“The Next President” by Vincent Starrett

Properly, one thinks, the next President of the United States should be a physician or a clergyman. He should be an Adventist or a Mennonite. He should hail from Florida or Wyoming. He should be unmarried and a performer upon the pipe organ.
Indeed, it might be insisted that the next President of the United States should be of Scandinavian ancestry; so many have been Scotch and Irish. Fairness would seem to demand something of the sort. We are, after all, a representative nation, and few enough of us have been represented—in our reflected personalities—in the White House at Washington.

It is as a dilettante of history that one approaches the subject—an innocent bystander in the field of politics—a spectator on the sidelines of life. Yet the vision of the dilettante, like that of the mystic, may go deeper than the clairvoyance of the commentator who is more nearly touched by the recurrent phenomenon of election. To the dilettante who idles in statistics, history is less a muster of battles and treaties and reforms, than it is an engaging chronicle of paradox and coincidence, of accident and error, and of similar beguiling memoranda.

One hesitates to assert that there has been favoritism shown; yet the fact is there have been no less than twenty Presidents who were lawyers when they were called to office, as against the merest scattering of teachers, tailors, farmers, cowboys and mining engineers. Did you know that Fillmore and Johnson were once tailors of a sort? It is a circumstance less advertised than Washington’s surveying. Many, to be sure, were soldiers in their day, but only two of them had been professionals. Buchanan, one is informed, was the only bachelor, for, while Cleveland was unmarried at the time of his election, Buchanan remained a bachelor to the end. This makes a profession of Buchanan’s bachelorhood—but the point is, there has never been a cobbler, never a sailer, never an architect, an auctioneer or an actor.

It is the same with reference to origins, both immediate and remote. Eight of the Presidents were by birth Virginians, and seven were Ohioans. New York and northern Carolina have three apiece, and Massachusetts and Vermont have two. But Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, Kentucky, Iowa and New Jersey only a single ewe lamb of a President, and the remainder of the States are simply nowhere at all. It must be admitted, however, that Jackson did his best for southern Carolina; he claimed the State as his birthplace nd it required documentary evidence to prove him mistaken.
Ancestrally, one notes that seven of the Presidents derived from English stock, and six were Scotch and Irish. Van Buren and Colonel Roosevelt were Dutch. One—Jefferson—is asserted to have been Welsh. Hoover, according to latest information, is of Swiss descent. Surely there is room here for a Norwegian or a Dane? Say from Oregon or Maine?
It was Jefferson and Tyler, by the way, who played the violin.

Then there is the case of names: The Jameses predominate with five, and near at hand are the Johns and Williams—tied at three a piece. The Andrews number two. The rest are singles. There has been no President of the United States named Sylvester! No President names Anatole! No Robert, even for that matter, and no Charles.
Three Presidents have come to us from Harvard and three from William and Mary. Princeton has given two. Tale and a dozen others, one apiece. The majority lies elsewhere—nine of the Presidents of the United States have not been college graduated at all.

Finally. There is the day called Friday. It has been a curious factor in presidential chronicle. On Friday Washington was born, and after him, on other and later Fridays, Monroe and Pierce and Hayes. On Friday the second Adams, Pierce, Garfield and Harding were inaugurated. On Friday, Tyler, Polk and Pierce died; note the effect of Friday upon Pierce. On Friday Lincoln was assassinated.

It should be revealed, too, that John Adams and Jefferson died on the same day, a few minutes apart, and that the day was July 4, 1836. Monroe died on the fourth of July 1831. To complete the record of Independence Day, it may be set down that Coolidge was born on July 4, the year being 1872. The sixth President, as is well known, was the son of the second, and the twenty-third President was the grandson of the ninth. John Quincy Adams was a Representative and Andrew Johnson a Senator in Congress after the expiration of their presidential terms, and both dies while holding office. Their cases might furnish a cynical text for a talk upon the dangers of anti-climax.

from  San Francisco Examiner, 30 November 1931

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Posted by on September 19, 2018 in Uncategorized


Lapel Pins

Over the years I have created or helped to create many different Lapel Pins, and I thought I would collect my comments here about them here, and, where possible, provide an illutration of each. This will require many updates, but I thought I would create a list first.

