On one of my recent trips to Zionsville, I stopped in at the local book store, Black Dog Books. The store is named for the owner’s pet dog, who sadly passed away two years ago, but a new black lab has taken up residence and likes to get head pats from the customers. The owner has a very nice selection of used, new, and collectible books and I enjoy browsing the garden and nature sections. This time I was amazed to find a huge collection of books by Indiana authors. They were all from a private library, which I guess had passed into the shop owner’s hands via a donation or estate sale. It was sad to see someone’s treasures for sale. It was obvious the individuals had put a great deal of thought and love in their books. All were in impeccable condition and many were first editions. I held in my hand the most expensive book I have ever held – priced at over $700 for a 1st edition Gene Stratton Porter volume. I have a long history with Gene Stratton Porter, having watched film versions of some of her novels as a child. When I moved to Indy, I visited museums and exhibits to learn more about her. She was an amazing naturalist, ornithologist, conservationist, and authoress. The covers of the books were stunningly beautiful. Here are two of her works on birds.
The collection also included a complete collection of the works of Lew Wallace and his wife. Did you know that his wife was also a published authoress? There were at least 5 copies of Ben Hur, including a first edition. I liked the cover of this one best.
There were books written by Booth Tarkington and others and there was a separate table for all the books on Indiana history. My favorite from that table was a book written in the 1920s about the history of Crown Hill Cemetery, a place I love dearly. It was incredible to see such a collection of local history and art all in one place and to hold these treasures. I like to purchase old books because I feel it connects me to those of past generations who loved and prized the same things I do. I hold the books in trust for them – caring and preserving them for the original owners who can no longer do so. Though I couldn’t afford any of these books, it was special just to feel a connection by holding them and imagining how their previous owners had cherished them. I hope that they find a special home. It would be very nice for them to be housed together in a museum display or in a research library so they could continue to give enjoyment for years to come.
Blessings to you,