Category Archives: Ephemera

Chapter 673 Trade Catalog and Book of Designs for Bakers and Confectioners

Autumn always puts me in the mood to bake — cookies, cakes, scones. Last week I made the most delicious pumpkin bread. I love pumpkin bread and I add a special ingredient to it when I make it. Would you like to know my special ingredient?

I am sure longtime readers have immediately guessed — the secret ingredient is chocolate. I add a few mini-chocolate chips to the loaf of pumpkin bread and it is delicious. Thoughtful Husband thinks that the combination of pumpkin and chocolate is odd, but I think it is a match made in heaven.

All this recent baking called to mind two fun pieces of ephemera I plan to bring to the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair this weekend. Come by and check them out in person or send me an email or leave a comment if you’re interested but can’t make it to the fair.  These little booklets were published by H. Hueg and Co. in 1896.  Herman Hueg was a baker and confectioner who expanded his business by selling the tools needed for baking and the instructions on how to use these tools.  I have a trade catalog called Patent Tools for Bakers, Confectioners, and Decorators. The catalog is accompanied by a Book of Designs for Bakers and Confectioners. Here’s a closer look:

The cover of the Book of Designs (a bit beat up, but internally very good) and catalog:

Illustration of the H. Hueg & Co. building in Queens, New York:

Title page:

Advertisements for other H. Hueg publications:

Tools for baking and making candy:

Things you can bake and make using H. Hueg tools:

I have a lot of respect for anyone able to make such intricate designs out of sugar.  I like to decorate cakes, as we have seen in past posts, but my own baking designs tend to be a little simpler.

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Chapter 671 Bookseller Tickets

Look what I found in the back of some books I am cataloguing: bookseller tickets — and all of them from San Francisco!


Filed under Book Finds, Book Related Products, Ephemera

Chapter 660 Bookplate Junkies and Bits and Pieces of Print Culture

Recently, an interview with one of my blogging colleagues, Lew Jaffe, author of the blog, Bookplate Junkie, was brought to my attention. Lew Jaffe has been collecting bookplates for over 30 years and posts some marvelous examples of them over at his blog.

Click here to read the interview with Lew at Artifact Collectors blog.

Long ago, I wrote about how much fun it is to research bookplates, those little bits and pieces of print culture that tell us about a book’s ownership.

See you in the stacks!

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Filed under A Bookseller's Education, Ephemera, Internet Resources for Booksellers and Book Collectors

Chapter 657 Keeping the Faith While Digging Around In The Ephemera Bins

It occurred to me today that one has to have a lot of faith to be a bookseller — faith that you will find the next great book, faith that you will eventually sell that great book you’ve had for a few years and whose potential none of your customers have yet recognized, faith that you’ll succeed in your business endeavors.  A surfeit of faith, it seems, is needed in the antiquarian book business.  It’s not always easy to keep the faith, to know how it will all turn out, or whether and when you will eventually find or sell the next great book. Though a few booksellers I know appear to be cynics, I would argue that we booksellers are all optimists at heart.  All good booksellers make informed buying decisions (and at the right times, even a few uninformed buying decisions) and take calculated risks in purchasing books for resale, but if we weren’t optimists — trusting that ultimately the books we buy will sell —  we wouldn’t be in this business of seeking and hoping to find treasure, of buying and expecting to sell, even when it’s on speculation.

I had the good fortune to be free to attend my favorite library sale over the weekend, but I have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to it as much as I have in the past.  It’s been a while since I’ve found any significant books or ephemera at this particular sale. It’s not that there are no significant or good books there. It’s just that recently I haven’t found many of the type of books I like to sell. While I’ve been selling books long enough that library sales are no longer the main source of my purchases, it’s still disappointing to use my free time in order to shop for books only to come home empty-handed. I decided I’d go to the sale, but I also had already silently decided I probably wouldn’t find anything good there. I went anyway, forcing myself to repeat the “anything can be anywhere” creed I’ve declared so many times before, but not really feeling it in my heart.

Oh, me of little faith! 🙂

Clearly, I needed a reminder not to lose faith and today I was not disappointed.

