When I was a freshman at a little liberal arts university in Indiana, I worked in the campus library. There I was given the privilege of rehabilitating antique books housed in the library’s tiny archives. Pulling on white cotton gloves, I dabbed a lanolin-based concoction on the poor old spines, backs and faces of leather-bound books to prevent “red rot” (or deterioration of the leather into a red powder).
Looking back, I guess you could say I was a book masseuse. Mind you, I had no formal training. I have no idea what possessed the librarian to be so trusting. Perhaps no one else wanted to sit in the dim, musky, climate-controlled room swabbing long-forgotten volumes. Or maybe Miss Holcalm could see how much I respected and loved the books. Then again, I was a freshman. She could have told me to go dust the dictionaries page-by-page and I would have done it.
Knowing what you now know about me, you can understand why I was so thrilled when my husband brought home an entire box of antique books from his parent’s house. Dating back to the 1800s, these beauties with their embossed covers and intricate cover art and illustrations, are treasures. Here. Take a peek . . .
Loving children’s books as I do, I was delighted to carefully look through the charming illustrations and think about the little girl who once prized them.
Old books exert a strange fascination for me — their smell, their feel, their history; wondering who might have owned them, how they lived, what they felt. ~ Historical Novelist Lauren Willig