Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Taking a tack off course

On June 4th my son and his beautiful partner will be wed in New York City in a fantastic celebration at one of Gotham's boutigue hotels.

I will resume posting again after that.

Needless to say I am thrilled and am looking forward to this particular gam with all the excitement of the proudest father in the world.

Friday, May 20, 2011

1955 Pocket Library Paperback Moby-Dick

Our first idea for this post was the nice comparison of the cover art between this edition and the previous post.

Essentially, this is the same depiction of a whale destroying the whale boats with the whaling ship in the background, allowing the viewer to know that there is some measure of safety in the trade, despite the obvious dangers.

Yet, upon further review of the 1955 Pocket Library cover, we all agreed that there is a bigger issue here to be illuminated.

The cover price of the book is 35 cents. That lead to a lively discussion of money, wealth, financial security and ultimately things treasured. In 1955 the purchaser turned over, most likely, a quarter and a dime in exchange for this book, would this be the only purchase.

Today if we were to sell it we would accept as fair 35 cents for it. Hence it could be argued that the book held some of its original value over the decades. We all are aware obviously that the 35 cents today is worth a whole lot less than the 35 cents of 1955.

The coins tendered in 1955 would have been silver, and the coins received today would not. That alone would account for a huge different in the intrinsic value of the book, then and now.

Thus this book is illustrative of the importance of safe guarding ones investments. For over time, those investments degrade and lose their value, despite all efforts to the contrary. It is the natural order of the universe: decay with time.

Wether we are concerned with Moby-Dick editions or stocks, bonds, real estate, or silver one must keep an alert eye on ones investments, it is important not to let them lose value because there is no whaling ship out there to rescue you when your investments decay. The 35 cents of 1955 is not the 35 cents of 2011. Each one of us is captain of our own whale boat and solely responsible for those in it with us, trite as that and this post seems.

As this is published we are managing our elderly parents in the last leg of their voyage, and that makes us aware of our voyage and hopefully we manage that for our children, so that there is some treasure of love left for them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

1980 Signet Classic Moby-Dick paperback

Bent corners, warn parts, underlining and check marks, dirty end papers, all the hall mark of a read book.

Here is the 1980 Signet Classic Moby-Dick that is inscribed G. Eric Lilja Mallory house . Actually G. Eric Lilja wrote his name in 3 locations, just to be sure that this book screams "Belongs to me!".

Maybe Mallory House is the same house of that name at Oberlin College. There is a small linkage between Albany NY and Oberlin. Perhaps someday Eric will stumble on the post or some one who knows him, and comment. That would be brilliant! Please do.

Eric underlined and noted in the margins in a very elegant creative and precise hand. The kind of handwriting that TMDC adores.

Monday, May 16, 2011

2008 Webster's Afrikaans Thesaurus Edition

When we first conceived of The Moby-Dick Collection, we envisioned a catalogue of the various printed editions of the masterpiece. It was to be a kind of a stamp collection like endeavor. At the least it was to be a catalogue of each of the known printed editions, with the collection's holdings to be examples of as many books as could be gathered together given the resources.

As many of you seasoned TMDC readers know it quickly turned into more than that, with the edition of foreign language editions. And as this blog progressed, the individual books themselves begin to tell stories, who owned them, where they came from, and so on.

This post is a combination of all of the finest quirks of TMDC.

Here is a recent addition, the 2008 Webster's Afrikaans Thesaurus. As the picture shows, this is the english text of the book with a thesaurus on each page with the Afrikaans words for various english words, presumably this is for the Afrikaan speaking person, who is learning to read English. So one can see that the Afrikaan word for Whale is Walvis. If we are not mistaken there is a Walvis Bay in South Africa.

This book came into our position this year as a birthday gift from my sister, Sarah, to celebrate my 61 st birthday.

Sarah P. D___ is a world traveler for her vocation and avocation. There is not a month that does not go by that she is not off to some far off land. Immediately, Dubai, Manila, Istanbul, and Ireland all come to mind as places Sarah has been in the last year or two.

When she went to Manila,I began silly requests like, "bring me some envelopes" and last year when she was in Vienna, "Hey, how about bringing back some sausages.. you know the little fellas in the can!"

Im not sure Sarah at first appreciated my oblique humor. But she became a bit of a sport.

This year she travelled to South Africa, and it occurred to me to combine my silly requests with The Moby-Dick Collection, so I asked her to pick up an Afrikaans edition of Melville's classic. She had a bit of a layover between safaris and work, and she searched the bookstores but to no avail. However, she did manage to score this edition, which she proudly shipped to me, and it arrived in time for the big birthday doings! Three Cheers to Sage (as we called her in our youth)

Which brings me to this picture: Here is a little something I have kept in the WOPettit archives all these many years, this is Sarah's passport foto from I believe 1966 when she traveled overseas for the first time from our childhood home to Germany. Since that moment she has never really looked back....

Bravo Sarah!

Monday, May 9, 2011

1944 Modern Library Giant Edition

The 1944 Modern Library Giant Edition Moby Dick features this blue binding with silver type and lighter blue offset.

We had always known that the Modern Library was the domain of Bennett Cerf, as he was a favorite of ours on the TV show "What's My Line" which ran from 1951 to 1967. As youths we were mesmerized by his patrician ways and seemingly endless knowledge while trying to guess the occupations and other "secrets" of the contestants.

Right up until the time we were shuffled off to boarding school, we watched him on Sunday nights. Perhaps, Bennett Cerf was one of our early "friends" keeping us company on those lonely solitary nights while the Duke and Duchess were off at some cotillion or other.

What we didnt know was that the Modern Library was started by Albert Boni, previously covered in this blog.

That running guy is the "Promethean bearer of enlightenment", for your information.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

1949 Dodd, Mead and Co. Library book Moby Dick

Sometimes its just amazing what Ebay yields! After the book arrives home, completely unexpected, surprises galore.

I knew from the photo during the auction that this copy was beat, but what I did not expect was that it is from a grade school in Vermont and it turns out this grade school is the school that my good friend Mark went to, and was there during this book's tour of duty.

Not only that, I was attending college just down the road when many of these date stamps were applied.

So it was connected by time and space to the both of us!

Shout out to Pete H. who took the book out multiple times and gave it the big effort, no idea if he finished it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

1929 Macrae Smith Illustrated Moby Dick

Here is a spectacular cover. Nantucket slay ride!

Recent addition to the collection it is inscribed Wayne Ralston, Jr Jan 14th 1929.

Wayne was the sellers relation, and judging by the penciling on the end papers, he was a kid when he had the book, it is so wonderful to have a child's well read book in the collection.

He penciled the word "misery" on the side of the book. SO much to speculate on, with that one word. We are so tempted to think that he found the story ponderous, as so many have, but what if that was some sort of 1929 cry for help just after the stock market crash? or some other nasty not even dared to think about?