Today we have eight volumes from Miniature Dictionary Publisher’s, Inc., published circa 1925. The firm was operated by the Minkus brothers in New York City, and frequently published miniature volumes of well-known works and dictionaries. These books were often used to advertise businesses like banks, hotels and department stores; the business in question would have its named stamped on the back of each volume it sold. None of these copies are stamped; but the leather wallet binding and gilt-stamped titles as well as the pink-edged text blocks are characteristic of MDP Inc. Another charming thing about these books are their bookplates–I have never seen a miniature bookplate before! These books have a wonderful feel to them—their chunky shape and soft leather bindings make them seem almost edible! Stop by and see them before I eat them today!
Various Authors. The Little Webster, Love and Other Stories (2 ediitons), The Arabian Nights Entertainments, The Golden Treasury of English Songs, Don Quixote, Paradise Lost, Hamlet and Macbeth. New York: Miniature Dictionary Publisher’s, Inc. 1925. Charlotte Smith Miniatures Collection, Uncatalogued. Gift of Carol Kapell in memory of Paula B. Deems
Information on the volumes gathered from: Edison, Julian I.. Miniature Book News #90: 1996 September. St. Louis, Missouri. UNT Digital Library.
So my mother often brings me postcards with vintage images on them from Archie Mcphee’s (novelty store in Seattle) and she brought back a few this time with covers of little pulps from the 1950s. I’ve already posted one here, if you wanna see that.
Anyway, this one in particular intrigued me, mostly because lesbian eroticism and literature throughout history is much more difficult to come by (due to a mix of misogyny, male-dominated culture, and homophobia). I looked into it, expecting to find something dreadfully homophobic and inaccurate based on the caption at the bottom (”told with unblushing honesty, here is a penetrating study of society’s greatest curse: homosexuality!”), but found myself pleasantly surprised by the results.
The author, Annselm Morpurgo (Smith’s real name) was not only a prominent lesbian pulp fiction writer of the 1950s and 60s, but also the founder of the Unisex Movement of the 1950s and a strategist of the Rainbow civil rights coalition movements! Her other two most popular books are Odd Girl and This Bed We Made. Morpurgo also coined the phrase “come out of the closet” at the pre-Stonewall ECHO conferences in the 1960s. At the same conferences, she spoke about looking towards the advertising industry to change the “gay image.”
Today–she is, indeed, still alive–is an artist, author, and operates a successful off-Broadway workshop for actors and actresses. Unfortunately, her life partner Billie Ann Taulman died in 2008. Here’s a neat sketch she did of Morpurgo in the 1950s: