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Showing posts from August, 2010

1897 billhead for homeopathic publisher-bookseller

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Boericke & Tafel is among the oldest homeopathy companies in the world and a pioneer of homeopathy in America. The company got started in 1853 with the manufacture and sales of homeopathy products. A decade later, the company was firmly rooted in major cities across the country. They also added publisher and bookseller to their business description. Not only did the company become leading "Homeopathy Pharmaceutists," it also established itself as a leading publisher of homeopathy books. The 1897 billhead above states in smaller print beneath the company name: Publishers of Homeopathic Books and Importers of Homeopathic Literature . I can't offer any information about the literature they imported for their books sales, but their own published books (more than a hundred titles, comprised their catalog) accounted for about eighty-five percent of all homeopathic books published in the United States. Some of these titles included The American Homeopathic Pharmacopoe

Cosmic Aeroplane Bookstore & Headshop

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Here's a relic from those heady (pun intended) counterculture days of the 1960s-70s when headshops appeared on the scene. I remember one close to where I grew up that was called a record shop, but it was a headshop, too. As a teenager circa 1969-1972, my memories of that place were incense, paraphernalia that had nothing to do with music (or perhaps it did in an enhancement kind of way), hippie-looking staff and patrons, and some really cool records. I got introduced to the music of Townes Van Zandt there with his 1972 album, The Late Great Townes Van Zandt . But I digress. Getting back to that other headshop... In a Salt Lake magazine article by John Pecorelli, a brief history of the Cosmic Aeroplane credits Stephen Jones with opening the business in 1967 as a headshop (the first in Salt Lake City, I'm sure). According to the article, the Cosmic Aeroplane developed a loyal counterculture following: While Jones’ Cosmic Aeroplane was a good place to find out about bands co

Philadelphia booksellers and bibliophiles

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My last post was about a Philadelphia bookseller, John Penington & Son , whose 1875 trade card I had recently acquired. A few months ago, I had purchased a copy of Forty Years Among the Old Booksellers of Philadelphia with Biographical and Bibliographical Remarks , by W. Brotherhead (published by A.P. Brotherhead, Philadelphia, 1891). Affixed to the book's endpapers, I found a couple of paper items I like to feature here occasionally--a bookplate and a bookseller's ticket, or label. Inside the book's front cover (front pastedown), I see this book formerly was a volume in the private library of H.S. Pickering, so stated by his straightforward, no-frills bookplate: Of H.S. Pickering and books or libraries there is nothing to be found through repeated searches. There was a man by that name who wrote a book about covalent something or other, but I doubt that was my Pickering with the bookplate. My Pickering would be more appropriate as a relation to the Pickering

John Penington, Philadelphia bookseller

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Carl Spitzweg's painting, Der B├╝cherwurm ( The Bookworm ), has been used by many booksellers to sell books and by many bibliophiles to decorate a library or reading room. My own library's walls are pretty much obstructed by tall bookcases, but the little wall space left for art includes a framed print of The Bookworm . So it came as no surprise to find an image of the famous painting on an old Philadelphia bookseller's trade card. What was somewhat surprising was the copyright date on the card: 1875. I erroneously remembered The Bookworm was painted about that time and found it interesting that it had been adopted so quickly by a bookseller. I was off by 25 years, but 1875 may have still been early in the use of this image among bookmen. This is the earliest commercial use of it I have in my ephemera collection, anyway. This trade card features a knock-off of Spitzweg's creation. The Penington name has been added and the section the old bibliophile is browsing i

Harry Gave 'Em Hell

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Tucked inside the front cover of a copy of The Autobiography of Harry S. Truman , edited by Robert H. Ferrell (Colorado Associated University Press, 1980), I found a presentation note from the Harry S. Truman Library Institute. The implicit invitation it contained led me to some of Truman's private thoughts, which reinforced the slogan often associated with him:" "Give 'em Hell, Harry!" The letter implies the book was a complimentary copy for another library or institute of higher learning and invites the reader to promote and encourage public understanding of the Truman period. Taking some direction from that typed note, I thought I'd first go poke around in the Harry S. Truman Library Institute. I quickly found it doesn't exist under that name these days. Now, it is properly referred to as the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum . At the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum site, I clicked on the Research link and found under Special Features a link

Houghton Mifflin Bookcards

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I found this card in a copy of The Handmaid's Tale , by Margaret Atwood (Houghton Mifflin, 1985). You might recall the 1990 film version starring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, and Robert Duval, among others. The book's publisher, Houghton Mifflin, labels this insert a bookcard, but it was meant to be used as a postcard. While the front of the bookcard duplicates the jacket art from the book, the reverse side contains a written nudge, in a perforated area, to send this card to a friend if you enjoyed the book. As this is the first one I've run across, I wonder if this were a short-lived promotional campaign for this or a few select books? I also wonder how many were issued and what percentage were actually used? While it's nice to have this piece of ephemera fully intact, I'd also like to come across some used cards with reader comments. I did a little quick research, using Abebooks.com's Advance Search feature, which allows you to narrow your sea

Rand, McNally & Co. billhead

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Think of Rand McNally and you think of maps and road atlases. But they got their start in the 1850s as printers and publishers of newspapers and railroad ephemera such as tickets and timetables. Their company name reflected two individuals, their names separated by a comma, as shown in the billhead above, dated 1900 (New York office). Research into this billhead also revealed how a well-known American publisher adapted to adversity and changing times for more than a century to thrive in an increasingly competitive business environment. William Rand started a small printing business in Chicago in 1856, offering his job printing services for a variety of items. A few years later, he hired Irish immigrant Andrew McNally to help with his growing business. A Chicago newspaper, forerunner to the Chicago Tribune , hired both in 1859 to run their printing shop. A decade later, the pair had purchased the printing operations from the newspaper and struck out on their own. But the company