Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My attempts at thematic titles are becoming ridiculous!

Living in Hyde Park, one hears a lot about the World's Columbian Exposition, which took place in 1893 right along Hyde Park's southern edge. I must confess that before I got here I knew practically nothing about it -- but being around this excellent bookstore has given me quite an education, in the form of all kinds of items from the Columbian Exposition! The event was a few months long and constituted a kind of enormous fair, which technically was intended to celebrate technology and progress, but occasionally ended up going off into strange little side-alleys ... for instance, there were exhibits of real science, and then there was an eleven-ton block of cheese. And carnival rides. It sounds like a spectacularly good time was had all round, and I'm sorry to have missed it!

I bring up the Columbian Exposition, gentle readers, because of this Affordable and Interesting item:

As near as we can figure, this is some kind of publicity material issued by a Wisconsin general store:

... but most of it isn't advertisement. It's mostly pictures of the buildings of the Columbian Exposition -- a little worn, but not at all astonished! * There was apparently a Machinery Hall, for instance, and a U.S. Government Building:

There was also apparently a casino -- goodness me! For $15.00 you get 17 pictures of the Exposition, and can sigh in nostalgia for what must have been the largest carnival man has ever known.

Perhaps you are more interested in antique viewpoints on Washington than Chicago. Now, I don't know why you would be -- gentle readers, I have adopted quantities of Chicago pride! -- but I suppose Washington has its charm. And if you're all about Washington, then this Collector's Item is for you:

This 1897 book is simply a series of "Views of the City of Washington" (apparently it is from a series known as Brentano's Views of American Cities). Each photograph is accompanied by explanatory text:

I suppose that many of the monuments I have spent time in while in Washington -- the JFK Memorial, for instance -- was after this book's time, and I had to remind myself what a very different city D.C. would have been so long ago. Another reminder of the time gap: the page for the Bureau of Printing and Engraving notes that newly-made banknotes are transported to the Treasury in "guarded wagons". Ah, how times change. I wonder if many of these buildings are no longer around? This $125.00 book is exceptionally rare; we haven't been able to locate any other copies for sale on the Internet. So I'm afraid that if you'd like to check on how many of these photos remain applicable, you'll have to come look at our copy -- and if you do, please educate me!

This blog entry seems to have a more antique theme than usual. This you can see in this week's Favorite items:

... which I selected from our section on India and Pakistan. We recently went through this smallish section, repricing all the older material. Here you see three of my favorite items from it. The first is a 1926 book on "Close-Up Views of India's Womanhood", by a Presbyterian missionary woman; it opens with a sweetly written portrait of a young Indian girl who wants nothing more than to learn to read (but cannot because of her repressive culture), and continues to discuss other Indian women's studies issues, like marriage. Considering that the dedication is to the missionary's husband, and says: "Having followed him half-way around the world to marry him, I have been following him in everything ever since; but he is worth the pursuing," I am unsure how well-qualified the author is to comment on female subjugation. For $20.00, you can form your own opinion! (Interestingly, this book is also inscribed by the author to Cyrus Hall McCormick and wife. Not that McCormick is very relevant to the matter at hand, but he did invent the mechanical reaper.)

The second book, also published in 1926, is pro-Indian independence: "I propose to prove in the following pages that British rule in India is inefficient in the matters that concern the Nation's life; that India is slowly wasting away and will inevitably perish, unless she regains her right to rule herself." India only gained independence from Britain in 1947 (click here for an interesting assortment of historical documents on the subject, from the British Library), and this $15.00 book makes an interesting portrait of pre-independence agitation on the subject. The third book is in German, so I have no idea what the text says, but it has some beautiful reproductions of Indian miniatures:

If you know German you should come translate it for me! (Or buy it for $20.00.)

In India it is hot. In Chicago it is also hot. I wonder if they go swimming in India? Because I think we should all do it in Chicago ... starting as soon as I go home today. Maybe I'll see you at the Point, gentle readers!

* This is a pun on a line from Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories. I thought maybe I should explain that.

1 comment:

Harry said...

Don't be throwing your rinds at the point