Friday, December 22, 2006


Holidays plus retail...

...equals the tenth circle of hell (Dante forgot that one somehow). I'm taking a quick break to return to admiring Christmas books. Last year around this time I posted a picture of The Christmas Bookman for 1928; at the bookshop next door I just found a copy of the 1925 issue:

It's a hardcover in very good condition, with a lovely paper labels on the front cover and spine. The advertisements make me long to go back in time and go shopping. Scribner offers Maxfield Parrish's The Knave of Hearts at ten dollars, and The Great Gatsby at two dollars (with the blurb "Heywood Broun says this is the only novel in six months which has completely satisfied him."). Little, Brown & Company lists Francis Parkman's The Oregon Trail (illustrations by Frederic Remington and N.C. Wyeth) for six dollars. Albert & Charles Boni proudly splash an ad for a scholarly yet readable edition of The Jesuit Relations, edited by Edna Kenton. Five dollars. And the so-dear Doubleday, Page & Co. has this full-page ad for the recent Christopher Morley book, Thunder on the Left (I show it here because I think this page is so visually striking, also, well, I do love that Christopher Morley so. He's rather like Santa Claus, isn't he?):

The fine print says "That exactly solves that Christmas present problem of yours." This pleased me. As did a few other items of note in this issue. The subscription page, for example, which lists a new series of essays by popular philosopher Irwin Edman: "Rapture for the Reasonable," "Politics for the Exquisite," "Culture for the Efficient," "Efficiency for the Erratic," and "Manners for the Emancipated." Another nice bit - part of the note from the editor John Farrar reads: "Generous is the term that I should like best to have readers apply to The Bookman..." and "The finest thought of the world has been through books. With books as a starting point it is possible to survey all phases of human life." (p.v) Amen.

Most of the issue is taken up with bookish articles, essays, stories, poems, and prints. Aldous Huxley's travel essay "In a Tunisian Oasis" looks great. So does "Literary Treasure" by Stephen Vincent Benet - a long essay which begins, "I went looking for Christmas, the other day, in a vast and singular treasure chest." The treasure chest is the J.P. Morgan Library in New York City. Another long article is entitled "The Gossip Shop" and mentions strolling around New York shopping for books.

Of course there are also many reviews, ads, and blurbs for books which now languish in the dollar bins at used bookshops. A short capsule for one such novel reads, "Another picture of middle western farm life which does not differ radically from its dun-colored predecessors." Ouch! Another reads, "Interesting but not significant." (both p.484) Double ouch!

I think my favorite section, however, is near the end of the issue - "The Collector's Guide" for announcements and ads from dealers in rare books. One tiny ad catches my eye: Elizabeth Pusey offers "Books for Steamer Gifts.... We Specialize in Personal Selections." My love of steamship books is documented on this blog elsewhere. Enough for now? I'll post one more Christmas book tomorrow.

I forgot to mention something about the paper label on the front - see all those little mock-tudor buildings? I don't think they are very legible in the picture, but they all have little signs on them saying "Book Shop." And a tiny fellow is exiting each one with a box of books.

Just sayin'.
I was very excited to see that you have this book. I found it at a book sale and love it. It is so cool to see what things cost almost 90 years ago. Do you know the calue of this book?
I think I paid eight or ten bucks for my copy. But that was a long time ago, pre-internet pricing, in a little used book shop in Newburyport, Mass. Value is so subjective!
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