The Rosario Islands (Islas Del Rosario)

The story of our Colombian trip would not be complete without sharing the magnificent day we spent in the Rosario Islands (Islas del Rosario).  They are located about 55 kilometers from Cartagena in the Caribbean Sea.  It was like finding a secret Paradise!

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The Waters are crystal clear, the beaches are beautiful white sand, and the coral reefs host a great variety of sea fauna and flora.

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The archipelago Islas Del Rosario is comprised of 30 islands that are within the municipality of Cartagena.  The Islands have special government protection as a natural park.  Both public and private islands pay rent to the government — there is no private property in the islands.

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We traveled to the islands on a chartered speedboat, captained by a very capable boatman who got us there in under an hour over some fairly choppy sea.

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Boca Grande area of modern Cartagena in the background

Our boat captain

Our boat captain

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On our way out – ancient Spanish fort near the mouth of the harbor

The Latin music was playing, the sun was shining, and the ice cubes were jumping from our drinks as we made our way across the sea!

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Enjoying the ride!

 

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The water was warm, inviting and crystal clear.  We did a little snorkeling at our first island stop, and my son Adam came up out of the water with a lovely conch shell (unoccupied) after about five minutes in the water.

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Here is the conch after we had some new friends clean it for us several days later -back at the car wash (and impromptu shell-cleaning shack)!

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Our next island landing was Baru Island, where we spent time at the beautiful Agu Azul Beach Resort Hotel.  Formerly the luxurious secluded home of a drug lord, it is now a 5-star boutique hotel.

 

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We had this beautiful beach all to ourselves…

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Here’s our whole group after lunch!

 

 

In the afternoon on our way back to Cartagena, we had the pleasure of hanging out for awhile among a regatta of beautiful sailboats.  One was from Florida, not sure about the others…all were magnificent to watch under sail.

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Awww…Ron lost his Panama hat on the boat-ride home.

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The HAT – pictured just the day before it went to the fishes.  We had been watching the evolution of this hat over the course of the week’s adventures…it had become quite dilapidated.

Bye-bye hat!!

 

 

Where Fish Hooks were Made of Gold

Book Hunters that we are, it didn’t take us long to zero in on Abaco Libros & Cafe at Calle 36 #3-86 in the old walled city of Cartagena.

Abaco Libros & Cafe, Cartagena, Colombia

Abaco Libros & Cafe, Cartagena, Colombia

Ron at the entrance to Abaco Libros book store

Ron at the entrance to Abaco Libros book store

This shop is a charming gathering place for bibliophiles, offering books, coffee and pastries, and free wi-fi.  The store carries new books in both English and Spanish (mostly Spanish), with a good selection of works by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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On our visit, we missed the Cartagena Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts — by one week!  The 10th annual festival was held January 29 – February 1, 2015.  It has become one of the most important literary events in the Hispanic world, bringing authors, journalists, poets, artists and musicians from all over the world together in a celebration of stories and ideas.

For our first visit, I’m almost glad we came when it was over, as my brain was on sheer overload trying to take in all the beauty and pleasures of the city on regular days — toss in a world-class literary festival and my head would have been spinning!

Here are just a couple of the posters hanging in the courtyard of the Santa Clara Hotel celebrating great writers from around the world who have stayed at the hotel…

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Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian writer, politician, journalist, essayist, college professor, and recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature.

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Dominique Fernandez, French writer of novels, essays and travel books. In 1982 he won the Prix Goncourt for his novel about Pier Paolo Pasolini; and in 2007 he was elected a member of the Académie française.

 

For information and tickets for the 2016 Hay Festival in Cartagena, click HERE.

While walking through the city our favorite place to pause was the Plaza de Bolivar.  For sheer beauty and lovely people-watching atmosphere, it is hard to beat.

 

 

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Plaza de Bolivar, Cartagena, Colombia

Plaza de Bolivar at night, where we watched fabulous native dancers perform.

Plaza de Bolivar at night, where we watched fabulous native dancers perform.

Bronze statue of Simon Bolivar, hero in the revolutions against the Spanish Empire.

Bronze statue of Simon Bolivar, hero in the revolutions against the Spanish Empire.

