Title The Red Letter Day Gazette, Brattleboro, VT. Devoted to the Interests of Social Gossip and Young Woman. Vol. 1. No. 1.
Book Condition Good
Publisher Brattleboro, Vermont 1884
Seller ID 006170
Charming manuscript semi-parody of a local gossipy magazine. While the title page indicates Vol. 1, No. 1, we are aware of no other issues and doubt that there would have been. Based on a penned inscription on the inside cover, the manuscript was intended as an inside joke of sorts, for its author writes: "In presenting this little book, as a joke, I desire it distinctly understood that it is not for circulation outside the members of the club, and sincerely trust that the little personalities which it contains may be accepted by all concerned in the same spirit in which they are written." The "articles" within, all written in a neat hand, include an account of a "club party", or a musical soiree, a piece on Harvard students spending a summer in Brattleboro, an assortment of gossipy snippets with a jokey tone, a concert review, a short feature on an actor, etc. It isn't entirely clear whether the particular articles are tongue-in-cheek, serious or in between. The illustrations, though, are generally broadly comical, and so we can infer that the intent is generally meant to tickle the funny bone, and the target would appear to be the artistic and cultural pretensions of those in a small New England city, which at the time was prosperous. For us, conjured up is the starchy, and perhaps not quite so starchy world, of late 19th century upper middle class life in New England, and perhaps equally applicable to other regions of the United States, long prior to the mass migration to the larger cities and the upheavals brought about by the automobile and other disruptive technologies. And whatever the intent of the author, the manuscript is a wonderful primary source document of the times, with even such things as the author's syntax and wording transporting us back to his day. We assume the author is A. Howard Saudelet, based on another related manuscript we have explicitly credited to him. Pretty clearly, though, all was probably done by one hand. 8vo. 25 by 20 cm. Unpaginated, 6 pp., plus original artwork and/or text on cover. We count eight illustrations within, three of which combine photos with original drawing to varying degrees. (One can legitimately come up with a count that is one or two greater or lesser than ours -- we haven't counted, for example, what we regard more as less significant decorative fillips.) The artwork is varied in its style, with some of the immediacy and artlessness of folk art, yet also capturing the absurdist spirit of the practiced caricaturists of say a Cruikshank or Leech. A little different is a silhouette of a midget of a man diving into water, with below shown two legs disappearing into the water. And we are smitten with the front cover which has six or seven compartments of separate illustrations or textual pieces all of which blend together in a collage of sorts composed with the prevailing arts and crafts aesthetic of the 1880s. Condition: the cardboard of the covers, front and back, with edge chips and nicks, but the artwork suffering little loss. Rear cover, which mostly just a solid painted color, with numerous abrasions. Original sewn stab binding replaced with newer thread and this supplemented with transparent achival tape, visible yet not overly conspicuous, on outside cover and inside hinge. The leaves within have a ripply waviness, at least partly the result of the ink and paint, and there is a light film of soiling, which doesn't detract seriously from the content. A few minor edge chips to the leaves.