishing line). Really wish I had taken pictures.

2. I'm engaged! Alice and I have been DPs for a while but we're making the leap. This isn't super recent news but I couldn't post until all of our far flung family members had been informed.

3. I know just enough about computers to be a danger to myself and others.

4. I wear only a sweatshirt outside until at least late December because of my layer of protective manliness.

5. Through daily consumption of chilis, I've dulled or killed of most of capsaicin receptors. Soon I'll need to keep a pet tarantula on my shoulder to get my spice kick.

6. I regularly walk 20 blocks out of my way to save $2 with the free bus to subway transfer.

John Klima of Electric Velocipede
Gavin Grant of LCRW
Laura at BookN3rd
Nathan Roberts of Bat Country Books
Lewis Jaffe of Bookplate Junkie
Rachel of Book Trout

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Offensive Ads

The Blog of Hilarity recently posted the 9 Most Disturbingly Misogynistic Old Print Ads they've encountered and it would definitely be a challenge to top them.

And in a related post they've collected the 7 most delightfully perverse toy commercials. Alice and I lost our shit over the Super Soaker Ooozinator "Major Pumping Required".

Link via Jezebel

Friday, November 21, 2008

Trunk Stories #4, Part IV

Here's the final installment of Trunk Stories #4. TS is the Hang Fire Books virtual reading series and the digital resurrection of my 'zine of literary fantasy, science fiction, and horror.

A meditation on dance artistry, the changing nature of
masculinity and Gene Kelly's taut, supple buttocks. (pdf)

by Barry J. House

A micro fiction piece on mortality
and mysterious family "talks".

Veronica Schanoes is an assistant professor of English at Queens College - CUNY. Her work has appeared in Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21, Journal of Mythic Arts, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, and Sybil's Garage.

Barry J. House lives in Southern England, with his wife, two children, and three cats. His work has been published in Black Petals, Trail of Indiscretion, The Horror Express, Hub Magazine, Whispers of Wickedness, and elsewhere. Barry’s first collection of short fiction, Obsidian Dreams, is scheduled for publication in 2009 by Screaming Dreams Press.
Timothy Dedman is a writer and illustrator living in Brooklyn, New York.
Read the first three stories from issue #4 here: "Dame Morehead's Sea of Tranquility" by Tobias Seamon; "The Little Men" by William Mingin; "Brooklyn, New York, August 14, 2003"

Back issues of Trunk Stories can be purchased here (Issue #1 is OP and available as a free download).

So that's everything. I'm through the print backlog of Trunk Stories. Should I keep going? Do readers want to keep seeing short fiction and essays in this forum? What about the pdf format?

I'm looking for some feedback.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

L.A. Noir-chitecture

I recently contributed a few cover scans to the program/guide for L.A. Noir-chitecture: A hard-boiled tour through the historic city organized by the Los Angeles Conservancy.

It included visits to the Glendale Southern Pacific Railroad Terminal (the crime scene in Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity), Parva-Sed-Apta Apartments (the boarding house who's tenants inspired characters in Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust), Villa Primavera (a Spanish revival building featured in Nicolas Ray's In a Lonely Place), the Warner Bothers Studios, and other surviving locations that defined the noir look.

Unfortunately I didn't get the brochure in time to plug the tour (it happened back on November 9th), but apparently it was a great success, so maybe it will be repeated.

Sign up for the LA Conservancy mailing list if you want to hear about future tours and events.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Helping Along the Barter Economy

Like many people--I suspect--my need for cheap/free entertainment has greatly increased lately. Also I LOVE getting things in the mail.

In pursuit of these twin goals I've compiled all my trade lists onto a single handy page.

Hang Fire Books Barter Page

I have lists for vintage paperbacks, OOP film/dvd, 8-tracks, video games, random curiosities, plus links to other trading sites where I have items posted.

I'll be updating these lists as I find and trade away items.

If you want something but don't have anything to trade, I'll sell items for cost (plus shipping) or work something out.

Good luck out there...and remember it's better the economy should recede than your gums...or something.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Construction Jesus

...and they did take up the Coors 12-pack and they did drink of it and were filled.

New Pulp

Lots of new additions in the Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Book Trade Labels Flickr Group

Blogger The Exile Bibliophile started a Flicker photo pool of book tickets / book trade labels to expand on the Seven Roads Gallery. I've signed on as a contributor and will add tickets from my collection shortly.

There are some stunning designs and beautiful examples of hand lettering in these labels and they're an inspirational reminder of the pride in trade of the bookseller.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fairy Tale Book House

Venetian-born sculptor Livio De Marchi created this house made almost entirely (inside and out) of wooden bookforms.

Tables, chairs, beds, stair treads, all are shaped like elephant-folio sized antique books.

If I came upon this house in the woods I would expect a witch to eat me.

Link via Jezebel.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Simple Hair Dryer

I found this plan for a Rube Golbergian hair dryer in the Popular Mechanics Handbook for Women, 1924, which contains some truly some truly ingenious domestic ideas. I'll blog some of them over the next few weeks.

