Monday, September 13, 2010

Antiquarian Books & Love

The love of books and the love of poetry begin at an early age. My mom and dad always had lots of books around the house---everything from dictionaries to novels to poetry to the classics. There was never a shortage of things to read. In their spare time they would read, read, read.

Over the years I, too developed a love of reading. For me, my favorites are history/biography and poetry.

About 15 years ago, my love of books consumed me and I became a familiar figure around the country at antiquarian book fairs. These fairs are where collectors buy and sell old books of every kind. My passion was---and still is---old poetry books in good condition.

Some of my favorites in my collection are pictured here. The two sets pictured are a sixteen volume original author's set by the great American poet, James Whitcomb Riley and a five volume original set by my personal favorite poet, Madison Cawein of Kentucky.

Riley's set was originally owned by the mother of Eugene Field. The Cawein set is a rare collection of his best works.

The next picture shows first edition volumes by the black American dialect poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar with photograhic illustrations of early American black life; and the other volume is a Riley original edition with wonderful woodcut illustrations. Let's just say they don't make 'em like that any more.

Nevah Min', Miss Lucy
Paul Laurence Dunbar

Seen you down at chu'ch las' night,
Nevah min', Miss Lucy
What I mean? Oh, dat's all right,
Nevah min', Miss Lucy.
You was sma't ez sma't could be,
But you couldn't hide f'om me,
Ain't I got two eyes to see!
Nevah min', Miss Lucy.

Guess you thought you's awful keen;
Nevah min', Miss Lucy.
Evahthing you done, I seen;
Nevah min', Miss Lucy.
Seen him tek yo' ahm jes' so,
When he got outside de do'---
Oh, I know dat man's yo' beau!
Nevah min', Miss Lucy.

Say now, honey, wha'd he say?---
Nevah Min', Miss Lucy!
Keep yo' secrets---dat's yo' way---
Nevah min', Miss Lucy.
Won't tell me an' I'm yo pal---
I'm gwine tell his othah gal,---
Know huh, too, huh name is Sal;
Nevah min', Miss Lucy!

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