This question is on the blog, Booking Through Thursday:
“If you’re like me, you grew up reading everything under the sun, like the cereal boxes while you ate your breakfast, the newspapers held by strangers on the subway, the tabloid headlines at the grocery store.
What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever read? (You know, something NOT a book, magazine, short story, poem or article.)”
Here’s my response: Celestial Seasonings tea boxes have inspirational quotes and meditations. For a while there I was saving the tea boxes and cutting out the quotes and taping them on my kitchen cabinets and sending them to people like this one from the Red Zinger box that quotes from Life’s Little Instruction Book, Volume II, “Add Joy to Your Life” followed by 8 ways to find joy. Some of the people I sent the tea box cutouts thought I was very strange and made fun of me. Others actually thanked me.
Now I save the tags from Yogi Tea which has spiritual quotes like this one , “If you don’t know where you come from, you cannot know where you are going.”
What a difference a day makes! One minute I’m thinking I will have pack up 5000+ rare books, move them to my house, then figure out to sell about 5000+ rare books, ephemera items like Playbills from the turn of the century and beyond, prints ad infinitum and for the rest of my natural life.
Just a few days ago I was doing my usual research online. Learning about pricing, history, background, what the book is about, looking for images that were the same as the book I had, when I stumbled upon an auction house in Ithaca, NY that will help me get the job done!
What I didn’t want to do was the wrong thing and I thought I had to research every book myself and try to sell them online. In the process of my research I found help. Help is what I wanted. Help is what I asked for and help is what I got.
After a lengthy phone interview to make sure that I was not completely breaking every family generational edict of what not to do followed by a reference checkout, I decided to get them to help me.
OMG! Yay! Woo hoo!
What a relief! I feel as if I have been let out of jail. Time to let others love and care for my grandfather’s collection.
My role has now shifted from being the beast of burden trying to sell my grandfather’s books on my own, to becoming the person who gets to uncover the all- important provenance, family stories around this collection and signatures .
The good news: the scoping out work has already been done by my mother and my grandfather. Thank you!!
They left clues. Their notes have notes.
So expect an update from time to time. Rare books are becoming extinct and dear and the market is on the upswing.
Don’t worry I will clue you in about the where and the when.
This one is in my bookcase at home; look how pretty it is. Small in the hand like a lovely little accessory.
The top of the pages are gilt-edged with real gold.
And inside are stories with titles like: The Altar Painting A love tragedy of an Italian Artist.
A thing of beauty to behold. And probably not read. The book is from 1896.
Who makes books like this today?
And so what’s my lesson? What’s the big shift that happened?
Ask. Just ask for what I need in my life.
Presto, I got it! With a little help from the internets.
When my mother died at the age of 91 I was left with the task of liquidating a lot of books and ephemera that had been collected by my grandfather whom my mother always called Jack. He was a lawyer who’s name appeared in Who’s Who and he loved books and items of ephemera along with Asian art, prints and many other items.
For two years I had no idea what to do with all this stuff. I had been given an edict not to trust dealers. And a good thing too. I had brought in two different book experts who took a look and declared that these books were not worth much at all.
One fellow took an interest in one book. A first edition of a Virginia Woolf title with an intact dustjacket.
One book? Just one?
These were books that had come into my childhood home in my teen years.
They were objects I was afraid to touch, enclosed in Globe Werneke bookcases that lined the walls of our house in Levittown, NY.
And then, one day as I sat in my childhood home waiting for the oil burner man to fix the burner on the coldest day of the coldest winter in a decade, I sat with a tiny space heater that belonged to my mother, I opened one of the glass doors and took a look at the forbidden books.
Inside of each book I opened, I found there was a note on a small scrap of paper from my mother telling me about the book.
Right there. I said “sh*t”.
Shift Happens. I knew I had to take this task on. I had to Free the books and find them good homes.