Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Books for Boys and Girls in Goshen, Indiana

The News Book Store in Goshen, Indiana had this Rand McNally children's book guide printed for them with the front cover of the stapled booklet customized to feature their business name. There is no date, but the time period appears to be circa 1920s-30s. A quick check for first or early Rand McNally printings of a sampling of these books confirms that time period.

The complete title of the guide is Books for Boys and Girls with Guide for Selection. The first page in the guide serves as the title page and contents page and indicates Rand McNally as the publisher of all the books listed. Click here to see another piece of Rand McNally ephemera I featured on this blog, which includes a very brief history of the company.

A brief description of this guide is also found on the first page, stating:
Rand McNally books for boys and girls have been especially selected and edited by competent and experienced editors and educators for the entertainment, inspiration, and education of children during their most impressionable years.
The pitch goes on to add a few words about the art work that illustrates their books:
And the illustrations, made by artists of recognizable ability, are not only a delight in themselves, but they also stimulate a taste for good art.
Following are samples of the books available and examples of the accompanying art.

Wondering if The News Book Store in Goshen left any trace of its existence that could be found via an Internet search, I did just that and found the following: A Standard History of Elkhart County, Indiana (1916) indicates The News Book Store was owned by the local newspaper, which also established a bookbinding office and a job printing office. Several addresses are indicated for the book store and its parent company, none of which match the address on the Rand McNally guide, but after a 1914 fire, the newspaper plant and job printing offices were rebuilt and the book store sold.

Perhaps contradicting this timeline somewhat is a Publisher's Weekly report from 1911 that indicates parent company stockholder Mr. Grant Himes bought all interest in the book store before the fire and ran it independent of the other operations. After the fire three years later, Himes had to have been the one to sell the book store. It must have continued under the same name until at least the time of the Rand McNally guide. At some point after the fire, presumably, The News Book Store wound up at 130 South Main Street.

If you do a Google maps search of that address and select the satellite view, you'll see that the business does not exist at that address and perhaps does not exist at all anywhere by any name. What's interesting, though, is the business down the street--another bookseller you may have heard about recently: Better World Books, a company with an innovative approach to the bookselling business. They're located just off South Main Street in Goshen. And if you look back at that Google map, you'll see that a few blocks down South Main Street is the Goshen News, which very well could be the descendant of the old News Printing Company, which once owned The News Book Store that sold the Rand McNally books in the Books for Boys and Girls guide.

The End.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bookplates for Libraries

Going through my Holman Archives of donated ephemera recently, I came across a set of promotional pieces for a 1968 Roger Beacham (Bill Holman's imprint) publication: Bookplates for Libraries, by Edward Hampton Shickell.

I recalled reading a post on the Library History Buff blog about the book and thought these items would provide a tie-in from the printed ephemera angle. Included here in this "prospectus package" are an announcement, a brochure, and a piece featuring William R. Holman's Introduction to the book. Each has a distinct job to do for promoting the book, but collectively they function as a prospectus.

First up is the announcement of the book and a pre-publication offer. The oblong design opens to nearly twenty inches in length, features a brief description of the book and author, and examples of four bookplates accompanied by this statement about the book: A reference work which answers every librarian's need for appropriate and well designed bookplates.

The next piece in this trio is a 10 by 14-inch sheet folded to effect a four-page sampling of bookplate designs, accompanied by William R. Holman's Introduction for the book, titled An approach to contemporary library bookplates. I like the answer to his opening question, Why bookplates for libraries? And I think his answer is applicable to personal as well as public libraries:
There is something so eternal and everlasting about the bookplates--they not only lend dignity and grace to a library's collection but they attest to man's belief in, and love of, the printed word.

The last piece of advertising for Bookplates for Libraries is a tri-fold brochure with the front cover about half the size of the other pages in width, with an aesthetically pleasing ragged edge. Equal amounts of space are dedicated to Donald Dickinson's review and more examples of the bookplates that represent the content of the book.

Each piece of ephemera comprising this prospectus combo has a particular function in promoting the book and their coordinated design sets the proper tone for one of the core themes of the book, which Dickinson echoed in his review:
The volume itself is a convincing argument of the thoughtful combination of type, ink and paper.
And that's what you get with these three examples of promotional ephemera--the thoughtful combination of type, ink and paper.

Read more about book prospectuses at the always excellent The Private Library blog, where L.D. Mitchell has written The Prospectus and the Private Library

Friday, October 1, 2010

Northern bookseller, Southern lawyer: Civil War to civil business

During America's Civil War, Charles Carroll Soule of Boston joined the 44th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment to fight for the North. John W. Park, of prominent Southern heritage, joined the Confederate cause, signing up with the Regimental Staff of the 1st Georgia Reserves. It is doubtful that their paths ever crossed on the battlefield, but they did cross about a quarter-century later in a business transaction involving books.

Charles C. Soule, a Harvard graduate, became a bookseller sometime after the war and was the proprietor of the Boston Book Company. John W. Park became a prominent lawyer and was one of the organizers of the Georgia Bar association and eventually served as its president. In those professional capacities, these two accomplished men would cross paths because of their chosen fields after the fields of battle. I have evidence of this in the correspondence below.

On September 6th, 1890, Soule wrote to Park about a credit to his account and enclosed a list of second-hand books from which he could choose a title or two. What kind of books did Soule sell that Park could have been interested in? As stated earlier, Park was a prominent lawyer, so it was no surprise to learn that Soule specialized in law books.

The Southern lawyer and the Northern bookseller had a business relationship to the extent that Mr. Park had an account with Mr. Soule's company. These former Civil War opponents had become businessmen conducting civil transactions with one another. Park needed certain law books and he found them in Boston from a former adversary in the War Between the States.

But Soule not only sold law books, he authored The Lawyer's Reference Manual of Law Books and Citations. He was highly regarded for his knowledge and views on law books and law publishing, as indicated in this letter to the American Law Reviews. No wonder John Park looked North for his law book needs.

Soule's professional interests extended to libraries as well. On that subject, Soule authored Library Rooms and Buildings and How to Plan a Library Building for Library Work. While not a professional librarian, Soule was active in the American Library Association, having become a member in 1870.

Beyond the business transaction of the bookseller Soule noted here, I found some interesting history from Soule's military service. This citation offers minimal biographical information, but does substantiate that he was indeed Captain of the 55th Massachusetts. In my research, I had run across a Charles C. Soule who authored a letter at the close of the Civil War to a Maj. General O.O. Howard concerning the chaos created between freed slaves and Southern planters. A reference to his position of Captain of the 55th Massachusetts, a black regiment, confirmed this was this same Charles C. Soule who would become author-publisher-bookseller Soule.

His accomplishments extended beyond the world of books and into equality and civil law in the wake of emancipation, as can be seen in Soule's correspondence with Maj. General Howard, found at the University of Maryland’s Department of History project: Freedmen & Southern Society Project.

During the war, with the preservation of the United States at stake, it is interesting to ponder if either Charles C. Soule or John W. Park could have foreseen that out of a Civil War there could evolve a civil business relationship between two opponents in the arenas of culture, geography, and military allegiance. Of course, history records that such relationships did evolve, as evidenced by major documents and even little bits of ephemera such as a note between two men about books.


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