Old books, odd books

Steve at Sand Storm asks me about "Old books, odd books" — what’s under your stairs?

A few years ago, my father was going to throw out half a dozen books that belonged to his father. Because we have very little "history" in my family — no heirlooms or other items passed down the generations — I took the books home with me. Most of them are early Penguins, hard back in format. I’ve been looking at one of them recently with Jenny, who has been re-enacting the Battle of Hastings and had to drum up support for Harald Hadrada in school projects. (The latter being rather a difficult task– could you persuade your peers to vote for someone whose idea of fun was to set a chicken tail alight and send the chicken into your house, to make you run out so he could kill you while your house burnt down? Poor Jenny certainly drew the short straw there.) But I digress: this book is called The Bayeux Tapestry, being a history and a collection of colour illustrations of this beautiful work.

Other books in the small collection are The Microcosm of London by John Summerson, deputy director of the National Buildings Record; Elizabethan Miniatures by Carl Winter; English Book Illustration 1800-1900 by Philip James; and A Book of Ships by Charles Mitchell. All these books are published in the 1940s and contain colour as well as black and white illustrations.

The oldest book from my father’s collection is a tiny volume called "History of Christ". My grandfather was called Charles Clarke — his name is in this book but so is "Joseph Clarke", written in a very old and trembling hand.This book is really old, and has a woodcut flyleaf which among other things states: "London: Printed for H. Tracy, at the Three Bibles on London Bridge. 1721." I would like to believe the book is actually that old, and that it isn’t a later edition.

Do you have any old books, odd books under your stairs?

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3 thoughts on “Old books, odd books

  1. My grandmother is going to clean out the storage room she has been using for storing her books at my uncle’s house, and the books will be distributed to those family members who want them. I expect I will probably end up with some curious and unusual books then.

  2. Though my dad loves reading, he doesn’t have a huge book collection. However, he does have a collection of dusty Knowledge magazines from the 60s and 70s that I am now looking after because if I leave them in his hands they’re likely to go missing – just like his record collection!
    I used to have a lot of books as a child but I don’t know where they are now. I suppose my mum’s thrown them out. Weird that, because she is such a hoarder with everything else!

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