Why I Love Second Hand Books

You may have noticed I’ve had some website issues (again) this week. I’m still trying to resolve them, but I can’t seem to restore this weeks posts. Therefore my lovely post about the Chap Olympiad is missing. Both Perdita’s Pursuits and Penny Dreadful have lovely blogs about it (with pictures of me, huzzah!)

I am republishing now Mr Chicks lovely post on Second Hand Books. I feel very sad that he lost all the lovely comments on the first one, so do feel free to write lovely things about it as he was so pleased that people liked it (he will now kill me for saying that, I hope you’ll miss me!)

I collect old books.

I don’t mean 1st Editions in mint condition; I mean tatty, dog-eared, well read, dropped in the bath, loose-paged books. Books that have been loved not because of what they are worth but because of the stories they contain.

Let me give you an example. I have copy of Dickens Pickwick Papers. It is in rotten condition, the writing on the spine is faded and the spine is broken.

I believe I picked it up at a bootfair for 50p. There’s no date printed inside, although I do know it was printed by R.E.King in Tabernacle Street, London, but my internet trawlings haven’t been able to pin it down to a year yet. It’s difficult with Dickens as there have been so many versions printed. Dating “The World Almanac and Book of Facts for 1932” is much easier. If the book was printed during rationing you’ll often find the following printed within the covers.

But I digress.

What is special, to me, about my Dickens book is what I found between the pages. Firstly there is a food voucher, I can’t help thinking it would have been better put to use to get food rather than as a bookmark. It’s nice that it is stamped Norwich.

You can find all sorts of things being used as bookmarks. I like finding turned down pages and wondering if the book was ever finished.

The other inclusions in this book are a childs drawings of bombers and fighter planes. What makes it so unique is that it is titled and dated, “Berlin” & “August 4th 1943”. I can only find one reference to a bombing raid over Berlin on that night (78 Squadron). But there was a massive raid the night of 2nd/3rd around Hamburg perhaps this was reported in the press and the schoolboy artist took it to be Berlin? What’s interesting is that in the second picture there is a ship being bombed and shot down planes sinking. Touching, isn’t it?

Finally, I like the inscriptions found in these books; dedications, awards and fervent ‘this book belongs to’ messages.

Here are a few images of just those things from other books I have picked up.

The first, a book of Plato’s works, has the name A.Fenwick Sheen both hand written and on the book plate, and is dated 1923. An inscription in the corner says ‘21st, from Mother‘, not ‘Love Mother‘, just ‘From Mother‘.

Googling A.Fenwick Sheen opens up a whole new history, it looks like he went on to be a master at Kilbrook Park School by 1946, apparently a stern teacher, interested in the methods of teaching science to children, and writing a book called Geometry and the Imagination, he even wrote a paper on teeth! I wonder how much affect reading this book had on his later life?

Next we have a book presented to Geoffrey Cox for regular attendance at Runham Sunday School in 1913. Today kids get iTunes vouchers, back then it was books. It’s hard to learn more about Mr Cox as he shares his name with a prominent MP and a television pioneer who between them monopolise Google search results. I have found a reference to an oral history about being a prisoner of war by a Geoffrey Cox, but it is not available online.

For Christmas and birthdays ‘Helen’ got a What Katy Did book. I hope she wanted them more than a Dean Martin 78.

Not much to say about this one, except Ivy and Eve, ah bless!


For the final example we are back with Dickens. An early copy of Stories from Dickens by McSpadden. It’s almost 100 years old and yet is only worth a few pounds because it was on the recommended reading list for schools and so there were many prints made. This one is extra special to me as it belonged to my great great aunt. What I particularly like, although it is hard to see in the picture above, is that she has coloured in all the characters eyes. The makings of a psychopath f you ask me.

I haven’t had space to write in detail about the amazingly ornate covers or wonderful picture plates in these older books. I will have to save that for another day.

For a list of where to buy second hand books in Norwich see this blog.

Happy collecting!

