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Moore, Harold | Metals and Alloys
First edition of this uncommon mid-century children’s book, stylishly illustrated throughout with diagrams depicting atoms and molecules, the microscopic structure of metals and alloys, and industrial processes.
“The Nuffield Foundation Science Teaching Project operated via sections based at the Project's headquarters at Chelsea College, London, developing content and methods of presentation for teaching science subjects at various levels. The Publications Department produced materials for these projects in physical science, physics, chemistry and biology at different levels. Many were published jointly by Longman and Penguin, with Penguin handling most of the production and design and Longman handling distribution, sales and some editing” (King’s College London archives catalogue, reference GB0100 KCLCA CNU/PBN).
...Chemistry Background Books. London & Harmondsworth, Middlesex: for the Nuffield Foundation by Longman/Penguin Books, 1968.
Sextodecimo. Original limp, plastic coated wrappers printed in grey, black and red. Illustrated throughout. Wrappers a little rubbed and faintly toned, contents fresh. An excellent copy.
Bewick, Thomas | A History of British Birds
The seventh edition of one of the finest illustrated ornithology books ever published, the first field guide affordable to the middle class. This being the final edition to include new wood engravings, including Bewick’s last bird engraving, the Cream Coloured Plover. An attractive set, the contents fresh.
“In early May 1825, near Helpston in Northampstonshire, the poet John Clare saw a small brown bird that he could not identify. Did anyone, he asked his friend Joseph Henderson, have a copy of Bewick’s Birds? All lovers of birds in these years looked to Bewick. He spoke directly to a man like Clare, a former farm worker and lime burner who knew every inch of the fields around his home, and to Henderson, head gardener at the nearby hall. Bewick was in his seventies by then, but he came from the same world as them, growing up on a small-holding in the Tyne Valley... He was a fine naturalist himself, and his work combined keen, detailed observation with a new approach showing animals and birds in their natural settings, as part of the whole great interrelated web of nature. ‘Nature’ and God fused together in Bewick’s vision, as a rolling force that infused every aspect of life, from the habits of an ant to the vastness of the universe, ‘this sublime, this amazing, this mighty work of Suns and Worlds innumerable’. He felt its darkness as well as its beauty and his work touched the dawning Romantic age: Wordsworth was among the first to sing his praises and Charlotte Brontë placed his prints of icy seas in the hands of her young heroine, Jane Eyre” (Uglow, Nature’s Engraver, pp. xvii-xviii).
Newcastle: for R. E. Bewick, sold by him, Longman and Co., 1832.
2 volumes, octavo (211 x 129 mm). Mid-19th century calf, spines elaborately gilt in compartments with floral tools, brown morocco labels, double gilt fillets, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers and edges. Wood engravings throughout. Bindings a little rubbed with a few small scuffs and abrasions, including a one and a half cm abrasion affecting a title label on volume I, light spotting to the title of volume II but otherwise the contents are clean and fresh. Very good condition.
Société Excelsior | Préservatifs pour Dames
A nice copy of this rare French contraceptives catalogue, first issued around 1907 and decorated in the Art Nouveau style.
At the time this catalogue was published family planning was being championed by French syndicalists as a response to capitalist exploitation, an idea that influenced both Emma Goldman and Margaret Sanger. However, Sanger’s insistence that she was forced to travel to Paris to get information on contraceptives was a clever bit of self-mythologising; despite the passage of the Comstock Act in 1873, resources were available in the United States. It’s therefore interesting to note that the catalogue’s title page advertises “Pessaires Américains”, showing that the exoticising of contraception travelled in both directions across the Atlantic.
Among the articles advertised here are diaphragms (only recently invented), sponges, douches and enemas, belts for sanitary napkins, lubricant (”pommade virginale”), antiseptic creams and artificial breasts, as well as novelties such as chastity belts and intimate perfume. Included are numerous engravings depicting the products, as well as two diagrams of the female reproductive system.
This catalogue is rare; there are no auction records and WorldCat locates no copies with this specific title. Institutionally, there is only one other contraceptives catalogue by the same publisher, at the Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire de Santé, Paris.
