All Things Printed & Recorded: Ephemera, Etc.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For December, we’re looking at one of our smaller but most interesting product categories: ephemera—miscellaneous printed materials that have become collectible over time. Common examples found in HPB stores include sheet music, postcards and posters.

TIMELIMEsheet music singers
1457  The Mainz Psalter is the first printed book to include music, though the notation is added in by hand. 
1840  The world’s first picture postcard is sent when British writer Theodore Hook mails a self-made card to himself.
1891  Toulouse-Lautrec’s artful poster designs spark a poster craze in Paris.
1917-1918  During World War I, the US government prints 2,500 different posters to aid in the war effort, including the famous “I Want You” recruiting poster featuring Uncle Sam.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Cheret posterBefore the advent of recording, sheet music dominated the music industry. The late 1800s saw the zenith of “parlor music,” with people gathering around the piano to play and sing the popular songs of the day.
  • “Large letter” postcards, usually printed on linen-textured paper, were popular during the mid-20th century. The style was developed by Chicago-based Curt Teich and Company.
  • In the 1880s, French painter and lithographer Jules Chéret ushered in modern advertising with a new printing process that allowed for brighter colors and more economical mass production of large posters.
  • Psychedelic posters of the 1960s, like the ones produced by The Family Dog, were influenced by Art Nouveau and Surrealism.

Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book A History of Postcards: A Pictorial Record From the Turn of the Century to the Present Day, Martin Willoughby
book Postcards: Ephemeral Histories of Modernity, David Prochaska & Jordana Mendelson
book Toulouse Lautrec and La Vie Moderne: Paris 1880–1910, Phillip Dennis Cate, et al.
book Toulouse Lautrec: A Life, Julia Frey
slate_film-512 Discovery of Art: Toulouse Lautrec
book World War I Posters: 100th Anniversary Collectors Edition, Edward J. White
book World War II Posters In Color, Philip Martin McCaulay
book Jules Cheret: Artist of the Belle Epoque and Pioneer of Poster Art, Michael Buhrs, et al
book Posters of Jules Cheret: 46 Full Color Plates and Illustrated Catalogue Risonne, Lucy Broido
book High Art: A History of the Psychedelic Poster, Ted Owen, Denise Dickson & Walter Patrick Medeiros
book Off the Wall: Psychedelic Rock Posters From San Francisco, Amelie Gastaut & Jean-Pierre Criqui
slate_film-512 24 X 36: A Movie About Movie Posters
music-note-2 American Classics: Parlor Music Revisited, Daniel Kobialka

All Things Printed & Recorded: Board Games Take A Turn

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For November, we’ve got all the pieces in place for a look at the history of board games.

TIMELINE

2650 BCE  The Royal Game of Ur is played in Mesopotamia.playing checkers
1300 BCE  Two-player strategy game Ludus latrunculorum is played throughout the Roman Empire.
1822  The first American-made board game, Travellers Tour Through the United States, debuts.
1935  Monopoly is released. It would go on to become the biggest selling board game in US history.
1995  European strategy game The Settlers of Catan is released. It has since been translated into 30 languages and called “the board game of our time.”

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The Checkered Game of Life, released in 1860 by lithographer Milton Bradley, is known as America’s first popular parlor game and is the basis for the modern-day Game of Life.
  • Checkers, known as draughts in the UK, has been played in one form or another for centuries, having evolved from the early Middle Eastern game Alquerque.
  • The boot, thimble and wheelbarrow are among the Monopoly pieces to be discontinued in recent years.
  • The ancient Egyptian game Senet, which somewhat resembles Backgammon, dates to 3100 BCE and can be seen in this painting from the tomb of Queen Nefertari.

Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book The Oxford History of Board Games, David Parlett
book The Games We Played: The Golden Age of Board & Table Games, Margaret Hofer
book The Master of Go, Kawabata
book It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan, Tristan Donovan
book The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game, Mary Pilon
book The Player of Games, Iain Banks
book The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers, from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit, Philip Orbanes
slate_film-512 Searching for Bobby Fischer (movie)
slate_film-512 Clue (movie)
slate_film-512 Word Wars (movie)
slate_film-512 Jumanji (movie)

Behind the Book: When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis

Editor’s Note: When the Men Were Gone is a debut historical novel centered on the truly inspiring story of a high school teacher who surprises everyone when she breaks with tradition to become the first female high school football coach in Texas. Set during WWII, Tylene Wilson faces extreme opposition but shows what courage really means. This inspiring story has won hearts everywhere and was chosen as our Book Club selection for October and November. We had the opportunity to discuss the book with Marjorie Herrera Lewis, which you can read about below.

