Apr 132014
Here's a postcard advertising a boutique hotel located in Manhattan's posh East Side that was left inside one of the many vintage paperbacks I recently purchased. Didn't make a note of the title of the book, though.

When I first saw this I thought perhaps it was an ad for a European hotel. It seemed too quaint an idea for a luxury Midtown Manhattan place.

Click to enlarge
On the reverse side is a brief blurb about the hotel.

And for those interested in seeing photos of the rooms and learning more visit the Hotel Elysée website.
 Posted by at 5:08 pm
Apr 062014
Hey gang, this a combination Left Inside post and a contest!

It's not a mystery to me, but it may be to you. I know the book in which I found this fragment of a front panel DJ being used as a bookmark.  But can you identify that book?

Your only hint: I reviewed the book in the past two weeks. The intact front panel of the original first edition DJ was used to illustrate my post. Your mission should you choose to accept it: Locate that post and match the piece shown here to the correct DJ.

Ignore the purple background.  That was a heavy book I needed to place on top of the DJ fragment in order to get it to stay put on the scanner. Pay attention only to the two letters and the yellow and white of the original design.

DO NOT LEAVE THE ANSWER IN THE COMMENTS. Instead, please email your answer. There is an email link on my profile page here.

First three people with the correct answer will receive a free book of your choosing from a list I will email you. The list will be made up of nearly every book -- both new and vintage -- that I have reviewed since the beginning of the year, plus a slew of review copies from this year and 2013 that I have amassed. Here's a chance to get a scarce vintage book or a relatively new one for free!

Good luck, Mr. Phelps.

*   *   *

Well, that was over rather fast.  I got several replies within two hours of the post and all (of course!) were 100% correct. The DJ fragment comes from Death Goes to A Reunion by Kathleen Moore Knight. The three winners are:  Brian Busby, Noah Stewart and Kelly Robinson. Shortly, I'll be sending you the list from which you can choose your book. Thanks to all who participated. Good to hear from some of you "lurkers!"
 Posted by at 3:39 pm
Jul 282013
Not really left inside, but found inside a 1915 magazine while I was doing some research for an article. Thought it a timely example of how some things haven't changed in over a century.

 Posted by at 7:34 pm
Jul 072013
We were in the Des Moines/Ames, Iowa area for Fourth of July weekend. At one of the many rest stops where Joe likes to gather brochures and flyers on intriguing restaurants that serve up regional cuisine he found a flyer for the Ox Yoke Restaurant in Amana. I said, "That place still exists?" I was a bit surprised because I have a post card advertising that eatery in my ephemera collection. We tried to get down to the home of the Ox Yoke Inn, but the bike trails kept us very busy. Next time...

The post card was left inside one of my many vintage mystery books (title long forgotten). The restaurant was started in 1940 and is now owned by an organization that owns three different OxYoke Restaurants.

More about the Ox Yoke Inn for those interested can be found at their website here.
 Posted by at 5:00 pm
Jun 232013
This was found inside one of the many copies of The Omnibus of Crime I have purchased over the years.  The Omnibus of Crime was the Book of the Month Club selection for August 1929. Inside the copy I bought was the ad seen below for the September BOMC selection, Ultima Thule by Henry Handel Richardson, a book and author I knew nothing about until I did my research for this post.

The Book of the Month Club was only three years old in 1929.  Weren't they polite in their requests? And that deadline date in giant red letters is very helpful.  I remember being a member of one of their offshoots, Quality Paperback Book Club, in the 1980s and the reminders were not anything like the one above. I usually lost the dumb postcard or forgot to mail it back by the deadline and ended up with books I had no desire to read let alone own.

"Henry Handel Richardson" turns out to be the pseudonym for Australian writer Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson who you can read about at the website for the Henry Handel Richardson Society.  (Is there a society for every forgotten author of the past?). Ultima Thule is the final novel in a trilogy about an Australian physician named Richard Mahony and is based in part of Richardson's own father and her upbringing. The three novels that make up the trilogy are Australia Felix (1917), The Way Home (1925) and Ultima Thule (1929). All three were later published in an omnibus edition and titled The Fortunes of Richard Mahony in 1930.  For a synopsis of Ultima Thule click here. Interestingly, it was only with the publication of the final volume that the entire trilogy, The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, was suddenly recognized as a great work of fiction.
 Posted by at 4:53 pm
May 262013
We have, in addition to my insanely large collection of vintage crime, adventure & supernatural fiction, a modest collection of vintage cookbooks thanks to Joe's interest in regional American cooking. The item below was found in a cookbook that appropriately enough focuses on low calorie dishes.