I arrived at the sale at 8:00 a.m. and got in line for a ticket.  This sale is a crowded one — it opens at 11:00 a.m. and people of all sorts line up in anticipation of what might be inside the main sale room. After getting a ticket at 8:00, I left to go get some breakfast down the road and return to the sale in time to line up for the opening. (The ticket tells you what number you are in line, so you don’t have to stand there for hours to hold your place.)  As I walked away from the building, I stopped at the 20 or 30 bins of ephemera the Friends of the Library group puts outside the main sale room. The ephemera bins are open at 8:00 a.m. and 99 out of 100 times have held very little of resale value for me. I stopped at the bins anyway and decided that, as I had plenty of time until the sale room opened, I might as well look through each bin.

After 30 minutes of picking through the many bits and pieces of paper, maps, postcards, and photographs stacked in each bin, I finally left the ephemera area with no fewer than 56 items purchased, a record for me! I don’t know what came over me.  Oh, wait.  Yes I do! Fingerspitzengefuhl. Thank goodness ephemera doesn’t take up too much storage space and that I have a customer in mind for many of the items I bought today.  I bought some early (pre-1915) automobilia, some 19th century advertisements, documents, and trade catalogs printed in San Francisco, and what looks to be an interesting typed and signed manuscript (or perhaps mimeographed, signed copy?) of the history the US military in Hawaii. More research is definitely needed to know whether my hunches about these items will pan out, and having bought so many things at once, it is almost certain that some may prove to be “mistakes”.  Despite that, when the price is right (and at a library sale, the price is often right), it makes sense to follow your book hunting instincts and to buy those items which in some way catch your attention.

The patron saints of print and the gods of book buying were smiling on me this weekend, and it feels good to be reminded from time to time that it is important to keep the faith, even — perhaps especially — when I don’t expect I will find anything worthwhile or I begin to doubt my book hunting ablilities. The next great “find” may be right around the corner, or at the bottom of that dusty box of books under the table, or in the ephemera bins outside of the libary sale, or even at that book hunting stop I thought might be a waste of time.

I know that some of you reading this may not understand why I’d keep going to a monthly sale where I haven’t found many good books lately, but I hope those who are book lovers and book hunters will understand. I once read somewhere that faith is not belief without proof; it is trust without reservation. Haven’t found any great books in a while? Keep the faith. Eventually, you will.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 637 More 1910 Anatomical Chart Images

That 1910 chromolithograph anatomical chart that caught my eye at last weekend’s antique fair also has some neat images on its verso. Take a look at the muscular system:

Interested in purchasing this item? Click on over to the Book Hunter’s Holiday Book Store for more information.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 636 1910 Anatomical Chart

I went to a local antiques show over the weekend looking for something, but for what I did not know. I only knew I needed to replenish some of my stock with new (to me) and interesting items. It may come as a surprise to some readers that I don’t always plan what I am going to buy. In fact, many of the best items found during the course of my book hunting adventures have largely been the result of a combination of serendipity and “fingersptizengefuhl”. I often don’t know exactly what I’m looking for until I see it, and even then I am sometimes buying purely on a “hunch” that the item will be something I can sell.

I didn’t find too many books at the antique show, which mostly sells furniture, art, jewelry, crystal, and china, but I did find some very nice pieces of ephemera, including this 1910 chromolithograph canvas anatomy chart. It is big (2′ x 3 1/2′ ), it is bold and it is colorful, and I just couldn’t pass it up.

The chart is of a human figure, about thirty inches tall, showing in great detail the arterial, venous, and nervous systems with their branches, ramifications, and relations to each other and to other parts of the human anatomy. It is printed on canvas in bright, chromolithograph colors. There is a brief text of explanation at the sides of the picture corresponding to letters and numbers on the figure itself. Here are a few close-ups of the chart:

Tomorrow I’ll show you what’s on the other side of the chart.

See you in the stacks!

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Chapter 579 “Big Money for Live Agents,” Or, Bookselling Ephemera

When I was in college, I worked as an intern during my summer and holiday breaks for San Francisco book publisher Chronicle Books. One thing I observed while working there is how much of the publishing process is about marketing and selling the books. I sometimes wondered whether, if I had lived in an earlier time, there would be more focus on the art of writing and less on selling books. It took me a while to get it through my thick head that writing is for the writers. Writers need publishers to help them with design, distribution, publicity, and marketing. Oh, yes. I almost forgot — and editing, too.

