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