Specials, Rare And Collectible Books Are A Draw For Book Sale

Among the more than 120,000 books and other items that will be offered at the Friends of the C.H. Booth Library Annual Book Sale next month are hundreds of special, collectible and rare books.

Each year, donated books that catch the eyes of the volunteer sorters are culled and passed on to book expert John Renjilian, a Friends’ volunteer. Mr Renjilian determines the value of the books, and every year, he said, there are quality rare and collectible volumes donated.

This year’s offerings, while numbering in the hundreds, is “a little light,” Mr Renjilian admitted on Monday, June 16. Nonetheless, there are many gems that will attract the steady crowd of book collectors who return to the sale each year, seeking bargains.

There are a number of interesting books for sale in the Specials and the Collectibles categories, he said, which will be set aside in a room located just off of the lobby of Reed Intermediate School, where the annual fundraiser for Booth Library takes place.

“My favorite is probably the autobiography written by Colonel Reuben Steere and his wife, Rebecca,” Mr Renjilian said. The thin pamphlet is entitled The Smallest Married Couple, and is the story of “home, life, and travels,” according to the title page. Within the pages, readers will discover that while born a whopping 8 pounds-plus, Col Steere reached his adult height of 44 inches and weight of 33 pounds before adolescence. The pamphlet was most likely handed out by the couple at shows in which he promoted his miniscule size, said Mr Renjilian, although he could not find any evidence that the couple ever traveled with a well-known organization or circus.

“I like this, I think, because it’s so unusual and so rare,” Mr Renjilian said of the 19th Century pamphlet.

A book of ships’ ledger accounts could have been a favorite, said the book pro, “but it is fairly damaged,” said the book expoert. At some point, the accounts of the various ships recorded by John Fletcher in the mid-1800s was used as a scrapbook. Even so, the book is a fine historical account of items purchased for and on board ships of that era. It has been priced at $125, Mr Renjilian said.

Mr Renjilian and Toni Earnshaw, marketing volunteer for the Friends, both found a collection of five books from the library of Glenn Close to be fascinating. In particular, an “affectionate and provocatively” author-inscribed copy of The Vagina Monologues catches the eye, they said. A stated first edition, the inside of the book contains a six-line note from Eve Ensler “To Glenn / a magnificent artist…” as well as another personal note — “with a most touching ending,” Mr Renjilian said, from the author to Ms Close, tucked in between the pages. That paperback is being sold together with another author-inscribed book Hellas: A Portrait of Greece; Mid-Course Correction, also inscribed by author to Ms Close; Artes, An International Reader of Literature Art and Music, with a personal letter from the editor; and a copy of Youth Leaving Foster Care.

The Boston Cooking School Magazine was a very popular series, Mr Renjilian said, and the Friends are pleased to have 18 volumes, bound in brown half leather. The magazines from the early 1900s are in good condition, he said.

The Book of Lies intrigued me,” Ms Earnshaw said, “mostly, because it is so unfathomable to me. And the title — Is it all lies?” she asked.

“It has a great title, and it smacks of satire,” Mr Renjilian agreed of the small book, priced at $600. The author, Aleister Crowley, was a mystic, “legitimately so,” he said, and well known in the field of mysticism. It is a rare copy, and a book that is in demand, he said, which makes it valuable to collectors.

Also of interest in the Specials category this year are three pamphlets from the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, two of which are catalogs for the school from 1853-54.

Les Jardin, a large, very worn book of plans and illustrations of gardens, written in French, is valued for the beautiful woodblock prints within the pages, Mr Renjilian said. That 1919 book, #23 of 300 copies, is priced at $100.

From the Bermuda Trade Development Board of 1936 came the hardcover Residence in Bermuda. This donation is #535 of 2,000 copies, and while somewhat worn, is considered in very good condition. Also showing some wear is The Use of Blowpipe in Chemistry and Mineralogy, an 1845 edition with four folding plates at the rear. Somewhat faded is the copy of The Slave Trade by H.C. Carey, a third edition, with owner’s inscription. 

The Backwoods of Canada: Being Letters From the Wife of an Imigrant Officer is quite worn, according to Mr Renjilian, but worthy of a price of $150. A stated first printing copy of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is being offered for $50, lacking a book jacket and slightly cracked.

With the book sale in mid-July, it is just a bit late for the Fourth of July celebration, Mr Renjilian pointed out, but Poems of Expansion by John Savory is an interesting addition to this year’s Specials collection, and priced at $95.

What attracts buyers to the Specials, Rare or Collectible categories at the book sale, he said, is different for each person. He is confident that buyers will find something of interest on the shelves.

“There truly seems to be something for everyone,” Ms Earnshaw said.

“The thing is to raise money,” stressed Mr Renjilian. “It’s not to hold out for top dollar. We want to make customers happy.”

A section of collectible children’s books will make up an entire other category, Ms Earnshaw said.

The Friends of the C.H. Booth Library Annual Book Sale takes place Saturday, July 12 through Wednesday, July 16, at Reed Intermediate School, 3 Trades Lane. The sale, one of the three largest in the state, has 90 categories of more than 120,000 books, electronically tested DVDs and CDs, games, puzzles, and more for sale. There is an entrance fee of $5, on Saturday only. Numbered admission tickets go on sale, Saturday, at 7 am. The sale opens at 9 am, each day.

For complete information visit www.chboothlibrary.org/booksale.

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