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Welcome to Prospero's Blog! My wife Mollie and I work together in our Rough Magic studio on the coast of Maine. I've always loved old books, memorabilia, curiosities and Americana (especially 19th century dramatic literature) and am happy to share my discoveries in my Etsy Shops. Please come by and browse ~ there's just no telling what you'll find!

December 23, 2010

Give a Book for New Years

The Oxford Book of American Literary Anecdotes

Here you are a day before Christmas and a week before New Years, and you have fears that you have forgotten someone and you need a quick gift suitable for just about any  unforeseen event.  So here we are with a host of opportunities for under $20.00.

New York Panorama

Portraits of the American Stage

The American Musical Stage

All these and more are available on Prospero's Bookshelf.
Come in! Wander around!  Or look at the suggestions!  Welcome!

December 20, 2010

Stars of the American Stage and the Movies -- photograph books

Fifty Great American Silent Films

Most people enjoy looking at pictures, and if history is involved, they like to see things or people that mean something to them.  If that history is of the stage or screen, there is always the added pleasure of being able to say "Oh, I have seen or read that play!" or "I remember seeing that movie star!"  The visual memory always seems to bring things closer to us.  Obviously, publishers know this only too well.

A Pictorial History of the American Theatre

Prospero's Bookshelf has a number of books that
bring that visual history to you in style. Come by and take a look.

Depending upon your objectives, many of the photographs are ready for framing or for some scrapbooking venture you may have in mind.  There is and always has been something fascinating or romantic abut "the theater" or the "movie star."  Here are some opportunities for you!

Footlight Favourites

Portraits of the American Stage

Stars of the Broadway Stage

Great Actors and Actresses of the American Stage

November 17, 2010

Artist Exhibition booklets from the Wally Findlay Gallery, New York

Yolande Ardissone

Christmas gifts for your art-loving friends for under $20.00!  Vintage exhibit booklets featuring modern French and American artists with color photographs of their paintings: Yolande Ardissone, Pierre Bittar, Frederick McDuff, Gustave Madelain, Sam Barber, Marie Nessi Valtat, Jean Chaleye, Howard Behrens, Andre Vignoles, Pierre Nilouss.

Sam Barber
Yolande Ardissone (Impressionist Paintings of Landscapes and Marines of Mykonos, Paris, Venice and Normandy) Pierre Bittar (Impressions of the French Riviera), Frederick McDuff (Impressionist Paintings of Brittany with an Excursion to Giverny),Gustave Madelain (Post-Impressionist Painting from 1919 to 1931), Sam Barber (Sea Views and Gardens of New England), Pierre Nilouss (Post-Impressionist Paintings),Andre Vignoles (Important Flower Still Lifes and Landscapes by the French Post-Impressionist), Howard Behrens (A  Journey to England), Marie Nessi Valtat (Selected Works from 1950 to 1980, Landscapes, Marines, Flower Still Lifes), Jean Chaleye (Important Paintings by the French Post-Impressionist from our collection and recent acquisitions) and (Important Paintings by the French Post-Impressionist).

Pierre Nilouss

September 26, 2010

New in the stacks ...

With autumn officially here, the stacks I'm thinking of aren't made of hay. These stacks are the kind you find in a library. And what better place to be on a chilly fall day than curled up in a "sequestered nook" indulging in your "love of learning"?

Now to mix metaphors, lately I've been preparing for the coming winter by squirreling away some tasty and nutricious treats of Americana by adding them to "The Shelf" on Etsy.

Here's a sampling.

During the period known for the "Rise of Realism" in America, roughly 1857-1900, the "Local Color" school of writing flourished with the works of such authors as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Hamlin Garland, Joel Chandler Harris and Bret Harte. This paperback anthology, edited by Claude M. Simpson and published in 1960, comprises 23 short stories by those and other writers. $12

No 20th century American poet is better known or more beloved than Robert Frost (1874- 1963). While the clarity and simple wisdom of his work has confounded followers of "New Criticism," to millions of readers the poet's emphasis on courage, love and individual integrity confirms his definition of poetry as "a momentary stay against confusion." This hardcover edition, published in 1942, includes Frost's essay on "The Figure a Poem Makes" and 221 poems. $12

When published in 1971, this hardcover book created explosive reaction. Battle by battle, massacre by massacre, broken treaty by broken treaty, Dee Brown documents his argument that during the 2nd half of the 19th century the United States government abused and exploited Native Americans. Along with testimonies and quoted statements from the Indians, the book includes 49 black and white photographs of great chieftains, their wives and warriors. Even today, almost 40 years after its publication, reading this history is a moving and enlightening experience. $10

Every day I'm adding more vintage books and other items to Prospero's Bookshelf, so be sure to check back often!

And for vintage theatre books and early American plays, visit my other shop:

September 15, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award - seven facts about me

Okay. Here are seven things about me that I'm guessing most people don't know ... or probably care about ...

1) When I was a young lad, my favorite pastime was cleaning the attic.

