Things from Thing Stores

Eclectic accumulation via thrift store shopping

Archive for the tag “books”

Holographic “Laboratory Atlas of the Pig Embryo”

My absolute favorite area of collecting is holographic books. “Holographic” indicates that the book was handwritten by the author, so the category includes diaries, journals, autograph books, and letters.

These are one-of-a-kind items that thrift stores often just throw away, so ask for the person who sorts book donations and tell them you’re interested. Several local thrift stores save out vintage scrapbooks, diaries, and ephemera for me. If an item is priced under $5, I always buy whatever they’ve saved for me, because I don’t want the staff to have to try to guess what I might want. I have some WWII-era scrapbooks, a handwritten hardbound journal book of recipes from the 1930s, and several filled diaries that I’ve saved from the landfills this way. Most were priced at $2.99 for me. Why so low? Because the thrift store staff also appreciated the item and wanted it to go to someone who would preserve it.

When I first saw A Laboratory Atlas of the Pig Embryo at the flea market several weeks ago, I passed on it. (Champagne tastes, beer budget.) Today the price had come down enough for me to acquire it.

This is a bound lab notebook, printed in 1936 by The Wistar Institute Press. A mimeographed syllabus for a 1942 course is tacked to the title page with circular gummed reinforcements. This was a working course notebook with many preprinted pages, but most of the pages are blank so the student could make drawings.

Like journals and diaries, this is a unique volume, coursework completed by Joseph Schaefer of Minneapolis. This area of collecting not only preserves history, but it also connects us deeply with specific individuals from the past — just as we hope someone may connect with us long after we are gone.


Laboratory Atlas of the Pig Embryo 02 drawingLaboratory Atlas of the Pig Embryo 03 illustrationLaboratory Atlas of the Pig Embryo 01 cover



Purchased at Mojo Flea Market, held at Santa Rosa Vet’s Building, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016

Paid: $15 


Crickets! It’s “The Happy Hollisters” !

When I was a little girl, my sister Lori and I were given a subscription to The Happy Hollisters series about a family where the children solved mysteries. Every three weeks or so, two books would arrive in the mail. Lori would take one and I would take the other. Lori was two years older, and she read much faster than I did, so I would be only halfway through my book when she finished hers – yikes! So she would cajole me into giving up mine for a while so she could burn through it. (Now “Lori Louise,” she still reads like this, by the way!)

If I was too engaged in the story, or felt stubborn, we would start reading my volume “together.” This meant holding the inner pages of the book straight up, as I continued reading, my head tilted to the right, and Lori read starting at the front, her head tilted to the left. Then when she caught up with me, we would switch places. (The book that she had finished first was mine to read at sweet leisure later.) Our home was full of books, and my three sisters and I were always happy to share them with each other.

There were 33 Happy Hollisters books written between 1953 and 1969 by “Jerry West,” a pseudonym for Andrew E. Svenson, who also wrote other children’s books for the Stratemeyer Syndicate, including Tom Swift and Hardy Boys adventures.

Happy Hollisters H-1

The books can be found at used bookstores and thrift stores, often in original dust jackets, or with the cover illustration printed directly onto the front board. The final two volumes, both published in 1969, are the scarcest and thus the most valuable. The Happy Hollisters and the Monster Mystery (#32), sells for $32 and up, while The Happy Hollisters and the Midnight Trolls (#33), partly set in Iceland and with a page in Braille, sells for $50 and up.

Later I avidly read all of the Trixie Belden series, as well as many of  my stepmom’s old Cherry Ames nursing series books. On his Booksleuth page about the Happy Hollisters, Timothy O’Herin includes a touching tribute to his mother.

If you read “series books” as a child, please tell us which ones, and what influence they had on you.

Purchased at the 40/8 Veterans Flea Market, 50¢

Thomas Bros. map books now out-of-print

Thomas Guide 1992

Before GPS technology came into widespread use, real estate agents and delivery truck drivers relied on Thomas Guide map books for detailed street maps. The spiral-bound books were comprehensive and expensive, ranging from $15-$30 and up, depending on the region. But now, due to competition from GPS, Thomas Brothers has stopped printing most of these detailed city/county guides, making “the secondary market” (used bookstores and websites) the only place to get many of them.  And GPS doesn’t work everywhere, you know.
I originally bought this Sonoma County map book for 25¢ at the Santa Rosa Sunday flea market to use in making collages –  but I’ve learned to check values of books before merrily cutting them up, thankfully.
Late last fall I listed this 1992 “Sonoma County” map book for sale online at a competitive $9.99. Just six months later, it sold as the lowest-priced of the used Sonoma County Thomas Guides on, even though it’s more than 20 years old and only in “fair” condition. (Later editions combined Sonoma and Napa counties, or Sonoma and Marin counties.)
So keep an eye out for inexpensive Thomas Guides, even ancient ones in marginal condition, which can have good resale value on (e-Bay’s used book site),, or on .

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