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The Book Went There!

· Fine Book Collecting,Book Selling,Customers,Halifax,Purchases

As a book dealer, I am always curious about where our books end up. Sometimes in strange places, sometimes in places that are understandable, and sometimes in perfect places. And the allocations are based solely on my own preconceived ideas and prejudices. After every sale of a book on the internet, I google the buyer. Not the same as someone buying a book in the shop but it is always interesting to know who your customers are. And some have become repeat customers.

Strange places

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Spoon River Anthology; Edgar Lee Masters; The MacMillan Company, New York, published April 1915, first edition.

Spoon River Anthology, Master’s best known work, is a collection of short, free verse poems that collectively narrates the epitaphs of the residents of Spoon River, a fictional small town named after the real Spoon River that ran near Masters' home town. The aim of the poems is to demystify the rural, small town American life. The collection includes two hundred and twelve separate characters, all providing two-hundred forty-four accounts of their lives, losses, and manner of death.

This book went to a customer in Arcore, MB, Italy.

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Big Sur; Jack Kerouac; Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, New York, 1962, stated first printing.

He was a pioneer and major player in the Beat Generation and also involved in the evolution of the Hippie Movement. He was a famous traveller and known for his spontaneous style of prose. His most famous work was On The Road written in 1951. Big Sur, 1962, was comprised of recollections from a series of visits to a cabin located in Big Sur, owned by his friend and Beat Poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

This book by the American Beat poet, beat its way to Madrid, Spain. Really.

Understandable places

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The Story of Dartmouth; by John Patrick Martin, B.A., LL.D, Town Historian of Dartmouth, Historian of the Charitable Irish Society, a Vice-President of the Nova Scotia Historical Society; with a Foreword by Dr. Thomas H. Raddall; Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; privately printed for the author; 1957. First reprint 1965

This 561-page book is a fabulous history of Dartmouth – very well illustrated. I was surprised to see a photo of railroad tracks crossing the narrows between Halifax and Dartmouth, built like the Canso Causeway. I think this would be a surprise for most people who now live in Halifax or Dartmouth. This is rated as understandable as the average of two copies sold. The first went to Maine (strange) and the second went to Dartmouth (perfect)

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Portraits of Greatness; Yousuf Karsh; University of Toronto Press, 1959, signed on the title page by Karsh.

Yousuf Karsh, (1908 2002) was an Armenian-Canadian photographer known for his portraits of notable individuals. He has been described as one of the greatest portrait photographers of the 20th century. His 1941 photo of Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, brought him prominence. The photo, which according to The Economist, is the"most reproduced portrait in the history of photography" and has been described as one of the "most iconic portraits ever shot". This book contains 96 portraits selected, with commentary, by Karsh.

I thought that this book by the great Canadian photographer would remain in Canada, but it was sent of to Paris, just before Christmas. This is understandable because there are portraits of French notables in the book.

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Songs of Scotland – a Hundred of the Best, Chosen and Edited with Musical Accompaniment and Notes Biographical and Historical by Wilma Paterson; designed and decorated by Alasdair Gray; Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, 1996.

Here are tragic and comic ballads, romantic and bawdy love lyrics, soft lullabies and patriotic anthems from the Highlands, Islands and Lowlands. Wilma Paterson blends old favourites with less familiar songs from oral tradition, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century collections and the earliest printed versions. The songs fall into the following categories: So It’s War!; Lads Want Lassies; Bonnie Charlie; Lassies Want Lads; Skullduggery and Sudden Death; Love Satisfied; Love Doomed or Rejected; Weddings-Lullabies-Marriage; Exile; Come All Ye! and Auld Lang Syne (Robert Burns).

And this book went to Hong Kong. What! Understandable though, since it was a retirement gift for a Mr. R. MacKay, who worked for Procter & Gamble.

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Sheet Harbour A Local History by James E. Rutledge; printer, William Macnab & Son, Halifax, N. S., 1954.

