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From the Cataloger’s Desk: Summer Fun (With A Little Something Extra)

June 5, 2017

Every once in a while, I find surprises tucked inside books and pamphlets. In catalog records, they are referred to as “accompanying material.” Examples include bookmarks, letters, photographs, tickets, receipts and stamps. Sometimes, the material pertains to the item in hand, such as an errata slip listing corrections made to the text after publication. Other times, it is a memento that belonged to a previous owner, such as a Christmas card from their grandchild. Whatever the case may be, it is always exciting to stumble across accompanying material when I open an item that is ready to be cataloged.

One such item is a catalog for outboard motors published for the Johnson Motor Company in 1927. It came with not one, but two, pieces of accompanying material. The first is a typed letter dated April 6, 1927, to Charles Bracesco, Portland, Oregon, from K.A. Oliver, Sales Department, Johnson Motor Company. Mr. Oliver is following up with Mr. Bracesco, making sure he has received his catalogs andurging himto call a dealer so he can make his purchase. It’s a great sales pitch with talk of summervacations spent boating and fishing on the lake. I wonder if Mr. Bracesco was persuaded? The second piece of accompanying material is a Johnson Motor Company envelope addressed to Charles Brasesco (slight change in spelling). Stamped with the date 1929, it must have contained a different catalog and/or letter. Nonetheless, both pieces of accompanying material tell a story. In this case, it spans from South Bend, Indiana, to Portland, Oregon, and finally, to Indianapolis.

Now, let’s talk about the catalog itself, which is beautifully illustrated in vibrant colors. As someone who spent her childhood on a lake and enjoyed many summer days on the water, I took one look at the cover and my heart yearned for those blissful, carefree times. Instead of just rattling off numbers and figures, this particular catalog tells a story. Part of that story is a spread on pages 8 and 9 highlighting Johnson wins at various 1926 regattas. The images are wonderful, as are the names of the competing boats. I think my favorite is Marion Hasbrouk’s “Golden Girl.” I’m guessing Johnson sold a lot of outboard motors in 1927 thanks to this very interesting and eye-catching catalog (not to mention the letter campaign from sales department employees like Mr. Oliver)!

The catalog record for this item can be found here. And remember to look for “accompanying material” notes when you explore other titles. You never know what kind of treasures you’ll find!

P.S. I’m taking a cue from this Johnson catalog, so I’ll be at the lake this time next month. There will be no blog post for July, but I’ll meet you back here in August!

Lindsay Borman is the cataloger of Printed Collections at the Indiana Historical Society. Her claim to fame: She can name all of the U.S. presidents ... in order!

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