On the Plaza de Bolivar is a small but excellent museum of ancient gold artifacts, beautifully displayed.

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Intricate pre-Columbian gold relics, the work of the Zenu and other tribes, appear to float behind the glass in Museo del Oro Zenu.

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An even larger, world-class museum of this type can be seen in Bogota, Colombia — but this one is a great introduction to the history of Colombia’s indigenous peoples and their amazingly intricate artwork, both gold and pottery.

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Fish hooks of gold

Fish hooks of gold

For gold-viewing of a different kind, a glorious place to enjoy the sunsets is at Cafe del Mar, a cocktail bar and restaurant perched on the ramparts of the historical fortress walls of the old city, looking out to the sea.

Cafe Del Mar, Cartagena, Colombia

Cafe del Mar, Cartagena, Colombia

Sunset viewed from Cafe Del Mar, Cartagena, Colombia

Sunset viewed from Cafe del Mar, Cartagena, Colombia. There is a ship on the horizon, beneath the sun.

Stay tuned — more to come!

 

 

A Walking Tour in the Shadow of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 

Walking with Marelvy Peña-Hall in Cartagena

Walking with Marelvy Peña-Hall in Cartagena

As used and rare book sellers, we are frequently introduced to some very knowledgeable and well-traveled people.  One of our most delightful clients is Clem S., who recently purchased from us a first edition of Love in the Time of Cholera, a novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez which is set in Cartagena.

Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (NY: Knopf, 1988)

Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (NY: Knopf, 1988 – First Edition, First Printing) SOLD by Old Scrolls Book Shop

After that transaction we struck up a lively correspondence with Clem, and learned he had made several trips to Colombia.  He introduced us to many of the wonders of Cartagena, including the name of this amazing tour guide.

Marelvy Peña-Hall, incomparable tour guide  in Cartagena, Colombia

Marelvy Peña-Hall, our incomparable tour guide in Cartagena, Colombia (photo credit: Clem S. )

When we arranged our first visit to our son and daughter-in-law’s Cartagena home, Diana made an appointment for the four of us to walk the city with Marelvy.  It was an amazing day and a great gift for which I am ever thankful, Diana!

Marelvy and Diana in the courtyard of The University of Cartagena, Colombia

Marelvy and Diana in the courtyard of The University of Cartagena, Colombia

 

If you are ever lucky enough to find yourself in Cartagena, Colombia, and you want an historical tour of the city or one focusing primarily on the literary work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, this is the lady to see.

Marelvy with Adam and Diana

Marelvy with Adam and Diana

Fluent in English, French and Spanish, her captivating personality is a mix of scholarly insight, graciousness and gentle good humor — she was truly a delightful companion and guide.  I later learned she is ranked #1 of 64 activities in Cartagena by Tripadvisor (For Tripadvisor info on Marelvy click HERE ).

We started the tour over coffee in the Santa Clara Hotel courtyard

We started the tour over coffee in the Santa Clara Hotel courtyard

We began the tour in the heart of the old city at the beautiful and luxurious Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Hotel,  a jewel of 17th century colonial architecture which is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Gabriel Garcia Marquez used this former convent as the setting for his novel, Of Love and Other Demons.

Of Love and Other Demons, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994)

Of Love and Other Demons, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994)

In the courtyard of the lovely Santa Clara Hotel in Cartagena, Colombia

In the courtyard of the lovely Santa Clara Hotel in Cartagena, Colombia

 

Marelvy and me in the crypt of the old Santa Clara Convent where the story begins in "Love and Other Demons"

Marelvy and me in the crypt of the old Santa Clara Convent (now Santa Clara Hotel).  It is where the story begins in “Love and Other Demons”

20150206_160743 During the hotel’s renovation, when crypts like this were excavated, many archeological artifacts were discovered that are now on display at the hotel.

20150204_214145 As a newspaper reporter, Marquez wrote of the procedure…

” The historic convent of the Clarissan nuns, which had been turned into a hospital a century earlier, was to be sold, and a five-star hotel built in its place.  The gradual collapse of the roof had left its beautiful chapel exposed to the elements, but three generations of bishops and abbesses and other eminent personages were still buried there.  The first step was to empty the crypts, transfer the remains to anyone who claimed them, and bury the rest in a common grave.

