Errors of Thought

by david on 13 April 2016

Title page of "Errors of Thought"

Title page of “Errors of Thought”

This book is surely the strangest that Paul Elder ever published. It is the antithesis of the attractive, well-printed, easily-read giftable volume that was the Elder specialty. Without a doubt a vanity publication, Errors of Thought in Science, Religion and Social Life (1911) is a long, rambling, incoherent screed on education, science, history, religion, and politics. It’s also poorly typeset, printed on coated stock, and published without a stiff binding. Two states have been seen, the second including an errata page which is just as incomprehensible as the main text. Indeed, it is difficult to understand why Paul Elder was willing to put his name on this bizarre book. And who was the author, identified only as “St. George”?

The story of St. George begins with George Hugo Malter (1852-1927) who immigrated to the United States from Silesia (then in Germany, now part of Poland) in 1866. Malter made his way to California and became a mining engineer, but by 1879 he had abandoned engineering to become a grape grower and winemaker. He proved a successful vintner, and by 1900 Malter owned one of the largest vineyards in California at over 2000 acres. He was a member of the Bohemian Club and the owner of the Emerald, a well-known yacht. The village around his home base in Fresno County was named Maltermoro (today a residential neighborhood of Fresno known as Sunnyside).

The winery’s main brand was called “St. George,” and it specialized in aperitif and dessert wines: Pale Dry Sherry, Dry Sherry, Sherry, and Mellow Sherry; Ruby Port and Tawny Port; Golden Muscat and Muscatel; Madeira and Grenache; Tokay, White Port, and Angelica.

In 1904, Malter married Mabel P. Richardson (b. ca. 1884), a California native. He was 52, she was about 20; it was the first marriage for both of them. Their son George Jr. (1906-1979) would eventually take the reins of the winery. It is the 27-year-old Mabel who is the author of our book. Sadly, I know nothing else about Mabel, although it’s now clear where she found her pseudonym. In 1914, Mabel wrote another eccentric book, The World Process, this time self-published by the “St. George Publishing Company.”

Prohibition was not kind to the St. George winery. By the time Malter died in 1928, all that was left was a small acreage and the manor house. The winery limped along until 1942, when it was purchased by the the Eastern wine enterprise L. N. Renault & Sons.



The Universal Order

by david on 19 March 2016

Cover of "The Universal Order"

Cover of “The Universal Order”

Friederika Quitman was born in 1844 at Monmouth, her family’s mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. She was the youngest daughter of General John A. Quitman and Eliza Turner Quitman, both of whom died when she was a teenager. She and her siblings inherited the estate, but it was attacked in 1862 by Union forces and the furnishings were sold or stolen. In 1863, at the age of 19, Frederika married Francis Eugene Ogden (1835-67), a Confederate officer; they had no children. Upon Francis’s early death at age 32 Friederika became ill, probably with clinical depression. She continued to live at Monmouth, until the mid-1870s when she relocated to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. It was here she began keeping a diary, writing about nature, philosophy, great literary works, and her own illness. By the turn of the century her health had improved, and on New Year’s Day 1903 she married Austin Williams Smith (1843-1911), a widowed Confederate veteran and cousin of her first husband. They spent their final years at Smith’s Saragossa plantation near Natchez. Friederika died in 1911, four months after her husband.

Title page of "The Universal Order"

Title page of “The Universal Order”

Friederika did not publish her diary during her lifetime. It was her niece, Eva C. Lovell, who selected entries from her aunt’s journal (covering the years 1887-93) and arranged for publication with Paul Elder. Lovell also wrote the “Biographical Sketch” on pages ix-x, signed “E. C. L.” Following that is an Introduction by “H. L. J.”, identity unknown.

Page 3 of "The Universal Order"

Page 3 of “The Universal Order”

Elder published the book in brown paper over boards with gilt embossed printing on the cover, and matching dust jacket. The colophon does not identify the artist who designed the title page and chapter decorations.


Sonnets of Spinsterhood

21 February 2016

In 1915, the poet Snow Langley was 36 years old and unmarried: a “spinster” in the thankfully now-obsolete parlance. Spinning wool was typically the job of unmarried women, and spinster was used in legal documents as early as the 1600s to denote an unmarried woman who was likely to stay that way. One might think, then, […]

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PPIE Ephemera

14 February 2016

In addition to his books, Paul Elder & Co. produced a large amount of ephemera: greeting cards, postcards, catalogs, bookmarks, etc. Here is a small sampling of ephemera featuring the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

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The Fourth-Dimensional Reaches of the Exposition

7 February 2016

In the 19th century, mathematicians such as Lagrange and Hamilton began exploring fourth dimensional space. In his 1888 book A New Era of Thought, mathematician and science fiction author Charles Howard Hinton coined the term tesseract for the fourth-dimensional analog of a three-dimensional cube. (The term was famously borrowed in 1963 by Madeleine L’Engle in A Wrinkle In Time.) […]

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Holland — An Historical Essay

1 February 2016

From what source did the forefathers of modern America acquire the high ideals of government and right living that made the American Republic first a possibility, and finally a proved realization? … One nation, and one only, in the whole of Western Europe, at the time of the founding of the New England Colonies, embodied […]

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Little Bronze Playfellows

24 January 2016

In Little Bronze Playfellows (1915), author Stella Perry creates fanciful children’s stories based on several of the bronze statues of children scattered about the grounds of the Palace of Fine Arts. It is one of a dozen books issued by Paul Elder during 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The bronze boys and girls are all gamboling about while perfectly naked. […]

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The Sculpture and Mural Decorations of the Exposition

19 January 2016

As with the other three books in Paul Elder’s quartet of formal books on the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, The Sculpture and Mural Decorations of the Exposition (1915) consists primarily of tipped-in photographs with accompanying descriptive text. A. Stirling Calder, the “Acting Chief of Sculpture of the Exposition,” has name is on the cover, but his contribution consists […]

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The Architecture and Landscape Gardening of the Exposition

9 January 2016

Visitors to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition could not help but be awestruck by the monumental scale of the buildings. It was a Fair of Superlatives: the grounds covered 635 acres, the Palace of Horticulture was the largest dome then in existence (larger than St. Peter’s in Rome), the Tower of Jewels rose 435 feet high–forty-three stories! The Architecture and […]

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Galleries of the Exposition

23 May 2015

While Eugen Neuhaus’s Art of the Exposition viewed the Panama-Pacific International Exposition as a whole, in his companion volume Galleries of the Exposition, he focused on the paintings in the Palace of Fine Arts. Neuhaus’s goal is nothing less than a comprehensive guide to the galleries: It is certainly no small task to enjoy a large exhibit […]

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