23 posts tagged vintage
A new cache of F. Scott Fitzgerald poetry’s been discovered. And it’s yours for the low, low price of $75,000.
The Fox Is Black takes a look at the design work of Roy Kuhlman. Great stuff.
Brain Pickings takes a look at John Homans’ What’s a Dog For?: The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man’s Best Friend, writing:
“A remarkable chronicle of the domestic dog’s journey across thousands of years and straight into our hearts, written with equal parts tenderness and scientific rigor… Beautifully written and absolutely engrossing, What’s a Dog For? goes on to examine such fascinating fringes of canine culture as how dogs served as Darwin’s muse, why they were instrumental in the birth of empathy, and what they might reveal about the future of evolution.”
There are also several excellent vintage photos of dogs. Check them out…
Vintage Japanese magazine covers, courtesy of 50 Watts.
Back when Batman repeatedly encountered giant typewriters.
Things Magazine collects hundreds of vintage book jackets from Pelican. Bravo.
Handwritten Recipes is a wonderful blog devoted to recipes discovered between the pages of unrelated books. Now, blogger Michael Popek has collected his finds in a book that manages to combine social history, literary history, and, yes, recipes. Each image is a story: Did the quotidian demands of dinner intrude on Catch-22, or was the reader’s mind wandering? Did a neighbor drop by with a recipe? Was it solicited, or forced on the cook and consigned to bookmark status? The world may never know, but it’s fun to speculate. Above, a few favorites, and click here to see more.
Harvard hosts a conference on the art, history, and technology of note-taking:
The far-flung things that go on in scholars’ heads when they think about notes became clear at the daylong gathering. Presentations touched on talking points scribbled on Sarah Palin’s hand during a speech, fliers stapled to telephone poles and Twitter posts about the conference itself that were read from the stage all day (the event was live-streamed), many of which expressed anxieties about listeners’ own note-taking abilities.
But the conference was more than a celebration of quirky marginalia and academic navel-gazing. The study of notes — whether pasted into commonplace books, inscribed on index cards or scribbled in textbooks — is part of a broader scholarly investigation into the history of reading, a field that has gained ground as the rise of digital technology has made the encounter between book and reader seem more fragile and ghostly than ever.
“The note is the record a historian has of past reading,” said Ann Blair, a professor of history at Harvard and one of the conference organizers. “What is reading, after all? Even if you look introspectively, it’s hard to really know what you’re taking away at any given time. But notes give us hope of getting close to an intellectual process.”
Photo by Charlie Mahoney
The Flea Market Through the Eyes of a Serious Collector
Maureen Stanton, author of Killer Stuff and Tons of Money, writes for UTNE Reader:
It’s 5:00 a.m. on a May Sunday in Massachusetts, and still dark outside. Curt Avery sits in front of me in his fully loaded pickup truck, part of a mile-long line of dealers waiting to get into the Rotary Club flea market. We inch along for an hour, as the rising sun evaporates dew from my windshield. Inside a chain-link fence, flagmen wave dealers into allotted spaces. Avery is peeved because the setup is disorganized and he must wait in line instead of being able to quickly park and then “pick” the show, antique-world parlance for plucking hidden gems off other dealers’ tables. Ahead of me, I see him brake, jump out of his idling truck and sprint down a lane where dealers who arrived earlier are setting up. Half a minute later, he jogs back and tosses what looks like a small footstool into the front seat. He moves his truck another thirty feet, spies something down another aisle and leaps out to buy it. Drive-by antiquing.
He finally pulls into his spot and immediately a man materializes, nosing around the back of the truck, but Avery has come mainly to buy, so once he unloads sawhorses and plywood, he locks his truck and we cruise the aisles. The gates don’t open for another three hours, but the “show” starts the minute Avery passes through the chain-link fence. By the time the unwitting public arrives, it will be over, the good stuff gone. There will likely be no great finds left. This is the show before the show, when dealers trade with one another out of their still unemptied trucks. Coffee cup in hand, Avery hunkers down the lanes. I follow. “Fresh blood,” he says, spotting a Ryder truck. A rental truck can mean that somebody has inherited an estate, or some other one-time circumstance. Amateurs. People who don’t do this for a living, who haven’t taken the time to research their stuff, who want to turn a quick buck. The objects are new to the market; they haven’t been floating around from show to show, the ink on the price tags faded or blurred illegible by rain. “Fresh tags can be good,” Avery says.
As we approach the Ryder truck, Avery scans the objects, like the Six Million Dollar Man with telescopic vision. Twenty feet away from the table, he sings a ditty into my ear: “I just made a hundred doll-ars.” He picks up a butter churn, a small glass canister with a wooden paddle wheel inside, pays the asking price of $40. “They made very few one-quart butter churns,” he says out of the dealer’s earshot, “because for all the work you did, you only got a little butter. You do the same amount of work in a two-quart churn and double the butter. Once they figured that out, they didn’t make too many of the one-quarts. They’re rare.” This bit of esoterica—and Avery has hundreds of such factoids—will earn him a clean C-note when he resells the one-quart churn for close to $200. This is my first five minutes in Avery’s world, and he makes finding treasure look easy. But the easy money is deceptive. Avery’s apparently effortless profit is the result of years of being on the scene, gleaning tips from other dealers, working at an auction house for minimum wage, studying obscure reference books. “It’s a long education,” he says. “You really don’t start until you spend $100. I can remember the first time I broke the $100 mark. It was traumatizing.”
Now the Ryder truck woman is unloading a variety of two-inch-tall, delicately shaped perfume bottles. Avery picks one up, asks how much. “Five bucks,” she says. It’s an anomaly to see Avery gingerly handling the fragile bottle. He was a wrestler in high school, and still has the wrestler’s form, a low center of gravity, with beefy arms and legs and a barrel chest. He has tattooed biceps, a wild mop of carbon-black curls, and a five o’clock shadow by noon. With his dark, deep-set eyes and heavy eyelashes, he’s handsome in a rugged, Bruce Springsteen way.
As the woman unloads more bottles, Avery picks up each one, asks the price. Same as before, five bucks. Finally he says, “How much for all of them?” He walks away with a shoe box of thirty antique perfume bottles for $100. Probably some woman who collected perfumes died and her collection, her lifelong passion, ended up in the hands of these people, who didn’t know its value, and—it would appear—didn’t care. Avery will later sell the bottles on eBay, most for $20 to $50 each, and one for $150. This is capitalism down and dirty, no guarantees, no regrets. There is a rebellious, outré air to the flea market, “suburban subversive,” one researcher called it, “libidinous,” said another.
“Flea markets,” Avery says, “are the carnal part of this business.”
The term “flea market” is from the French marche aux puces. In mid-to-late nineteenth-century Paris, biffins (rag-and-bone men), chiffonniers (rag men), and pêcheurs de lune (“moon fishermen”) sifted through trash in search of resellable items—glass, nails, animal carcasses, human hair, rags, cans. Hair was used to make wigs, carcasses rendered into candles, animal bones used for buttons or glue. Metal and glass were melted and recast. Sardine cans were fashioned into cheap toys, like tiny tin soldiers. An estimated thirty thousand ragmen hooked scraps of cloth out of the trash to sell to paper producers. Stories of the flea market’s origin vary. One account claims it arose when the municipality of Paris began to collect trash to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases, like cholera. In 1884, the government of Paris passed an ordinance that required every building to be equipped with a lidded garbage can, an effort spearheaded by a city official named Monsieur Poubelle. His name is fixed in history—poubelle is French for garbage can.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s postcard to himself. (via)