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Between the Covers Rare Books

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[Photo Album]: Circa 1941 Real Estate Sales Presentation Album for Highlawn Flower Farm in Decatur, Illinois

Photo Album and Scrapbook. Oblong quarto (12¼" x 9¼"). String bound decorative paper-covered cardboard covers. A meticulously researched presentation album consisting of 23 typed manuscript leaves and typed captions; about 140 gelatin silver photographs of various sizes, including some hand-cut, with hand drawn color border decorations; die-cut color illustrations of fruits and flowers; a fold-out blue print map of the property; and several pieces of associated ephemera. All neatly mounted on the rectos and versos of black paper leaves, with a hand painted title page and facing frontispiece photo mounted on the inside front cover. Moderate wear along the edges of the covers, some light fraying and scattered nicks along the edges of the leaves, very good or better. A splendid visual presentation of "the most novel orchard in the middle-west." The ten-acre Highlawn Farm, "well known throughout central Illinois for its superior fruit and flowers . combines beauty with commerce." The album is notable both for its typed sheets, several of which are annotated, that interweave a detailed history of the farm with descriptions of its current amenities, and its many photographs, including two cyanotypes, that illustrate the narrative and tout the farm as "the suburban home by which all others in this section [south of Decatur] are compared." As such, the album documents the early beginning of suburbanization just prior to America's entry into World War II, and its dramatic rise after the war, as mass migration to suburban areas became a defining feature of American life after 1945. For example, as part of its pitch, the album devotes four typescript pages to its description of the farm's "high class home . located on a dead end road, which assures seclusion and freedom from noise, dust and thieves." The house has been "Newly painted in 1940" and the kitchen "is of the picture-book type" with a "Goodyear rubber tile floor and cabinet tops of Goodyear rubber," and contains "a 1940 large sized deluxe Frigidaire and late Estate electric stove with automatic oven ." Also described and photographed are several other buildings (including a chicken house, bomb proof root cellar and greenhouse), and the farm's abundant orchards (peach, apple, cherry, plum, and pear), other fruits (raspberries, strawberries, currant bushes), and its many plantings of flowers: "In addition to the gladiolus and dahlias, there is a 1/3 acre planting of commercial peonies .". Among the photographs are many images of the farm's (presumably) former landowners with consultants and farm hands engaged in all manner of work cultivating the farms orchards, flowers, and plants, including three photos of black children referred to as "happy pickers" of raspberries. The album also contains an impressive blue print map of the farm measuring (20" x 16") unfolded, and several pieces of printed ephemera, including promotional broadsides, business labels and stationery. An attractive primary source presentation album documenting a pre-World War II suburban farm shortly before its impending disappearance into a broken-up lot of single family suburban homes.
  • $3,500
  • $3,500