Why I Love Second Hand Books

You may have noticed I’ve had some website issues (again) this week. I’m still trying to resolve them, but I can’t seem to restore this weeks posts. Therefore my lovely post about the Chap Olympiad is missing. Both Perdita’s Pursuits and Penny Dreadful have lovely blogs about it (with pictures of me, huzzah!)

I am republishing now Mr Chicks lovely post on Second Hand Books. I feel very sad that he lost all the lovely comments on the first one, so do feel free to write lovely things about it as he was so pleased that people liked it (he will now kill me for saying that, I hope you’ll miss me!)

I collect old books.

I don’t mean 1st Editions in mint condition; I mean tatty, dog-eared, well read, dropped in the bath, loose-paged books. Books that have been loved not because of what they are worth but because of the stories they contain.

Let me give you an example. I have copy of Dickens Pickwick Papers. It is in rotten condition, the writing on the spine is faded and the spine is broken.

I believe I picked it up at a bootfair for 50p. There’s no date printed inside, although I do know it was printed by R.E.King in Tabernacle Street, London, but my internet trawlings haven’t been able to pin it down to a year yet. It’s difficult with Dickens as there have been so many versions printed. Dating “The World Almanac and Book of Facts for 1932” is much easier. If the book was printed during rationing you’ll often find the following printed within the covers.

But I digress.

What is special, to me, about my Dickens book is what I found between the pages. Firstly there is a food voucher, I can’t help thinking it would have been better put to use to get food rather than as a bookmark. It’s nice that it is stamped Norwich.

You can find all sorts of things being used as bookmarks. I like finding turned down pages and wondering if the book was ever finished.

The other inclusions in this book are a childs drawings of bombers and fighter planes. What makes it so unique is that it is titled and dated, “Berlin” & “August 4th 1943”. I can only find one reference to a bombing raid over Berlin on that night (78 Squadron). But there was a massive raid the night of 2nd/3rd around Hamburg perhaps this was reported in the press and the schoolboy artist took it to be Berlin? What’s interesting is that in the second picture there is a ship being bombed and shot down planes sinking. Touching, isn’t it?

Finally, I like the inscriptions found in these books; dedications, awards and fervent ‘this book belongs to’ messages.

Here are a few images of just those things from other books I have picked up.

The first, a book of Plato’s works, has the name A.Fenwick Sheen both hand written and on the book plate, and is dated 1923. An inscription in the corner says ‘21st, from Mother‘, not ‘Love Mother‘, just ‘From Mother‘.

Googling A.Fenwick Sheen opens up a whole new history, it looks like he went on to be a master at Kilbrook Park School by 1946, apparently a stern teacher, interested in the methods of teaching science to children, and writing a book called Geometry and the Imagination, he even wrote a paper on teeth! I wonder how much affect reading this book had on his later life?

Next we have a book presented to Geoffrey Cox for regular attendance at Runham Sunday School in 1913. Today kids get iTunes vouchers, back then it was books. It’s hard to learn more about Mr Cox as he shares his name with a prominent MP and a television pioneer who between them monopolise Google search results. I have found a reference to an oral history about being a prisoner of war by a Geoffrey Cox, but it is not available online.

For Christmas and birthdays ‘Helen’ got a What Katy Did book. I hope she wanted them more than a Dean Martin 78.

Not much to say about this one, except Ivy and Eve, ah bless!


For the final example we are back with Dickens. An early copy of Stories from Dickens by McSpadden. It’s almost 100 years old and yet is only worth a few pounds because it was on the recommended reading list for schools and so there were many prints made. This one is extra special to me as it belonged to my great great aunt. What I particularly like, although it is hard to see in the picture above, is that she has coloured in all the characters eyes. The makings of a psychopath f you ask me.

I haven’t had space to write in detail about the amazingly ornate covers or wonderful picture plates in these older books. I will have to save that for another day.

For a list of where to buy second hand books in Norwich see this blog.

Happy collecting!