Sunday, January 30, 2011

Crazed bondage School Girls?

Madcap Melody by Judith Carr.  Hardcover book published in 1953.

More luridness?… or is this something a little more innocent than my last blog entry?  The caption reads: “She trussed her victim very effectively”.  Is it just me, or does this look suspiciously like a vintage bondage illustration… (not that I’m overly familiar with that particular genre of illustration…?).  Look at it… there’s young girls in school uniforms and one of them is getting “trussed”… she has pigtails as well (?). The illustration references page 115 and here is some of the text from that page:

“She would give this dreadful little spitfire her head and see just how far she dared to go. So that was why Melody was somewhat surprised at the very weak resistance Ella pretended to put up when she proceeded to tie her hands together with the tunic girdle. Never for a moment did she suspect that a trick was now being played on her. She trussed her victim very effectively, hands and feet, and then put the finishing touches to her efforts by tying her pigtails in a knot.”

No, this book was not written by the Marquis de Sade.  This book is the work of Judith Carr, an alias of Mrs. E.L. Fairbank, and it was written and published for teenage girls of the 1950s.  It has absolutely nothing to do with bondage… except for this illustration (which is the only illustration in the book)… and possibly that little bit of text that I excerpted.  It was a different time back then and this sort of thing was obviously OK to put into a book written for young girls.  I bet there is no publisher today who would print this sort of illustration (or text) in a childrens book.   

The main reason I’ve written about this book is that the illustration is a great juxtaposition to my last blog entry.  I saw this and immediately thought of the “lurid” Ned Kelly illustration, which to me seemed so silly.  This illustration on the other hand could be easily misunderstood if taken out of context (as i have done)… at least I think it could… Could it?

(In the next few weeks I plan to write about something I recently acquired, that really was and is still is “lurid”… at least I think it was/is.  Stay tuned.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ned Kelly: The Last Stand

Ned Kelly: The Last Stand, Written and Illustrated by an Eyewitness.  Paperback book published 2003.

A casual flick through this book about Ned Kelly and what do I find, but this wild and crazy illustration. The editor of the book describes the illustration as “lurid”… and what does this have to do with Ned Kelly?  Well very little, what it does have to do with is the “Eyewitness” who was an illustrator and… yes, you guessed it, an eyewitness of many of the events of the Ned Kelly story.  His drawing of Ned Kelly at Bay, “is an Australian icon” (from the back cover), although I can’t see any water in the illustration…. 

You see, this guy, Thomas Carrington, went from Lurid illustrator to Icon drawer in a very short period of time.  I guess it pays the bills.  I’m writing about this illustration in particular, as despite it’s “luridness” the editor of this book has allowed a full page for its republication.  So is this image still “lurid” after all these years?  There’s the tight fitting outfit (just one of the women, but the other woman is near the ground… which is possibly meant to be sexy), the near nudity (ok, it’s a little bit of leg), the wild disheveled hair (mostly covered by the hat thingy but clearly there) and the crazy idea of one woman rolling another woman along (maybe there’s a sex thing there that I don’t understand… OOOhhhhhh, I get it… actually I don’t).  The truth is that in 2011, this image fails to excite.  I think maybe the luridness may have worn out.

So why have I written about this lurid/pornographic illustration… well it seemed like a good idea at the time and I think its great that it’s in a book about Ned Kelly… I’m sure he would have liked it for all its luridness and if he didn’t, well… such is life.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.  Hardcover published 2007.

So far I haven’t written about any books that I haven’t had for sale.  This will be the first.

Recently I spent a few days in Melbourne and stayed at my good friend Paul Perry’s place, which is also his secondhand bookshop (All Sorts Books, Northcote).  I’m a creature of habit and one thing I find very important, is to read for a few minutes before I go to sleep at night.  I’m sure a few of you out there will agree with me that this is a great way to end the day.  In this instance I had forgotten to bring something to read with me… no problem… I’m staying at a bookshop, Paul will surely have something, preferably short, for me to read.  His recommendation “The Uncommon Reader” by Alan Bennett.

So I look at the book that Paul has pressed into my hand and quickly skim the blurb.  This book is about the Queen.  The Queen of England.  You know the one… Elizabeth, married to Phil the Greek.  My doubts about this book must have been pretty obvious to Paul.  I think I might have even tried to hand it back, but he insisted that it would be a good read.  Well OK. I thought I’d give it a go. 

I believe in Australia becoming a republic and removing Her Majesty as our head of state… and from our coins… I just thought I’d mention this now as what I’m about to write does not come easily to me.

