Thursday, May 30, 2013
Look What I Found is an occasional series on books I've hunted-and-gathered at garage sales, used bookstores, estate sales, and the occasional pilfering from a friend's bookshelf when his back is turned. I have a particular fondness for U.S. novels written between 1896 and 1931. If I sniff a book and it makes me sneeze, I'm bound to fall in love.
It's not like I lack for any volumes of Charles Dickens' novels in my library. I have Penguin, Modern Library and Signet paperbacks; a set of Nonesuch facsimiles I coveted three years ago; and at least three different versions of A Tale of Two Cities on my Kindle. Why on earth would I want to add more book-poundage to my shelves already groaning under the weight of so many (too many!) dead-tree books?
Because I am a sick man (who's not in search of a cure).
When I saw these "Globe editions" of Dickens' works in an antique shop in Boise, Idaho two weeks ago, I knew I would walk out the store with them in the clutch of my covetous collector's hands.
Published by Houghton, Mifflin and Company in 1881, these squat, dark-green books immediately caught my attention with the illustrations (about four per volume) by F. O. C. Darley and John Gilbert:
Via Google, I found an ad in a 19th-century edition of Literary World which noted these books were "the best cheap edition on the globe....The paper is good, the print is clear, and the type of a size that won't injure the eyesight." They sold for $1.50 a volume--which, as another ad in The American Naturalist declares, shall "be within the reach of all classes."
In Googling "Minnie Washburne," I found several mentions of a woman by that name who was prominent in social activism--primarily the suffrage cause--around the turn of the 20th century. What's more, she lived in Eugene, Oregon. This is an especially sharp freak of coincidence because on the day I stopped in the Boise antique mall, I was en route to Oregon (which you might have read about in yesterday's blog post). Was it the same Minnie Washburne? I'd like to think it was.