Friday, June 29, 2012

Off to a Better Place

Today was Vida and Ranald's last day (before retirement).  So we sent them off properly with a party.

We had pizza from Otto and cake from Finale.  Naturally, since many of us have been around for longer than we care to think about, a flood of reminiscences spewed forth.  Then Charles dropped in, and the reminiscing got really serious, since he knows the history of everybody.  He recalled many scandals and was able to satisfy my curiosity about one old one.  I had heard that a German bibliographer had gotten money from Harvard to go to the Frankfurt Book Fair and get Widener some books, but he didn't actually go, and so he got canned.  But then Jon said that wasn't true.  I wanted to know what was true.  Charles said that the bibliographer had made appointments to see all sorts of book dealers in Frankfurt; but he didn't show up for any of the appointments.  So the dealers e-mailed Harvard asking "Did this guy die or what?"  This question led to the discovery that the bibliographer had used the Frankfurt-Book-Fair money to take his family to Switzerland for a ski vacation.  He got canned.  However, this goofy behavior had not prevented him from getting high-paid library jobs elsewhere.

This is a sobering story to hear at the end of one's working life!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Better Late Than Never

As one of our office mates prepares to retire, he is clearing up various problems before he leaves.  Here's a truck of books he's had by his desk as long as I've known him.

This old book is slated for repair.

Note the date on the slip.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Olde Tyme Harpers Hooked its Readers

Steve discovered this clever advertising ploy from Harpers of the 20s and 30s.  While he was trolling the Hathi Trust site for an old cookbook, he found an example of a Harpers Sealed Mystery.  These books had a seal enclosing a portion of the last pages (said portion determined by the author).  Harper promised to refund the purchase price of any HSM that was returned with the seal intact.  I'll bet this helped loosen the purse strings of many a mystery fan.  Very few books were actually returned.

I checked the catalog and found a few titles from the series in Widener.  These 2 still have the front part of the seal.   (Larger versions of these pictures available here.)