Friday, May 27, 2011

A Used Book's Journey to My Reading Chair

This summer I have decided to only read books by dead women authors.

My friends know I have strange reading tastes.  I don't want to read anything on a best seller list--unless that list was compiled in 1915.

I enjoy searching used book stores and on line for copies of books that are the vintage of the authors who wrote them.  I want the copy of Jane Eyre from the 19th century(and I have an 1840 copy that I found for 5 pounds in England.)  I want to read Flannery O'Connor with a good original 1950s dust jacket.  Heaven would be to find a 1943 copy of The Fountainhead.  Currently I am happily  tucking into a 1963 copy of Edna Ferber's autobiography "A Kind of Magic."

When I received this copy--I cracked it open--and what greeted me?  Not a tender dedication of the book from a long ago giver to a long ago recipient. No--this was a former library copy with huge black letters saying WITHDRAWN.  WITHDRAWN FROM CIRCULATION. Hastings Nebraska Public Library

Strangely--this made me sad.  I am gobbling up Edna Ferber's books--and wondering how my good solid midwestern high school and college education could have overlooked this good solid fabulous midwestern born and bred writer.  I guess we were too busy reading Willa Cather or Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis.  But, WITHDRAWN???  Aren't there good librarians everywhere who know the virtues of Edna-?  And certainly a librarian in the heartland of America--small town Hastings Nebraska??

I have never been on a library board--although My Dear Husbola was on one many years ago.  Who makes decisions for books to be withdrawn from circulation?  Do libraries check the circulation history of a book and the least checked out tomes get retired?  And who is the hatchet man (or woman) who sits at the sturdy wooden library table, with the spongie black ink pad and huge rubber stamp and  opens books and slams down WITHDRAWN?  Is there a PETA organization for books?

I can guess this book's journey to my home.  Someone purchased it as a used book sale at a library, maybe read it, or maybe just sold it to a used book store.  This used book store sells on line--and during my search, I landed on it.

There is a thrill I get pawing through boxes of books at auctions and estate sales.  Our book shelves are filled with used "orphans" that have been much loved and I love them still.

By the way-Edna Ferber led a fascinating life-"A Kind of Magic" is a delightful snapshot of a great American writer.  Ask to borrow my copy--and the WITHDRAWN treasure can continue its journey.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wild Wonderful Elkhorn Antique Flea Market

By Friday night we were packed to the gills in the Old Green Bomb and by Saturday early am we were on the road on the way to Elkhorn Antique Flea Market.  Forecasters said the weather both Saturday and Sunday would be awful and they proved right.

We set up in a new space for us--in the North Hall.  We loaded a variety of great quirky garden and home things--and actually bought well on our way up to Elkhorn (I love it when we can do that!) 

It was windy and rainy and windy and rainy again for all of set up.  Hearty outside dealers were setting up tents and canopies with extra guy wires.  We did our usual inventory "drop" and I left Dear Husbola to set up the booth and I headed out shopping.  Outside dealers were reporting strong sales and I found some treasures.  Husbola called  to ask me to come back to the booth as he was having many sales and needed help.  Now THAT is what I like to hear. And the only reason I would stop shopping!

I am no judge of numbers--but maybe 10 percent of outside dealers had set up by the time we left for dinner at 5pm-ish.  It is MIGHTY rough for those folks to have collected good stuff all winter and be eager as all get out to sell--and then not want it to be ruined in cold wet or blown over and broken.  Heck--there were WHITECAPS on the retention pond outside our motel window!!

Sunday weather was no better.  Sideways rain and wind. The grounds had filled in with more and more outside stands.   The usual story is that outside dealers sell better than inside dealers at a flea market.  There is frequently a perception that all the deals are outside rather than inside.  Not so.  The dreadful weather and lower number of outside dealers drove the people in the buildings by the droves.  We sold like gangbusters.  By 9am our booth was struggling to be attractive anymore--but we did not care.  The shoppers have been chomping at the bit to get to the first Elkhorn--and by the looks of the exit lines and stuffed wagons--treasures were found all over the fairgrounds.

Oh--what all we antiquing crazy people put up with.  We LOVE this stuff--and realize that you can put on extra clothes and have wet feet and numb hands--and still keep selling or hunting for a treasure.  The Elkhorn dealers and shopping crowds are a friendly, interested  and eager group. They smile, shop and EAT.  I saw people in parkas scarfing down roasted corn on the cob and pulled pork sandwiches.  (I had a bad hot dog--but that is another story!) 

May, 2011 Elkhorn is in the books.  It is going to be a great selling spring and summer!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Next Up: Elkhorn Flea Market

I have written before about the event/cult following of the Elkhorn Flea Market at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in southern Wisconsin.  This year, it is May 15--always a Sunday--from 7am-3pm.  It is well worth your time for a visit.

Some of you may remember the glory days of the Sandwich Antiques Market in Sandwich Illinois at the fairgrounds there.   This is the closest we have come to that kind of experience.  You are not gong to find tube socks and jujubes in big plastic tubs at Elkhorn.  But you might find some fresh asparagus and even a few morel mushrooms (check $25 a pound and they go fast) as well.  Two vendors have large displays of annuals and one vendor has great perennials at easy on the pocketbook prices.  But that is all just gilding on the antiques lily.

I am not sure how many dealers they expect--hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.  This is vintage and antiques and vintage junk too.  This will not be Betty Making Do-Dads from Widgets.  This is where YOU buy the widget and you can take it home and make the do-dad.  This is not a craft show.

The market has inside dealers in many buildings and outside dealers.  Several times we have done the show in the past and there have been driving rain showers.  We have been very happy to be inside.  This year--you will find us in the very nice North Hall.  Outside dealers have more room to spread out--and you will find a wide range of goods--including the "just pulled it out of a shed" kind of things.  Don't assume that the only bargains are from the outside dealers.  We have found our greatest treasures hiding inside a building.

I like the fact there are paved paths throughout the fairgrounds.  This allows for easy patron walking, People can bring physically challenged guests, and you do not get that  "I found a treasure but I have mud up to my knees" experience that I think is overrated.  Very overrated.

It is the experience as a dealer that I enjoy.  Fresh air.  New antique hunting season is open.  It is the potstickers and egg rolls at Moy's Chinese restaurant in Elkhorn the night before that Dear Husbola likes best I think.

It's been a very long grueling winter.  A long day of sifting through a crisp fairgrounds, finding a widget for your home or garden, eating a Future Farmer's of America hamburger--ahhhhhhhhh It's time for antiquing, Wisconsin style!!!

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No More Concrete or Cast Iron Please

Dear One  and I spend many good hours wandering around looking for quirky things to sell.  There is nothing that makes a dealer smile more t...