ITEMS: the following original engravings, each 12x9 inches. Very good condition. $75/each
ref: JF Ptak Science Books Post 1363
ITEMS: the following original engravings, each 12x9 inches. Very good condition. $75/each
ref: JF Ptak Science Books Post 1363
ITEMS (as follows): William Rimmer, Artistic Anatomy, Boston, 1877. Each lithograph 12x16 inches. Fine condition. $125/each (Note: owing to size some of the later images scanned not so well; there are no dark spots in the originals.)
ref: JF Ptak Science Books Post 1360
Looking at old prints sometimes reveals more than just their own history, simple or not: there are, from time to time, subtle bits of otherness that creeps into the image, if you allow yourself the time to see it. And sometimes looking at images of the past reveal a little of the future, or the possibility of the future. A great example of this is William Rimmer’s (1816-1879) Art Anatomy, this edition published in 1877 (and about which I wrote earlier in this blog1).
The work reminds me of at least two touchpoints, one from art, the other literary. First and foremost, the added elements, the humanist touches and flairs (and I mean Humanist as in the 16th century variety) , the mytholigizing elements, the little designs that are added to the anatomical details
that run throughout the course of the work, remind me of the work of the Dadaists that would come forty years later. As will be seen below, there really isn't much necessity for all of the added extras, the fabulous add-ons, that Rimmer incorporates in this work. This part of the work definitely has an antiquarian flavor to it, the major anatomies of the 16th and even into te 17th century having a pronounced artistic flavor to them.
In a more removed sense, I get a heavy dose of memory of Marcel Proust from the Rimmer images. In a sense, Rimmer is trying to affect change, an instability, into the most common and stable presentations in art, human anatomy. There is a strong his history of presenting anatomy in an artistic format--Vesalius is one famous example--where skeletons are posed reading books, or holding their skin or contemplating a(nother) skull--but not so much past the late 17th century. Though very few of the "decorated" anatomies have ever taken their artistic license quote so fabulously as Rimmer. And Proust I think is a Great Destabilizer--he works very hard to push the center of gravity away from where it should be on just about everything. He drags himself to the proposition at hand, to the memory, to the situation, and though all of his great personal destabilizers--his allegeries, his allegeries to the things that he loves, his allergies to his allergies, his vast catalog of physical complaints, his pale melancholia, his fits, his spectacular memory, his ability to see differently, and on and on, all seemed to coalescence into a colossal ability to see even the smallest detail outside of its small details. Perhaps this is a stretch, but that is the literary sense-impression I have from Rimmer.
For some reason I never included any of the images available for sale in my blog bookstore--though now I have.
ITEM: Scientific American Supplement, 25 August, 1877. Full weekly issue, with the Worthington article ("On Drops") appearing on two pages. 14x10 inches. Pp 1359-1374. $95.00
ref: JF Ptak Science Books Post 1350
A.M. Worthington published his extraordinary researches in capturing drops and splashes just a year after the invention of the telephone--seeing his very quietly magnificent work would've been worth the phone call, even at those heady rates at the beginning of the new medium. Worthington was the first in his field, and for a short while, before he told anyone, he was the only person on the planet who had ever seen the fantastic complexity of this very common and previously-simple event. In its own way these photographs showing the deformation of a drop of milk (and mercury) were as much a revolution as the images shown by Robert Hooke in his epochal Micrographia in which he (just about the next-best-thing to Newton) introduced the fabulous complexities of the previously microscopical world(s).
The series of semi-photographic images that Worthington was able to make of the drops and splashes could not be readily reproduced in the Scientific American at this time--the half-tone was still a few years away, and the only way outside of making a drawing after the photograph in 1877 would've been a process (like, say, the Woodburytype) that would have been much too expensive to use in a mass-market publication like SciAm. Also, the photographic plates in 1876/7 weren't quite up to the task of fixing an image exposed so quickly. Even when Worthington's book is published on this subject--a popular effort in 1895--it reproduces the photographs as halftones but there are still many interpretative drawings of those images. (The belief in the Civil War images reproduced as woodcuts in places like Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's was very high--it was enough to know the woodcut was being executed after a photograph and not from drawings made on the spot by the magazines' field artists.)
This was some pretty sophisticated stuff, being able to freeze the action of a drop of milk as it exploded in slow stages on a flat surface--especially, again, when you consider that photography wasn't yet 40 years old and was really only a half-decade or so into its first major revolution since the early 1850's.
Perhaps though the most spectacular thing of all about seeing this dedicated series of images of an exploding drop of milk was that you could look at the series and imagine it all taking place in reverse .
