Antiquarian Books

Rare and antique books are my passion, I enjoy talking to others who love books and reading.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Sex, Sin and The President

Thought I was talking about modern day Presidents, but no this is President Warren Harding in the early 1900's. The President's Daughter wriiten by Nan Britton in 1927 is the story of her affair with President Harding and the daughter of that affair. By all accounts Harding was a crude womanizer who had been carrying on with the wife of one of his friends for 15 years but was growing tired of her demands. Then Nan reappeared in his life and Harding began sleeping with the 20 year old. Now to be fair Nan was no angel she had become smitten with Harding when she was in her teens and moved to New York and contacted than Senator Warren about helping her find a job. Couldn't find her a job but spent several hours in her room at the Hotel Manhatten left her with 30 dollars and a future as his mistress. The child was conceived before Harding became President on a couch in Harding's Senate. The affair continued during Harding's presidency with meetings aided by the Secret Service and taking place in the coat closet of the executive office. Harding supported both Nan and her daughter until his untimely death in 1923. After the President's death the Harding family refused to support Nan or her child any longer. As a result, she published the book "The Presidents Daughter" which was soon to become a best seller.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Reading The Bumps on Your Head

Phrenology the science of reading the bumps, dips and shape of your head to determine personality and intellect. A very popular psuedo-science in the mid 1800's phrenology was embraced by the rich and famous of the day. Julia Ward Howe, Clara Barton, Walt Whitman, Horace Greeley and the Bronte's to name just a few. Phrenology, ruled much of the country's thinking regarding what motivated human behavior. It was applied to several facets of daily life and appeared in the writing of the day.
The primary phenologists in America were the Fowlers. They built an institute to cash in on the phrenology craze they set up the famous phrenological publishing house of L.N Fowler & Co; and designed and sold their phrenology head, a china head on which the phrenological faculties were indicated. Next to the Institute was the Phrenological Cabinet, nicknamed "Golgotha," which housed a huge collection of skulls, used both for research purposes and as a museum open to the public. It was often P.T. Barnum's most serious competition for tourists.
But alas Phrenology, like most fads, eventually became unfashionable among the rich and fampus who had previously espoused it. But you can read your head and others to determine who you should marry and whether an employee is going to work out. Come check it out Fowler's Practical Phrenology.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Anti-Catholic Novels

The middle of the nineteenth century was a hotbed of anti-catholicism, exploring the themes of sex,death and convent life. These were often written by women and passed off as autobiographies. The most famous is The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk. By the start of the Civil War, it would have sold 300,000 copies. It was reprinted, under varying titles by various publishing houses, at least half a dozen times just in 1836, and continued to be reprinted well into the twentieth century.
The Female Jesuit published in 1853 claims to be an autobiography of Marie who leaves the convent to go to work for a Protestant family. At first all is well but then Marie turns into a sly, cunning and spiteful creature who imposes harm on the family and herself. This deviant behavior is obviously because she is a lay sister of a religious order and employed by the Jesuits to spy and cause harm to Protestant families. The story ends with the employer asking "How many other governesses or household servants, or even other “escaped nuns”, whose story has been concealed from regard to their safety, may now be aiding the purposes of the Jesuits in this country? It is well worthy of inquiry."
If you are interest in this Victorian take on the Catholic church please come take a look at

Friday, October 28, 2005

Children, Books and Christmas

Books and children, what a wonderful combination. My granddaughter and I have spent many hours together looking for and reading books. When she was younger we read The Bobbsey Twins and books by Lucy Fitch Perkins, as she has gotten older we moved on to The Lamb Shakespeare books, Trixie Belden and Bluebonnet series. Along the way an amazing thing happened she began to ask questions and learn about the way things were in the olden days. The Bluebonnet series is an obscure girls series about a teenager who lives on a ranch in Texas during the 1920's and the Trixie Belden series is about a girl who lived in the 1950's each shows how different girls lives were from what they are now and always gives us a starting point for an interesting conversation.

The language used and what was expected of girls and women is vastly different from today. When I first told her that when I was in school I really wanted to take shop but girls were not allowed to instead we got to take Home Economics, she was dumfounded. She is beginning to understand that many people had to fight on many different levels so that she could do something as simple as take woodworking classes in school.

