Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Willkommen... to Frenchman Bay, Maine
Germany's 1899 Plan for Invading the United States

How do you say "More lobster, please" in German? If German plans more than a century ago had actually been implemented, that phrase may have become part of the new Maine vernacular.

Politics of Frustration: The United States in German Naval Planning, 1889-1941, by Holger H. Herwig; Little, Brown and Company, Boston (1976).

This book caught my eye for historical reasons (intriguing history!) as well for the lone illustration in the book which shows plans for a German invasion of the United States in 1899. Two routes were mapped out with the first depicting the would-be conquerors landing in Frenchman Bay, Maine.

This book details the history of the German-American Naval rivalry dating back to an encounter in 1889 and culminating World War II. Incidents in that initial encounter of the two navies in Samoa generated such antagonism that the Kaiser developed plans for an invasion of the United States in 1899. An Invasion Plan (map above) is presented as an illustration on this book.

Mehr Hummer, bitte!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A plate of Belgian lace

I have a chromolithograph plate, for which I am trying to find the book it illustrates. I found the folio-size plate (12 X 17 inches), matted and framed (since removed), hanging in a resale shop, and walked out with it for $7. Bargain? I don't know for sure, but I think so. I only know that it reminded me of a trip to Belgium in 1994 and walking through the old city of Bruges along the aged cobblestone streets, window shopping for chocolate and lace with my wife. I thought she might like the old plate I found the other day. She did. It may have a new home in our home, but first I want to find out something about where it came from. Depending on value, it may have a new home elsewhere via ebay.

The title of the plate is Brussels Lace, by V. Washer of Brussels. In small print above the title, and just below the chromolithograph, are some good bibliographic clues that help identify the book from which the plate may have originated:

London. Chromolithographed and published by Day & Son,
Lithographers to the Queen
J.B. Waring, direx.t

Using this information in a keyword search, I was able to locate a few copies of a book, or set of books, that seem to fit the bill for my plate:
Masterpieces of Industrial Art & Sculpture at the International Exposition, 1862 (3-volume set), edited by J.B. Waring. There are more than 300 chromolithograph plates in the set. Other books I found were ruled out if the number of plates in the book was less than than 109, the number assigned to my plate. The International Exhibit was like a World's Fair type of event, and was held in London in 1851 and 1861. Images, like the one below, of the 1862 Exhibit can be found at the Science and Society Picture Library site.

I may have even found the lithographer who actually did the chromolithographs for the book and, thus, the plate now in my possession. Researching the International Exhibition of 1862 led me to a related book, Victorian Decorated Trade Bindings 1830-1880, by Edmund M.B. King, Oak Knoll Press (2003). An excerpt of the book referenced William Robert Tymms, artist and engraver, who created the chromolithographs for J. B. Waring’s Masterpieces of the Industrial Art & Sculpture at the International Exhibition, 1862.

All I need now is the final piece of proof that my detective work is on target. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Happy Birthday, Lou Gehrig!

The Iron Horse is 105 today. He died a little over 66 years ago on June 2, 1941. Twenty-three years later, in 1964, I made my first trip to the school library (2nd grade) and selected Lou Gehrig: Boy of the Sandlots, by Guernsey Van Riper; Bobbs-Merril, 1959. This selection coincided with my beginning Little League Baseball. I was eight years old and in love with the sport. Lou Gehrig became my hero after I read this Childhood of Famous Americans classic.

Several decades later, before I got into bookselling and more serious collecting, I learned there was an edition that preceded the edition I grew up with. The first edition was published in 1949, same publisher (Bobbs-Merrill). It was illustrated with silhouettes instead of pictures. I could not relate to this or any other of the silhouette books in the series. I grew up with the reprints, and, as a collector now, I still look for and prefer the reprints, whose jackets of soft colors and basic geometric shapes never fail to provide me with a burst of pleasant nostalgia. I do collect the first editions, but they don't create that connection with my childhood like the later printings do.

Here are a few other Gehrig biographies from my collection. These are a bit harder to find than other books written about him.

Lou Gehrig: A Quiet Hero, by Frank Graham; G.P. Putnam's Sons, NY, 1942

Lou Gehrig: Pride of the Yankees, by Paul Gallico; Grosset & Dunlap, NY, 1942 (Jacket features Gehrig and Gary Cooper, who played Gehrig in the 1942 film, Pride of the Yankees)

Lou Gehrig: The Iron Horse of Baseball, by Richard Hubler; Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1941

My Luke and I: Mrs. Gehrig's Joyous and Tragic Love for the Iron man of Baseball, by Eleanor Gehrig and Joseph Durso; Thomas Y. Crowell Company, NY, 1976