Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ladies' Garment Cutting and Making: A standard textbook, giving instruction in all branches of ladies' garment cutting, dress cutting, modelling and practical tailoring by F. R. Morris.

Ladies' Garment Cutting and Making: A standard textbook, giving instruction in all branches of ladies' garment cutting, dress cutting, modelling and practical tailoring by F. R. Morris.  Hardcover book (no dust jacket) published by The New Era Publishing (no date, possibly 1930s to 1950s), 445 pages with black and white illustrations.

If you read this blog regularly, you’re probably aware that I’m a bit of a stickler re the condition of books I have for sale.  At least, I like to think that I’m a stickler. If you’re going to sell a book it’s a lot easier if it’s clean and in one piece and if you’re a book buyer wanting to buy a book, you generally want it to be clean and in one piece.  In other words, the condition of a book can be important if you want to sell it.  There have often been books that I’ve found over the years where the condition has let the team down, so much so that I’ve left the book behind to happily moulder away on the shelf where I found it.

This particular copy of this book is in shocking condition and I ummmmed and ahhhhed for quite a while before finally succumbing to its allure.  Here’s what I wrote in my ebay listing regarding the condition:

“This book is in poor condition.  The cover is in poor condition.  There is wear to the edges, corners and to the top and bottom of the spine. There is shelf wear overall, including scuffs and marks.  The front cover has considerable bubbling and wrinkling to the cloth (has possibly come loose at some stage and then repaired).  The cover is looking very worn (see scans).  The book itself is in poor condition.   There is wear, marks and stains to the outer edges.  The front and back endpages have extensive wear including, marks, writing, creasing, insect damage, sticky tape etc and wear to the hinges (cracked, or beginning to crack).  There are a few marks in the book and there is yellowing of the pages.  Overall a poor copy.  PLEASE NOTE: This rare book is very worn and aged.  If you prefer clean new looking books, DO NOT buy this one.”

Some photos of the book:


This is the only copy of this book that I have ever found, in other words it’s not a common title and according to the usual book websites, it’s worth $$$.  I had sort of figured this out even as I was contemplating forking over my $, as my book selecting skills (and the title page) had lead me to believe the book was a little bit more than a casual housewifes guide to knocking up a few aprons.

“The object of this work is to present to students, ladies’ cutters, dressmakers and all engaged in the trade of cutting and making ladies’ garments a practical cutting system for tailored garments, dresses and evening dresses, etc.”

The other factor behind letting down my stickler guard, was that I have had more than one inquiry about vintage sewing books over the last few years.  So it was a matter of:

Rarity + Value + Content + Demand - Condition  = possible SALE. 

This is the allure that I wrote about above, it was so intense that the stickler guard was let down and I succumbed to the temptation.  I now have a mouldering expensive book for sale.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Magic Boomerang by Bruce Macpherson and June Macpherson.

The Magic Boomerang by Bruce Macpherson and June Macpherson.  Hardcover book (no dust jacket) with pictorial boards published by Young Australian Books 1963, unpaginated with colour and black and white photographs throughout. 

“An enchanting story of the great outback - Photographed in colourful Central Australia.” 

There was a time when colour film* was expensive.  There was also a time when people would hand colour photographs.  This book appears to have been photographed in black and white and then hand coloured lending the photos a certain colourful psychedelic effect... or is it the subject matter that leads me to the words “colourful psychedelic”.  It’s a strange journey that these … ummmm… I guess they are dolls… so… dolls, Camel, Kangaroos and others, are on.  A bit like the strange journey that Bruce and June must have been on when they decided to photograph their dolls wandering around in the Australian outback.  It must have been a good idea at the time.

 “Hullo,” said Jenny, “we are searching for the aborigines’ corroboree ground.  Can you tell us the way?”