If you are an aunt, uncle, parent or grandparent give a book and take the time to read it with the child. I know that the electronic and glittering toys are more fun but a good vintage book doesn’t need batteries and it lasts forever. Come take a look if you don’t find anything that sounds interesting than drop me an e-mail or check out E-bay or Amazon. The long winter nights are a perfect time to read, talk and get to know each other.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

To be a book-collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser

To be a book-collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser. Robertson Davies, "The Table Talk of Samuel Marchbanks"

One of my favorite quotes and true. What a book junkie I have became and did not even know, until I lost my mind at an auction last week. Spied two books that I wanted and was waiting to talk to the auctioneer about breaking out part of the lot when I looked over and realized that someone had beat me to the punch. I was furious I wanted those books. Strolled over to see what other books he had picked out, didn't care about them but really wanted those two books. Waited for the bidding to start it was not bad only 150.00, but then a third party jumped in and drove it up to 300.00 I went 325.00 the original guy went 500.00 and I had to stop could not top that bid.

Put a smile on and approached the winner to see if he would sell just the two books that I was interested in and he said sure for 200.00 each, I lost the smile and said no way. But this is when I knew that I had become the quote for thoughts of running him down in the parking lot and taking the books flashed thru my brain and stayed for awhile. Pulled myself together and went home without the books but it did give me pause. At some point I had crossed the line from being just a book collector to being a book junkie. People often ask me why I became a bookseller and I always answer to feed my habit. As to the miser part that goes without saying it is a constant game to find the books that I want for the least.

So what is the moral of this story, well being a book collector is an addiction but also interesting, fun and very worthwhile. Some mornings when the house is quiet I just sit and look at my books. I am in awe of the authors who wrote, the artists who illustrated and the bookbinders who assembled. Imagining who else sat and read the book who were they, how they lived and did they love the book as much as I do. Collecting can be whatever you want it to be; I work with a woman who collects editions of The Little Prince different languages and editions another who collects all forms of Mark Twain. Come visit, look around and see what you can become addicted to.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Ugly but Interesting

Toucoutou by Edward Larocque Tinker is not one of my pretty old books but very interesting. So interesting that it is still used in papers and classes as a reference in Creole studies. The Toucoutou Affair refers to a well-known lawsuit that took place in New Orleans shortly before the Civil War. This was not a politically correct time and the lawsuit ensued from a fight between two children when one called the other a negro. Persons who proved their civil status in court passed as white and enjoyed the rights and privileges accorded this standing. An adverse decision on the other hand proved disastrous, fatal, because it resulted in the loss of all prestige for the complainant, who never again could live under the same social conditions.
The definition of “Creole” is almost as varied as the population of Louisiana. “When Edward Larocque Tinker introduced his 1928 novel, he asserted that Creole ‘can mean only one thing and that is a pure white person born of European parents in Spanish or French colonies. But the quadroons and octoroons did not consider themselves black but Creoles of color, they spoke French, had French names and developed their own customs. Using this as a basis Tinker wrote a story of an octoroon mother"s efforts to rear her beautiful daughter as a white girl, her successful marriage, the scorn of the whites and the hatred of the blacks.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Strange Old Book

The Sacred Book of Death, Hindu Spiritism, Soul Transition, and Soul Reincarnation by L. W. De Laurence, Master Adept & Famous Occult Magician by Alchemy & Fire. Far from being a Master Adept at anything Dr. L. W. De Laurence, was a publisher from Chicago who plagiarized other authors by publishing their works as his own. He was also a great salesman, his book cost $8.00 in 1907 and was sold only by his company. This was far from the only book that De Laurence bootlegged, his catalog was extensive. He built a successful mail order business by stealing other's ideas and selling them as his own. The books he plagiarized are still being printed today and some consider him the final word on the occult. So if you are interested in Spiritism; Link of Perispirit; Hindu Spiritism; Insanity; Death; God; Soul and Body; Dreams; Death Trance; Benevolent Spirits; Casting Out Evil Spirits; Familiar Spirits; Sorcerers and Conjurers of Spirits; Revealing the future; Loss of those we Love; Resurrection of the Body; Earthly joys and sorrows; Paradise, Hell and Purgatory; Suicide; Evil than come take a look.