2) As a 10 year old, I was a member of the "Friendly Indians" in the State of Maine.

3) As a teenager, I played french horn in the band of the First Radio Parish Church of America.

4) Being a junior, I have always gone by my middle name, Joe. It wasn't until I joined the army that I realized I had a first name. Some of you may know what it is, but I'm not telling.

5) My favorite means of personal conveyance is still the canoe.

6) My favorite color is yellow.

7) Mollie is from Texas, I'm from Maine, and we met in Indiana. We have discovered that we are 15th cousins, several times removed.

I'm still working on choosing my seven awardees, whom I'll notify by commenting on their recent blog posts.

Meanwhile, be happy!

September 11, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

I've received the Beautiful Blogger Award from Maria-Thérèse Andersson, the talented Swedish photographer and artist known on Etsy as afiori.

Thank you, Maria-Thérèse! I'm proud to be so honored.

In accepting this award, I'm supposed to reveal 7 facts about myself, pass on the award and ask 7 other bloggers to do the same.

While it's going to be a tough decision choosing 7 out of the many wonderful bloggers I admire, I'll make an attempt. Soon.

The real difficulty comes in trying to think of 7 interesting things to say about myself, and I'm thinking they should be facts that most of my online friends don't know. Hmmmm ...

I'll have to sleep on this one. Thinking, thinking, thinking ...

Be back soon to fill in below:

September 8, 2010

An Armchair Traveler

Mount Vernon ~ 10 Vintage Postcards
Labor Day is past, and here in Down East Maine, Autumn is rapidly making its presence felt.

There's a nip in the air, a hint of woodsmoke on the breeze, a coppery glow (soon to turn to crimson) on the maple leaves.

Yes, it's time to unpack the suitcase, put away the summer duds, and - now that vacation's over - relax. At home.

So sit back in your comfy armchair, take a deep breath of crisp fall air, and travel with me as I take the Grand Tour ... around Etsyland. Via a treasury, of course!

An Armchair Traveler

August 21, 2010

Remembering Riverton

Riverton Park, Portland, Maine

Although the old Riverton Amusement Park on the Presumpscot River was only a short distance from my family home in Portland, Maine, I remember very little about it. My memory for long ago places and faces is generally pretty good, but since we spent our summers at the family camp on Sebago Lake, I don't recall much about the park itself. And by the time I was old enough to take serious stock of landmarks and such, the park was long gone, perhaps a casualty of the Great Depression and other catastrophic events.

But in its heyday in the 19th century, Riverton Park is said to have been one of the most popular attractions in the entire state of Maine. I've been told that on a nice summer day streetcars filled with visitors to Riverton would line up for a mile or more along Forest Avenue.

This antique photo card from the early 20th century shows the park as viewed from the river. Canoes were launched from the dock in the right foreground. That large building in the center is the casino, with the gazebo to its right.

Probably printed as an advertisement for the Portland Railroad Company, the card is available in my Etsy vintage shop. To view it there, please click here.

August 20, 2010

Goodbye Website, Hello Etsy!

Earlier this week my website rode off into a not so glorious cyber sunset.

When first went online in the fall of 2007, I had high hopes. For the next couple of years I worked diligently, listing first our own publications and later several hundred antiquarian and vintage books.

In June of 2008 Mollie, who had at first shared the site with me, took her 50%, Rough Magic Creations, to and the following November opened her holiday shop there.

At her urging, I opened my Etsy shop, ProsperosBookshelf, in January 2009, and am now approaching my 100th sale of vintage items. As compared to a grand total of 30 sales from the website in its three-year lifespan.

I could rant about the monetary cost of the site, its ponderous shopping cart and unreliable view tracker, but I won't belabor the point.

Hello Etsy! 

I've recently opened my second Etsy shop, FeedbackTheatrebooks, where all our publications now reside.

Will our audience find us there? It remains to be seen.

Do I regret the change? Not for an instant.

July 19, 2010

The time has come ...

... to close down my website. Not an easy decision, after all the time and energy I invested in listing my books there, but yes, the time has definitely come.

Not to belabor the point, I'm moving the books that Mollie and I have edited/written and published to a brand new Etsy shop:

My new banner is in process, designed especially for me by the talented Shay of simplydoodles, who has created so many wonderful banners for Mollie's Rough Magic Holidays shop and my ProsperosBookshelf vintage shop. So in advance, Thank you, Shay! I know my new banner will be terrific and perfect for my shop!

My new avatar (above left) is already installed ~ Mollie "borrowed" it from one of our book covers, but that's okay - she drew that cover picture in the first place.

I want to say a very special "Thank You," Joni of, who discovered my Metamora listing and shared it with the Native American Forum Thread Chapter 4.

And now, here are a few of the books and Early American Plays (our specialty) that are listed in my shop ~

I hope you'll drop by Feedback Theatrebooks to poke around the shop! And remember, I'm convo friendly!!!

June 29, 2010

Prospero's First Treasury East - Wood, Wonderful Wood!