So what's the story all about?  I don’t think that in 2013 it’s that important to know what the Magic Boomerang is all about.  From my brief glancing at the text, it all seems a bit dodgy and a little incorrect.  To me, the intricacies of the dodgy story line are not as impressive as the photos. So why did I pick up this book?  There is a simple answer and it is:

* Film was stuff you would put in a camera to store images on… a bit like a memory stick… except nothing at all like a memory stick.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Voyage of Torres: The Discovery of the Southern Coastline of New Guinea and Torres Strait by Captain Luis Baez De Torres in 1606 by Brett Hilder.

The Voyage of Torres: The Discovery of the Southern Coastline of New Guinea and Torres Strait by Captain Luis Baez De Torres in 1606 by Brett Hilder.  Hardcover book published by University of Queensland Press 1980, 194 pages with black and white maps and illustrations as well as a few colour maps.

“For many years people have speculated about Torres’s voyage of discovery along the southern coast of New Guinea and through what is now called the Torres Strait. Which passage did he use through the strait? Did he see the mainland of Australia? Which islands did he stop at? The brief report Torres sent to the king of Spain after his two small ships reached Manila in May 1607 is tantalizingly vague and ambiguous. The narrative of Don Diego de Prado, an aristocratic adventurer who sailed with Torres, is more detailed but still has frustrating gaps and allows for differences in interpretation. Both these documents were lost to the world for hundreds of years after the voyage. Since Prado’s narrative was published in 1930, other clues have come to light from old maps thought to have been based on missing charts drawn by Prado, from documents previously overlooked, and from the discovery that two important lines had been omitted from the transcription of Torres’s letter to the king. Captain Brett Hilder, who has spent fifty years as a navigator in the Pacific and has crossed and recrossed the track of Torres many times, gathered together all the clues now known and set out to establish the day-by-day route of Torres from his landfall in the Louisiades to the end of his voyage in Manila. He was helped by his knowledge of the area, of its tides and currents and winds as well as the problems of navigation presented by the innumerable reefs and shoals and coral islands. The result is a fascinating piece of detection. Though some people may still disagree with his conclusions regarding the more controversial areas, they will not fail to be impressed by the care and thoroughness of his reconstruction of the voyage, which in itself is an engrossing story of exploration and discovery.”

I’ve never really given that much thought to Torres.  I’m not even sure that I’ve given any thought to the guy or ever heard anything at all about him.  Who is this guy?  Well it didn’t take this rocket scientist very long to figure out that he was a guy who sailed between Australia and New Guinea and then had that body of water named after him at a later date.  There’s one little problem with what I’ve just written and that is that he may not have been aware that he was sailing between Australia and New Guinea as he failed to mention anything anywhere about the Australia part of the Torres Strait.  As far as history goes, all we know is that he saw some of New Guinea.*  … and that’s where this book comes into the equation.  The author, a ship captain, delves into the murky world of old maps and journals and comes up with some controversial and interesting ideas.  But from what I can gather, there is still a lack of hard evidence.

"Here there are very large islands, and more to the south"
(Translation of Torres’ report to the king.)

Here in Australia we tend to hear quite a bit about the British discovery of Australia and a little bit about the Dutch… maybe a smidge about some of the others.  This probably has to do with the British planting of the flag, the colonization of the country by British convicts and the wars that Australia fought on behalf of the British.  It’s not that surprising that I’m not up to speed with my Torres knowledge considering the historical British bias.  It is an interesting thought that we could have been speaking Spanish instead of English… but I’m not the first to speculate about this sort of thing… and I’m sure I wont be the last.

So a book about Torres’s adventures and the possibility of his sighting of Australia a bit before Cook, is an interesting proposition… at least I think it is.  The what ifs? and the maybes are quite fascinating.  What I think is more “of interest” though, is why the Spanish didn’t do more with New Guinea.  Apparently Torres claimed bits of it and the Spanish knew about it even before he got there.  Reading the Wikipedia article on New Guinea, there doesn’t seem to be much information about this part of history.  There are probably other books and on line information about this that don’t really fall into the scope of this blog entry, but it’s something to briefly think about.

*A bit like asylum seekers seeking to come to Australia.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bellevue, text by Jeff Rian, edited by Elein Fleiss.

