My friend Josh van Gelder has a blog called The Curious Eye which highlights interesting and unusual illustrated books, some of which are from my collection (or as Josh refers to it in his blog, “The Ellis-Jayne Library of Esoterica.”) The first volume from our holdings he featured is a booklet from the 1950’s called “How Indian Sign Talk in Pictures” (perhaps the stunted English is intentional and meant in the stereotypical way that Indian speech patterns were portrayed back then.)
It belonged to my mother, a school teacher, and part of its appeal is its kitsch quality. However, it is also interesting from an anthropological point of view—especially since the author who portrays himself as a native American named Iron Eyes Cody is actually of Italian ancestory (Josh’s sleuthing uncovered the fact that his name is actually Espera de Corti.) And, also because the mid-century design is quite handsome. I particularly admire the way the fonts, photos, and illustrations by the artist Clarence Ellsworth are laid out and think the title page is very attractive.
From time to time, I propose illustrating other books from my collection here. I have an extensive library covering a diverse range of topics and periods. Its anotation here, I think, will be insightful, especially in this internet age when the import of books and their collecting is changing.