Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Art Nouveau Chromolithograph of Sports from the Dekorativ Vorbilder. 
Stuttgart; Julius Hoffmann: 1904-05. 

- from the new Bookin'!

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Dramatic Christmas in WWI France-

A Pair of World War One French Hand-Painted Christmas Cards. 
France, 1915.

A rather dramatic pair of hand- painted Christmas, 1915 cards, each showing a war scene and mounted with a photographs of what appears to be a French hospital unit. One card, titled "Noel 1915 - Le Eparges" shows a desolate, snow- covered street, surmounted by pine cones. The second card, titled "Noel 1915 - Malines", shows a burning cathedral, surmounted by ivy leaves. Les Eparges was the site of a fierce battle in April, 1915. Malines is a Dutch-speaking city in Flanders which was the scene of fighting in August, 1914, and numerous accounts of German atrocities against civilians were circulated. 

2 cards. 5.75"x8", minor soil. [39882] $250 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

1910 Halley's Comet Chocolate Cards in the new issue of Bookin'!

Set of 6 Halley's Comet Chocolate Cards. 
Stollwerck: 1910

A set of six cards promoting Stollwerck chocolate, featuring humorous views of Halley's Comet. Each card has a humorous, if doggerel, German verse on the back relating to the scene on the front of the card: a happy comet riding a bike, a happy comet making wine, a shy comet hiding behind a cloud as an astronomer peers at her throug his telescope, an angry comet chasing a man and woman, a happy comet raining a star shower on a group of umbrellaed onlookers, and a happy comet on a bike being chased down the road by a German soldier, complete with pickelhaube helmet. Quite wonderful. Stollwerck, a leading German chocolate manufacturer, was founded in 1839 and was the second largest producer of chocolate on the United States by 1900. 

Six cards. 2"x3.5". Minor soil, one card creased. [39881] $100 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bookin'! for the Hollydaze-

Neither snow, nor sleet, nor dark of night, will keep the Book Elves from finishing another Bookin’ - the Christmas party the pretty girl elves over at The Ale Shack threw almost did though... but a promise to pay for all the damages, and replacing the missing sleigh from the Town common, got everybody back to the Cataloging Cave without having to deal with nasty words like “bail bondsman”.

So with the merry words to “Good King Sauerkraut” ringing in our ears, we wrap this catalog up with a big bow and send it on to you. It’s been fun to put together, which is why we do it every two weeks. 
Well, that, and working on it keeps the Book Elves off the streets.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

A New Bookin'! is Ready!

With Thanksgiving and the Book Elves’ Great American Turkey Fracas in the rearview mirror, we can start worrying about what they will do for Christmas. 
A repeat of last year’s Burning Tree Festival seems unlikely, as does any sort of revival of the “Department Store Santa Roundup & Rodeo” of ’09. And, as far as I know, we managed to intercept all the Cat Wrapping videos they ordered on Amazon. There’s no snow in the forecast, so we also don’t have to keep an eye out for any of their notorious “Frieda Does Frosty” pornographic snow scenes on the front lawn. Vigilance remains necessary, though- just this morning UPS delivered 250 squirrel-sized Santa costumes.  And a catapult.

I feel just like Captain Kirk when he said-
“Very funny, Scotty. 
Now beam down my clothes”.

Have fun with our new catalog!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Age of Aquariums

A handbill for J.W. Fiske Cast Iron Aquariums. New York: no date, but probably early 1870s.

An item in the latest issue of Bookin'!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A New Edition of Bookin'!


Wonnerful, wonnerful -it’s time for another edition of Bookin’, as we swing into Fall with some of our favorite books and ephemera, brought to you again this week by our very own Book Elves! They went on the internet yesterday and joined something called the Thanksgiving Turkey Liberation Front, and then liberated 27 Thanksgiving turkeys. Unfortunately they seem to have missed the point of the Front’s goals, and liberated the turkeys from the freezer section of our local supermarket. 

The Book Elves are calling it a Blow for Freedom. 
The police are insisting on calling it “theft”.
Here in the Cataloging Cave we call it just the usual-
Chaos, panic & disorder. 

My work here is done.  

Have fun!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A new month, a new Bookin'!

Well, the Cataloging Cave seems to have survived Halloween intact, and most of the Book Elves made bail in time to get this catalog together.  I know I say this every time, but there’s some interesting stuff in this one. Whale oil, fake arrowheads, weird sunflowers, snuff, ostriches and croquet mallets -and more. 
I can’t decide whether my favorite quote from these items is the woman who compared early American rug hookers to Matisse, or this one- 

"The savage who tattoos his flesh is a painter, the barbarian who ornaments his club with carvings is a sculptor, the Indian who constructs his wigwam in the forest is an architect, the cannibal who sings in triumph while his enemy is burning at the stake is a musician, and all are artists." 

