A Balloon Ascension at Midnight

It would taken the pen of a Carlyle to describe our mysterious flight over Paris at midnight. The impression was so startling that for an hour we never spoke above a whisper.

George Eli Hall’s 1902 story A Balloon Ascension at Midnight is one of my favorite publications from the Elder & Shepard years. Gordon Ross’s color illustrations, including several of Notre-Dame cathedral, immediately sweep the reader back to the Belle Epoque. The book was published in two bindings: paper on boards (below), and green suede with gold trim on boards.

Hall (1863-1911) was born in Nice, France, and was an agent and importer. About 1895 he became the Consul-General of Turkey and Persia in San Francisco. The job evidently included some danger and intrigue: the 8 November 1898 edition of the San Francisco Call, in a note entitled “Lurking Death for Turkey’s Consul,” said that Hall “had been receiving anonymous packages for the past week containing high and deadly explosives. At first the matter did not seem of much consequence to him, but as these munitions of war continued to constitute a portion of his daily mail, he became apprehensive and reported the matter to Chief of Police Lees.”

Cover of "A Balloon Ascension at Midnight"
Cover of "A Balloon Ascension at Midnight"
Frontispiece of "A Balloon Ascension at Midnight"
Frontispiece of "A Balloon Ascension at Midnight". The sculpture is the famous "Le Stryge" on the parapet of Notre-Dame cathedral.
The balloon catches in a tree
The balloon catches in a tree
The balloon soars over the Arc du Triomphe
The balloon soars over the Arc du Triomphe

The Menehunes

Menehunes
The Menehunes, by Emily Foster Day

The Menehunes, Their Adventures With the Fisherman and How They Built the Canoe, by Emily Foster Day, 1905. This small volume was bound in Hawaiian kapa fabric, with delightful illustrations by Spencer Wright. The following year, Day wrote another book of Hawaiiana for Paul Elder, The Princess of Manoa. Emily was married to Francis Root Day (1859-1906), a prominent doctor. In 1887 they moved from Chicago to Honolulu, where they lived until their deaths.

Menehunes are popular characters in Hawaiian mythology; they are said to be a race of small people that live in the deep forest, far from the prying eyes of humans. The Menehunes arrived in Hawaii before the Polynesians, and were excellent craftspeople who built heiau (temples), roads, and fishing ponds.

Frontispiece and title page of "Menehunes"
Frontispiece and title page of “Menehunes”
Pages 2-3 of "Menehunes"
Pages 2-3 of “Menehunes”
The decorated endpapers of "Menehunes"
The decorated endpapers of “Menehunes”

Mosaic Essays

Beginning in 1901, Paul Elder compiled and published a series of booklets of aphorisms, each with a separate theme. Friendship was published first, followed by Happiness, Nature and Success in 1903, and finally by Love in 1905. They were quite successful—over 70,000 copies were sold by 1904—so in 1906 Elder reissued the five booklets as a single volume entitled Mosaic Essays. The cover and title page artwork is by Santa Barbara artist Robert Wilson Hyde.

Mosaic Essays cover
Mosaic Essays, cover

There are three known bindings: paper wraps, paper on boards, and leather wraps. The paper wraps edition seen below was issued with a matching presentation box; such a box was probably available with the other editions as well.

Mosaic Essays title
Mosaic Essays, decorated half-title page
Variant leather cover of "Mosaic Essays"
Leather-bound edition of “Mosaic Essays”
Mosaic Essays paper
Paper wraps binding of “Mosaic Essays”

 

 

Matching presentation box for the paper wraps edition of "Mosaic Essays"
Matching presentation box for the paper wraps edition of “Mosaic Essays”

Calendar 1907

Calendar May 1907
May-June from a 1907 calendar

Today Paul Elder is known primarily for his books, but he also produced a large amount of ephemera. Here is a page from a 1907 calendar. The months and days are almost an afterthought, taking a backseat to the illustrations and quote from Robert Louis Stevenson.