Antique Vellum Books

Right before the lockdown, around the second week of March, I went to a couple of estate sales and bought up a ton of books without really looking at them; I was very busy, but I really wanted to have a stacks of books to keep me busy in case we were stuck inside for a while. The books were a buck a piece, so there wasn’t much risk. If the book covers were pretty, I bought them. 

In a truly unremarkable mid-century house in a working class suburb lived a guy who had collected movie memorabilia, old 40’s Westerns, and history books. I scooped up about 40 or 50 books without looking at them closely.

Turns out that four of that stack are from 1821 and are printed on vellum paper. Written in Italian, they are history books about America with some amazing maps in the back.

These three volumes of “History of America” by 18th Century Scottish historian William Robertson, translated into Italian. Vellum books, published in 1821-22 in Milan. There are four pull out maps in these three books.

I also have an Italian translation of “History of the Late War Between The United States and Great Britain” by Henry Marie Brackenridge.  Vellum book, published in 1821 in Milan.  Includes detailed map of the United States.


I was one of the last people in that house. I’m sure that everything that didn’t sell went in a dumpster. I hope I didn’t miss other gems in there.