The drawings and photos below are taken from his 1895 work, The Splash of a Drop:
ITEM: illustrated sheet from the Illustrated London News, ctober, 1936. 13x9 inches. $35
Ref: JF Ptak Science Books Post 1341
If I put my literary specs on and do a little free-association, what I see in these two figures is a Proustian thing, characters in search of time, freezing time, preserving it. Time, and everything else, everything that can be associated with a human experience captured and recaptured, recirculated, resuscitated, replayed, re-envisioned, remembered, recognized, over and over again. Kind of like a memory hell, in a way, only in Proust's hands it all sounds and tastes so beautiful. Another peek without those wicked nega-specs and I see two robots from a pulsing Disney film, actions in search of characters--the possibilities are endless, particularly if you develop a little narrative. The real story of what is happening here is complex version of a simpler solution. And the key to it all: hypoxia.
When this image was published in the Illustrated London News in October 1936 the practical application of tropospheric flight was just about a reality. I should really say “popular” more so than “practical”. It presented two approaches to a looming problem in the progress of aviation–reaching altitudes in excess of 10,000 feet presented a host of problems to the passenger of that aircraft. The solution was to combat the pressures of high altitude flight, one of which was to pressurize each passenger and crew member in their own “space suit”. The combination of the artist G.H. Davis and the technical assistant compared this solution to the problem with a more simple and elegant solution.
And that was relatively simple, at least in thought experiments: rather than pressure everyone individually, you could place everyone in a pressurized environment within the aircraft. And this is the point that the artist/techie make–earlier engineers came up with simple solutions to traveling at high altitudes–they just weren’t simple enough. And compared with the better design, the initial, simple, designs look a little monstrous.
I include Mr. Davis as an iconic figure in the history of 20th century technical illustration–he has been featured on this blog many times.
ITEM: original wood engraivn,g 4x5.25 " (on larger sheet), published ca. 1705. Very scarce. Fine condition. $150.00
Ref: JF Ptak Science Books Post 1326
“...with his blood he confused the lines of his art”--On the death of Archimedes, in Valerius Maximus
"....Bark, bark bark!"--Archimedes' dog
I came across this unusual and not-web-reproduced image of an infamous scene in the history of mathematics, the murder of Archimedes. There have been a number of depictions of the event, a few dozen artists it seems--including Daumier and Delacroix and others whose name do not begin with "d"--who have chosen to try and capture the moment. (The website at NYU reproduces some of them; Drexel also has a very good space devoted to Archimedes and is a great source for quotes dealing with the event.) This one comes from (I think) Histoire Universelle published by the ubiquitous Peter van der Aa in Amsterdam at the turn of the 18th century, and falls in line with many of its comrades in that it depicts the tragedy in the second before it occurred. One thing it has that other scenes do not--a barking dog. Maybe it belonged to Archimedes, maybe not. But there was a dog depicted here, and it was barking at the scene, probably barking at the man about to stab the mathematician, which means it would've been the mathematician's dog. But Archimedes certainly didn't hear the dog if he couldn't be interrupted by the battle outside his door or the Roman who yelled at him to turn. (I believe Roger Clemens when he says that he didn't realize he was throwing that bat fragment at someone, saying he was in the zone. It happens.)
And a detail of the dog: shows him barking from a reclined position. Jarred awake by the intruder, he sees the action just before the critical motion--not quite awake, no time to stand, the dog (snarling with teeth barred) tries its best. (I am romanticizng the dog part of course. My own dog, Bluey, now 14 or so, simply stared at the people who walked into my house last night with their luggage, thinking that mine was the bed and breakfast where they had their reservations. He sat and stared, and they stared at him. Missing their destination by one house, how disappointed they must've been to think that their retreat was filled with an old dog, kid toys, a dead Christmas tree, and the rest of the jumble.)
I'm not aware of any artist who steals the moment quite so graphically at Jost Ammon does, though. He also makes no effort to remove the millenium-old event from his own Renaissance environment.
Seldom do we see a maxim so vividly depicted as with these lines from Valerius Maximus: Archimedes trying to hold a thought in his head while a Roman soldier comes tugging at him, Archimedes pushing the soldier away to protect the geometrical work that he was scribbling in the sand, and then having his head full of thoughts spilled onto the drawing he was trying to protect. What we see in the detail is almost exactly (or on the verge of being exactly) from the Valerius quote fragment “...with his blood he confused the lines of his art”: Archimedes has spoiled his geometry in the moment before his cleaved head releases the control of his muscles. It is a nasty image, the pissed-off Roman soldier—who theoretically was just looking for spoils in the looted city of Syracuse—having had enough of the three-second hesitation by the old man and reacts badly, beheading him the hard way.
