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]

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!

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

Nov 042016
 

If you missed the 40th Boston International Antiquarian Bookfair, then you missed the trifecta of awesome between Lux Mentis, Jonathan Kearns, and Brian Cassidy. We even had Halloween candy and dorky costumes. In addition to the wildly reoccurring appearance of sex, death, and the devil, we featured new work by Gabby Cooksey, Colin Urbina, and Alexandra Janezic.

When we weren’t gabbing at people, we did happen to find some new and amazing items to share with the world, selections below. As usual, keep in touch!

May 052016
 

The Occult Activism of 1960s Group WITCH is Still Relevant

This article popped up on the feed the other day, and I was reminded about the presence of and representation of witches throughout time, in a society that has pretty much commodified witchcraft into a visual and figurative only culture, i.e. Halloween, rather than a metaphoric one. The W.I.T.C.H. group was collective performance, an agitation and ripple to the world of conventionality. They aligned their ideals through direct actions, mailings, printed matter, and spoken activism. Like many other political aggregates of the time, we are fortunate to have propaganda ephemera validating action and disruption:

W.I.T.C.H. card

W.I.T.C.H. Women’s Liberation [Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell], c. 1969, mailing list card [#9011]

“We promise to love, cherish, and groove on each other and on all living things. We promise to smash the alienated family unit. We promise not to obey. We promise this through highs and bummers, in recognition that riches and objects are totally available through socialism or theft (but also that possessing is irrelevant to love)….We pronounce ourselves Free Human Beings.

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