Antiquarian books?

In the past, I’ve done a couple of posts on old books that are in my home library. I went waaaay back the other day and opened the bottom of the cedar bookcase to look at my children’s books and found my first ever cardboard book, a brightly illustrated Golly and Teddy story with obligatory spiral binding (circa 1951). It’s actually coped with the rigours of usage quite well, perhaps due to the thickness of the cardboard (NB: and of course Gollies are now politically incorrect.)

My most favourite young children’s book of all time: Margaret Fieldmouse is tired beyond belief. This book charmed me as a child and still charms me as a world weary author! I think the illustrator had Cornwall in mind as one page shows Margaret proceeding down the winding cobbled ways of a tiny harbourside village and when I finally discovered Clovelly, I’d swear I’d meet Margaret somewhere. But the binding of this book just collapsed very early in its life. Unaware of the dangers of using cellotape on a book, that’s how it was mended and the dear little story is paying the price. I’m keen to find a restoration bookbinder to repair it for me and if necessary keep it in mylar sleeves as a precaution. That’s how much I love it!

Then there is JM Barrie’s Peter Pan illustrated by my most favourite illustrator Mabel Lucie Attwell. Love this book but must be careful not to love it to death! Attwell’s illustrations are so endearing, always emotive and the colour hasn’t faded at all. Ownership of this book encouraged me to collect books and cards of Attwell’s work and she is someone whose work I often chase up on Facebook Fairytales.

The piece de resistance surfaced three years ago. I was going through my father’s library and we were sorting what to keep and what to sell, when a little sketchbook fell out of a much larger book. Its only name is HMS Dart which immediately sent me to the internet and then to naval experts. Whilst there have been many HMS Darts through the centuries, we haven’t been able to give the little book any provenance. Some of the illustrations are period pieces and exotic: maybe Capetown and the Far East. The watercolours err toward faded monotone. What I’d love is for someone to scrape the paint and do a forensic test and date it for me but I fear the cost would outweigh the value of the book. Suffice to say it’s rather special to own and being a fantasy/hist.fict writer, maybe I can write my own provenance…