Old Words, The Latest Finds For My Vintage Book Shop

I’m having trouble producing new words lately. At that point when simple tasks feel overwhelming, I’m severely burned out. So, I’m taking a break from freelance work for a few weeks. Maybe longer. I’m still showing up here, because you guys are low maintenance.

Without a looming deadline, my vintage book shop on Etsy has gotten attention for the last couple of days. It’s perfect work for the burned out brain.

So, want to see some picture of books? The estate sales in New Jersey opened up a couple of weeks ago, so I’m shopping like crazy in case things close again. I’m slowly taking pictures and listing them at the same time that I’m an education conference this week. It’s a huge conference, so my face isn’t on the screen; I can multi-task without anyone knowing. Shhh.

Here are some of the books that I’ve bought in the past couple of weeks. Some old and valuable. Some will be sold to decorators who are looking for some vintage flare to the room. I buy what interests me immediately, and then I figure out later if it’s valuable or decorator-fodder.

Last week, Steve and I rushed into a filthy house during an arranged appointment. We brushed off dirt and sediment from stacks of neglected books and walked away with about $150 worth of books. That’s way more than I usually spend on any one sale but the books that I had were very old, so I hoped that they would be worth money.

Among the interesting items that I found in this filthy house were three leather bound volumes of an old newspaper — Niles’ Weekly Register — printed in Baltimore in the early 1800s. I went down the rabbit hole for a while, trying to figure out that owner’s signature. Not sure.

And there were more there! Ugh! I left them there! They probably went into a dumpster!

I also have six volumes of a series of books from 1912 with tons of photographs from the Civil War. I haven’t figured out a price yet.

Steve thought this West Point Atlas of battle scenes was cool. I can probably get a $100 for them.

25 thoughts on “Old Words, The Latest Finds For My Vintage Book Shop

  1. John Moulton, Esq.

    I read a lot of older handwriting in my genealogy activities.

    The atlas of battle scenes looks fun. But am I the only one who looked at the pic and started humming “He shit the bed at the Battle of Monmouth.”


    1. I’ve found a John Sherman Moulton who was a lawyer in Manhattan and dropped dead of a heart attack on a subway platform in 1919. His wife was from the Philadelphia area. Not sure why he’d have these Baltimore books, though….


  2. I think it’s John Mowton, Esq. of Baltimore. Sec’y of Baltimore Glass Works in 1833 and secretary of the Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts in 1830s. Possibly also affiliated with the B&O Railroad.


  3. That is a pretty good map of the Battle of Monmouth, but I do wonder how accurate it is. It has the first Clinton and Lee positions as being several blocks East of the Monmouth Court House. I have never seen those positions on a map in that specific a location, although it probably is consistent with the prevailing historical view. Most of the battle was fought a mile or so West of the Monmouth Court House; I take no issue with that depiction, nor with the depiction of Clinton’s retreat along what is now Dutch Lane Rd., which is sort of what I had surmised years ago but also had never seen depicted on a map. Historical maps of Monmouth County are fun to look at because many of the roads date to the revolutionary period, and exist in roughly the same form today.


  4. Laura wrote, “I also have six volumes of a series of books from 1912 with tons of photographs from the Civil War. I haven’t figured out a price yet.”

    I’m thinking, a lot.

    People who are into military history go nuts over this stuff.

    Frivolous thought: it suddenly occurs to me that there’s a relationship between men’s Civil War hair and COVID hair.


  5. Here’s another one of those articles that makes people want to sharpen up their guillotines: “Turning a Second Home Into a Primary Home: Those who are lucky enough to have a weekend house have discovered that living there full-time can require some adjustment.”

    To be fair, you could plunk that house just about anywhere else in the less expensive parts of the country and it would be a “before.” However, under summer pandemic circumstance, a big house (even if kind of dated) with a big deck and a big yard and an in-ground pool look pretty darn good.


    1. I had the same reaction. Mind you, outside of New York City, not an insignificant number of married couple families have houses as comfortable to weather the pandemic at home. Well, most people probably don’t have pools, but in the warmer sections of the country? And the guy who is building the bed and desk for his kid? He’s not relying on other people’s labor to support his lifestyle.


    2. We have two sets of friends who have decamped to vacation homes. One set left when it felt like we were the epicenter. And, they do have less density there and access to close by nature (which we do here, as well, but, with more people). They also get to skip the discussion with kids trying to do things with friends.

