Connect The Blogs: Hobbit Sighting in Rural Virginia


Dodgson at first did not think it worth publishing his tale of Wonderland and Professor Tolkien–but not his publishers–still remains to be convinced that anyone will want to read his most delightful history of a Hobbit’s journey.

The above passage is taken from the back flap of a 1937, 1st edition of JRR Tolkien’s, The Hobbit. Come to find out, the jacket and illustrations are all Tolkien’s, too; the book is far from mint condition, yet currently listed on Ebay for $36,000!

If the Professor’s not yet convinced, Debra from The Arkenstone and My Story Blog sure is. She is a Tolkien fan extraordinaire. Now, I’ve only read The Hobbit, and that was at the  Dawn of Færie, so it’s been awhile, but The Arkenstone is not all Tolkien. It also gives a glimpse into life in rural Virgina, a first-time grandmother *yay*, a whole lot of kindness, and just the right amount of humor in the writing.

Oh, did I tell ya she was a writer, too? The blog post that made the vintage connection for me was Have You Read This Story?, a cheeky summary of a vintage piece published 58 yrs prior. I couldn’t figure it out, buy maybe you can. And if you are a fan fiction writer, you’re invited to share “short stories and tall tales” on My Story Blog.

So how many of you out there are now searching your bookshelves for a first edition Tolkien? 😉

Posted in Authors, Connect the Blogs, Vintage Classics | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Medieval Costume Needs Good Girdle Book

girdlebookThinking medieval this Halloween? If you want to dress the part of a monk, judge or noble from the Middle Ages, and be authentic, then you must put your girdle on; that is, a girdle book, from the less widely known, obscure piece of vintage book history that, when worn, will make your costume the buzz of the party. Well, maybe not the buzz, but a likely conversation starter, at least.

Think ancient iPad; these small portable books were made for convenience, travel, and were more often symbols of faith and one’s status in society. A book, yes, but one that was specially constructed to attach to a belt (girdle), or slung over the shoulder or across the arm, with a covering made to protect it from the elements and provide a level of security.

The book’s cover, usually made of pliable animal skin, was extended at the bottom’s edge, tapered, and the end tied into a good-sized knot, or a hook was attached. Secured to the belt, the book hung upside down which made it easy to flip up into the right reading position when needed. Ingenious design at the time.

I’ll leave you with links at the end of this post for instructions on how to put together one of these rare gems. Just don’t zip-scroll through my amazing brief survey of the role played by the girdle book, just to get to the link, or I’ll have to go all medieval on your….well, you know.

Held at Yale University

Held at Yale University

Say your prayers. As we know, faith played a crucial role in the Middle Ages, sometimes referred to as the Age of Faith. Times were tough for most — “nasty, brutal  and short,” to borrow from Hobbs. The rules of social behavior were spelled out through every religious faith, with the ultimate promise of eternal bliss or damnation in the here-after.

Those rules, in the form of stories and prayers, had already been scribed in books and scrolls for centuries, in works such as the Bible, Torah and the Koran. They were a major ingredient in the glue that held societies together. Whether peasant or king, I can only imagine a life of fear not knowing the science behind a solar eclipse, drought, or diseases like the Plague. In medieval Europe, the Bible, by way of the Church and its clergy, held the answers.

girdlebookstjamesNo monkeying around. At that time, monks, nuns, priests and other church officials prayed often and at certain times of the day. The girdle book, in this case, was made as a reduced-sized prayer book. For the monk who worked in the fields, the book was tucked through his belt and hung, leaving his hands free for work, the prayer book protected and ready when needed. Some monks and other clergy traveled for missionary work and pilgrimages. Having the prayer book attached with other travel necessities along the belt was a convenience, as well as an outward symbol of one’s faith.

At left, is a close up of  St. James on pilgrimage prominently wearing a girdle book, from “The Last Judgement” by Hieronymus Bosch, 1482. The significance of displaying ones faith in this time period is evidenced in the hundreds of paintings and sculptures where girdle books appear.