ITEM: original engraving, "Tabulosa Combinatoria", from Athanaseus Kircher's Mundus Subterraneus, 1664. 14 3/4 x 8 3/4 inches. Very nice condition. $350
Ref: JF Ptak Science Books Post 1325
The great semi-mystifying polymath Athanaseus Kircher (1602-1680) lived for a long time and filled his life with ideas and words, producing dozens of books during his time on Earth, some of which were never published even though written, some manuscripts lost forever. His was a massive output of extraordinary breadth. He wasted little time what I can see, writing on a spectacul;ar range of subjects, enlightening people, confusing people, generating great theories and some bad ideas.
The image below comes from his Mundus Subterraenus, published in 1664, and which was concerned mainly with geology and the theory of the Earth. He postulated the structure of the interior of the Earth, the origin of heat, the source of the tides, the composition of light, and of course the existence of the Virgin Mary in amber. There was also a fair amount of work on one of his side interests that populated a number of hs works, alchemy and the search for the organization of materials.
This image, "Tabula Combinatoria" (combinatory table or table of combinations) was an attempt to classify the alchemical transformation of metals and nonmetals via solve and coagula (mediante igne solvuntur et coagulatur), of solution and coagulation, a Curiosi Lectoris of Chymicas operationes, in a search for the key to all transformations, the prima materia.
Kircher as I said exceeded his learning and logic all throughout his life, usually with positive results to us here in his future; but in this case, his alchemical quest--like the million words and countless hours and lead-based brain damage undertaken by Sir Isaac--proved to be a dry hole. But dry holes like mistakes in general are not necessarily without importance--they are valueless if and only if nothing comes of them, or nothing is recognized in i n the method of leading to the mistake, or if by our using the mistake it didn't allow you to pursue something else. Science life is filled with almost nothing but error to the observer--it is our job to do something with the stuff that doesn't work.
ITEM 1: Hobo Exposed or How to be a Hobo. [Anonymous.] 1947. 11x8 inches. 12pp. Rare. $100 (See below.)
Elsewhere on this blog I've written a little about dictionaries and words--Sam Johnson, Ambrose Bierce, specialized dictionaries, canting dictionaries, dictionaries of vulgar and coarse language, dictionaries of first uses, dictionaries in distinct fields.
Hobo dictionaries, guides to hobo slang, are different from those of robbers and thieves and rogues. They may borrow from one another, but the hobo language seems a little more dignified, and not as directed towards crime as that of, well, the criminals. An even greater distinction is the hobo alphabet, a Morse Code if you will, a hieroglyphics, for hobos-to-hobos, written in chalk without the benefit of electricity. (I've written about that phenomenon here, though I'll at least reproduce an extraordinary map of a "begging district" found as the frontispiece to the lusciously-titled The Slang Dictionary; or, the Vulgar Words, Street Phrases and Fast Expression of High and Low Society… printed in London by John Camden Hotten, in 1870.)
Back to words.
Hobo Exposed, or How to be a Hobo, at pamphlet with no claim for a writer but copyrighted by "Kelly's Specialities" in 1946, is dedicated to Sun Down Slim, Boston Blackie, Sticks Red and Commissary Blackie. It gets right to the point of my interest, the Hobo Slanguage. The collection here is not quite as road-elegant as the collection of the Hobo King, below--not that it is less "regal", just more common and less imaginative.
For example, "Wingey" is the name for a hobo without an arm; "Sticks" is a tramp who sues a crutch; "Legs", well, you know.
There are many others:
Part II: Hobo Slang Collected by the King of Hobos
There have been many Kings of the Hoboes, and Emperor of the Hobos, in the history of American Hobodom. The most widely recognized of all this royalty is, probably, Mr. Jeff Davis, who was elected King of Hobos each year from 1908 to 1935, until in 1935 at the Pittsburgh meeting of the annual "Hobos of America" his minions gave up elected him King for Life. Of hobos, that is, the Knights of the Road; he was also a real hobo, unlike the pretenders, who in general were not. (Nels Anderson in his Men On The Move, written just as the Depression was broken, (1940) observed: "Whatever else may be said of King Jeff, his romanticizing the hobo is not without a basis in reality, and his poetic interest in the species arose from experience. But King Jeff has placed on a pedestal a man who belongs to the past. The hobo belongs with the pre-Hollywood cowboy and the lumberjacks of the Paul Bunyan legends.”)