An Irish Secret Society at Buffalo (AISSAB, De Wall #C16965) with three varieties

The Bimetalic Question of Montreal (Not in DeWaal) 3 varieites

A Great Herd of Bison on the Fertile Plane (Winnipeg) 3 varieties

Vincent Starrett

The Shaw Festival “Sherlock Holmes” For The Retire colonels

Bernard Shaw on a Bicycle. (3 varieties)

The Bootmakers of Toronto (1994) facing West (five varieties)

The Bootmakers of Toronto (1995) facing East (five varieties)

The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box (Candlelight Press Logo)

The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box (FAntasy Fiction Logo)

Arkham House

The Clients of Adrian Mulliner

THe Physicians Services Incorporate (PSI)



Pears’ Soap Advertisements and Literature

Pears’ Soap published a Christmas Annual between 1891 and 1925. The internet is awash with various beatiful coloured adds and front covers. But nowhere can I find a bibliography of this eries of magazines. I know that A. Conan Doyle appears in some if not many of them. I came across this series of adds from tear sheets from The Nation which I acquire from George Locke’s trash bin a year or so ago now. Here’s a pdf with an assortment, rather plain and no colour, but The Nation was published in black and white.



In Re: The purchase of Flowers

Every adult male has been faced with the conundrum of purchasing flowers. With the exception of funerals it is a universally pleasurable experience, whether is for the garden in the spring, or for the apple of eye, or eye candy to contemplate in his home.

In the spring, it is recurring ritual to visit the garden centre or roadside venue to stock up on annuals and perennials for the home gardens. I tried many things over the years, all with a singular lack of success. Last Fall I invested in a three year plan for Day Lilies. this patch will be a Canada 150 project. I’ll post some pictures of year one display, this June.

I look forward to a visit to the nursery every fall to Poinsettias for Christmas thank yous, and presents to friends, as well as adorn the fireplace. Somehow I never manage to maintain these flowers, and they are dried out before their time, and are trashed. I prefer red, but white is always a nice change over the years.

I will never forget buying fresh jasmine flowers in the market in downtown Nairobi, Kenya over the noon hour for six weeks in 1993. My hotel was full of wonderful fragrance I will always remember. Longevity was not a characteristic, and they had to be replaced every couple of days  when business flights to Somalia didn’t get in the way.

And now I contemplate future purchases! A trip to Rochester for a meeting on February 20th. And the Toronto Garrison Ball on February 25th.


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Posted by on February 5, 2017 in Uncategorized



“Marian Keith” is the pseudonym for Mary Esther (Née Miller) MacGregor (1874-1961).

1.  (1905) Duncan Polite: The Watchman of Glenoro
2. (1906) The Silver Maple: A Story of Upper Canada
3. (1908) Treasure Valley
4. (1910) ’Lizbeth of the Dale
5. (1912) The Black Bearded Barbarian: The Life of George Leslie MacKay of Formosa
6. (1913) The End of the Rainbow
7. (1918) In Orchard Glen
8. (1919) Living Lies (as by Esther Miller)
9. (1921) Little Miss Melody
10. (1922) The Bells of St. Stephen’s
11. (1924) Gentleman Adventurer: A Story of the Hudson’s Bay Company
12. (1927) Under the Grey Olives
13. (1930) Forest Barrier: A Novel of Pioneer Days
14. (1934) Courageous Women; with L. M. Montgomery and Mable Burns McKinley
15. (1935) Glad Days in Galilee (U.S.A. Boy of Nazareth)
16. (1946) As a Watered Garden
17. (1948) Yonder Shining Light
18. (1952) Lilacs in The Dooryard
19. (1960) The Grand Lady


Bonham’s Auction N.Y. 11 April 2016

In the fine literature section, there are 5 lots of manuscripts written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Get out your cheque book and don’t forget the 25% Buyer’s premium on the first $100,000!

Lot 12 – GREE : Lot 13 – Rodney Stone, handsome bound volumes: Lot 14 – HOUN, one page beginning of Chapter XIII: Lot 16 – The Prisoner’s Defence: Lot 17 – THOR, 48 pages in two parts.

Now here’s the good part, I downloaded a 51 page pdf file catalogue from the Bonham website.  Open it and drool!

The auction will be held at Madison and 56 Street East, Monday 11 April at 10 AM, and the hammer should come down within the hour.

Here is the pdf: S-23644-0-1

Update: I watched this live just now, and the hammer prices in US$ were: —

#12 – GREE $300,000 (started at $110,000: #13 – RODNEY STONE $70,000 (auctioneer mumbled so maybe it was withdrawn): #14 – HOUN $80,000: #16 – Prisoner’s Defence $17,000: #17 – THOR – $220,000  …

 2nd Update on 11 April: I reviewed the prices realized from the auction this AM. Apparently only one of the five lots actually sold, and that was THOR at the hammer of $220,000. The 4 other lots did not sell because they did not reach the reserve on the book, but the hammer prices were as I reported above. Now perhaps the auctioneer will sell them above the hammer and below or at the reserve or low estimate? A memorable day for all fans of the great detective. The low reserves are all listed in their catalogue and on the Bonham website under Fine Literature.


