A Cycle of Gleanings

Green leather cover of “A Cycle of Gleanings”

One of my latest Paul Elder acquisitions is A Cycle of Gleanings (1909), by Ella Blake Stone. It joins a small stack of other Elders where the copy I own is the only copy I’ve ever seen, even after thirty years of searching. The text is a compilation of quotations, one for each day of the year. Books of quotations were a time-honored Paul Elder device—they must have sold well because he kept publishing them—but they can hardly be called great literature.

The title page reads “A Cycle of Gleanings – from El Labla Kest – One for each day in the year,” but “El Labla Kest One” is simply “Ella Blake Stone” with the spaces in different locations. The printing on the frontispiece tissue guard reads “Aloha Oe e Ke Onaona Noho Ika Lipo” (“farewell to thee, the charming one who dwells in the shaded bowers”), which are words from the well-known Hawaiian song “Aloha ‘Oe,” written by Princess (later Queen) Lili’uokalani in 1878.

Printed on a high-quality English rag paper named “Arnold Unbleached” with a green leather cover embossed in gold, it’s an attractive and well-made book. The book is undoubtedly a vanity publication, given the limited press run of 100 copies and the use of expensive paper: Elder did not lavish such paper on his ordinary trade books. The cover decoration and interior borders are designed by Harold Sichel, one of Elder’s favorite artists. The border on the verso is a mirror-image of the recto (including a mirror-image of Sichel’s HS monogram). The borders were reused by Elder in 1910 for Lillyan Shaffner’s Love & Friendship.

Frontispiece of “A Cycle of Gleanings,” with a portrait of Ella Blake Stone (1837-1919)

Ella Blake Gordon Stone (28 Jun 1837, Louisville, Kentucky – 28 Dec 1919, Santa Barbara, California), was the oldest of six children of John Gardner Gordon and Sarah Reinhard. When she was seven years old, her father moved the family to Muscatine, Iowa. In 1857, she married William Reade Stone (1827-1915) in Muscatine. They lived in Duluth, Minnesota for many years before moving to Santa Barbara, California, where they died and are buried.

Everything so far would make a nice uneventful story of a handsome book… if it weren’t for my discovery of the other book that Ella Stone wrote.

Stone was also the author of O-So-Ge-To the Hopi Maiden, and Other Stories, published by W. B. Conkey Co. in 1907. This book makes for excruciating reading. It is a collection of eight children’s stories that range from patronizing and misogynistic to unapologetically racist. The title story is a sadly typical one from a white author about native peoples: a young Hopi maiden named O-Se-Ge-To is left in the desert as a sacrifice to the “Fiery Spirit” so that desperately needed rain will come. She is found by Padre Esteven (“blessed be his memory”), who is leading a group of priests into the desert to Christianize the Indians, and they baptize her into the Church and rename her Eufrasie. After being taken to Mission Santa Barbara in California, she falls in love with a sailor named Miguel. They are soon married, but he is drowned in a storm at sea. Eufrasie dies of grief after tossing her silver Hopi bracelets into a cauldron that is forging a new bell for the Mission.

The truth, of course, is that the Hopi do not practice human sacrifice, and that as early as 1540, the Spanish were brutally persecuting and sometimes enslaving the Hopi, both for maintaining their own religious customs and for resisting conversion. This eventually prompted the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, one of the few instances where native tribes were able to successfully evict the colonizers. Paul Elder was not immune from publishing material now viewed as racist, but all the same I am happy that it was not he who published this highly offensive book.


Recipe For a Happy Life

Cover of "Recipe For a Happy Life," green version
Cover of “Recipe For a Happy Life,” green version

Written by Margaret of Navarre in the year 1500:

Three ounces are necessary, first of Patience, then of Repose & Peace; of Conscience a pound entire is needful; of Pastimes of all sorts, too, should be gathered as much as the hand can hold; Of Pleasant Memory & of Hope three good drachms there must be at least. But they should moistened be with a liquor made from True Pleasures which rejoice the heart. Then of Love’s Magic Drops, a few—but use them sparingly, for they may bring a flame which naught but tears can drown. Grind the whole and mix therewith of Merriment, an ounce to even. Yet this may not bring happiness except in your Orisons you lift your voice to Him who holds the gift of health.

Title page of "Recipe For a Happy Life"
Title page of “Recipe For a Happy Life”

These few words on page 1 of Recipe For a Happy Life (1911) are in fact the only words by Margaret in the entire book. The rest of the text consists of quotations compiled by Marie West King along the themes (italicized above) in Margaret’s recipe.

Marguerite de Navarre (1492-1549), also known as Marguerite of Angoulême, was a French noblewoman, Queen of the small Kingdom of Navarre by her marriage to Henry II of Navarre. Margaret’s brother Francis I was later King of France, and her grandson Henry IV was the first in the long line of Bourbon kings of France.

