Monday, April 27, 2009

Transportation! I like how it looks.

Greetings, O Gentlest of Readers! I am posting the blog entry early this week, because I (Lydia) will be away on Wednesday; I considered dragging Alan in to write another of his incredible blog entries on the right date, but I figured it was just as easy to write it myself two days early, and I wanted the excuse to indulge my latest idea for a theme.

You see, sometimes I do shiny themed blog entries here at O'Gara and Wilson. The themes are frequently somewhat loose and ill-observed, and always ridiculous. This entry's theme? Transportation!

Observe, for instance, this Collector's Item:

The book containing this plate, Advertisements of Lower Mississippi River Steamboats 1812-1920, starts its Foreword with a historical analysis of steamboat advertisements and notes that

Now that Leonard V. Huber has unearthed this interesting sample of art -- for art it is -- of attracting patronage to a particular steamboat through stylistic advertising, the wonder is that nobody thought of doing it before. Individual boats were noticed as "new and splendid", "new and elegant", "new and light draught" (always new, even though overdue at the boneyard); but this business of republishing their ads has real newness. They have the tang of fresh-brewed coffee, and should be sipped gingerly to be appreciated. The reader will discover herein a treat which bears repetition from day to day, from week to week. These ads are ageless.

Convinced? I am. And better yet, the book doesn't just contain steamboat ads! $60.00 gets you the ads, plus some old articles about steamboats, plus other little bitty bits such as:

This scan comes from a page headed "Steamboat Money". There is no other description or explanation; I tried Googling "Steamboat Money" but came up with nothing of use, though I did find a page talking about tokens that were used to represent money for travelers on on some steamboats, so that those travelers wouldn't have to carry actual money. Maybe that's what's going on here.

So yeah, I wish I could use steamboats for transportation. I also wish I could use a car -- but not just any car: a vintage 1920s car that utilizes this week's Favorite.

Being as I really know nothing at all about transportation beyond what I write in random bookstore blog entries, I can't say much about this $30.00 package of 1920s auto bulbs. I am excited by the packaging, because I like deco stuff! Plus I have a thing for mythology, so representations of Vulcan are fine by me! Also, I love Googling for pictures of 1920s cars! But I guess that once I get past how pretty it all is, I'll have to move on.

And hence we find ourselves at this Affordable and Interesting book ....

I've mentioned before that I love it when customers point out really fascinating items that I have somehow missed. I love it even more when those customers decide in the end against buying those items. That way, I can fall upon said items with cries of glee and fascination, and examine them myself.

I am so excited about this book that I stretched the blog entry's theme to include it -- viz., this book is relevant to transportation because the cover features a gentleman riding on an elephant. But it's actually about race and culture! You see, the title is The Exotic White Man: An Alien in Asian and African Art. Note the looks of the gentleman atop the elephant:

And then there's this couple, a Japanese woodcut featured on the back:

I hear people talk about representations of other cultures in imperialist Western art all the time, but never ever have I seen a book like this. I am fascinated! It is from 1968 and has a slightly racist tone, which makes me sad, but it seems like the authors were doing their best at the time. And I'm amused by their note in the beginning that the Caucasian "pinkish color [is] somewhat revolting". You can buy this book for $12.50, but only if I don't weaken and take it home myself. I'm still thinking about it.

Thinking ....

I'd better end this blog entry before I think too hard. See you two weeks from Wednesday, gentle readers!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Local, independent used bookstores are better than Amazon!

You may have heard of the ruckus that erupted around Amazon this weekend when a glitch caused the site to make many books on gay, lesbian, and sexuality themes largely unavailable for search by its customers. This was apparently a mistake on the site's part and not an outright act of attempted concealment -- but I am here to tell you, gentle readers, that such a mistake would never happen here! For one thing, we have an entire section on Sex/Gender/Sexuality that is just as available to the public as the rest of our books; indeed, you may recall that -- just two months ago -- I wrote a blog post that included "Kama Sutra Marketing Through the Ages". More to the point: if we make an inventory-tracking mistake around the store, then we lose just one book, not entire categorizations. We're better than Amazon. Convinced yet?

No? Well, these Affordable and Interesting items demonstrate another reason we're better than Amazon:



A lovely antique fairy-tale book, illustrated by Frank Adams, was recently badly damaged -- it lost many pages and the binding came apart. We could have simply thrown it out, but instead we elected to save as many pages as we could and then sell them each for $3.00. Amazon would never show such tender loving care. As you can see from the above, the pictures are lovely, bright and sickeningly cute: ideal for people who ... enjoy cute things! There must be people like that out there.

This week's Favorite is another excellent example of our betterness.

Here's the thing about bookstores that you could never, ever find on Amazon: random chance and serendipity. Personally, I love knowing that I could come upon an 1899 book called Fables in Slang at any time. It's not that I wouldn't live a happy life without it, but I just think my life is better now that I've read "The Fable of the Visitor Who Got A Lot for Three Dollars", the main character of which is referred to as the Learned Phrenologist. (Did you know that there are still phrenologists out there? Learn all about the history of phrenology at this very pro-phrenology page: click here!)

Check out how the 1899 slang book characterizes phrenology:

The Learned Phrenologist sat in his Office surrounded by his Whiskers.

Now and then he put a Forefinger to his Brow and glanced at the Mirror to make sure that he still resembled William Cullen Bryant.

