I live in a town of 1200 people in the Northern Sierra Nevada –where it meets the Cascade Range near Mt. Lassen National Park and about two hours drive northwest of Reno, NV. Two hundred of that population is students. Over the years as the population dwindled after mines closed, then mills–nothing except tourism and retirement have emerged as ‘industries.’ Many businesses have closed down and with it many things we take for granted—like libraries.
The local junior/senior high school has not been able to purchase new books since the 90s. Some of the “check outs” for old books are in the 1980s. There are no books by people of color in the library. Hardly any books by women are in the few book cases except your standard Austen and Lee. It’s an uninviting place. There hasn’t been a librarian for nearly a decade. And volunteers weren’t allowed. The…
Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets
By Luke Dittrich
*I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
Most excellent. Horrifying, fascinating, educational. Keep a modern medical dictionary handy if you are not a neurologist, however.
That said, it is very approachable and is very engaging; even humorous, at times.
A darkly intriguing true tale, very much worth the read
This past week we were delighted to obtain and begin to research a variety of vintage standard and stereo cameras. We have often had stereopticons for sale (the device used for looking at the earliest of 3D photography, in which 2 photos, sided by side, when viewed close together cause the scene depicted to appear as though it were in 3 dimensions). And have also carried a fair selection of the photo plates for viewing. But never have we had the camera that captures the 2 images, simultaneously. Frankly, I always sort of wondered how “they” did it!
This shop provides us with endless opportunities to learn about pieces of our history we were unfamiliar with, before. Every day we study a new aspect of a related field of history and its antiques, and are grateful for the chance to learn more.
Our shop is filled with pictures of people, faces from the past, who we will never know. Whose images were separated from their families, and who now grace our walls.
These fine people are known as The Grandparents, for lack of a more accurate designation. It is sad that these people’s photos aren’t in the possession of their family. And, we have attempted to show the photos around the internet, in the hopes of finding their descendants to claim them. Alas, they are left to our keeping. And, one day, another family will buy their image and hang it on their wall, for their own reasons. It happens all the time.
One of my personal favorites is called, simply, The Little Girl:
Her sweet face makes me sad, not knowing what became of her.
Still, photographs and likenesses allow a moment in time to be captured and remembered (or forgotten) for posterity. These old cameras must have captured many moments, and this stirs a fascination to learn more about them; the years during which each one was the height of technology for its age.
In keeping with the generally Odd theme of our shop, I leave you with one last image. Around here, he is known only as The Creepy Baby. He has been placed where I can keep an eye on him.
It should be noted we have painted that ghastly wall since this photograph was taken.
We proudly share our walk down memory lane with you, and invite you to visit and see the cameras, the memories and, of course, The Creepy Baby, for yourself.
Phrenology is a pseudomedicine primarily focused on measurements of the human skull, based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions or modules. Although both of those ideas have a basis in reality, phrenology extrapolated beyond empirical knowledge in a way that departed from science.
I define it as one more back-alley side road medicine went down, in search of its modern incarnation. Like using electrical current to cure baldness and communicate with the dead. Like using strychnine to rid the ailing body of disease or trepanning the skull to rid one of the demons causing their illness.
These little forays off into the Unknown may not have proven to be valid modern medical practices, with basis is solid science, but they do make for some fascinating study.
By the end of the 19th century, medicine was getting pretty sophisticated. Relatively speaking. They no longer believed that demons caused illness, but also did not believe that germs, which could not be seen, could have any bearing on the spread of disease. Hand-washing was seen as irrelevant, since germs were akin to witchcraft. Who could imagine that something you couldn’t see could hurt you?
Ahhh, these men of letters were working their way to the truth, but such a circuitous route they took.
Along the way, they stumbled onto phrenology.
I stumbled onto phrenology, as an obsession, thanks, in part, to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and his gripping tale, The Hound of the Baskervilles (whose quote gives this piece its title). Dr. James Mortimer, a “humble MRCS”, and passionate student of phrenology gushingly referred to Sherlock Holmes’s head thusly:
“I had hardly expected so dolichocephalic a skull or such well-marked supra-orbital development. Would you have any objection to my running my finger along your parietal fissure? A cast of your skull, sir, until the original is available, would be an ornament to any anthropological museum. It is not my intention to be fulsome, but I confess that I covet your skull.”
The skull-coveting line is one of my favorites in all literature.
