Wednesday, August 29, 2007

This Saturday: Discounted Literary Criticism!

Greetings, book enthusiasts. The heat of a late Chicago August has driven me into the nice cool store, and now, while I sit here recovering from the humidity, I shall tell you all about some of the beautiful items gracing our window!

Also, this gives me a break from our gigantic Literary Criticism section, which has been eating me alive as I reorganize it. But I want more of a break, and so I'm going to lighten my load on the next First of the Month Discount Day. Every first of the month, we do a specific discount; and this Saturday, September 1, we'll be offering 25% off on Literary Criticism books.

So come in on Saturday if you want to read about Dickens, Dickinson, who knows who else ... and in the meantime:

Doug has mentioned that he may soon take home this week's Collector's Item, so you should come see it while you can:

You may look at that picture and ask, "What on earth kind of book is that?" Well you might ask. It's actually a vase -- Doug will sometimes pick up interesting antiques that he sees while buying estates, and this one was so lovely that it immediately caught his eye. He has classic taste: it turns out that it's an example of the work of a late 1800s artist, Van Briggle, who rediscovered a lost ancient Chinese glaze and helped birth the Art Nouveau movement. This is an example of Van Briggle's famous Lorelei vase: the design features a mermaid or siren wrapped around the top, with her hair streaming lusciously around her. We are assured that the vase is not a reproduction, and it's an absolute steal at $450.00 (unless Doug takes it home first).

And now for something incredibly colorful. While acquiring a whole bunch of pulps recently, we came by these Affordable and Interesting little papers:

"The Wizard: Stories for Boys" was one of those inimitable 1950s-60s pulp-type things that used millions of exclamation points and bolded words. The top of one issue, for instance, shrieks: "Stories that go with a Bang! This paper's loaded with them!" All the headlines say things like, "Don't miss reading the latest action-packed exploit in the smashing war yarn: Vengeance of the Snow Wolf!" or "Can Craddock's whale of a tale lift the jinx on Jonathan?" or "The hightailing hogs that gave the sheriff a horse-laugh!" Indeed.

Some of these papers are astoundingly politically incorrect, and all of them are in excellent condition -- in fact, when we got them, they had never once been removed from their mailing wrappers. I suppose whoever first got them in the mail didn't think that it was worth their time to read things like "The Mysterious Mr. Roscoe strikes again!", but you can for $7.50 per issue.

I will never forget the day Alan first showed me this Favorite:

It doesn't look like much from the front -- just a little batch of patterned paper. But if you open it up, it's got one of the strangest, most wonderful stories I've ever seen. It seems that this was an art project for students at the famous Design Institute (now Illinois Institute of Design) -- the students were asked to make a book; unfortunately, this one was never completed.

It starts off in a fairly amazing fashion, chronicling a happy family composed of Humorous Cat, Saggy Pup, Silly Chick, Gorgeous Sunflower, and Peculiar Mary. Sadly, the five do not share culinary tastes. When Peculiar Mary cooks, she serves "love worms" that Humorous Cat can't stand. Apparently, "Love makes Mary feel like a giggle!" A giggle, eh? I see.

As a result, each member of the family seeks a new place to live. And as you can see below, for instance, Humorous Cat finds "a girl who gave her humid milk":

... but soon thereafter, we lose track of the family in a spread of empty, unsigned pages.

I haven't the faintest idea what I would do with this if I owned it, but it tempts me -- it's got such a sideways, hilarious style to it. And hearing Alan read it aloud in a stentorian voice is just about the best thing ever. I would miss it if someone bought it (at $75.00), though I suppose that's the kind of emotional risk I run by working in a place like this.

That wraps us up for today, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for reading -- but do go outside a bit before the summer's over! The cool blue lake beckons ....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Our first entry ever!

Welcome to the Pilot Entry for the O’Gara and Wilson Store Blog! The store is quite messy, for we've all been reorganizing the place -- but it's going to look beautiful in September/October, and now we've got this shiny new blog ....

