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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


a selection of the very best vintage books & authors

Filtering by Tag: 1950s

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 Art of Chinese Cooking, 1956: Woking the Wok



Here's a picture of my new favorite cookbook: The Art of Chinese Cooking. It didn't sell recently, and boy, am I happy about that! 1956 Artful Chinese Cooking

Yesterday, I scooped it out of the failed-to-sell pile and hurried it over to a place of honor on my kitchen counter. Because, I believe,without doubt, it will turn me into a more accomplished cook, as fast as you can say: "Better that a Man should wait for his meal, than the meal should wait for the Man." (ancient Chinese proverb, according to the book).

The Sisters Signed their book

Thus far, after many, many years (but who's counting?), my culinary efforts currently consist of killer meat loaf, killer tuna noodle casserole, killer potato salad, and if I am very motivated, killer Quiche. But when I discovered this charming cookbook,I realized it was time to move on to something more exotic and challenging (at least, in terms of cooking): Vintage Chinese Food!

Who better to teach me Old-School Chinese Cooking than The Benedictine Sisters of Peking, who not only wrote this 94-page, spiral-bound book in 1956, but signed it, also (see the Title Page).

According to the blurb on the back, "These two delightful and courageous American women (Nuns) came to Japan from a war-ravaged China with little else than their skill in Chinese cooking. To earn their living, they started to teach, and, as their celestial cuisine won (so much) fame in Tokyo, they could not keep up with the demand...." This cook book, the blurb continues, contains their Secrets and their Tricks of the Trade. "Use them - and good eating." I ask you - isn't there something so motivating about Chinese cooking secrets divulged by the Benedictine Sisters of Peking?

The Secret of poorly-cooked Rice

So there it is - in a chestnut shell! I am about to embark on DIY cooking. Tonight I start my culinary journey by creating Chicken with Eggplant, or, Chi Ch'ieh Tze , as it is also known.

Once again, I am so very glad a vintage Chinese book collector or cookbook collector did not recognize the potential and promise of this charmingly illustrated little cookbook. Because soon, very soon, I hope, with the encouragement of the Sisters, I will get the Rice right.

Some of the Vintage Cooking Art