Primary II:
MOAR! Albums, Scrapbooks, and Manuscripts

Well, it's finally fall here at the worldwide headquarters of Brian Cassidy Bookseller, scenically nestled between the local towing lot and the neighborhood junkyard (yes, that really is the view out my window). So in honor of the changing leaves, another short list of some fifteen relatively inexpensive, but nevertheless interesting or unusual primary and archival items for your consideration. If that's not so much to your liking, you might like to know that over at Type Punch Matrix we've just released our first catalogue and would be pleased if you took a look (PDF). And finally, hope to see you at the Boston Book Fair in a few weeks, where we'll have new copies hot off the press of the latest BCB print catalogue (#16!), which frankly has the best single item I will likely ever handle in my entire career. Sneak peak (and hint) here. Hope to see you there and as always thanks for taking a look.
Practically a Novel

Extraordinary collection of over five years of letters from two increasingly estranged parents to their young son and daughter, sent from London to friends in Baltimore in the early days of World War II for safety from German bombing and the feared seaborne invasion of England. The two writers offer rival accounts of the War and of their dissolving marriage, which come to simultaneous ends.

Audrey - often ill, always worried - fears for Jack's mental stability: "He is really terribly unbalanced.... I do hope he writes suitable letters to you and the children."  Jack had his own ideas about suitable letter-writing: to his 11-year-old daughter, he explains his enthusiasm for R.J. Scrutton's fascist-adjacent United Christian Petition Movement and Cardinal Hinsley's Sword of the Spirit, and later turns his eye to the Social Credit movement, the 1941 Committee, the Common Wealth Party, and faith healing via the "Cosmic Force, the Power of God."

Meanwhile, Audrey's letters are full of the physical and emotional realities of daily life on the home front. To her children's guardians, she confesses: " As I write the planes are droning overhead, the anti-aircraft guns are booming and from Southampton - some 20 miles distant - come sounds of hell. The sky in that direction is red from the fires caused by bombs. Even now & then my bed shakes with the far away bombs. This is not for the children's ears."

A moving archive, as captivating as an epistolary novel, with two narrators competing for credibility against the backdrop of a world-changing war.



Hand-collected 20th century jokes, puns, and humorous anecdotes,  borrowed or clipped from a variety of sources and housed in Canadian government-issue file folder covers.

Recurring joke subjects include wives and socialism, twin fountains of endless hilarity to the male midcentury mind; Scotsmen; Russians ("Adam and Eve were Russians - They had no clothes, lived on an apple and they thought they were in Paradise") and former Prime Minister MacKenzie King (this last, along with scattered Calgary references, paints a solid picture of a Canadian compiler in, or recently out of, military service).

Content is 'clean' in the style of the very early 1950s, with occasional lapses into hearty innuendo (e.g.: on an island with automobiles, no horses, just donkeys, "[S]ome people have asses that you wouldn't look at twice, while others have extraordinary asses.") 

A unique assemblage of ephemeral popular and local folk humor from a distinct culture and a lost era.



Curious artist's book (of sorts), repurposed from and collaged over an advertising book for the Marmon Sixteen, a modern car for the modern woman; the book's original ad copy is still visible and legible throughout under tipped-in photographs and typescript pages.

The title and contents appear to be part of a family joke, with the three women pictured held in (presumably) some affection by the author: "The following case histories all subjects taken from one family, are excellent examples of congenital feeblemindedness." Below each of three black and white photographs are listed the subjects' vital statistics, with brief description: "Note the simple smirk, a trait frequently seen in idiots"; and: "This subject posed herself. She suffers from delusions of grandeur, i.e., believes she is Queen Marie of Rumania." Illustrations from the original advertising have been left visible, with new captions tipped in.

A skillful production with some strikingly creative collage work, elaborately composed for "Elmer Z. Twaddle, Ph.D."'s own obscure purposes.



