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The Art of Reading and Everything At Hand to Make It More Enjoyable --

     Highly-desirable vintage and modern books,accessories and art


a selection of the very best vintage books & authors

Filtering by Category: vintage children's books

Some Odd Volumes from Our Vintage Book Collection



Over the many years we've collected books, we've run across some vintage titles others might call "odd." For example, (and for the sake of blogging),we've lugged home  Is anybody listening?,  Good Lord, You're Upside Down!, and, The King With Six Friends. Among others. While other book collectors might pass, as soon as we saw books with odd titles, we knew we had to have them.  Love at first sight. And a love that never disappoints, even when it turns out to be not to be as first imagined.

Oddly Interesting

Good Lord, You're Upside Down!, is a 1963 book, written out of genre by the well-respected western author, Clair Huffaker. Huffaker's work shows up in the credits of many famous vintage Western movies like The Comancheros and Flaming Star (starring Elvis).  On the blurb (back of the book), Huffaker says some of his books and scripts "have been bought by people who drink lots of martinis." Nothing odd about that.

  Odd, I thought you said something?

Is Anybody Listening?, was also written by an esteemed author - William H. Whyte, Jr., Assistant Managing Editor of Fortune,in 1952. Forget how timid and inconsequential the dust jacket looks, because its appearance belies the book's content. Back in the 1950s, Whyte predicted how "A new system of social engineering, through group participation,  threatens us with a new and dismal kind of conformity. We are in real danger of becoming a nation of system lovers" -- Whoa, I say to that! Whyte's prediction may have seemed odd in 1952, but as he warned, we were all destined to be LinkedIn. Is that so very odd? I think not.

With friends like these --

Then, there's the odd youngster in the group:  The King With Six Friends by Jay Williams. Williams was a relatively well-known author of children's books, (including the co-author of the popular Danny Dunn series). Written in 1968, The King With Six Friends is about an out-of-work King. Given the nation's dreary job situation, the King's plight does not seem all that "odd."  It's his new six friends who are a bit quirky. They include  an elephant, a mouse and a serpent (each with magical powers).  The book's oddest coincidence is that one of  the King's new friends is named "KINDLE." (The guy who named the Kindle Reader reportedly said  the name reminded him of a "candle."  But, not necessarily).

* * *

I started this blog because I was thinking a book collector does not have to be a member of The Club of Odd Volumes (Boston, 1887) to have a library full of odd books. Including some that morph, over time,  into something else entirely.

Alcott By the Book(s)



There are Louisa May Alcott books, and then there are  Louisa May Alcott books. This week, we had the opportunity to offer for sale two vastly different sets of three of her novels, published more than 80 years apart. Our Alcotts are three lesser-known novels by the Queen, or at least the Princess, of popular children's fiction from the late 1800s through today.

Louisa May Alcott, S/3

 Our first Alcott set, published circa 1888, included  Rose in Bloom, Under the Lilacs and Jack and Jill. The second set, published circa late 1950s-'70s, includes "An Old Fashion Girl, Eight Cousins and, again, Jack and Jill.
If books could fly, the antique set, see just above, flew out the window, almost as soon as the window opened for sale.
The more contemporary set, "vintage" (pre-1989) as we call it,  is on sale now. Children's books from the 1950s, in good condition, and by well-known authors, generally find their new owners as fast as you can say "Louisa May Alcott." Maybe not as fast as the 1880s version, but  vintage children's books, in good condition,  have "legs," as well they should in the eBook generation.
Although neither of our Alcott trios includes the more famous Little Women or Little Men, Alcott's books are every bit as popular today as they were back in the 1950s, and before then, back in the late 1800s.
There aren't many female children's authors who weather the decades like Alcott. I think of her as a literary Mary Cassatt. Nurturing.
Sophisticated Reader's Note:  The second set of Alcott books, sold like the first set, within 2 1/2 hours of being listed for sale.

The Raggedy Story of Raggedy Ann and Cookie Land



Behold a copy of the original 1931 book, Raggedy Ann and Cookie Land.IMG_5136 Written by Johnny Gruelle, after the doll he designed in 1915 for his daughter, Marcella, this is one of the more prized vintage Raggedy Ann books. If, and this is a big IF, it had its original box and was in excellent (likely unmarked) condition, it might sell for $1000 or more.


But this copy is likely far raggedier than the original rag doll whose face Gruelle artfully first decorated for his daughter. It is said that after Gruelle created the doll's face, he decided to name her "Raggedy Ann" - a combination (or should we say unsolicited collaboration) between James Whitcomb Riley's famed poem, "The Raggedy Man" and the popular cartoon, "Little Orphan Annie." Copying (borrowing) is always the sincerest form of flattery - or in Gruelle's case, genius.

My copy, found at a sale of antiquarian books, was marked $1 due to its condition - which, if I were being truthful, (as I am, always), would be considered South of "Poor." First Edition aside, its hinge is weak,  a few pages are loose and/or tattered, and some  still bear the grimy fingerprints of the 1930s-era children who owned this.


Nevertheless, as a fan of both Raggedy Ann and of cookies, I snapped up the book, as fast as you can say "Ginger". It has value to me - not only sentimental value, but also as a very good reminder about future book scouting adventures. Paraphrasing the old saw about buying real estate, there are only three words that must be considered when purchasing an old book for value.


And those three words are "Condition, condition, condition."