...Préservatifs de tous modèles. Insufflateurs de Poudre Anticonceptionnelle. Pessaires Américains. Éponges préservatives. Appareils d’hygiène féminine. Produits et Objets intimes nouveaux. Paris: Société Excelsior, c. 1907.
Duodecimo. 64 page catalogue, original blue wrappers printed in red and black. Orange decorative border to each page, engravings throughout. Wrappers a little rubbed and creased, small white spot to the upper wrapper and a darker spot to the lower, light wear at the spine ends, contents toned and with occasional light spots. Very good condition.
Air Ministry | Signal Book for Use in Air Navigation
First edition, an uncommon aircraft signal book published at the beginning of the Second World War in February 1940, this copy with three pages of manuscript notes on Morse procedures loosely inserted.
The introduction states that this signal book was “drawn up in handy form for crews” and was “intended to facilitate communications between aircraft and other aircraft, aeronautical stations, ships or coast signalling stations using the International Code of Signals”. It is “divided into three parts: the first describes the signals prescribed by the International Air Convention of 1919 and a certain number of additional signals; the second part contains instructions for the use of signals in messages; and the third part is a Code of abbreviations extracted from the International Code of Signals”. The illustrations include national flags as displayed by ships and aircraft; aircraft navigation lights and airport signalling; distress signals; signals to be used next to grounded planes (”I require petrol”, “I require medical attendance”, “friendly natives”, “All is well. I can carry out repairs and take-off without assistance”). The final section lists single, double, and triple-letter morse signals (“I sighted a disabled vessel in [position indicated] apparently without radio”, “prepare for a cyclone”, “a balloon which has broken its cable is adrift”, “I have on board mail for you”).
...Drawn Up in Conformity with the Air Convention of 1919 and the International Code of Signals. Published for the information and guidance of all concerned. By command of the Air Council. Air Publication 1795. London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, February, 1940.
Octavo. Original blue-grey boards, blue cloth backstrip, titles to upper board in black, text tabbed by chapter. Contemporary three-page manuscript detailing the Morse procedure for sending ship and receiving ship loosely inserted. Illustrations and charts throughout the text, many in basic colours. Binding rubbed with some marks, spots, and partial toning, corners worn, spotting to early leaves and edges of text block. Very good condition.
Wyatt, [Matthew Coates] | A Representation of the Meteor seen at Paddington...
A dramatic and uncommon mezzotint depicting the spectacular meteor seen in London on February 11th, 1850, by the prominent court artist Matthew Coates Wyatt (1777-1862). One other copy of this print appears in recent auction records, sold at Galerie Bassenge in 2016, and institutional copies are held at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, Museum Bojmans in Rotterdam, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the British Museum, which has George Cruikshank’s copy, presented to him by the artist.
“In 1850 a huge meteor appeared over England and was visible in London. It was captured dramatically by Matthew Coates Wyatt over Paddington in a mezzotint that suggests, due to the explosion and sparks of its head, that it was a bolide... Other accounts and representations from various locations were reported in the Illustrated London News... as well as in other periodicals. James Glaisher, the assistant to the Astronomer Royal, published an appeal for additional reports in the same issue, and consequently so many accounts were sent in that Glaisher had them published in the Philosophical Magazine” (Olson & Pasachoff, Fire in the Sky: Comets and Meteors, the Decisive Centuries in British Art and Science, pp. 213-214).
“By good luck, the painter and sculptor Matthew Cotes Wyatt happened to witness the meteor over Paddington; sensing a market, he published this velvety mezzotint of the view two months later... The technique had largely gone out of fashion by 1850, but the rich darks and brilliant lights that it allows were a perfect choice for this dramatic nighttime scene” (Museum of Fine Arts Boston).
