My Blog Journal


Treasures in a Second Hand Bookstore

stack of vintage books


“Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.”

~Henry Ward Beecher

Last year I went treasure-hunting in my local Goodwill store, and found some lovely and inexpensive items that worked well as props for photo-shoots.

My lovely Victorian balloon-back chair still gets regular use. The jewelry box is storing buttons at the moment, and the water pitcher & basin have become a “catch all” for odds-n-ends (like bookmarks and leftover Christmas ornaments)….

The rest of the items I purchased last March have scattered to the winds; in other words, my children confiscated them. They are especially fond of the trio of painted birds. Daddy bird, Mommy bird, and Baby bird….

This year, I decided to test my luck again. I made a wish-list of things I hoped to find:
At the top of that list, I wrote “vintage oval frames”.

Every time I run across an oval frame in a local art supply/frame shop, it always costs 2-3x more than a standard rectangular frame. I think my Regency cat portraits would look so handsome displayed in oval frames, so I determinedly keep hunting for a bargain.

I also wrote “vintage books” on my list.

After admiring other photographers’ still-life shots of books for so many months, I wanted to purchase a few “aged” books as prop accessories for my photos.
The older, the better ~ with faded cloth covers, yellowed pages, and minor wear and tear ~ for creating a personal library that might appear to be the collection of many generations.

I haven’t visited a second-hand bookstore in a long time. Now that the Big-Box bookseller Border’s has closed, little neighborhood bookshops are starting to re-emerge and gain attention once again.

Today I browsed the aisles of a used bookstore for over two hours, and spent very little, even though my arms were loaded with hardcovers dating back 60-120 years. I purchased a copy of Shakespeare’s Complete Works, published in 1952, for $4.95. My grandmother had owned a copy, which I remember reading as a teen, and now I finally have it in my collection! :)

This copy was inscribed in January 1955 by a lady named “JoAnn Waffensmith” … whom I searched for online, naturally, and found a 1953 commencement program for Hagerstown Junior College, listing Joann as editor for the Night Crier (their newspaper, I’m guessing).

We discovered a typed page of essay questions, apparently someone’s homework – as the page was titled “English 304” – inserted into the first chapter of Hamlet. It was printed on a transparent tissue paper with this watermark: “Millers Falls Onion Skin”.
Onion Skin paper? Wow, I just had to Google that!! ;D

In addition to Shakespeare, I also purchased vintage copies of Dicken’s “David Copperfield” (1913 ed.), “The Complete Works of George Eliot” (1916 ed.), William Makepeace Thackeray’s “Vanity Fair/Lovel the Widower” (1888 Sterling ed.), a 1934 copy of John Galsworthy’s “The Forsyte Saga”, and Chief Modern Poets of England and America (the 1947 edition).

I can’t wait to dig into The Forsyte Saga, after enjoying the 2002 television adaptation on Netflix last summer.

In the meantime, they make an enchanting stack on the dresser. :)

stack of vintage books sitting near a window

The second thrift store I purused turned out to be a treasure-trove of frames, including three marvelous oval frames with watercolor paintings inside.
The larger wooden frames are suited for 16″x20″ pictures, and the smaller frames fit 5″x7″ pictures.
All four wooden frames were only ONE DOLLAR a piece! O_O

vintage picture frames, wooden frames, oval frames

The smaller 9″x12″ oval frames were $3.00 each, and the largest oval (measuring 12″x16″) was $5.00.
The artwork inside is lovely, I’m hesitant to remove them… but I did desire these for my Regency Cat portraits. Decisions… decisions….

Whatever I wind up doing with these frames, you can expect to see my precious finds featured in new shop listing photos. My vintage books might even star in some artistic photos for our new Etsy shop ~ TaraFlyPhotography.

If I don’t get too distracted with reading them instead….

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