I think I’m just going to leave it there.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Grave Affair-

Special Bookin’! Halloween Issue:

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new edition of A Grave Affair, a special issue of our Bookin’! catalog series, featuring books and other material about gravestones, epitaphs, mourning customs and related topics (also referred to by the Book Elves here in the Cataloging Cave as “The Death Catalog”).  This is always one of my favorite catalogs to put together, and I hope you find something that entices, pleases or surprises you.  

 (a.k.a., The Death Guy)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fraudulent Frogs???

From our new Bookin'! catalog-

8. [Fraud & Frogs] American Frog Canning Company Promotional Correspondence. 

New Orleans: 1936

A typewritten letter on the company’s very graphic stationary, dated May 19, 1936, signed by S. Schutt, forwarding information about raising frogs for the company. The stationary includes pictures of the company offices, a tadpole, a frog, a barrel of live frogs, and cans of frog a la king and frogs' legs. Alas, the enterprise came to grief. The Sandusky Register for the 19th of June, 1936, reported:

"Two frog specialists who opened a school here and then hopped to New Orleans were held there today for transfer to Toledo to face a federal charge that their mail-order course in commercial breeding of the amphibians constituted a fraud. The two, Albert Broel, formerly of Detroit, and Sylvester Schutt of Fremont, denied any guilt and were held in lieu-of $2,500 bonds for return to Ohio, where their undertaking began in 1933. Postal officials, who obtained their indictment secretly last December, charged that Broel and Schutt offered for $47.50 cash or $157.60 in installments to instruct would-be frog-farmers in a business which they professed would 'yield the student up to $100,000 in two years'. The officials said such profits sounded too high, even though each graduate student was promised a pair of frogs free from the farm here. After the indictment, Broel and Schutt were discovered to have left Fremont and opened the American Frog Canning Co., in New Orleans. Broel, who said he was a Polish army officer during the World War, owned the farm here and maintained a downtown office when the school functioned."

Letter. 8.5"x11". Folded, minor wear and soil. [39575] $85 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Printmaker to the Mexican People-

An item from our new Bookin'! catalog-

11. [MexicanArt] Handbill- Posada: Printmaker to the Mexican People.

Brooklyn Museum: 1944.

A handbill for the Brooklyn Museum's September 8-October 15, 1944 exhibition of prints by Jose Guadalupe Posada. Their August 18, 1944 press release for the exhibition explained:

"The Brooklyn Museum will begin its fall exhibition season with a large show entitled POSADA — PRINTMAKER TO THE MEXICAN PEOPLE (September 8-October 15). Lent by the Direccion General de Educacion Estetica, Mexico, it contains over six hundred prints, blocks and photographic enlargements and will be installed in four large galleries on the second floor. The first great printmaker in the New World, Posada’s gigantic production of twenty-thousand subjects reached the remotest village. The Mexican people well understood his art, because he re-stated with simplicity and vigor their own legends and songs, their own inarticulate hopes and aspirations. Through the medium of his prints he was among those actively responsible in preparing the way for the 1910 Revolution. Not only a prophet of the armed-mass uprising, he was a creator of an artistic expression which reflected a new social philosophy and established the foundations for a new national art. An excellent draughtsman, his work has economy of line, boldness of contour and dramatic action. It establishes him, not as a folk artist, but as a highly competent master who portrayed his era with passionate honesty and revolutionary zeal."

Handbill, 8.5"x11". Several chips and tears, creases, minor soil. Fragile. [39572] $60

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gone, and also Forgotten-

An item from our new Bookin'! catalog-

7. [Forgotten by History] Victorian Dramatic Author Brochure. Philadelphia. Undated, but probably 1860s. An interesting piece of self-promotion by a Philadelphia author/playwright, probably in the 1860s. The front of the brochure claims "Established 10 Years - Bob Watt - Dramatic Author - 610 Arch St., Phila. Pa", and the verso adds- "Best of Professional References - I write original songs, sketches, farces, comedies, dramas and all stage specialties to order. Comedies and dramas revised. - Author of 'Pert', 'My Sister', 'Foiled', 'Bait', 'Zero' and many other successful plays". Sadly for posterity, neither OCLC or any other source we have been able to find contains any record of this established dramatic author or his works.

3.5"x4.25 (folded). Some soil. [39576] $100

“Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

-Samuel Clemens

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
 -Stephen King 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The October 22, 2103 Issue of Bookin'!