I, Lydia, will be your hostess here. I’ll be posting a new entry every Wednesday (and possibly some scattered commentary at other times as well). Unless a reader would like to contribute a better idea, I think I shall split each entry into three sections, each covering a different type of item: one wonderful collector’s item, one affordable and yet still interesting thing, and one of my personal favorite objects that may or may not have been around for a while.

Today’s Collector’s Item is this amazingly beautiful book:

Words fail me! -- but I will do my best for you, gentle readers. It's a 1923 limited edition of a Paul Claudel poem, in French with glorious illustrations by Audrey Parr. And yet, though it's in French, it's a Japanese-style book: a sort of accordion of paper with a wooden board on either end. Since it's so unusual, I looked around the Internet to find out more about it; I discovered several webpages explaining that Claudel worked on his poem for some time -- and had some lovely sketches of cloaked figures from Parr -- but simply couldn't figure out how to lay out his book until he went on a diplomatic mission to Japan. There, Claudel was inspired by the books he saw to create this beautiful fusion of cultures: the poem in columns across the folded paper, while the dramatic Parr illustrations move in staggered iterations across the top. This book currently graces the counter in front of the window, where we can see it from behind the counter; with the sun falling through the window behind it, those blue cloak illustrations practically glow. We're charging $800.00 for this item -- lower than any price we could find on the Internet; only one thousand copies were put together back in 1923.

In Affordable and Interesting, we have these two comics:

Asterix is a rather exuberant comic, originally in French (this is an English translation), about an ancient Gaul and his adventures. His best friend makes menhirs for a living, and his village druid can mix a potion that makes anyone who drinks it invincible. Asterix's adventures focus mainly on hunting wild boar, outsmarting and outfighting the Roman invaders, and going on crazy journeys throughout the rest of the ancient world. The comic is $4.50, a real steal if you ask me ... but then, I used to obsessively read the Asterix comics as a child, and I have a special place in my heart for them (I was a pretty weird child).

Tintin is a better-known figure: he's a straight-as-an-arrow reporter whose idealism and exceptionally white dog both help him through dangerous international intrigues. Also originally in French, this is an English translation, and appears to be about Tintin rescuing an abandoned briefcase and getting into lots of trouble ... I haven't read it yet, but I will if no one buys it for a while (at only $9.00).

Of course, that's if I don't spend my entire budget on this Favorite:

It's a late 1800s edition of a bunch of Kipling poems, titled after his famous work "The Vampire". "The Vampire" (as you can read for yourself by clicking here) is a rather passive-aggressive poem about women and the evils thereof. But it's not just the pretty cover that attracts me to this book, nor the fact that I can read the contents and then make fun of Kipling's misogyny and imperialism. It's the clippings laid into the front:

Now, these clippings aren't dated, so we have no idea when they're from. But they're clearly very old -- almost as old at the book itself? One is a random story about two street urchins getting in a scuffle; who knows what that's about -- nothing important. The second, however, is a "Woman's Version of the Vampire", apparently written into the paper by a Ms. Francis B. Ross. It's about as snippy as the original poem; the final verse goes:

And it isn't the ache of the heart, or its break
that stings like a white-hot brand --
It is the learning to know that she raised a god
and bent her head to kiss the rod
for one who could not understand.

Goodness. Ms. Ross was not very happy, was she? But it gets better! It appears that the next week, a disgruntled gentleman named Mr. James Melville, Jr. wrote in yet another version of "The Vampire", this one from the point of view of the (as the newspaper calls it) "eternal masculine". His poem is titled "The Verdict", and here's the last stanza:

Life had a claim -- he paid it well --
and fate claimed a willing fool;
he had no voice in what befell;
the passion he bore he could not quell;
his only fault -- that he loved too well.

One wonders if Mr. Melville and Ms. Ross had a history, eh? You can own that history (and also this book) for $125.00.

Well, that concludes today's entry. Thank you for coming by, and stay cool in this August heat -- remember that we have air conditioning here ...!