"Bad Books" and More from Garrett Scott, Bookseller
Some "bad" books, and some good ones, from Garrett Scott, Bookseller.
By Michael Stillman
It's not often we see a catalogue with the cover warning "Beware of Bad Books." Is this the ultimate caveat emptor, a warning as to the quality of books within? Of course, not. This is an image of a page from one of the many unusual, sometimes cranky works found inside. It was a 19th century tome warning that reading cheap, immoral literature can lead one to all sorts of horrors, even murder. Anyway, you will find your share of bad books and bad poetry in this latest catalogue from Garrett Scott, Bookseller, though not "bad" in the sense of evil. Just bad. Along with these typical strange items we expect from Scott, there are many more rational pieces, with the common theme being obscurity. Scott's catalogues are fun to read, and Catalogue Twenty-Three is no exception. These are some of the items you will find.
Nothing could be more suitable for a catalogue with its share of cranks than a broadside from a man who was once arrested for being a crank. That would be J.W. Shiveley, the Saratoga (New York) "Professor," who proclaiming himself to be the Messiah, came to Washington in 1881 to cast the Devil out of presidential assassin Charles Guiteau. Instead, he was arrested. A Mesiah is not recognized in his own land, at least not this one. Back home in Saratoga, Shiveley published this broadside to help people make their selections in the 1884 presidential race, and as you can see from the title, he was still chasing the Devil: That Same Old Serpent, Old Satan, the Devil, the Great Red Dragon! The Wonderful Beast with Seven Heads and Ten Horns! As Shively explains, "This is the Two Hundred Thousand Billion Dollar Letter that Dana & Butler Refused to Publish..." You could bail out AIG with that kind of money, but apparently it still wasn't enough to convince Dana and Butler to publish his letter. Shiveley was not fond of either political party, which he incisively describes as "Gigantic European and American God and Moral, Old Monopoly, Steal Rings and Whiskey, Star Route Sneak Thief Steal Rings." A lot of people still feel that way about our political parties. Shiveley casts his lot with that "darling sweet Belva Ann Lockwood." Lockwood was a suffragist who was unable to secure the support of the leading women's rights advocates of the day, but still managed to garner 4,149 votes in her bid for the presidency. How many are attributable to Shiveley's support is unknown. They didn't have exit poles then. That was 4,870,000 fewer votes than Grover Cleveland captured. In fairness to Lockwood, she was a rational, pioneering woman, one of the first allowed to practice law in the U.S., and it is doubtful she had any connection with the eccentric Mr. Shiveley. Item 136. $275.
Item 35 is a promotional for an exhibition featuring the invented "universal" language of Esperanto: L'Esperanto dans la Vie Moderne. Esperanto en Moderna Vivo. This is a program in French and Esperanto for the exhibit at the International Exposition in Paris. Esperanto was intended to help bring the world together by providing an easy-to-learn language that all peoples would share. However, there is great irony in the timing of this attempt at universal conciliation - 1937. The Germans weren't buying into all the peace and love, and they would return to Paris just a few years later with diabolical intentions. $50.
"Bad Books" and More from Garrett Scott, Bookseller
Your cure for ruptures and other ailments.
Item 18 is a manuscript notebook of Nathan C. Bradley of Otsego County, New York. He records notes from 18 sermons he heard from preachers of various denominations from 1833-35. This was an interesting time, the Second Great Awakening, and upstate New York was the home of many burgeoning movements, including the Millerites and the Mormons. The greatest action was taking place somewhat to the west of Otsego County, but this very rural area would have been fertile ground for those looking for followers of their beliefs. $45.
Here is what was definitely a limited edition, and we will guess more charming than many of the very expensive limited editions priced in the thousands of dollars you can find. Item 101 is Our Dogs: Written, Printed and Bound by a L8 Class. This group of authors and illustrators were part of an 8th grade class at Oakland Junior High School in Oakland, California, in 1939. One poem begins: "My dog is a good little dog, Although he eats like a hog. He ate and ate, Until he had a stomach ache..." Not bad. More appealing, to me anyway, than some of the more "sophisticated" poetry that is about as comprehensible as the writings of J.W. Shiveley. This is a special copy as it has been autographed by many of the authors, including a lengthy inscription from one. One would think that several of these authors are still with us, and I hope one reads this notice and orders this piece of personal remembrances. It's cheap. $45.
Item 123 is Logan Reavis' 1869 recommendation: A Pamphlet for the People: Containing Facts and Arguments in Favor of the Removal of the National Capital to the Mississippi Valley. The amount of support Reavis found for his idea of moving the capital to St. Louis was such that Scott notes, "...one is almost surprised to find today that the capital remains on the banks of the Potomac." If this had happened, instead of politicians constantly blaming Washington for our ills, they would be blaming poor St. Louis. Just as well for the good folks of Missouri this never happened. $125.
For those looking for a cure for rupture, what could be more appropriate than How to Cure Rupture? Alexander Speirs provides the answer to this ailment and a few others, such as female complaints and diseases of men. There are tresses for those suffering ruptures, along with the medication "Rupterine." For men who have "lost their energy and vigor," there's Dr. Sandie's Electric Belt. This is a case of the cure sounding worse than the disease. This pamphlet is fronted by a most impressive image of an angel delivering these wondrous cures to sufferers greeting her with outstretched arms (click the thumbnail image above left to view). From 1899. Item 142. $50.
Garrett Scott, Bookseller may be reached at 734-741-8605 or email@example.com. His website is www.GSBbooks.com.