July 18, 2006


Hey folks! The S.S. Adams "visual history book" that I created and blogged about earlier, has finally made it's way stateside and has begun to ship! So I thought I'd take this opportunity to plug it again and offer a sneak peek. I'm thrilled with the way the printing turned out, as well as the quality of the paper and binding. In the photo above I placed it next to a Joy Buzzer to give some sense of the scale. Let's take a look inside...

The book is divided into decades ranging from 1906 to 2006. Naturally, the 1950s and 60s are my favorite period in terms of visuals. Just check out that amazing rack header on the page to the left. That's one fun-loving family of pranksters!
Sorry for the watermarks. Adams has always been extremely popular with the bootleggers and shysters so I don't want to temp them further. If you're wondering what all that other stuff is.. I laid the book on a glass display case that contains a chunk of my own prank collection.

By the time I was finished with the book I'd gained a far greater appreciation for design and illustration from the 1920s and earlier. Even practical joke packaging was ornate and elegant back then. When I first began laying out the pages I actually thought the early era would be a boring part of the book since many of the oldest items lacked colorful packages. How wrong I was. In many ways, it's the most beautiful.
That magician illustration on the bottom right is one of the many original pieces of art in the book. It was humbling to handle these historical works. It's amazing to see the pencil marks and the strokes from the ink brush, and thankfully these details come through in print.

Book designer and author extraordinaire Chip Kidd once said in a seminar that "Everything looks good when it's blown up huge." I took his advice many times in this edition. That 101 Magic Tricks booklet is about four inches tall in reality.

Above we find a special section dedicated to the can that launched a thousand snakes.

Well, I hoped you enjoyed this little preview. I'm still elated at the fact that this dream is now a reality. If your disposable income is piling up and you want to get your hands on a book.. you can order via email or toll free phone call from the S.S. Adams site and that's no joke. (haw! haw!)


chuckbaris said...

the book looks great kirk. Can't wait to get one

Todd Franklin said...

Congrats on the book and it looks like a must buy!

Xtabay said...

Love your site anything that features sixties nostalgia is OK in my book.

Just one thought because there's so many items on the loading page it takes ages to load and a lot of the images didn't get loaded. I'm on broadband so thats not a problem. I thought maybe just feature say 6 to 10 items on the main page and rely on archives for the rest. This can be done in settings.

Hope you don't mind my suggestion.

AWG said...

This book looks like a keeper! I can't wait to get my copy. I'm really impressed with this!

Kirk D. said...

Thanks xtabay!
Oddly enough I can't get the archiving to function properly. Just today I tried several times to set it to show only the last 30 days, and after republishing the whole thing numerous times it still shows everything. Anyone have any pointers?

Oh, and thanks also AWG!

Kirk D. said...

Aha! I thought that showing thirty days meant posts made within the last thirty days, not thirty posts. I changed it to show far fewer.

Whoops, I didn't mean to neglect you guys chuck and todd.
I appreaciate your encouraging comments!

Dan Goodsell said...


Kirk D. said...

Thanks Dan, I'll be seeing you at Comic Con!

Tim said...

Great looking site (found it from a link on Vodkapundit's feed).

Any particular reason why there's no RSS feed enabled?

Kirk D. said...

Thanks Tim. I, for one, welcome my new Vodkapundit overlords.

As you wish..

Anonymous said...

Love it Kirk! Gotta get this.
I like how you used the pieces...BIG
very much how I layed out the new
Dumb Angel Gazette. It's great to
have an opportunity to use this stuff
otherwise it would be long forgotten.

~ Mark London

Anonymous said...

It's an excellent book. I've spent every evening for the past week flipping through it. I thought it interesting that Adams reused 60s stretch-paks in the early 80s. I'm in Iowa, and all I remember is that 60s color scheme when I first saw and bought Adams in the 80s. In fact, I never seen a gradiated pak until the 90s.
That must have been a trip rummaging around the plant in Neptune. Too bad the exterior no longer proudly proclaims itself the S.S. Adams company like it did in the 1940s.

Kirk D. said...

Mark- Thanks! yes, the big format rules. some of the pictures in there are actually larger than actual size.

I'm so glad to hear that you're enjoying the book!

It's also possible that the Adams stuff you saw had been sitting on the shelf for a couple decades. :) I've seen it happen.

Yes, the excavation trip was something I will never forget. For a guy like me it was more fun than Disneyland.

I agree about the sign. It sure wouldn't take much time or effort to hang it back up (maybe on the other side so it wouldn't compete with the piano shop sign). Maybe I'll put that in the suggestion box.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE do put that into the Adams suggestion box. In the Rauscher book is a picture of "ADAMS" proudly painted around the building. Granted, that might prove to be an obscene expense for little return but some form of signage is necessary on this 100th year of Adams.

I discovered Adams the same time I discovered Traveler's Valet vending machines dispensing Mechanical Servants pranks and magic. I've got a small collection of about 30+ boxes that still bring back fond, fond memories. I can smell the chlorine from the hotel pool now! I'm glad you posted about these gems a few months ago as I thought I was the only one who remembered! Too bad there's not enough interest to write about that company in more detail.

Awesome blog, awesome web site, awesome book! Thanks so much for it!

Brian O.

brainwerk said...

I'm getting this!

Kirk D. said...

Thanks brainwerk. I appreciate your support! I hope you enjoy it. Great blog too!

Jason said...

Outstanding! I just made my purchase & can't wait to get my mitts on it. The Adams line was (of course) a gateway into all kinds of magical mental locations in my childhood & I'm amazingly happy to see it being given the de-luxe treatment.

Someday down the road I sure would love to see a similar book for any one (or all) of the lesser lights of the novelty scene (especially all of the crude card art and advertising collateral they'd employ), but for now this looks like it'll be more than enough to savor!

Kirk D. said...

Jason- Awesome, I hope you enjoy it! Though I've probably gotten more hours of enjoyment from your blog than you will from this book.