Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to See Kansai Area: Kyoto – Osaka - Kobe – Nara.

How to See Kansai Area: Kyoto – Osaka - Kobe – Nara. Hardcover book published 1949.

The key to what is of interest about this book, is a slip of paper that the publisher has stuck onto one of the last pages.  Right at the bottom it reads “Printed in Occupied Japan, 1949”.  The end of the Second World War was only a few years before and Japan would have been in the midst of recovery and rebuilding.  Yet there was a Japan Travel Bureau in 1949 that considered an English language guide book important enough to publish. Why?  At a guess I reckon that all of those US (and other) soldiers that were part of the occupying forces until 1952, needed a hand and some advice with getting around the Kansai area… or maybe the broader tourist industry had already reignited by 1949… I think English speaking soldiers is a better guess.  (Check out this video footage from 1946) 

The descriptions are very matter of fact and to the point which I guess is what most of us want in a guide book… no waffling on, just the hard facts.  There are black and white photographs and there are numerous maps throughout the book.  The photos are not of a high quality, but there is a certain charm and beauty to the maps (Huc & Gabet opinion).

One thing that I particularly like is the small amount of advertising in the back.  Obviously the JTB subsidized the publication with the advertising.

This particular copy has only slight wear to the cover including some fading to the spine and back cover.  The paper stock reminds me of many European War and Post War publications (Austerity Publications?) that were obviously printed on cheaper paper and over the past 62 years have noticeably yellowed.  Looking at the condition of the cover and the pages, my guess is that this guide book was never used.  There’s something a little sad about a guide book that has sat on the shelf for 62 years and never been dragged around the sites… or maybe this is just my opinion on guide books.  I look at them as tools to be read and used… and used hard.  There are people who collect vintage travel guides, generally a little older than this one (that’s the books… not the people).  To be honest I’ve collected a few myself… but I wouldn’t consider myself a “collector”.

Finally, something to think about.  If Japan was able to get their tourist industry going so quickly after a war, how long till we are booking holidays in Afghanistan?  (I’ve got a guide book if you need one).

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Namennayo Cats

Namennayo Cats, created and produced by Satoru Tsuda.  Paperback book published 1981.

I’ve tackled all the hard hitting issues here at Huc & Gabet blogspot (?)… and possibly looked a little too much at crazy cat books, but sometimes it’s important to write about things that people NEED to know about and Namennayo Cats is another crazy cat book that the whole world NEEDs to know about.

The phenomenon known as Namennayo Cats is truly a dirt to kitty litter story.  Satoru Tsuda found a stray kitten and despite a dislike of cats, took it home.  Over time he became fond of the kitten.  He claims the kitten was playing with some dolls clothes when he had the brilliant idea of dressing it in some of the clothes and taking some photographs and some more photographs and then a few more, until finally he had built an extensive portfolio and empire based around these primped and primed kitten images. 

So practically overnight Namennayo Cats became megastars in Japan.  This book is an Australian edition and has English translations of all the captions, proving that Cat Photo humour is universal.  Over the years I’ve heard a number of book dealers talk about Namennayo Cats with great fondness and not just regarding it’s value.  People love this stuff… even hardened book dealers.

There were and still are concerns and issues about cruelty in regard to these cats and the photographs. Apparently Satoru was not totally oblivious to the “discomfort” he was inflicting, so he stuck to a few basic rules.  Cats were dressed only for a short period of time (10 minutes) with up to eight people working on each photo shoot, this included 2 to 3 people dressing the cats… apparently they didn’t like wearing the clothes.  All of this would take place only once in 3 days.  When the cats were 50 to 80 days old, they were retired.*  (My cynical mind tells me that maybe after 50 to 80 days they weren’t as cute as they had been which is probably why they were retired.)

Anyway, Namennayo Cats were an 80s phenomenon and took the world by storm.  Today we have Stuff On My Cats etc etc but before people put stuff on cats or thought that Cats looked like Hitler, they dressed them up and took silly photos at a time when photoshop was beyond our wildest imagination.  Thankfully we now have photoshop and can feel a little better about out crazy cat photos… and so can the kittens.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Australian Poultry Standards

Australian Poultry Standards: First Edition.  Hardcover book published 1998.

Published by the Victorian Poultry Fanciers Association Inc. in 1998, this compendium of Gallus gallus domesticus (Chickens) looks specifically at the standards required for the exhibition of poultry in Australia.  In other words, this book is about serious chicken fancying and isn’t just a quick guide to your average backyard chook.  We’ve got everything here from Silver Grey Dorkings to Gold Pencilled Hamburghs, Black Red Old English Game Bantams to White Faced Black Spanish and trust me when I write that it doesn’t end there… there’s even a small section of Ducks, Geese and Turkeys. 

