Monday, October 22, 2007

How to Open a New Book

The other day, Aimee and I found a stack of five Encyclopedia Americana at the Salvation Army. They were published in 1904, and each was stamped "B.F. THOMAS, Attorney at Law, Feb 1, 1905, SANTA BARBARA, CAL" inside the front cover. They smelled good, like old books, and were full of detailed color plates, scientific drawings, and black-and-white photos. We bought all five of them for $2.50. They weighed a ton. Last night we sat on the living room floor, drinking wine and cutting out the pictures with X-acto knives: "Medusa-like Animals," "Development of Spinning Machinery," "Indians of the Mexican Foothills," "Helen Keller".

Tucked inside two of the books' front covers were small pieces of paper titled "How to Open a New Book". The papers had decorative borders and were printed with movable type (you could feel the texture of the letters on the backside of the paper). They explained How to Open a New Book:
"If a book be a large one, take it gently in both hands, and hold it with the back on a smooth or covered table. Allow the front cover to open and then the other, holding the leaves in one hand, while you open a few leaves at the back. Then open a few leaves in the front, and so on, alternately opening front and back, gently pressing open the sections until you reach the centre of the volume. Do this two or three times and you will obtain the best results.
If you open the book carelessly or violently in any one place you will quite likely injure the volume, break the back binding and loosen the leaves."


Blogger The Social Worker said...

Those are some cool plates. Man, I love finding peoples' old, cool shit!

11:48 PM  
Blogger Travelburro said...

Dude, tell me about it. I kept thinkin', man, this guy had no idea that 100 years later, the books sittin' on his shelves in Santa Barbara would end up on the floor of some house in San Martin where a couple would slash 'em up for their artistic value while gettin' buzzed on cheap wine.

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's rolling in his grave!

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Show us the six inch thorns!

10:03 PM  

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