Who knew gardening burns more calories than a game of tennis?  That seems wrong to me. I know I sweat a lot more gardening than I do bicycling, but that's mainly due to the unshaded place where we are growing our vegetables and sunflowers.

Pepsi-Cola was invented in 1893 by a druggist in New Bern, North Carolina and first was known as Brad's Drink. Five years later it was christened Pepsi-Cola, mostly to compete with the older Coca-Cola. Diet Pepsi didn't come along until 1963 and was the first diet soda sold in the United States. Originally it was called Patio, but I found that at Wikipedia so it may be dubious. It was primarily competing with Tab. Remember Tab? I think I saw a can of it somewhere recently. Who is making it again?

Pepsi has undergone a variety of changes in the formula, logo and its marketing jingle. I know the earliest tune was "Pepsi-Cola hits the spot/Twelve full ounces that's a lot/Twice as much for a nickel too/Pepsi-Cola is the drink for you." I sang it in a goofy little musical comedy called The 1940s Radio Hour back in my theater days and I managed through the miracle of YouTube to find a medley of the earliest Pepsi jingles in the clip below.

And for those of you of my generation or older (and perhaps a little younger) you may recall being part of "The Pepsi Generation." I thought this was the name of a long running jingle for Pepsi's ad campaign in the 60s and 70s, but the actual title is "You've Got a Lot to Give." It was on TV all the time throughout all of my teen years in the 1970s. "It's the Pepsi Generation/Comin' at ya, goin' strong" still pops into my head nearly every time I see a can of Pepsi Throwback -- the new name for the very old, original formula which is made with sugar and not the evil high fructose corn syrup that has ruined the taste of everything from soda to fruit juice to cereal. And I will dismount my nutritional soap box before I go off on a tirade.

Here's the full length 1970s version in a tempo I remember celebrating a variety of multi-cultural, multi-racial people in a typically upbeat and Utopian version of the turbulent 1970s:

 Posted by at 11:36 pm
May 052013
This is the perhaps the strangest bit of writing I've ever found inside a book. I recently bought an old paperback edition of The Balcony by Dorothy Cameron Disney and in flipping through the pages (as I always do looking for something hidden inside) I discovered the last blank page was filled with bizarre writing.

I thought it especially ironic that something this desperate and fearful would appear in a book that has a fair amount of "Had I But Known" type narrative. At first I thought it may have something to so with Disney's story, but there are no characters in the book with any of the names in this scrawled message.

Transcription for those who have difficulty with script writing:

Why did Lynn call me to ask how are you doing[?] very odd
Why Linda not call or talk to me[?] its Sunday
Why did Ralph call me[?] very strange and it seems as if my time & Ebbys here is running out
I feel very scared
They get me a nice place he said
I am so sad never been so scared if only Don were here
Eban is very restless for the past 3 days too
I pray to join Don every night
 Posted by at 2:30 pm
Mar 312013
In a recent book buying coup I snagged several extremely scarce books, a few with dust jackets. One of those books is The Black Cap, a collection of stories dealing with crime and the supernatural. It is edited by Lady Cynthia Asquith, a writer who dabbled in ghost stories and other genre fiction and who also collected unusual ghost and crime stories for a variety of anthologies.

The book itself is in amazing condition but many of the books I ended up purchasing had several dogeared pages -- and not just the upper corner but the lower corners.  Sometimes the pages were turned from odd to even page, other times the opposite direction. It was maddening to discover this.  The books would be in Very Good, some in Fine, condition if it were not for this annoying practice of the previous owner.  When I got home with my purchases I spent a good portion of the night going through all eight books and turning back carefully all the dog- eared corners and afterwards stacking the books and pressing them with weights.

While paging through this book I discovered only one story had been dogeared -- "The Smile of Karen" by Oliver Onions.  Onions was a unique writer who immersed himself in all sorts of styles and genres, but he is probably best known for his collection of excellent ghost stories Widdershins. That book includes the masterful tale "The Beckoning Fair One" which has been adapted for TV and radio many times. Between the pages of "The Smile of Karen" I found an index card with some odd phrases.

I read the story and the phrase "the smile that touched her generous lips" appears nowhere.  It's an eerie narrative with a fairy tale quality about a man who has oppressive control over his beautiful much younger wife.  He is also a woodcarver of amazing, other-worldly talent.  He has created a small statue of his wife but the eerie object has no face or expression. When the narrator asks why the statue is unfinished the woodcarver says: "Once she did not smile and I was happy, now she smiles always and it drives me mad."  The narrator of the tale befriends Karen and learns she is having a secret affair with a handsome man closer to her own age. She confides in the narrator that if  her husband discovers the identity of her lover he is certain to plot revenge. The tale ends in gruesome murder with a final grisly twist related to the statue.

