JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 564
An Occasion An Appreciation, a badly-titled but butterly-produced and broadly-illustrated work is a shiny, slippery and slick celebration of gummed paper. It may well be the Gutenberg Bible of gummed paper celebration books.
The book is a silver anniversary (1917-1942) of the Mid-States Gummed Paper Company of Chicago, makers of gummed,.flat, non-curling special gum gummed papers. It was a company started by box makers, the logical extension of that business. ("Gummed cloth tapes completed the manufactured joint of corrugated boxes, and gummed kraft sealing tape close the box," Indeed. Also its a nicely-written sentence, and a well-written book.) There is a continuous reference throughout the book to "flat, really flat" gummed tape, something that is lost on me if I don't think about it--the use of splashy color throughout the work, though, isn't.
The company's color tapes washed over a wide spectrum, adding an artistic touch to a packaging world which was largely black and white. It also produced color gummed labels for packaging and advertising, which made all the difference. (To appreciate this all you have to do is wind your way through a year or two of LIFE magazine from 1939/1940 and see the vanilla- and blandly-colored boxes of cereals and cans of such and so spread across the issues. People are much more convinced to buy something that has a colorful, pictorial image on the box than one that is a white box with black lettering. )*
Another very interesting bit about this book is that it published an indexed map of the offices of the headquarters staff--which is a very unusual map to my experience, very. I've got a small collection of office layouts/maps from the 1900-1940 period, mainly because it belongs to a period long ago and far away, even though the tail end of office design like this creeps its way into my own life, showing up at places like "computer headquarters" in tv shows like the Rockford Files in 1980. It is a wonderful insight into the way business was done, and I can just about see the polished red linoleum floors, open transoms and abundant oak everything, all swirling in cigarette smoke, populated with people wearing real clothing.
Yet another oddity is the map of the locations of the company--it definitely belongs to the Blank and Empty Things category of this blog--showing the five cities where it had offices. The resulting map though is quite unusual, as it shows just the five point and leaves the rest of the country jet black in a deep blue background, everything else missing.
I know I've had some fun with this book, but I've got to say that it was very well done, very well written, and about as interesting as its topic could allow.
* I believe that the first mass-produced book illustrated with color photos was by Leica for its labs, published in Berlin in 1938 (?). color printing in photography had been around by a laborious process since at least the 1890's, but that's a different story