This book is possibly one of the nicest books I’ve read in a long time.  It is charming in the best tradition of charming and I thoroughly enjoyed every page.  I could barely put it down. 

A quick summary:
The Queen enters a mobile library bus (?) and apologises for the Corgis making too much noise.  She meets the librarian and one of the palace kitchen hands and decides to borrow a book to be friendly.  She reads the book and returns the book… next thing you know the kitchen hand is her literary assistant (amanuensis) and she’s reading more books than ever before, developing a passion that causes some of those around her to become concerned.  Some more stuff happens including some palace politics and the book ends.

What I liked was the humanness of the Queen character.  To me, here in Australia and as a non believer, the Queen (the real Queen, not Alan Bennett’s Queen) seems to be very distant and out of touch.  In this book she’s seems very real and genuine, to write about her in this way is amazing and at times it was quite shocking.  Bennett seems to have figured out how to turn this distant, aloof person into a very real person… don’t get me wrong, this is a work of fiction but there is enough of the perceived real her majesty in there to make it very clear who this character is.

But all this stuff about the Queen isn’t the only reason I enjoyed this book.  (Here comes the interesting bit.)  Over the years my own reading has developed in a way that I like to compare to a tree.  I read something and then branch off to related reading matter… this doesn’t always happen and sometimes the branching off is delayed, but often I begin reading books by known associates, or books that have influenced, or been influenced by other books, or similar subjects or read more of the same writer etc etc.  I use the tree analogy as sometimes you end up somewhere along way from where you started and sometimes it’s a dead end and you go back a few twigs, branches or all the way to the trunk… I feel the same way about music.  This is basically the premise of The Uncommon Reader.  The Queen’s development and understanding of literature is portrayed in a very believable manner.  She doesn’t like everything she reads and sometimes her direction ends abruptly, but with some writers we see her continue on particular threads/branches… don’t get me wrong, a lot of what this character reads is not to my personal taste and indeed I would describe her reading as fairly conservative, but we are talking about a woman in her 80s and it is a work of fiction about someone reading books and not about the books she reads.  Bennett deliberately skims over, but still manages to touch upon the Queen’s impressions of her literary choices.   It’s not important to know exactly what she thinks about what she's reading, although there is a brief and excellent explanation as to why she doesn’t find Jane Austen that great. 

This book is about the joys of discovery and I guess that in some way i identify with the Queen… this sounds weird, I know… but don’t worry, I wont be wearing my tiara in public and there will be no corgis (unless it's an interesting title).

(If your interested in buying this book go see Paul Perry at All Sorts, 275 High Street Northcote and tell him Huc & Gabet sent you.)    

Friday, January 21, 2011

Home Tanners’ Handbook by June Vivian.

Home Tanners’ Handbook by June Vivian.  Hardcover book published in 1976.


“Home Tanners’ Handbook is for the amateur tanner who wishes to tan wool, fur and hair skins — or hides — at home.  The entire tanning process — from flaying, fleshing, tanning and conditioning, to drying — is detailed clearly and concisely. The methods, equipment, chemicals, vegetable materials and tools used in this book are all suitable for the beginner’s use.  This is an invaluable guide for the country or city dweller who wishes to develop a satisfying and rewarding hobby.”

So you decide you want a “satisfying and rewarding hobby”… “flaying”, “fleshing” and “tanning”.  These aren’t activities that normally come to my mind as “satisfying and rewarding”, but you know what, there are all sorts of people in this crazy world (or should this read “crazy people in this world”) and if it’s your thing that’s OK by me.   

Look at these fun things you can do with a hide:

Maybe this is something I could get into. I can see it now “Huc & Gabet Amateur Tanner” The Blog.  

This is the author (it was 1976 and i hope that's a home tanned leather jacket):

and these are some photographs in case you don't know what...

 a temperature looks like on a temperature gauge

 ...what an egg looks like (with shell and without shell)(this can be so confusing sometimes???)

and this one is to make sure you understand that a Eucalyptus tree is actually a Eucalyptus tree.

OK, I’m not really contemplating this “satisfying and rewarding hobby”.  The reason I’ve mentioned this book is that this is another one of those subjects that I rarely, if ever, see a book about.  There are people out there who want to give this activity a go… as a matter of fact I remember my brother tanning a few hides in the back yard when I was a child and I think one of them didn’t quite do what it was supposed to do.  In retrospect this book would have been handy.