I was surprised by the crudeness of the procedure.  Laborers opened the tombs with pickaxes and hoes, took out the rotting coffins, which broke apart with the simple act of moving them, and separated bones from the jumble of dust, shreds of clothing, and desiccated hair.  The more illustrious the dead the more arduous the labor, because the workers had to rummage through the remains and sift the debris with great care in order to retrieve precious stones and articles of gold and silver.”

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20150206_161741Our walk continued through the old city’s picturesque streets, courtyards and beautiful parks…

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The social standing of each dwelling's occupants were indicated by the elaborate doors and door knockers in the old city of Cartagena

In the old city, the social standing of the residents were indicated by the level of sophisticated workmanship on display upon the entrance door

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Park and mansion setting (background on right) for the exchange of furtive love letters  in "Love in the Time of Cholera"

Park and mansion setting (background on right) for the exchange of furtive love letters in “Love in the Time of Cholera”20150206_165145

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (affectionately known as “Gabo” in Latin America) was a Colombian journalist and novelist whose One Hundred Years of Solitude established him as a giant of 20th-century literature.  He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, First American Edition, First Printing (now available at Old Scrolls Book Shop

One Hundred Years of Solitude, First American Edition, First Printing (now available at Old Scrolls Book Shop)

He was born in the small town of Aracataca, Colombia in 1927.  Early in his career he struggled, barely making a living writing for newspapers in Cartagena.  He alternated between literature and journalism for a good part of his life.

Photo portrait of Gabriel Garcia Marquez hanging in Patagonia Restaurant, Cartagena

Photo portrait of Gabriel Garcia Marquez hanging in the Patagonia Restaurant, Cartagena

Entrance to the Patagonia Restaurant

Street entrance to the Patagonia Restaurant

He maintained a home in Cartagena in his later years, and several of his novels are clearly set there, including Of Love and Other Demons and Love in the Time of Cholera (the latter was brought to film in 2007 by New Line Cinema).

This was the walled modern home of Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Cartagena

On Marelvy’s tour we viewed the walled modern home of Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Cartagena

Marquez moved to Mexico City in 1961, where he lived off and on for the rest of his life.  He was the master of the literary genre known as Magical Realism; his books are bursting with energy, romance,  and unbridled imagination.

A side street view of GGM's Cartagena home

A side street view of GGM’s Cartagena home

In his life he experienced extreme poverty and extreme success — and just about everything in-between.  To read about his life is to have some understanding as to why he was politically active and a defender of left-wing causes, as well as a friend to many famous political leaders as far-ranging as Fidel Castro and Bill Clinton.  In his later years, after achieving worldwide acclaim and financial success, he kept homes in Mexico City, Barcelona, Paris and Cartagena.  His own life is one great story.

“Gabo” died in April of 2014 at his home in Mexico City at the age of 87.

For a good brief biography and a sampling of his writing, read this New York Times article written shortly after his death.

For in-depth biographies, I suggest his 2002 memoir, Living to Tell the Tale, as well as Gabriel Garcia Marquez – A Life, by Gerald Martin.

Ron, me, Adam and Marelvy (photo credit:  Diana Zuluaga-Petruccione)

Ron, me, Adam and Marelvy in the Santa Clara Hotel  (photo credit: Diana Zuluaga-Petruccione)

More to come – hope you will follow us on the rest of our Colombian adventure!

Two Gringo Book Lovers in Paradise

At a book stall near the east gate to the walled Old Town of Cartagena de Indias in Colombia

At a book stall near the east gate to the walled Old City of Cartagena de Indias in Colombia

In early February we boarded a Jet Blue flight in Rochester, NY to Cartagena, Colombia with one connection at JFK in New York City.  We left zero degree temperatures in Rochester at 6:30am in the morning…

ROC airport, Rochester, NY

ROC airport, Rochester, NY

in flight over the Dominican Republic

in flight over the Dominican Republic

…and arrived in Cartagena at 1:30 in the afternoon to 80 degree F. temperatures with cool tropical breezes blowing in off the Caribbean Sea.

