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.

Lipsyy Lost & Found Vintage Book Shop Update

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It’s been a really lonnnnnnnng time since I last did a shop update! And to be honest, that’s because not a lot has been going on. I haven’t sold any books in the last few months, but now I’ve added more stock I hope it picks up.

Click on the book titles to view in store.

Added to the shelves (on sale now!)

Christine (1984) & Night Shift (1987) – Stephen King
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I love these retro paperbacks. If I had the space I’d keep them and try to collect them all, but I don’t! Night Shift is King’s first short story collection which includes The Children of the Corn and the story which was adapted into the movie Cat’s Eye. Both of these books have creased spines but I think it adds to the retro feel. They would look awesome on any bookshelf!

The Running Man (1989) – Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman)
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The original dystopia? If you haven’t read this book or seen the movie adaptation you might not realise how much it has in common with The Hunger Games – and if you’re a fan then you MUST read it. So, so good. This movie tie-in paperback is in great condition and I love how 80s it looks.

The Shorter Poems of William Wordsworth (1927)
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This is my Book of the Month! It is so stunning. I am completely in love with the old Everyman’s Library collection with their beautiful endpapers. Every book in the earlycollection has these, and along with the gold gilt text…just LOVE. I’ll be really surprised if this doesn’t get snapped up quickly (but I’m secretly hoping that it doesn’t so I can keep it)!

The Anatomy of Melancholy, Volume 1 (first edition) by Richard Burton (1932)
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Another of the Everyman’s Library collection and just as stunning. I wasn’t sure how much to sell this for, seeing as it’s a first edition, but I don’t want to be greedy – I just want them to go to a good home and get a bit of pocket money in return – LOL. So this could be the deal of a century…who knows? 😉

About the Shop

I opened the shop because I love nothing more than scouring second-hand bookshops, markets and car-boot sales for vintage books. I love the way they look, the way they smell and the way you can imagine the history of them.

I can’t however keep buying books indefinitely. I have limited space, and limited funds, and therefore I opened this shop in order to generate a bit of a return in order to carry on doing what I love – buying books! And the way I look at it, if they don’t sell I get to keep them – DOUBLE WIN!

Exciting News

I have decided to widen the range of things I sell on Etsy as well. At Christmas, when I was out of work, instead of buying presents I made each member of my family Christmas hampers, and they went down a storm. I am now back in work (and I love my job soooooo much), but having taken a large pay cut I find myself struggling for money, so I thought why not try to make some extra spends by selling handmade gifts!?

It might all go terribly wrong, but I’m currently working on a range of handmade candles using all recycled materials, and other handmade gifts to sell. I’m hoping to add these to my shop in the coming months, and especially in the lead-up to Christmas.

So if you want to help a girl out, keep checking back. xxx

Lipsyy Lost & Found Vintage Book Shop Update

As promised, I’m dedicating some posts to all the goings on in my Etsy vintage book shop. Because we all love vintage books, right!?

I’ve pretty much neglected my Esty shop for two months and didn’t add any stock or promote it in any way (who’s got time for that when there’s reading to be done), but I didn’t stop buying vintage books, of course! So when two of my items sold, it gave me a kick up the bum to get some more added this week.

I still have so many books to clean up, photograph and add, but I’m getting there slowly. I think I’ll add another five or so in the next few week and hopefully run a bank holiday sale at the end of May. Watch this space!

Anyway, here’s what’s happened since my last shop post.

[Click on the book titles to view in the shop]

Items Sold:

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Oddly enough, the only two books I actually managed to add in the last two months, were the two that sold, to the same customer. Yay!

Le Petite Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1951 (in French, illustrated).

The Complete Plays of Bernard Shaw, 1937

 

Items Added:

The Letters of Junius, 1890

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This book just screams antique. It’s got the gold gilt lettering and ragged pages…and let’s not even get started on the smell!

I don’t know much about this book, other than what I read on Wiki (“a collection of private and open letters from an anonymous polemicist Junius, as well as other letters in-reply from people to whom Junius had written between 1769 and 1772”) so I’m hoping it will tickle someone’s fancy.