How popular is Home Tanning?  I assume a little more popular once someone purchases this book.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Huc & Gabet expansion… (the man whose head expanded).

Well my business has expanded (my head remains the same size).  It’s official.  I now have books listed with the lovely people at Books & Collectibles. 

When I began my business I vowed that I would always maintain as low a stock level as booksellerly possible (yes… really).  There are a number of reasons for this, probably the main reasoning behind this abnormal and aberrant bookseller behaviour, is that I want to sell books.  I don’t want a house/shop/shed or whatever, full of unsold books that may or may not sell one day.  I guess that’s what I’ve always liked about ebay.  You list a book and then if it doesn’t sell, possibly relist it and then if it still doesn’t sell, well… do something else with it (is that vague enough?).

So what has changed and caused me to want shelves full of “books that may or may not sell one day”?  Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s very simple… the quest for global domination…

Ok, the truth…
Over the past few years, I feel that ebay has changed… I’m not going to poo poo the company… but things have changed.  Indeed, I still intend on working with ebay and will continue listing items as before, as I still think it’s a great way to sell books.  Books & Collectibles though, offer reasonable rates for listing items and as much as I don’t want to write about the economics of it all…
List an item with ebay and if its cheap, it costs 50c for 10 days listing and they take a commission on top of that if it sells.  B&C will cost me $275 to list a thousand books… for a year… and no commission (that’s potentially 27.5c a book… a year).  There’s other reasons as well, such as stock that has a www big dollar value, but for whatever reason (real and imagined) wont sell on ebay, can now comfortably sit on my shelf and on line at 27.5c a book… a year.  The economics of it all has caused me to swallow my pride and devote a bookshelf to “books that may or may not sell one day”… and lets face it, if an item doesn’t sell I can still try it on ebay. 

As of writing this blog entry I only have 57 items listed… it’s a beginning.  Even Rupert began small… (actually, he didn’t).  I intend on gradually increasing my stock level over the next few months.  If you look at my stock you may notice a number of titles that I wrote about here… well that’s another reason why I’ve expanded.  If stock hasn’t sold… well… I want/need it to. 

Anyway anyone interested in looking at Huc & Gabet at B&C, click here
Scroll down, left hand side “Our Dealers”, click.
Scroll down till you get to “Huc & Gabet Secondhand Booksellers”, click on “stock listing” then click on the item that’s there.

Eventually there will be a H&G website… I’ll let you know when it happens.  Thanks for reading this blog entry… for some reason I thought it might be a good thing to let you all know what’s going on here at Huc & Gabet.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The heart of the matter

The heart of the matter by Graham Greene. Hardcover book.

Just when you thought
this story was ended
Graham Greene returns
with my confidence mended.

I thought it was over
(The Graham Greene story).
Then I bought this book
for my inventory.

So lets get down to
the heart of the matter
Graham Greene’s haven’t made
my wallet get fatter.

As a matter of fact
I’ve got unsold stock.
So why buy more
when plenty I’ve got?

Published by,
Compact Books
Part of a series,
Which great looks

The series began with
Greene, Orwell and Waugh
Then Burgess, Kafka
and a few more.

The theory is
to collect a few,
Uniform editions
and close to new.

Shelve them together
at a book fair.
(Clunes booktown,
I’ll be there).

So I’ll become
the booktown source
Huc and Gabet
“The Greene force”

So for Graham Greene
i now hear the call.
No longer will it be
my decline and fall.

(I know, these poems (?)
are hard to swallow.
But you know what,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Colour-Matching on Textiles by David Paterson.

Colour-Matching on Textiles by David Paterson. Hardcover published 1901.

Some of you may have gathered that I sell a fairly broad range of books.  Due to the nature of second hand bookselling (i.e. selling second hand books) and the vast variety of subjects that I stumble upon, I like to offer a fairly broad range.  Yet, despite trying to not have a bias (which of course I do have), there are some subjects that I love to find and sell, just that little bit more than others… and technical books is one such subject, particularly vintage titles such as this one.

I like to think that there are people interested in these subjects (technical stuff)… either as hobbies… or are simply interested in the subject matter for whatever reason… (or actually do want to program that vintage 1990s computer using original software (?).)  ...and would love a book on the subject.

This book published in 1901, is a lovely technical “manual intended for the use of Dyers, Calico Printers, and Textile Colour Chemists.”  I personally don’t know anyone who has any of these skills, or has an interest in any of these skills… but I’m sure they are out there.  What I particularly like about this book is the use of real textiles, obviously dyed, to illustrate some of the text.  These small bits of material have been hidden away in the back of this book for 110 years and have managed to maintain their colour and condition… I really like this.