The Law of Jutland. Denmark c. 1490.

Here comes the judge. The other major ingredient holding back society from chaos was law, both civil and criminal. As you may be aware, the earliest of judges traveled great distances to cover their jurisdictions. A judge brought the legal authority with him and held “court” in the towns and villages on his route (or, circuit). Carrying a regular-sized legal book filled with cases and codes was too daunting. They, too, put the smaller, lighter girdle book to use.

Two of the remaining girdle books hold philosophy texts. The most famous is of Boethius’ Consolations of Philosophy, held at Yale.

bookofhoursBedazzle! Of course, those that didn’t have to travel light, wanted a piece of the papal action. Religion meets high fashion. Well-to-do, God-fearing Christians traveled with their girdle books. Only, these were also colorful works of art.

Every book, manuscript or scroll up until the invention of the printing press in the 1500s was painstakingly handwritten. In fact, that was the work of many monks, to copy and scribe religious texts on parchment. Nobility had the means to hire artists to create private copies of illuminated Bibles and prayer books. It was a certain type of devotional book, a Book of Hours, a much smaller book–deck of cards size and even miniatures–that was sometimes bound as a girdle book. A Book of Hours was a very popular medieval text with nuns, as well as, among nobles and wealthy laypersons, that contained prayers, calendars and zodiacs.

girdlebook2Not to miss out on the opportunity to exhibit their religious devotion, literacy and place in society, girdle books for nobility were also blinged out with brass fittings and iron-clad corners, gold and jewels. The photo below, from the British Museum, shows the Rolls Royce of royal girdle books. This was the time of feudalism. Of great wealth and greater poverty. Less than ten percent of the people could read. Hanging a book from one’s belt, for some, reeked power and status.


Enameled gold binding. London, England, AD 1540-45

Time marches on. So far, only — and, remarkably — 23 original girdle books are known to have survived six to eight centuries. Interest in them has grown over the last decade or so with scholars and book binders. Girdle books were here a relatively short span of time in book evolution years, but they served crucial cultural, social and, in some ways, political roles.

As promised, here are two links that show how to put together one of these Gothic books. Amaze your friends and family this year with a medieval girdle book straight from the days of Robin Hood!

**This gives a pattern for the material to cover the book. She embroiders it, but I would bling it out!

**This one seems simpler, like covering your books from school, she explains. It involves sewing, but I’ll wager the fabric could be glued onto the book covers.

I’ve only scratched the surface. If you want to find out more, tap these wonderful resources:

The Medieval Girdle Book: A Format for Easy Access. Great research presentation by Margit Smith.

The Medieval Girdle Book Project

Posted in Book Binding, Rare Vintage Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Peek Into the Minds of Classic Authors


Henry Miller, 1946

I’ve been stuck in a post. While I air-out my brain and regroup, I share Emily Temple’s fascinating compilation; a peek into the minds of famous authors. What were they thinking?

I’ve appropriately chosen Henry Miller’s, Remember to Remember. Do you have a favorite? Better yet, what would yours look like?

From Emily Temple at Flavorwire: The Fascinating Self-Portraits of 20 Famous Authors

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6 Super Cool Bookshelf Ideas

Click  pic for source

Now that’s handy! Click pic for source

You may know my motto about books: don’t throw them out! OK, so now what? You have books laying about, in piles, making dust bunnies, or soldiered up in line formation in your boring IKEA bookshelf. I’ve got news for you…shh…your books are bored too.

Spice it up! Give them some new digs. Show your friends your not just an intellect; you have an artistic side, too.  Here are some super cool bookshelf ideas that I’ve come across. They look to me like very doable DIY projects. Use your imagination!

The hands are a hoot. Maybe use this as a themed bookshelf: work gloves holding up building-related books. How about garden gloves? I’m actually thinking of doing a shelf like this in my kitchen with cook books and oven mitts. Kitschy?

Corner bookshelf made with piping. Click pic for source.