Cartagena, Colombia airport

Arriving at Cartagena, Colombia airport

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Going through immigration at Cartagena, Colombia airport

Going through immigration at Cartagena, Colombia airport

Our mission was to visit our son and daughter-in-law in their new home and to explore the area so romantically depicted in the books of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, journalist and Nobel Prize Winner for Literature (most famous for the books One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera).

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a grand master of the literary genre known as magical realism.  It didn’t take us long to discover where Marquez drew his stories from, as Cartagena is indeed an utterly magical place brimming with romance, beauty and history.  We took an amazing walking tour focusing on Marquez and his literature, which we will cover in an upcoming post.

First, let us introduce you to some of the beauties of  the enchanting city of Cartagena!

We arrived at Adam and Diana’s home in the early afternoon…

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and enjoyed relaxing by the pool with a view of the sea.

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Later that evening Adam and Diana brought us to the Old City.

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Cartagena was founded by Spanish commander Pedro de Heredia in 1533.  Towering fortresses and 11 kilometers of thick stone walls surrounding the old town are awesome historic reminders of this coastal City’s pirate-ravaged past.

At one of the entrances to the walled city of Cartagena at night

At one of the entrances to the walled city

Today Cartagena is an enchanting and eclectic mix of ancient and modern.  In the streets, both inside and outside the wall, automobiles mix in a gentle symbiotic chaos alongside donkeys pulling carts and elegant horse carriages.

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Street vendors peddle their wares on the sidewalks amid upscale boutiques selling high end fashion, food and art.  Excellent food can be had on the cheap from sidewalk purveyors or from first class restaurants boasting world-renowned chefs.

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Beautiful fresh fruits are bountiful in Cartagena

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Beautifully plated Lion Fish, at El Gobernador restaurant

Beautifully plated Lion Fish, devoured at the elegant El Gobernador restaurant

Hotels, restaurants and spas with beautiful courtyards await discovery behind massive elegant doors decorated with incredible door knockers…

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Old mixes with new.  From the nearly 500 year old Fort San Felipe, one can see the distant contemporary high-rise buildings of Cartagena.

Ancient and modern Cartagena juxtaposed, looking through a watchtower at Fort San Felipe toward the modern section of the city

Ancient and modern Cartagena juxtaposed, looking through a watchtower at Fort San Felipe toward the modern section of the city

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ground view of Fort San Felipe

Join us on future posts as we visit a bookstore and go on a walking tour in the footsteps of Gabriel Garcia Marquez…

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Cartagena was declared a “World Heritage Site” by UNESCO in 1984.  For a wonderful description of the city’s heritage, click HERE.

 

 

Book Scouting Queen Gets Crowned

It’s never a good time to get a crown on your tooth…but three days before Christmas $$$?  Really??!

View from a pretty little alley in Penn Yan, NY

How do you make a visit to the dentist fun? Lucky me, I have a great dentist who is located in a good book scouting town — Penn Yan, New York.   So I usually find a way of working some book hunting into the mix when I have a dental appointment.  Ron was with me this trip, so after my crowning we stopped to eat at one of our favorite little spots in town, the Tavern Restaurant.  Let me repeat, my dentist is GREAT, so he didn’t numb me up too bad.  I could even sip a Bloody Mary out of a straw afterwards!! AND eat lunch.  Yay.

Tavern Restaurant, Penn Yan, NY

Our table by the fireplace

Our table by the fireplace – can’t really see it in this pic, but there was a nice fire blazing!

Penn Yan (the peculiar town name is a syllabic abbreviation of “Pennsylvania Yankee”) lies at the north end of the east branch of Keuka Lake, my favorite of the Finger Lakes.  It is about seventeen miles southeast of our home and book shop.  A pretty village of about 5,000 citizens, Penn Yan has two used book shops.

The Books Landing recently relocated to 9 Main Street after years in a small store on a corner at 1 Main Street.  I was anxious to see their new digs!  Unfortunately, they were closed.  All we could do was press our noses to the window.  (Fortunately, my return trip to get my permanent crown is scheduled for a Tuesday.  Hope that works.)

The Books Landing, Penn Yan, NY

The Books Landing, Penn Yan, NY

The Books Landing, run by a very nice lady named Barb Mullins,  has always leaned toward paperbacks and good reading quality books for the locals and seasonal visitors.  But I have found enough unexpected hardcover collectible gems in that store to keep me coming back.