Bellevue, text by Jeff Rian, edited by Elein Fleiss.  Hardcover book with pictorial boards (no dust jacket) published by Purple Books / Fiction, Inc. 2000, unpaginated with colour photographs throughout.  

I’ve had this book for quite a while… a number of years… maybe 4 years(?)…but have only just listed it for sale on Books & Collectibles.  As a bookseller I don’t like to have stock that doesn’t sell or that I’ve had for “quite a while”.  Call me old fashioned, but I like books that I can sell.  Some of you may scoff at my comment particularly after reading through my previous blog entries re some of the titles I do have for sale. But seriously, i feel that most of the books I have for sale should sell otherwise why would i waste my (and your) time.  This book despite all my best efforts, has not sold.

Here at Huc & Gabet, we tend to move stock through various processes such as on line and in store and then possibly on line again depending on the item, before eventually (and sadly) marking down.  These processes can take years before we take the drastic action of putting a book in a sale bin at a drastically reduced price.  I’m a firm believer, that if a book hasn’t sold after years of trying, the chances are that it probably wont and it’s time to move the book along.

This book is a bit of an anomaly.  Initially i tried listing it on ebay, to no avail.  Then tried ebay again.  Then I took it too my first book fair and then I placed it on a shelf in a shop.  I’ve always felt that the book suffers from a lack of excitement re the title or the cover.  My poor on line description of the contents probably hasn’t helped it either.  This is partly due to the lack of information contained in the book itself, which with what information there is, is a little bit abstract. Currently I have the book described as:
“A wonderful collection of modern photography.”
…which is probably not enough to get people excited about it.  Even as I write this, I feel that I could say more, but I don’t know what to say.  So with a lack of sales (saleability) and a lack of an exciting description why do I still persist?

I like the book.  I find the images exciting and stimulating and they inspire me.  There’s lots of other books that I like that I don’t have that much of an issue letting go of, but this one… there’s something about it that prevents me from crossing through the original price and letting it go.

I really should let go of it, but you never know… actually, I think I do know.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Famine Inquiry Commission Report on Bengal.

Famine Inquiry Commission Report on Bengal. Hardcover book published by Usha Publications 1984, 236 pages.

“The Bengal famine of 1943 stands out as a great calamity even in an age all too familiar with human suffering and death on a tragic scale. With its toll of more than one and a half million deaths due to starvation and epidemic diseases, it left weeping sores that took years to heal. The famine, rightly termed as 'rice famine' in the context of the food habits in Bengal, affected mainly Bengal and the neighbouring province of Orissa only marginally, And it affected only the poorer classes in rural areas who lacked the purchasing power.”

Really, this book is a bit a downer. Just flicking through the pages is a downer.  I’ve visited West Bengal on a number of occasions and it’s a wonderful place full of (mostly) wonderful people, which is one of the reasons I have visited it on a number of occasions.  I’ve often recommended it to other travelers but it is one of those places that seems to be unable to shake the reputation of being home to the “starving millions” of India.  Rather guiltily, I’m happy to say that I ate some wonderful food whilst there, which to be honest is the benchmark for a lot of other Indian food that I have enjoyed (or not) over the years. Even know I start to salivate whilst thinking of the Dal Fry at the Khalsa restaurant just off Sudder Street in Calcutta*.  But I rather inappropriately digress, West Bengal and that part of the world has often suffered from famine. This book refers to the 1943 famine and the idea behind the report was to:

1/ Report on the famine

2/ Report on the health aspects of the famine

3/ Consider “the problems of procurement, rehabilitation and supply of protective and supplementary food for the immediate future.”**

Point three is an excellent idea for a report on anything at all resembling the calamity that took place in Bengal and is an excellent reason for a book such as this to not only exist, but to be reprinted so many years after the fact.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

Whilst writing this blog entry I was reminded of another famine in 1974 in what is now Bangladesh, which was once part of Bengal, and I had a quick read of the Wikipedia article on that famine.  I was shocked but not surprised to read the following:

