Friday, July 11, 2008

Old Book Treasures

The Brooklyn Public Library branch in my neighborhood is just about three blocks from where I live. I visit it frequently. Years ago, they had a table that contained remanded books from the library collection, and donated books from patrons, for sale at $1.00 each, fifty cents for paperbacks, and ten cents for magazines.
The book sale was always my first stop when I entered the library, and I'd like to show you some beautiful old and antique books that I purchased from that library used book sale.

If you enlarge the photo above, you will see, opened on the left, an exquisite volume of the complete writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was published by Wm. H. Wise in 1929, and has cut tabbed indexes of its total 1,435 pages.

The middle book in the photo above is part one of a double set, and I also purchased the second book. They are entitled "The Family Treasury of Children's Stories," by Doubleday publishing, circa 1956. Each volume has about 500 pages, and each is a wonderful anthology of nursery rhymes, Mother Goose rhymes, counting rhymes, fairy tales, fables and folk tales, legends and myths, stories of adventure, and "a taste of the pleasures of great books."

The book on the right in the photo above is "A Treasury Of American Folklore," by Crown Publishing, 1944. It has 934 pages, and a forward written by the poet Carl Sandburg. It is an anthology of stories, ballads, songs, anecdotes, and "yarns and tall tales," from America's past.

One of my favorite books, a donated book that I found for sale at the library, is the one in the photo below, entitled "A Dream of Fair Women," with illustrations by Harrison Fisher. It was published by the Bobbs-Merrill Company in 1907.

Here is the inscription inside: "To Marnie from Mother. Christmas 1907.

It contains lines from many different poems, with stanzas running throughout the pages and accompanied by exquisite full color Fisher illustrations. The next three photos are of a few opened pages of the book. (Click to enlarge)

The next very old book caught my eye immediately because of its title (I'm sorry that the photo is a little blurry). It is called "The Story of Patsy," and was published in 1891. It is a fascinating story about a little street urchin named Patsy, whose speech is portrayed with a thick Irish brogue. It is interesting to see how the Irish were depicted as downtrodden in this book, which to me was a reminder of the days of struggle that early Irish immigrants had to be accepted into American society. The book also contains some black and white sketch illustrations.

The next two books I've shown together -- both beautifully illustrated volumes of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, both with engravings by Fritz Eichenberg. They were published by Random House in 1943,

Here are the inside title pages placed side by side. (click to enlarge)

Two of the engravings, one for each book, side by side. There are many engraved pages in each.
Can you believe that all of these book treasures cost just one dollar a piece? That these fine works of literary art were taken out of circulation from the library's catalog, or that people donated some of these books from family collections?
I am so happy I was able to rescue them, and treasure them!

They are just a small portion of many fine books that I purchased through the library sale over the years. Unfortunately, our library branch, along with many Brooklyn Public Library branches, became updated and modernized a few years ago, and the sale table was eliminated and all cash transactions have to be done through an ATM like kiosk, as our branch is considered a "cashless branch." Sadly, I don't think they even accept book donations anymore, and I wonder if many antique or rare books are going into the trash or recycle bin instead.

I love these old books, and I hope someday someone else will treasure them too!


blushbutter said...

Oh my goodness, oh my!!! I can't believe how much you paid for these darling books!! I am a huge fan of Harrison Fishers and I have only a few vintage Fairytale books in my possession which I adore, I am green with envy! These books are fabulous and I would love to have scans of your beautiful books and covers oh I'm thinking your book shelves are over flowing? You made my day with this beautiful blog posting thank-you :)
I put Harrison Fisher's wonderful pretty girls in my scrapbooking kits I sell, they make the best background accents for photos! I'd love it if you visited my site

willow said...

Pat, I have this same Harrison Fisher book!! You were SO lucky to find it at a library sale! They are fairly rare. The cover on mine was very damaged so I took it apart and framed some of the prints.

I love our library sales, too. They are truly a treasure trove!

Loved this post!!

Jeanne said...