Undershaw — Off the Agenda

Disregard my previous two posts on this matter. Waverley Borough Council has now taken Undershaw off the agenda altogether for next Wednesday’s meeting (26 November 2014). Good thing I resisted the urge to book a flight; I never would have got back in time to attend a Mess Dinner in Cambridge, nor attend a Senate meeting in Hamilton on the 26th.

The application has been withdrawn so that the planners can consider the contents of the English Heritage objection letter. Does this mean that the Application has been called in? I think so! Perhaps a letter received from the National Planning Casework Office in Birmingham citing a relevant Article 25 Directive might have also contributed to this decision.

In my opinion, the DFN Foundation has received much expensive but faulty advice and guidance in this matter. It would appear that the steam-roller to destroy the property has been stopped, at least temporarily, and hopefully permanently.

I am advised that the Land Registry Office has received new information on The Undershaw Hotel. New Owners, amount of the purchase etc. I will have this in hand new Tuesday.

The responsibility for this matter now rests squarely on the shoulders of a fellow called Dr. Andrew Brown at English Heritage. He first met Norman Stromsoy, the architects, and D&M at the property on Tuesday afternoon 29 September. He was given a photograph of the stables, which allegedly had been taken the day before. He was not shown the brick-lined well, because there was an issue of Asbestos contamination. Andy will have to bring a N6 mask for his next visit.

In my opinion, English Heritage should have been involved from the getgo, and not as an afterthought when the plans are drawn and posted on the Waverley website.

And what about that expensive excavating equipment that was on the proporty last week? No doubt that the present owner is paying by the day for it to be there. Will whoever? allow the work to continue. I hope not.

Will Undersahw go back on the agenda again, no doubt, but with the schedule for December already booked, it will not be until the new year, and adter the holiday season. So that will make it a full two years since the property was first listed for sale, and a frightfully flawed sales process it was!


Undershaw — The Crunch

The fate of Undershaw has its next hearing at Waverley Borough Council on 26 November 2014. The DFN Foundation represented by Norman Stromsoy, and John MIchael Gibson will each have six minutes to present their case, and then the planners and councillors will require the Wisdom of Job.

The Victorian Society, the Ancient Monument Society, English Heritage and John Gibson have come out squarely against WA/2014/1655 and 1656.

The DFN Foundation and Stepping Stones School, an overwelming number of citizens of Hindhead and friends of Stepping Stones, Jeremy Hunt (the local MP) and Richard Doyle have all registered their strong support for the school and its auxillary large extensions with serious changes to the topography, destruction of the stables, the well, and the airing hut which was used for ACD’s tuberculous wife.

The way I see it — the Waverley Borough Councillors, and Planners will unanimously approve this project on behalf of Stepping Stones on 26 November.Either or both The Ministry of Culture, Media and Sport, with the recommendation of Andy Brown of English Heritage will call the project in, which will result in A Public Inquiry which will also result in a significant delay for the project of up to 18 months. The National Planning Casework Unit in Birmingham may also have siginicant input into this “Calling In” decision.

Another potential but tragic outcome might be that the property would be delisted altogether, because of the extensive changes and new construction.

The most likely outcome, and definitely not my favourite, is that the develpment will be full-heartily approved, and after the concerns of the 3 statutory consulltees have been dealt with in one form or another — the most likely a deaf ear — the school will be constructed and opened in the fall of 2015.

Anyone can watch the presentations and deliberations on the Waverley Website starting at 17:30 pm GMT on Wednesday, the 26th of November 2014. This webcam video will be posted on the web for later viewing as well.

Meanwhile, there are a number of excavation machines on the property right now! with a team of up to 10 men already working at something! There is a public footpath on the property, but anyone walking walking along it, is watched very closely by surveillance cameras and/or by the workers.



H.P. Lovecraft envelope to Howard Wandrei

HPL Letter to Wandrei-Front HPL Letter to Wandrei-Back

Here is a straight forward empty No. 10 envelope addressed to Howard Wandrei from HPL. I have no idea what it originally contained, but Derleth saved it for the 3 cent Washington on the front cover. The group contents would be most appreciative and informative to all.



H.P. Lovecraft letter to Robert Barlow




HPL Letter to Barlow-Front HPL Letter to Barlow-Back

Here is an empty envelope from HPL to Robert Barlow in Daytona Beach. I believe he lives here before he moved to Mexico where he died. The little note on the back is intriguing. I wonder in the building at this address is still standing? or has it been demolished and rebuilt? Anyone want to check it out?