Next, we telephoned Eileen O’Reilly, proprietor of Belknap Hill Books at 106 Main Street.  We found this store to be closed too, but with a sign taped to the door that said “Want Books? Call…” and of course we did!  She and her wonderful dog (“Rosie”) were kind enough to come right over and open up for us.

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Eileen O’Reilly, Proprietor of Belknap Hill Books – Penn Yan, NY

Rosie, the book store dog

          Rosie, the book store dog

Eileen has operated Belknap Hill Books out of this store since 1987.  She and her husband have recently decided to put this three-story residential-commercial building up for sale.  It may be the end of another book shop…and I will be sad.

Belknap Hill Books, Penn Yan, NY

Belknap Hill Books, Penn Yan, NY

20141222_142406_resizedHere are some lovely books we purchased at Eileen’s…

The Inns of the Middle Ages

The Inns of the Middle Ages

Kotto - - Being Japanese Curios, with Sundry Cobwebs

Kotto – – Being Japanese Curios, with Sundry Cobwebs

Master of the Vineyard

Master of the Vineyard

Wanted - A Chaperon

Wanted – A Chaperon

Penn Yan is high on my list of favorite New York towns.  Interesting shops, walkable streets, the clip-clopping of Mennonite horse & buggies, a most beautiful lake and lots of wineries nearby.   It is quaint, historic, and just quirky enough to be interesting!

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Were they expecting Noah?

Finger Lakes Area Book Scouting

With most of our Christmas shopping, shipping and entertaining done, Ron and I decided to do some book scouting in our own area this past week.   We’ve shipped a lot of books and we can always use a little stock replenishment.   And a break from the book shop isn’t a bad idea, either!

One place we like to visit from time to time is Jim’s Hidden Treasures in Phelps, NY.  Jim Ebel is the proprietor and he stocks the store with a great variety of interesting curiosities.  One can find a little bit of everything here — old paintings, pottery, sea shells, ephemera and books, coins, even an old glass eye in a small leather case – ha!  There are multiple cases of vintage books, including quite a few old children’s series titles.

Jim's Hidden Treasures - Phelps, NY

Jim’s Hidden Treasures is located at 256 Main Street in Phelps, right across from the Blue Ribbon Smokehouse-Restaurant (in case you get hungry).

We  also recently visited Stomping Grounds in Geneva, New York — just about 17 miles east of us.  I mentioned this shop in one of my earlier blogs, but I had forgotten to take photos of their new location.  This time I didn’t forget!

Stomping Grounds, Geneva, NY

Located at 22 Castle Street in Geneva, the shop is lovingly operated by Bethany and James Haswell (they moved from their Exchange Street location about a year ago).  This is not exclusively a used book store either, but we love to visit here because we always find a few interesting must-have books, and enjoy talking with Beth and Jim and browsing in their lovely shop.

Bethany Haskell and Ron discussing a book purchase

They run an attractive and unique gift and book shop which also offers custom framing.  Besides interesting old books, one can also find quality hand made jewelry, art, stationery and many other pleasant surprises.

Here are some views of the beautiful main floor at Stomping Grounds:

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custom framing area

               custom framing area

and some views of the second floor…

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Bethany Haskell, Stomping Grounds

Bethany also has a blog, which you can visit HERE.

I’ll be back soon with pictures and story of our book scouting visit to nearby Penn Yan, NY

Wishing you all a very Happy Holiday and a healthy and prosperous New Year!

 Ron and Cathy

OLD SCROLLS BOOK SHOP

Published in: on 12/24/2014 at 4:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

After the York Book and Paper Fair…

OR,  How Bibliophiles Celebrate Their Wedding Anniversary…

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After a full morning of book buying at the Fair, we drove over to The White Rose Bar and Grill  at 48 N. Beaver Street in York, which came highly recommended by one of the young ladies at the hotel front desk.

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And she was so right.  We had a fabulous brunch here…superb Bloody Marys and Eggs Benedict with crab cakes and sweet potato fries…luscious!  This is an intriguing place with three separate bars and several dining areas, each unique enough to hold your interest until the splendid food arrives and grabs all your attention.

