An Adventure in Book Hunting #2: Albatross Books

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As some of you may know I sell antique and vintage books on Etsy. It’s a hobby that allows me to do one of my favourite things – buy old books – without feeling too guilty. It’s not really about making money (although that’s nice too), it’s about the joy of finding beautiful old / rare books, researching their history and giving them a new home. In this new feature I will be sharing some of my finds with you!

Albatross paperbacks – various

Found: Ebay

These caught my eye because of the striking covers and their resemblance to the classic Penguin books, but I’d never heard of Albatross. When I delved into the history of the publishers it all became clear…

  • Christmas Holiday by Somerset Maugham. 1947
  • These Foolish Things by Michael Sadleir. 1937
  • Strange Glory by L.H Myers. 1938

History

Albatross Books was a German publishing house based in Hamburg that produced the first ever modern mass market paperback books. Founded in 1932 by John Holroyd-Reece, Max Christian Wegner and Kurt Enoch, the name was chosen because “Albatross” is the same word in many European languages.

Based on the example of Tauchnitz, a Leipzig publishing firm that had been producing inexpensive and paper-bound English-language reprints for the continental market, Albatross set out to streamline and modernise the paperback format.

The books in the series, also known as the Albatross Continental Library, were produced in a new standardised size (181 x 111 mm), which became known as the Golden Ratio – still used today. They used new sans-serif fonts developed by Stanley Morison among others, and were color-coded by genre, with green for travel, orange for fiction, and so on. The series was so successful that Albatross soon purchased Tauchnitz, giving itself an instant 100-year heritage.

The outbreak of World War II brought the Albatross experiment to a halt, but by then Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Books had adopted many of Albatross’ ideas, including the standard size, the idea of covers using typography and logo but no illustrations, and the use of colour coding by type of content. Lane later hired Kurt Enoch, co-founder of Albatross Books, to manage Penguin’s American branch. (Wiki)

More info here: Publishing History

Inscriptions/Features


Two of the books are signed and dated. One is unreadable but one clearly reads 1938. In These Foolish Things there is an original ‘postcard’ from Albatross books reading:

‘Dear reader,

If I have not yet chosen that special book you want me to publish, would you not care to select it yourself? A free copy is sent of every book published at a reader’s suggestion to whoever proposed it first. On receipt of your card you will be informed if the book in question has been suggested already and if not it will be read at once.

Hoping yours will be the first suggestion, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

The Albatross’

Purchase

I’ve found a few copies of Christmas Holiday in slightly better condition than mine over  on AbeBooks  for around $35, but haven’t had much luck with the others, so hopefully that means they’re pretty rare. I’m selling these three as a set for just £20 as they’re not in the best condition but still readable! I also have a sale on the moment with 1/3 off selected items. 

Do these books mean anything to you? I’d love to hear more about the history of  Albatross.

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Lost & Found: Adventures in Book Hunting #1

icon-lf

As some of you may know I sell antique and vintage books on Etsy. It’s a hobby that allows me to do one of my favourite things – buy old books – without feeling too guilty. It’s not really about making money (although that’s nice too), it’s about the joy of finding beautiful old / rare books, researching their history and giving them a new home. In this new feature I will be sharing some of my finds with you!

The Jewel of Kasr-Ed-Shendi (1973) by Penelope Fletcher

Found: Tiffin School Car Boot Sale, Kingston-Upon-Thames

 

 

Synopsis

Before setting out at the beginning of her first term at boarding school in Scotland, Pat is entrusted by her father with the care of a valuable diamond. Although she knew she would have to face danger, the events of that term were to become more horrifying than she thought possible. It proved to be a time she would never forget, when her character, strengthened by her Girl Guide training, was to be tested to the limit.

Although she had little in common with her room-mate Muriel when they first met, their adventures together revealed sterling qualities of unsuspected depth, and welded a bond of friendship between them. 

History

Girl Guiding has a long and rich history of empowering girls and young women, and this book is a lovely product of that history. Written by Penelope Fletcher and published in 1973, this first edition is a sought-after book for Girl Guide aficionados.

Penelope Fletcher was born in Birkenhead in 1907 and became extremely interested in the Girl Guides during her school days. She joined her School Company and the Blackbird Patrol and later became the Lieutenant in the Girl Guides Y.W.C.A Birkenhead. After her marriage, Fletcher became Captain of the 1st Hollesley Girl Guides until they disbanded in 1938.

