Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Alan refers to us as an "increasingly inaccurately named bookstore"

Sometimes we joke around the store about how we barely even sell books here -- we are so inundated by other amazing historical material. One great example are these fabulous, semi-insane Affordable and Interesting Victorian marketing cards. I had a really hard time choosing just six of them to show you, gentle readers -- we've got a whole boxful! Fortunately (or perhaps un), a recent customer already bought up all the ones that featured little children dressed up as insects and snails.






I can't even begin to imagine what the Victorians were thinking when they decided to use some of these images to advertise their businesses. I mean, I'll accept that quasi-demonic children drowning cats in ink is a fabulous promotion for dye! But what does a pig frightened by firecrackers have to do with dentistry? And do you realize that those two clowns are eyeing each other over a pot full of "meat extract"? These cards are $3.00 apiece, which I consider a low price to pay for the opportunity to raise our eyebrows yet again at those crazy Victorians.

For this week's Collector's Item, let's move on to something saner, like Don Quixote:

We've got a set of four beautiful porcelain tiles showing Don Quixote at his best! My personal favorite is this one, with a windmill ....

I find that frequently, the phrases I use require extensive explanation (for instance, I recently really confused some friends by saying, "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth"). I mention this because there is a wonderful phrase -- "tilting at windmills" -- that means "attacking imaginary enemies". It derives from the Quixote scene above, and even if you have not read the book you can probably figure out what happens in that scene. Ah, Quixote ... you taught us farce. Celebrate Don Quixote with these tiles: $150.00!

Our last non-book objects for today feature one of Doug's Favorite pieces of racial commentary:

We've just gotten in a number of amazing prints, now hanging all about the store in various positions! Doug is particularly in love with a large, broadside-style printing of Gwendolyn Brooks' "We're The Only Colored People Here". Brooks, a Chicagoan through and through, was a well-known African-American poet whose works gained international fame. This piece is an especially touching bit about the way the world was as it was desegregating, and yet its inhabitants were still a bit uncomfortable when they mixed. In the 1930s, Paris-based Black Sun Press issued a series of large poster-type printings of very short fiction -- including a very nice 12" x 15" version of "We're The Only Colored People Here".

The Gwendolyn Brooks is $40.00. The rest of these prints vary in price from $35.00 for a lovely engraving of Marie Louise looking benevolently cross-eyed, to $300.00 for the below print:

Apparently -- at the end of the Civil War -- Jefferson Davis mistakenly threw on his wife's raincoat as they were trying to flee capture by Union soldiers; when caught, he was widely mocked for supposedly "dressing as a woman" in an attempt to escape. Above is just one of the political cartoons that resulted!

I'm inspired by those Victorian cards -- I think I'll go home and find some cats to dye! Never claim that the media doesn't affect your children, gentle readers.

No comments: