Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Which is more romantic: the Army, or Zorro?

Zorro owns my heart, dear readers. Forever. I love Zorro more than I could ever possibly love a mortal man. It's sad, but true. I just hope my future partners can understand.

So in my mind, Zorro is more romantic than basically anything. I am tempted by this Collector's Item as I have never been tempted before:

Zorro, in case you -- poor unfortunate soul -- have not heard, is an action hero who originated in the 1920s. His tale was set in old-time Spanish California, where he engages in many stirring exploits in order to protect the weak! Also, he wears a black cape and wields a rapier. And he has a secret identity as a wealthy landowner. And he is an amazing dancer. And he is famously ironic and seductive. Ah, Zorro. He even inspired the creation of Batman, did you know?

The first Zorro story, "The Curse of Capistrano", came out in 1919. In 1920 it became a legend by means of a movie adaptation called "The Mark of Zorro", starring Douglas Fairbanks. By the strange alchemy of books-turned-movies, the movie was then recreated as a 1924 book and titled "The Mark of Zorro", which is dedicated to Douglas Fairbanks. Our copy of this rare book has the beautiful original dust jacket, upon which we see Zorro and his lady love in a tense tryst; of course the text features all the usual rhetorical flourishes and glorious action, and the whole comes to $250.00.

Now that I've told you where my heart lies, the question that started this post -- "more romantic: Army vs. Zorro?" -- is, I hope, not pre-emptively settled. Because you are certainly entitled to your own opinion, and I acknowledge that there is some romanticism to the army! And here at the store we occasionally get nice military memorabilia of various types. Like this week's Affordable and Interesting little sign:

For only $12.50, you may own this piece of memorabilia from the World War II era. It is simply made, and shows the starkness of the war effort. I feature it here because I like the fonts, and I also like the spare little stars at each side of the bit that says "NAVY V-1 PLAN". It even piqued my curiosity enough to Google for "V-1 plan", at which point I found a stirring YouTube video that was made to support the United States Navy V-1 (click here). Although I may be a bleeding heart Zorro-lover in my personal life, I do feel that we ought to support our troops.

On a less serious note, you know what else I totally support? Racing pigeon unions! They're my Favorite, or at at least they are today!

This souvenir book was created and sold at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, and it contains many tracts about pigeon racing, as well as advertisements from relevant organizations; notes from pigeon clubs; and a program for the Union's visit to the Fair. Also, there are some loose unbound certificates included!

Several antique American Racing Pigeon Union Diplomas, no less. These documents list the starting points for competitive pigeons, as well as the pigeons' speeds and other aspects of the competitive experience. As it happens, the American Pigeon Racing Union still has a website, including an astonishingly detailed "Introduction and History" page (click here). Maybe I should call them and let them know about this historical find, available for only $150.00! Or maybe you will snap it up instead. Only a soulless human could fail to love pigeons.

Which do you suppose is faster: a racing pigeon, or Zorro on his trusty horse Tornado? Please ponder that question over the next few weeks, dear readers, and I'll see you when you're done pondering.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mysteries abound

Do you know the things I do for you, O my readers? I do things like walk outside in 95 degree heat to take a photograph. For you! Witness the evidence:

We have an assortment of Collector's Item movie posters from the 1950s and 1960s, and I decided to photograph one of them in the harsh, hot sunlight. (I think I felt the colors might come out better ... well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.) Then I fled back into the air conditioning and searched the Internet for this "Master Spy" movie ... and found naught! "Master Spy" is a mystery in itself. Did any of you see it in the cinema, gentle readers, back when it came out? I'm quite curious about what it was like. But even if you've never seen the film, you can own this original and mysterious poster for a mere $60.00.

If you prefer cheaper period mysteries, then check out our Affordable and Interesting little gems such as:

A Mickey Finn is an old term for a drink packed with knock-out drops. It is supposedly named for a gentleman of Chicago, the keeper of the late-1800s Lone Star Saloon, who drugged and stole from his customers. Dastardly! The above 1939 thriller is set in Paris and not Chicago, but it features a drugged drink nonetheless. Own it (and its panicked cover illustration) for $10.00! Or perhaps you'd prefer two thrillers packed into one book:


Back in the day ("the day" being, in this case, the 1950s), Ace Books used to sell two-for-the-price-of-one: buy one book, turn it over, and you've got a second book. As you can see above, the covers were regularly glorious, and so now the Internet has whole image galleries devoted to antique Ace Double covers. Yet you could buy a real Ace Double -- not just a scan! -- from us for $6.00.

But what am I thinking? You, being a reader of the O'Gara and Wilson blog, are far more discerning than me. You don't want Ace Doubles or references to criminal bartenders. You want 1930s lifestyle magazines instead:

This week's Favorite is a 1931 issue of "The American Magazine". I am informed by Wikipedia that this publication ran from 1906 to the 1950s; it was originally a bit of a muckraking outfit, but eventually ran to human interest, fiction and lifestyle stories. As is so often the case with these old magazines, I find the stories (including a mystery thriller!) to be entertaining ... but the ads are most entertaining:

Smoke Lucky Strikes, boys and girls, because all the harmful chemicals have been safely removed! And your voice will sound lovely. And you will be a round-faced woman in a veil. $30.00.

I've been dragging out this blog entry a bit because I am terrified of exiting the store onto the harsh, hot street. But my time has come. If I die of heatstroke, tell my mother I love her. As for you, dear readers, please do drink some water and keep up your spirits ... there's supposed to be rain tomorrow!