 

The Painting of L.S Lowry by Mervyn Levy, 1979

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This is a lovely collection of Lowry’s oil and watercolour paintings.

Lowry was an English artist born in Stretford, Lancashire, famous for painting scenes of life in the industrial districts of North West England during the mid-20th century.

I’m sure someone will snap this up soon, it’s in great condition.

 

My Life by Debbie Reynolds, 1989

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I’m not sure if this will be popular, but I love the pure 80s cover! I’m hoping with the new Star Wars film being a hot topic atm that people will be interested in the life of Carrie Fisher’s mum, no?

 

Most Popular:

Best Loved Books – Reader’s Digest, 1980

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This book has had the most views and favourites over the last few months, but has yet to sell. C’mon people, it’s four books in one!

 

If you have an Etsy store, link me and I’ll follow you 🙂

A Vestry, Edgar Allan Poe, and a Mischievous Crow…

Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory

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Title: Wakening the Crow
Author: Stephen Gregory
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 256 pages
Publication Details: November 11th 2014 by Solaris
Genre(s): Horror; Gothic
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads
Purchase

With the looming shadow of Edgar Allan Poe falling over one family, Gregory takes the reader into a world of uncertainty and fear.

Oliver Gooch comes across a tooth, in a velvet box, with a handwritten note from 1888 to say it’s a tooth from the boy Edgar Allan Poe. He displays it in his new bookshop, and names the store Poe’s Tooth Books.

Oliver took the money from his small daughter Chloe’s accident insurance and bought a converted church to live in with his altered child and wife. Rosie hopes Chloe will came back to herself but Oliver is secretly relieved to have this new easy-to-manage child, and holds at bay the guilt that the accident was a result of his negligence. On a freezing night he and Chloe come across the crow, a raggedy skeletal wretch of a bird, and it refuses to leave. It infiltrates their lives, it alters Oliver’s relationship with Rosie, it changes Chloe. It’s a dangerous presence in the firelit, shadowy old vestry, in Poe’s Tooth Books.

Inexorably the family, the tooth, the crow, the church and their story will draw to a terrifying climax.

 Review

Everything about this synopsis intrigued me; the bizarreness of basing a story – and indeed a horror bookshop – on the discovery of Poe’s tooth, the idea that a manky crow can have an impact on the character’s relationships, and the gothic setting. Sounds good right?

Well, I’m pleased to say that it was…for the most part.

Oliver Gooch is a very strange protagonist and narrator. From the start it’s evident that he’s not altogether what you would call a loving father and husband, or even a good, decent person. Honest maybe, but loving, no.

He frequently refers to his daughter as fat, disgusting and petulant, and his wife as not much better, but all of this adds to a growing unease.

Previously a mobile library driver, Oliver is now about to open his own horror bookshop in the church they have recently bought to also live in. The money came out of a tragic accident when Chloe got stung by a wasp in the mobile library, ran out into the road and suffered a head injury which changed her completely.

Now mute and compliant, with a constant sweet smile upon her face, Chloe is a different daughter entirely, and Oliver is relieved. So much so that he fears the day that she might actually recover.

Stephen Gregory does a great job of creating suspense here. The more we are led through this story by Oliver, the more disturbing it gets. He sees himself as becoming the Poe-like character he dreams of; he stops washing;  he drinks constantly, and tries to ‘write’. He seems to think that the more dishevelled he becomes, and the more grim the bookshop appears, the better. But all of this is at the expense of his family.

The only problem I had with this book was that I couldn’t understand Oliver as a character. I almost felt sorry for him at times, but it’s hard to empathise with someone who laughed at their daughter when she got stung by a wasp, resulting in her being brain damaged. I always felt like there was a good person trying to get out of him, but it never came.

I also expected more of a climax to the story, but overall this was a great read for a dark and stormy night, filled with gothic imagery and a overriding sense of unease.

unicorn rating 3

Wakening the Crow is available from November 11th, or to pre-order now at Waterstones