Saturday, March 28, 2015


One of my jobs at the library where I work, is to sort through the boxes of donations we receive. I go through the books and divide them into categories: 

 - The ones we can add to the Library's collection

 - The ones that are very fine, but we have no use for, and which the Friends of the Library sell in the lobby.

 - The ones that are very decent, but a bit on the older side, which we set aside for a big everything goes sort of book sale, which occurs three times a year. Stuff as many books as you can into a bag, and we'll give it to you for $10!

 - And lastly, the books that do not fit into any of the above categories, and which we pass on to Better World Books. 

It is quite a fascinating job as the books that come through the donations can be quite diverse. Some are most excellent. Some are quirky and fun. Some are downright inappropriate. And some, I regret to say, are health hazards, and I am covered in dust (but, please God, let that not be spiderwebs) when I am finished. Some are just plain ridiculous, and you wonder what, exactly, possessed anyone to buy such a thing, much less hang on to it for years, before deciding to bequeath it to the Public Library. At some point, I am going to do a funny post on some of the real winners we've received, though I regret to say that that post will not feature pictures of the 20 volume series on microwave cooking - yes, you read that correctly. Apparently, microwave cooking is so complex as to require 20 volumes to cover it all.

Today is not the day for a funny post. Today is the day I brag about how I made out like a bandit with the donations. (The best thing about sorting donations, is that you get first dibs on whatever strikes your fancy. I love that.) Today, someone came in with a lot of beautiful old books.  I was up to my elbows in dust and crumbling pulp fiction when she arrived with them, I was shaken with great joy at the sight of civilised literature. I sort of pounced on the new stuff... and oh, golly, I was in heaven. Here is what I hauled home:

There was a book on swords in it! 

It is a very cool book with illustrations like these in it:

There is fold-out picture of the Bayeux Tapestry:


 The original must be staggeringly impressive, as this wee, fold up version just keeps coming and coming:

There is a copy of the Odyssey:

Translated by none other than Lawrence of Arabia:

There is this incredibly beautiful leather bound Latin book, containing the Sacred Liturgy for Holy Week and Easter Vigil.

See how beautiful it is:

It has its own cover:

Which is beautifully braid-stitched:

And the interiour is just as comely:

There was also this charming little folio:

Which upon being opened, contained drawings like this:

There was an Anglo Saxon Reader! 

Which contains a good deal of Anglo Saxon verse:

And finally..... There is a very simple little book called Word-Hoard:

Which is merely what its title page implies - a word list - but, oh, I got ridiculously excited about it. I jumped up and down, and felt very foolish and ashamed afterwards... but not sorry. I got excited about this entry:

not merely because it is the word sweord but because if you look closely at the blurry little shot, you will see the word maððum. Those two crossed 'd's - ðð - those make a 'th' sound, so that words is mathom, and I know what a mathom is. It is a treasure, an object of value, etc. Tolkien uses it in The Lord of the Rings for the nicknacks which the hobbits accumulate. But I am using it as the heading of this post, because that is what I came away home with today - maððums!


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