Wyatt was the youngest son of the architect James Wyatt and a favourite in the court of George III. “His designs represented a dramatic and full-blooded union of neo-classicism and baroque revival. He was more a theatrical designer than a sculptor in the conventional sense” (ODNB). Wyatt was responsible for a number of significant commissions, including the ceiling of the concert room at Hanover Square; the Nelson monument in the Exchange Flags at Liverpool; Princess Charlotte’s marble cenotaph in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor; the bronze equestrian statue of George III that stands in Pall Mall East; and extensive decorative work at Belvoir Castle, home of the Duke of Rutland.
...About 12 Minutes before 11 O'Clock, on the Evening of the 11th of February 1850. Mr. Wyatt having retained that splendid object in view from its appearance until it passed away in brilliant corruscations, made a drawing of it whilst its impression upon him remained undiminished, and he shortly afterwards Engraved this Plate, in order that a faithfully graphical exhibition of its appearance might be more generally diffused. London: Lloyd Bros. & Leggatt, Hayward & Leggatt, May 1, 1850.
Mezzotint (print 280 x 425 mm, sheet 320 x 445 mm). Professionally conserved and cleaned. Mounted, framed and glazed using archival materials. Pencilled note ‘Astronomy” to the sheet. Some minor creases affecting the image, paper lightly toned. Very good condition.
Bowman, Martie | Calendar for 1936 depicting pilot Martie Bowman in her WACO INF biplane.
A remarkable piece of early aviation ephemera, this calendar was produced as a Christmas greeting by the early female aviator Marguerite (Martie) Bowman (1901-1985) and her husband Leslie, also a pilot. It depicts Bowman flying in her WACO INF biplane, registration number NC625Y, in formation with two others, and includes portraits of Bowman, her husband, and their daughter Larnie Bowman Allen. We have learned from one of the Bowmans’ grandchildren that Larnie joined the family profession, becoming a wing-walker at eight and soloing at twelve.
The Bowmans established an aviation business together and, during the 1920s, 30s and 40s, Martie Bowman ferried planes from factories and regularly participated in air races. She competed in the 1930 Women’s Dixie Air Derby from Washington D. C. to Chicago, and won the Women’s International Air Derby of 1934 and the two-day women’s championship Shell Trophy Cup at Long Beach, California. In her biography of fellow pilot Phoebie Omlie, Janann Sherman recounts that during the Dixie Derby Bowman selflessly assisted Omlie, who had an injury, by waking up each hour during the night to apply medicated drops to her eyes (Sherman, Walking on Air, p. 65).
The Bowman’s papers are held at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and as of 2001 two of Martie Bowman’s planes were still registered as flight-worthy with the FAA.
[Olympia, WA], 1935.
Silver gelatin composite photograph (250 x 200 mm) with small tear-off monthly calendar for 1936. Inscribed “Merry Christmas, The Bowmans”. A few minor nicks and spots at the edges. Excellent, unused condition.
Féau, Alfred | [Thimble catalogue] Manufarture de Dés or & Argent des Doublés or sur Argent
The elegant illustrated supplement to a fin-de-siècle thimble catalogue, printed with metallic gold highlights. A nice example in unusually fresh condition.
The firm of Alfred Féau was one of the leading thimble manufacturers in France, having taken over their competitor Maison Lorillon in around 1875 (there may have been family connections between the two firms, as ownership reverted several times between then and 1927). Their headquarters was at 59 Rue Turbigo near what is now the Musée des Arts et Métiers, and at the turn of the century they would be known for their elaborate Art Nouveau-inspired pictorial thimbles. The examples in this catalogue, probably dating from the 1880s, include silver and gold thimbles in a variety of designs including diamond patterns, crocodile skin, geometric designs, fleur-de-lis, “scrollwork”, bows, flowers and vines, and one style featuring poodles.
...Ancienne Maison Lorillon. Paris, 19 Rue Turbigo. Supplement du Catalogue des Dés.
Paris: A. Féau, [c. 1880s].
Advertising leaflet, single sheet folded twice. Steel engravings overlaid with metallic gold ink. A few small spots and a little toning to the edges of the pamphlet, short closed tear at the right hand edge, small paperclip mark to the cover. Excellent, fresh condition.
