Recent Book Purchases

I think I was in just about every charity shop in St Andrews last Saturday, sadly most of the charity shop books are newish mass market paperbacks so there’s no chance of finding really unusual books. The Oxfam shop there is better than most though and has separate shelves for vintage books. I bought an Ann Bridge book there – The Light Hearted Quest. I’m fairly sure I read some of her books years ago, but they must have been from the libary because I don’t own any others. It was first published in 1956.

One thing which has annoyed me is the pricing of book club books. The last time I was in an Edinburgh bookshop there were some books which I would’ve bought if they hadn’t had wild prices on them – with the words first edition pencilled on them too. I can’t make my mind up whether the shop owner is just a bit clueless about book pricing as the books are a sort of sideline to the ‘antique’ shop or they are hoping to fool people. The books were all 1950s and 60s book club choice books, so there is no way that they could possibly be described as first editions as the book clubs obviously only reprinted books which were already very popular. So annoying!

Anyway, back to St Andrews and I was very lucky at the actual second-hand bookshop, sadly it’s the only one left now, but I almost always find something worth buying there. This time it was a book from the Our Beautiful Homeland series, published by Gresham. I’m ashamed to say that I had never even heard of the series but I checked the internet and there are plenty available for sale there.

I picked the book up because it has a lovely cover which I was sure had been designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, he did design quite a lot of bookcovers, especially for the publisher Blackie. The book was a bit manky though but I knew it would clean up beautifully with a wet wipe – and it did. It was the same price as a new paperback book, so a real bargain then and it has 48 coloured plates of York, Ripon, Harrogate, The English Lakes and Scarborough – which are all places we have visited. The plates are by Ernest W. Haslehurst and you can see some of his work here.

our beautiful homeland book

7 thoughts on “Recent Book Purchases

  1. I love visiting charity shops – sometimes you strike out and other times you hit the jackpot. I went to two shops last Friday night and didn’t really find anything exciting, but browsing was still fun.
    The cover of your ‘Our Beautiful Homeland’ book is very nice and I love the title!

    • Anbolyn,
      The great thing about charity shops is that you just never know what you might find there. One woman’s junk is another’s treasure, as I’m often taking stuff to the shops, it’s all recycling!

  2. I do believe you just bought one of the A & C Black books I collect! I thought so from the cover and looked it up and see that’s one of their titles. They had several different series, varying in quality of printing. These are travel narratives with color illustrations published in the early 1900s. I was attracted by the illustrated binding of the first one I saw and then searched for them. I bought two lots of them sight unseen from an auction house in England, probably one of the most extravagant things I’ve ever done, although not the priciest. I have about thirty of them, but they’ve become so expensive that I’ve stopped collecting them. Beautiful books and interesting.

    • I’m now retracting my previous comment! I’ve looked through my A & C Black Colour Books collector’s guide and I don’t see this book listed. I also see that I read your post too quickly and that your book is published by Blackie. It certainly looks like an A & C Black book and the similarity of the publishers’ names and topic is interesting. I love these beautifully designed old travel books. No lines at the airport, no security checks, no traffic jams – that’s the way to travel!

      • Joan,
        I’ve just had a look at the A & C Black books – they are expensive now, but lovely, you must have a good eye – as they say! The small Blackie books are just green soft covered books I think, with each one containing information on one town or area. Blackie and Gresham must have been owned by the same people I think, but Gresham published the ‘luxury’ versions.

  3. I have four of the Gresham books (“Exeter, Dartmoor, Heart of Wessex, Bath & Wells” “Canterbury, Winchester, Isle of Wight & Swanage” “Folkestone & Dover, Hastings, Bournemouth, The New Forest” and “Edinburgh, The Scott Country, The Shores of Fife, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs”) There was also a series by A & C Black, of which I have “Wessex”, “Surrey” and “Bonnie Scotland.” These last three were profusely illustrated by Sutton Palmer – a water colorist who was at least as good as Haslehust. We have some fairly good topographical books published in the past ten years or so, and illustrated with color photographs – but for MY money, you just can’t beat paintings !! The seven volumes above are the stars of my topography section !!

    • Monika Fisher,
      Those books are lovely, I plan to buy more of them, especially the ones about places I love and any Scottish ones. It sounds like you have a great collection. I have a fair few modern travel books but like you I prefer the older ones. Thanks for taking the time to comment.


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