UNIQUE BOOKS | Page 46 | Newberry


You know how to get a unique book, don’t you? Yup. You ‘neak up on it.

You’ve been dropping off a few unique books, and though I, personally, like these, and the Newberry LOVES some of them, they do present a problem.

I refer, in this case, to those scrap books and photo albums that come in when you’re cleaning out the attic. Now, I have promised myself I will not preach. I will never understand how you can release on the world all those pictures which meant so much once upon a time, or that scrapbook your grandmother compiled with so much diligence and toil, cutting out every recipe for noodle kugel she ran across in four different languages. You HAVE donated it to me, and I have no right to question your heart or soul. (I WILL; I’m just not going to go into that here.)

The problem is that it can be the work of weeks trying to find a home for them. Some aren’t so bad: the autograph album with Benjamin Harrison’s signature in the back, or that photo album your grandfather kept of his cornet band in the 1920s. If the Newberry or the Chicago History Museum don’t want to add these to their respective collections, these are excellent eBay fodder. So is that scrapbook of recipes: people love recipe collections: they don’t pay a lot, but they pay something, because that longlost family recipe might just be in there somewhere.

One of the keys is labeling. If Grandma put a date on each of those recipes or Grandpa wrote captions under the pictures saying who was who and where they were playing, these can be valuable historical documents. Or at least I can convince somebody they are. Or maybe your great-grandfather kept all those letters from relatives in the Old Country and pasted them in neat chronological order in a scrapbook: that’s just the ticket.

If they aren’t labeled, life gets harder. But even then, there are pictures with something interesting in them: old motorcycles, all the springer spaniels the family’s had over the years, or those pictures you took in New Orleans at Mardi Gras: I have a chance to sell those to customers who are looking for visual references: your picture may be the only known one of that model Harley taken from that angle.

But oh, I have spent my time on collections of portraits of people no one remembers, or all those kids blowing out birthday candles, or autographs of everybody in somebody or another’s eighth grade class. I consider these to be documents in their own right: those pictures or clippings were assembled by somebody who thought they were important, and surely that importance hasn’t completely died just because nobody remembers why they mattered. I put these up on eBay with a description that any experienced eBay buyer can interpret as “PLEASE buy this or it’ll sit in my storage locker forever!”

Still, though I get more money for The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, I like dealing with even the dullest of family albums. The Divine Sisterhood is run-of-the-mill, you see, and the experience in so tame.

Hey! Ya know how you get a tame book? Tame way you ‘neak up on it!

(Thank you; I need to unload some of these jokes, too.) 

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