This is your debut novel- what did you learn about the process of crafting a book?
The biggest lesson I learned about the process of crafting a book is that it’s hard; it’s really hard. It takes discipline, passion, skill and a willingness to learn something new almost every day.

MHLBOOKCOVER

What first interested you in Tylene Wilson’s story?
The story resonated with me the instant I was told what Tylene had done. I am a career sports journalist, and to discover that a woman had coached football in the 1940s took my breath away. I also felt connected to her in a way because I was the first woman assigned to the Dallas Cowboys beat in the 1980s. I knew firsthand what it was like to work in a male-dominated field. I was drawn to what I imagined she had endured. Continue reading

Behind the Book: The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos

The Girl They Left Behind is a breathtaking novel set in war-torn Bucharest that follows the life of Natalia, a child abandoned by her parents who had hopes that her abandonment would mean she would have a better life. It is a tale of unrelenting love and sacrifice, of what defines a family and how to come to terms with one’s past. We recently talked to Veletzos about her incredible debut.

Congratulations on your debut novel! Have you always wanted to be a writer or is this a new development in your life?
Thank you so much! Writing has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I think I fell in love with it when I was about seven or eight, and my first story was entered in a children’s writing competition in my native Bucharest. Ever since I’ve written and read constantly, and in the early years of my family’s move to California, it brought me such solace. Eventually this led to a degree in journalism and work as a copywriter and editor—but it wasn’t until 2010, after bracing some health challenges with my youngest son and my father’s unexpected passing, that my dream of crafting a novel began to take shape. One night during that challenging period, I came across on my hard drive something I’d written three, maybe four years earlier, and it was as if someone had grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me. It turns out that those pages became the opening chapter of The Girl They Left Behind, which I then went on to complete in less than two years.

bookcover

What initially drew you to write a story set in Bucharest during World War II?
I have to say, several factors. Most importantly, my family’s story of survival during the war and the years of Soviet occupation was nothing short of fascinating and harrowing, giving me rich material to work with. Secondly, Romania’s history in that time has so seldomly been covered in modern literature, and I wanted to bring some of it to light through the eyes and experiences of my characters. Thirdly, I suppose it was simply nostalgia for my native city—and a desire to reconnect to it on some level. In fact, many of the piazzas and streets that I describe in my novel come directly from my recollections as a child. Continue reading

All Things Printed & Recorded: Ready. Cassette. Go!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For October, we’re hitting rewind on the history of the cassette tape.

TIMELINE
1928  Magnetic tape is invented by Fritz Pfleumer.cassette
1963  Philips introduces the compact cassette; it is first used for dictation machines.
1968  The first in-dashboard car cassette player appears.
1968  Dolby noise reduction gives cassettes better sound and more viability for music. 
1993  Compact discs overtake cassettes in sales. By 2000, a tiny percentage of music is sold on cassette.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Mixtapes on cassette—homemade compilations of songs in a carefully considered order, often given to another person—were a mainstay in the 1980s. Novelist Nick Hornby wrote in High Fidelity, “making a tape is like writing a letter—there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again.”
  • Bill Lear of Lear Jet Corporation led the development of the 8-track, which debuted in 1964 and was common until the early 80s. Some record labels released 8-track tapes as late as 1988.
  • Due to their small size, cassettes made music personal and portable, paving the way for products like stereo boom boxes and the Sony Walkman.

Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture, Thurston Moore
book Cassette From My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Love, Jason Bitner
book Tape, Steven Camden
book Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time, Rob Sheffield
book High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
slate_film-512 High Fidelity 
slate_film-512 Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape

Behind the Book: The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

EDITORS NOTE: From debut author Imogen Hermes Gowar comes The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, an atmospheric historical fiction novel set in 18th century London. The elegant prose and magical realism transports you to a world of opulence and turmoil. Gowar’s rich visuals and detailed descriptions kept us reading and reading and reading! We had the opportunity to catch up with Imogen recently. Read on to discover her answers to our questions!

MermaidandMrsHancock.hc c

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock is such a unique story. Where did your inspiration come from? Was there something in particular that drew you to mermaids?
I’ve been interested in the supernatural since childhood, and that definitely includes mermaids. I was particularly compelled by the traditional mermaid myths: the idea that they had a dangerous, inexorable power as much rooted in melancholy and longing as in anything erotic.

I was also really interested in the way people thought of mermaids, as opposed to how they were displayed. The goblin-like counterfeit mermaid effigies that were popular in the eighteenth century and beyond didn’t bear a huge resemblance to the sexy damsels of popular imagination, but people were willing to be taken in by them nevertheless. While I was working at the British Museum I came across one of these fake mermaids—it’s made from a monkey’s torso stitched to a salmon’s tail—and it is oddly chilling. I could immediately imagine the sort of man who might want to acquire it: how he would bridge the gulf between how it looked and what he wished to believe. Continue reading

All Things Printed & Recorded: Fast Forward – Video Hits Home

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For June, we’re hitting rewind to check out the history of home video.