Collected photographs of Air Force women and related ephemera from a woman servicemember of the early 1950s, an Indiana native who served during the Korean War. Notes on snapshots give names and context: "New off-duty dress!" and "Meet Cookie! she's from Ind. and gives me the least trouble on the machine!" In another, the subject smiles proudly as she holds "My pet! My gas mask." One spectacular print shows a "World War II-era" WAFS baseball team (above left). 

With a Welcome brochure for Great Falls Air Force Base, several drawings, and a letter to "Corki" from "Judy": "I love all the pictures." 


Top Secret?

Collection of assassination research documents, plot and character notes, and partial drafts by an unidentified novelist researching methods and procedures for a never-published thriller based in part on the Mossad assassination of Ali Hassan Salameh, chief of operations for Black September and one of those responsible for the 1972 Munich Massacre. 

Handwritten and typed notes are full of the intricacies of novelistic process and plot development: "Tech note: must find out what provokes autopsy under British law - what constitutes suspicious death. Do not want autopsy." Research documents include a 13-page course syllabus for "Protective Operations Training," subject: "Assassination: Methods of Operations," with extensive case history analysis of the assassination of Luis Carrero-Blanco; an introductory guide to "Protective Intelligence," and a series of photocopied appendices on security for assassination targets and prospective hostages employed by the U.S. government ("Do not deliberately turn your back to a terrorist; particularly, not to the terrorist leader.") 

A fascinating view into a novelist's research process and development of deep background for a story of 20th century espionage.


Elaborate annual presentations to Florence Gunn for each of her final five birthdays, written by her children as a biographical retrospective in humorous verse, illustrated with lively and skillful pen-and-pencil drawings. Born in the heart of the Victorian age, Gunn lived through the First World War and to the end of the '20s; through the five-volume history, she learns to flirt, ride a bicycle, fire a gun, drive a car, and tolerate the gramophone.

The journals encompass seven decades of youth, marriage, war, catastrophe, and domestic abuse recorded (in rhyme) without sentiment or euphemism: when newly widowed, Gunn and her daughters lived "a slave to brother wild," who "roars and shouts and calls her names" until at last "An end had come to Harry's screamings [...] No need to creep like frighted mouse! [...] From pure relief we all went mad." The final two journals see Gunn nearing 70, happily frightening her children with reckless driving and beer-drinking in the Tyrols. 
A unique personal history of a woman made self-reliant by necessity and brave by choice, as independent as her era would allow and sometimes more so.

Carefully composed photo album, memorializing the South Dakota Agricultural College campus of the early 1900s, the photographer's work on a surveying crew, and several affectionate portraits of family members and "Toots" Westcott, a cat. A self-portrait, "George - by himself -" is followed by two portraits of a woman in a bedroom, identified only as "His--   / also by himself."

South Dakota Agricultural College records note a George R. Westcott, B. S., Registrar; Asst. in Wood Shops: the author.


Strikingly well-executed homemade children's book, illustrated with original photographs of children dressing up and acting out the tale. The story was conceived by two 11-year-old twin brothers, who recruited their younger siblings to participate. The book begins with the birth of Princess Gloria and the nefarious plans of her half-brother, Rudolph, to ransack the throne and steal the royal rubies.

1881 Freemason record book of Dijon's Loge de la Concorde, covering the period from March 15, 1881 to March 13, 1883. Detailed minutes of the lodge meetings written (in French) in a variety of cursive secretarial hands.

Album of approximately 350 photographs documenting the construction of the last leg of the Alaska Highway. Images include groups of men celebrating or hard at work; stunning landscape views and roadways mid-construction; and the occasional bear cub and sled dog; many photos helpfully captioned ("Sikanni River Bridge," "Camp at Waterhead 15 miles west Dawson Creek," "Bear.") 

The Army Corps of Engineers began work on the highway in March 1942, with the last section (from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Delta Junction, Alaska) completed in October; this section features prominently here, with photos of the Peace River Bridge, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, and a distant shot of the Rocky Mountains. A painted Canadian Mountie sits astride his horse on the album cover, with mountains and tall pines behind him.  A large collection of images from a major infrastructure project.



