Friday, November 8, 2013

Unusual Objects Found in Used Books

Being fond of used bookstores, I have browsed many used books. Yet all I have found flipping through their pages have been grease, coffee, or water stains or nondescript scraps of paper that were used for bookmarks. Michael Popek has been far luckier in uncovering forgotten treasures tucked away in used books.
It sure would be nice to find money in an old book.
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Of course, it helps tremendously that he goes through up to 600 used books a day to select books to sell at his family's used bookstore, which he operates. In the process of sorting through hundreds of books, including cookbooks, vintage works of fiction, and children's classics, Popek often comes across items of real interest.
Monopoly money, not so much. But it'd still be a fun find.
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Much of what Popek finds are handwritten recipes and notes; old photographs of families, friends, and sweethearts; postcards; letters; ticket stubs; receipts; advertisements torn or clipped from newspapers and magazines; and pressed leaves and flowers. However, he has also discovered decades-old Valentine cards, award ribbons, maps, money, marriage certificates, invitations, song and poetry lyrics, drawings and sketches, microscope slides, and even 78 RPM records.
Anyone who played Operation as a kid remembers these.
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Popek takes his most interesting finds and displays them on his blog, Forgotten Bookmarks. "I'm a used and rare bookseller," he says in the blog's header. "I buy books from people every day. These are the personal, funny, heartbreaking and weird things I find in those books." Looking through his blog, which he updates frequently, I saw many forgotten items that made me smile (family photos taken at Christmastime), gasp (a book used for target practice, the pellets still lodged in it), or laugh out loud (comic books cleverly tucked inside news magazines).

When asked about his most favorite thing that he's found in a used book, Popek responded, "My favorite item is probably the optometrist bookmark. There's something really corny about it, but it's fun. I've even made it my Twitter avatar, @forgottenbkmrks. Overall, however, I really enjoy the old letters. They give us a glimpse into the past, how people talked and wrote and thought."
My mother had a Mystic Grip Disc, and it totally worked.
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To glimpse the many old letters, photographs, pamphlets, postcards, inscriptions, and much more, go to Michael Popek's Forgotten Bookmarks blog HERE.

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