Corner bookshelf made with piping. Click pic for source.

I love the idea of vintage books displayed in an industrial-like setting with this piping work, especially against the distressed brick background. Or mix old volumes with new for the ultimate eclectic urban meets chic look.

The ax-man cometh, below. This bookshelf is a bit of an illusion. First, the shelves appear to have graduated widths and I don’t believe the weight is completely supported by the axes. The shelves would have to be fastened to the wall separately and the handles attached for effect. And quite an effect it is! Change it up: I’m seeing a sports theme with bats; or hockey, lacrosse or pool sticks. For the kids or make it retro!


Where’s the fire! Click pic for source.

The tree of knowledge.

Tree of Knowledge. No source available

The tree of knowledge. This may be my favorite, although I’m not sure how easy this project would be compared to the others. No search turned up a source, therefore, no how-to! But isn’t it gorgeous? Great for a child’s room as well as for adults. My dream here is a tree-shaped bookshelf that would cover an entire wall. Now, that would be super cool.

Flower power, below.  Wow. What a statement. The process seams self-explanatory. Grab some wooden boxes, attach them to the wall in a super cool flower design and show off your favorite books in style!


A book by any other name… No source

Finally, below, I leave you with a super easy DIY bookshelf project with simple pictorial instructions. Float your novels and poetry tomes for eye-catching “shelf-less” bookshelves. Now, get busy. Your books will love you for it!


Happy Reading 🙂

Posted in Home Decor | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Connect the Blogs: Indonesia’s Orange Rose

roseorangeOne of the great advantages to blogging is the chance to connect with people from all over the world. Some from far-away lands and cultures that I can only dream to lay feet upon. One such blogger is Yuna in her Little Orange World, a young women who lives in Indonesia; loves books, challenges, adventures, oh…and, the color orange! Today, I’m sharing Yuna’s post…

My Childhood Bookshelves

Yuna takes a look at the vintage books she’s treasured as a child. I thoroughly enjoyed the short reviews and a peek into the cultural and social aspects of a young Indonesian girl and what reading has meant to her.

So I asked her: why orange? Paraphrasing, she writes that yellow is cheerful and bright and red is strong and brave; orange is the perfect muted mix of the two. Yuna is all that!

Posted in Connect the Blogs, Vintage Children's Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Book Crossing with Vintage Books

Book Crossing Label

Book Crossing Label

Ever feel like Rumpelstiltskin? Asleep at the wheel of life for a very long time? Well, that describes my last decade and probably why I, a book fanatic, hadn’t heard of Book Crossing until the other day. Intrigue, sharing, mystery, connections, saving books *yay* — I’ve been missing out!

Developed in 2001, Book Crossing, considered the World’s Library, is a unique way to share/shed your unwanted books. On the flip side, it’s also a way to acquire free books and maybe connect with fellow book lovers! Sure, donating and borrowing books is not a new concept; but, Book Crossing allows you to follow, or track, the “life” of a book. I absolutely love that idea. One of the great wonders I find behind vintage books is the thought of the hands and homes through which those books have traveled. Social media at its tangible core.

You can find the nitty-gritty about the process at Book Crossing. I’ve signed up and now I just have to choose my first vintage book to release in the wild, as they say at BC; log in the book to receive a unique ID number; attach one of their downloadable labels (or write up my own on paper); and, choose a place to leave it for the next lucky recipient. I’ll post when the deed is done and updates on the book’s adventures.

Has anyone experienced Book Crossing? Thoughts on this concept?


To my loyal followers: I’m awakened, refreshed, healthy and looking forward to posting and visiting your blogs again! I will be privately contacting some of you shortly ~ Colleen ~

Posted in Books are Social | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Dragon’s Loyalty Award: What’s the Real Meaning?

dragonsloyaltyawardOnce Upon a Time…there was a fair but middle-aged maiden and this is her quest for the meaning of the great Dragon’s Loyalty Award:

I haven’t been posting in the magical world, Blogosphere, a month yet and I’ve already come upon some wonderfully interesting people. Wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in my blabberings about old books; but then, low-and-behold (yes, that’s how I talk and it fits with my theme here) that square white thingy in the corner of my screen had changed color!