The American Products Company | Zanol. The Better Way to Buy. Catalog No. 20
A beautiful, 78 page chromolithographic catalogue for the American Products Company’s Zanol line of cosmetics, food products, and home goods, including 16 pages in full colour. A superb example of Art Deco marketing design.
The American Products Company was founded in 1907 by three brothers, Albert, Edgar and Clarence Mihalovitch (Albert later changed his surname to Mills), of Cincinnati, who hoped to capture the growing Midwestern consumer market (see “Cosmetics by the American products Company”, Collecting Vintage Compacts blog, January 2012). This catalogue promotes “Shopping in Your Own Home the Zanol Way”, and explains that “the Zanol plan affords you the opportunity of buying the finest products possible to produce, direct from the maker, delivered right to your home, absolutely fresh, unconditionally guaranteed... The complete Zanol line comprises more than 350 products... all of them made from the choicest ingredients in our sanitary, daylight Pure Food Kitchens and Laboratories, under the direction of skilled chemists, chefs, and dieticians”.
Advertised here are a wide array of consumables, with a focus on powders and syrups that could be shipped easily and would appeal to an emerging middle class who were time and money-conscious. For the kitchen there are food flavourings and colours, and numerous instant mixes for soft drinks, jams and jellies, icing, cakes, pies, and puddings. Among them are Ezemade pumpkin pie filling (”it is now possible to serve delicious pumpkin pie throughout the year”); Flakykrust instant pie crust; Mapelade instant maple syrup (”now you can afford delicious maple syrup whenever you want it”); and even Ezemade ice cream powder (”just add to a quart of milk and freeze”). The broad selection of home goods include medications and hygiene products, house cleaning and repair supplies, hot water bottles, paints, insecticide, and even a set of salt and pepper shakers. Perhaps the most appealing section is the beauty line, comprising soaps and toothpaste (”don’t envy pretty teeth - have them”); face and body powders; a variety of lotions including almond, lemon and witch hazel, cucumber and benzoine, and “dermaline of roses” (”keep the alluring charms of radiant youth”); shampoos, pomade, and hair tonics; cosmetics including powder compacts and tubes of lipstick; and perfumes, primarily their three main lines, La Bara (named after the silent film “vamp” Theda Bara, best known for playing Cleopatra), Fleur d’Orient, and Dream Girl. There are also a number of gift sets packaging perfumes, soaps and cosmetics, including a shaving kit for men, sets for new mothers, and an attractive La Barra manicure kit.
Edition A. Cincinnati, OH: The American Products Company, May, 1925.
Perfect bound (355 x 280 mm). Original brown wrappers printed in blue and cream, brown cloth backstrip. 78 pages, of which 16 are in full colour and the rest being uncoloured lithographs on single-colour backgrounds. With the original order form loosely inserted. Light rubbing at the extremities, small chips at the ends of the spine. A fresh copy in excellent condition.
Frisch, Otto Robert | Order of service for Frisch's memorial & card depicting his "hippopotamouse"
An original order of service for physicist Otto Robert Frisch’s memorial at Trinity College Chapel, with a card from his wife, Ulla reproducing Frisch’s charming, Learesque drawing of a “hippopotamouse”. Frisch “liked to sketch, and his doodles at meetings included portraits or caricatures of his colleagues” (ODNB). Inside the card Ulla has written, “Your visits cheered us immensely, Ulla”. The back of the card is printed, “Many thanks for the kindness and concern that you have shown us. As we wish him to be remembered rather than mourned we’re sending you this — a sample of the many things he had up his sleeve”, followed by facsimile signatures of Ulla, Tony, and Monica Frisch and the address 22 Worts Causeway, Cambridge, CB1 4RL.