Why the previous owner who wrote those phrases and stuck the card in a story of jealousy, possessiveness and vengeful rage eludes me. While there are passing references to Karen's beauty and the virility and handsome looks of Niccolo, her lover, I found nothing beautiful about the story.
 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Mar 172013
Another unusual handmade bookplate.  Can't remember the name of the book I found it in.  It's hand drawn in ink.  I see initials in the lower corners: H.G.  Haven't a clue what they stand for. For some reason this reminds me of Pennsylvania Dutch or Amish artwork.

 Posted by at 5:33 pm
Mar 032013
I was going to bend the rules this week for "Left Inside" and include something Joe and I found in a parking lot while on our weekend vacation in San Jose/Santa Cruz and the surrounding redwood forest state parks.  But when I came home and discovered I had seven packages of books waiting for me to be opened that plan changed.

In the very last package was a beautiful copy of a very scarce book -- The Mystery at Stowe by Vernon Loder -- soon to be reviewed here. Check out the condition of the dust wrapper seen at right. It's nearly flawless! Only one crease on the spine and tiny chip on the rear panel (not pictured). When I flipped through the stunningly white unstained pages I found the assurance offer card -- or insurance as we call it in North America -- pictured below. One of the few times I've found something inside a book I purchased via the internet. And so direct from a Toronto bookseller and Vernon Loder's debut mystery novel comes today's legitimate "Left Inside" object.

That's only nine pennies a day, by the way. I don't think they use pennies as a form of currency in the U.K. anymore. I don't even know why d. is used as an abbreviation for pennies. But my curiosity had to be satisfied so I went a-Googling. Here is the arcane reason taken from a website on the history of British currency.
A penny was expressed as the letter 'd' - an abbreviation for denarius which was a silver Roman coin.
Who knew? Probably some astute numismatist.

It appears the previous owner may have taken advantage of the offer since the attached coupon is no longer attached and the perforated edge (not easily seen in the photo) proves the coupon was torn off.

When I flipped over the card I learned that advertisement was intended as a bookmark!  Also, the owner of this book -- or the owner of the card -- had a shared interest of mine. He or she was very interested in old crime fiction. The list revealed titles that were originally published long before 1936 when this reprint of Loder's book was reissued. With a little bit of verifying the titles, authors and dates of publication I learned something about the reading tastes of the previous owner.

I am sure that The Secret is not that new age rip-off of Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking that was all the rage about three or four years ago thanks mostly due to Oprah Winfrey's cultish book club. Instead, it is most likely a thriller by E. Phillips Oppenheim published in 1907 (known as The Great Secret in the US) but still available in reprint editions in the 1930s. The Secret Cargo (1913) is by the ridiculously prolific and inexplicably popular J. S. Fletcher, a writer whose work I find exceptionally formulaic and mediocre. The last title, after looking up possibilities in Hubin, turns out to be yet another Oppenheim book called The World's Great Snare (1896).

As for that third title: Sweet Life is not a crime novel nor thriller. The title does not appear in my most recent update of Hubin's Crime Fiction: A Comprehensive Bibliography.  I did however find Sweet Poison, Sweet Death, Sweet and Low, and of course Sweet Revenge, multiple times among many other sweet and deadly titles. Turns out the only book published between 1900 and 1936 with that title is by Kathlyn Rhodes. It was her debut novel according to some publicity by her publisher Hutchinson & Company:
Vivid descriptions of the entrancing scenery of the East, incident crowding upon incident, romantic situations, exciting intrigues, unexpected dénouements hold and absorb the interest from start to finish.

is the assured success of 1918,
as GERTRUDE PAGE was the success of 1916

Fired with enthusiasm to win fame as a novelist, Kathlyn Rhodes began her career before her school days were ended. Sweet Life followed shortly afterwards; and the appreciation which this won encouraged the authoress to follow quickly with other stories. Choice of subject she holds to be of primary importance. With the war depressing us all around, she believes that many readers prefer stories that permit them for the time to forget it; and this she achieves by her delightful flights of fancy through the realms of many lands.
Interestingly, Rhodes is listed in Hubin as having written two crime novels in the 1930s and four other books with marginal crime content. I think, however, based on the title and the publicity above that Sweet Life is the only romance "Previous Owner" was looking forward to reading.
 Posted by at 5:11 pm

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