20141018_132632_resizedThe large but cozy dining room we ate in had an intricate overhead paddle fan system run by pulleys and belts…

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The wonderful whirlygig machine that runs the fans in The White Rose (York, PA)

The wonderful whirlygig machine that runs the fans in The White Rose (York, PA)

And get a load of these really cool stone sinks in one of the restrooms!

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There is even a smoking bar, where those among who choose to indulge can relax at the bar or on a soft leather couch to enjoy a cigarette along with a beer, wine or a cocktail.  Not too many places left where you can do that, these days.

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Completely satisfied and refreshed, we moved on to our usual stop which ties in with this book fair, which is The York Emporium at 343 West Market Street.  This expansive one-floor store offers 250,000+ used and collectible books, plus antiques, records, comics and other collectibles.

The York Emporium, York, Pennsylvania

The York Emporium, York, Pennsylvania

They generally have a good sale running during the Book Fair, and coffee & donuts, too!  We often find interesting Modern Library titles here, along with other books from a wide assortment of genres.   Prices and conditions vary, but it’s a not-to-be missed stop; we never come away empty handed.  There is plenty of off-street free parking, and 250,000+ titles spread out over 19,000 square feet, so you ought to be able to find a box full of books, and get your exercise, too!   It’s been in existence since 1984… a book hunter’s paradise.

Books (and lava lamps!) at York Emporium

Books (and lava lamps!) at York Emporium

Back on the road, we headed north with plans to stop for the night in Selinsgrove, PA.   While enroute I rang up Graybill’s Old and Used Books in nearby Kreamer, PA to see if they might stay open for us (ETA 6pm).  I spoke with Diane, and she cheerfully agreed.  We always try to swing over to this store when we are traveling Rte. 15, because it is a place full of surprises and the owners are good people.  They are five miles west of Selinsgrove via Rte. 522 in the tiny town of Kreamer (home of Wood-Mode, Inc. — and if you are into nice quality kitchen cabinetry, you’ll know what that is!).

Eric and Diane Graybill (Graybill's Old & Used Books, Kreamer, PA)

Eric and Diane Graybill
(Graybill’s Old & Used Books, Kreamer, PA)

Eric and Diane have run Graybill’s out of the top floor of a barn on their property since 1980.  They have an interesting inventory of general stock (about 9,000 books), mostly hardcover, and some ephemera and vintage paperbacks.  Specialties include a good selection of children’s series books, along with Pennsylvania history, military, mystery, and many other categories.

We didn’t leave Graybill’s until around 8pm, chatty as we all were about the book fair, the book trade in general, our children, etc., etc.

But we did manage to procure a very nice room (again at a Holiday Inn) in Selinsgrove, and a reservation for dinner at BJ’s Steak & Rib House at 17 N. Market Street.  It was our anniversary night, after all!  BJ’s is housed in an historic old hotel dating to 1874…just our style.

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Anniversary dinner at BJ’s Steak & Rib House, Selinsgrove, PA

We brought our favorite bubbly

We brought our favorite bubbly

We had a lovely dinner here, with good food and very nice service.

It was a successful book hunting weekend and a great Anniversary celebration — sharing what we love best…a road trip during great weather in the beautiful countryside while scouting for fine books!

 

 

Pennsylvania – Book Hunter’s Dream

A street view in York, PA

A street view in York, PA

I love, LOVE, Pennsylvania.  Beautiful forested mountains, winding river valleys, lovely old towns steeped in history, houses built of stone.  Lower taxes  (in comparison to New York State, at least) making gas, food, lodging and just about everything else more affordable.  It is also terrific book scouting country…it seems to harbor just the kind of antiquarian books we like, and the York Book and Paper Fair is a great place to find lots of gems in one great location.

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So we made the beautiful drive last weekend to the 2014 fair held in the charming city of  York on October 18.  From our home and book shop, York is about a four hour drive, most of it down beautiful Rte 15.  And, the date of the event coincided exactly with our wedding anniversary, so we drove down on Friday evening and made a weekend of it!

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On our way down we stopped in Mansfield, PA for dinner at a delightful restaurant called Lamb’s Creek.

