Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blog Haul: New Old Books!

I recently went on a little online shopping spree to obtain some much needed — and desired — research books on the Colonial America.  So here is a "blog haul" of some of my spectacular new finds from eBay.  Old books, but new for me! So please indulge me while I show you my new toys.
"Wear the old coat and buy the new book."
~  Austin Phelps

Home Life in Colonial Days by Alice Morse Earle. Mrs. Earle was an author from the 19th century wrote many books on historical times, especially the colonial period most likely in an effort to preserve the history of the unique culture of the day. I first came across her original books that are non-copyrighted, transcribed and available online (Google Books and elsewhere). This 470 page 1974 reprinting of her 1898 book was only $2. 

What can I say? Aren't they beautiful! These two volumes of Men, Women & Manners in Colonial Times by Sydney George Fisher, published in 1897 at the original price of $1.50 each, are in amazing condition with silver-gilt embossed covers, deckled edges, and tissue covered lithographs. Although I unintentionally purchased Vol. 2 at the cost of $21, I luckily found Vol. 1 for only $1.99 and am now delighted to have this rare set, having obtained it for about $23. 

I wish I could hear authentic language from the colonial period and translate that into my writing, especially the dialect of the area of my setting.  I would like to write in such a fashion, not solely, as it surely would be far too cumbersome to read, but sprinkled judiciously for effect.  But since they did not have devices to make recordings back then I must rely on the language itself, and being a wordsmith I have discovered these tools — glossaries of Colonial English.

Colonial American English by Richard M. Lederer, Jr., published in 1985, is a much sought after tome filled with words and phrases that were used in America from 1608 - 1783. This may be the only books on this topic, this particular period (at least that I could find), and thus some of them went for up to $218.  Since I've long considered trying to obtain this book,  my purchase price of $27.99 was a bargain.

You may wonder why I invested in A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.  I promise you, the term vulgar denotes unsophisticated rather than, well, raunchy.  This is an edited version (1992) of English Capt. Francis Grose's infamous 1785 collection of common and slang used in the 18th century.  Who knows, I might find some interesting words to use for a lower class or unsavory story character. And all for $2.99.

So there you have it . . . well, almost . . . I do have one book I cannot show you lest I give away my secret plot for a forthcoming series that I'm developing.  I know, I'm so mean.

Have you found any book treasures lately? Ever?


  1. You've got some treasures there - may need to pin them! I collect old history books, too - and love the beautiful bindings of antique editions. Just got a few lovelies on my Lancaster trip which I'll be featuring in an upcoming post. I'd love a look in that dialect and slang book - wonder if I can download them onto my Nook . . . You can get awesome old titles like this for free because they are simply scanned. Love it!

  2. Kathy, so good to hear you have recently acquired some of your own treasures! You are in luck, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue is available in its entirety as an ebook at Google Books. I just love that feature! I found it there first, but wanted a hard copy to sift through. Enjoy!

  3. Oh yummy! I happen to be reading the first book on your list, Home Life in Colonial Days, from our public library. I have a vulgar tongue dictionary on the hard drive I downloaded some ten years ago, from somewhere! But that Colonial American English book... I covet that! I have my eye out for an affordable copy too. What do you think of it? Is it as good as you expected?

  4. I haven't gotten any history books lately, but I purchased a book about Regency England about 2 months ago. It's interesting, but I feel like I need "more" in order to find some juicy tidbits in the era.

  5. It's fun to check out historical books and lifestyles. That's one of the reasons we moved to Williamsburg; we love the history and the intense research Colonial Williamsburg does and makes available to the public.

    Darryl and Ruth :)


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