Late at night, while the household is happily a-snooze, I tiptoe into the study and, by the light of a single flickering candle, begin to explore our brand new computer.

Where do I tiptoe first? Etsy, of course, where I'm drawn like the little fluttering moth to the bright flame of Treasury East! Ah, so much to see there, so many paths to follow - some dark and mysterious, others bright and happy, still others soft and elegant ... where to begin? I think I'll click--

But wait! What's that up there in the corner? Looks like a turquoise button. Hmmmm ... buttons are to be pushed. I'll push that button ...

Hey! I spy 16 blank boxes! Hmmmm ... boxes are to be filled. I'll fill them. But what with??? Let's see ... *drum fingers on desk* ... desk? No, not 16 desks. Need some variety. Well, what's the desk built of? Wood! And I do a bit of woodworking myself.

Hang on a minute while I search ... wood-wood-wood-wood ...

Aha! Here's something! Earrings. Ok, 1 down and 15 to go ... search, search, search ...

Time passes ... tick-tock-search-tick-tock-search ... Yikes!!! *jump sky high* because the computer scares the daylights out of me when it announces in a loud voice: "It's nine o'clock."

Okay, settle down.  wood-wood-wood ...

Tick-tock-fill-a-box-tick-tock-fill-a-box ... "It's ten o'clock" ... tick-tock ... and voila!

Here's my very first Treasury East: "Wood, Wonderful Wood!"

And just in time too. The computer tells me "It's eleven o'clock" and my candle flame has just sputtered out ... *yawns*

To view this treasury, click here:

May 19, 2010

The Boy Who Drew Cats by Lafcadio Hearn

Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) was a fascinating character and literary "tour de force" of his day.

This rare and valuable antiquarian book, published in 1911, is his beautifully illustrated interpretation of the Japanese Fairy Tale.

For all collectors, especially those interested in fairy tales, the Orient, Japan, Japanese Memorabilia and the writings of Lafcadio Hearn, this is truly a find.

A reprint of the 1898 original edition published by T. Hasegawa in Tokyo, the book is 20 pages long, on soft crepe paper bound with silk. While he cover is worn, the pages are firmly bound, clean and in very good condition. Hearn's charming illustrations retain their colors. The book measures 5-3/8" x 7-1/2".

Number 23* in the Japanese Fairy Tale series, The Boy Who Drew Cats is more than a highly collectible item; it is a shining example of Japanese fairy tales, "Rendered into English by Lafcadio Hearn."

Note to specialists: We have identified this book as the 1911 reprint by the address of T. Hasegawa on the inside back cover: "17 Kami-negishi, Tokyo, Japan."

May 17, 2010

Memoir of Actor James H. Stoddart - Recollections of a Player

 For everyone who loves the theatre and the 19th century, here is a rare first edition.

Published in 1902, Recollections of a Player is filled with memories and anecdotes as told by the English-born actor James H. Stoddart, who came to America and made his career on the American stage.

Included in its 256 pages are portraits of contemporary players and illustrations of playbills.

May 16, 2010

Best Things from American Literature, Compiled by Irving Bacheller

Best Things from American Literature, complied by Irving Bacheller.

Here's a rare first edition from 1899, an anthology of works by more than five dozen American authors including Daniel Webster, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Willian Dean Howells, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sarah Orne Jewett, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Julia Ward Howe.

There are 63 listed illustrations -- portraits of the writers, including one of President Lincoln that appears opposite his Gettysburg Address, and several facsimiles of manuscripts in the authors' handwriting, among them a page from Ben Hur in which General Lew Wallace describes the famous chariot race.

April 18, 2010

Malaysian Shadow Puppet - Pak Dogol the Clown

Here's Pak Dogol, fresh from his appearance on the Front Page at!

He's a crude and lusty fellow, this comic figure from the Malay shadow theatre.

April 17, 2010

Chitra - A Play by Famous Indian Writer Rabindranath Tagore

Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) has been called the "Bengali poet and mystic" for his wide ranging writings on his native land of India.

Here is a vintage copy of his play Chitra, a lyrical drama based on a story from the Mahabharata.

This 58-page book (published in London in 1966 by MacMillan and Company) is the 15th printing of the 1914 original Indian Edition.

Tagore dedicated this play to Mrs. William Vaughn Moody, wife of the early 20th century American dramatist and poet known for The Great Divide (1906) and other works.

This hardcover copy of Chitra is about 7-1/4" tall, 5" wide and 3/8" thick and is in good vintage condition, with a firm spine and tightly bound pages. A few pages show small check marks in the margins, and there is some yellowing on the front and back fly pages.

The original blue, white and red dust jacket, with its fine portrait of Tagore, is in good condition for its age, with some discoloration from handling and signs of wear at the edges, as shown.


To purchase Chitra now from my Etsy Shop, please click the button below:

Two more books by Rabindranath Tagore, Red Oleanders and Sacrifice and Other Plays, both also published by MacMillan, are available through my website:

If you'd prefer to purchase them through my Etsy Shop, please convo me and I'll reserved a listing for you.
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