Tag Archives: old books

A $3.00 Treasure Trove


If you cruise the bargain sections in an old used book store like Half-Price Books, eventually you are going to find something priceless.  This book I am showing you is that very thing for me.

It was copyrighted in 1978.  The inscription inside the front cover says this was a Father’s Day gift on June 19th, 1988.  Someone named Gary gifted it to someone named Claude in Burleson, Texas.  It was probably a cherished book until someone passed away and the book changed hands in an estate sale.


Howard Pyle

The book chronicles the height of the publishing era when being able to print books and reproduce artworks began entertaining the masses.  Always before painters and great artists worked for a patron for the purpose of decorating their home in a way that displayed their great wealth.  But from the 1880’s to the rise of cinema, magazines and books kept the masses entertained, helped more people to become literate than ever before, and created the stories that made our shared culture and life experiences grow stronger and ever more inventive.  The book focuses on the best of the best among a new breed of artist… the illustrators.

These are the ones the book details;

Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Frederick Remington, Maxfield Parrish, J.C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell, Charles Dana Gibson, Howard Chandler Christy, James Montgomery Flagg, and John Held Jr.


N.C. Wyeth

Wyeth was most famous as a book illustrator for Treasure Island, Kidnapped, other books by Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain,  and a famous volume of tales about Robin Hood.


Frederick Remington

Remington is a name you probably know as a maker of Western art.  He was a famous painter of cowboys and Indians and the American frontier.


Maxfield Parrish

Maxfield Parrish is my all-time favorite painter.  His work is something I gushed about in previous posts because I own other books about his fanciful works painted in Maxfield Parrish blue.


Also Maxfield Parrish



J.C. Leyendecker

You will probably recognize Leyendecker’s work in magazine and advertising illustration as the standard of the Roaring 20’s.  His paintings set a style that swept American culture for more than a decade, and still affects how we dress to this very day.



More Leyendecker



Even more from Leyendecker



Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell and his work for The Saturday Evening Post is still familiar to practically everyone who reads and looks at the illustrations.  As you can see he was a master of folksy realism and could do a portrait better than practically anyone.



Also Rockwell

I have also written about Norman Rockwell before too.  I have half a dozen books that include his works.  My wife is from the Philippines and she knew about him before I ever said a word to her about him.


Charles Dana Gibson

As you can plainly see, Gibson was a master of pen and ink.  His work for Collier’s and other magazines thrills in simple black and white.  More cartoonists than just little ol’ me obsess about how he did what he did.


Also Gibson



James Montgomery Flagg… with a name like that, who else could it be?



John Held Jr.

The work of Held is stylistically different than all the rest in easily noticeable ways.  He’s the guy that made all the big-headed Pinocchio-looking people in the 1920’s.  You may have seen his work before, though you probably never knew his name.

This bit of someone else’s treasure hoard will now become a part of my own dragon’s treasure, staying by my bedside for quite a while, while I continue to suck the marrow from each of its bones.  I love this book.  It is mine, and you can’t have it… unless you find your own copy in a used bookstore somewhere.


Filed under art criticism, art my Grandpa loved, book reports, book review, humor, illustrations, imagination, oil painting, old art, old books, pen and ink, Uncategorized

Old Library Books


Recently I went through my store of old books in the library.  As a collector with hoarding disorder, I do have books I haven’t read, but also old books that I have read before… but really old editions… which makes me feel like King Midas with a golden touch and a room full of collected treasure of pure gold.  I have haunted Half-Price Books for over a decade.  I buy old library discards, books from Goodwill, and old family-owned books at yard sales.

Some of these treasures are rare and very special.  Tom Sawyer Abroad is a very hard book to find in print.  As one of Mark Twain’s lesser known works it doesn’t often appear in book stores, and it has never been a best-seller list.  The edition I have was published in 1965 by Grosset and Dunlap.  It was illustrated by Gerald McCann.  It is the kind of book that might’ve been on an elementary school library shelf in 1966 when I was ten.

Nelson Doubleday, Inc. produced the Best in Children’s Books series in the 60’s and my parents bought the four of us a subscription so that these books came in the mail every other month.  I still have one from my childhood, but I found more at Half-Price Books.  They were filled with children’s books excerpts and poems, cartoons and illustrations in color as well as black and white.

The Arabian Nights Entertainment was a very special find.  I actually paid ten dollars for it.  It is from 1916 with woodcut and full-color illustrations by Louis Rhead.  It is filled with wonderful stories like the History of the Old Man and the Two Black Dogs, and the History of Sinbad the Sailor.  I read these stories with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade playing in my head.  What a wonderful old book!  A century old this very year.


I can’t tell you how much joy I get from sitting in my library now that I am retired and rummaging through my book stacks looking at my treasures.  I am like Scrooge McDuck swimming through his money bin when I am with my old books.   I know I suffer from mental disorders that cause some of this, but I also know that I do not want to be cured.


Filed under book reports, collecting, good books, old books

Beloved Books

While visiting home in Iowa, I re-connected with an old family friend.  It was in the farmhouse upstairs bedroom where I was being quartered as a visitor.  It was an it, not a him… a book, not a man.  It was a very old book, published in 1938.


Yes, the Ittle Red H is a child’s picture-book.  Of course the first time I saw it, it was titled The Little Red Hen .  It was in much better shape then.  I was a beginning reader back then.  My mother and my two uncles were the first beginning readers who began reading this book.  It was in very good shape after it passed on to my generation at grandpa and grandma’s house.  Does that mean it was my fault that it got all child-chewed and doggedy-eared?  There was, after all, my cousins’ kids, and my cousins’ grandkids in between there looking at the book and possibly eating it too.


Members of my family learned valuable lessons from this old book.  We learned that you can tape pages back together as long as you retrieve the page-parts from the child’s mouth before they actually get swallowed and digested.  We also learned that a Red Hen can still bake bread even though the top of her head has been removed.


Alternating pages were printed in black and white and pink ink.  I can remember studying these pages for a long time and wondering why sometimes the duck and the goose were pink, and other times yellow, and other times black and white.  I think that may have taught me that color doesn’t matter… it’s the character of the character that can be recognized in spite of pink ink.  A very profound realization I do believe.


I also learned that ducks and geese are richer than chickens, as determined by the fine clothing and the fact that their noses are held high in the air.  Monocles in duck’s eyes mean that ducks are supposed to be smarter than chickens too.  Apparently if you are smart and rich, you don’t do any of the actual work, yet expect that you are going to get to eat the bread anyway when it it is baked.


You can tell by the many tools and the grouchy face on the Red Hen that she is a chicken and expected to do all the work, even though she has kids to support and is the same pink color as the duck and goose sometimes appear.


When the Red Hen is in full color, she’s kinda brown in color.  That is certainly telling too.


I love the comical comics in the illustrations of this book.  I traced them and copied them many times in my misspent youth.


Perhaps I have blathered on a bit too much.  Maybe I should just shut up and show you the rest of this precious old book.


20150705_124803 20150705_124826 20150705_124849

As I go back and edit and re-read, I am just guessing, but it may be easily apparent that I was watching the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup while writing this loopy post.  But it is, after all, mainly about using my meager photography skills to preserve this beloved old book.





Filed under humor, old books, photo paffoonies