Happy Halloween, btw. Sorry an "asbestos lining" and exposed heating element is as scary as I can get today. I'm just not inspired.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Treasure Island Compliments of Hotel Taft NYC

While thrifting this past weekend I turned up and interesting bit of NYC ephemera. This edition of Treasure Island was published by and given gratis to guests of Hotel Taft:

It's undated but I'm guessing late 1920s-30s from the cover design. The copyright page says
"Tarry at the Taft, New York". The FEP carries this printed in bookplate:

and rear endpaper features an ad for "Hotel St. George Pool, Clark St., Brooklyn" where you can "Swim in Sparkling Natural Salt Water, Bask in Heathful Sun Rays" all for $1.

I found nine titles published by the Taft listed on ABE: Alice in Wonderland, Tale of Two Cities, Sherlock Holmes, Soldiers Three, Last Days of Pompeii, Scarlet Letter, The Dynamiter, The Light that Failed, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.

I wish hotel chains and publishers would try this again. It would be nice to find some reading material--besides the bible--on my hotel nightstand.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Obelisks of Erotic Gratification

I recently acquired a pile of Sexology: The Door to Sex Enlightenment, a digest started by Hugo Gernsback (of Amazing Stories fame). The magazine ran from the 1930s well into the 70s and features some fantastically batty sexual advice and history.

This diagram illustrating the "differing amounts of gratification offered by the auto-erotic act and the normal marital act" is one of my favorites.

Click on image for explanatory text.

You can easily see--through the dramatic difference in "the height and girth of the obelisk[s]"--that the "gratification derived from the auto-erotic act is only about 60% as much as that of the normal marital act". But hey, I'm an obelisk half-full kind of guy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


...and other indoor sports in the Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery.

Add me as a contact on Flickr or subscribe to my photostream and don't miss a single cover.

Junk in My Trunk Last Weekend

More great stuff from the same dealer as last weekend (no I won't talk). View on Flickr for my annotations.

and a detail shot of some items for my new shadowbox.

A tiny plastic frito bandito (holding a sign that says "South of the Border"), a 1940s-50s condom tin, and a 1-year safe driving medal that looks like a purple heart from D-Day.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cat Zombie Dance Party!

If you're in Brooklyn tonight--and want to dance like Andrew Lloyd Weber after the zombie apocalypse--you should be here:

Cherylween: The Dance Party That Will Ruin Your Life

Monday, October 13, 2008

Junk Boards as Mailing Protectors

If you have a sensitive constitution or are easily offended by violence against books please stop reading now.

I meant it.

Are you still here?

Okay. A while back I received a book packaged in the stripped-off boards of a junk title. I can't remember the inspired seller who sent it to me but it was a brilliant idea.

Booksellers end up with skads of hardcovers that are completely unsellable. If you donate them to a thrift shop you'll just have to look through them again. They burn gas to take them to the dump. And they have to be bundled separately from paper recyclables (if they can be recycled at all in your area).

However, as packing material they're a panacea. Book boards are denser and stronger than any piece of box cardboard. They come in a variety of sizes and by using them in this way you'll be fulfilling their destiny by protecting book contents that someone actually wants.

So after a recent cull I took a pile of beaten down books and skinned them like some necrobibliophilic Hannibal Lector (decorative endpapers, correctly yellowed blank pages, and bookplates/tickets should also be salvaged).

Now I use them to protect delicate pamphlets, magazines and vintage paperbacks. One caveat is that buyers may not realize their item is inside so you should mark the boards somehow. I'm going to make up an inkstamp to do this easily (and take advantage of another branding opp) but for now I just use a sharpie.

Horrified? Sickened? Appalled? You'll get over it fast. Just say a prayer to the great book spirit and kill them quick and clean.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jacques Le Tord: French Pin-up Artist

The blog Au carrefour étrange has been posting numerous pen and ink pin-ups/erotic illustrations by an artist named Jacques Le Tord. I'd never heard of him before but I'm instantly a huge fan.

Check out the back yards on his women and you'll see why Robert Crumb moved to France.

Trying to find info on the artist but Babelfish isn't doing me any favors. Best I could do is that Le Tord worked in the 50s and was published extensively in a magazine called Revue Pigalle.

Love to find a coffee table book or an English snyposes of his career.

Junk in My Trunk: October 12, 2008

Today's finds. Went back to the old flea market cause the new one's gone too upscale. High eBay hopes for the Shirley Temple item.

View the photo on Flickr for my annotations.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bookish Burlesque

Working on the Field of Dreams principle, I've been blogging about strippers, sleaze paperbacks--and other scantily clad themes--every single chance I get.

And what do you know, it worked! I sold pieces of burlesque historical material to two fine performers who are upholding the tradition and keeping the tassles spinning.

...and they both have book-related acts!

First Ms. Ginny Fizz and her librarian tease to the tune of Elvis' "A Little Less Conversation"

Next Scarlett Letter and her anything but puritanical bump 'n grind fan dance.

Also see The Ministry of Burlesque Youtube page for a ton of burlesque performance and how-to videos.

Monday, October 6, 2008

World's Largest Garage Sale 2008 Haul

Junk in My Trunk: October 6, 2008, originally uploaded by Hang Fire Books.

