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The iconic, prodigiously-talented illustrator, old lefty and great inventive soul Rockwell Kent designed and drew this cover for Isobel Walker Soule's The Vigilantes Hide Behind the Flag, a slim but powerful little pamphlet published by the National Committee for Defense of Political Prisoners in 1937. Ms. Soule was a very present social worker and protagonist for the rights of workers–she and Kent would have shared this great passion–and published this work dealing with armed strike breakers (the "vigilantes") as small targets and Fascists and the like as the larger–those, as well as the groups established by "the economic royalists (who) have given marching orders to their hordes and hope to trap the middle class into the vigilante net they've spread".

{Soule could really spike a paragraph: here's an example of her addressing former Ashevillean William Dudley Pelley, founder of the lost-soul hate group the Silver Shirts:

"…He was a YMCA representative with the AEF to Siberia in 1917. Returning to America he wrote for pulp magazines. he became a spiritualist. He had an inspiration and wrote a story in which he claimed to have died,and spent seven minutes in eternity. On the basis of his fan mail he founded a magazine in North Carolina with his clair-audient voices from the ether as assistant editors. Out of the magazine he founded the Silver Shirts".)

Soule fills up a stubby thirty pages like few others, addressing the very-present issues of thug-backed union-busting and the powerful growth of fascists at home and abroad.


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Drugs against men933

This is a fairly straight-forward report on the growing drug menace in the U.S.–it is a little melodramatic in places but beyond that it is a reasoned and sensible account of the terrors of addiction and its social cost. And as the cover art suggests, this short pamphlet by Dr. S.S. Weinberger (which was published in 1939) the work takes it aims mostly at the social and family damages associated with drug use.

This is a detail from the full cover, as so:

Drugs against men932
[As it turns out this is a rare pamphlet, with no copies located in the 150-million-item library cataloging tool, WorldCat.]

JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

Having a go at Pinterest I came across a very interesting image–a satirical, and very biting, portrayal of a woman as a scholar (here, with thanks to Whitney Trettien). The artist gives the woman a very monkey-ish feeling, a trained animal aspect, sitting there trying to figure our the words in a book with a right angle and a compass, and sporting monstrous glasses.

Books woman
The work is by Gregorio Leti (1630-1701), Critique historique, politique, morale, economique et comique sur les lotteries, which was published in 1693 . (Available at the Folger Shakespeare Library, here.) Leti was a critic of many things, but most particularly of the Catholic Church and of the Pope, a collection of efforts which earned a place for all of his works on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

Within the same book is another double page image, the top showing a writer besieged by his demons, and the bottom, well, the bottom shows the work of dog reviewers of the written word. It is the only antiquarian print that I have seen of such behavior.

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JF Ptak Science Books Post 1901

Rockets ley794

I've selected a few representatives of design for the covers of pamphlets and books published in the field of rocket development and space flight published in Germany in the 1920's and 1930's (with one from the 1951). They have a certain expectant sameness them, and, as leading publications in their field, have a remarkable similarity in their (black and white) design. The combined efforts of these works wound up in the engineering labs of Peenemuende and then int he V-1 and V-2 rockets that pulverized the United Kingdom during WWII. Later this same expertise, and some of the same engineers, "wound up" in the United States developing the American space program. The most famous of these Paperclipped scientists was Wernher von Braun, whose name is so intimately connected with the Vengeance Weapons as well as the Apollo space program. It is interesting to note that for many years if twas impossible to find von Braun's name on any exhibition description in the Air and Space Museum in D.C.–it just wasn't there, so far as I could tell, on no displays, even though I went looking for it pretty closely. On the 30th anniversary of the Moon landing, I went to von Braun's grave to see if it had been remembered in any way–there wasn't anything there, just his simple small slab, next-door to and within eyesight of a Jewish cemetery.

Rudolf Nebel (1894-1978), very early member of the Raketenflugplatz, assistant to Hermann Oberth and very nearly the first to successfully conduct an experiment with a liquid-fueled rocket, beaten to the finish line by a man whose work he was not familiar with, Robert Goddard. He defined right-wing in the Weimar era, and was part of a paramilitary organization called Stralheim; Wernher von Braun seems to have succeeded in the avenue that Nebel tried to travel along. Nebel published this work in 1932, a year before the Nazi party came into power, and before his crotchety problems with teh SA began.

Rocket nebel797

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Title pages burning metal774

The Probierbuchlein ( Probir Buechlin/auff Goldt/SIlber/Alle ertz und Metall. Mit vil kostbarlichen Alechimeijischen Kunsten…) printed in Augsberg by Christian Egenolph in the autumn of 1530, was the first German book to deal with the significance of alchemy and metallurgy. I think it usual to think of the work of Georgius Agricola (1495-1555) and his justifiably famous De Re Metallica, but the anonymous (?) Pribierbuchlein predates the work by at least 36 years. There's not much else of a comparison between the two works save for the earliness of the Probierbuchlein, as it was 48 folio leaves and somewhat restricted–but first is first, and it may have made the way easier for Agricola, whose own efforts paved the way for the systematic study of the Earth Agricola made fundamental contributions to mining geology and metallurgy, mineralogy, structural geology, and paleontology, and outlined them all beautifully in a book that was ten times the length of the Probierbuchlein, and also fabulously and sumptuously (and usefully) illustrated.

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In Agustus Niphus, Libri Duo de pulchro liber primus, de amore librer secundus, and printed in Lyon by Beringen in 1549, the scholar and Aritotelian Agostino Nifo of Sessa (1473-1546) wrote two significant treatises on the nature of beauty and love (liber primus and secundus, respectively).

The amazing thing about this work is that Nifo analyzes the conditions of love and sexual expression as respondents to a psychological basis, and since this was so, that love and sex are a product of the mind and not necessarily a simple undisclosed deire, that the act and thought coul dno tbe considered to be of siunful natures–basically, the two were as natural a thing as could be, and one does not condemn the acts of nature.

Title pages bona fide775