The Jewel of Kasr-Ed-Shendi is a Girl Guide School Story full of outdoor adventure and friendship aimed at celebrating the female of the species in line with the true spirit of the Girl Guides.

Inscription

One of the main things I love about old books is finding inscriptions. This one has a lovely inscription which just adds to its rich history as far as I’m concerned. It reads ‘To dear Josie, Lambert & family, with love & best wishes for health, wealth & happiness now & always from auntie Pene. Dec 1973.’

I’ve tried to research this to no avail, but it’s quite a coincidence it’s signed auntie Pene – perhaps the author herself!?

Purchase

I can only find 3 copies of this rare, collectable book online. Sunrise Books are selling one on AbeBooks and Amazon Marketplace for £164.99. There is another copy on Amazon marketplace for £95, and one on Ebay in France for 194.99 Euros.

I’m selling my copy for £75, which you can view in full here

Does this book mean anything to you? I’d love to hear more about the history of this book and Penelope Fletcher. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen #BookReview #FairyTales

snowqueenTitle: The Snow Queen
Author: Hans Christian Andersen
Illustrator: Sanna Annukka
Format: hardback, 92 pages
Publication Details: October 22nd 2015 by Hutchinson (first published 1844)
Genre(s): Fairy Tales
Disclosure? Nope, it was a Christmas gift.

Goodreads // Purchase

Hans Christian Andersen’s magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish-English illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is a unique work of art. 

Sanna Annukka is familiar to many from her collaborations with Marimekko and her artwork for Keane’s album, Under the Iron Sea. For her second book project, she illustrates Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale, The Snow Queen.

Review

This edition of The Snow Queen is absolutely beautiful, complete with Scandinavian style illustrations.

I was always more of a Grimms gal than an Andersen one, but this has made me think that perhaps I’ve been missing out. I didn’t expect Andersen’s fairy tales to be dark and twisted, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that one certainly has an edge to it.

The Snow Queen has had a lot of interest since Frozen was released, being the text that inspired it, but the similarities are relatively small, and the links often tenuous.

The Snow Queen is about the friendship between a young boy and girl, Kay and Gerda. When Kay is infected with icy evil from the shards of shattered magic mirror he changes, becomes mean, and is taken by The Snow Queen. Despite his recent behaviour, Gerda’s love for Kay never falters, and she sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue him meeting a variety of strange characters on the way.

The themes of unconditional love and sacrifice, along with the stunning Scandinavian winter landscape are what clearly inspired Frozen, but don’t expect much more of a connection than that.

I enjoyed this story, but I loved the illustrations more. It’s a lovely book for a gift.

unicorn rating 4

Favourites Friday #2: Alice in Wonderland and why I have so many copies!

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Is it excessive to have four different versions of a book? Usually I’d say yes, but not where Alice in Wonderland concerned. As I’m sure is the same for a lot of people – Alice has been one of favourites practically from birth. I don’t actually remember my parents reading it to me but I’m sure they did. Along with The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice is a book I always come back to and I can’t ever remember a time of not having a copy close by.

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This is my bog-standard copy that I’ve had since Uni. I love it because it is battered and tatty and full of almost illegible notes from various essays I had to write.
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This was just a cheap copy I picked up in my teens which introduced me to some of Carroll’s other works including his plays and essays. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read it front to back…I really should.

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Then there’s my favourite.
It’s not particularly old, 1980, but you don’t see many Through the Looking Glass stand-alones these days. I found this in a charity shop and had to buy it. The eight full-page illustration plates by Tenniel are beautiful in colour.

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Which also has the addition of The Wasp in a Wig which I’d not seen before. Books 009

And this is a 2009 Penguin Classic special edition with canvas boards and various extra notes on the text that my friend Dora gave to me. So pretty!Books 010

I love them all for all different reasons so I can’t bring myself to get rid of any of them. Oh, and I’m pretty sure if I went rummaging in my parents attic I’d be able to find the copy I grew up with. I’d love to see that again. I bet it smells amazing! I’m actually going home next weekend, I’ll try and find it if I get the time.