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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Midget Autobiography, anyone?

Reading a book from 1940, I came across a reference to an older book that, if nothing else, would qualify as an interesting oddity.

Memoirs of a Midget by Walter De La Mare is available from a number of booksellers, with the pre-1923 editions ranging in price from $2.00 to $125.00 U.S.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

Found in a magazine from the 1800s


Upon a time—I do not know
Exactly when, but long ago—
A man whose riches were untold.
Silver and precious stones and gold-

Within an Eastern city dwelt;
But not a moment’s peace he felt,
For fear that thieves should force his door,
And rob him of his treasured store.

In spite of armed slaves on guard,
And doors and windows locked and barred,
His life was one continual fright;
He hardly slept a wink by night,
And had so little rest” by day
That he grew prematurely gray.

At last he dug a monstrous pit
To hold his wealth, and buried it
By night, alone; then smoothed the ground
So that the spot could not be found.

But he gained nothing by his labor:
A curious, prying, envious neighbor,
Who marked the hiding, went and told
The Sultan where to find the gold.

A troop of soldiers came next day,
And bore the hoarded wealth away.

Some precious jewels still remained,
For which a goodly price he gained,
Then left the city, quite by stealth,
To save the remnant of his wealth;
But now, by hard experience taught,
A better way to keep it sought.

Broad lands he bought, and wisely tilled ;
With fruits and grain his barns he filled;
He used his wealth with liberal hand;
His plenty flowed through all the land;
And, hid no longer under-ground,
Spread honest comfort all around.

Thus calm and prosperous pass the years,
Till on a fated day he hears
The Sultan’s mandate, short and dread,
” Present thyself, or lose thy head!”
Fearful and trembling, he obeys,
For Sultans have their little ways,
And wretches who affront their lord
Brave bastinado, sack, or cord.

Before the dreaded throne he bowed
Where sat the Sultan, grim and proud,
And thought, “My head must surely fall,
And then my master will seize all
My wealth again.” But from the throne
There came a calm and kindly tone:

” My son; well pleased am I to see
Thy dealings in prosperity;
May Allah keep thee in good health !
Well hast thou learned the use of wealth.
No longer buried under-ground,
Its comforts spread to all around.’

The poor man’s blessings on thy name
Are better far than worldly fame.

I called thee hither. Now, behold,
Here are the silver, gems, and gold
I took from thee in other days;
Receive them back, and go thy ways,
For thou hast learned this truth at last—
Would that it might be sown broadcast!—

That riches are but worthless pelf
When hoarded only for one’s self.”

S. S. G.

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Posted by Public Domain Explorer at 10:43 PM
Edited on: Monday, September 26, 2005 10:49 PM
Categories: Snippets and Quotations, Use This Free

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Cutlery is Cool

I wasn't searching for anything even remotely like this when it appeared in the results. It's just odd enough that I'm almost tempted to buy it just to read.

History of the Spoon, Knife & Fork by Reed, Barton, Dominick & Haff, 1930

A quick Google search shows that Reed & Barton and Dominick & Haff are silversmiths, and the book covers the history of cutlery, and demonstrates how the knife, fork and spoon are made.

It's a pamphlet, published in 1930, with no renewal record in the online databases, so if you've got a site about collectibles -- or cutlery collecting in general (yes, people actually do that. I didn't know until I started Googling!) -- this might be worth a second look, and perhaps payment for an official copyright search.

A less interesting sounding volume for the same market also comes up with no copyright renewal match: American Silversmiths and Their Marks

And as of this posting, the domain collectingcutlery.com is available. It isn't exactly a big market, but could be fun anyway.


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Posted by Public Domain Explorer at 10:13 PM
Edited on: Saturday, September 17, 2005 11:21 PM
Categories: Interesting Oddities

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Checkers or Draughts

With the increase in paid game sites on the Web, sites about all sorts of competitive games should be a good bet for both bounties for finding game sites new players, and contextual text ads like Google Adsense for similar sites.

With that in mind, I thought I'd do some research on a board game, and the first that came to mind was checkers.

The first search I did was for Draughts -- the British name for the game. In this list, I'm only going to pay attention to the pre-1923 list, since books with the word 'Draughts' in the title are probably published in the UK, and therefore wouldn't have US copyright renewals on record. They'd be covered under an entirely different set of copyright laws, and we just don't want to go there.

Running the term "Draughts" through PDE, I get the list linked here: http://www.publicdomainexplorer.com/sample/draughts.html

"Checkers" produces this list: http://www.publicdomainexplorer.com/sample/checkers.html

One of the entries that shows up on both lists, Chess and Checkers: The Way to Mastership by Edward Lasker, seems familiar, and a Google search confirms that it's available for download from Project Gutenberg.

Another Google search shows that Checkers by Henry M. Blossom, Jr. is a work of fiction, and not a book about the game.

Scratching those two items, I'd lean toward the following promising picks:

  • Checkers and Chess, La Roux, Maxim 1916 ($5.00)
    I don't know who Maxim La Roux was, but I'm certain the book is about the game since it's paired with Chess as the topic. Unless this was the cheapest and most likely candidate, though, I'd probably not buy it, since it's difficult to determine how much of the book would actually be dedicated to Checkers rather than Chess.
  • Wendemuth's Checker Companion.1922 ($7.00)
    Wendemuth, I learned from a newspaper archive search, was a Checkers champion from Chicago.
  • Inside Checkers for Beginners, Amateurs, Students and Votaries of the Game, Walker, Walton W. 1922 ($9.00) looks promising. The book is described online as "An exhaustive analysis of selected games played between the best masters and amateurs. Being a revelation in scientific play."
  • A Complete Guide to the Game of Draughts, Lees, James 1906 ($9.00)
    Lees is a well-known name among Checkers fanatics, and so a reprint of this classic might sell well.
  • Draughts: A Practical Guide to Scientific Play , Dunne, Frank 1900 ($10.00)
    Frank Dunne appears to be well known in the checkers world as well, primarily for being the first checkers player to succeed at playing blindfolded.
  • Draughts or Checkers for Beginners , Spayth, Henry 1866 ($11.95)
    Didn't find a lot of information about Spayth, but a beginners book is always a great place to start when building a new content website.

There are also a number of records of tournaments and matches which, while they would make lousy fodder for Adsense, might make for a good visual product, if you could use a checkers software program and / or screen capture software to record the sequence of moves from championship games.

For this topic, at least, there are enough good choices for information in the Pre-1923 category to begin a solid information site and or product with. If the site proves profitable, it would then be worth while to pursue some of the no-match post 1923 items, and pay for the Library of Congress or a law firm to do a copyright search to confirm availablility.

All of these books, at the prices listed, could earn a profit for a savvy niche marketer, EASILY, within a month of their conversion into a usable format.

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Posted by Public Domain Explorer at 10:50 PM
Edited on: Friday, September 16, 2005 12:18 AM
Categories: Topic Research