Monday, May 21, 2007

What I bought: Little Pictures of Japan

One of the many, many things about California that makes it superior to Maryland is that the west coast culture goes far beyond the practice of shooting critters as a Viagra substitute and watching football on the widescreen television, which is also used as a Viagra substitute.

California has much to offer over Stupidlandia and one of those things is used book stores. There are used "book stores" in Maryland certainly, but how many back issues of Guns & Ammo and the Coleman Products Catalog does a person need? A few days ago I paid a visit to one in San Diego I have enjoyed for decades and while browsing for old crime noir paperbacks came across the heavily-illustrated 1925 book Little Pictures of Japan.

This is a nice children's book of translated classic Japanese poetry and stories written by Olive Beaupre Miller and illustrated by Katherine Sturges. I'm not a poetry fan but occasionally I'll be pleasantly surprised by some passages and the art attracted me.

I was not aware of the fact that this book is semi-famous and before the internet, collectors demanded very high prices for a copy of the book. I picked it up because it was old and chock full of art. When I bought the book for mere dollars the proprietor of the store told me that "the internet was your friend today." Apparently this was due to the book being available in entirety on the internet. By virtue of the art being available to casual readers the demand for the book and the monetary value in the collector market has declined over the last decade.

My copy is in really good shape for the age and journey it must have taken. The cover is blue and often the cloth turns black from handling. There is a little discoloration on the exterior but it isn't bad. Over all it is a great copy with one exception. Page 91/92 is torn and a large piece is missing.

Unfortunately, page 91 contains one of the best illustrations in the entire book, that of the Maiden and the Dragon, with the next page being a nearly equally impressive scene of Mount Fuji. Page 91 is one of the more popular pages when art is reproduced for sale as a print. I cringed when I reached page 91 and saw a large section torn from it. The odds the page would be damaged is actually pretty good as it was likely the most popular destination in the book. That particular page would be handled more than others so any damage to page 91 is almost inevitable.

I've looked on the net but have been unable to find any high-res scans of page 91 and 92. I'd like to find them somewhere, print out the damaged pages and keep them with the book itself so I can experience what I am missing.



  1. (I hope this isn't a duplicate message.)

    I would suggest checking with your local library to see if they have it. If not, find out if they have some sort of inter-library loan program where you could either have a library that owns the book make a copy of the page or borrow the book from them and make a copy of the page yourself.

    Hope that helps!


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