Thursday, July 10, 2014

New York Times Article: Collecting Books That Are Just Covers

In tomorrow's New York Times, you will see an article that Eve M. Kahn wrote about my blook collection and on book-objects, in general. I've only just read it and saw that there was only room for two illustrations, so I will devote this post to showing you some of the pictures of and links for the other objects she mentions. I won't get them all in today, so check back later for the rest. Click here to read the article in full. 
These were the titles of the objects Eve mentions by name: Bitter Sweet flask, The Sandwich Islands, Noonday Exercises, The Informer alarm, Right the Wrong by E. Raser, World's Greatest Jokes, by R. U. Laffin, the Chef-an-ette and the Tea caddy/paper theater that broke the bank. Other blooks mentioned have already been illustrated in earlier posts on this blog. See if you can find Not So Dusty, by Y. B. Untidy and Crime Does Not Pay by Dusty Evsky.

Here is the late 18th-centruy tea caddy with a secret compartment for the lock and a paper theater embedded in the lid.

World's Greatest Jokes, by R. U. Laffin, is an electric shock book made by the Franco-American Novelty Co.

Noël Coward's souvenir Bitter Sweet flask, 1930, leather and gilt.Victoria & Albert Museum, no. S.2-1978. 

Noonday Exercises Lunch Box

The Informer. Heath. This link will take you to the Radio Museum site where you can see technical information and images about the Informer. The Informer always makes me chuckle because it is a hidden camera that makes itself very conspicuous, both by its title and the two large circular openings cut into the spine. It seems odd that they went to the trouble of having a real book cover made by a library binder an then cut two large holes in the spine which are very uncharacteristic for books. It would have worked better if the binding was black or the mesh was dark red.

This isn't my Chef-an-ette because I don't have a photo of it on this computer. Mine is the same model, but in black sides. I do very  much like the turquoise. You might also enjoy reading the story about on from someone for which it is a family heirloom. The Chef-an-ette came in a number of binding variants and volumes. I've seen them in 3, 5 and 7 volume variants and in three styles showing a change in taste from Art Deco to 50s modern. The Chef-an-ette was invented by Hazel Terry in 1938, but enjoyed popularity through the 1950s.  In the patent, it was titled Reference Device. It's one of my favorite blooks for so many reasons.


  1. Dear Ms. Dublansky, I have a small (perhaps twice the size of a deck of playing cards?)
    blook" that actually functions as a letter opener. The spine reads "Ouevre Lettres Automatique". It was given to me by a friend whose uncle spent thrity or so years inParis, and I have no idea how old it is. Send me your regular email address and I'll send a picture of it to you. It's a nice little thing, but this old house is PACKED with all too many thousands of pretty, little things. So, you canhave it if you'd like to have it. Just email me at:

    David Terry

    1. Dear David, Thank you so much for your kind and generous offer. I look forward to receiving the letter opener and sharing it on the blog with a link to your website. Your work is beautiful. I sent you an email at the address you suggested and anxiously await this blook treasure. Mindy