Jul 182017
 

In November of 1897 the Library began a program of daily readings for the blind in a special “pavilion for the blind” complete with its own library. In 1913 Congress directed the American Printing House for the Blind to begin depositing embossed books in the Library, and in 1931 a separate appropriation was authorized for providing “books for the use of adult blind residents of the United States.” [LC]

This Act was amended in 1934 to include sound recordings (talking books), and expanded again later to include children, music, and ultimately to include anyone with physical limitations that prevent reading regular print. This program is important to me personally, because of what a remarkable effect it had on my grandmother’s life when she, a lifelong avid reader, lost the ability to read to macular degeneration. The program is still thriving…now sending out books to the vision impaired on flash drives.

There were few record players in homes in the early twentieth century, and thus between 1935 and approximately 1942 the Talking Book project produced about 23,000 record players (at a cost of approximately $1.2 million). While funding from the WPA dried up in 1942, the program continued until 1951, when the Foundation stopped producing its own record players because they were now readily available to the general public. It is this period that is particularly interesting for me, as it is the period where critical components of the record players used were produced by the company my in-laws’ owned and operated until their retirement (though this program far predates their ownership).

Between the mid-1940s to the mid 1950s, Bowen and Company produced the guts for several models of the record players that were provided to clients of the Talking Book project. On a recent visit, my FiL said he had something interesting for me and proceeded to hand over a Model 9C record player and a packing case filled not only with albums, but with a remarkable trove of the technical specs and schematics for the machines design and evolution…as well as some supporting material and, interestingly, a copy of a late advert, when the company had been given permission to sell the players to the general public. It is unusual to find one of the early players in any condition…to find one like this (with many extra needles) and records and (amazingly) a pile of the design/evolution documentation pretty much makes my month. Enjoy the huge pile of images to follow [photo credit to Mary Pennington]

May 092017
 

We haven’t been quiet, just busy with all these new acquisitions and cataloging. Please peruse our latest occult / esoterica catalog n.2 under the catalogs tab.

Some of the featured new items:

 

Mar 302017
 

We just got some wonderful examples of Antikamnia calendars…all of 1900 and 1901 and a couple from 1898. Thanks to ItsOkaytobeSmart for this lovely bit of background on Antikamnia Calendars and the Birth of Tylenol:

These mischievous little skeletons helped lead us to one of today’s most successful pain relievers.

The Antikamnia company marketed an analgesic (pain-relieving) powder to pharmacists and druggists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries using these rather morbid calendars. The name of the company actually means “opposed to pain”.

Antikamnia Chemical Company was later shut down after failing to disclose the active ingredient of their pain-relieving products: Acetanilide. Not only was it illegal (as it is now) to fail to label drugs correctly, but acetanilide was known to impair red blood cells’ ability to release oxygen to tissues. That’s not the kind of drug you want on the market, obviously.

But Anitkamnia was an effective pain reliever, even if you’d go blue after taking it. One thing many people don’t realize about pharmaceutical chemicals is that they are metabolized and modified by human biochmistry. For many of them, the compound in the pill is useless, and they require breakdown or modification to become active. It wasn’t until nearly half a century later that Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Julius Axelrod discovered that the primary metabolic product of acetanlilide is a compound called paracetamol.

Of course, you may know paracetamol by its other chemical name, para-acetylaminophenol … or Tylenol.

I decided to post them all because…well…I kinda love them!

Mar 292017
 

We want to introduce you to a remarkable new work by Sam Winston and Oliver Jeffers, A Child of Books.

“A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next? Combining elegant images by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston’s typographical landscapes shaped from excerpts of children’s classics and lullabies, A Child of Books is a stunning prose poem on the rewards of reading and sharing stories—an immersive and unforgettable reading experience that readers will want to pass on to others.” [publisher statement]

The book itself is a charming and beautiful tale and can be found here. The true depth and breadth of the work, however, can be found only in the deluxe editions…and is a bit more dear. There were two states of the deluxe edition, one, however, was an edition of nine and all are already gone, so we will ignore it. Interestingly, the other deluxe is an edition of eighty (80!!!)…a number seldom a good idea in deluxe editions and for good reason. This, however, is the exception that defines the rule. Best, it is clearly designed with both the private collector and the special collections library in mind.

This edition comes with three components, all housed in a colander box. First is a signed first edition of the standard book. Then there is the Process Book, designed by Lewis Trevor and Sam Winston with the assistance of Becky Elms. This book provides elements of a ‘making copy’, detailing and exploring the collaborative process Sam and Oliver went through producing the story and images. Stab bound in the Japanese style by Manuel Mazzotti (London), it provides a wonderful view into the evolution of this remarkable story. Finally, this edition comes with 19 archival fine art prints, inkjet printed with pigment ink onto Hahnemühle Fine Art Bamboo Natural White. Signed by both Sam and Oliver, each embodies a full two-page spread of the story, larger and absolutely stunning. For special collections, there is even a ‘teaching guide’ included to help facility academic use.

Each illustration is a blend of Oliver’s whimsical sketches with the ‘textual art’ Sam is so well known for…manipulating text to create image. Here the texts are drawn from classic children’s books, (e.g the huge furry, horned monster threatening a castle is created from text from Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and then children escape by climbing down a rope made up of prose from Rapunzel). The blend of illustration styles and the tale itself creates a wonderful starting point to explore the nature of art and writing. It is, in brief, one of the very best things we’ve seen in a very long time. Additional information and images are available and can be found here and/or you are welcome to email.

Bonus: There is a lovely interview with Sam and Oliver, for those so inclined.

Feb 262017
 

The New York Antiquarian Book Fair is right around the corner! We have fashioned ourselves into a corner this year, literally. However, as always with amazing new delights to share! The gallery below is just a snippet of our booth in New York, link to our show list will be available next week.

As usual, a consistent selection of books arts, fine press, photography, ‘sex, death, and the devil’, in addition to our fondness for esoterica. We’ll have some ‘normal’ books too.

*If you would like passes to the New York Book Fair, please contact us*

SEE YOU THERE!!! #nyabaa17 #nyabf17

Feb 192017
 

We’re back! [for now]. We want to extend our thanks to everyone in Oakland for a successful book fair, organizers, patrons, and booksellers alike! We packed enough material for two booths and after we attended CODEX, we acquired more excellent material for another. CODEX was a truly inspirational experience, as we were able to seek out some new extremely provocative and important work from book artists, including Maureen Cummings, Diane Jacobs, Ximena Perez Grobet, Lorena Velazquez, Xiaoding Xu, and Xueling Dong.

We managed to organize our booth and showcase our collections, in the Lux Mentis way! Images first, a booth tour video at the end. Fun for all!

 

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