What Can a Woman Do; or, Her Position in the Business and Literary World. [Salesman’s Sample Book plus a copy of the “Parlor Edition” of the published book in full morocco]
Salesman’s sample book, dummy, or canvassing book heavily illustrated and with plates for the popular women’s professional and business career guidebook which poses the question: “What Can a Woman Do?”
Accompanying the sample book—which offers three different binding styles in both leather and decorated cloth—is a copy of the published work in full morocco, the so-called “Parlor Edition.”
The answer to the question of a woman’s career choice is wide, declares author Martha Louise Rayne, with many jobs outside the home. Here women are promoted as candidates for the professions of journallism, law, medicine, telegraphy, etc. They can even be “Lady Canvassers”—traveling sales agents for sewing machines, organs and pianos, cooking stoves, insurance, and even books:
It is doubtful if there is any work more especially suited to the taste and capacity of a bright, energetic woman, with a good fund of common sense about her, than the sale of subscription books throughout the country. ... It is by no means necessary that the lady book agent should go out on a canvassing tour…armed with a revolver, and bearing a fictitious name. There is nothing in the work to be ashamed of. (p144)
The canvassing book’s subscription leaves contains a nearly full-page of orders for What Can a Woman Do. Nine of the 10 subscribers are clearly identifiable as women. Three binding styles were available, here in ascending order of quality and price: “Cochineal Red, Extra Cloth, Plain edges, $2.50”; “Mahogany Brown, English Cloth, Cloth Joints (Popular Edition), [$]2.90”; and “Full Morocco, Gold Edges (Parlor Edition), [$]3.75.”
Other sections on women’s careers include “A Lady Government Official,” “Women as Wood Engravers,” “The Profession of Elocution,” “The Profession of Nursing,” “Raising Poultry,” “Bee Keeping,” “The Science of Cookery,” and “Keeping Boarders.”
The concluding section of the book treats “Women in the Literary World” and includes original poetry and prose essays such as “Unmarried Women,” “Influence of Wife and Mother,” “Education and Manners of our Girls,” and “Thoughts about Women by Notable Writers.”
An excellent pair of books documenting Victorian publishing practices, the marketing of books to women, and the history of women’s work.
Description: What Can a Woman Do; or, Her Position in the Business and Literary World. [Salesman’s Sample Book plus a copy of the “Parlor Edition” of the published book in full morocco]
Springfield, Mass: King-Richardson Publishing Co., 1897. Approx. ff + approx. ff of plates; irregularly foliated. Canvassing Book. 8¾ x 6 inches. Full brown morocco with gilt titling on upper cover and with blind stamping; beveled edges; top edge gilt; fore-edge marbled; cloth reinforced hinges. Later ownership inscription of a woman. From the fore-edges of both covers, panels fold out to display three sample bindings, one in leather and two in cloth. Text includes a prospectus leaf and subscription pages, here with one page completed in pencil manuscript. Brief rubbing to exterior; some loss to hinge of front cloth flap; very good. [sold with:] M.L. Rayne, What Can a Woman Do; or, Her Position in the Business and Literary World. Springfield, Mass: King-Richardson Publishing Co., 1896. Frontis., viii, –528pp + plates. Full brown morocco with gilt titling on upper cover and with blind stamping; beveled edges; cloth reinforced hinges; all edges gilt. Brief rubbing to exterior; short tears on plate at p350 expertly mended with Japanese paper and paste; very good.