cynic’s calendar 1906

Sunday I emptied another of the boxes of books that went from Stanley’s storage bin to our front room (three or four years ago—yikes!) It was a box of the books collected and sometimes rebound by Stanley’s mother and father.

It took me about an hour longer than it should have since, of course, I wanted to look at every book. It struck me how much more care and thought went into making books up until, I’d guess, the late 1950s or so. The typeface, the ornaments, the decorations, the endpapers. The publishers were as proud of their books as the authors—so much so that colophons seemed to be the norm. I haven’t seen a colophon in a new book—at least, none that I can recall.

Of course, I have a passion for type (the road not taken, I think), so I’ve always noticed it in book designs (and ads and magazines and ... ) Stanley’s father, Tommy Thompson (Samuel Winfield Thompson), was a type designer (he designed Quillscript, Mademoiselle, Baltimore Script among many other faces) so I thought I’d died and gone to heaven with the wealth of type-related resources in this house. Tommy was a protegé of W. A. Dwiggins, one of my favorite type designers (Metro is probably my favorite face), so there is a good-sized collection of work by and correspondence with Dwiggins. I even found a book designed, set, and signed by Goudy! But, what I’m writing about now is ...

One book really caught my fancy: The Complete Cynic’s Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1906 by Ethyl Watts Mumford, Oliver Herford, and Addison Mizner. The cover is wonderful:

The Complete Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1906 cover

The days of the week per date are the same this year as they were in 1906—maybe that’s why this particular book struck me (or it could’ve been the quotes—I, and particularly Stanley, are as cynical now about the things people were cynical about 100 years ago. Some things never change, it seems.) Here is the page for the first week in January:

The Complete Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1906 week one

This book was published in 1905 by Paul Elder and Company of San Francisco, and printed by The Tomoyé Press (San Francisco). I’ve scanned a few more pages from this book and put them on the jump page if you care to see them.

The flyleaf:

cynic's calendar flyleaf

The title page:

cynic's calendar title

The copyright page:

cynic's calendar copyright

The dedication page:

cynic's calendar dedication

A “memoranda” page:

cynic's calendar memoranda

There are more arts & crafts era books, and lots of other wonderful books—one a small tribute book dedicated to the work of Paul Rand, one about patterns through the years that I want to send to Candy (I set it aside a couple of weeks ago—now I just have to find it again), an original Beatrix Potter book (and a Kate Greenway). There are several hundred books in the collection to go through. I’m getting a lot of ideas for website design from them too. And embroidery designs, which I’ve been itching to do again (if I can keep the cats away from the thread).

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