Near him, on a Table, was a Pallid Head made of Plaster-of-Paris and stickily ornamented with small Labels. On the wall was a Chart showing that the Orangoutang does not have Daniel Webster's facial angle.

"Is the Graft played out?" asked the Learned Phrenologist, as he waited. "Is Science up against it or What?"

I love this book. $30.00, and you get tons of Fables in the above style. Did I mention that all of them are illustrated?


People who buy all their books on Amazon don't come across slangy 1899 fable books with awesome illustrations of stern phrenologists. Nuff said.

Or wait, not quite enough said. I still need to cover this Collector's Item!

Not only is this pamphlet unavailable at Amazon, but when I tried to search for it, I was confronted by a horrible banner of grinning and cavorting Disney characters. We will never assault you with obscenely vivid moving advertisements, gentle readers -- that's a promise that makes O'Gara and Wilson much classier than Amazon. But to return to my point: this incredible item -- all the way from 1922 -- is too rare to be found on Amazon. I assert that the cover alone makes it worth the $40.00 we are charging, but the pamphlet's historical perspective is icing on the cake.

The moral of the story, gentle readers, is that we are better than Amazon. Love us!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I wish I lived in the 30s-60s just for the headlines ....

Here I am again, gentle readers -- Lydia, writing this week’s blog entry! Though I don’t know why I do it, with Alan writing such incredible entries when I'm away. Please, if you missed the last two blog entries here at O’Gara and Wilson, I entreat you to read Alan's work: Here’s the one on Ireland and crotchety bookstore ghosts, and here’s the one in futuristic science-fiction style. Read them, for your own sake. They are amazing.

Now before I get into silly unimportant stuff like what we're actually selling at the bookstore these days, I want to let you all know that my hometown literature club is running a poetry contest. My hometown is in New York, but you can certainly enter the contest from afar, and all you have to do is write a literature-related clerihew! "Clerihew?" you may ask in bemusement. "What's that?" Well, here is an example:

Edgar Allan Poe
Was passionately fond of roe.
He always liked to chew some,
While writing anything gruesome.

Go write one and enter the contest (click here for details). It'll be great. Trust me.

OK, now let's get down to business. This blog entry's theme is Lots of Pictures of Antique Periodicals, folks, and we're starting with these astounding Affordable and Interesting old science magazines!


We've got stacks and stacks of various science magazines from the 30s, 40s, 50s ... for $15.00 you get that glorious "Popular Mechanics" with the picture of smilingly excited guys leaping out of a sky machine; or you could pay $7.50 for the "Science and Mechanics" featuring a glove-ridden contraption that does ... wait, what does it do?

But I think the best example -- available for a mere $15.00 -- is this one from 1933:


Moving right along ... let's talk about Collectible Scottish material. If you like Scottish material, then we here at O'Gara and Wilson have exactly the magazine for you!


"Tocher: Tales, Songs, Tradition -- Selected from the archives of the School of Scottish Studies" ran from 1971 to 1995, and we have a complete set of all issues! I have elected not to show you, dear readers, the approximately 30% of "Tocher" covers that feature bagpipes in some fashion. Really, I felt that the above two cover images were most representative of Scottish life in general.

But this periodical has so much more to it than Scotch gentlemen hitting each other with golf clubs; there is a truly bewildering array of stories about people whose names start with "Mac", and some of them are in Gaelic! Some are even translated! You could also learn productive skills from "Topher", such as how to dye cloth black by using the roots of the water lily. All this for $400.00. It's a steal, gentle readers, let me tell you, an absolute steal. Especially since you get this winsome Scottish maid to boot:

Last but certainly not least is my Favorite thing. Ever.

We're selling these 1950s-60s scandal papers for $15.00-$25.00 apiece, and if I had to choose a word to describe them, it would be "hilariousincredibleamazingbrilliant". But unfortunately our scanner cannot encompass the entire front page of all the papers I want to show you. Case in point: My scan of the above 1968 "National Mirror" regrettably cut off the top two headlines: "Surgeon Uses Virgins in Sex Transplants" and "Insane Nurse Sets Mental Hospital on Fire". At least you can read for yourself the "Raid Flesh Club In Funeral Home" and "Barmaids in Bloody Brawl Over Lesbian". $25.00 for this issue, which -- need I remind you? -- includes not just the headlines but the interior articles. And the articles are even better!

Or you could buy one of these others ....

"The National Enquirer", 1964. "Deadly Flies Make Everyone Blind ... Whole Town Doomed". $25.00.

"The National Informer", 1968. "Should A Girl Proposition A Guy?" plus "Women Are More Excited By Pornography Than Men" and "A Report of the Disappointments of Wife-Swapping". $25.00.

"The National Enquirer", 1963. "Rita Hayworth Says: I'm Back From the Dead. For Two Years I Was a Zombie". $25.00.

Another 1963 "National Enquirer". "Mamie Van Doren: I Still Love the Crumb Who Jilted Me!" $20.00. I'm thinking of buying this one and mailing it to my ex-boyfriend ... what do you think, gentle readers? I'm a classy girl, aren't I.

I'm almost tempted not to advertise these scandal papers, because they really do make the best lunchtime reading ever. Don't buy them too quickly, folks, and I'll see you in two weeks!