The Vintage Book Fairy’s first visitor! It was a comment, sent from a raven-haired young lady in a far, far away land known as Little Orange World; YunitaGena from Indonesia — or, Yuna, to her bloggie friends:

wow, quite classy taste. nice :)

Sweet, right?

I learned more of Yuna, a bubbly young woman–who digs the color orange and taking excursions–trying to make it in her country, much like the young women in the States, with a grasp of English I admire and enjoy. She was recently granted the Dragon’s Loyalty Award and passed the honor along to me (and others). Thank you, Yuna!!!

I was extremely grateful for the kind gesture, but, I was also perplexed. Loyalty? For what, to whom? And, why a dragon? Yuna did not know either, so I decided to follow the trail of past recipients to look for the origin and meaning.

The Dragon’s Loyalty Award is a fairly new one to show up on WordPress; that’s fine, but the meaning is a bit uncertain, in my humble new-comer opinion. This is what my quest uncovered; you decide:

Let’s begin with Kindredspirit23 (March 8, 2013)

As for the wonderful pic of the “Dragon Loyalty Award” that needs some explaining.  I enjoy starting my posts with a pic.  I looked up awards on Google and enjoyed this one.  So, I just wanted to clarify that I really didn’t mean for it to become a new award!  However, let me give it fair credit as the pick came from:  Parajunkee  .  Now, if it is legal and all to  continue passing the picture, I love it.  I would ask that you embed or give the credit mentioned above.  There, I think we have covered the basis.

*credit to Parajunkee, check* But, was this the originator? No. It was passed on from Just Random Stuff –who has not posted since 2010–and I could not find any reference to the Dragon’s Loyalty Award. Alas, the hunt for the award’s originator will have to be filed as a cold case for now. However, I did find reference to its original meaning on Parajunkee’s blog, which interestingly is on Blogspot, not WordPress: (September 2009)

The Dragon’s Loyalty Award is an award for the loyal fan/commenter, whether the recipient is a fellow blogger or just a someone who follows and comments regularly.

Got it; loyal follower and/or commenter. Makes sense to me. You with me so far?

Now back to Scott at Kindredspirit23. He has an awesome blog and lots of fans; he was given two awards around the same time, so he decided to combine them in one post and used the dragon pic because…it was just a cool pic.  As mentioned, he did not intend for it to become a new award, but it took flight anyway — without its original meaning of Loyalty.

Instead, under new WordPress usage, the Dragon’s Loyalty Award was morphed from the combination of these two fine WP awards:

So, at the end of my quest, that’s what we’re left with: one award with two meanings (huh, like the Constitution). Regardless, the WP Kingdom Rules that should be followed are the same:

  1. Display the Award Certificate on your website 🙂

  2. Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented your award 🙂

  3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers (I won’t hit fifteen right away)

  4. Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked them in the post 🙂

  5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself. 🙂

I have decided to honor the original intent of the Dragon’s Loyalty Award for two reasons: 1) I have not been around long enough to deserve the combined award; and, 2) on the same day, I was also given a second award(!) that I will address in a separate post.

Seven (loyal) things about me!

1. I am a tea-aholic; introduced to me–many moons ago–by my grandmother over a game of Crazy Eights. Usually hot in the winter, iced in the summer – all day long!

2. Love the game of baseball. Unless the Yankees are playing, I will root for the underdog – even the Red Sox (shh, don’t tell my boys!).

3. I have voted in every election since I was eligible.

4. Family first, everything else follows.

5. I hope I show as much loyalty as does my Springer Spaniel.

6. I prefer my PC (although I’ve finally graduated to a laptop), my telephone (that’s a land-line, to you youngsters), and I still use AOL.

7. Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies will always remain my favorite, but I will no longer eat them.

