Monday, August 21, 2017

Auction Mishaps, and Happy Accidents

When I first started selling books nearly 15 years ago,  I went to an auction with the intention of buying a small  lot which included a nice  copy of Virginia Woolf’s  Mrs. Dalloway.  If you’ve never been to an auction, let me tell you, they go on FOREVER.  Being  a bit of a rookie, I got bored and went out for a coffee – but  I misjudged my timing and came back in as my lot was going through.  A bit ruffled  I joined in the bidding, and as the hammer went down  the auctioneer said ‘Madam I am glad he found a good home’ (Auctioneers in the Home Counties honestly do still call women Madam).  Confused I went to the desk and found out that I had actually bought a lovely old teddy bear and not a small collection of books.   It transpired that my Virginia Woolf book had actually been stolen from the auction, and the lot had been withdrawn.  The teddy though I still have, and he has happily lived with us as our mascot ever since – his name – YesterBear – cute huh?  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sir Owen Williams - Engineering Legend

The London to Birmingham Motorway Presentation Book by L.T.C. Rolt

The London to Birmingham Motorway Presentation Book 
Sir Owen Williams
Sir Owen looking down from the motorway bridge
A view of Dunstable and Luton divided by the new M1
I was going to post about Sir Owen Williams yesterday, but then I got side-tracked by the pretty Hugh Lofting  end-papers and in the meantime we’ve sold this book.  However, I think it’s still worth a mention.  We came across this book in a lot we bought recently – it is the presentation copy of Sir Owen Williams, who was one of Britain’s motorway pioneers. It was published to mark the opening of the South of Luton-Dunchurch-Crick Section of the London to Birmingham Motorway (the M1.)  Sir Owen Williams (no relation sadly) was an engineer and architect, and as well as being the chief engineer on the first phase of the M1, he was the chief consulting engineer of the original Wembley Stadium and  also the principle engineer for Spaghetti Junction on the M6.  So it seems he led quite an eventful life – which always interests me. 
Christmas Cards & the List of Signatures
I liked this book particularly because it had some local pictures of Dunstable taken during the construction of the Motorway – which feels quite relevant to us at the moment as the new A5 bypass has just opened.   Every Radio 2 listener in the country has heard of Dunstable because   we are the main diversion route  when the M1  is closed and we quite often get mentioned by Sally Traffic.

This presentation copy was presented to O.T. Williams in 1959  –his name was embossed on the front cover in gilt and it was signed by numerous members of the project including Williams himself. The book also included  two 1959 Christmas Cards marking the opening of the Southern Section. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

If I could talk to the animals

We've recently catalogued some Doctor Dolittle books by Hugh Lofting.  The books' bindings themselves are nothing special to write home about, basically grey cloth, a little mottling, fading, darkened spine, that kind of thing. But when I opened them up I found they had really colourful decorated end-papers.  I'm one for colour - so I thought you'd like to see. They are really stylish aren't they? And the best thing - Hugh Lofting did the illustrations himself - what a cool cat!

Doctor Dolittle's Caravan by Hugh Lofting 

Doctor Dolittle's Return by Hugh Lofting

Doctor Dolittle's Garden by Hugh Lofting

Doctor Dolittle's Zoo by Hugh Lofting
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

The Twilight of Magic by Hugh Lofting

Monday, July 03, 2017

Chelsea Borough Library Bookplate

Here's a photo of a lovely bookplate I found this morning in an ex-Chelsea Borough Library book dating from 1900. A time when small things were still deemed important and thus worth doing beautifully.

The motto above the crest is great -


And so say all of us!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pet Peeve

Do you know what I really hate? 

People who stick price labels on to the front of paper dustjackets.  
A tip - to remove the price from a glossy modern jacket  use a bit of lighter fluid - the sticker will lift clean off. 

Paper jackets though are a different matter because invariably, the paper will absorb some of the glue leaving a residue, or in trying to remove the sticker  some of the jacket will come off with the sticker leaving a little white patch.

Even auction houses, who really should know better do this.  Sticking their great big lot numbers on to lovely old book jackets.  So if you love books, don't do it.    

Ok rant over   - as you were!!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Post EU Referendum

It all feels a bit scary to me here today.  I just think that we all need to calm down, stop fanning the flames and let the dust settle.  Sometimes I think 24-hour news channels are the business, but on days like these, I would prefer to go back to just having a quick round up at 9pm.   Be kind to one another and let's hope we can find a solution to this great big mess/golden opportunity (?) we find ourselves in.
In case you arrived here thinking of buying a book just to reiterate - we welcome book buyers from all countries, We post to the EU and the Rest of the World.  Scottish, English. Irish (North or South) we love you  and as for the Welsh - well we are Williams's - enuff said.