Saturday, June 17, 2017

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends;

they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
Charles William Eliot

This follows up on last week's blog about writing...lo and behold...the book...another lost soul in the e-book world...or in the world, period.  Many statistics will highlight that some Americans do not read books at all (and I shall not name names); I have seen a number of 26%, but again statistics may not include reading that is not traditional book reading.  On the other hand, maybe people don't read period!  We are so busy (written with sarcasm and rolled eyes that cannot translate on the net).

Being an English teacher with a degree in Library Science as well, I love books.  Real books.  Not Kindles or e-books or any such gadget reader.  I want a book...cover, paper, substance!  I read every night before going to sleep...love chick lit...or trash as I call it...but I do not need serious thought at bed time...let me escape.  

Actually, book production dates to the Roman Empire.   Libraries were private or encouraged by individuals.  Julius Caesar wanted one in Rome, and this may be the beginnings of the Presidential Libraries and their symbol of political prestige.

In the year 377, there were 28 libraries in Rome, and it is known that there were many smaller libraries in other cities. Despite the great distribution of books, scientists do not have a complete picture as to the literary scene in antiquity as thousands of books have been lost through time.

I love old books.  I love their titles...
I love their covers...
That is the cover to this book...
I think it is a unique combo to Poe.  But, I do have my Lit students rear "The Cask of Amontillado" that was published in the late 1800s in the Godey's Lady's Book...a women's version of a modern fashion magazine with fiction.

I like books where the owner has a name and a date.  The penmanship is always amazing...of course, today any handwriting is soon to be in the collectible world as cursive is going the way of books, photos, talking face to face...I shall stop before I become too nostalgic and feel older than I already do!

Another way to look at history is through old textbooks.  This is from the 1930s.  It would show how much things have changed simply by comparing the articles in the old text books.
 
 Then, there are the novels with illustrated covers...many times printed papers mounted on the book. I always look for these books.
 Sometimes just a strange mix that a book offers will intrigue me.  Who celebrates Longfellow's Birthday?  We really need to bring back that Peace Day though!
It’s not always obvious whether or not a book will be valuable.  I see books in thrift shops and other shops for $5 to $10.  Just because a book is old does not mean it is rare.   First: how rare is the book? In other words, how many copies of it are out there in the world? The rarer a book is, the more valuable it’s likely to be.

Most books printed in the 19th century are fairly common. You would probably have to find something printed in the 1700s or earlier for the book’s age to contribute directly to its rarity.
Also, first editions tend to be rarer than later printings of a book.  What is rare are the items that are fading from our current digital world...manuscripts, letters, journals, and original artwork because usually only one example exists. Importance, condition, and provenance also impact a book's value.  The myth of old equals value is no longer viable if it ever was despite the stories from the flea market find folks.

So, what to do with old books?  I think they make neat gifts for those who still appreciate the printed word.  This is a tiny book of poems by Robert Burns...about 3"x4"...hand sewn...

They provide neat decorative touches also...and, no, I am not talking about the coffee table books!

And, maybe you will even want to read one!

“I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” 
 ~  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, June 10, 2017

"We are all born storytellers.

Our inner voice tells the first story we ever hear.” 
~ Kamand Kajouri 

I teach an Intro to Literature class at college, and this last semester I created the "once upon a time" theme.  No matter how old we are, I think hearing the phrase "once upon a time" will stop us and make us listen.  I hope the digital age does not spoil the storytellers of the 21st century, and so I am on a toot to promote writing with pen or pencil instead of the text or the tweet.  What will the young children remember from their grandparents?  Selfies?  Text messages?  How many of the adults in their lives have told the stories of their past?  We baby boomers lived in a fascinating time...from hiding under desks for air raid drills to protests for civil rights, not to mention assassinations of iconic figures and in the current political scene, think Watergate and Deep Throat!

Ah, yes, before smart phones, we were smart people!  How many of you out there kept diaries?  Complete with keys!
The word diary comes from the Latin diarium ("daily allowance," from dies "day"). The word journal comes from the same root (diurnus "of the day") through Old French jurnal (modern French for day is jour).  The earliest use of the word to mean a book in which a daily record was written was in Ben Jonson's comedy Volpone in 1605.