James Edward Rutledge (1889 – 1966) was a lawyer and political figure in Nova Scotia, Canada. He represented Halifax County in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly from 1939 to 1956 as a Liberal member. He was born in Sheet Harbour, Halifax County, Nova Scotia. The book contains a general history of the area, but it also contains much genealogical data on the families that settled there. There are a number of full page black and white photos and a sketch of Sheet Harbour.

And this little, local gem went to Cleveland, Australia. Understandable because the woman who bought it was tracing her Nova Scotia roots – from the Sheet Harbour area.

Perfect Places

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Micmac Quillwork, Micmac Indian Techniques of Porcupine Quill Decoration: 1600-1950; Ruth Holmes Whitehead; With an Appendix on Quilled-Bark Conservation, by Deborah Jewett, Atlantic Conservation Centre, The Canadian Conservation Institute; The Nova Scotia Museum, Halifax, 1982.

The Micmac Indian women of Eastern Canada and New England have long been noted for their exquisite work in porcupine quills, particularly their mosaics of quills on birchbark. There is an
extensive bibliography. Major collections in Canada, Great Britain and the United States were examined and catalogued; additional collections were researched in France, Ireland and as far away as New Zealand. Over 3,000 record photographs were taken, and from these have been chosen the 500 black-and-white illustrations and 32 colour plates, most of them never before published.

I always thought that this scarce book should and would remain in Nova Scotia. But it was bought by a woman, in Wisconsin, who is a basket weaver and who is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe). She is a full-time artisan who teaches classes and sells her baskets all over the world.

A perfect home.

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The Windways of the Navaho; Leland C. Wyman; The Taylor Museum of the Colorado Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1962.

In this book, Professor Leland C. Wyman presents a thorough treatment of two related Navaho chants, Navaho Windway and Chiricahua Apache Windway, along with reproductions of the appropriate sandpaintings.

This book went to a woman who was an adjunct professor for Colorado Mesa University and Metropolitan State University, Colorado. She is the author of several books on Southwestern rock art, including On the Trail of Spider Woman and Petroglyphs of Western Colorado and the Northern Ute Indian Reservation as Interpreted by Clifford Duncan.

That was pretty close to home in more ways than one!

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Ernie Lyall; An Arctic Man – Sixty-Five Years in Canada’s North; Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton, 1979. A personal, anniversary presentation from “Vera” to her husband dated Jan 31st, 1980 and then a presentation from Ernie to an old friend Clare dated 24-04-80.


Ernie was born on the Labrador coast, and at age seventeen he joined the Hudson’s Bay Company as a clerk. He spent the next thirty years working in various parts of the Arctic for the Bay and helped found Spence Bay where he now lives. His forty-two-year marriage to Nipisha, an active worker in the Eskimo drive for native rights, has produced eleven children. In addition to working for the Bay, he has lived the life of an Eskimo hunter and trapper. Eskimos saw that a very few white men quickly learned the ways of the north. These rare newcomers demonstrated that they, like the Eskimo, could live in the unforgiving environment of the north, that they could build a shelter and survive the fiercest storm, that they could find the seal and the caribou, and kill the great white bear, and utilize them for food, shelter, and clothing. For these men the Eskimos had another word, angutimmarik, a real Arctic man. Ernie Lyall is one of the few white men alive today who have truly earned that name.


This book went to a woman who lives in Iqaluit, NU Canada. That is enough to qualify as perfect – but there is more.


After I sent a book to the buyer, I send an e-mail letting them know that I put the book into the postal system and how long it should take. I thank them for the order and sometimes I make a comment about the book. The buyer responded – as many do. Here is a copy of her response:


Thank you, Andy.
I am very familiar with the book. Ernie Lyall was my grandfather.
I buy autographed copies whenever I can find them, as gifts for family members.

I’m looking forward to seeing the inscription, especially if it’s dated.

I’ve found a couple that coincide with birthdays. Those are the best!

Take care,



This is better than perfect! And it was this engagement, that happened just this week, that led to this musing.