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.
With original dust jacket and box surviving. Scarce in any form, with a single institutional copy showing on OCLC First Search, in Leipzig, of this children's tale of the circus' annual visit to town! N.d., but based 1926 on single institutional listing on OCLC. With 46 cut-out figures, a dozen of which were never fully cut to shape. The book has by our count 55 slots to slip these pieces, so we would assume we are missing a few of the pieces, but we would also note that the one institutional copy has a mere 20 of the pieces. Although the publisher refers to Nuremberg in its business name, the book was published in Oldenburg, which is in Northern Germany. Oblong 4to, 28 by 33.5 cm. Unpaginated, 14 pages of internal bright illustrations containing slots for the numerous cut-out figures, which could be people or objects. Condition: box lid hasparts of the sides detached, but we have all the pieces. Book with light soil occasionally but mostly clean, and a sturdy, well-preserved copy overall. With original box! Hardcover. Cloth. Paper pastedown on front board.
Turn-of-the-century photo of a moving cart pulled by three yoked horses, with a driver at the reins and an infant on a high chair, of sorts, by his side. We know the 1902 date based on an inked note on the back -- we have no reason to distrust the handwritten details. From this we also know the identity of the driver --Joe Platz -- as well as probably the child -- L. Schramm Senior (the note here is partly lost so we aren't 100 certain this is correct). The van is on a New York City street with brick row houses of the Federalist style -- windows with shutters, modest stoops. A location of the Schramm Company is given as 8th Avenue and 20th Street -- in the heart of Chelsea. We would surmise that this scene is right by there, although we can't say for certain. To this day, there are low lying buildings such as the ones in the photo on that very block, although not the uninterrupted row of them as shown here. Photo, sight, measures 17.5 by 23 cm. With the matting, 25 by 30.5 cm. Condition: fading to the photo. Matting soiled.
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.
Oblong, 24 by 31 cm. Unpaginated, 16 pp., plus wraps. With ten plates, each showcasing a different model. The cars in the plates are enhanced photos -- photos that were touched up by an artistic hand to give the vague impression of original painted artwork. In the background of each car is an enhanced photo illustration of an appealing setting and/or building, these meant to build up and reinforce the classy image of the car. This promotional brochure is scarce. We could locate, on OCLC First Search, only a single institutional copy, at the Revs Institute, and this is not a hard copy. Condition: moderate use evident on the wraps, with minor chipping, and a few creases to the fairly stiff wraps. Light smudging along edges of title. Scattered light soiling appears on later leaves. Five tiny holes, by joint, of one leaf -- these are not too conspicuous.
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.
N.d., circa 1810. Language of text is Dutch, and the several French flags are a reminder that this comes from a time that The Netherlands was conquered by Napoleon. This is framed, with windows on both sides, as the manuscript is two sides when fully open up, and this allows for the entirety of its content, textual and visual, to be scrutinized and enjoyed. The central illustration is of a couple, the man, smoking an unusually long pipe and in army uniform, while the lady is holding an umbrella. Both are holding valentines, from which frames emanate upward, suggesting their love for one another is a-fire. In the background is a stately palace, and by their feet is a dog with a bone, the dog comfortably rolled up. Vignettes on the four sides include a globe, a ship, a windmill and a man balancing a wine glass and a carafe. The other side has five riddles, with four simple Folk Art-ish geometric and floral decoration. The purse measures about 27 cm square, and the frame is 36 square. The frame works wonderfully well with the paper it is housing. The paper is moderately soiled, and there are a few pinprick holes by the double folds, which are to be expected given how the piece would have been played with.
N.d., 1926, the year the now lost film of "Fighting with Buffalo Bill" was released. Large envelope, with drawing of a theatre, replete with organist and formally dressed theatre=goers crowding a balcony, plus four leaves, three of card stock, one of the latter for the character cut-outs, of which there are nine, not ten, as erroneously stated in print on the envelope. Other leave is a folded sheet, with a poem about the Great and Glorious West on one page, and very loose instructions on another page. The envelope measures 32.5 by 27 cm. Two of the cards have the designs that with the application of scissors, form the basis for the toy theater. A third card has the cut-outs for the characters, which are meant to stand in place with a folded base. The movie being promoted, besides being lost, starred actors now mostly forgotten -- Wallace MacDonald, Edmund Cobb and Elsa Benham -- although the two leading men did have careers in film long after the introduction of sound. This promotional paper toy -- for that is what it is -- is scarce. We could find no other copies of it on OCLC First Search, and we would maintain that the form of the promotion was also quite uncommon. Our copy, furthermore, is preserved in a arguably near pristine, un-used state.
Maurice Seymour, photographer
Photo, sight, 24 by 18 cm. Frame, red-striated gilt bamboo shape, 34 by 28 cm. Bampton was a highly successful, and versatile, star at the Metropolitan Opera during the 1930s and 1940s, singing both mezzo and soprano roles, and known both for dramatic Wagnerian roles (Elisabeth, Elsa, Kundry, Sieglinde, Braegaene) and the Italian repertory. Maurice Seymour was a photo studio owned by two brothers, both of whom came to bear the same name, Maurice Seymour. The studio was known especially for its photos of entertainers and celebrities. This photo has no date but we would place it around 1950, given that from then on, Bampton became less active singing in opera houses, and the photo also shows her still with a youthful bloom.
Folio, 35 by 28.5 cm. 104 pp., with color lithographic illustrations on virtually every page, often with the illustration an underlay, in part or whole, to the text, and some illustrations on two pages. While a children's book, this was written when Alsace and Lorraine were a part of Germany, having been ceded by France as the settlement following France's humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 to 1871, and so Hansi's book was very much a political statement of allegiance to France, which at the time of his writing this was on the verge of entering World War One against Germany, and three years after the publication of this copy, France would regain Alsace. This and Hansi's many other books make him an unique and most beloved writer/illustrator of Alsace and France in general, and his magical illustrations convey the values of Alsatian folk art in their color and simplicity. Condition: cloth binding browned around perimeter and the entirety of the spine. Some edge rubbing and fraying of fabric. A slight shake to the binding. Endpapers with narrow chipping along edge. Leaves age toned, but mostly clean.
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.