Saving books #5 – Unusual ways

What language?

There was no doubt it was a cookbook.  I could tell by the pictures.  The language, though, was in doubt.  We eliminated Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean and were pretty sure it wasn’t Arabic.  Our best guess was that it was a southeast Asian language, either Thai, Laotian, or Vietnamese.  I was making a trip near a Thai restaurant, so I took the book with me to show to someone there.  The server who greeted me summoned a cook.  She looked at the book and said, “Oh, this is Thai country cooking.” I had eaten at an upscale Thai restaurant once (thanks to my employer’s conference funding) and noted the French titles in the menu listings.  So, I assumed she meant that this cook book did not show the French influence.  She asked me “How much do you want for it?”.  (Of course, the reason I was there was that I did not know what it was worth.)  So, I asked, what will you offer?  She said, “Ten dollars.”  I said, “You can have it for that.”  Then explained why I was selling the book:  to support Mennonite Central Committee that provided disaster relief and development assistance to many countries.  This is done in Harrisonburg, VA through Gift & Thrift and Booksavers of Virginia.  Several years later another Thai cookbook was donated to Booksavers.  Yes, the same cook bought that one as well.  A second cookbook that almost got sent to recycling was saved for another use.

Saving non-Biblical information

Someone donated a well-used Bible to Booksavers.  The King James Bible was an older one, probably nineteenth century.  Ordinarily a volume in that condition would be sent to recycling, plus, it did not have a title page.  We should send it to recycling.  But, someone noticed that the clippings, notes and a filled-out Family Information page in the Bible had local information.  So, the manager took the Bible to our silent auction division.  I do not remember the final bid on the Bible, but we saved the volume from recycling because someone wanted the local news and genealogical information in the Bible.

Box better than the game?

How a item looks can be very important, though.  Sometimes looks are more important than the contents.  A number of computer games had been donated to Booksavers.  Neither I nor any of the pricers knew much about the games and Amazon was not much help.  A young man at my church was interested in computer games, so I asked him to review the games.  He found enough information on several of them to post the games on Amazon.  One, “Casper the friendly ghost”, he told me was a terrible game.  However, there were very few copies of the game of this older game still available and our box was in excellent shape, so it was of sufficient value to list on Amazon.  (This was long enough ago that I do not remember the details of sales.)

A beautiful Bible

A beautiful, oversized leather-bound Luther Bible, probably from the eighteenth century sat on the shelf.  It had been there for months maybe longer. The cover was in unusually good shape for the age of the book.  The problem was that the title page was missing.  There are enough Luther Bibles out there that some of them are not worth much.  Knowing the date and publisher and perhaps the edition name could make the difference between a fifteen-dollar volume and a fifty or one-hundred-and-fifty-dollar volume. One day a young man came to the store and wanted an unusual gift for his fiancé.  The manager thought for a while and looked at the top shelf where the Luther Bible sat.  He said he had an old Bible that could be worth ninety dollars.  Would he be interested?  The problem was the Bible did not have a title page.  He said that was not a problem.  How the book looked was the important thing for his fiancé.  Problem book sold!

Basil bounty, plundered peperomia My plant rescue hobby

At the Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale you can buy plants people donate.  Some plants come unlabeled or lose their labels.  Others are lack appeal (poorly presented, not healthy looking, etc.).  Plants that do not sell by Saturday afternoon are sent to Gift & Thrift of Harrisonburg .  I have been offered peace lilies, wax plants (hoya), peperomia and others that are unlikely to sell at the store.  I get a lot of satisfaction in restoring these to health.

Last fall the peperomia (couldn’t tell what it was when I first saw it) had two leaves at the top of a 6″ stem.  There seemed to be life in the plant.  So, I cut off one stem just above what appeared to be a bud and put the the stem in water to root.  Soon I had plants that looked like the picture on the left.  When the stem sent out a new shoot, I cut off the other one and placed it in water also.  A month later the plant looked like the picture on the right.  I sent the picture to Garden Web where I found out that I had a peperomia.  The first plant has gone to Gift and Thrift for sale, the second from the rooted cuttings is still in my sun room.

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Basil bounty

The plant sale was over.  Upwards of 20 dozen 4″ pots of basil plants remained.  Since the Community Center did not want to care for them or have another sale, they chose the compost pile solution.  I determine to rescue as many as possible..  I took 3 or 4  flats and prepared them for the Gift & Thrift of Harrisonburg where I volunteer.  When these were nearly gone, I went back to Our Community Center and they still had 3 or 4 more flats of basil plants.  I called Gift and Thrift and suggested they reduce the price.  Then I started cutting out all but one plant in each pot (there had been 5 or more) and fertilizing the plants.   When sales nearly stopped, I still had around 7 dozen plants.  So, I gave some to neighbors, then took some to church to give away. I heard a group was starting a community garden.  They accepted nearly 4 dozen pots.  Now, 6 weeks after the sale, I am down to 5 dozen pots of 6″ plants.  Of those,  21 will go to Patchwork (food) Pantry next Wednesday.  Then I will only have 42 plants left!

