I’ve always loved the look, smell and feel of a book as much as its contents. There is nothing quite as satisfying as holding a book and feeling it’s weight in your hands, opening it up and feeling the paper and checking out the type and font.
One of my favorite purchases, and one of the most expensive at $40, is a 1915 edition of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. I found this gem at our local flea market and I couldn’t believe my luck. I can’t remember the first time I heard of Mrs. Beeton and her famous book, but it had to be while reading a Victorian novel or watching Upstairs Downstairs. I had read her biography and looked up some of the books contents on Project Gutenberg but I never, ever thought I would be able to snag my own copy!!
It’s a big, fat book with “32 plates in colour and nearly 700 illustrations”, as proclaimed on its title page, and the end papers have old-fashioned ads for Howards’ Bicarbonate of Soda, A1 Sauce and Bumsted’s Salt. The contents are glorious and a peek into what a well-to-do lady needed to know to run a household in 1915. It explains the duties of her housekeeper, the butler and the maids. There are household tips, like napkin folding and how to set a table as well as instructions on what is needed in a modern-day nursery.
There are oodles of little gems in this book and I doubt that I will ever find them all as there are over 1600 pages, but I never get tired of opening it up to a random page and getting transported back to a different place and time.