Musty and wonderful . . . I think that about sums up an old book. Old books aren’t wonderful until they’re at least a little bit musty, and they should be old and slightly browned and just all around wonderful.
Picking up old books is increasingly a habit of mine. At school, the library often sells unwanted old books for a dollar a piece, and I pick up others here and there. The here and there ones tend to be much more expensive than the $1 books, but I suppose it averages out to a very even price all the same!
This is an old book – 1854. The signature inside belongs to my great grandmother, Laura Wayland. However, thanks to the published date of the book, I think it properly belonged to her mother, Mollie. Sometime I’ll have to show off the tintype I have of her. It’s a beautiful book of sermons and I treasure it especially since it belonged to somebody dear to my family.
Books with signatures are always interesting. This Washington State Fifth Reader belonged to a young fellow named William Watt, who lived in Chehalis, Washington around the turn of the century.
I wonder how he did in it, it’s not exactly easy! This section details reading inflection, using examples from Shakespeare – specifically Hamlet in this section.
For a while I studied Latin, so this book is of particular amusement to me. It’s a 1910s Latin reader, Roman Tales Retold. The Latin is simplified and it contains stories told by Roman authors retold in simpler Latin.
Missionary biographies are an essential of any Christian college’s library, and mine is no exception. The title to this one is particularly tantalizing! The binding is pretty beat up so I’ve never actually gotten around to reading it.
Now for the best part – old medical advice books. Somehow I’ve managed to get a hold of two of these without trying at all! One was given to me and the other was found at my grandparents house. Ironically, one is very scientific and fairly written, from a modern viewpoint, and the other is an absolute mockery of science – even though they were written at the same time!
Despite the rather tenuous theories about how we obtain colds, this is actually the more sane book. They understood bacteria and germs, but illness caused by virus was still a mystery and that’s reflected in this section.
Neurology was also a topic of which they seemed to know little about. Imagine, having a region of feebleness in your brain! They did get the frontal cortex right, but everything else…goodness.
This selection here is from a different book – I’ve done a bit of research on the fellow who supposedly wrote it and he was pretty much a quack medicine doctor. Ironically, we found a bottle from his brand of patent medicine in a turn of the century dump once – for female ailments. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had nothing more than alcohol and flavorings in it, though he does state in his book that he frowns upon the use of narcotics! This page is actually all about the treatment of asthma. Imagine inhaling the smoke of saltpetre . . .
There’s even a testimonial chapter smack dab in the middle of the book. Mrs. McGill looks rather severe, don’t you think?
I’ve got much more that I could share, but in interest of time, and actually getting some sleep, I think I’ll pass on those tonight. A lot of my other books are used as stage props most of the time, when we need old fashioned looking books. I’ve got a pocket German English Dictionary that’s been used in quite a few different shows, always masquerading as a different tome. So I guess the collection itself has come in handy, and it certainly looks nice on my shelf. Eventually, when I’m teaching, I’d like to have a whole bookshelf of sturdy old books that I can use in my classroom. Wouldn’t that be pretty? Until then, however, they make their main appearance on my bookshelf, being hauled around in boxes from home to school and back again, and fairly regularly in different shows!