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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!

May 16, 2011

A Book for Dad on Fathers Day

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Fathers come in all shapes and sizes, and most certainly all are equipped with a variety of likes, dislikes, attitudes, pleasures and opinions.  Soon the calendar tells us that we have an opportunity to celebrate our Dads, to find that special way to tell them what they mean to us.

This year I have a suggestion.... Find just the right book to please that Father of yours.  There are a great many sellers on the internet offering a tremendous variety of books, so I'll give you just a couple of pointers when you search for THAT BOOK!

As Dads grow up, many of them develop an increasing interest in the past.

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This is a book of the  "vanishing way," written by Eric Sloan and offered by Vintage Intent, a shop with many fascinating Vintage items.

Or perhaps your Dad enjoys traveling!  As time passes and Moms and Dads think of all the places they have read about and never seen, and you kids are not as demanding as you once were, they begin to browse through Travel and Leisure more seriously.

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I realize that the date of this book is some nearly sixty years back, but the information about the city and its buildings should still be accurate.  Europeans have a different view of history from most Americans.  The seller of this book is the Antiques Galore Gal, and you really should have long look at her shop.

There is always the chance that your Dad is, was or has a hankering to be, a fly fisherman.  And here is a great book for that Dad.
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The owner of the shop offering this book is Hardpan Poppy, and you will be amazed at what you find there.

Are you still stumped for a Father's Day gift?  There are lots of shops and even more books, and remember this is a Book for Father this year.  You can always look at Prosperos Bookshelf!

Here is a 1939 volume entitled The Gentleman's Companion -- Cookery and Drinking!  Actually, this is two books in one, Around the world with knife, fork and spoon presents 200 plus recipes and Around the World with jigger, beaker and flask gives you everything you need to know.

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This book takes care of the gourmand, but perhaps your Dad is a film buff.  We have books for that person, too.

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And there is the Father with the most serious sense of the past: the historian.  Fortunately, there are a great many scholars who are eager to bring their interpretations of the past to your attention.  Book publishers choose carefully to interest people like your Dad. In 1939 an American playwright by the name of William Saroyan wrote a play entitled The Time of Your Life in which one character tells another: "Go ahead. Correct the errors of the world."  There is a great deal of opportunity.

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Here is a book that combines serious history with memories and sentiment in a manner that lets us all learn something.

Prospero says: "I hope that you have found a proper gift or at least places to look for more ideas."

Happy Father's Day to all Dads!

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©2011 ProsperosBookshelf.

May 11, 2011

Summer Camp Challenge Treasury for the Vintage Etsy Society Street Team

Another all-team treasury for the Vintage Etsy Society Street Team. This week's theme is "Summer Camp." Putting this treasury together really got me dreaming ...

Click here to view this treasury on Etsy and visit all these wonderful vintage shops!

To meet the VestiesTeam and learn about our weekly treasury challenge, please visit our team blog: 

The challenge is open to everybody ... so come join the fun!
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©2011 ProsperosBookshelf.

April 29, 2011

Take me out to the ball game! baseball treasury

It is that season again, isn't it? Time for a treasury, I think.

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©2011 ProsperosBookshelf.

April 23, 2011

An Easter Story!

During the 20th century America's best known Christian Idealist playwright was Charles Rann Kennedy (1871-1950), a man born in England who became an American citizen in 1917, well after he had become a successful playwright on Broadway.

Combining a searching mind with good dramatic technique, Kennedy created an effective Christ figure as a hero in The Servant in the House (1907).  In 1912 he presented  an inspiring crucifixion theme in The Terrible Meek.

Click here to view The Terrible Meek

Exploring his thesis that "the real meek are beginning to inherit the earth," Kennedy sent his published play to all of the kings, emperors, presidents, war ministers, munition-makers and every other leader he knew of in the world.

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©2011 ProsperosBookshelf.

April 13, 2011

Selected Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

Among the literary figures of the 19th century in America, Edgar Allan Poe is surely one of the most memorable -- for his rhythmical poetry and his short stories, especially his detective stories.  His life was not long, and it was an unhappy life in many ways, but during his forty years he produced quite a number of poems and stories many people, even high school students, still enjoy reading.

I have just placed a strange little volume of his poems on the Shelf.  Unfortunately, it is not in the best shape.  In its 110 years it has seen rather hard usage.  It is a special publication by the Roycrofters at their Shop in East Aurora, NY, with a once beautiful brown suede leather cover with a gold lettered title and vellum paper.  It is, however, still a collector's item.

Lacking a title page or any publisher's information on the front pages (you'll find those on the final page), the book boasts a four and a half page Foreword by Michael Monahan and a Contents page listing the following:

The Raven, Lenore, The Bells, Anabel Lee, Ulalume, The Coliseum, To Helen (I saw thee once), To My Mother, Hymn, The Haunted Palace, The Conqueror Worm, To One in Paradise, The City in the Sea, The Sleeper, The Valley of Unrest, Dreamland, Eulalie, Israfel, For Annie, Eldorado, A Dream Within a Dream, To Helen (thy beauty is to me), To Zante, To F-----.

