Tuesday 26 April 2011

Archives selling on eBay

I saw this posted on Ephemera - an original 1937 Dr. Seuss lithograph.  I checked and it sold for just over $100.  The seller on eBay states that this was one of a year's worth of images which Dr. Seuss a.k.a. Theodor Seuss Geisel, created for the Thomas D. Murphy Calender Company and that this particular image was never distributed or publicly used.  So it has come directly out of the archives of the Thomas D. Murphy Calendar Company.  Part of me thinks what a shame, that these original illustrations are being sold off individually, rather than preserved as an archive, of the Calendar Company's work, or even as a smaller collection just of Geisel's work for the company.  However at the same time I'd love to own an original Dr. Seuss illustration and I hope the individual who bought it will get lots of enjoyment out of it!

The reason this post on Ephemera stuck out for me is that I'm currently reading 'Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel - a Biography' which I'm really enjoying.  The acknowledgements in the book begin with thanking Librarians and Archivists throughout American and British Institutions.  The authors also acknowledge the invaluable insights gleaned from other personal archives - the letters of friends and relatives, and interviews they conducted with his friends and relatives.  All this use of archival sources really shines through in the book, even at this early stage of reading.  The research is meticulous and highly detailed, luckily without being dry!  At the moment we're in 1930s New York, the Wall Street crash has just happened and times are changing from the optimism of the 20s, though at the moment the fortunes of Dr. Seuss are still on the up and up.  I love biographies as not only do you get an insight into the life of someone you admire (well in my case it's usually someone I admire, a musician/artist/writer), but you also get an insight into a way of life, a particular society, particular time.  In this case his experience growing up in an immigrant German community during WWI, and now New York in the 1920s and 1930s and who knows what's still to come!

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