The book includes “complete descriptions and judging points for all standardised breeds and varieties of domestic poultry in the Commonwealth of Australia”.  To me, a complete novice in regards to chicken that isn’t on a plate, the contents seem to be fairly comprehensive and when they write “all standardised breeds” I guess they mean “all”.  This is serious stuff.  What I would like to know is how much poultry is not here in the Commonwealth of Australia… of course this book doesn’t answer this question and I guess you need to check further a field if you really want to keep a breast of the current state of chickens in Australia. 

The book was written to enable Australian Standards to have a lesser dependence on British Standards.  In other words, the VPFA had plucked up enough courage to go it alone.  In 1998, the Aussie chicken had come of age.  

The VPFA seems to have been very concerned with the fact that this was the first edition (see image above).  I am unable to confirm whether there were any further editions as there doesn’t seem to be any other editions (or this edition) currently listed on my usual reference points on the www.  A slightly broader search and there are a few references but only to this one.  Obviously the compilers chickened out of a second edition… or maybe there was a wishful thought that this first edition would drum up enough interest for a second edition.  So this book and this edition is it… and it is possibly as rare as some of these chickens. 

A rare book is something to crow about.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The complete midvvife's practice

The complete midvvife's practice enlarged in the most weighty and high concernments of the birth of man: Containing a perfect directory or rules for midwives and nurses. As also a guide for women in their conception, bearing and nursing of children: from the experience of our English Viz. Sir Theodore Mayern, Dr. Chamberlain, Mr. Nich. Culpeper and others of foreign nations. With instructions of the queen of France's midwife to her daughter ... touching the practice of the said art etc. 
Hardcover book (leather binding) printed for Obadiah Blagrave at the Bear in St. Pauls Churchyard, over against the little North-Door 1680, 336 pages with frontis and 6 black and white illustrations.

 The front cover

As incredible as this may be… I purchased this book completely by accident.  It was in a large box of books and was/is in such bad condition that I didn’t even look at it at the time of purchase, being keener on some of the other titles in the box.  I seriously thought that whatever it was and being in such obviously poor condition, it was not suitable for sale… how wrong was I.  When I write “poor condition”… I mean really bad.  Both the front and back covers have become detached and the spine has very little left of it… and there are scratches and the whole thing was being held together by an elastic band… it’s poor and at the lower end of “poor”.  In retrospect, all of this is not so surprising, as leather that hasn’t been cared for properly tends to deteriorate after 331 years… yep, that’s 331 years.  This is the oldest book that I have ever unearthed.

The title page… with the frontis and cover loose from the book.  The bottom right hand corner is a little blurry but you can just make out the date.

But there is some reasonably good news about this particular copy, despite the poor condition.  Firstly: I can’t find any other copies currently available for sale.  This of course means that anyone looking for this book will hopefully be tempted by my one and only copy.  Secondly: This copy has all its illustrations/plates intact.  With these older books, there are often bits missing and it’s these bits, such as illustrations, that are important when selling.  The condition is also important, but as I’ve indicated, in this case it’s nearly non existent, so having all the plates is a definite plus.

  One of the plates.

With this book were two other books published approximately 70 years later… their subject matter is of a religious nature and secondly they are in Dutch.  They are in similar condition, one is in slightly worse condition.  The reason I’ve mentioned this is that “Complete midvvife's practice etc” being written in English (not necessarily as we speak it today) and on Midwifery is far more sellable than old religious books written in Dutch (not necessarily as the Dutch speak it today)… at least here in Australia they are.  But of course I’m not complaining about any of these finds.

In a past lifetime, when I was a young bibliophile, I worked for a while at a large academic library.  Occasionally we would handle these sort of antiquated volumes and I remember them as often being in more than one piece.  Certain volumes were sent out for conservation and were often rebound in an appropriate manner.  I was talking to another book dealer about this wonderful book and he suggested that I should consider some conservation work as an option.  From memory, this is very expensive and time consuming… which is probably why it is so expensive.  So for now I will leave it as it is and describe it with all it’s faults and leave any possible restoration to the next owner.  The bookseller mentioned above also found an auction record of this book… 400 to 500 British Pounds.

And what of the books I was actually wanting to buy? … well they aren’t worth as much as I hoped.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Woobinda Animal Doctor

Woobinda Animal Doctor by Victor Barnes, Illustrated by Walter Stackpool.  Hardcover book published 1969.

“Tiggie is bright, excels at most sports, wears modern clothes and likes to keep herself sun-tanned.”

