Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A book to behold

En route to the beach recently I spotted a sign for a collectables fair in Geelong. Collectables are not really my thing but I thought I'd stop and have a look nonetheless just in case I could get my hands on some treasure - preferably a gramophone which I've wanted for a few years now. My husband obliged and stayed in the car with our sleeping baby. I entered a big hall full of trestle tables with all manner of goods from swap cards to old postcards to vintage toys to books. Ever the bookish type, I made sure to cast my eye over the old tomes hoping to find an old travelogue or history book. I was thrilled to spot a large green title called 'Countries of the World, sixth volume: Siberia to Zanzibar'. I opened it with great anticipation and the opening line caught my attention and told me that I had to buy it: 'Siberia is the land of the future'! OK, so the book was published in the 1920s when there was a very different geopolitical feel to today! When I flicked through its musty brown pages I was very excited to see old black and white photos and to my delight - some coloured photochromes. Even better was at the start of each country or city entry, there is a map. I'm a big fan of looking at maps and seeing how country borders and names have changed over time. It comes from my love of history and examining maps before and after the world wars to see how lines were re-drawn. Of course the dissolution of empires in the twentieth century wreaked havoc on cartographer's lives too as countries changed names and border posts were moved. One of my history lecturers at uni would place overhead projections over each other to see how geography had changed.  I was pulsing with excitement as I looked through the pages and holding my breath that I could afford it. Thankfully the vendor didn't know what a find it was and sold it to me for $5! I'm not an advocate of ripping up books but for that price I thought I could tear out a page or two and not lose sleep over it. Here's a photo of the world map and a picture of Venice that I extracted from its pages. Perfect ornaments for my mantlepiece and wonderful examples of eras long gone. Plus there's even a section on old Hobart, which to me is fascinating as it's where I spent much of my childhood.

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