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Saturday, November 7, 2009

"What's Old?"

People usually ask, “What’s new at the bookstore?” (and something always is), but since a large percentage of my stock at Dog Ears Books consists of used books, sometimes the most interesting “new” item is not new at all. There are, for instance, sweet old Modern Library volumes. (I fell in love with ML years ago when my mother worked in a bookstore during the holiday rush.) There are old Little Golden Books, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and the Black Stallion. People tend to ooh and ah over the “Oz” titles. And then, every once in a while, through the door walks something I haven’t seen before, like the Christmas 1932 issue of a French art magazine.

L’Illustration was published weekly beginning in the mid-1800s. The pages of drawings and engravings in its 90th year, along with the advertisements, offer an exciting picture of the magic of the 1930s for those with money. Visit Spain, buy a Waterman fountain pen, give electric appliances for Christmas! I like the candy, food and toy ads best.

The Noël 1932 issue is particularly desirable, owing to the inclusion of a signed Louis Icart print, “Le Jardin Japonais,”

but every page, whether fine or commercial art, is a treat to the eye.

The sun is shining, the air is balmy, Sarah and I had a great time outdoors this morning, and it feels like spring--yet I'm having a little early Christmas here where everything old is new again.


Gerry said...

I have to trundle over there to investigate all the old children's books, looking for one that teases at the very edges of memory. Sometimes I think I imagined the whole thing!

Anonymous said...

I especially love the photo of the woman leaning down with the bowl, although I couldn't really determine what she was doing. Very very strange that you picked the year 1932. That's the year of this so-called novel I'm writing. It's also the year my mother was born. Thinking back now also on so many of the books you mentioned. Do you remember the Bobsy twins series?

P. J. Grath said...

Gerry, is there a particular book teasing the edges? Do you have even a single detail? There is that something-berry site you could try if you had anything at all to go on. I know, "something-berry" doesn't help, either, but the name escapes me right at this moment.

Kathy, the woman with the bowl is a Chinese print. I like that one a lot, too. As for the year 1932, it just happened to be the year of the only issue of that magazine I've ever had. What a coincidence that your novel is set in that year! Did you choose the year because your mother was born then?