After coming to work here, in The Haunted Bookshop, I discovered the varying props and publications of phrenology, which were popular in their day. I discovered the Fowler phrenology model, shown here:
We currently have a beautiful reproduction for sale, along with the latest acquisition, the hand/palm reading model, shown here:
Most recently, I have been fortunate enough to find some gorgeous texts relating to this fascinating, albeit questionable study. My favorite is Descriptive Mentality: From the head, face and hand by Holmes W. Merton, 1899. This is the only text I have ever seen which includes palm reading as part of the “science” that is phrenology.
The most beautiful set I have is a 3 volume set entitled Notes on the United States of North America During a Phrenological Visit in 1838-9-40 by George Combes published in 1841. It appears never to have been read, and is of a condition I rarely see books of this age come from collections. It is astounding. The set is shown here, alongside head and hand model:
(Descriptive Mentality is shown, open, in the foreground of photo)
Notes on The United States… is available at our online bookshop, along with some wonderful photos of the book, its condition and attributes.
It is my hope to be able to study each of these volumes before they go on their way to the next collector, or obsessive, of phrenology. Sometimes, it is most important to remember what isn’t true, in order to find out what is. At least, that’s what we find here, at The Haunted Bookshop. Visit us, sometime, and you’ll see what I mean!
* I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I loved this book twice as much as I thought possible.
I enjoyed the description, and assumed I would enjoy it, but it blew my doors off. I finished it in one afternoon (during a horrible toothache, and it took my mind well off the pain, which is really saying something).
The story and the characters were so appealing, in their flawed frailty. The voice of the story was so enjoyable. So appealing to anyone who has ever been 7-almost-8.
The fairy-tale parallel to reality was flawless, and despite its being a fiction story and not a mystery, there were many mysteries of humanity unraveled.
To describe it further is to ruin it for the reader, so I will abstain.
Suffice it to say I will be reading A Man Called Ove as soon as possible, and am awaiting with eager anticipation, the next book, out this year, by Fredrik Backman.
Highly recommend to fans of many genres and to anyone who enjoys a good tale.
Spring has come to the Oregon Coast, and with it have come the Spring Breakers! Ahhh this long-awaited group of tourists who visit, play, and leave their disposable income in our coffers. Thank the gods and all for this respite from long, dreary, Winter days when we may not see a single soul, much less make a sale.
This sudden abundance helps to take the edge off not having any employees to take over that I might take a day away from the shop. Today is Day 14 of 36 in a series of work days. I have come to think of every day as Monday. Except that weird day that comes without benefit of Postal delivery. I just call that Not Monday.
While I am schmoozing with my customers, and answering the question (for the millionth time), “Where did you get all this stuff?!”, it is easy to forget how tired I am. There is a real, palpable buzz to interacting with engaged people, curious and eager to learn more. It is such a high to give a tutorial on Victorian era medicine, or collecting post-war Vaseline glass, or identifying a modern first edition. I am hooked on watching people learn.
’tis the Season for a new idea or project. It is easy to excite people with inspiration for starting or building their collections. This week, alone, I assisted a fledgling Vaseline glass collector pick the first two pieces to begin her lifelong quest. Putting all the glowing glass on sale did not hurt! I also met a couple who discovered our shop on Saturday, and realized that this was the place to populate their collection of original pharmacy and apothecary bottles they have been dreaming about since their collection was new. They went pretty nuts, actually, buying in bulk the first day in person, then overnight on eBay, and then via telephone the next day. Just call me The Enabler.
For my own Inspired New Beginning, a snafu with the DSL line which caused me to have to empty the glass-front antique book case, propelled me to go through it with a fine-tooth comb, and update the listings, re-price and just generally love those glorious and ancient volumes. It is my favorite part of the shop, and while it is an enormous amount of work, it is so rewarding, knowing they are being looked after with great love and care.
So, while a day off is as fictional to me as Narnia, it is all right with me. In the words of a plaque in Mr. Selfridge’s office (Mr. Selfridge, PBS) “Every day counts when building a business“. Spring is inspiring me to make every day count.
If you should happen to be in the neighborhood this weekend, you might want to drive by the shop, after dark, and feast your eyes on the new glowing green Vaseline Glass display. I understand it can be seen from quite far off!
We are celebrating our local Spring Break, and, of course, St. Patrick’s day, with a 25% OFF sale on ALL our Vaseline glass in stock (excluding pharmacy items).
For those folks wishing to take advantage of these amazing bargains who don’t live locally, kindly contact us at the shop via one of these methods: