Old books are a treasure, of course. And it's not merely for their subject matter.
There's nothing quite like an old book to gain a snapshot of the linguistics of the day; many words and phrases long ago common and once well understood today are, in some cases, simply baffling, if not comical.
But it's not subject matter and linguistics alone that make old books the rare treat they are. Oftentimes, it's what people have tucked into them.
Such was the case when out of a 1902 edition of “The Library of Historic Characters and Famous Events of All Nations and All Ages” (there's a mouthful, eh?) fell from between pages 138 and 139 a single page, neatly folded, from the March 25, 1907, “Farm and Fireside Magazine and Feature Section.”
And it looked as if it had not been removed since.
There are brief essays on “Men worth while in history” — think Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne — on page 21 while page 22 is devoted to “The young people” with features on German Easter trees and “the annual Easter festival on the White House lawn” when Teddy Roosevelt was president.
Other books have unearthed assorted McNickle family treasures, including pressed leaves of various species from myriad states and countries.
And a most prized possession was found pasted to the inside cover of a collection of the works of Edgar Allan Poe — a very rare photograph, from the late 19th century, of the paternal great-grandparents' home known simply as “Warwood.”
It’s badly faded. But standing atop the steps, heading down to a northern West Virginia mountain road, you can see a youngish Grandma Nick. She’s looking straight into the camera. I like to think she’s looking into the future to me. And me, through more than a century past, to her.
Perhaps someday my great-grandchildren, yet born, will find a few treasures that their great-grandpa left behind in the many volumes of his library.
Hint: There are more than a few.