Thought you might be interested!

April 12, 2011

Challenge Treasury for the Vintage Etsy Society Street Team

Each week the Vintage Etsy Society Street Team holds a treasury making challenge, and this is my entry for this week. To view all these wonderful items click here.

Everyone is eligible to enter the challenge by making a treasury in keeping with the guidelines. 

To read the guidelines and learn about this week's challenge, please visit the team blog :

April 7, 2011

These Simple Things

These Simple Things
Spring cleaning has its advantages.  The other day I found this little book that I never remember seeing, and yet there it was on a dusty shelf.  It seems that back in the early 1960s the editors of House and Garden thought that it would be nice to commission well-known writers to write essays on some of  "the older, simpler, humbler things about us."  I suspect that the essays appeared in issues of House and Garden, and in 1962 they were collected into this little book--about 5" X 6 1/2".

The writers you will recognize, the subject matter of their essays is even more familiar: The Teakettle, Stove, Knife,Coat Hanger, Spoon, Grass, Light Bulb, Glass, Water, Salt, Bread.

Elizabeth Bowen, that English lady, started off by explaining  the value of the Teakettle as distinct from the Teapot.  With a certain righteous indignation, born of her English upbringing, she points out the difference between boiling the necessary water and the later infusion of the tea.  With a little history and her own sophistication she writes a charming essay.

My other favorite among the eleven authors' work is Aldous Huxley's essay on Salt.  Beginning with  his own very young experiments following the instructions of others on catching birds by putting salt on their tails (complete failure for this small boy in either catching birds or understanding the joke of it all), Huxley progressed to the later acquired epigram that "kissing a man without a mustache was like eating an egg without salt'--never abandoning his theme.  His erudition takes him to the Bible , Plato and others on the necessity of salt in the human diet. More meaningful to adult life, perhaps, he furthers his thesis by explaining that the word "salary" finds its root in the word "salarium" which describes the allowance for the purchase of salt accorded to Roman soldiers.

Essays may have lost their appeal to a population nurtured on short stories and comics,  but they are wonderful sources of humor, instruction and leisurely charm.

April 2, 2011

Old New England by Barrows Mussey

June Barrows Mussey (1910-1985) was much better known in the world at large under his pseudonym Henry Hay.  As "Henry Hay" he was a magician who chose his magical career at a very young age and was a "semi pro" touring magician by the time he was in college.  Under the name of Henry Hay, Barrows Mussey wrote such popular books as "The Amateur Magician's Handbook."   But we are interested in this magician because he was also an historian and, for our particular concern, a lover of New England.

Barrows Mussey's fascinating book on  Old New England has our attention because I have good copy on ProsperosBookshelf, a bit soiled perhaps by eager hands but firm and unmarked.  My single reservation is that the book lacks some resource notes and a bibliography, but that is my problem as a former professor.  It does have an index. There  is no doubt in my mind that Mussey was a good and resourceful historian who did not want to burden his readers with an abundance of footnotes.

Mussey's previous volume on New England was titled We Were New England and with this book brought his history through the Civil War.  Old New England begins with Plymouth Rock and traces his history via the Towns (Portland to the Birkshires), The Sea (Eastport to the Sound), The Country (Pernscot to Housatonic), Yankees (Mather to Barnum) to The Eyes of New England (Artists and Engravers). And this last section is the glory of his book, although he writes a very sprightly and fascinating history.  This book has hundreds of illustrations - almost all of them either a woodcut or a wood engraving.

Mussey has a talent for finding the particulars and the scenes of the New England he admires.  For example, Dartmouth College started out as a mission school for Stockbridge Indians in Connecticut before it went to Hanover, New Hampshire, where in 1854, parents today will be interested to learn, tuition was $27 a year and lodging $7.50. There are hundreds of illustrations, and generally the prose explains these illustrations.

On page 103 the top picture shows three men, customs agents,  in a wood watching a boat with smugglers crossing the river from New Brunswick into Maine. The picture below shows a woman in Ellsworth, Maine (less than thirty miles from where  I sit) brutally murdered, presumably by her husband Dr. Mose Adams, High Sheriff of Hancock County, who was charged but not convicted. Next is a picture of an old jail in York, Maine.  Not all of the woodcuts and engravings are as flamboyant, but the history is tilted toward the more exciting aspects of our past. There are many pastoral scenes, portraits of important and not so important people and numerous scenes down the main streets of  Old New England towns.

March 31, 2011

Booksellers from the Vestiesteam

Summer is coming, and one begins to think of a vacation, perhaps visiting friends.  First of all, the wise traveler always takes along a few favorite authors, but there is always the danger of running out of reading materials. You may be a host or a guest, but what would you hope to find in the well-appointed guestroom? One authority on the subject suggests that the rule of thumb includes the Bible, a selection from Shakespeare and  at least one novel by Jane Austen.

