Thursday, November 4, 2010

The beauty of books

I noticed recently that my husband was looking through a trio of books we bought a few years ago at a library sale.

There's nothing unusual in this, of course, except for one thing.  The books are in German.  None of us speak or read German.

So why, you may ask, do we have these books if we can't read them?

For the sheer beauty, of course. These were printed in 1905 and are nothing short of works of art, with gilded bindings and delicate pages. Besides, they sold for next to nothing at the library sale precisely because they were in German.

Most of our 5000+ books are purely practical, but once in awhile we can't resist certain books for their beauty.  The old books below were bought for that reason, though at least these are in English.  These were also printed in 1905, which must have been a banner year for beautiful books.

These are collections of translated Norse tales, and between all the "Woulds't thou's" and "can'st thy's," it can be tough reading.  But they're fun to delve into on a cold winter evening and get lost in tales of yore.


  1. So, you admit to juding a book by its cover??!!

    Yes, some books are works of art and therein lies the main reason for having them in a personal library. I own 1 or 2 solely for their beautiful fonts and etchings, and care less what they say since I struggle with their Victorian prose.

    Anonymous Patriot

  2. We have a number of these volumes (no longer in print) of George MacDonald reproductions, which are really nice (leather, gilding..):

    We stopped buying them when money became and has stayed tight since, a number of years ago.

    But, they are beautiful.

    We bought them because:
    1) We really like George MacDonald.
    2) They are pretty.
    3) We agreed with Michael Phillips' mission of getting these well made (low acid paper too) and will help push MacDonald's work ahead at least one hundred years - preserving the works for later generations.

    There is nothing at all wrong with well bound/crafted volumes.

    Craftsmanship, and not just in bookbinding, should be:
    - you get the idea...

  3. Those Norse books look amazing, may i ask what the title is, or publisher, or isbn? Thanks!

  4. They're part of a series called "Anglo Saxon Classics: A Collection of Popular Tales from the Norse and North German." I have three volumes out of an unknown number in the set (discards from a library). In the front of each volumes, it says "Of the Memorial Edition, there are but three hundred and fifty complete sets made for the world, of which this is copy no. ____" - and hand-written in the space is "300."

    The author of this one particular volume I'm holding is George Webbe Dasent (different authors for the different volumes) and it's printed by the Norrcena Society in 1907. (I mis-typed the print date in the post.)

    Hope this helps!

    - Patrice