Sun 267

Posted in Records with tags , , , , , , on February 26, 2010 by incunable

Jerry Lee Lewis recorded the single Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee on May 27th, 1957.  The song reached number one on the R&B and country charts, and number three on the Billboard pop charts, and skyrocketed Jerry Lee to stardom.  Later that same year, Lewis recorded his second hit, Great Balls of Fire, which increased his fame and notoriety as a Rock n’ Roll icon.  Pictured above is an original 45 rpm recording of this important milestone in music history.  For an unbridled display of Jerry Lee in action check out the following clip in which he performs live on a televised UK broadcast from 1964, then hear more about how it all began on NPR’s All Things Considered.

CLICK HERE…NPR- All Things Considered


Posted in Books, Glossary with tags , , , , , , , on February 22, 2010 by incunable

Vellum is mammal skin obtained most commonly from calves and sheep, though it can also be produced from other animals such as goats, pigs and horses.  Unlike leather, vellum is untanned, and is distinctly identifiable by its whitish color and smooth taut texture.  Because of its strength and durability, vellum has been used throughout history for printing, writing and book binding.  It can withstand extreme wear, but one of the drawbacks of using vellum as a book binding material is its tendency to shrink.  Early binders compensated for this by adding clasps to their bindings, which held the book firmly closed and helped to prevent the covers from warping due to shrinkage. The clasps also worked to prevent vellum pages from curling.  The volume shown here, in its original vellum binding, contains a series of religious moral plays written by Don Pedro Calderon (1600-1681).  Calderon was one of the most important dramatists from the golden age of Spanish theater.  This edition, which includes simple ball and loop clasps, was printed by Manuel Ruiz de Murga in Madrid in the year 1717.

Salvation Lass

Posted in Ephemera with tags , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2010 by incunable

These paper masks were worn at parties and other social gatherings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The first character, a sort of menacing clown, is labeled on the back with its original 5-cent price tag from Wannamaker’s department store, but remains otherwise unidentified.  The second character is clearly marked as having been produced by Raphael Tuck & Sons, famous for their postcards of the period, and is titled “Salvation Lass.”  This term was apparently used to describe proper young girls who worked as pamphleteers and solicitors for the Salvation Army.  The girl’s stiff bonnet, modestly parted hair and heavenward gaze attest to her wholesomeness.  These two masks are excellent examples of fine chromolithography, embossing, and die cutting.  The detail is amazing, not only in the variation of color and tone but also in the fact that the facial features, including individual wrinkles and strands of hair, have a raised texture acquired through the embossing process when the cardstock was stamped and shaped with heated brass molds.  Reproductions of many character masks from the period are available today and, though they don’t approach the quality of these originals, I can say from experience that their effect on observers is remarkable.

Note: Due to resolution conflicts, the images appear grainier than they actually are.  To correct for this problem, images can be opened, saved to your desktop and then viewed in their original clarity.

La Africana

Posted in Ephemera with tags , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2010 by incunable

These risqué images were offered in packs of La Africana cigarillos by the Vaccaro Company of Peru as a way of luring potential customers.  Tobacco cards were first produced as premiums in the mid nineteenth century, and continued to grow in popularity until World War I.  These particular images, printed circa 1900, are scandalous compared to the more common cigarette cards of the day which included such mundane subjects as ships, birds, flags of the world, and military uniforms.

Gauffered Edges

Posted in Books, Glossary with tags , , , , on February 4, 2010 by incunable

Gauffering describes the act of applying a patterned decoration to the text block edges of a book.  This type of ornamentation is used most often on books with gold or gilded edges.  The example shown is a copy of The Poetical Works of John Dryden, which has been gauffered with a rope and star pattern using heated metal stamps and rollers.

London Cries and Public Edifices

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , on February 3, 2010 by incunable

This rare volume advertises the historical attractions of 1840s London as well as the various street vendors found within the city, and the wares they plied.  The pages contain descriptive passages along with sketches created by John Leighton, whose pen name was Luke Limner.  Found within many of the sketches is the artist’s cleverly hidden monogram.  The initials JL appear on a broadside hanging from a nearby wall in one image, and in another image they are ornately embossed on the capital of a wooden column.  Books and prints similar to this, documenting the rhetoric of London hawkers, have been produced for centuries.  Though you are more likely these days to see a fish and chips vendor in London– knife grinders, broom makers, sellers of mussels and roasted corn, are still a common sight on the streets of many Asian cities.

There is no copyright date present but research indicates it was originally published in 1847.  The front endpaper is inscribed,

“For Mother-  London, October 8th, 1875.”

Other titles attributed to Limner include:

“The ancient story of the old dame and her pig”
“Our tom cat and his nine lives”
“Money: how old Brown made it, and… spent it”


Posted in Records with tags , , , , , , , on January 31, 2010 by incunable

Odetta played a key role in resurrecting the history and vitality of folk music during the 1950s and 60s. Described as the queen of American folk music by Martin Luther King, jr., her career highlights include performances at the Newport Folk Festival, and the civil rights March on Washington. This LP, released by RCA Victor in 1963, was one of the year’s best selling folk albums. To get a taste of Odetta in action, check out the following clips.