I love to give used books a good home. I try to support my favorite living authors by buying their books, but, well, Charles Dickens probably isn’t worrying about his sales. And my copy of David Copperfield from 1850 is so lovely with its blue boards printed with a gold title plate and glorious swirls. And the fact that James Lees won the book as a prize for abstaining from smoking in 1906 and 1907 makes it even more interesting. It was presented to him by the Drumchapel Board of Hope. Way to go James!
The same goes for my butterfly and daisy strewn copy of Longfellow’s Poems printed in 1883. It was presented to Carlotta Ratts for Christmas in 1886. Now there’s a name I could borrow for a future novel!
Most recently, I have given the Rumford Complete Cookbook a new home. It’s the revised edition, put out in 1936 by the Rumford Baking Powder Co. It has a cover of red Dublin cloth, which is waterproof–or so the Rumford Company claims. It’s full of interesting recipes and tidbits of culinary information. Here are two of my favorites:
“Pork is another of the less wholesome meats. While obtainable during all seasons, it should be eaten only in winter, and then sparingly. Salt pork, bacon and ham are more wholesome than the fresh meat; and bacon fat is considered by physicians to be a more valuable and easily assimilated form of animal fat than any other except butter.”
Yay! At first I thought that was going to be bad news. I just knew pork fat was the way to go. You know, unless there’s butter.
And then, under RECIPES FOR THE SICK comes this gem:
1/2 pound top round of beef
pinch of salt
Broil the meat for about two minutes to “start” the juice, then press all the liquid from it with a meat press or an old-fashioned wooden lemon squeezer. Turn into a warm cup, or colored glass to disguise the color; add salt to taste, and serve. As this will not keep it must be prepared fresh for each serving.
Ummm. Cup of blood, anyone? Serve in a colored glass, indeed! Like castor oil, I think this is one of those treatments awful enough to scare people well.
In this era of e-books I love to flip through the yellowed, slightly musty pages of old books. You know, slow books that have been held in a multitude of hands. Books that tell one story, while leaving others to your imagination.