Welcome to the Old Tomes Gallery. This is the place to find pics (and at least a handful of some decent descriptions) of some pretty terrific old books, some pretty terrific REALLY old books, and some pretty terrific “sort of old” books. If you’ve read “In Praise of the Printed Word – My Love Affair with Books,” you’ll know that I love books – all books – and I’ve got a whole collection of them. I treasure all of my books, but the really, really old ones are just so incredibly cool. You’ve got to be really careful with many old volumes. They’re works of art in and of themselves, and they’re often extremely delicate. That’s why I keep newer versions of so many of them around so I can still dig the content without wrecking the old printings (you’ll see some of these reader-friendly versions in this gallery, in fact). There’s a fairly broad spectrum of bound and leafed literature on display in this gallery, but that display, sadly, is not all-encompassing.
In my review of Truman Capote’s frightening “Shut a Final Door,” I mentioned that I’d lost a substantial number of books from my fairly extensive library to a flood, back in 2008. In the aftermath, I boxed up the survivors and went about rebuilding my collection. Such processes take time, and often require safe storage solutions until appropriate display capabilities are realized. To further complicate matters, I’ve moved since that time, and have undertaken various remodeling and construction projects. The upshot to all of this is that I’ve still got a whole bunch of books, which do not yet appear in this gallery, that are still in boxes (where they were packed for transport and safekeeping). And I’ve gotta dig ‘em out. I’ve got Enlightenment Period books in boxes. I’ve got Victorian Era books, which gleam with gilt and embossed covers and glittering edge painting, and wait to return to the light of day. I own an amazing 18th century book that once belonged to William Emerson, the father of the famous Transcendentalist writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson: this book contains the elder Emerson’s signature and a fabulous inscription, written in his own hand. And it’s still boxed up where no one can enjoy it. I’ve got a section of a stellar 14th century illuminated manuscript. Boxed. I’ve got the goods, and damn it, way too many of them are still in boxes. But I promise, I’m working on it. Once I get them unpacked, you’ll see them right here. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy these photos. As I undertake the unpacking of my collection, I’ll include more pics here, so please check back in often if you’d like to see them. Boxes. Wtf? Shame on me.
Cheers, and Happy Gardening!
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