Saturday, March 10, 2007

More Dickens Lust

Some of you will recall a post that I made last month regarding the two 1885 Dickens volumes that I picked up via a couple of eBay auctions. I was excited about getting my hands on two of the ten volumes that were being auctioned on eBay in February and posted some pictures of the two books and an inscription that the original owner placed in one of the books during the 1886 Christmas season.

As it turns out there were some 15 volumes in this set, and a very generous lady from California has taken the time and trouble to box up the whole set and send it to me here in Houston.

This is an example of the type of illustrations that each book contains:

And this picture is an example of the front covers of the various books (they are all the same):

One of the books even included a small set of instructions on how one should properly open a book in order to best preserve its binding:

This last shot shows an 1875 volume of Dombey and Son that was included in one of the boxes of books. It is one volume of the Globe Edition of Dickens' Works.

I'm in the process of finding these 16 books a proper home on my library shelves and plan to give them a prominent spot because of the great respect that their age and content demand. I'm also happy to report, that unlike quite a few books of this age, the print is large enough that I will actually be able to read the books rather than only to display them. My sincere thanks go to the previous owner of the books who so generously passed them on to me.


  1. They are really beautiful.

    The "How To Open A Book" thing reminds me of the first CDs that came with the "Proper Handling of Your Compact Disc" insert.

    How to hold a book open while getting dressed.

    Grab the book you want to read from the shelf and throw it underhand across the room and onto the bed. Go to the closet and choose your clothes. Place the clothes on the end of the bed and then grab the book. Find the dog-eared page indicating the end of the text you already completed. (Note: It will be the last dog-ear in the series of dog-ears found.)

    From that spot, fold the book covers backwards so their edges touch each other. This will crack the spine, allowing the book to remain reasonably flat. (Repetition of this technique is often needed on brand-new first editions.) Lift your right foot and mash the ball of the foot into the base of the spine to hold the book open. Start reading the text.

    With eyes locked onto the page, use your unencumbered hands and arms to put on upper underclothes and shirt. Carefully run your fingers down your shirt front and find the last button and button hole by touch. Pass that button through hole, then carefully move your hands upwards to find the next set of button and hole. (I recommend button-down shirts as opposed to pullovers for uninterrupted reading.)

    After fastening two buttons, you will be ready to turn the page. Press your foot onto the left page of the book firmly until the right page lifts upright. Quickly lift your foot over the upright page and and kick it down to the left. It is normal to rip a page during this process, don't fret if you do.

    Repeat process until all buttons are fastened and several pages are read/torn.

    Next, remove your foot and press your forehead on the top of the spine. Your head will hold down the book as you put on your lower underclothes and pants.

    You will find it is difficult to read text at close proximity to your eyes. As you start the line close your right eye, open both towards the middle of the line and close the just left eye at the end of the line. Use your teeth to turn the page. Be careful not to get paper cuts on the lips or eyelids. If this occurs, bleed only on the book to avoid soiling your clothes and bed covers. (Pages can be ripped out and discarded, but clothes and covers have to be laundered!)

    This technique is guaranteed to add 15 minutes more of reading time to your day.

  3. Wow! That is an extremely generous gift; those books are beautiful!

    Pam, I was going to loan you a book I thought you might like, but I've changed my mind. Although, I have tried to read a book while holding it open with my head.

  4. What a lovely gesture on the part of the lady who sent you the books. There are some great people in this world.

    ''One of the books even included a small set of instructions on how one should properly open a book in order to best preserve its binding:'' These instructions should be forwarded to the Mad Librarian!!

  5. I agree that this was an amazingly generous gesture on her part.

    As for that mad librarian, what she wrote reads like a joke and, if I hadn't seen her do similar things with my own eyes, I would think it WAS a joke. Take it from me, it's not.

    John, it seems that CDs are not nearly as indestructable as we were led to believe when they were a new thing. Vinyl, on the other hand, holds up just find if treated with even a limited amount of care. I just purchased four old vinyl LPs this morning that are 40+ years old and they look and sound like new.

    Anne, don't let one of your books be taken hostage by you-know-who...

  6. *drool* What a beautiful set of dickens. by the way I found your blog via the LitMinds site. I wish there was a way to leave comments on there.

  7. But I'm not so mad to do anything like that to a beautiful collection of Dickens.

    That was a lovely and selfless gift from a gracious lady. Sam treats all of his books with sacred reverance. (Even pamplets get spectacular treatment from Sam.)

    Her gift will be around for another 100 years for sure in his care.

    (I need to write a manual on how to read while snorkeling. It's bound to be helpful information to someone.)

  8. Thanks for stopping by, Amanda. LitMinds is turning into a great site. It's early days yet for those guys and I can't wait to see how the site develops over time.

    I'm on my way to check out your blog...

  9. Yeah, Pam, EVEN you know when to draw the line on your special reading skills...sometimes a book is just not up to all that "attention."

    Those books won't be in my hands for another 100 years but I have an idea that I know who might keep them alive and well long after I'm gone...she's only 8 years old at the moment.