Monday, July 6, 2009

What I collect, but, not why.

I attended the Smithsonian's Folklife festival this past Friday. No, that is a lie. I attended the Welsh portion of the festival; that country being of particular interest to me seeing as that is where I did my study abroad. I actually met a girl from Carmarthen at the festival. We also found the "Dafydd" and "Jones" tents. Though not together. A Tom Jones, however, was found.

But, the best find? Sheep Poo Paper. Yes, that's right. Paper that is so environmentally friendly, it is made out of sheep poo. Let's just say that people should be expecting to get some very adorable sheepiness for Christmas cards this year. Could you really resist the sheep on the tree? I thought not.

The final act of the day was to go to Second Story Books, or at least their warehouse store in Rockville. It is well worth the drive.

I'll let you in on a little secret. I collect what I like to call "Victorian moralistic children's tales", and Friday night, I was in heaven. I can trace this collecting frenzy back to when I was somewhere between 10 and 12. I loved reading Frances Hodgsen Burnett's A Little Princess and The Secret Garden over and over. When in my library's booksale, I came across a Burnett book I had never heard of: T. Tembarom. I was shocked! Why had nobody told me she had written other things. In fact, she had written a great deal of other things, and I have travelled over the world to collect them. Florida: Sara Crewe, Hay-on-Wye: Louisiana and The Pretty Sister of Jose, Edinburgh: That Lass O' Lowries, and back again home, Plattsburgh: The Lost Prince (a particular favorite of mine). Finding one of her books in a used bookstore is like my own private treasure hunt. A holy grail of used bookstore shopping, so to speak.

Not that I don't have others. I would kill to find a non-ex-library copy of Sally Watson's Witch of the Glens, or actually any of her books. Though I have never had luck at all finding them.

So, imagine my joy when I discover an old copy of Racketty-Packetty House by Burnett. My joy is made complete when I run across these classics of Victorian children's literature that I had no idea existed let alone needed to have. Things such as Helen of the Glen: A Tale for Youth from 1827. Or Helps Over Hard Places for Girls (1862) by Lynde Palmer written as a response to Helps Over Hard Places for Boys. Or even Facing Death, a reprint of an 1882 edition. The back of that book states that "'Facing Death' is a story with a purpose." How can you go wrong with a beginning like that?

So, is it weird that I collect these types of books? One of my favorite books I own is The Story of Naughty Kildeen by Queen Marie of Romania. I have the special edition that has hand-tinted artwork by Job. It is, I have to admit, very shiny. Of course, then there is the Enid Blyton Christmas book that has an inscription in it that makes me think that an American soldier must have bought it for his daughter over in England during WWII.

I won't even get onto my collection of books that contain statistical data about the United States and other fun facts. Of course, then there are the just plain weird for even me. Like the advanced reader's copy of racist author Thomas Dixon, Jr's The Leopard's Spots which I pulled out from the garbage pile at at FOL bookstore because a) I had no clue what the book was about but, b) in the front was a letter signed by the author asking for the reader to send in reviews of the book once it had been read. I thought that that was fabulous and had to save it. Little did I know...

1 comment:

NuminosityBeads said...

I've been collecting quite a bit lately, mostly ephemera for creating altered art but occasionally I find books that I don't dare disassemble. i just found a copy of "Helps Over Hard Places" in a thrift store today for fifty cents. I did a search and found your blog withthis title.

"The Secret Garden" had to be one of my all time favorites as a child.

Now you'll find me coveting books from the turn of the century on horse and cattle diseases for the exquisite plates!