Crimes Against Criminals, Book and Copper Printing Plate

September 22, 2014

The Robert G. Ingersoll Birthplace Museum in Dresden, NY has undergone a major overhaul, with expert assistance from the Exhibition Alliance, and reopened in 2014 with new displays and a new design. During this reconstruction and reworking of the displays, new ideas on how to display the various items were discussed frequently with the Exhibition Alliance and Tom Flynn, director of the museum. The Little Blue Book printing plate, shown here, is the original plate used to print Ingersoll’s Crimes Against Criminals, LBB no. 139.

Little Blue Books, if you are not familiar with them, were the brainchild of Emmanuel Haldeman-Julius back in the early 1900’s (see my blog here for more about them). CFI Libraries has a vast collection of them, and recently, I have been going through the LBB collections, verifying what items I have, rechecking the duplicates, and creating an extensive inventory of them. I have checked numbers 1 through 900 so far, and have about 2,300 books that are unique in some way. For example, some are printed later with a title change or a union printing label, or possibly have a copyright date or a copyright date removed. EH-J publications have unique problems when trying to classify them; there is professional library literature that discusses these issues. There are also several websites that I know of, plus a whole bunch of collectors who have extensive knowledge about these books.

I started going through all the LBB because I was asked by Tom Flynn for an original Crimes Against Criminals for display with the copper plate. The ones we had on hand were not suitable, and I was not able to find a decent one for display right away. After going through all the items, I was finally able to find a few that fit the criteria needed for the display. Tom returned from the museum with the photo seen here and the LBB is now part of the museum collection.

Crimes Against Criminals is another of those Ingersoll items that has many different editions. In our Rare Book Room, we have more than a few, but a calf-skin Roycrofter’s edition from 1906 is my favorite.

I am not sure if the museum will be doing an update of their virtual tour soon, so the only way you will be able to see both plate and book together is here, or by visiting the museum itself.