A bee in my bonnet

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Bee balm

The small plant in a big pot stumped me for the first year.  I set the pot in a sheltered place for the winter hoping it was frost hardy.  The second year in the pot it had one small bloom which I did not recognize.  Since it was growing well, I set it in the ground the next spring.  By mid-June I had the plant you see above and a friend helped me identify it as a new type of dwarf bee balm (Monarda).  A nice reward for patience (perhaps a balm for my impatience).

Peace with the cat

I am a peace advocate. and I like peace lilies.  When my last peace lily looked good, I reluctantly donated  it to the  Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale.  I was pleased it brought a good price.  The next year three single stem peace lilies came to  Gift & Thrift of Harrisonburg from the sale.  I dumped out the three, preparing to create a new potting.  They had been potted in clay and none had good roots.  I set them in a 6′ pot.  After a period, two of them died.  So I repotted the remaining one in a smaller plant in a better potting soil (after checking the Internet).  After “sulking” for awhile on a shaded patio for the summer, it finally began growing.  Two years later it is a healthy looking plant and I expect a white spathe any time.  The plant would look better if our daughter’s cat had not nibbled on several leaves.  I have talked to several cat owners who have agreed that peace lilies may be especially tasty to cats.  Now to find a way to make peace between the plant and Feliz the cat!

 

 

Saving books

Old books

“Do you have any old books?  I need a gift for my fiancee.”  That was one of the stranger requests that we’ve received at Booksavers of Virginia.  The customer told us his fiancee just liked old books and  he wasn’t sure if she liked more than the look of them.  That solved a problem for us.  I was working on a Luther Bible in German script without a title page, probably from the eighteenth century.  I had not been able to identify any distinguishing features of the Bible to permit us to list the Bible on Amazon.  The book was about three inches thick, by six wide by nine long.  The leather cover was well-preserved with five raised bands on the spine.  There was only limited foxing (brown spots) on the pages.  When the groom-to-be saw the Bible on the shelf in its warm brown leather binding with only “attractive” wear, he was sure that his fiancee would be happy with the gift.  (I don’t remember the price, but it was more than $50).

Our work

Booksavers of Virginia is part of Gift & Thrift of Virginia.  We are part of the Mennonite Central Committee network of stores that raise funds for famine and disaster relief and for development work, mostly overseas.  Most of the books, DVDs, and CDs posted to Amazon fall in the seven to fifteen dollar range.  Many have UPCs and ISBNs and are easily identified.  My work is with the items that do not have these numbers and often requires a good bit of research.  All of the items mentioned above are donated.  Those not posted on Amazon may be displayed for sale in the retail store.  Books and magazines not sold are sold to paper recyclers.

Another old book I worked on was a late nineteenth, early twentieth century Bible with local newspaper clippings of births and deaths. It had no title page and was destined for recycling.  The manager said, “Let’s put it on the [in store] silent auction.  Maybe someone will want it for the local information.”  Result:  $90.  In the electronic age I am amazed that we still receive books for which I cannot find electronic records.  Recently I process an autobiography of a pilot who had lived just down the road (north) the road in Basye, Va.  He had piloted private planes for famous personalities in film, sports and politics.  None of the standard book sources or variations of Google searches turned up a record of the book.

Other languages

Due to several retirement villages in the area, plus three higher education institutions and numerous immigrants, we receive donations of many non-English language items.  I’ve discovered you can find Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence people in Farsi, that there is a language called Catalan (formerly thought a Spanish dialect) and that a 1986 book in Russian published in Azerbaijan is barely understandable by a young (Russian speaking) Ukrainian.  When a cookbook in a southeast Asian language (I thought) arrived, none of us could find anything in the book to determine its origins.  So, I took it to a Laotian restaurant to ask for help.  When the cook looked at it, she said, “Oh, yes, this is Laotian country cooking”.  (I remembered seeing French words in a menu in an upscale Laotian restaurant, so I guessed I knew what she meant.)  Then she said, “How much do you want for the book?”  I admitted I had no idea of its value.  I told her the book was to be sold for disaster and famine relief, including funding for refugee camps in Southeast Asia.  We agreed on $10 or $15, I believe.   Five years or so later, she bought another Laotian cookbook.

Valuable books

Bunyan’s Holy War in German script?  Photos from a famous nightclub in New York in the late thirties?  A compendium on the fur trade in North America?  All these and more have come through Booksavers and valued at $500 or more.  The photo album sold for $1200.  A devotional book from the eighteenth century may have been worth more.  It contained an 1742 Luther Bible, a shorter catechism, an early devotional work and a special Psalter.  These were specially bound together in leather with an intact metal clasp.  We were unable to get full value for the volume because of the difficulty of describing the different parts.  Value is not always measured in dollars.  The manager fielded a call from Texas about a cookbook.  The caller asked about particular pages and recipes.  Then they ordered the book, saying their copy of the cookbook was lost in a flood and they valued the recipes it contained.