Pat I am in a rush and will back to reread your fabulous post on old books. i love them all. When I sold antiques I treasured those books. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights were my favorite childhood books. What a great post.

Thanks for your sweet comments on our old photo. Oh, to be young again. On second thought, I love my time in my life right now. We know so much more. Smile.

I'll be back.

Hugs, Jeanne

Pat said...

Hi Blushbutter -- welcome, and thanks for your comments. I will definitely go over to see your web site. It sounds wonderful!

Willow -- I had to do this post after reading on your blog that you are a Harrison Fisher fan, as I am. My book is fragile but still holding together well, so I don't want to take it apart, but I love your idea of framing these gorgeous prints!

I have quite a few family functions coming up in the fall, but I hope to be able to go to the NYC Antiquarian Book Fair this year. There won't be any dollar books, but I hope to find some more Fisher prints.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

What wonderful treasures you found! Congratulations! I have the exact same Bronte books and wouldn't part with them for the world!

Tracy said...

Hi, Pat! So nice to catch up with your posts now we're back. We had FAB time in London! Now resting travel-weary feet and doing lots of laundry--LOL! Love this old book've got some real beauties here! I've loved old books as long as I can remember, and ones with illustrations are the best. And nothing like a great library sale! Happy Days with your new treasures ((HUGS))

Alex said...

oh wow, Pat!!! I love old books and poetry. I absolutely love your Wuthering Heights treasures!!! =)

Beverly said...

I am in love with each book. I adore Harrison Fisher illustrations.

You made my day by sharing these treasures.

Dana said...

What great treasures you rescued, Pat!! I was in awe as I read your text and looked at the photos--just amazing. You are so lucky to have the library within walking distance!

Barb said...

Wow Pat, what treasures you found.
And those prices....

It is so sad that so may libraries don't accept donations. I hate to think of books being thrown out.


Sal said...

I love old books and if I am in an old bookstore, all the better!
I desperately want to visit Shakespeare and Company, in Paris..have you been there? Sal;-)

Joanne Kennedy said...

Wow! Those are wonderful books. I love the one that is written inside and would LOVE to read the little one about the Irish girl(being an Irish gal myself).

You are SO lucky to have found those.


The Berry Patch said...

Hi Pat,

Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog. Looks like you have some cuties as well.

Brandee :-)

Pat said...

Jeanne -- I bet you have many antique books in your collection also. I'd love to see you blog about them someday.

Pamela Terry and Edward --thanks, they are such wonderful books! I wish I had the whole series, do you?

Tracy -- Welcome home! I can't wait to hear all about your trip to London!

Alex -- Thanks -- I could not live without books ...whoops...I borrowed that quote from Thomas Jefferson. :-)

Beverly -- thanks ...books are such treasures.

Dana --I am indeed to have a library near. I always borrow a big bag of books.

Barb -- It is sad they don't take donations anymore but I guess they find it difficult to disperse the books effectively and they don't want to deal with cash fro safety reasons.

Sal -- I've never been to Paris ...hopefully someday! I do love The Strand bookstore in Manhattan ...8 miles of books!

Joanne -- "Patsy" was a liitle boy! I guess he was a Patrick. It is a charming story and very touching.

Kari & Kijsa said...

Absolutely beautiful!

Have a blessed and wonderful day!

smiles, kari & kijsa

Rue said...

Hi Pat :)

I have a passion for old books too and I don't have the room for them, but I always stop and look to see if there are any treasures in the antique stores and goodwill. The ones you bought are true beauties :)

Yes, they were salt and pepper shakers ;)


Judy said...

You really do have treasures there, Pat!

I love to browse old books stores when on vacation...and am always on the lookout for antique books for my collection. And what a deal you found!

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

I can't believe these were only ond dollar each! They are treasures indeed!
By the way, I'm enjoying your New York Times link on the sidebar!
Thanks for doing that!

Lisa B. said...

Those are absolutely beautiful!! I know that if you start reading to that grandbaby from the git go...she will love books as much as you do and will love to inherit your collection some day! I adore books!! I remember my mother reading Treasure Island to us in the car on vacation when I was little! It's a "treasured" memory!!