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The York Book & Paper Fair is held at the beautiful Holiday Inn & Convention Center, 200 Loucks Road (Rte. 74 & US 30) in York, PA.  We arrived  at around 11:30pm.  Happily, they saved our room for us!

Main Lobby at Holiday Inn & Convention Center, York, PA

Main Lobby at Holiday Inn & Convention Center, York, PA

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It’s a wonderful thing for booksellers and buyers who come from far away to be able to stay at the same location as the book fair — get up in the morning, have your coffee, and walk right in to the event!  It’s a lovely venue — the hotel has lounge and restaurant facilities on site, and the rooms are  reasonably priced.

Entrance to the York Book and Paper Fair

Entrance to the York Book and Paper Fair – Holiday Inn, York, Pennsylvania

This sale is always well attended.  Dealers and buyers come from all over to buy and sell antiquarian books, ephemera, maps, vinyl, and more.

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Some of our favorite book dealers are regulars at this fair, like Jean Gonzalez from Somewhere in Time Books (St. James, NY).  Jean always has a beautiful selection of signed first editions and collectible quality books in all genres.

Jean Gonzalez of Somewhere In Time Books, with Ron Sollome (Old Scrolls Book Shop)

Jean Gonzalez, Somewhere In Time Books, with Ron

Jean will be offering collectible Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books at the upcoming World Fantasy Convention which runs November 6-9, 2014 in Washington, D.C.  Find him in the “Dealers Room.”  For more information on this great event attended by SF and Fantasy fans from all over the world, click HERE.

A purchase we made from Jean at Somewhere in Time at the fair:

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E. Christian Mattson (below) of Baltimore, Maryland, is always fun to talk to in his booth — he’s both knowledgeable and entertaining — AND he brings a terrific book selection.

E. Christian Mattson, Baltimore, Maryland

E. Christian Mattson, Baltimore, Maryland

From him we purchased a tall stack of Landmark Series books, and this attractive decorated American trade binding:

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Jesse Brubacher and his wife Sarah, of Jesse H. Brubacher Books (Stevens, PA) are among our top favorite book dealers.  They always offer the kind of books you are proud to own, always in fine condition (they had an especially nice variety of decorated American trade bindings).

Sarah Brubacher seated at her booth - York Book & Paper Fair 2014

Sarah Brubacher seated at their booth – York Book & Paper Fair 2014

Here are some of the books we purchased from the Brubachers:

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Nice, huh??

Best of all, this is a pleasant and friendly fair!  People enjoy themselves;  there is excellent lighting, acoustics and space to move about in comfort, even when busy with buyers.   Best of all, there is a good variety of interesting and high quality stock.

We visited a book shop or two after the fair –and cracked open the champagne to celebrate our anniversary.  I’ll be back soon with the rest of story and a few more pics.

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Book Hunters Go Fossil Freaky

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We took a little detour from our book scouting a few weeks ago, and instead of searching for dusty tomes, we went off to a quarry to do some fossil hunting!  Is this book-related, you ask?  Oh, YES.  This book was a big part of the inspiration for our hunt (see below).  I pulled it off a shelf one quiet evening and started reading.  Just goes to show you a book can set you off on some wild adventures:

Fossils in America, by Jay Ellis Ransom (Harper & Row, NY, 1964)

Fossils in America, by Jay Ellis Ransom (Harper & Row, NY, 1964)

20140907_144734_resizedThe book is a wonderful introduction to the fascinating study of prehistoric life, and an exhaustive guide to the major fossil collecting sites in all fifty states.

Who knew that one of the top fossil hunting sites in America was just 60 miles from us?  The Penn Dixie Paleontological and Outdoor Education Center in Blasdell, NY is owned and operated by the Hamburg Natural History Society, Inc. and is on the site of a former quarry operation that was once the source of calcareous shale excavated and used for cement aggregate by the Penn Dixie Cement Company.  The Geological Society of America ranked it the No. 1 fossil park in the country in 2011.

Inspired as we are for any good hunt, we packed a lunch, our digging tools, and lots of water…

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and set off for a day of fossil hunting fun.  For just $7 (adults) or $6 (children), you can spend the whole day scouting for fossils and keep everything you find.  And believe me, there are plenty of fossils…you WILL find them.

