What’s in a name? Or buying books blindly online.
In contrast to the above, here is another book of a similar name:
Harmony in Dress
By the Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences, Scranton, PA.
Originally published in 1924, my copy is the third printing, printed in 1933.
The book was originally printed in Great Britain, my copy was printed in the USA.
Retail price online $10-50
Price I paid $10
If you don’t know what you are searching for, this book with a similar name could easily be misunderstood for the book above. But actually, they are quite different.
First impressions count. This is part of a series of book by the International Textbook Company, who produced many thousands of copies of books for women during a specific time period. Look at the name of the publisher: International Textbook Company. That should immediately give you a clue that this isn’t an art book. The cover is actually a single color with a coated canvas, and reversed impression to give it the raised look of leather. Pretty clever technique, and pretty popular in publishing and printing, even today. It’s been made to stand up to the rigors of the classroom and the student; it’s definitely more waterproof than the book above, and is easily carried in a bookbag or purse. Note the page numbers are not consecutive; that is because the book is divided up into sections for the student to study.
So what about the paper? Is it also pulp?
Actually, no. It’s a better quality paper, coated in fact. The paper was also manufactured with students in mind. It has less acid, so it hasn’t browned as fast. And due to the fact that it’s a better quality and coated, it’s much more likely to resist stains.
Does it have any fashion plates?
No, and this is what makes this book less desirable and worth far less than the above book. It has printed images, but does have color plates, dealing with…color. It doesn’t have the very pretty women of all sizes, colors and body types like the first book. This is an instructional book first and a fashion book second. It is a practical book about teaching women basic fashion skills to keep the looking good and for them to keep their husbands. (see text).
Is this book in short supply?
Actually no. I found this copy online for $2.50 at a bookseller site last week. These are very common, and are part of a series published for the homemaker. Most people buy these separately, as not everyone is interested in the entire set. You can pick up one of these for as little as a couple bucks on ebay if you are patient. Since they were printed in the thousands, many women had them during this period, either as students in a school dedicated to homemaking, or purchased out of mail order catalogs.
Since they were made to withstand usage, that’s exactly what they are doing. My copy has a few bumps and chips (chips are bumps which remove a small bit of the cover), but is otherwise ok. After nearly 100 years, the pages are still tightly bound, the paper is bright and easily readable, and it can withstand normal reading.
So what do you recommend?
Set a low price and stick with it when searching for this book. It is easily found.
So what did we learn?
We learned that two books with very similar names and even subject matter can vary vastly in pricing, subject matter and art. We learned that books about fashion can cater to the select audience, whether it is someone who purchased a sewing machine in Australia or is a homemaker in the USA who needs fashion advice to keep a husband happy.
Should I play book roulette?
As long as you are willing to settle for something similar to what you want, and can be satisfied with your purchase, why not? For a couple bucks it is sometimes fun to purchase an unknown book. Just remember, the cost to return a book sometimes exceeds its value, so gamble within your means and enjoy the result.