Well, in spite of our best efforts, another Bookin’! is ready to unleash upon an unsuspecting public. The Book Elves were going to write a little song to introduce it, but they insisted that there was only one word that rhymed with “Art” and I insisted that word wasn’t going in the song.  Next week is the big Halloween Special, a.k.a. “The Death Issue”, so if you’re looking for something normal, it would be best to browse this week’s installment. Actually, to be perfectly honest, there’s nothing normal here, either. That’s sort of the point of doing the whole thing.  

Well, that, and keeping the Book Elves off the streets.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A New Catalog Series-

A new catalog series featuring the unusual,
the unruly, & the self-important.


We first published our Bookin’! series in the late 1990s, and the Book Elves (ever-ready to find a new excuse to get some overtime) have been lobbying for its return since at least 3:30 pm yesterday. Since the new(ish) .pdf format allows us to set wild our most self-indulgent production fantasies at little or no expense I naturally said, “No, of course not!”, and then they went ahead and did it anyway. So please enjoy, and join the Book Elves as they sing their theme song:

Books are Good!
Books are Nice!
Books are Often
Food for Mice!

Chaos, panic & disorder. My work here is done.  Have fun browsing the new Bookin'!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Our Latest Catalog- Books on Glass

Hobbies- everybody has one. The Book Elves have had dozens, and their latest was glass-blowing. I'd seen the cute set-ups they have at places like the Science Museum- a little bunsen-burner-type thing and some glass rods and your kids can make beads and stuff. No problem, I thought. Much better than their previous hobby, carving animals out of stumps with chain saws, I thought. And then they began to talk about blast furnaces and annealing ovens. And then they began to price blast furnaces, and then (priced out of that market) they began looking around for cheaper alternatives. Now, here's a funny, quirky thing about the American legal system: buying a blast furnace, new or used = legal. Purchasing a surplus jet engine off an ex-Soviet Mig-23 fighter jet (NATO code-name "Flogger") from a guy named "Sergei" who you met in an internet chat room on the Soldier of Fortune website = NOT legal.

But before the Book Elves got yet another update to their red-tabbed dossier in a filing cabinet at the Department of Homeland Security, they finished our latest catalog-


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Back in The Day-

there were stylish paper-hangers.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Moral Hazards of Poor Taste in a Graveyard-

"The ornaments of some modern memorials give them a fantastic and ridiculous appearance. A cherub's head, with puffed cheeks and outspread wings, formed by one continuous line of clever flourishing, adorns the upper part of the memorial, while the inscription, written in letters of various shape and character, is also embellished with a profusion of unmeaning flourishes. Such specimens of ornamental penmanship may be necessary in the writing-master's copy book, but are utterly unbecoming the gravity of sepulchral memorials. On the same principle gaudy colouring ought to be excluded. Yet the undiscriminating mania for mediaeval taste commends the one and condemns the other. A tomb, the receptacle of man's perishing remains, should not be tricked out with gorgeously emblazoned ornaments or illuminated letters, which give it a gaudy and flaunting appearance, perfectly inconsistent with its real nature and purpose. However brightened by the resurrection of our Lord, and robbed of its terrors to the true Christian, the grave is still a solemn object".

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tennis, Anyone?

I do love cyanotypes...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Friday, August 09, 2013


It's Friday, which means it's Movie Night! But it's summer, which means the beach, or baseball. Hmmm. 
Movie? Beach? Baseball? 


If only there was a way to do all three...

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

You say Picasso-

The Picasso sculpture is  still there, but they don't make postcards like this anymore...

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Our New Sculpture Catalog-

The Book Elves are big Dr. Who fans, so this week they decided to have a party in the Cataloging Cave to watch the BBC announcement of the new actor to play The Doctor next season. They could have decorated the Cave with the Dalek models they made for last year's Christmas Special Party, but those all burned up during this year's Fourth of July Debacle. Next to Daleks, the Book Elves next favorite Dr. Who characters are the Weeping Angels, but since it was very short notice to make up a load of Weeping Angel statues, the Book Elves just went down to the hardware store for some baby blue paint ("for Angel tears", I was told), and then, without further explanation, loaded up some blocks & tackles and implements of destruction into the red VW microbus and headed south on Route 91…

But before The Cloisters called, wondering if we knew anything about 15 missing Medieval angel statues, and long before the State Police arrived, the Book Elves finished our latest catalog, which can be viewed or downloaded as a .pdf file here->

Monday, August 05, 2013

Yesterday's Landscapes-

Boston's Old South Church back when it was not quite so old -1906.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Our Latest Catalog-

The Book Elves have been reading about Native American life and customs and decided to re-create a traditional Lakota Sun Dance, except, you know, involving beer and leftover Fourth of July, "fireworks".

Yeah- whatever you're imagining, it was worse.

But before the paramedics and the state Fire Marshall finished, and long before any charges were filed, the Book Elves finished our latest catalog-

Tuesday, February 26, 2013