“The second failure was external: the US had withheld 2.2 million tonnes of food aid, as the then US Ambassador to Bangladesh made it abundantly clear that the US probably could not commit food aid because of Bangladesh's policy of exporting jute to Cuba. And by the time Bangladesh succumbed to the American pressure, and stopped jute exports to Cuba, the food aid in transit was "too late for famine victims"”

“In terms of total mortality, though figures vary, one scholar estimates 1.5 million deaths as a reasonable estimate.” ***

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

* The city was called Calcutta at the time.  It’s now called Kolkata.
** Publishers blurb.
*** The same Wikipedia article as above.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Marine Fauna of New Zealand: King Crabs of New Zealand, Australia and the Ross Sea (Crustacea: Decapoda: Lithodidae) by Shane T. Ahyong.

The Marine Fauna of New Zealand: King Crabs of New Zealand, Australia and the Ross Sea (Crustacea: Decapoda: Lithodidae) by Shane T. Ahyong.  Paperback book published by National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd 2010, 194 pages with black and white photographs as well as a few black and white illustrations and maps, and a few colour photographs.

There are some weird pictures in this book.  Look at that cover.  You wouldn’t want to bump into that on a dark, cold, ocean floor… unless of course, you were passionate about King Crabs… or if you were a King Crab out looking for some friends, in which case you probably would want to bump into it.  I don’t have a lot experience with crabs or bumping into crabs on the ocean floor, although I did once partake in a bucket full of poached crabs whilst visiting Scotland.  From memory the crabs I ate didn’t look anything like any of the crabs in this book, but they were very tasty.

 Not a crab that I ate.

In the short term this book is a hard sell and even when I picked it up, this thought ran through my mind.  It was followed rather quickly by the thought that it would be a great book for a longer internet listing and less of an ebay item.  I just get the feeling that a title like this is something that you would want/need for a research or work purpose and less of a collectible/casual interest type of book.  Not that these sort of books are impossible to sell on ebay, this isn’t the case, it’s just from my observations it’s a little more difficult to sell these sort of academic and technical books on ebay… and elsewhere.  Despite my initial theories, I have listed it on ebay and have so far been proved correct.  It’s a great book though and enough to make me avoid the ocean floor as much as I possibly can.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Struggletown: Public and Private Life in Richmond 1900-1965 by Janet McCalman.

Struggletown: Public and Private Life in Richmond 1900-1965 by Janet McCalman.  Hardcover book published by Melbourne University Press 1984, 325 pages with some black and white photographs and one black and white map.


I’ve never lived in Richmond.  I do know plenty of people that have lived there and most of them have thoroughly enjoyed it, maybe even patriotically thoroughly enjoyed it.  Me, I’ve never been tempted, especially now that I’ve left the big smoke for the rural ideal.  But it’s still a place that I visit often when I am in the big smoke as I’m particularly fond of Vietnamese food and there’s nothing that this bookseller likes better than a big bowl of Vietnamese soup after a long hard day of book hunting.

This book has nothing to do with Vietnamese soup or me… or any of the people I know… as none of these have anything to do with Richmond pre 1965. The book does have everything to do with the working class social history of Richmond which if you’re not from Australia I should clarify that Richmond is an inner city suburb of Melbourne, Victoria.  As with many inner suburbs, Richmond has a long and interesting history* and despite its recent gentrification still maintains a very working class ambience.

As a lot of people have lived and loved in Richmond and it has that long history, it’s not surprising that a book such as this exists… and not surprising that this bookseller picked it up.  I figure that most people are like myself in that they are interested in where they live or have lived in the past (I could wrong about this).  What’s the story behind the Skipping Girl Vinegar sign (not mentioned in this book), the Nylex clock (not mentioned in this book) or the Pelaco sign (is mentioned in this book) and what’s the story behind all those other Richmond bits and pieces… actually the book is a social history so it’s more about the people and less about the signage, but the people are interesting as well and life isn’t just about advertising signage.

*Australia has a long history of which a short part of it involves European settlement.  The long history I refer to is a long part of the European settlement part of Australian history.