Is there something wrong with me?  I look at this picture and… well… the lamb is not the first thing that I notice.  Lamb. What lamb?  Indeed is it just my imagination or is the lamb pretty superfluous to the illustration.  

So what was Woobinda Animal Doctor?  Well, it doesn’t make it into Wikipedia, so without being able to cheat and completely from memory… Woobinda animal doctor was a 1960s Australian TV series about a Vet in the Australian bush/outback.  Lots of adventures possibly in the same mold as Skippy… at least I think they had lots of adventures. This picture is from a large format childrens book.

So who was Tiggie?  Well, she was the Vets daughter.  And why is she wearing a swimsuit and holding a lamb?  This is one of the great mysteries of life.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chrysler Sigma: GE Series Service Manual Book 1 to 4

Chrysler Sigma: GE Series Service Manual Book 1 to 4.  4 volume paperback set published 1977.

 A wonky photo, taken on my phone.

A service manual for a Chrysler Sigma… now that’s interesting… OK, maybe it’s not interesting to you or I… unless of course “you” are the owner of a Chrysler Sigma, in which case this is a VERY interesting set of books… particularly if your Chrysler Sigma is in need of repair. 

Car manuals… are they a can of worms?  Overall I’m of the opinion that they are worth a go on ebay.  Some manuals are worth $$$ (like this one) and some aren’t.  Some are keenly sought after and some aren’t.  To be blunt about it, some sell and some don’t, but overall I have had enough success to warrant listing more.  So I tend to list as many as I can find and always with a “buy it now option”.  I figure that if you need a car manual, you probably need it now and not in 10 days time at the end of an auction.  

These books often have marks… greasy finger marks that is, which is something that on any other type of book, is not really acceptable.  Car manuals are generally used as working tools and most people don’t seem bothered by the marks probably because they are wanting to put their own greasy fingers all over them.  This set overall is in pretty clean condition.

So what happens to the manuals that I don’t sell on ebay?  Well I do sell some of my unsold stock to another book dealer who has a large selection/collection of car manuals for sale.  Recently I was at his shop when a young lady (one of many) discovered the manuals whilst browsing his stock.  She immediately called her boyfriend (a car mechanic) and on his advice bought a half dozen manuals.  I guess the large selection was too much of a temptation.

 Another wonky photo, taken on my phone.

But this particular set will not be sitting on his shelf.  I have decided to keep this one and list it on Books & Collectibles.  I haven’t got any other car manuals listed and I’m sort of interested in seeing how well this one does.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Snail by Eric Dando.

Snail by Eric Dando.  Paperback book published by Penguin 1996.

Earlier this year, a fellow book dealer sent me an email indicating that this book is not that common and also worth money, and that maybe I should keep my eyes open for it.  A quick search (www) proved this to be the case.  So with eyes firmly open, i subsequently did find it… and find it…. and find it and I’m now the proud owner of 4 copies of this book.  …this is a bad thing.  My issue is, that if the book is rare, then why have I been able to find 4 copies in a relatively short period of time? 

The original email I received was in January, so it’s worth my while checking the www again (5 months later) to see if there is still a value to this book… and yes, it has held it’s value.  Beginning at $60 and finishing at $177 there are now a few more copies available than in January.  Interestingly the original email I received had a copy of the one and only listing at the time… this particular copy is still for sale.  So what does this all mean?  Well, my guess is that the book is actually not that common, yet it’s desirability is possibly not that great.  Maybe I’m wrong, maybe what isn’t that popular, is the price tag.  Somehow I think that sales will be at a snails pace and it will be interesting to see if I have any copies left in another 5 months.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Hiroshima Story by Toshi Maruki.

The Hiroshima Story by Toshi Maruki.  Hardcover book published 1985.

Whilst searching for books of interest, I mostly look at books that are not of interest.  It’s hard to explain how I decide on what is an interesting book… and more importantly how I decide if something is interesting and sellable.  Often it’s based on the title and cover… a title I know is always of interest (as long as it’s interesting) or something with an interesting title and/or cover that I don’t know, is also of interest (as long as it’s interesting) (?).  All of this takes place at a fairly steady pace… sometimes a frantic pace.  So I was looking through some kids books the other day and I find this title.  It stopped me dead… my perusing pace ground to a complete holt.  The bombing of Hiroshima and a childrens book is not something I usually associate together.  Now I’m not a parent and therefore, I’m certainly no expert on parenting, but I can’t even begin to imagine how a child would react to this story.

