“There is no better high than discovery”*…
Be careful what you use as a bookmark. Thousands of dollars, a Christmas card signed by Frank Baum, a Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card, a marriage certificate from 1879, a baby’s tooth, a diamond ring and a handwritten poem by Irish writer Katharine Tynan Hickson are just some of the stranger objects discovered inside books by AbeBooks.com booksellers.
I recently opened a secondhand book and an airline boarding pass from Liberia in west Africa to Fort Worth, Texas, fell to the floor. Was there a story behind this little slip of paper? Was someone fleeing from a country ravaged by two civil wars since 1989? I will never know, but used and rare booksellers discover countless objects – some mundane, some bizarre, some deeply personal – inside books as they sort and catalog books for resale.
Adam Tobin, owner of Unnameable Books in Brooklyn, New York, has created a display inside his bookstore dedicated to objects discovered in books.
“It’s a motley assortment,” he said. “We’ve been doing it for about two years since opening the store. The display quickly took over the back wall and now it’s spreading to other places, and there’s a backlog of stuff that we haven’t put up yet. There are postcards, shopping lists, and concert tickets but my favorites are the cryptic notes. They are often deeply personal and can be very moving.”
Used booksellers often take ownership of books that have been in a family or a household for decades or even generations. “It’s easy to find things in books that are very dated,” explained Adam,” Such as a newspaper advert for elastic bands from the 19th century. My personal favorite is an ad from the 1950s that reads ‘Rinsing Dacron Curtains in Milk Makes Them Crisp, Stiff, Just Like New.’”
The most valuable item discovered by Adam is a letter written by C.S. Lewis – author of the Narnia series – but his monetary finds have been limited to a $1 note now pinned to the display.
Eager to learn more, AbeBooks.com asked its booksellers to reveal their finds. You might be surprised to learn what people will leave inside a book…
Discover this buried treasure at “Things Found in Books.”
[TotH to @MartyKrasney]
* E.O. Wilson
As we rifle through the volumes in our libraries, we might might recall that it was on this date in 1887 that there occured an event that would surely have warmed Dr. Wilson’s heart: an enormous “rain of ants” at Nancy in France.; “most of them were wingless” (Nature, 36-349.. as quoted in Charles Fort’s The Book of the Damned).