Now that I am a bookseller, I have been able to see firsthand some of the things nineteenth-century American publishers did to market and publicize their books. Turns out that they weren’t all that different from their 20th century counterparts. Read on:

Sometime in 1886 or 1887, W.C. King and W.P. Derby published a book called Campfire Sketches and Battlefield Echoes or ’61-5. According to the authors,

“Other war books have preceded this, but they have been for the most part purely historical and statistical, or the experiences and observations of a single individual, thus portraying but a glimpse of the most gigantic, thrilling, and bloody drama of the nineteenth century. Neither time, pains, nor expense has been spared in gathering the material for this volume, and it comes fresh from the heart and pen of more than three hundred veteran soldiers of the rank and file, both North and South. . . A war so gigantic, continuing through four long, weary years, so costly in blood and treasure, reaching with its sore bereavement into the peaceful quietude of almost every home circle of our land, attaches to this volume an individual and personal interest without parallel in the whole range of war literature” (Preface).

Despite the compelling content, books like this didn’t sell themselves. The publisher, Lindsay & Co. of Boston, Massachusetts, needed to sell these books, and to do so it enlisted “agents” who could hit the pavement and sell the book, perhaps to booksellers, perhaps to individual customers. Some time ago I came across an advertisement from the publisher, who sought agents, “to sell this wonderful book,” entreating them to work for Lindsay & Co. by promising, “Big money for live agents.”

A single sheet measuring 6.5″ x 10.5″, printed on both sides, the recto of the advertisement features the cover illustration from the book:

The verso features the frontispiece engraving from the book, entitled “The Union in Peril” and tells us the illustration was “engraved exclusively for Echoes of ’61-5.”

Here’s the engraving on the verso turned the right way ’round:

I was rather fascinated with the allegorical frontispiece. The “Key to the Engraving” reads:

The whole outbreak of the rebellion is here represented. Note the separation in the earth. President Lincoln is seen calling for assistance. The Union is in peril. Gen. Scott stands at his left hand. The wealth of the North is poured out at his feet. The young man with the musket represents the loyalty and personal sacrifice for our country . . . At the left of the engraving is represented the Confederate side. The earth is seen cracking — attempted separation of the Union. There stands Jeff Davis while the mob tears the Union flag to shreds. Buchanan feigns to be asleep while Floyd steals the Treasury. The copper-head snake coiled about a palm tree is throwing its venom out upon justice, who stands with balances and drawn sword, warning the Confederacy to abandon their efforts to sever the Union. In the center stands the proud figure Goddess of Liberty, supporting the stars and stripes, overshadowed by the American Eagle, trampling under foot the cat-o’-nine tails and shackles of Slavery.”

That’s a lot of information to portray in a single engraving.

It’s interesting to think about the various in which earlier American publishers tried to sell their books. That’s what made me fall in love with this little piece of bookselling ephemera.

I have seen publishers’ subscription books before, usually small booklets filled out by book agents with the names of customers who, perhaps after looking at a salesman’s dummy book, agreed to purchase the real McCoy upon publication. I have also seen several publisher’s dummy books, but this is the first publisher advertisement for book agents that I have (in my almost four-year tenure as a bookseller) ever seen, so I thought I’d share it with you here. Have any of you longtime collectors or booksellers seen advertisements for publisher’s agents?

If you’d like more information about this item, feel free to send me an email at chris AT bookhuntersholiday DOT com or click here to see the complete description at my website.

See you in the stacks!


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Chapter 551 Do You Recognize these Initials? The Mystery of “E.H.” and Horn-Shafer Co.

Recently I purchased a set of 12 small books (pamphlets, almost, at 2″ x 5″ and 10-12 pages each) called The Romance of Flowers.

I admit it. I was easily seduced by the charming covers on each of the small books. I bought them on the spot.

Here they are:

Aren’t they lovely? Can you blame me for snapping them up on the spot?

Turns out that they are one of those purchases that is going to merit further research on my part to determine the relevant bibliographic details.

On the back cover of each book is a type of colophon, explaining what type of paper was used for the cover and for the text. The copyright reads, “The Horn-Shafer Co., Baltimore, Maryland,” but gives no year of copyright or publication. The paper information on the back of the cover makes me think that these little books may have been printed as paper samples for The Horn-Shafer Co., who I’ve found were “printers and publishers” during the 20th century.

