The Witches Dream Book, 1914
This little volume (127 x 105mm; roughly 4 x 5 inches) is from a series of “Joke Books” published by I. & M. Ottenheimer in Baltimore, MD. The title is The Witches Dream Book and it is no. 31 of at least 45 titles that includes New Irish Jokes, New Hebrew Jokes, New Coon Jokes, even an Italian Dialect Joke Book—something to offend everyone! (**see below)
The only other titles I’d want to see from this series are Saucy Jokes and Funny Epitaphs, indicating that my weaknesses are for sex and death. But the titles are probably the most creative and interesting part of these ten-cent “Pocked Editions”; just as the cover art is the most interesting part of The Witches Dream Book and Complete Fortune Teller: The Correct Interpretation of Dreams. Together with Fortune-Telling, Etc., Etc.
The Witches Dream Book contains seventeen pages of dream-symbols (“Water. If anyone dreams of water it signifies abundance and fruitfulness”—an interpretation which was obviously not written with the Brisbane floods in mind), there follows seventeen pages of “The Oraculum; Or, Napoleon Bonaparte’s Book of Fate,” then twenty-two pages of the “Science of Foretelling Events by Cards” (“The Five of Diamonds. Shows you a well assorted marriage with a mate who will punctually perform the hymenal duties …”—which, of course, everybody desires).
Hymenal duties aside, our witch seems to be a slightly more decently-clothed version of the Pears’ Soap Witch of 1899, with her billowing veil, although this off-the-shoulder piece is still distinctly risqué for 1914. The rose-bloom patterned hennin (high-pointed witch’s hat) is delightful, as is the unflappable cat. It is a shame that the printing is so poor and that the artist was working on such a small scale, but we should be grateful that the artwork is so much better than the contents!
(** Remember, this is 1914, almost a century ago now. It was the era of vaudeville, silent films and Charlie Chaplin—see the back cover advert below—and it was the eve of WWI. Tempus fugit.)