Some of these pages have the word “Fulton” ink stamped onto them.  More than likely this is the name of a previous owner and rather joyfully he/she has used his/her stamp liberally throughout the book.  An educated guess leads me to believe that this book was used as a reference or work tool within a workplace and the owner, concerned about their ownership of this book, made their mark… and then made it again… and again… and again (this time upside down) etc etc.

And finally I want to mention the “Catalogue of Special Technical Works for Manufacturers, Professional Men, Students, Colleges and Technical Schools by Expert Writers” that is printed on the last pages of the book… that’s the last 37 pages of the book.  This is a real smorgasbord of technical tomes including such popular titles such as:
Drying Oils, Boiled Oil and Solid and Liquid Driers by L.E. Andes.
Pure Air, Ozone and Water by W.B. Cowell.
Bone Products and Manures by Thomas Lambert
Recovery Work after Pit Fires by Robert Lamprecht
The Prevention of Smoke by W.C. Popplewell
Workshop Wrinkles by W.N. Brown
Hops in their Botanical Agricultural and Technical Aspect and as an Article of Commerce by Emmanuel Gross.
There are many more titles than this and I can tell you that I will be keeping an eye open for most of these… “Bone Products and Manures”… ohhhh yesssssss, the joy, the joy.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Damaged Goods

Technique of Motor Racing by Piero Taruffi.  Hardcover book published 1959.

I’m going to begin this blog entry with 3 questions.  Why? Why? and Why?

Vintage motor racing is an interesting and popular subject… well maybe not so interesting to me personally, but there are others who do find it interesting and from my experience books on this subject seem to sell well.  If I find a book with the words “Motor Racing”, “Grand Prix” or “Fast Cars going around in circles” etc. in the title, I tend to look a little closer.  An instructional motor racing book from 1959 is a great find and I believe a very sellable find… which I guess is why I now have this book in my possession.

So what’s the problem? 
When I bought the book it was pretty obvious that the dust jacket was very worn (ripped, scuffed, creased etc) but the cover was still solid… which is a good thing.
So what’s the problem? 
OK the front endpaper has been removed.  This is not good, but still I figured this book was sellable as firstly the subject matter (see above) and secondly, it’s not a title I’ve seen before. 
SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?  I’ll tell you what the problem is… some idiot has burnt the right hand edges of some of the pages… and I didn’t notice this when I bought the book.  Why didn’t I notice this?  Answer: Why would I look for damage that I would never even dream of seeing in a book.  Nazi’s burnt books and more recently religious fanatics on all sides have burnt the oppositions books… but I gotta tell ya, I can’t see why a Nazi or some crazy church minister in the US would have something against vintage motor racing.  As I mentioned earlier, its not my thing either, but I certainly wouldn’t burn it.

Why? Why? and Why?  I’m without an answer. 

So what does Huc & Gabet do with a book in this condition?  Well this book gets filed away in the special file of damaged beyond sellabilty books… also known as the bin… and never the fire. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Disputed Country: Australia's Lost Border

The Disputed Country: Australia's Lost Border by Robert J. Dunn.

“The bizarre story of Australia’s first surveyed border and the on-going dispute it created.”
Maybe I was asleep that day… or maybe I was busy looking at Ron Cobb illustrations… I cannot remember ever learning about this “bizarre story” when I was at school.  Did you know that there is a no man’s land between Victoria and South Australia?  Apparently there was some sort of kerfuffle during the survey of the border between 1846 and 1850… and it’s never been properly fixed.  So I’m wondering if you live in the no mans land… well I’m wondering what does this mean?  In other parts of the world people go to war over border disputes, but here in Australia we are a friendly lot (unless it has to do with water… football… or cricket) and we are happy to let this mess sit there for all perpetuity. This book could change all that. 

Just imagine (go on… do it)… a patriotic Victorian or South Australian decides to become VERY patriotic and end this crazy impasse… and this book could be the catalyst.   Cross border missile attacks… incursions… building a wall… Bordertown divided in half… well maybe they don’t need to go these sort of extremes… and please, I don’t want anyone out there to think that I am promoting these ideas… because I’m not… although a Victorian Naval attack on Tasmania does hold some bizarre appeal.  The only thing I am promoting is this book, which outlines what this border dispute is really all about… (“we are happy to let this mess sit there for all perpetuity”).