Back cover (verso):

The 12 books come in a blue, handmade slipcase. On the outside of the slipcase, written in fancy script is, “Flower Lore, Kitty.” I presume Kitty could be the name of the author or the name of the books’ owner.

What interested me most when I bought the books were the beautiful and colorful illustrations and fonts used on the front cover of each book. That leads me to one more mystery. The initials of the artist, “E.H.” appear on the cover of each book. While I’m well aware that “E.H.” could have been an obscure employee of Horn-Shafer, I’m curious as to whether she (he?) possibly could have been an artist or book designer. It could be just a coincidence, but I note that the “H” in “E.H.” is the same first letter in the surname “Horn”. Perhaps the artist was a Horn family member?

Do you recognize those initials? Do you know anything about Horn-Shafer Co. of Maryland or whether there was a member of the Horn family whose first name began with “E”? I enjoy and often get happily sidetracked researching such things. In this case, my busy schedule these days made me think to ask you, dear readers, first — especially those of you who might live across the country in Maryland or be familiar with Maryland printers and publishers.

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Chapter 513 “Handwriting is Civilization’s Casual Encephalogram.” – Lance Morrow (American Journalist & Essayist)

I’m cataloguing a little handwritten booklet of poems from 1860. The more I examine it, the more I wonder what ever became of the subject of penmanship. I couldn’t make my handwriting look this beautiful if I tried for a hundred years. Does anyone out there know why and how handwriting changed from the very formal and beautiful script below to the chicken scratch we eke out today?

While we’re waiting for answer, here are some photos of the handwriting in the booklet:

American journalist and essayist Lance Morrow once said, “Handwriting is civilization’s casual encephalogram.” Perhaps that’s true, but let’s hope not.


Filed under Book Finds, Ephemera

Chapter 437 A Bright Idea, Or, Interesting Ephemera Finds, Part 4

I promise to stop torturing you booklovers with ephemera finds soon and return to blogging about books, for balance if for nothing else. That’s what happens when I discover a subject with which I fall in love; I tend to immerse myself in it.

How deeply am I immersed in ephemera at the moment?

If I could paper my walls in ephemera right now, I would.

Don’t worry, I would never actually put wallpaper glue on ephemera. Let’s just say, though, that when I’m reading and researching a subject I love, I tend to tune out all of the noise around me. This is not necessarily a good thing for child safety. 😉

I’m deeply immersed at the moment.

For today’s viewing pleasure, I present a 1902 trade catalogue from General Electric. It has a very scintillating title. In fact, when you read it, you’ll see why I am unable to pay attention to anything else.

It’s Electrical Apparatus and Supplies for Isolated Plants.

I know. You might be thinking, “Really, Chris? You’d tune out everything going on around you for a boring bit of ephemera about electricity? I expect better from you, perhaps an illuminated manuscript leaf or early dustjacket. But a General Electric catalogue. Who cares?”

I said the same thing when I first saw the title, but then I decided I really liked the cover.

I am such a sucker for good graphics and a pretty cover.

Then I opened the catalogue, and I saw the 1902 date and the verso of the title page, which reads, “Everybody should use Electric Light, obtaining the supply from the nearest Central Station. If impossible to secure such service, install General Electric Company’s Small Plant.”

The Introduction goes on to explain, “In the pages following is given a general description of the various devices manufactured by the General Electric Company, which are necessary for a complete installation.”

Before the United States had what we commonly refer to as a “power grid” that provided service nearly everywhere, there were places where people had to create their own electricity. This catalogue was printed to serve those places.

The catalogue has detailed illustrations on almost every page that show not only the equipment available (Direct Coupled Engine Generator Sets, Switchboards, Transformers, and Incandescent Lamps, among others) but places where it was being used — on ships, in large buildings, charging car batteries, in some homes, etc.

Lightbulbs for sale:

Though it’s not a very clear picture on the blog, this is a diagram of how to wire everything together once you purchased and assembled your own isolated power plant:

Given many people’s current desire to find alternate sources of power, I thought this an interesting find from the era when the use of electricity was becoming accessible to all.

See you in the stacks!


Filed under Book Finds, Ephemera