Sunday, May 07, 2006

listless driftless rummaging

the last 24 hours was a book buying frenzy here in the hills of
wisconsin.  we completely missed the huge 100 mile  long mississippi
river rummage sale extravaganza. hundreds of sales on both wisconsin and minnesota sides of the river. oh well.  i heard about it from a nice old
woman in a tiny town on my way home.  she was having a sale in her
garage and we found a sweet cache of al-anon stuff and some delighful
old disney story books with nice 45's of the stories enclosed.  old
stuff, will mix very welll with my radio show, when i get around to doing it again. the lady talked with us about how people don't read anymore. we noticed that there were as many video cassette tapes of movies as there were books at her sale. we realized that of the 50 or so rummage sales we did hit this weekend, most sales had more video tapes than books. the woman ended up giving us a life size stuffed lime-green alien doll.

huge library sale in la crosse last night.  nowhere near the knock
down drag out kinda scene you find in madison sales.  this one was
polite and well organized.  and not one phuking cell phone or scouting
scanner.  those should be outlawed from library sale in my opinion.
too many people who grab a huge pile of the best titles, and then sit
and type the numbers into their cellphones, and leave with 10 prime
old science books and a huge pile of their discards which the library
volunteers have to reshelf before the morning. or worse, the folks who rummage through books with their ISBN barcode scanner. one woman at the madison sale was very obviously not at all interested or even looking at the titles, just at the price her little scanner brought back. that would be a funny hack, to reset the pricing setup so that the daniel steele paperbacks bring back big numbers and the valuable titles are passed over. but that would be mean.

back to the library books were the best. they had thousands, and unlike bigger library sales, the section was not a rugby match with poor children trying to escape the scrum of their desperate mothers frenzy. in fact, allegra was alone there for a a bit. we found some great kids books, a sweet mary magdalene book, 8 volumes of the shakespeare survey from the 1950's, to fill out my collection. in short a load of great non-fiction. we stayed away from the fiction,as that is not our strong point, and it all looks the same. on the way out i saw a free box of foreign affairs journals from the mid eighties. couldn't pass that up.

rummage sailing on a sunny spring saturday can be a religious experience at best, a bad dream at worst. we had a bit of both. every third sale had a nice title or two. always 10-25 cents. good to stock the shelves with the newer novels that the locals read. the bad dream was having to pee and not having the balls to ask the kind old ladies in their garages to use their wc.
but in the middle of squirming down the block of neighborhood bazaar, i stumbled on a mint 1961 copy of the LIBER USUALIS, edited by the benedictines of solesmes. This is a thick pre vatican II gregorian chant book in latin with rubrics in english. 25 cents for a classic slice of catholica. i think this copy is worth 40-50 bucks and oh do catholics love the pr-vatican II stuff. there is something elegantly romantic about a good mass, done the old school way. as we have a collection of a few thousand odd and old masses from the sheet music collection, this should fit in well.

anyway the church  next to my parents house had a book sale too, a day of bibliomania in the highest midwest sense.

the gem find at the church sale was 70 pristine 'collectible automobile' magazines spanning the years 1984-2002. each one mint in a mylar bag. we are in the process of listing them now, and the cars are amazing. we did some ebay research and found one auction where an 18 page article from one of the ones we bought sold for 217 dollars. wow.
i guess if you spend 100,000 on a nice old car, you don't mind paying a few hundred for an article with the history of the car and some killer photos. we think the collection os worth 400-500. some of the issues routinely sell for 5-10 and some for 50 and up. i think 'rodders' magazine has some higher value, at least older copies, but this bunch will pay for the weekend of acquisitions.

i think my favorite score from a cobwebbed corner of a garage in la crosse was a first edition 1939 book entitled 'the evolution of chiropractic' by a. aug. dye. this is a fascinating history of all aspects of this work. and the kick is it has a pristine dust jacket, and is signed by the author of the ffep. fnord! i just looked it up on abe and there is one copy there for 30.00. and it is a reprint of the 1939 original.
one woman liked my cheerful disposition and out of the blue GAVE me 2 folders full of exquisite prints of scarecrows, 15 in each, some color, some b/w. they were painted by a minnesota artist. lovely gift.

other memorable titles from the day include a first edition 'journeys out of the body', with sweet dj by robert monroe, who went on to found the monroe institute, where all the best Remote Viewers trained. a first 'up from nigger' by dick gregory, a few nice morman titles, some FE thomas mertons for the merton memorial shelf i have been collecting for, and a great copy of an obscure local title called kickapoo sunrise, a resource directory prepared by the kickapoo energy alternative staff. it's from the 70's and was put together by some great local 60's homesteaders. i have taught some of their kids and even grandkids at the waldorphish high school. one of the contributers is our resident bookfriend and cataloger mick,
Mick helps out at the shop sorting and explaining to me who all these obscure british lords and travelers were. he has an encyclopedic mind and has devised a 15 page organizational scheme for the books here. see picture...

on the theatre side, some great african and african american anthologies of plays, a book of gertrude steins operas and plays, and even an ubu by jarry, which we have been conspiring to put on recently with some of the dreamtime village folks.

on the way back into town after 24 hours of filling the back of the pickup
truck with a couple three hundred books and a rocking chair and some
boards for shelves and even a homemade green stuffed alien.  on the way into our town of 700, i see a small rummage sale.
the books were laid out on an old farm trailer, rusty wheels and greying oak boards. 80 years old. old
books on my two favorite subjects, Organic farming and Metaphysics.
quite a stash of rodale stuff, some uncommon titles on both the occult
side and the prestidigitation side of magic, pruning, grafting, card
tricks and odd fellows code books.  and to top it off a pamphlet on
the propagation of the eggplant.  and a lovely first edition of the
flying saucer conspiracy.

life is good.

when we arrived home we found that 20 of our paragon piano concertos had sold on ebay, lots of henselt, hummel, tschaikowski, and some liszt. no one has bought the bukowski, but we did upload some more pictures to excentuate the beat up very good condition.

In the morning is the packing and posting, but hey the post office is right downstairs and steve our postman always has all the latest news, so that is always worth looking forward to.

from the hills of south west wisconsin



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