Foreign Visitors in England is a small green book written in 1889 by Edward Smith and published in London at 62 Paternoster Row. Paternoster Row, near St. Paul’s Cathedral, was a center for bookselling and printing at one time.
This little tome caught my attention because of the small images at the beginning and at the end of the book.
The beginning – Arise Pray Work with a rooster standing on a pile of books.
The end – Rest Pray Sleep with an owl resting on old books with clasps.
The official title of the little green book is Foreign Visitors in England and What They Have Brought to Us: Being Some Notes on Their Books and Their Opinions During the Last Three Centuries. For example, the author quotes notes from a Mr. Rye concerning the royal library which state “All these books are bound in velvet of different colours, though chiefly red, with clasps of gold and silver; some have pearls and precious stones set in their bindings.” Oh to see those.
The other interesting tidbit about this book is that it is part of a series edited by H.B. Wheatley called The Book-Lovers Library. Some other titles in the series included:
How to Form a Library
How to Catalogue a Library
Modern Methods of Illustrating Books
How to Make an Index
The Book-Lover’s Library sounds like a worthy collection for a bibliomaniac. I agree with many book collectors who think that the internet has taken the joy out of “the hunt”. So, I’ll search for these books the old fashioned way; one bookstore at a time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how nice it would be to go back to New York City just to visit bookstores and libraries. Since it will be awhile before that trip materializes, this collection of pretty books will have to suffice.
Is the dog hoping to go inside or hoping his human friend will return? 192 Books, Tenth Avenue at 21st Street. Image: t_a_i_s
How about a sidewalk bookstore? You can learn more about the sidewalk bookseller culture in the book Sidewalk by Mitchell Duneier. I bought my copy at the Strand Bookstore on my last visit to NYC. Image: Drew Shannon
Selected Works is a wonderful used bookstore on the second floor of the gorgeous Fine Arts Building on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The owner, Keith Peterson, opened the store in 1984 and intentionally created a space that has that inviting, stay awhile, bookstore feeling. See if you agree that Selected Works has all of the elements of a great bookstore.
1 – Ladder. Indicates tall shelves with more room for books.
2 – Beautiful light filled windows. Improves ability to scan book titles and adds warmth to the space.
3 – Interesting nooks created by shelves or walls. Creates a sense of adventure as to what’s around the next corner.
4 - Books, books, books. Gives you a reason to step into the store and provides the main attraction.
5 – Stacks. Fuels the feeling that a treasure awaits under the next book.
6 - Interesting books. Sparks a desire for knowledge.
7 – A bookstore cat named Hodge. Provides a conversation starter and endears the store to cat lovers. Hodge is “King of Everything” according to Keith.
8 - Browsing area outside the main shop. Offers a bargain and is even better when it’s protected from the elements.
9 – Manned elevator. Bestows a unique experience although it isn’t really an element of a great bookstore. But, it is fun to ride in an old time elevator with a gentleman who closes brass gates and pushes the buttons for you.
10 & 11 - Pleasant, knowledgeable proprietor and comfy seating for reading. Makes the bookstore a place you want to return to again and again. I didn’t get pictures of either of these, but you can see more in the documentary created by Columbia College film students Julienne Queensen and Neal Kraft.
If the video doesn’t work on your device, please access it via this direct link.
Selected Works is my favorite bookstore in Chicago and in my opinion, is the perfect bookstore. Are there other elements of a great bookstore that I should have included?
I love this bookstore sign with its vibrant colors, rustic wall, and simplicity.
The owner says the city routinely mentions the word eyesore when describing his wall. But he counters with the argument that if it’s so bad, why do so many families and brides set up photo shoots in front of it. Good point.
I spotted these pretty Scottish law books at a local antique mall. They’re dated 1827 and 1835 and together are priced at $65. Maybe it was a deal, maybe not; but I didn’t love them enough to take them home with me.
As of today, this is the most “liked” photo on my Instagram account. But since I just made my account public two weeks ago, that probably doesn’t mean much. They are pretty though.
This weekend I went book hunting at the Chicken House Flea Market near Stephenville, Texas. Permanent vendors were housed in a long, old, remodeled chicken house. But the best hunting was found rummaging through the outside, temporary offerings.
I bought this tattered copy of Alice in Wonderland for the cover art. The rabbit hole “filled with cupboards and bookshelves” was irresistible.
Even though the pages are brittle and brown, they are filled with lovely illustrations by Roberta Paflin.
Plus, the end papers have a wonderful fleur de lis design in the same turquoise that accents the illustrations.
Spring always makes me want to travel to faraway places like Sweden or Thailand or India or Australia. Really anywhere that requires a nine hour flight or longer from Texas. And of course, there would be bookshops involved.
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