Mr. Davis was certainly very effective in getting the message out—on freedom and responsibility to irresponsibility—and was a great organizer and popularizer. He helped to establish hobo meetings, newspapers and literature (a sample of which is at left). He also had a few movie appearances: in The Arkansas Traveler, 1938 and The Bridge of Sighs, 1915, he ably played the role of a hobo.
And what about the missing counterpart of Jeff Davis--Queen of the Hobos? There were certainly allot of women hoboes during the Depression; Harry Hopkins estimated that there were something like 13,000 “sisters of the road” who were out and about in the 1930’s. I guess the most famous of them though was one who did not exist; and what parts of her that were real were mostly those of one man: Ben Reitman. Sister of the Road (1940) was supposed to be an autobiography of legendary Boxcar Bertha, but it was really an assimilation of Reitman’s own experiences sprinkled about those of women from his life. Reitman, who was described (by himself) as a “hobo, whorehouse physician, musician and tour manager/lover of Emma Goldman” (??) was probably not without enough experiences to float another character or two, had his story of Bertha wind up in the hands of exploitation movie maker Roger Corman. The good news about that though was that Corman gave the project to the very young Martin Scorcese who produced an odd and not bad film on no budget, and Boxcar got to live again.
But what brought me here to begin with was Davis’ breakdown of some very colorful hobo slang, all of which was found int eh little yellow pamphlet (pictured above), and published as a "reference manual" in 1947. And so:
Gay Cat. Someone who “beats it from town”, settles down with a job and puts together some money so that he can get on the road again.
Gandy Dancer. “Is a hobo shovel stiff, a muck-stick artist”, a common laborer
Pearl Diver. A hobo dishwasher and who works for his meal.
Mush fakir. A hobo umbrella mender with a patch kit and a second-hand umbrella strapped to his back. (Evidently these guys were put out of business when larger stores began offering umbrella repair on their own.)
Bindle stiff. A hobo who carries his stuff in a sack on a stick, including toothbrush, “but he does NOT carry blankets”.
Kywah. An honest hobo pitchman peddling soap, perfume, jewelry, novelties, pens, knives and potatoes peelers.
Kewah. :Makes and sells articles such as willow stands…”
Scenery Bum. “A young tramp who bums it around the country, just for the fun of it.”
Ring-tail. “An ignorant, harmless tramp."
Fuzzy tail. “A smart aleck tramp, jack of all trades, a fourflusher, big bluff, false alarm, and piker of the worst sort, who most always carries a “punk kid” or “road kid” (a runaway boy).”
Dingbat. “An old tramp professional beggar who dings the main stem (begs on the main street).”
Stew bum. “An elderly tramp who wastes his time continually drinking rot booze.”
Jungle Buzzard. “A tramp who loves to eat but is too lazy to get the ingredients for a mulligan stew. He eats what is left when the gang leaves the jungle fire.” Yum.
Road Yegg. “A vicious tramp of the petty larceny type, a cheap crook.”
ITEM: 7 August 1945 issue of the newspaper PM. 12pp, 15x12 inches. Fair condition, numerous tears, a problematic copy of a scarce publication. $150
[In which me meet exceptional coverage of a mammoth day-old event and what must be the first map of NYC under atomic attack.]
The news coverage of the 6 August 1945 bombing of Hiroshima was covered in spectacular (all things and time considered) detail in the 7 August issue of the daily newspaper, PM. The entire issue of 12 pages (with no advertisement) was dedicated to the event—I have no idea, really, how they were able to put together this amount of good tough data so very quickly, nimbly and intelligently, as the bomb was detonated at Hiroshima only the day before.
It is odd how well the case is covered, and it is positively issued on the day after --it isn't the case that it was issued for the week of 7 August and released on 13 August, which I thought was a possibility of explaining the deep coverage. But there's no mention of Nagasaki (which would come in two days), so I am certain that the coverage was all accomplished within 24 hours of the use of the weapon. The newspaper distinguishes itself by not screaming something about the “Jap city” being wiped out (as so many other newspapers did), with its front page summarizing beyond the bomb. (“It Will End all War—Or all Men” and “It Will Revolutionize Human Life” as sub-heads; the first being accurate, while the second being nearly so.)