What do you think? Or if the occasion presented itself, what would you hope to find on the night table beside the guest bed in which you find yourself?  Let's get some help from a few members of the Vintage Etsy Society Street Team (vestiesteam).

The World of Washington Irving
VintageCDChyld has a wonderful shop with books, kitchen items and many other items, but we are mainly interested in her books at the moment.  Depending on your frame of mind, here is one that might interest you: The World of Washington Irving. Living in the first half of the 19th century in America, Irving was a wonderful teller of tales, and the author of this book explores Irving's contribution to American letters and the world of literature and politics (in which Irving participated) which surrounded him.

David Harum A Story of American Life
Let's find another Vestiesteam shop.  How about CabinWindows?  The owner of this shop lives in a cabin in Colorado, loves the simple life and may be found reading a book while she sits on  her swing. I think that we have caught her reading a very popular book from the very end of the 19th century: David Harum A Story of American Life by Edward Noyes Westcott. As the shop owner says, it is a beautiful story and book (and at a good price).

We could go on for a long time exploring Vestiesteam shops for great books for any occasion, but time is passing and you are anxious to find a good book. How about something different - drama, plays.  Plays may be a bit more demanding to read because the narrative and the exposition are gone and you are left with only dialogue. You  have to supply the imagination to "see" the action that the dramatist is obliged to leave to the actors of his play. But reading plays is really fun, and it is all left up to you.

Here are two lovely collections of plays from Rosegoldaline.

Famous American Plays

And here's something from my shop, ProsperosBookshelf.

The History of the Theater

Now what would you like to find in our guestroom as the night falls and you smell the ocean air?

January 21, 2011

In Your "merry" Vintage Car

Riverton 1911
 Let's go all the way this Valentine's Day and give your beloved a Vintage Car!  There are quite a few of  them around the esty block, and I will provide a few suggestion that won't break you and might just please your Valentine.

Father's Day Antique
Let's start with ideas from teamepe.  This one from Paper Petal Creations is suggested for Father's Day, but,gosh, you can certainly push that date up a few months.  Who knows, this car might just increase in value by June.

Old Car Value Guide

Vestiesteam should have an abundance of vintage cars, and here is one from Quinsippi Mercantile that may just be the dream car of your future.  You may never know till you have put yourself or himself behind the wheel.
Orange Ford Galaxie

Closer to home, the shop of the stapelia company from the Maineteam shows this car.  Pretty flashy is probably the term that people of its era would have used.

Car Wash

Here is a car that just must have been a treasure for somebody more than 100 years ago.  And when they washed cars at that time, they had to be very careful -- and they were.  Find this one at Old Paper And Pages.

Must  not forget that other etsy shop Prosperos Bookshelf.  And the vintage car in this instance  was in trouble. When this car was in fashion, it was common for  drivers to have not only a spare tire and the kit to repair a punctured tire tube on the road but also a spare axle for the kind of roads  that existed.  I am sure that drivers were frequently advised to "Get a horse!" but that was "equipment" they had to hire on the spot.

Get a Horse!

January 14, 2011

Buy a Book for Your Valentine!

A Pair of Patient Lovers

Here we are only a few days from your time of decision when you must decide just what you are going to give her or him for Valentine's Day.  

Our idea is that you should Buy a Book for Your Valentine.  You can still wait a little while, of course, and solve your problem with a book like A Pair of Patient Lovers.   Really a beautiful book in thought and appearance. Not a bad idea, even as a late one, and a book written by a major novelist.

Or perhaps the thought of a song for your Valentine strikes your fancy.  Need help?  Here is just the right choice, an old English carol, Sweet Was the Song, interpreted with drawings and a musical score by an American master.

Sweet Was the Song

Or you might suggest a wonderful trip for just the two of you, leave the kids at  home with grandma.  Perhaps A Little Swiss Sojourn would appeal to your valentine..  With a book you can do a great many things with a minimum of movement.

A Little Swiss Sojourn

Here is another idea.  Why not a trip to New York to see the latest theater attractions!  Or if that seems a bit of a strain on the family budget, here are a couple book selections.

Ring Bells, Sing Songs tells all that you would ever want to know about the fabulous musicals of the 1930, with an abundance of pictures.

Only a Paper Moon
Or if you would prefer reading to viewing and about a different period on Broadway, take a look at great productions of the famous Billy Rose. His extravagant entertainments took in the years from 1924 to 1962, and there are 38 pictures in this book to show his talents and those of his stars from Jimmy Durante to Danny Kaye and Esther Williams. 

Springs of Persian Wisdom
And there is always "the love of learning," learning more about the wide, wide world around us.  Here is a small and beautifully illustrated book about Persia and its centuries of Wisdom, a place we seem to know little about and yet one which intrudes more and more on ourlives.

Springs of Persian Wisdom

Just some ideas for your Valintine!  Come to Prosperosbookshelf and wander around.
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