“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left,
I buy food and clothes.” ~Erasmus
What compares to stumbling upon a first edition copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain dated 1884?! Not much if you are a book lover.
My husband and I were “antiquing” in New Orleans several years ago. We came across a rundown dusty old antique shop. It wasn’t well cared for and when we walked in the owner didn’t look well cared for either. After chatting with him for a while he went to the back and re-emerged with a book in hand.
Being the Bibliophiles that we both are we were immediately interested.
That was over twenty years ago. I’m happy to say that Huck Finn is still part of our collection.
My husband and I were in Scotland this past June. We are in the habit of seeking out antiquarian bookshops. We stumbled upon Leakey’s Second-hand Bookshop on Church Street in Inverness. It is located in an old church.
When I stepped through the front door, I blurted out, Oh My! It is a book lovers paradise. A place to linger. Browsing could take hours. Leakey’s is known as Scotland’s largest antiquarian bookshop with a wonderful collection of old, rare, and second-hand books with any genre that you can imagine. It attracts people from all over Europe.
Leakey’s can be overwhelming. As I was thumbing through the books in the theology section I was thrilled to find a first edition copy of The Trial and Triumph of Faith by Samuel Rutherford.
Rutherford was born in 1600 and died in 1661. The above-mentioned book of his was printed in 1845. How does that compute, you might ask? Rutherford was a Professor of Divinity in the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. The book was issued by the Committee of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland. So Rutherford wrote the contents of this book in the 1600’s and the copy I stumbled upon was printed in Glasgow: William Collins and Co., Printers, in 1845. A treasure was found!
We travel to England as often as we can. Antiquarian bookshops are plentiful, especially in London and we have come home with some treasures.
By treasures, I don’t necessarily mean books that have monetary value. I mean books that have personal value to my husband and me. For example, one year John picked up a first edition copy of The Bible And The Cross by G. Campbell Morgan, D.D., for my birthday. He only paid one-pound sterling for it. To me, it is priceless. I nearly fell out when I came across a first edition copy of The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis. Wow! I put a high value on religious books.
Much of our Christian heritage is rooted in England and anytime I come across books written by long gone Christian authors I scoop them up. My flavor of religious books are hard to find in England even though the authors are English. England is now a post-Christian nation. When I ask shop owners that are close to my age about authors that were prominent in their country in the early twentieth century they are unfamiliar with them. Even authors from the 1950’s are unfamiliar to them. I think to myself, “What has happened to this country in just the last 50–75 years?”
It makes me wonder, “When will people not know the name of Billy Graham?”
My last trip to England was this past July. I went to Sherborne, Dorset, and found Chapter House Books. I had never been in before and I left with two first edition Dorothy L. Sayers books, Gaudy Night and The Nine Tailors. So it was a successful day.
Chapter House and Coffee Shop is delightful and well worth the stop. The owner is pleasant and helpful.
What About Old Bookshops In The USA?
Most old books are found in estate sales. Those books either go into personal collections or are bought up by collectors and find their way into antiquarian bookshops or antique stores.
Collectors have told me that they find their best old and rare books on the east coast. Often collectors go overseas to seek out their favorite authors or book titles.
So it depends on what part of the country you live in and whether or not you live in or near a highly populated area. I’m making a broad statement and overgeneralizing somewhat. I’ve found book treasures at garage sales too, in small rural communities.
My love for old books boils down to my love for all books and words on paper.I still like to hold a real book in my hands even though I have a kindle and every other tech device. I’ll probably never change.
“Everywhere I have sought peace and not found it, except in a corner with a good book.” ~Thomas a` Kempis
Musings from England,