Here's my loot from last weekend's town-wide garage sale in Warrensburg, NY. View the image on Flicker for annotations and descriptions. I'll talk about some of this stuff (and my wacky adventures acquiring it) once I dig myself out of the pile.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Found this set of showgirl publicity photos a few weeks ago at the BrooklynFlea. Not sure if they're for a stage production or film. I need to do some research but I'm running out the door so I'll just post and hope somebody recognizes a face. (click for larger versions)

Signature looks like "J. K. Milligan" and maybe "L.A." or "U.A."

Any Vaudeville/Broadway buffs have any clues?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Stud Service

Stud Service (Bee-Line 445-D) 1970 AUTHOR: Peter Blue ARTIST: (unknown), originally uploaded by Hang Fire Books.

...and more new arrival vintage sleaze in the Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery.

Add me as a contact on Flickr or subscribe to my photostream and don't miss a single cover.

Junk in My Trunk: October 2, 2008

Junk in My Trunk: October 2, 2008, originally uploaded by Hang Fire Books.

Nice haul from a normally picked-over thrift store. View it on Flickr with amazing Thrift-o-Vision annotations.

I have way too many clashing vintage dishes now. Time to start thinning.

Still looking for members for my Twitter Thrift Scouting Corp, ThriftScoutNYC.

Sign up if you're in/around NYC, or start your own local franchise.

Monday, September 29, 2008

NYC Sex Bloggers 2009 Pin-up Calendar

A group of twelve heartstoppingly pert, supple, toothsome...prose stylists are putting together the New York City 2009 Sex Bloggers Calendar.
All profits from the sale of this calendar will go directly to Sex Work Awareness. The poses will be fun and flirty and burlesque themed, with no graphic nudity. Think costumes, corsets, pasties and g-strings.
$30.00 plus shipping gets you a calendar, plus the selection of one day (other sponsorship levels available) to carry your 80-character message to the sex positive, internet-savvy world.

I just bought a day. Get yours BEFORE MIDNIGHT OCTOBER 1st

No guilt, gratuitous nudity and a write-off in the charity column. What could be better?

Bat Country Books

Nathan Roberts (longtime commentator and tipster here) has started a blog for his online bookstore Bat Country Books.

(Quite the handsome banner, no?)

He specializes in
items that have a flare for the unusual, especially items which are macabre in nature, highly controversial, or relating to subcultures.
Pay him a visit.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Advertising Cards

I picked up a nice batch of c1900 advertising cards at the BrooklynFlea this weekend. Looks like they were removed from a scrapbook. Would have liked to see the whole book intact for context but it would have been out of my price range. Here's what I got:

A patent medicine card with the text:
Shut the Door
Piso's Cure for Consumption
Piso's Cure for Catarrh

"Catarrh" sounds ominous but it's just congested sinuses and the wave of mucus I've been surfing all week. From now on I have Catarrh.

Next this Cortecelli Knitting Silk card with sewing elves.

This woman below is currently using: Dr. Scott's Electric Corset, Dr. Scott's Electric Hair-Brush, Dr. Scott's Electric Hair-Curler, and Dr. Scott's Electric Tooth Brush.

She has that stalk in her mouth so she doesn't bite off her tongue.

Lastly this McCormick card for "Right Hand Machines":

The wisdom of using a severed hand to advertising harvesting equipment is a bit questionable but it's a nice card anyway.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

P.T. Barnum Items

I have a hellacious pile of books to pack this morning so just a quick blog post. Here are two unique P. T. Barnum items that came into the shop recently.

First this Danish-language edition of a Barnum Bio Den store Barnum Reklamens Konge (1937) with a fantastic wraparound cartoon cover (click for larger version) picturing Tom Thumb, a Bearded Lady, the Fiji Mermaid, and more.

Also this Barnum & Bailey Songster (c 1900), a saddle-stitched chapbook featuring humorous and sentimental songs performed in the clown shows.

All right, off to pack.

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Bookplates

Found a striking batch of bookplates while culling my inventory and raiding the Strand Annex. Here are some:

First this retro-future cityscape reminiscent of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. It belonged to an "Anna C. Ury" and was found (appropriately) in a Modern Library H.G. Wells from 1909

Next this decadent, allegorical (I'm guessing Wagnerian?) plate belonging to poet and labor historian "Elias Lieberman". It's in the Beardsley style (though more detailed). I like the repeated shape of the birds and the way the smoke is rolling off the ring. Looks like it's signed "EB".

Next this one belonging to "W. H. Kellogg Jr." (possibly of the cereal family) found in Stewart's Travels c 1840. The foliage has a great fairy tale feel to it.

Next this classic pissed-off Dumbledore plate by illustrator "Leon D'emo" belonging to W. A. Moran, found in Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Heroes 1872

And lastly this dog plate belonging to William Hale Harkness, found in Goodbye Mr Chips 1935. Harkness was the Standard Oil heir and husband to the famously batty Rebekah Harkness, a huge patron of dance whose
eccentricities were often reported in the New York tabloids in the '60s and '70s. She dyed a cat green and scrubbed her pool with Dom Perignon

More to come.