Miscellaneous Acquisitions from Garrett Scott, Bookseller
The latest in the unusual from Garrett Scott.
Garrett Scott, Bookseller, has released Catalogue 33 (Miscellaneous Acquisitions). Scott is noted as a purveyor of the odd and eccentric in the field of printed matter, though many of his books are of a more substantial and serious nature. Nevertheless, we are drawn to the train wrecks of intelligent thought, a fact attested to by the television programs we watch, the politicians we support. Back in the days before television and YouTube, the strange people could be found wandering the streets, or writing books. Here are a few, including the rational and irrational, from Scott's latest acquisitions.
The picture you see on the cover of this catalogue comes from item 51, an advertising brochure for Martyn College and two works by prolific author and crackpot Webster Edgerly. Like most of his books, the two promoted, Transference of Thought, and The Cultivation of Personal Magnetism and Human Electricity, were published under the pseudonym "Edmund Shaftesbury." What is apparently happening in the picture is a gaslight is being lit by the transference of personal electricity through willpower. Scarier, Edgerly preached that such magnetism could be used to control the minds of others. Crazy as the man was, he developed a large following at the turn of the last century, and one of his pseudonyms survives in the name of a well-known corporation. Edgerly was a believer in the power of personal magnetism, but he also wrote on many other topics, including diet, preservation of one's vital force, and some ugly racist stuff. He at one point used the pseudonym of a "Dr. Ralston," and founded the Ralston Health Club to promote his books and ideas. One food type he favored was cereal, which led the Purina Company to seek his endorsement of their product. Edgerly demanded his name be used in return for his endorsement, thereby giving birth to the Ralston Purina Corporation. Along with the crazy came the ugly, with Edgerly preaching the castration of non-white males and that watermelons were poisonous to Caucasians. Priced at $75.
There are simpler ways to good health than the detailed dietary and exercise rules promulgated by Edgerly. Here is an alternative from Charles Alfred Tyrrell: The What, the Why, the Way of Internal Baths, Being an Exposition of Prof. Chas. A. Tyrrell's Celebrated 'J.B.L. Cascade,' a Device for Eliminating the Waste of the System. "Internal Baths" is, naturally, a euphemism for enemas. It was a cure for "autointoxication," the theory that poisonous wastes in the intestines could pass through the colon to the bloodstream and cause all sorts of unpleasant side effects. Dr. Tyrrell's J.B.L. Cascade (the "J.B.L. stood for "Joy, Beauty, Life") differed slightly from the typical enema in that while it used a rubber bag filled with water (and certain chemicals he added), instead of using gravity feed to move the liquid, the person sat on the round rubber bag, using the pressure of weight to force the liquid to its proper destination. Apparently, similar devices are still available today if you are interested in trying it. Item 60, from 1910. $75.
L.L. Bair of Kokomo, Indiana, reached similar conclusions to those of Tyrrell about health, and published his findings in Naturopsychoism: The Hope of the World…to Perpetual Health and Eternal Happiness, circa 1918. Bair wasn't selling any devices or other products, so he just gave advice, which included enemas, diet, and a recipe based on Epsom salts. Bair claimed that 90% of all human ills were caused by constipation, based on the autointoxication theory still promoted to the gullible today. "I fearlessly and courageously make the broad and comprehensive claim, that if the alimentary canal and the mind were kept in a state of normal purity…there could be no disease in any part of the body." To "fearlessly" and "courageously" Bair might have added "ignorantly." This pamphlet appears to be extremely scarce. Item 5. $200.
Miscellaneous Acquisitions from Garrett Scott, Bookseller
Webster Edgerly's personal electro-magnetism.
Here is some very useful advice: How to Live Forever. As author Harry Gaze succinctly explains, "Eternal Sexation, Conception, Birth and Death, perfectly blended, constitute a Fountain of Life, and if you will consciously bathe therein, you will unfailingly express Immortal Youth." Makes sense to me. Gaze was a follower of the New Thought movement, which, among its beliefs, is that of spiritual or mental healing. Gaze believed that you could keep your body young by visualizing it as staying young, or something like that. Reportedly, he looked far younger than his years, and believed quite literally in the possibility of eternal life. Offered is an obscure, early edition (1900) of Gaze's work. This leads us to the question of whether Gaze was right. He would be at least 130 years old now. Is Harry Gaze still alive? I don't know. I haven't found any obituaries for him, though I haven't found any news more recent than the 1920s concerning the man either. I am doubtful. Item 23. $225.
Now here is one of the more clever inventions to help piano players whose family can't stand to listen to the racket as they attempt to learn how to play. You know the problem - "Children who have no sensitiveness, and grumble-proof adults bent on their own improvement regardless of other people's discomfiture, may blunder away, and ding-dong unceasingly in spite of all complaints and remonstrances… " William Stokes devised a way to enable these people to practice without disturbing others: Stokes's Memory-Aiding Keyboard, Piano, Organ, and Harmonium… What Stokes invented was a large, foldout full size printed keyboard. You could bang on the keys of this paper keyboard all day without making a sound. What's less clear is how you could actually learn to play, or know when you made a mistake, when playing his silent "keyboard." Offered is a third edition (this thing must have been popular) from 1884. Item 54. $450.
We need to mention at least one serious book, so here it is: A New and Complete System of Arithmetic, Composed for the Use of Citizens of the United States. This is a first edition of what was only the third book presented for a U.S. copyright, and America's first math book. Author Nicolas Pike even managed to get an endorsement of his book from George Washington, though Washington's support may have been based more on the concept of teaching math to American students than any particular familiarity with Pike's book. Nonetheless, it was an important primer for American schoolchildren for quite a long time. Item 49. $300.
Garrett Scott, Bookseller may be reached at 734-741-8605 or email@example.com.