Margaret became the most influential woman in France during her lifetime when her brother Francis I ascended to the French throne in 1515. Her salon, known as the “New Parnassus,” became famous internationally. She wrote many poems and plays. Her most notable works are a classic collection of short stories, the Heptameron, and a remarkably intense (and very controversial) religious poem, Miroir de l’âme pécheresse (Mirror of the Sinful Soul).

Frontispiece of "Recipe For a Happy Life." A reproduction of a crayon drawing by François Clouet.
Frontispiece of “Recipe For a Happy Life.” A reproduction of a crayon drawing by François Clouet.

There is evidence that Margaret had some influence in England. A letter to her from English Queen Anne Boleyn survives, and in 1545, twelve-year-old princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I) translated Margaret’s Miroir into English and gave it as a gift to her stepmother Catherine Parr (sixth wife of Henry VIII).

Page 1 of "Recipe For a Happy Life," the only part of the book actually written by Margaret
Page 1 of “Recipe For a Happy Life,” the only part of the book actually written by Margaret

Margaret of Navarre is not to be confused with the medieval Margaret of Navarre, Queen of Sicily (ca 1128-1183), a Spanish noblewoman who lived 350 years earlier.

I have been able to find no further information on the compiler, Miss Marie West King. This is her only association with a Paul Elder publication.

Page 2 of "Recipe For a Happy Life"
Page 2 of “Recipe For a Happy Life”


Cover of "Recipe For a Happy Life," orange version
Cover of “Recipe For a Happy Life,” orange version with silver text
recipe cover yellow red
Cover of “Recipe For a Happy Life,” yellow version with red text

The Auto Guest Book

Cloth on boards edition of "Auto Guest Book"
Cover of “Auto Guest Book”

On an inventive twist from a guest book designed for the guest bedroom, here is a guest book designed for one’s automobile. The Auto Guest Book was published in 1906 on the heels of the success of the early Cynic’s Calendars, with the illustrations and aphorisms by the team of Ethel Grant (1876?-1940) and Richard Glaenzer (1876-1937).

In 1906 automobiles were still toys for the rich, beyond the means of most Americans. Nevertheless, Elder presumably had enough car-owning customers to justify this book.

Paul Elder was not immune to the use of ethnic stereotypes, though fortunately he only published a few such examples. The Auto Guest Book has a “Sheikh of Araby” theme, with maxims by “Punbad the Railer,” and illustrations of turbaned men, veiled women and Oriental carpets.

Cover of the leather edition of "Auto Guest Book"
Cover of the leather edition of “Auto Guest Book”
Title page of "Auto Guest Book"
Title page of “Auto Guest Book”
Frontispiece of “Auto Guest Book”
A page for recording an automobile outing
A page for recording an automobile outing
The driving party encounters a native.
“Where there’s a bill there’s a way”
"So near and yet -- chauffeur"
“So near and yet — chauffeur”


Leather edition of "Love"
Leather edition of “Love”

Love (1905) was the last of the Mosaic Essays series compiled by Paul Elder. The first booklet in the series, Friendship, was published in 1902 and sold very well. In 1903, Elder followed with HappinessNature and Success in 1903.

In 1906 he reissued the five booklets in a single volume called Mosaic Essays.

As with the other four titles in the series, Love was published in multiple forms: dark paper wraps, soft suede, and perhaps also a “full white calf by Miss Crane.”

Title page of "Love"
Title page of “Love”
Paper wraps edition of "Love"
Paper wraps edition of “Love”
Pages 8-9 of "Love"
Pages 8-9 of “Love”


Variant edition B cover of "Success"
Edition B cover of “Success”

Success is a booklet of quotations in the Mosaic Essays series, compiled by Paul Elder. It was published in 1903 along with Happiness and Nature in response to the high sales of 1902’s Friendship. In 1905, Elder published the last booklet in the series, Love. In 1906 he issued the five booklets in a single volume called Mosaic Essays. As with the other booklets in the series, Success was published in three bindings:

  • Edition A: bound in flexible Omar sultan, with fly-leaves of Japan wood-fiber. Enclosed in uniform envelope. Price, 50 cents [“sultan” is a deep red color, and “Omar” is just a word Elder added for a flair of the exotic.]
  • Edition B: bound in flexible suede, with fly-leaves of imperial Japan vellum. Enclosed in box. Price, $1.25
  • Edition C: bound in full white calf by Miss Crane. Price, $5.00

I can find no further information about the bookbinder, “Miss Crane.”

Variant edition B title page of "Success"
Edition B title page of “Success” (note discoloration from wood-fiber endpapers)
Leather edition of "Success"
Variant edition B cover of “Success”, published c1907 when Elder was in New York
Edition B title page of "Success"
Variant edition B title page of “Success”, c1907
Variant edition A cover of "Success"
Edition A cover of “Success”
Pages 8-9 of "Success"
Pages 8-9 of “Success”
Ad from the Dec 1903 issue of The Argonaut
Ad from the Dec 1903 issue of The Argonaut