The editorial, “Thank God its OUR Bomb”, by Irving Brant, is a lovely piece of thoughtful interpretation in the opening moments of the nuclear age. He writes: “America must join and lead in a worldwide renunciation of this worldwide renunciation and prevention of war”,and “What will happen to industry, to society, when the power of all the coal mined in a year is compressed into an exploding fistful of atoms?” And further:“There is no escape. The split atom may shatter humanity, but not before then will it retreat into the physical void from which it came. The dust of creation is in our hands. We must master it.” Not bad stuff for having a few hours or so to think this through.
The other articles included “Bombs and Sabotage Stopped Nazi Experiment with Heavy Water”, “New Atomic Era Could Revolutionize Mankind’s Whole Manner of Life/Power Harnessed for Destruction Has Limitless Constructive Possibilities”, big two-page story “Stimson Reveals How Work on Bomb Was Organized”, “Bomb’s Death Range Believed to be 4 Miles”, “Four Scientists who Will Plan Postwar Uses of Atomic Energy”, “Harnessing of Atomic Power research Strengthens US Research”, “If a Piece of the Sun Were Placed on Earth”, “End Not Yet Truman Tells the Japanese”, and another 12 articles.
There’s another baffling article “Steel Tower Vaporized in First Test”, discussing the shot at Alamagordo—it must have been the case that there was an enormous amount of material divulged by the government in the hours after the explosion at Hiroshima . The work at Columbia is also chronicled, as is the personal life of the man in control, General Leslie Grove (and how completely in the dark his wife was, and so on).
One of the most interesting objects to me though is the small graphic on page 7 which shows what effect the Hiroshima atomic bomb would have if dropped on New York City—it was no doubt gigantically sobering to anyone who looked at it, and brought the power of the bomb and its destruction to a common, understandable point. I'm not an historian of the first newspaper coverage of the bomb, but it strikes me that this may well be the first graphic to depict the effects of an atomic bomb exploded over NYC.
In any event, the overall coverage of the event was stunning given the short amount of time to do the research, writing, and publication. Truly a great effort.
ITEM: full-page image from The Illustrated London News for 26 March 1927, page 518. Fine condition. 13x9 inches. $65
This wonderful display (appearing in The Illustrated London News for 26 March 1927, page 518) of quantitative data isn't quite as whimsical as it appears in detail, though I can think of only a few (antiquarian) times that I have seen a ship made part of a cosmopolitan vertical cityscape. It is a great way of comparing two disparate, out-of-place equals, and certainly can get the idea of the size of something as stand-alone and solitary as a great ship to children (and adults, too) by comparing it to something as obvious as a tall building., This time its really just comparing the length of the SS Mauretania with the heights of some famous and notable buildings. (The Mauretania, 1906-1935, was a fabled, luxurious and fast ocean liner of the Cunard line; it was refitted for a resurgent oceanic service at about this time.) In the larger, expanded second image we see the Mauretania stacked up against (from left to right) the Washington Monument (555'), the Woolworth Building (792'), the Mauretania (790'), the Eiffel Tower (984'), the Larkin Building (proposed at 1208'), the Book Building (873'), the Koln Cathedral (512') and the Statue of Liberty (305'). The Larkin Building (not the F.L. Wright structure of the same name) was a proposed super-tall of 110 floors for 330 W. 42nd Street that was proposed in 1926 and not canceled until 1930, and which would've been the tallest building in the world. (For an interesting site on the cancellation of tall buildings, see HERE.) In any event, this was a big ship--the largest in the world when it was launched as a matter of fact--and the drawing is wonderful. Upon closer inspection, there is a terrific amount of detail in the cross section of teh ship.)
ITEM: engraving from Rees' Cyclopedia, 1814. "Table of the Compass of Voices and Instruments, Shewing the Place Each Occupies in the Scale". 11x8 inches. Good condition. $75
This engraved plate from Abraham Rees' Cyclopedia... is the wonderful invention of Alexandre Choron (1771-1834), and appeared (perhaps for the first time in an English press) in London in 1814. It is a concise and interesting display of the comparisons of the reach of instruments along the eight octaves, and is a very strong example of clear and useful graphical display of quantitative data.
From Grove Music Online:
(b Caen, 21 Oct 1771: d Paris, 29 June 1834). French writer on music, instructor, publisher and composer. While still a boy, he taught himself Hebrew and German and acquired a permanent interest in scientific experiment and a fascination for music theory and the techniques of composition. Although he reached the age of 16 before taking music lessons, he had already attained elementary skill on keyboard and other instruments. He greatly valued a friendship with Grétry which began in his 20th year and which suggests that he moved to Paris after his father’s death.