The artist/author writes … “this book is my legacy to grandchildren everywhere”, so it is definitely written for children.  These illustrations are stunning and I would even go so far as to say that they are beautiful.  This book had me perplexed and intrigued so much so that when I saw it, I had to buy even though I think that it will be a hard sell.  All of what I’ve written above is why I think this book is of interest, that is: It is unusual, it has great illustrations and it will be a challenge to sell.

Interestingly the book is in pretty good condition.  I’ve written about childrens books before and the amount of wear that is often present with these tomes.  This one appears to have been barely read.  I think I know why this is.

“So Timmy, what would you like to read tonight?  Thomas the Tank Engine or The Hiroshima Story.”

Sweet dreams.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Richard Scarry

Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry.
Richard Scarry's Great Big Mystery Book: The Great Pie Robbery and The Supermarket Mystery by Richard Scarry.
Richard Scarry's Great Big School House by Richard Scarry.
Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry.
Richard Scarry’s Cars, Boats, Trains & Planes by Richard Scarry.



Question: “What Do People Do All Day?” 
Answer: Here at Huc & Gabet we look for Richard Scarry books.

(Apparently Scarry is pronounced like Marry not like Dairy… I’ve been mispronouncing his name incorrectly for the last 43 years… I promise this will now change.) 

Nostalgia is the main reason for searching out these fantastic books… and to find and list (ebay) 5 large format hardcover Scarry’s at the same time is very exciting (found in 4 different locations in 1 week).  I enjoy selling books that I think are quality, which is what I believe these are.  I feel a bit Nostalgic when I look through them and I fondly remember being fascinated by the busyness and the overall mayhem… from memory, the stories were secondary to the illustrations… at least, they were to me.  I believe I’m not alone in my nostalgia and appreciation.

These are all folio sized editions.  I think some of them were published in smaller abridged editions (don’t quote me on that…) but these are all in the more desirable format.  Due to the size and nature of these books (loved childrens books), they are often in very worn condition.  The copies I remember reading (perusing) were in my primary school library and they were very popular.  And even back then when they were relatively young, they were worn.  These copies haven’t escaped the love, but they’re not bad.  Indeed I have rated them all as good with some wear. 

Just over 12 months ago I sold a copy of Richard Scarry’s Busy Busy World to someone in Turkey… (I post everywhere), proving that Richard was and is popular the world over.  Since that time I have been searching for more titles by Mr Scarry, which makes sense if you think about it… if I sold one, I can probably sell more.  So in the last 12 months of eager searching, I have only found a few Scarry titles and these have been over loved… which means they don’t fit the Huc & Gabet condition criteria.  Now that I’ve found these five I don’t intend on slowing my searching,  I will continue to be Busy, Busy, Busy looking for more.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jackson Pollock by Francis V. O’Connor.

Jackson Pollock by Francis V. O’Connor.  Hardcover book published by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1967.

 Dust jacket

The front cover

Art books are tricky to sell on line… at least I find this to be the case.  Maybe it’s the books I select (they look good to me), but somehow I think it’s the broader subject matter.  Most people want to see and feel these books and then make an assessment of the overall quality of the object.  Dodgy reproduction of artwork is a little hard to see on a computer screen (a good argument against e-book readers) and if your spending money, well you want to see what it looks like… which I guess is the case with all books, but possibly more so with art books.  I do still persist in buying and trying to sell books on art, but I don’t always feel that confident. 

Here in Australia we have a strange relationship with Jackson Pollock.  In 1973 the Australian Government (Labour with Gough Whitlam as Prime Minister) bought “Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952” for $1.3 million (Australian Dollars).  At the time this was the most anyone anywhere had every paid for a piece of modern art.  I am just old enough to remember the purchase and the kerfuffle it caused here in Australia.  It was considered highly inappropriate for our government to be buying a piece of art that very few people here understood… or liked.  Someone has even written a book on the issue (The Prime Minister's Christmas Card: Blue Poles and Cultural Politics in the Whitlam Era by Lindsay Barrett).  What the people in Australia didn’t realise at the time, was that this art work is considered one of Pollocks finest.  Indeed, it is now thought to be worth close to $180 million.  Probably due to the controversy this painting is one of the National Gallery of Australia’s most popular exhibits.  I’m not sure if the majority of people here understand it any better now than they did in the 1970s.

So Jackson Pollock has a bit of a profile here in Australia.  This book is an exhibition catalogue from 1967, New York.  It does contain some great photographs of Jackson as well as having some information about the man.  Unfortunately the book is from a time when colour reproductions were not considered either necessary, important or affordable.  There is one lovely fold out colour reproduction everything else is in glorious black and white.   I guess the colour is to show us what we are missing out on.  Still, i like this book and I think that it is unique and interesting enough to warrant an ebay attempt.