New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.
-Mark Twain-

My new years resolution is the same every year and I always keep it. It is "I resolve to make no New Years resolution". -tom swaim-

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Books of Reference

I am a sucker for dictionaries, encyclopedias and all books of reference. They are not all equal. I have at last count three two volume sets, two of the large library volumes and assorted others including Hawai'ian, colloquial Spanish and a reverse dictionary. With the reverse dictionary you look up the meaning to find the word. It's very handy.
This is the latest. It's a 1957 library type dictionary with replaceable pages. It is a little tattered and the glue had let go on some of the cover but I love to play in library paste so that was easily repaired.
The pages were another story but there were only about twenty or so that needed new o rings. The place looks like some damned hippy lives here doesn't it? That's Naomi the nutria on the pillows.
As soon as I get all these words memorized I'll get a bigger one. The biggest problem with this little job was stopping to read the definitions. I can not seem to look up a single word. I have been known to forget what I was looking up while looking it up and may the head Librarian in the Sky help me if there are illustrations. With Google I can type in a single word and not get distracted at least most of the time.
For fifty three years this book served the public in the library. One day when I was checking out a book the girl working the desk said that she would check me out only if I would take this old dictionary home. She may not be a librarian but at least she doesn't throw books out. I believe she thought I was a little weird because I was so delighted.
The first definition is A and the last is zyxomma with 2006 pages of six point type in between. It's illustrated of course in the old style with 3000 illustrations. Most are line drawings. There are color plates of things where color would be important for identification such as butterflies or gem stones.
I like the embossed cover.
I don't know what happen in the thirty two years between the publishing of these two volumes. The 1957 on the left and the 1989 of the right both say they are Websters Unabridged dictionaries. Both are in six point type but there seems some difference in size. Maybe the definition of "unabridged" changed. A lot of the difference is in the appendix. The old book has a great appendix with tons of outdated and unreadable information.

Maybe I'll need a word invented since 1957 but I doubt it.

People around here don't need no stinkin' dictionaries. Anytime they need a word they just insert the word "fuck" or some derivation. A vocabulary of about 100 words plus that one seems to be sufficient.


Steve A said...

One of my favorite reference sets is my set of 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanicas. Even the supplements that go into the Great War are fascinating.

Ben in Texas said...

Dang, another something we got in common, I used to spend all my off periods in the Library, and in High school even took a class Library Science, learned how to repair books of all sizes..

Up until my stroke I could sit and read for hours,lay it down and git right back into it. Just can't follow the story now,

Steven Cain said...

You lucky f'in dog! (pun intended)I would have hugged that Librarian. Of course, I would hug just about any Librarian. What beautiful books to be given. My favorites are two carved-leather bound volumes... The History of the World I & II. I know, sounds so Mel Brooks, but they end with our Civil War. Many would love them.

limom said...

That is a score!
If I had a dictionary like that I'd have to make one of those podium things to hold it.
Image is everything don't you know.

Northmark said...

Do you know Oxford Dictionaries let you adopt a word?
I ended up with "ovablastic", which I now need to insert into my writing when I can.

John Romeo Alpha said...

I should bring my 1935 Book of Knowledge set over. You and I could go through all the "Things to Make and Things To Do" articles: "Toy furniture made from scraps of wood," "Defects and blemishes in lumber," "Electricity at home," and "Simple tests for cotton, linen, wool, and silk." Those are just the ones in Vol. 5.

f said...

Henley's Twentieth Century Book of Formulas, Trade Processes, and (?) Secrets. In that dark green, embossed cover, it sat unloved but for my attentions all through junior high school.

Some things were just plain dangerous, others sounded so interesting, and far too many of them needed something you had to buy at the pharmacist's counter - for those pharmacists that carried 'eye of newt,' various combustible commodities, and words I could not pronounce.

Ah, to have all those secrets revealed, and to keep all my fingers.

Oldfool said...

JRA: I have another book the "Universal Book of Knowledge and Wonders" 1917 that I'm going to have to feature one day. I picked it out of trash that had been dumped in the desert in Arizona. That was about 25 years ago. I also have some books of collected how to information on just about every subject that I acquired over 30 years ago. It covers everything from ladies make up and cold remedies to stink bombs and making beer. If they were bound in one volume they would be 11 inches by 14.5 inches and bout 2000 pages. There is an impressive amount of information. Some of it is dangerous but it was published before the extreme dumbing down of the public at large.
Old books of reference are fascinating and useful. They quite often tell you how-to when the new ones don't.
Northmark: I can not find a use for "ovablastic" without writing a new chapter to "Alien".
Ben: The brain is self healing. Use it or lose. You can't overuse it.
To all: I would love to go through every book there is and I know I have the storage space in my head but it's the delivery system that is the problem. I need a USB slot in my head.

Lord Wellbourne said...

You're a man after my own heart! I get lost in those books...can't remember what I was initially looking up but I never seem to mind. The older the better I say. Back when books were doorways and works of art.....

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