      And I do think a vacation home wouldn’t be set up to live in, though, for some, that is part of the point. I am writing this email at my desk, with a two monitor set up (and an extra computer). I can’t imagine taking it with me, but I’m really committed to the setup. I’d have to take it if I were going to be somewhere for a month.


  6. Also saw an article of young adults staying with their parents which showed a kid sitting next to his parents pool and saying that he’d decided to treat himself how to drum during the pandemic.


    1. bj said, “Also saw an article of young adults staying with their parents which showed a kid sitting next to his parents pool and saying that he’d decided to treat himself how to drum during the pandemic.”


      The most anti-social thing I’ve had to deal with during the pandemic is that it turns out that a couple members of my household really enjoy canned fish for lunch. Oh, yeah, and our youngest had to be encouraged not to loudly bounce an exercise ball on the floor.

      In other pandemic news, Hometown U. is offering people the chance to switch their courses to 100% online.


  7. Hometown U also says:

    –Students can cancel their housing contract with no penalty.
    –Freshmen are expected back on campus for the spring term.
    –Bills and financial aid may be adjusted to reflect changes in housing, parking and meal plan expenses.

    We’re holding out for a mostly in-person schedule for our college freshman for now, but things may change.


  8. Kiddo’s school has “invited” them back for fall, in singles, with a quarantiny period, and covid testing and the ability to select a friend “pod” of three who will live near them. They plan to have some in person classes but everything will also be online (and students could choose remote instruction and not come to campus). The plan relies heavily on the cooperation of the students which the school argues is their brand, that the students will be given freedom. Kiddo has some trepidation but plans to go back. Freshman are supposed to come back in spring (and, they are hoping to have the entire campus there then).

    I have some trepidation but am relying on the idea that it will be a shared experience even if it is not a good one.


    1. bj said, “it will be a shared experience even if it is not a good one.”


      Another development: Hometown U. has just announced it will be testing faculty, staff and students before classes start. I’m hoping they’ll be doing it a number of times.

      The younger kids’ school has announced an extremely complex hygiene and safety program: temperature checks for all kids at the door, spot checks during the day, foot pulls for restroom doors (yay!), outdoor tents for lunch (yay!), pods for younger kids most of the day, assemblies streamed into classrooms, etc., etc.

      Local county conditions were one of the worst in TX a few weeks ago (we’re not big, but are a stop between major destinations). In our county, positivity has been bumping around 20% for the past month. That’s the bad news. The good news is that (if I’m reading this correctly) case counts peaked before 4th of July and new cases have been flat/trending substantially down for over 3 weeks. The hospital does not seem to be overwhelmed (based on the ICU occupancy and total patient count).

      But then the college kids come back in a few weeks…

      It’s also really hard to get “normal” cleaning supplies again.


  9. I haven’t read this yet, but it looks really important:


    “To some American companies and Florida men, COVID-19 is apparently a war that will be won through antimicrobial blasting, to ensure that pathogens are banished from every square inch of America’s surface area. But what if this is all just a huge waste of time?

    “In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines to clarify that while COVID-19 spreads easily among speakers and sneezers in close encounters, touching a surface “isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads.” Other scientists have reached a more forceful conclusion. “Surface transmission of COVID-19 is not justified at all by the science,” Emanuel Goldman, a microbiology professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told me. He also emphasized the primacy of airborne person-to-person transmission.”

    This has a lot of implications for re-openings.


    1. Yes, I’ve been thinking this for a while, that we are over emphasizing the cleaning of surfaces because it is a measure that can be applied personally, while ventilation is not under our control.

      That doesn’t mean that surfaces don’t have to be cleaned, but, say–the cleaning of the plexiglass screen between the cashier and the customer between every customer — which I saw at a retail store, might actually be counter productive, say, if it brings the cashier in closer proximity to the customer.

      And, plexiglass prevents the customer from coughing on the cashier, but it doesn’t prevent the airborne virus.

      So what can you do with an airborne virus 1) isolation of everyone 2) isolation of those transmitting the virus, which requires rapid and repeated testing of individuals 3) masks, and maybe medical grade masks 4) vaccines, actually deployed. We seem insufficiently close to any of those goals.


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