Origin of Pilgrims Progress Book

John Bunyan Pilgrims Progress

1915 Edition of Pilgrims Progress

Shankill Baptist Church 1915

Sunday School Award for Attendance

My collecting of religious books continues to fuel my imagination of days long ago.  One of my more recent acquisitions is a Pilgrims Progress edition published in 1915 London by The Religious Tract Society.  It has an attractive blue cloth cover with a nicely detailed and somewhat ornate illustration.  The wear and tear over the past 100 years is really not that bad.  There are some smudges and a few spots on the pages but that just helps confirm the book was actually read, consumed, and maybe used for the purpose it was written.

The most interesting feature of this book is a presentation label placed on the front of the first end page.  It reads:

First Prize
Presented to
Agnes Irvine
for attendance
Shankill Baptist
Sunday School 1914

My first search for Shankill Baptist Church sends me to the web page of a church by that exact name located in Belfast Ireland shankillbaptist.com.  The community started in 1895 as the industrial revolution was taking hold of the area and there was a great need for evangelizing.  Since the book was published in the UK and since everything I search with Shankill appears to be in Belfast, I’m thinking that may be where the book was presented to Agnes Irvine over 100 years ago.

I have since emailed Shankill Baptist in Ireland and await any information that may confirm the book actually originated from their church.


Winnie-The-Pooh Day

Milne Winnie the PoohToday we celebrate the birth of A. A. Milne, author and creator of the character Winnie-the-Pooh.  As a book reseller I can attest to the active and ongoing demand for vintage Milne books.  I’ve sold many of Milne’s books and many of the books related to Winnie-the-Pooh like The Tao of Pooh, The Te of Piglet, and Pooh and the Philosophers. I’ve even come across and sold a 1961 edition of Winnie-the-Pooh in Latin.  Milne made a positive impact in our world while he was alive and even now, almost 60 years after his passing.

Interesting facts about A. A. Milne.

  • Cambridge graduate 1903
  • A. A. stands for Alan Alexander
  • Born 1/18/1882  and Died 1/31/1956
  • Had one child named Christopher Robin Milne
  • Served in WWI and WWII
  • Played Cricket with Arthur Conan Dole


How Many Books Will You Read in 2017?

What’s your book reading goal in 2017? If you start with a random number and add titles, don’t forget to include antique or vintage books. You might also consider those you previously read. If you have children or grandchildren, include something they enjoy.  Reading the same book as others gives you one more way to connect. Completing a book before seeing the movie is one of my all time favorite entertainments. Some of the books you will find in theaters this year are:

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron
The Lost City of Z by David Grann
The Circle by Dave Eggers

Auld Lang Syne

Mt. Rainier

Wishing all a happy new year.  May you enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in 2017.  Did you know that the popular New Year’s song of Auld Lang Syne comes from a poem?  A poem written by the poet Robert Burns?  That’s right, a Scotsman.  This is yet another contribution to civilization by the Scottish.  Robert Burns was considered an amazing song-writer and this is the most famous of his works.  Not only is it sung by English-speaking people on New Year’s eve but it’s also used by the Brits when they meet to revive or cherish old friendships.

Auld Lang Syne
by Robert Burns

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to min’?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wandered mony a weary foot
Sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidled i’ the burn
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie’s a hand o’ thine;
And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp
And surely I’ll be mine;
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne.


Inscribe Your Gift Book

The Prospector by Ralph Connor, A Little Book of Western Verse Eugene Field, Streams in the Desert Cowman

Three books from my collection with inscriptions.

Streams In The Desert

Inscriptions in Streams In The Desert published 1943

Do you write on the end page in the books you give to others?  Have you ever received a book from someone to find an inscription on an end page?  I don’t think I’ve ever received a book from my sister without her writing something on the front end page where she addresses me, writes something like “you’re going to love this”, and indicates the occasion along with her name.  As a book collector and seller I often come across this and very often find it related to a Christmas book.

One of the more interesting aspects of this practice is the continued handing down of a book and that being documented in these inscriptions.  The photos at the top of this post are of Streams In The Desert by Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman.  The first inscription was Christmas 1944 to “Mother” from “Beth”.  This book was later presented in 1971 by the same Beth to Elizabeth after the

death of her mother.  Elizabeth then presented the book to Vera Jean in 1973.


On a trip to Canada in 2016 I found The Prospector by Ralph Connor published in 1904.  The first inscription was simply the name and date of the original owner.  He appears to also have written his address but only indicated “City” as the name of his city.  The book was given on Christmas day to Walt in 1995.

One of my favorite books is A Little Book of Western Verse by Eugene Field published in 1899.  It is packed with poems of a variety of topics.  This book of poems was originally owned beginning March 7, 1900 by someone with the initial of “C”, at least that’s my best guess.  The book was later given by Carol to Mrs. Sheldrake on April 12, 1938.  Next it was presented to Mrs. Bartness on Mother’s day May 10, 1963.