TIMELINE
1950s & 1960s  Early videotape formats are used in broadcasting but are too expensive for consumers.
1975  Sony’s Betamax format debuts. Some early players included a 19-inch color monitor.
1976  The first VCR using VHS (Video Home System), the Victor HR-3300, debuts in Japan.
1977  RCA’s VBT200 becomes the first VHS-based VCR in the US.
1987  90% of VCRs sold in the US are based on the VHS format.
2006  A History of Violence is the last major film released on VHS.
2016  The last known manufacturer of VCRs ceases production.

DID YOU KNOW?

VCR copy.png

  • Betamax had a better picture, smaller tapes and debuted first. But VHS won the “format war” thanks to longer recording times and less costly players.
  • LaserDisc, introduced in 1978, was the first optical disc format for home video. It was a hit with cinephiles and paved the way for DVD and Blu-ray.
  • With the advent of the VCR in the 1970s, consumers could, for the first time, own copies of their favorite movies and record TV shows to watch later.

Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!
book VHS: Absurd, Odd, And Ridiculous Relics From The Videotape Era, Joe Pickett & Nick Prueher
book VHS Ate My Brain, Andrew Hawnt
book The Last Days Of Video, Jeremy Hawkins
book Video Revolutions: On The History Of A Medium, Michael Z. Newman
book Videoland: Movie Culture At The American Video Store, Daniel Herbert
slate_film-512 Rewind This!
slate_film-512 V/H/S
slate_film-512 Clerks
slate_film-512 Be Kind Rewind

Five American Writers Who Served

On November 11, America will pause to honor all those who have served in its Armed Forces. Veterans Day as we know it was established in 1954, when Congress changed the name of Armistice Day and broadened its definition—what had been primarily a celebration of World War I vets was redefined as a day dedicated to all military veterans.

Here at HPB, we’re thankful for all who’ve donned the uniform to fight for our country. But being the bookish types we are, we thought it’d be interesting to consider a few of the great American writers who spent time in the military. Most of these authors wrote about their war experience, and it’s safe to say that all of them were shaped by it in profound ways. The writer Norman Mailer called it the worst experience of his life but also the most valuable.

Joseph Heller
HellerThe novelist of Catch-22 fame joined the U.S. Army Air Corps at age 19, shortly after America entered World War II. He was sent to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, and from there flew 60 combat missions as a B-25 bombardier. After the war, Heller went to college on the G.I. Bill and worked as an advertising copywriter before the publication of Catch-22 established him in the literary world. The satirical novel, published in 1961, is decidedly anti-war, but it has been used by the U.S. Air Force Academy to teach about the dangers of bureaucracy. Heller even appeared at the Academy in 1986 for a celebration of the book’s 25th anniversary.

Continue reading

Washington, Lincoln—and Adams, Too! (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

Presidents’ Day began as a holiday to mark the birthday of the Father of Our Country, first President George Washington. It was later expanded to include the beloved 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. They’re most certainly worthy recipients of a holiday, but we’re thinking it’s time to also give a little love to Father George’s successor, second Prez John Adams. (Especially since he got cut from the hit musical Hamilton.)

And what better way to honor John Adams than to show off a first edition copy of this important 1787 book explaining his theories of the government of this country?

A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America
John Adams
1787, London. Printed for C. Dilly, in the Poultry
First Edition. In original binding.
$10,000johnadamsAdams intended to write a single volume. The first, published in London, was so successful that Adams was encouraged to write a second volume and then a third. The book promotes a mixed government in which “the rich, the well-born and the able” are separated into a senate, unable to dominate a lower house of representatives.

This copy, available at our South Arlington store, is in remarkable condition, considering its age and historical importance. The book is fragile but complete. There is an owner inscription from 1787 and a presentation inscription from 1909.

Interested in purchasing this piece of American history or learning more about it? Contact the Buy Guy!

Steve is the”Buy Guy” at Half Price Books Corporate.

3 Must See Movies This Black History Month

Anyone who knows me at all understands that I am a movie junkie. So when thinking about Black History Month, I can’t help but think one of the best ways to celebrate is to go down to your local cinema and check out some of the great films that are out about black-American culture and black-American history.

The first movie you should check out is Hidden Figures. This is the true story of mathematicians Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who were all employed by NASA and were the masterminds of calculating trajectories and orbits to get the first American, astronaut John Glenn, in to space. Katherine Johnson was also given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November of 2015 by President Barack Obama for her work with the space program.

nintchdbpict000297871857 Continue reading