Monday, 12 March 2012

Treasure Hunt: Ode to Edgar Allan Poe

I love old books --- the older, more dog-eared, and tattered, the better.  While this preference for the worn and battered probably won't increase the value of my collection, it almost guarantees that the books that find their way onto my shelves were well-read and well-loved.

This weekend, my husband and I came across this lovely volume of poems by Edgar Allan Poe at The Curio Emporium in South Pasadena.  Published in 1891, this edition includes "The Raven," "Annabel Lee," and "To Helen."  The beautiful embossed leather cover was tattered along the spine, and each page was edged with the nicotine-colored patina of old paper.  The leather had so worn away on the spine that the stitching which binds the pages together was visible, stained and brittle with age.
Published by T.Y. Crowell & Co., 1891
Despite the signs of wear, there is no denying the beauty of the actual book.... the name Edgar Allan Poe emblazoned in gold leaf across the front in gorgeous antique lettering; the embossed acanthus leaf design on the leather, gold leaf edges and wax paper liners on the engraved illustration.

 Newspaper clippings tucked into the pages.
As an added attraction, a previous owner had snipped newspaper articles about Poe's romance with a certain Mrs. Whitman from a Boston newspaper in 1916.  These various clippings were all carefully tucked within the pages of the book and are as delicate and ephemeral as butterfly wings after almost a century.  Various Inscriptions and book plates detail a history of a treasured book being passed from one book lover to the next, and I'm so proud to be a stop along the way on its journey.


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