Diaries have evolved since ancient times.   Initially personal, in the Renaissance some individuals wanted not only to record events, as in medieval chronicles and itineraries, but also to put down their own opinions and express their hopes and fears, without any intention to publish these notes.   Today, the journal has taken over talking about everything from travel to cooking.  Although personal tidbits can be sprinkled within, the diary still has the personal feel to it.  

In the shop, I have some of these repurposed book covers turned into journal or diary possibilities.

This would be a neat gift for a new teacher to record her journey...especially a 4th grade teacher!
Then I have new books for thoughts...that may be a better way to name the diary/journal today...just books for thoughts.  Life gets posted on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but what about those thoughts that you just need to express without emojis and comments.  What is wrong with actually writing those thoughts down?
What got me thinking about writing was my adventure with April the giraffe and her pregnancy saga.  Several TV stations streamed the YouTube camera starting in February until April finally gave birth to Tajira in April.  What fascinated me was how many people across the world wanted to talk and share this experience.  One group I joined was from a Denver CBS station, and we actually made friends with the social media guy, Jason, and recently he married, and many of us posted good wishes on Facebook...once upon a time there was a pregnant giraffe.

On Saturday, April 15, the Animal Adventure Park’s “Giraffe Cam” channel scored its biggest day, with more than 14 million live views. A peak of more than 1.2 million people watched April give birth live on Saturday, April 15, at 9:55 a.m. ET on Saturday. That makes it one of the top five most-watched moments for a live event ever on YouTube.
What is even more fascinating is that a pen pal group blossomed from this, and people still stay in touch!  That means people do yearn for the written word and the stories people tell, and they are interested in what people are doing and who they are.  April's keepers, Corey and Alyssa, would wave goodbye at night when they cleaned out the stalls and fed April and her mate, Oliver.

My sea glass artist knew I was an April watcher and brought me this adorable ornament, and I do have a necklace available in the store with the double giraffe momento if you know an April fan.


I also have "books for thought"...BFTs...made from old records...I confess to having had these tucked away, but, in my clear out the chaos, they resurfaced! 
Of course, dealing in antiques, there are many once upon a time stories woven into those items.  To buy something from the past is to connect with its stories and add a new chapter to its life. 

You can tell I have been on a journey of my life of 27 years with stuff...I am trying to rewrite the stories of the stuff in the shop...in the meantime, maybe write instead of texting or tweeting...perhaps talk about your self instead of snapping a selfie...connect with something more than the digital box.


“To write a diary is to make a series of choices about what to omit, what to forget.
A memorable sandwich, an unmemorable flight of stairs. A memorable bit of conversation surrounded by chatter that no one records.”
Sarah Manguso

Saturday, June 3, 2017

"All that is gold does not glitter,


Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
~J.R.R. Tolkien


The idea that all that glitters is not gold is actually appropriate for the current antique market because the market has changed so drastically, but I am identifying with the second line of this poem from Lord of the Rings..."Not all those who wander are lost..."   I am getting back into the shop and working on my displays.

I actually got some inspiration from Catherine, my sea glass jewelry artisan.  She showed me a new "Happy Camper" line of bracelets and necklaces she was now creating...and there was my light...camping...journeys...travel.  
Even though I am not going anywhere as far as packing a bag goes, I am on a personal journey as far as my business is concerned. I do have the advantage of walking this beach every morning though as I walk, I think  "What to do?  Where to go with the themes?" 

Well, I have it...as the poem states..."the old that is strong does not wither".
So, I am going with those good old treasures that will not wither! And we are on a journey!
And bringing in new treasures to light new fires...journals to record not selfies but selfie words...words that can be read and not fall victim to tech despair. 



I know I am not alone in working through the new retail world.  Every week stories are posted about the topic.  I do think a touch of antique/vintage does help to calm the made in China stuff as it were!  Granted not everything can be made in the USA, but even vintage vases can accent the modern Chinese china!
My journey will be to highlight how the old can be new again and find a place in the 21st century instead of languishing on a shelf or, even worse, tossed into a landfill.  How many collections are packed up in attics, basements, and garages?  Worse yet, how much of that stuff was bought because it was going to be worth big money?  Let's use "stuff"!  Join me as I repurpose! Even like this Mona B bag made from recycled tents or canvas.
 
“Some beautiful paths can't be discovered without getting lost.” 
 ~Erol Ozan