Otto Robert Frisch (1904-1979) was a key player in the development of nuclear physics and the atomic bomb. Dismissed from his position in Hamburg by the Nazis, he spent five years at Neils Bohr’s laboratory in Copenhagen, “where he applied his technical skills to neutron physics. He collaborated with George Placzek in the study of the slowing down and capture of neutrons in matter, and with Hans von Halban and J. Koch he devised a method to measure the magnetic properties of free neutrons.” (ODNB). Frisch was visiting his aunt, Lise Meitner, during Christmas 1938 when she was told of Hahn and Strassman’s results showing that barium was produced when uranium was bombarded with neutrons. “Frisch and Meitner gave an explanation in terms of the excessive electric charge of the nucleus, and estimated the energy released in the process, for which Frisch proposed the term 'fission'... The implications of fission, particularly the energy release and the possibility of a chain reaction, occupied nuclear physicists intensely. In March 1940 he and Rudolf Peierls wrote what has become known as the ‘Frisch–Peierls memorandum’. This pointed out that a chain reaction was possible in separated uranium-235, that the critical mass would be reasonably small, and that such a chain reaction would release an appreciable part of the available fission energy, causing a powerful explosion” (ODNB). Frisch joined the Manhattan Project and after the war returned to the UK, where he joined the Cavendish Laboratories, being appointed Chair in 1954.
Cambridge: Trinity College Chapel, 1979.
8 page pamphlet, stapled. Woodcut of musical instruments to the cover. With a folded white card decorated with the Hippopotamouse on the front, printed text on the back, and Ulla Frisch’s autograph greetings inside. Also a newspaper clipping reproducing part of a talk given by Frisch shortly before his death. The order of service has minor vertical and horizontal creases from folding, as well as a little creasing at the extremities. Both it and the card are in excellent condition.
Tůma, Jan & Frant Ouřada | Atomová Energie.
Third edition, revised. A very nice example of this rare Soviet-era Czechoslovakian book on nuclear power. Published in 1957, it may have been produced in anticipation of the country’s first nuclear power plant, a Soviet-funded KS 150 heavy water reactor at Jaslovské Bohunice in western Slovakia, which would run on unenriched uranium mined locally. Agreed in 1956, construction unexpectedly took 16 years and the plant was activated in 1972 but decommissioned in 1979 after an accident.
The guide begins with chapters on the atom, the discovery of atomic energy, and the history of nuclear reactors, followed by sections titled “From Heavy Water to the Reactor of Tomorrow” and “Atomic Reactors Serve Peace”. The chapters that follow describe different types of reactor (graphite, “uranium and heavy water”, “common water”, and “fast” reactors) and safety precautions. The text is heavily illustrated with evocative diagrams and photos that are loosely inserted and numbered to correspond to the printed descriptions. They include images of reactor employees at work as well as buildings, technology (including one shot of the interior of a reactor core), and equipment such as radiation-proof suits and Geiger counters. Many of the diagrams show cut-away views of reactors, as well as energy and work flows. One of the most interesting illustrations is an elaborate montage depicting what the Brussels Atomium (then under construction) might look like when it was completed. Also included is “The first photograph of atoms”, an image of rhenium atoms taken by Dr. Erwin Müller of Pennsylvania State, who was the first scientist to directly observe individual atoms, using the field ion microscope he invented. Much of the text is in two languages, Czech and a very similar one that is probably Slovak. The content is simple and straightforward, and the introduction advertises the book as suitable for schools and libraries. WorldCat locates no institutional copies of any edition of this book, though it lists other texts on nuclear energy by Jan Tůma, including a different one for schools. A fantastic and uncommon relic of the atomic age.
...áklady technikého využiti. Třeti Přepracované Vydání. Obrazová Galerie Názorných Pomůcek ve Fotografii. Sbírka: Lidová Univ-rsita v Obrazech. Soubor č 39. Prague: Výtvar - Obrazová Služba Názorných Pomůcek, .
Perfect bound. 83 leaves of mimeographed typescript. Stiff card wrappers printed in black, blue cotton string ties. Complete with 25 photographs and 22 diagrams (of which 3 are folding), all loosely inserted adjacent to their accompanying text. Some spots and marks to the wrappers, mimeographed leaves faintly toned but the other contents in fresh condition. An excellent copy.
Smyth, Charles Piazzi | The Great Comet of 1843 as seen at the Cape of Good Hope...
