Most donated books
Posted: 15 May 2017 11:33 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I found this Guardian account amusing. When I lived in Britain I loved trawling charity shops for books and I imagine other posters frequent the equivalents in their countries. What books do you find there? The Audacity of Hope? Any good finds? I once picked up a Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: Millennium Edition for £4. 1,298 pages - I just checked.

It’s ironic vinyl is cool again. 16 years or so ago there were appalling Bobby Crush, Kiss etc LPs piled against the wainscotting. Now almost all charity shops won’t accept cassettes or VHS tapes.

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Posted: 15 May 2017 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Most days of tte week begin with strong coffee, followed by hours of sorting book donations at the Skidompha Secondhand Book Shop, which supports our local library.  The DaVinci Code is among the books we frequently send to the paper recycling bin.  We don’t get too many copies of any of the three volumes of Fifty Shades, but, curiously, vols. II and III are the most donated.  There is a strong distinction between Rightpondia literary castoffs and those seen in rural Maine.  Anybody need a few hundred Grisham or Sandford or Patterson novels?

Last week I scored a Skeat Etymological Dictionary, a nice counterbalance to the eighteen cartons of mass market paperback bodice rippers that came in the same day.

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Posted: 15 May 2017 01:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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In the 60s and 70s in Portsmouth there was a wonderful little bookshop in Marmion Rd. It was owned by a really nice fellow called Bill. He was very religious and he specialized in old religious works but he would deal in other books too. Bill had scoured the country buying up old library collections (the Royal Marines library in Plymouth was one such). You wouldn’t believe the books he had. All my 19th century collection of the Ante-Nicene Fathers came from his shop, my 18th century Eusebius, my collected plays of Dryden, a huge one-volume complete works of Fielding, the letters of Junius, a 1651 collection of 17th century historian Clement Walker’s complete works, including the incredible (and probably foolhardy) The High Court of Justice, or Cromwell’s New Slaughter House in England and many, many more, all sold by Bill at unbelievably low prices (he charged me £10 for example for my 1631 edition of Thomas Beard’s The Theatre of Gods Judgements, a price that was nothing out of the ordinary for him. He cared nothing for profit.)

Those days are past. When he died the bookseller sharks moved in, bought all the stock and started selling it at hugely inflated prices far beyond my reach. But I still have all the books he sold me and although I’m a confirmed atheist I’d really like to think that Bill and his wife, who died before him, are in a better place and surrounded by the books they loved.

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Posted: 16 May 2017 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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’By, that’s capped me theer, aldiboronti!’ as Billy Fisher might have said. The nearest I got is The God Delusion in a charity shop in Sale. He knows little about philosophy, even the philosophy of science.

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Posted: 17 May 2017 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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My prize is a 1507 edition of De rebus gestis Alexandri Magni regis Macedonum. Liber tertius, by Quintus Curtius, which I got for (if memory serves) $25 at a dusty, doomed used-book store somewhere west of Columbus Circle over thirty years ago now.  The proprietress was a horrible ancient woman, with what sounded like a German accent and a very bad attitude, assuming you were out to steal and/or damage anything you touched.  It gave me great pleasure to talk her down from whatever the price had been, complaining about the bad condition of the book (some jerk had cut the pages, presumably to fit shelf or pocket, thus making the 16th-century marginalia unreadable); the date was not on the title page but hidden away in the colophon: ”Anno salutis . M. D. VII. Mense Decembri.” It’s the closest I’ll ever get to an incunabulum.

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Posted: 17 May 2017 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I can no longer recall exactly where I got it—probably a used book sale rather than a shop—but in my youth I picked up an 1893 edition of Celestial Objects for the Common Telescope by the Rev. T. W. Webb, M.A., F.R.A.S., in two volumes, for the princely sum of, if the price marked inside is to be believed, five cents per volume.  AFAIK neither Webb nor the work are particularly famous, but it has some nice illustrations, and the age of it appealed to me.  It once proved helpful when a friend who worked for a company that made infrared thermometers told me about a dispute between his company and a rival that had made a very broad patent claim on using infrared detectors with telescopic optics to measure the temperature of distant optics. He was delighted when I told him about this 19th century book that described measuring the temperature of the Moon by use of a telescope with a thermopile at its focus.  Century-old “prior art” makes a powerful argument.

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Posted: 17 May 2017 07:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Mine is a copy of Harold Wentworth’s 1944 American Dialect Dictionary purchased from Moe’s Books in Berkeley. I don’t recall when I bought it, but years later I noticed the inscription inside the front cover: Eliot V. K. Dobbie. Meaningless to most people, but a cherished possession for an Anglo-Saxonist.

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Posted: 17 May 2017 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Lovely to read about these ancient books, and how they occasionally pop up in the most unexpected places.  Those of you lucky enough to own books several hundred years old, will doubtless have noticed how much better the paper has been preserved, than that of books printed in the 19th century.  This is because of radical changes in the chemistry of paper manufacture, which took place during the first decades of the 19th century, when the Western world’s papermaking industry changed from a 100% hand-operated craft to a fully mechanized industrial operation, during the space of about thirty years.  The danger most to be feared, where really old books are concerned, is attack by a variety of pests, which go (more than anything else) for the animal glue which was used, not only in ‘sizing’ the pages, but also in making boards, and in assembling the book.  To those of you who have ancient books which you value, I would suggest consulting a paper conservator (a good library should be able to direct you to one) about the best way to keep them from harm.
Books printed on materials other than paper (e/g/ vellum) are even more in danger of attack by pests --- including attack by moulds of various kinds. Books worth preserving should be kept under conditions of low relative humidity (around 40% r.h. is usually recommended).  “Foxing” (brown spots and specks) is a common symptom of attack by moulds, when paper is stored at too high a r.h.

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Posted: 17 May 2017 10:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I was in the USAF and stationed at Fort Belvoir for some reason.  Somewhere In DC I got a 1864 edition of Dante’s Inferno bound in alligator hide. Then I got married.  Then the new wife got a new dog. The pup completely destroyed the cover of my prized book.

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Posted: 17 May 2017 11:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Your avatar works particularly well with that story.

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Posted: 18 May 2017 08:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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How I envy you the 1507 Quintus Curtius, lh. I assumed it was far more difficult to find old books over there and 25 bucks is a dream of a price. Alexander is one of my obsessions, in fact I gave my eldest son his middle name in honour of him so it’s little surprise that I know Curtius quite well but I’ve never managed to find an old edition of him or Arrian or any of the other Alexander historians.

And in reference to Doc commenting on the illustrations in his Celestial Objects, one of life’s greatest pleasures is finding an old book not perhaps in the best of conditions but with wonderful illustrations. I have an Antiquities of Greece by John Potter riddled with bookworm but with glorious illustrations, a little frayed but which fortunately have been spared the attentions of the pest. Conversely one of life’s greatest disappointments is finding an old book with all the illustrations removed, doubtless to sell separately. How could anyone with a heart do that?

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Posted: 18 May 2017 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Their heart has been removed, doubtless to sell separately.

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