The next time you’re looking for a unique gift for someone, consider passing on a book that’s been in your family for a long time.  If you don’t have a book that’s been passed down from generation to generation, consider finding one at a local antique mall or used book store.  Add to the inscriptions knowing that someone may read it many years from now.  A gift like this can easily be accompanied with a gift card to a coffee shop that offers a cozy place to read.

Christmas Restored

Imagine our world when there was no radio, television, internet, and only dim lighting at night.   One form of entertainment was the everlasting invention of the picture book.  The value of these books was the colorful images and authoritative text not always so easily or readily available.  Our ancestors valued these books so much they passed them down to each generation.  Unfortunately not everyone receiving these precious gifts appreciated them.

I recently acquired an antique German picture book presenting the story of the nativity.  The cover was dirty and moldy from not being stored properly.  Being the curious curator of the dumpster that I am, I brought it home in hopes to improve its appearance and extend its purpose of production.

The name of the book is:

Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (A rose has sprung up)
Ein biblisches Bilderbuch (A bible Picture book)
Neues Testament (New Testament)

Publisher: Kunstdruck & Verlag Von Ernst Kaufmann

The date of the book is not indicated but this publisher appears to have been in business during the early 20th century.  The art work on the front cover with vines and flowers is characteristic of the Arts and Crafts period 1880 – 1910 so my guess is this book was produced somewhere during that time.

Here are photos before and after my restoration efforts.


First Cookbook for The Washington Post

The Washington Post published their first cookbook on Monday April 15, 2013. Initial reviewers find easy to follow and fast to fix recipes.  Food Editor Bonnie Benwick crowdsourced the contents of this cookbook by asking readers for their favorite recipes.   One tasty recipe I can’t wait to try is Shrimp Burgers by chef Robert Stehling from Hominy Grill in Charleston, SC.   Order your Cookbook from the The Washington Post website or the usual book outlets.  For more ideas of what you might find in the cookbook just go to the Washington Post Recipe Finder online and to get a taste of their wealth of recipes.

For all you cookbook collectors and foodies, here is a  video with The Washington Post Food & Travel Editor Joe Yonan along with Deputy Food Editor Bonnie Benwick.  Bonnie has passion and dedication to the world of food and recipes.  I’m sure you’ll find her comments on publishing recipes insightful.  She is truly serving her readers and now those of us who can’t have enough cookbooks.  Great job Bonnie!


Cookbooks R Us

Cookbook Collection Sample Shared

Love of cookbooks shared

Congratulations to the Cookbook Store in Toronto for 30 years of serving lovers of cookbooks everywhere.  My recent introduction to this store and their mission is added confirmation that I’m perfectly normal.   People everywhere share in my attraction to the cookbook, the cookery book, or recipe book, whatever you call it in your part of the world.

Is it the pictures that draw me in or the age of the cookbook?  Actually it could be either.  I’ve collected oversized cookbooks with pictures so go you want to lick the pages.  Community cookbooks that don’t even enter a bookstore are always finding a place in my collection.  The old ratty looking ones with torn covers printed fifty or more years ago are very special with the added historical value.  I have a nondiscrimination policy and find room for all cookbooks regardless of age, condition, or printed quality.

My best finds have come from garage sales and used book stores.  You just never know what you might find scribbled in the margin or loose between the pages.  These bonuses might be how the true secrets of cooking certain recipes get passed down through the ages.

If you’re a collector of cookbooks like me, I’m sure you’ll love this video of Matt Kantor posted by Brilynn Ferguson. Chef Kantor expresses the love of cookbooks like I’ve never seen before.

A Year in Provence – Enjoyed

I stumbled upon A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle at a used bookstore attracted by the culinary and cultural invitation.  How could I go wrong for 75 cents?  It was completely enjoyed from the first bite to the last.  Peter Mayle’s ingenious structure of breaking the book down by each month of the year set the stage for each chapter.  If you have a passion for food, how it begins in the field, is hunted in the forest (fungi or four-legged), cooked to perfection, served with purpose, and eaten with pure delight, this book is for you.  It was published before I began reading books for fun, and had it fallen into my hands back then, I might have started to read much earlier in my life.  Another appropriate title for this book is “Adventures in Provence.”  Each story is driven by the lifestyle and cultural activities in Provence.  Their attitude toward time, motivation of leisure, pride in work, and emphasis on food, make them appear much more real and attractive than ordinary city folk (Parisians).  Another aspect of the book that makes it interesting is the absence of technology.  There is no mention of Internet, social media, or mobile phones.  They did not even have a television (by choice).  The book was published just before these big advances in technology began.  I think it helped to emphasize the important things in life like relationships, food, and celebrations.  They definitely found the good in each day.

Book Cover

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle Book Cover