Around this time last year, I had mentioned that I had made the acquaintance of an avid collector of all things related to the last 100 years or so of the American menswear industry. We had originally worked out a deal for the 3-volume Italian set by Gruppo GFT, which I wrote about here. I was pretty blown away by the set when I finally got my hands on it - the black dust-cover showed some slight wear, but the 3-volumes were in absolutely pristine condition. As this collector also has a substantial collection of original Apparel Arts issues - and, more importantly, was willing to part with some of them - well, as Humphrey Bogart told Claude Rains, this looked like the start of a beautiful friendship.
Unfortunately, I was sidetracked with other things so only just got around to working out a deal to acquire a few issues last month. If I was blown away with the 3-volume set, this package just boggled the mind. The 3-volume set was advertised as pristine, which wasn't hard to believe because its only about 20-25 years old. The Apparel Arts issues are closer to 80-years old, and most copies that I've seen for sale are usually in less-than-fair condition, with ads cut out or clothing swatches removed. Which is to be expected, as these books were made to be an in-store resource.
And so I have mixed feelings about the issues that I received. The Winter 1936-1937 issue that I removed from the wrapping is the best condition that I've ever seen an Apparel Arts issue in. Even for an 80-year old over-sized hard-cover bound book, I would still rate this one as a 9 out of 10. Most copies that I've seen or purchased usually show signs of wear along the spine, at the corners, and along the edge of the hardcover. But this particular copy has a beautiful spine - so why is this a bad thing (full disclosure: I'm only kidding), you ask? Because the spine of this book is so tight that it audibly creaks when you try to open the pages, which is going to keep me from fiddling too much with this lovely piece of history. I think its safe to say that the pages in this book will only be seeing slivers of day-light going forward. The hardcover corners and cover edges are in great shape as well.
All-in-all, an exciting acquisition and an amazing addition to my collection.