One of the great things about blog-surfing and shopping on Etsy is seeing all of the really creative things that other people have thought of. I found Fancy Lamb on Etsy recently and just love what she does with old books. If you aren't interested in collecting old books and just want to see what she makes, skip the next paragraph or two and go right to the end!
When I was in high school, I started collecting 'antiquarian' (old) books, buying them from a wonderful store in downtown Cincinnati called Bertrand Smith's Acres of Books. It was an wonderful early 1900s building with 3 floors and a basement filled floor-to-ceiling (12' ceilings) with books -- all old and all priced the day they came in. Since it was open for over 50 years and the books were never repriced, there were some real treasures! There's nothing left of the Cincinnati store -- it was torn down to put up a parking lot (literally). The owner (no longer Bert Smith) had only a few days to salvage what he could with the help of volunteers. All the rest of the books were demolished with the building and ended up in a landfill -- what a waste. I lived several hundred miles away by this time and was heartsick thinking of all those ruined books and knowing that I couldn't go help save them!
Anyway, back to the treasures... My first book cost a quarter and was a 'Complete Works of Shakespeare' with tissue thin pages and pictures of old actors in their Shakespearean roles. It's still one of my favorites!Most of the books I bought from Acres were what are called 'gift editions' and most were published between 1860 and 1920. They were classics and poetry collections with beautiful cover work and usually had gilt edges; published with the intention of people giving them as gifts. These mostly cost me about $2.50-$5 and were easily affordable. Soon I started collecting illustrated children's books. The last children's illustrator I bought was a few years after I had children and cost well over $100. When I bought that one and paid that much (with a young family) I realized that it was time to quit! That book was Peter Pan in Kensington Garden, illustrated by Arthur Rackham, who's still my favorite children's illustrator. His books are hard to find in bookstores (though easier on sites like Ebay) and keep going up in value. Now to the 'wish I'd thought of that'... I love old books so much that I've always been what I think of as a book purist -- I don't like the framed illustrations torn from them or feel that they should be defaces. So I was surprised to find that I really like what Fancy Lamb does with hers. She takes common mid-century hardcover books (even textbooks), cuts off the covers and makes journals out of them. She even sprinkles some of the book's original pages in the journal for interest. They're nicely bound and just the titles on the covers give me lots of ideas of who I could give them to for gifts. That brings a whole new meaning to 'gift edition'! Visit Fancy Lamb's Etsy shop and see all of her nifty journals!