Saturday, October 19, 2013

A simple blog post label leads to treasure ...

Last summer, I posted an item about "Wark's Modern Educator," an encyclopedic book from the early 19th century. I bought a copy at a dirt cheap price, because it was missing pages. I happened to mention that I'd love to find a complete volume. On the post, I added the book title as a label.

Well, fast forward to a few weeks ago when an e-mail arrived from a bookseller in Princeton, N.J., telling me that she had been searching the web for info about Wark's, and came across my blog post. She had a complete one. We messaged back and forth.

In between the e-mails, she took a look at my web site. Her next e-mail asked if I wanted something else: her great grandfather Paul Phillips' scrapbook from 1890. It was little more than a pile of crumbling pages inside its worn covers, and she didn't know what to do with it ... 'til she saw my work.

A few days later, the Wark's and scrapbook arrived. As nice as the Wark's is, it's the scrapbook that is the stunner. It's filled with colorful scraps and trade cards. Some are scraps I'd never seen, such as sets with fairy tale characters and a series of morality tales. Many are huge, filling entire pages. In fact, the flowers are the perfect size for a commission I just got to create a large-scale collage for a Cincinnati restaurant. Today, I'll remove the scraps from the pages, which can be done by soaking them. Trust me, it works, and doesn't damage the scraps (a trick learned from a veteran bookseller/paper collector).

Of course, I had to scan some pages to share with you ... no doubt my friend Shirley Tenhover will be oooohing and ahhhhhing when she sees these ...



  1. Wow - what a treasure! These are the kind of internet match-ups I love.

  2. Oh my gosh, who would give that away? (I'm happy for you, though :) ) We have an 1863 scrapbook in our family, with crumbling pages, that we have been wondering how to preserve. Would you mind telling me what you soaked them in? We have a few pages that would be ok to experiment with, but others are show stoppers. Thanks!