Pat said...

Thanks Rue! I've seen some of your special antique books on your blog :-)

Thanks Judy! I hope you have a nice trip! Bring back some sunflowers.

Thanks Diane! I'm glad you are enjoying the articles. I'll keep them up in bunches of 5 at a time and then let the old ones drop off one at a time. I know not everyone can visit everyday so it gives readers a chance to see them if they wish.

Thanks Lisa! We still don't know if it'll be a she or he --should find out this month! Hope you have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful collection of books you have!


K.C. said...

You did some treasures. I would be so excited to get my hands on that Emerson book! And the inscription from the mother to the child... How wonderful..

Thank you for your encouraging comments! I needed them...really, thank you... Kayce

Kathy said...

Hello Pat, What a beautiful collection of old books you have, the Harrison Fisher book I really enjoyed, I went straight out to the garage and dug out some boxes that have been there since we moved to CA, I found almost a whole set of Companion Library, Grosset & Dunlap books, my parents bought for my birthday when I was little, I am researching them now,on the net,I never realised Grosset & Dunlap are in New York!. alas my favourite of them all is not here, Aesops Fables, (maybe because I wore it out, I can't remember). Lovely post Pat. enjoy your books. hugs, Kathy.

Mermaid Queen said...

Wow Pat, amazing books. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are 2 of my favorite stories. Thanks for another beautiful post. ~martha

CatHerder said...

I have an old copy of Jane Eyre somewhere also. I also have an old latin dictionary from the 1800's and an old Shakespeare dictionary from 17-?? that is falling apart. I LOVE old books!!!!!!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Oh boy! What treasures you found!
They really are beautiful books, Pat. Do you have any special purpose for them other than displaying them?

I went to a book sale in Stowe, Vermont this week. Just as I was nicely getting into a stack of treasures, some dear young man came up and told me that I was touching his things. Oh dear! That unnerved me so much that I left.

Gina said...

What beautiful books Pat!
I am sure they will be treasured forever :)
I've finally done the music tag..thanks again, it was heaps of fun listening to all the songs as I went..but hard to pick just 7 LOL
I love many you have in your playlist.. M & I got married to Theme from Harry's Game so very special to hear it, I saw the Cranberries in concert once and they were fantastic.. and American Beauty is one of my fave instrumentals.. great choices Gx

Pat said...

Hi Paz! Thanks! Going over to see what NYC photo you have up today!

K.C. ~ you're very welcome, and I do hope you enjoy going back to work. Teachers are so special and you cna make a difference in someone's life.

Kathy - I'm glad I made you rescue your books from the box! They are a treasure. The only books I have form childhood are Golden Books.

Mermaid Queen -- Thanks! The Brontes were such wonderful authors!

Catherder -- Wow! Books from the 1700's are very rare! You should ahve it appraised and maybe refurbished.

Vee --I know you love old books too, Vee, and I thought of you when I did this post. No special purpose beyond enjoying them and then putting them back on my bookshelf. I'd never sell them.

Gina -- thanks for doing the music tag Gina --I loved your selections. Mellancamp looked so young in that video!

nanatrish said...

You know I love books! Old, new, big and small. Books are one of my most favorite things. Don't you just love those sales when the prices are so good?

Tara said...


What great books here! Don't you just wonder about Marnie and her Mom?

steviewren said...

Your used book collection is to die for....especially that copy of Jane Eyre. The illustration makes my heart flutter. The one of Heathcliff is so full of pain...I am green with envy!

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

These are absolutely magnificent books. Such rare did spectacularly well at these sales, Pat. How fortunate you are to hold these treasures in your hands and peruse them at your leisure. Well done---you have a keen eye for the very best.

An Enchanted Cottage said...

I loved reading about your treasured old books, Pat! The ones with inscriptions especially tug at my heartstrings! You got some incredible bargains!... Happy reading!...Donna

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Oh I love old books like these! The photos/artwork in them are so wonderful! What a great post Pat!
Hugs, Sherry