A rare and evocative lithograph of the Great Comet of 1843 as seen from the Cape of Good Hope, observed and, most unusually, also lithographed by the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Charles Piazzi Smyth (1819-1900). Copies of this print are exceptionally scarce, with none recorded in COPAC, WorldCat, or auction records. Given that the paper was never published, it seems unlikely that more than a handful were produced.
Smyth was born to well-connected British parents in Naples, his father being a naval officer and respected amateur astronomer, and his mother the daughter of the British Consul to the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Smyth’s godfather was the famous Sicilian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi, from whom he received his middle name. Thanks to his father’s connections, at age sixteen Smyth was made assistant to Thomas Maclear, HM Astronomer at the Royal Observatory, Cape of Good Hope. “He spent ten years in southern Africa working in positional astronomy and in arduous geodetic surveys of the province. Encouraged by John Herschel, he experimented in early photography and in 1843 succeeded in producing the oldest known calotypes of people and scenes in southern Africa” (ODNB).
During Smyth’s time in the Cape a remarkable comet appeared in the skies. “The Great March Comet of 1843 was so bright that it was seen in the daytime sky by many people on every continent”, though its brightest and largest appearance was in the southern hemisphere (Stoyan, Atlas of Great Comets). Its tail, measuring up to 70° (more than 350 million kilometers in length), still holds the record for length, and John Herschel described it in 1849 as “by far the most remarkable comet of the century” (Stoyan).
Smyth was a talented amateur artist who frequently painted and sketched, both in connection with his astronomical work and as an observer of the people and landscapes around him. “The naturalistic representations and watercolours by Chales Piazzi Smyth, who was working at the Cape of Good Hope when the comet appeared, are the most impressive reproductions of this apparition of a comet” (Stoyan). Smyth was particularly interested in printing techniques and their applications to scientific illustration. His first major published work was a paper submitted to the Royal Astronomical Society on this subject, in which he “reviews critically the illustrations in several recent publications and discourses with apparent authority on the processes of engraving, aquatintintg and mezzotinting. He suggests modifications that might be used to yield more subtle effects” (Warner, Charles Pizaai Smyth: Astronomer-Artist, His Cape Years, p. 113).
Smyth’s proficiency with lithography and copperplate engraving allowed him to print the illustrations for his own papers, a practice that was (and indeed, still is) unusual (Warner, p. 113). In 1846 he was appointed Astronomer Royal at Edinburgh, “the hub of the printing and illustration industry... in these circumstances he did not need to acquire a press, but bought or hired stones on which he could draw his pictures and then send the stones to the nearest printer. Piazzi was engaged in lithographing of his sketches ‘The Zodiacal Light as Seen at the Cape of Good Hope’ and ‘The Great Comet of 1843’ —to be used in his published accounts— when [his friend from South Africa, the artist] Charles Bell arrived in 1847”. At first, Piazzi sent his stones to the printer W. Walton, who was probably responsible for this print, but later Bell purchased a press which he and Piazzi shared (Warner, pp. 114-115).
Both The Great Comet and The Zodiacal Light were meant to illustrate Smyth’s unpublished paper “Attempt to apply instrumental measurement to the zodiacal light”, which was completed on March 25th, 1848, received by the Royal Society on the 13th of April, and withdrawn on the 2nd of November. The manuscript and the original painting are still at the Royal Society and have been digitised (references AP/30/18 and AP/30/18/5), and two oil paintings of the comet by Smyth are held at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich (object ID BHC4148 and BHC4147). This copy of the lithograph is especially intriguing because of the pencilled annotation where Smith’s printed initials should be: “CPS del[iniavit] & lit”, indicating that he made the lithograph himself. Though the writing is dissimilar to Smyth’s formal hand, the likeliest explanation is that it was inserted by himself or someone close to him.
...in the Evening of March 3rd. [Edinburgh], June 1848.
Lithograph (print 115 x 182 mm; sheet 277 x 384 mm). Conservation mounted, framed and glazed using archival materials. Professionally cleaned using archival methods but with some faint spots remaining, short closed tear at the right edge archivally repaired. Excellent condition.