Budding Cartoonist

Child's sketchbook from the early 1940s, documenting a boy's self-guided attempts to develop facility in cartooning. Cut-out tutorials from Frank Webb's "How to Make Faces" are mounted on the album's early pages, with faithful attempts in pencil to follow their instructions. Midway through, Conrad branches out from these copies into his own chosen subject matter: army airplanes, sheriffs, pistols, cowboy hats, and a series of one-panel strips boldly titled "Stuff That's Funny." 

Conrad, who would have been close to 10 years old when the U.S. entered World War II, devotes considerable space to planes, trains (Pullman cars labelled), bombers, and guns; his drawings of cowboys and Old West shoot-outs, however, outnumber his war themes. Elsewhere, he develops and refines what appear to be a series of original characters; notably "Little Teresa", a tough, chain-smoking, tie-and-tie-clip wearing woman with a pistol in her side holster and six notches on her belt.

The artist, a Pittsburgh native who settled in Honolulu, would later become a successful lounge pianist and 'Exotica' musician of some note.


'Margie, Peggy, Louise' 

WWII-era photo album devoted to three young women and their friends, from rural springtime scenes of 1942 to vacationing on the beaches of Nantucket in '44, to playing in the snowy Boston Public Gardens and riding bicycles through Franklin Park of 1945. The album focuses on an intensely affectionate core group of three women, likely sisters, frequently pictured together: balanced atop a fence, climbing trees, at the seashore, playing croquet. The album's compiler, the youngest of the three, notes places and names:  Margie, Peggy, Louise, Pat, Mary, Blaise, Ann, "Me." An exuberant group portrait of women entering adulthood as a team.


I Pity the Fool Who Doesn't Buy This

The personal photo album and scrapbook of one George King, a Pasadena-based actor whose most consistent gig at the time (the mid-1980s) was impersonating Mr. T of "A Team" and Rocky fame. Contains many photos of King in full costume, perhaps shot for his talent portfolio, with a few candid shots of his performances -- mostly office parties, it appears, and an outdoor event where he faced off with a Hulk Hogan lookalike. King appears to have been in his early college years (several photos show him playing team football, and one clipping shows him in costume as court jester at the West Hills College Madrigal Feast), and includes in his album several images of (seemingly) the real Mr. T; we have to imagine his impersonation gigs were born of true fandom as much as monetary reward.


Photo album of Chicago's Ryerson Steel Mill circa the 1910s, with an aerial photograph of the mill from above, followed by an exterior view and ten photos of the interior and operations. Founded in 1842, Ryerson became a supplier of steel to the Ford Motor Company when automobile production began, and moved its facilities to 16th and Rockwell in 1908, where they would remain until the 1990s. This album's images appear to date from the early years of steel processing at that location, before Ryerson's 1935 merger with Inland Steel.



Camp scrapbook and photo album from a Connecticut girl's summers, 1926-1930, at Camp Pinnacle: founded in 1898 as the "Young Women's Bible Training Movement," and advertised as the first girls-only summer camp. The camp is still in operation, and its website history records that for undisclosed reasons, "God allowed men to come to Camp Pinnacle in 1950." 

Also included are a series of photos from throughout the '20s, showing the author's family and other vacation outings: a Piedmont skiing trip; a moose in Vancouver; an affecting series of animal portraits including a dog (Trixie), two cats (Fluffy and "Pinky, my favorite"), two calves, a lamb on a leash (Sappho), and three horses pensively captioned "Friends?" (They are certainly friends).

Laid in are a number of letters, postcards, drawings, loose photographs, and drafts of poems, both copied and original, with submission notes for various periodicals. Of these materials, a few bear dates from the 1950s or later, and include instructions for a homemade hectograph and a somewhat unkind caricature of Edith Sitwell.

A striking collection, capturing a young woman's formative years. 

Copyright © 2019 Brian Cassidy, Bookseller ABAA, All rights reserved.

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