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Los Angeles, CA

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

     Highly-desirable vintage and modern books,accessories and art

Blog

a selection of the very best vintage books & authors

Filtering by Tag: 1940s

A Book for a Buck: Ancient Philosophers

S.A.

In the 1940s and '50s, if you read magazines, especially the adverts, you could reasonably teach yourself to draw, collect limited edition prints of famous artists and also enrich your library by joining a book club. One of the biggest reprint publishers was Walter J. Black. Black published book club editions of detectives, Zane Grey and often esoteric literary antiquities (The Classics Club). Clubbing with the Classics

If you signed up to be a member of The Classics Club, you could get three free books and thereafter, as a subscriber, a book for a buck. Some of the titles in this series included the more familiar Robinson Crusoe and works by Poe. But, if you were home-colleging yourself, you could order Lucretius' "On the Nature of Things," Erasmus' "The Praise of Folly" or even "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius. I can't say I was familiar with any of those titles. My education in philosophers stopped way, way short of Greece & Rome, settling on the more recent Sartre and Kazantzakis.

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So, when I recently came across a set of nine books from the Classics Club series, said to be "Deluxe" editions (tweed cloth covers with gilt-stamped  titles), I knew only one title: Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe." But I didn't buy them to read, but to sell. Look below: They are "vintage-worn" attractive; they would like good in a study bookcase.

Worthy - on & off the shelf

However, when paging through some of them (to check their condition), I came across  the "Meditations" from Aurelius that seemed to make quite a lot of (current) sense.

     Now Aurelius (161-180 A.D.) was perhaps the last great Roman emperor, before the Decline. Apparently, he was regarded as a Stoic, which today, would be a good thing. But, by measure of this book,  he was also a deep & prolific thinker, as were many of the authors  with works contained in these classics, including Homer and Aristotle.

If I had world and time enough, perhaps I'd extend my education with a home-schooled Masters in Ancient philosophy. Alas, this will not likely be the case, as I neither have time or world enough. Just ask anybody who knows me. Also, long ago, I synthesized my own philosophy into one sentence "Go with your gut."

And, in this case, my gut told me to buy these books. Even though they originally only cost a buck, and are cover-worn, someone will surely find them worthy, either on or off the shelf.  Because, inside these "Deluxe" covers, the Ancient Philosophers would likely say, is what matters most. That is, unless you're an interior decorator

The Most Beautiful Vintage Cookbook in My Collection: Charlie Trotter's

S.A.

nullCharlie Trotter's (1994) is one spectacular cookbook - in fact, the most beautiful in my entire vintage cookbook collection. Although just a few years short of what is now considered "vintage" (the 1980s), this cookbook, as it ages, will likely still reign supreme among the most beautiful. It is that gorge. Charlie Trotter's Cookbook

Lest you think I don't know what I'm talking about, let me say I've been collecting and selling cookbooks (older and newer) for decades. Among them, Julia Child First Editions, the vaunted early Larousse, the ever-popular Vincent Price cooking volume (A Treasury of Great Recipes), early Betty Crocker books, and so on. Over the years, I've developed an eye for food beauty, even if I lean mightily towards the 1940s graphics (both illustrated and photographed) in cookbooks of that era.

Over the years, within my own collection, I've developed a sub-genre: artist cookbooks. These include recipes from Georgia O'Keeffe, Monet and Picasso, artist anthology cookbooks, and so on. But given all of the cookbooks I've bought, sold and am now selling, I have to say, I never saw a cookbook as beautiful as Charlie Trotters. Please consider  this  my homage.

The esteemed chef, Charlie Trotter, closed his Chicago townhouse-restaurant in 2012 and is now presumed off globe-trotting and/or studying philosophy. But 16 years before he shuttered his name-sake restaurant, photographer Tim Turner turned 72 of his favorite dishes into works-of-art in this book. Take a look:

If wishes were dishes--

Rabbit & Braised Turnip Lasagna with Sweet Pea Sauce

Nominated at least 5 times for a James Beard award for food photography, Turner elevated Trotter's food masterpieces into four-color plates worthy of framing (at least, I think so. but, mais non, I would not).

If you are a foodie, Hunt high & low for this book, as it is likely to grow in esteem. It's a treasure.

The Culinary Artist's Just Desserts: A Study in Apricot

Hollywood Beauty, Linda Darnell and the American Dream

S.A.

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Image Lately, many of us (thanks to reality TV) now believe the American Dream (whatever that is) can be ours by winning a singing or dance contest or picking the right Bachelor or storage locker full of antiques. Suddenly, as TV confirms, we're rich or famous or hopefully both.  It looks so easy now, doesn't it? Well, maybe that's how it seems today, as so much reality TV is, in reality,  scripted. But the route to the American Dream was much rockier in the 1930s and '40s, when young girls dreamed of  movie stardom in Hollywood - a place, for some, that is still the epitome of greatness.

Hollywood Beauty, is the biography of Linda Darnell, the late, ill-fated film star of the 1940s. It is surely as riveting and striking as any book of fiction I've read of late. Here, the truth is Stronger than fiction, tracking the life of "a naive teenager from a dysfunctional middle-class family" as she lands in Hollywood during its glory days and big studio star-making machines.Image

Darnell's life is not strictly a rags to riches story. As it unfolds, it becomes a cautionary tale about Hollywood's single-minded focus on fame, and how quickly the star-makers can build you up and tear you down, seemingly at will. This is how dreams become nightmares.

And, speaking of nightmares, although little is made of it in this book, shortly before she died at the age of 41, Darnell told her brother about a scary dream she had about dying in a fire. Days later, she was dead, the result of extensive burns suffered in an accidental fire at a friend's home.

Linda Darnell's most famous movies can still be seen, and they include Star Dust (1940), Blood and Sand (1941)  Forever Amber (1947) and A Letter to Three Wives (1949). She also appeared on TV and on stage in the 1950s and '60s. Her biography was written by Ronald L. Davis, 1991. The copy below is a First Edition.Image