And…here are my choices of loyal subjects, er blogs, (so far) for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award. While I am including those bloggers that have been with me from the beginning of this wonderful adventure and/or those that have been kind enough to follow, comment and reblog  – you, dear recipient, may treat this as you wish.  Thank you, again Yuna – Colleen 🙂

~ The End ~


Posted in Awards | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments

DP Judgment Day | Cover Matters: Charlotte’s $155,000 Web

WP Daily Prompt: If you were to judge your favorite book by its cover, would you still read it?


Source: Aleph-Bet Books, Inc – ABAA; Inventory #35284

If the book is one of my absolute all-time favorites–like, Charlotte’s Web–I would read it even if the cover was doused in the ex-husband’s Brut.

On the other hand, if the cover did not grab my interest initially, I may have left it on the shelf, possibly missing a personal-growth experience; Charlotte’s Web helped shape my views and taught me much about life.

Here are two 1952 original hard copies, one with the dust jacket and one with the jacket removed. Wilbur and friends looking up at Charlotte is the book and cover I fell in love with.


Source: Rare Books Cellar; Inventory #21636;

Now, without the colorful dust jacket depicting a young girl, curiosity piqued and hugging her piglet, the book looks quite drab. I would say, even a little creepy–to a twelve-year-old girl, anyway–with only the Halloween-ish cobweb and the dangling spider! *sorry Charlotte*

Judging books by their covers brings up another very important point. Most of us can name a book’s author, but we don’t often say, or may not even know, who is the book’s cover artist or illustrator.

In the case of Charlotte’s Web, the artist that created that well-known cover scene and related illustrations is Garth Williams. E.B. White brought the heart-tugging tale to life through prose; Williams made it artistically visual. It’s the cover that brings the immediate emotional connection. And the good ones can fetch a pretty price tag. The original Charlotte’s Web cover art, alone, sold at auction for $155,350, over five times the starting bid.

Barry Sandoval of Heritage Auctions:

“For it to break $150,000 is breathtaking. It just shows how universally beloved this book and this art really are,” said Sandoval.

Posted in Vintage Book Covers, Vintage Children's Books, Vintage Illustrations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

For Mom and Son, the Same Birthday is Fun!

Original 1954 ed. -- First Dr, Seuss book in full color.Source:

Original 1954 ed. — For more information on Dr. Seuss collectables, see “First Editions of Dr. Seuss Books: A Guide to Identification” (2002, Helen and Marc Younger, Dan Hirsch)

For me and Kyle – and all of you!

From one of the great poets, Happy Birthday To You is a celebration of YOU – not only on your day of birth, but everyday, in every way. And on those days when you’re just not feeling it? Pull this out and read it ALOUD! It will remind you of how special you really are.

Happy Birthday To You!

“If we didn’t have birthdays,

you wouldn’t be you.

If you’d never been born,

well then what would you do?

If you’d never been born,

well then what would you be?

You might be a fish!

Or a toad in a tree!

You might be a doorknob!

Or three baked potatoes!

You might be a bag full of

hard green tomatoes.”

“Or worse than all that…Why,

you might be a WASN’T!

A Wasn’t has no fun at all.

No, he doesn’t.

A Wasn’t just isn’t.

He just isn’t present.

But you…You ARE YOU!

And, now isn’t that pleasant!”

“Today you are you!

That is truer than true!

There is no one alive…

…who is you-er than you!

Shout loud, “I am lucky

to be what I am!

Thank goodness I’m not

just a clam or a ham

Or a dusty old jar of

sour gooseberry jam!

I am what I am! That’s a

great thing to be!

If I say so myself,


~ Dr. Seuss ~

mandk 004

Posted in Vintage Children's Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

If, only?

This tongue-in-cheek promo really caught my eye,  from a cutting-edge design/publishing company doing some amazing work in the ART of book design.

Fully Booked: Ink on Paper | Gestalten | Fully Booked: Ink on Paper.

Posted in Book Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments