JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 543
Read last year' March 11, 2008 entry "The X-Ray of the Imagination 2: Phrenology, Chinese Hell Scrolls, and the Beauty of the Thought Balloon".
The covers of this book are too far apart. (A book review, in toto, by Ambrose Bierce)
There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts. Charles Dickens
Following yesterday's post on the Sublime Mundane are these pamphlets, which are as perfectly and invisibly mundane as can be, if we were judging them solely by their covers. What turns out to be the case, though, is that they are beautifully composed, very well written, and extremely informative. They are drop-dead serious.
The first is the International Salt Company's Salesmans' Manual for, yes, the selling of salt*. The 12-inch tall , 6-ring binder instructional has 13 sections and is 75 pages long and strong; not only that, but most of the text is cut in two, so that there are some intricate associations that can be built between the bottom part of sec 2 page 8 and the top half of sec 4 page 2 and so on. It is just brilliantly done,a work to be proud of! And of course it looks like absolutely nothing and less than that, or that you're whacking a quarter-inch brad with a 12-pound hammer. Which may be the case, because the salesman who was familiar with all of these aspects of salt could put down just about anyone who got in between them and their salt sale.
Next are two 1945 versions of the unfortunately-named CRAPO Company's product brochures, makers of steel conduits, and who were evidently part of the Indiana Steel and Wire Company (of Muncie). It turns out here, too, that these were packed with engineering data and construction practices for electrifying and improving electrical conditions in the great midwest. The catalogs were also deftly illustrated with elegant engineering drawings of their products. So: on the outside, seeming nothingness for one book and badly-named for the other; inside, they are state-of-the-art, well written and bountiful. They just look weird.
*I am in no way demeaning the importance of salt here--I just don't want to deal with the whole overwhelming issue of its important history. Suffice to say that stuff hasn't been much more important than salt over the last few thousand years.