Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Qui me amat, amat et lautitiam meam.

I learned something new about Google today! I was trying to figure out if I had mentioned the Caxton Club on this blog before, and a customer taught me some new operators for use with Google. (An operator is a special kind of keyword that you can use to narrow down your Google search results. I had known some very simple operators, but had not previously thought about more complicated ones.) For instance, I learned about an operator that will find all the sites that link to a given web page: just type "link:[web page name]" into Google -- "" will find all the pages that link to this blog. Another cool operator is the one that will track down all the definitions of a word that you could ever want -- "define:[word]"; for instance, "define:tome" sends you to this page (click here). You can find other very specific Google operators by clicking here.

At any rate, the end result is that I discovered that I've never mentioned the Caxton Club on this blog before. Which brings me, without further ado, to this week's Collector's Item:

The Caxton Club is a venerable club for Chicago book lovers that was started in 1895. The late 19th century was a time in which several excellent book clubs were starting, such as the Grolier Club in New York. Today, many of these clubs still put out beautifully bound books, whose entire production is nurtured along by very dedicated bibliophiles; they also have meetings about fine books and organize exhibitions of their previous beautiful editions. This particular title, Ancient Books and Modern Discoveries, was published in 1927, in a limited edition of 350 copies. It is almost entirely concerned with archaeological discoveries of literature, the materials used to create books, and the histories of those materials. Of course, the book itself is exquisitely made -- vellum, marbled paper, gilt, and lovely type ornaments all abound:

We're selling this Caxton Club treasure for $295.00, and I envy the person whose shelf it will grace. If elegance could kill, my employer would be guilty of murder just for having it around.

I think that this week's Favorite is also elegant in form, though perhaps not in content:

My most recent distraction from Literary Criticism has been the Sociology section, the sorting of which has instilled in me the desire to create two new sections for the store. To wit, these sections are: Crime / Police Work, and Urban Studies. This book will certainly go in the latter section, being a 1945 description of police work. It has a very Hardy Boys attitude towards the whole thing: "The career of a detective is full of thrills," it gushes. "Surely no profession in the world is more exciting or interesting," and jumps from there right into a discussion of what makes a felony vs. a misdemeanor, the powers of a detective, logical deduction, and then the really exciting bits: 1945 forensic science!

Do police still use machines that look like that?

For $15.00 you can learn all about such things as spectroscopes and photomicrographic apparatus. And I think the absolute best part is on page 112, starting with the sentence: "Psychic research is still in a very experimental stage, but in making investigations one occasionally meets with people of psychic personality." I wish I had time to read that whole bit right now, but I must go onwards, so I'll leave you with that teaser, gentle readers!

Our Affordable and Interesting item this week is not especially elegant:

... but not everything has to be elegant, and who doesn't love cowboys? My childhood romantic icon, Zorro, was semi-based on historical cowboys (or at least bandits, the major example being Joaquin Murrieta). Well, I guess there's a difference between bandits and cowboys ... Google tells me that a cowboy is "a hired hand who tends cattle and performs other duties on horseback", which I suppose is different from a bandit in that a bandit steals cattle and performs other duties on horseback. I'm glad we cleared that up.

I feel as though I should read more about cowboys now so that I don't seem so ignorant. I can learn from this "True Cowboy" site -- aha, it has cowboy quotations!

* Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco.
* Always drink upstream from the herd.
* There's two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither one works.
* Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Hmm. I'm not sure this section on cowboys matches the O'Gara and Wilson reputation for erudition, but I'm an urban bookstore girl -- what am I supposed to know about cowboys (beyond Will Rogers quotations, that is)? Maybe I'll buy this pamphlet (at $6.50) and learn some of the songs, so that if a handsome and rugged cowboy rides into my life we'll at least have one thing in common.

If any of you book lovers know anything exciting about cowboys, please do post a comment! In the meantime, I think I'll see if I can rustle up something cleverer to say about cowboys, and present it to you all in my next entry. Surely in a week I can learn something about cowboys other than the image I've been fed by popular culture ... let's find out next week, gentle readers!


Anonymous said...

The Google operators are interesting, but ... I have a link to this blog on my website, but it didn't show up on the search. They list 82 links, which is nice, but it's clearly not complete.

Alessandra Kelley

O'Gara and Wilson said...

Huh! I didn't actually look through all the links. Your site must be indexed by Google, so I'm interested to know that they haven't indexed the links on it. I wonder how the "link:" protocol works?

Unknown said...

I couldn't help but comment on this post. You lured me in with your question if we knew anything interesting about cowboys?! One of my blogs is called Mustang 'n' Cowboys. It is about 2 cowboys, 5 horses and their dogs. I realize that you were probably talking about the old west cowboys!

BTW I found your blog as it scrolled past on the update list which is on the blogger sign in page. I love to read and love browsing through bookstores like yours.

I instantly thought of the romantic comedy "You've Got Mail" with their "Shop Around the Corner" as I browsed your blog.

I will be placing a link on my personal blogNotes That Touch The Heart so that I don't loose this blog!

O'Gara and Wilson said...

Wow, Janey ... nice to meet you, and thanks for the cowboy information!