Ready for a day's fossil hunting

Ready for a day’s fossil hunting

We were greeted at the entrance by knowledgeable and friendly staff.  You can strike off on your own or there are some enthusiastic college-age guides available to help you track down fossils and enlighten you on what you find.

Entrance to Penn Dixie fossil site

Entrance to Penn Dixie fossil site

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It is said that they will never run out of fossils at Penn Dixie.  Visitors come from all over the country.   We met a nice antique dealer with a fossil fetish from Maryland who was digging near us, hammer and bucket in hand.

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It was a lovely summer Saturday when we were there, and it was not crowded — just peppered with a nice amount of interesting people.  There are a few shaded areas for lunching…

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There is great information on sign boards, explaining the layers of earth and the fossils to be found there.  Here is a sampling of information…

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And now let me show you what we found!  We had a fabulous day at Penn Dixie, and a successful hunt.  Here are some of the fossils we brought home:

Trilobite from Penn Dixie fossil site.  Trilobites are extinct arthropods… distant relatives of modern lobsters, horseshoe crabs and spiders. They lived from the Lower Cambrian Period (521 million years ago) to the end of the Permian (240 million years ago.)

Trilobite from Penn Dixie fossil site. Trilobites are extinct arthropods… distant relatives of modern lobsters, horseshoe crabs and spiders. They lived from the Lower Cambrian Period (521 million years ago) to the end of the Permian (240 million years ago.)

Brachiopod found at Penn Dixie.  Brachiopods have an extensive fossil record, first appearing in rocks dating back to the early part of the Cambrian Period, about 525 million years ago.

Brachiopod found at Penn Dixie. Brachiopods have an extensive fossil record, first appearing in rocks dating back to the early part of the Cambrian Period, about 525 million years ago.

Fossilized coral attached to rock from Penn Dixie site

Fossilized coral attached to rock from Penn Dixie site

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coral imbedded in a rock

shell fossil

shell fossil

 

Here’s a whole table-full of our finds…

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If you go, take water, it is HOT in the quarry on a sunny summer day.  Wear a hat, and comfortable sturdy shoes.   You don’t have to have tools ( you will find fossils just laying around), but it does help.  A hand spade, a hammer and chisel are good.  Maybe some goggles if you plan to split rocks.  Find hours and directions on their website…it is a quiet, out-of-the way location that you wouldn’t even suspect was there.  A fabulous find!!

 

 

 

Minsky’s Magnificent Catalog

20140814_193724_resizedWhat could be more awe-inspiring to a lover of fine bindings than a magnificently produced book filled with eye-popping images and meticulous descriptions of beautiful books from America’s past? 

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Yesterday we received our long-anticipated signed limited edition of American Trade Bindings with Native American Themes 1875-1933.  Richard Minsky has done it again, turning out another gorgeous catalog of American Trade Bindings.  All imaging, page design and binding artfully done by his skillful hands and his great eye for detail.

Every nuance about this book is beautiful, from the nubby texture of the green cloth on the dust jacket…

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to the beveled edge around the design insert on the red cloth cover

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and the beautiful gilt page edges…

20140814_195802_resizedThe images leap from the page with a three-dimensional quality.

20140814_194511_resized  Descriptions of the bindings include intricate details, explaining how certain effects were achieved by the artists.   Fascinating histories of the book artists lend importance to each example of their work, especially as some of these artists were Native Americans.

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All of the books featured in this catalog were collected by Richard Minsky for his Native American Theme Exhibition held earlier this year at his gallery near Hudson, NY, and the end result is this beautiful production which has been years in the making.  You may remember that I did a blog on this Exhibition back in early April of this year.

Richard Minsky is a scholar of book binding, a book artist and founder of the Center for Book Arts in New York City.  He is also a warm, generous and witty man who is passionate about beautiful books and his work.  To learn more about Minsky, his book art, and his magnificent catalogs on decorated American trade bindings, click here.

We were most astounded and honored to be mentioned in his preface… 

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and continue to be grateful that he has brought so much attention to the beautiful bindings of an American publishing era that should never be forgotten. 

This catalog, along with his others, will remain treasured through the ages.

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If you are interested in decorated American trade bindings being offered for sale here at Old Scrolls Book Shop, click HERE.

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