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White Fox Rare Books

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Humorous Letter with Numerous Original Pen-and-Ink and Watercolored Drawings

Humorous Letter with Numerous Original Pen-and-Ink and Watercolored Drawings

Audra A long narrow letter, literally! Letter folds to a neat 17 by 9 cm, more or less, but when fully extended, it is about 225 cm tall! The letter is written in a breezy, lighthearted manner, with original illustrations which perfectly capture the tone in the text. It is also written on a cheap, thin paper, similar to the paper used for paper bags made of a thin, non-card stock. Over half of its length is devoted to its cartoonish, amusing drawings, rendered in pen-and-ink and watercolors. (Illustrations bleed into one another, and/or can be multi-framed, so there is no precise manner to tabulate their number.) The letter is addressed to "Jack", and it is from "Audra", who is probably a romantic interest, although one can read the letter as coming from someone who is aspiring to that role while pretending to be just a very good friend. Bonding Audra and Jack would appear to be sports -- the first illustration depicts a bunch of men sobbing in the fourth week of mourning for the Dodgers, who were then based at Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn. But also, Audra speaks of attending an Army v. Illinois football game at Yankee Stadium, where college football teams once did play. From this allusion, we can date the letter to October or November, 1947 as the letter refers to a zero scoring match-up and records show this actually occurred in October 1947. It is pretty obvious the two are young adults, probably in their early twenties and graduates of college. Audra has a pleasant droll style of writing, although her attention to spelling and grammar are somewhat relaxed. We think the drawings do consummately capture a certain carefree joie de vivre of youth starting out on their own and especially that group in the euphoric optimism of the first years following the Second World War. Audra also disarmingly laughs at herself, as one illustration links her -- we assume the woman is at least loosely a self-portrait -- to Jack below, with a serpentine long folded letter spiraling from her to him. On the one hand, this is a manuscript that one might dismiss as trivial and forgettable piece of ephemera between two anonymous people who if still alive, would be 100 years old or more. On the other hand, we would posit that this letter stands out for having some style and swagger to it, in comparison to so many dull personal letters, and it thereby gives us an entree to a cultural moment otherwise obscure. Condition: moderate wear, some staining. Creases, minor dog-earing.
  • $500
book (2)

Memorial Book of the First New York Benevolent Association Organized 1898

Intended as a remembrance document for members of what was created almost surely as a Jewish mutual burial society -- these associations were created to assist the indigent and less fortunate pay for a proper funeral. These associations were popular among Jewish greenhorns, or recent immigrants, in particular. As succeeding generations became more prosperous and also lost their intimate connection with the "old neighborhood", such organizations fell out of favor, although we believe there are survivors among them. Notwithstanding the name "First New York Benevolent Association" being suggestive of prominence among such groups, we were unable to come up with any detailed info about this group via a Google search. We would guess there more thorough records to be mined at the Historical Society, the Jewish Museum or the like, but we haven't as yet explored these resources. Given the book's stated purpose, the simple somber elegance, and heft of the full morocco binding seems entirely appropriate. Folio, 45 by 29 cm. Gold moire endpapers. Unpaginated. 15 pages with content -- mostly names written in a decorative Gothic Fraktur script. Most of the leaves, and we would estimate there are well over 100 leaves -- our estimate is about 120 leaves, or 240/250 pages. An early page with a large photo of a founder of the assocation, this surrounded by what looks like stenciled decoration (which loosely has a,n Art Deco styling). Other decoration, loosely evocative of illuminated manuscript, has color decoration which appears printed at least partially. Condition: minor rubbing of the leather binding. Otherwise, lightly handled and minimal wear.
  • $250
book (2)

[Watercolor Album] Scenes in China

Paintings depicting professions and various other pursuits, customs, etc. 8vo. 26 watercolor paintings pasted onto leaves. Watercolors were executed onto a thin paper and then pasted onto the card. The mounting of the paintings has protected them from tearing and chipping, at the sacrifice of now being subject to the vissitudes of a leaves made of an acidic, or high pulp content, card stock. Also the paste used in mounting appears here and there as a light, spectral presence. Subjects of paintings include such things as a New Year's greeting, the carrying of a bridal chaise chair, a Chinese archer, a Chinese wedding (bride, groom, officiator), the painting of an idol, "idolatrous worship", an itinerant confectioner, silk spinning, a cobbler, tailors, hatters, money changers, street musicians, fortune telling, etc. etc. The women have bound feet, and generally one sees depicted here a China as it was in the mid-19th century. Twelve of the illustrations are fully, richly colored, while the balance of 14 illustrations have partial coloring -- always the flesh is colored in these, with some touches of blue. The artwork is disarmingly naive. We would conjecture that it was created by a Chinese hand, but we cannot say this as a certainty, and we would note that in our handling of numerous pith paper albums, and ones devoted to professions and activities, we had not seen any of the images contained in this album, suggesting the possibility of greater originality by the artist than characterizes other albums of Chinese watercolors from the same time period. The album itself is western made, and is a typical cloth bound scrap book album of the late Victorian period. This one has a color printed illustration of a desert scene as a centerpiece on the front cover -- this has no relation to the contents, nor does any of the blindstamped decoration surrounding it have relevance to the content. The album is lacking a spine, has loose, although not fully detached, boards, and leaves that are highly brittle and heavily toned.
  • $750
book (2)

Dutch Baptismal Announcement with Intricate Penwork

A stunning Dutch Baptismal document with artistic penmanship forming the elaborate surrounding decoration. Two angles with trumpets grace the upper corners in postures quintessential to Rococo gracefulness. Below are six drawings of birds, peacocks, swans, perhaps geese if not juvenile swans. The images are outlined and filled out with suave, smooth, sinewly lines, these lines in one sense being so artificial, on the other, concocting what seduces our eye into perceiving as nearly realistic. Other decoration include as a crowning centerpiece a laurel joined by ribboning, a vignette of a heart from which a flame rises poised right above the ribbon. These have infills of coloring -- green, yellow, orange, purple. A curious and perhaps paradoxical aspect of the document is that many, if not all, art historians and professionals would comfortably classify the document as Folk Art, yet the penmenship work and the figures created are done with consummate command of the art or craft. The document, in sight, is 40 by 32 cm. With the matting and the frame, the dimensions are 62 by 53 cm. The frame is a more modern speckled gilt coloring onto the wood, with a beige or off white matting. The matting is also layered, with narrow bands of contrasting color helping pin down the document. The frame could also use a touch of tightening, but otherwise, it can protect the document indefinitely, and in our view, it complements the document well, not competing with the document in the least yet also underscoring the aesthetic tour-de-force that the document amounts to. The document has a dampstain, loosely measuring 3 by 3/4 an inch, in a corner, and some other inconsequential soiling.