An encore post, with updates:
I have a small unintentional collection of library cards.
Each card, long after its obsolescence, remained tucked like a little secret note in
a book I borrowed or bought. But they're far from billets doux— rather
they give off a blustery officiousness with their "do not remove"-s and
their all-caps penalties.
They document a nice range of data-recording technology--from
hand-written to type-written, rubber stamp to various arcane punch card
configurations. That seems kind of interesting as a tiny piece of Historical Record. But mostly I just like them formally, graphically. The red-edged card at top right is positively
bristling with overly involved methodology and procedure. The "Alluring
Problem" with its red accent and bold star has an obvious beauty but I
think my favorite is the small printed and punched ticket at lower left.
The holes give a delicate visual syncopation to the printed statements
which, although they are emphatically not, remind me of a haiku.
Library cards are extremely mundane but have a subtle intricacy that's poignant. There's
something quietly affecting about the card on the bottom, right. Each
month and year stamped and noted, each entry a remnant of a long-ago
reader whose path crossed at that exact point with that very book. Had
that card lain dormant in the back of Fashions in American Typography, in the basement of the Brooklyn Library, since June 29 or so, 1950—the last date recorded? Had it not seen the light of day until I requested it be retrieved after 60 years?
I waxing too precious to think of each of these little pieces of paper
as superannuated governesses, each as an attempt to safeguard their
charge when released out in the world?
|It will positively cure deafness in 2 days. |
Dr. Thomas' Eclectric Oil was first produced by Dr. S.N. Thomas of Phelps, New York in the late 1840s and reportedly contained “Spirits of Turpentine, Camphor, Oil of Tar, Red Thyme and Fish Oil specially processed.” It was marketed until the 1950s.
|The title page, even with its centered typography, betrays more than a little Artistic Printing influence|
|this credit line and address is from another publication.|
The 150 Nassau Street building is now a landmarked condominium!
Although it’s hand lettered and chromolithographed (in brownish black, taupe gray, red, blue and metallic gold) it has an Artistic feel to it. “Artistic Printing” you may or may not know is an elaborate style of commercial letterpress printing extremely popular in the later 19th century. Doug and I wrote a book about it; read more about it here. Whether hand done, lithographed or letterpress printed, this sort of spikey, spidery decorative layering was all the rage.
The American Tract Society, an evangelical organization that dates back to 1825, was one of the first entities to mass produce and distribute printed illustrated materials (I dont remember where I read this but it seems plausible and significant). ATS appears to have used many talented illustrators, letterers, printers and engravers, including the great Alexander Anderson (See my post about Anderson, one of America’s finest engravers). Although this booklet doesnt explicitly state it, from my bit of research it seems Helen P. Strong did both the illustrations and the lettering, as well as edit the excerpts. I came across another illustrated publication of hers for sale on etsy, Memory's Sketchbook, from 1891, and noted her credit on a few other titles. I want to know more about Helen!