Inquire Within....

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jenna

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I have a question on old books that I am hoping someone may be able to help me out with.

I recently receieve for my birthday, on Monday, an original 1856 copy of a book that I know allot of people have looked at called " Inquire Within or Over 3700 Fact For the People". It is a fantastic little book and for the age in incredble shape. The binder is fantastic, the pages are not brittle, and actually not even yellowing. It has some, what I would call, moisture spots on the edge of the pages, but every page turns without even a crakle in the paper.

My question is, I have heard that arsnic was used to seal print back then in books. Any truth to that? Should I be worried about handeling the pages? And would anyone recommend only handeling the pages with rubber gloves anyways?

My other question would be, how to store it? Can I leave it out in the room or should I put it in something more air tight? It looks to have been out in general, and like I said, has little wear to it, for being so old.

It is a great book, and I wish I had had it when Dawna was looking for an original Pumpkin pie recipie. It's in there. And what's even more funny, is on the page that has recipies for tradtional pudding of all sorts, there is also a remedy for diareah. Way too funny.

Jenna
 

CBar

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Your book sounds like a wonderful gift, Jenna. As for your questions: I've been handling old books (18th- and 19th-century), gloves off, for 25 years and I still feel pretty healthy. What color are the spots? If brown, they are due to "foxing", a normal age-related condition. I'm glad the binding is still in good shape. When you open such a book, don't force it to open flat. Some are so tightly bound that a 90-degree opening is best, but that makes it rather difficult to read. However, you want to preserve the binding.

I would like to know the imprint (publication information--city and publishers--at the foot of the title-page) and copyright (verso of the title-page). The copyright will reveal the district court where the copyright was entered. Also, is there an author named?

I'll look forward to learning more about your book.
 

jenna

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Thanks for the input there Barbara. My mom was worried that since I am pregnant that I shouldn't be touching this book. But boy do I want to dive right into it. The whole title listed on the inside of the front cover is:
Inqurie Within for Anything You Want To Know, or Over Three Thousand Seven Hundred Facts Worth Knowing.

It goes on to say: Particuiariy intened as a book for Family Reference on Subjects connedt with Domestic Economy, and containing the Largest and most Valuable Collection of Useful Information that has ever yet been published.

The date page says: Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by Garrett, Dick and Fitzgerald, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York.

There is no real author listed.

The spotting yes is brown. So I would have to say it best looks like the "foxing" you are talking about.

Do you recommend anything special for storing the book, or is a good dry place the best? And do you know anything of the "arsnic" sealing of the pages? Did they really do that?

Thanks so much, and yes, I shall be sharing from the book. It's amazing what is in this thing!!
Jenna
 
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CBar

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Jenna,

I am wondering where you heard about arsenic being present in old books. I'm embarrassed to say I'm unfamiliar with that possibility. I went to check for information about arsenic in Philip Gaskell's A New Introduction to Bibliography (Oxford, 1972) and found no mention of it under either ink or machine-made paper. Perhaps you could be more specific about what you mean?

Yes, keeping the book clean and dry is probably sufficient. If the air gets too humid, the binding could start to mold (that's true of any hardbound book). Is it bound in cloth?

I am working right now with books from the 1850s and '60s, and it is indeed fascinating to learn about them.
 

jenna

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Barb, Sorry but I had only heard about the arsnic from a friend. Can't say where she heard it from. I know that my uncle deals with books from the Vicitorian Era, and he handles them very carefully, but I have never seen him use gloves at all.

I do know that arsnic was used in the making of wallpaper, in particular the color green. An interesting artical, not anything to do with the C.W. but since we are on the subject of arsnic, I had to share this: http://www.grand-illusions.com/napoleon/napol1.htm It is a most bazaar story, but very interesting.

Here is another artical on the same topic: http://www.victorianweb.org/history/arsenic.html

Jenna
 

jenna

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Oh you asked if it was bound in cloth, I guess you could say it is. It is a hard cover book and if you look at the wear around the edges it looks to be fabric woven around hard board.

Jenna
 
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CBar

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Jenna, your links to arsenic in green wallpaper are quite interesting. Some of the books I'll be examining were printed in Mobile during the CW. Because of paper shortages, they were often sold in wallpaper covers. Normally, the design doesn't show, because two sheets of wallpaper were put together, face to face, so that the book's title could be printed on one of the blank sides. These books are very rare, and I'll be on the lookout for any of them to examine. I guess they should be "handled with kid gloves"! I'm just kidding, but I would certainly wash my hands after handling old books that have been residing in an old bookstore, repository, or attic.
 

jenna

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Thanks Barb for your help on this. I was really afraid that I was going to get sick from handeling the book. But you've really put my mind at ease with that.

And yes, after knowing what happened to Napolean with his wallpaper, I would be on the look out for green colored wallpaper in letters and books from the time. Just as a precaution I would say.

Jenna
 

gary

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Jenna, if the pages aren't yellowing, the paper may be cotton fibre and not woodpulp. Woodpulp has acid which causes it to dry and crack. I have antique books that are older than yours and the pages are still very pliable and not yellowed. As for the spots (foxing), that comes from iron that is present in the paper. When exposed to moisture, the iron oxidizes and rusts and hence the spots. Expect to find it even in cotton fibre paper.

Hints: Wash your hands with hot soapy water before handling. When reading it, support the covers (both ends) by propping it up with Ph neutral sandbags. By doing so, you won't crack the spine. Store it out of direct sunlight. In storing it, lay it flat and preferably in an acid free box. I use to work in a museum and that's what the paper conservators taught us.
 
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ole

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Jenna:

An interest in describing books requires agreement on specific terms. Abebooks.com, aside from book ordering, provides a glossary that's very useful. (There are specified definitions as to what qualifies when described as: as new, very fine, fine, near fine,very good, good, poor and reading copy.)

Hard-bound refers to the boards used in binding. Cloth-bound is the most common kind of hard-bound book and the terms are used interchangeably. If it was leather-bound, you can be sure it would be mentioned.

Soft-bound refers to the lack of boards. Paper-back, self-wraps and a few other types are included in the category.

It makes interesting reading and adds a great deal of understanding when looking for books.
 

jenna

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Ole- it's funny that you bring up that web site, because that is the site that my mom found the copy of the book for me on.

Gary- Thank you so much for the info. It was very very useful. The spotting is more of that yellowing markings. The front and back covers are already to the point that they lay flat when you open the book. But the spine is in really really good shape. The pages turn very well, with no cracking or tearing. But I did not know about the acid free box. That would make sence. Thanks for the tip.

Jenna
 
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