Awesome Antiquarian Books – Minneapolis

This may well be our favorite Twin Cities book shop, which we visited for the first time during our recent Minnesota trip!

James & Mary Laurie, Booksellers - 250 3rd Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN

James & Mary Laurie, Booksellers – 250 3rd Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN


We spent an entirely wonderful day here!

20150630_122601_resizedTheir hours are 11-6 Monday through Saturday and by appointment.  Free parking available in a small lot on one side of the store (limited number of spaces), but also a big parking ramp nearby.

We found a nice space in the lot at opening time, around 11am.

With an inventory of over 120,000 books, our day was well occupied!


Here’s me, wondering where to start…

This beautiful and large street-level shop also houses more than 30,000 classical and jazz vinyl records, and a gallery of old prints and maps.


To say we were excited about the book selection here is an understatement, especially since there were many nice examples of our favorite specialty, decorated American trade bindings.  But of course there were thousands of interesting books in all genres, and they were in beautiful condition.  The shop is well organized and easy to browse, with pleasant surprises at every turn.


Here are just a few samples of some of the beautiful decorated bindings we found here:









James & Mary Laurie Booksellers was founded in 1969 (they were located for twenty years on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis before moving to this location).   We did not have the pleasure of meeting Mary, but Jim is a super guy, and was wonderful to us during our visit.

Here I am with Jim Laurie

Here I am with Jim Laurie.  He’s a tall one!

After hours of perusing and purchasing books, we broke away for a little pick-me-up at Dunn Brothers Coffee, just around the corner.


Great smile, great coffee!


When we returned to the book shop, we were invited to descend to their warehouse area, where many more books are stored.  Come on along!




Here were many more thousands of books, stacked to the ceiling.  Good thing we had that coffee!!

20150630_145244_resizedWe found several wonderful books down here as well, and added them to our purchases.

Can’t say enough good things about this book store — make sure you pay them a visit if you are ever in Minneapolis!

In the evening, we met my sister Karen and her husband Gene in Spring Park for a sunset cruise on her daughter and son-in-law’s boat.






The weather was perfect for a quiet evening on Lake Minnetonka

20150630_192026_resizedPerfect ending of another Minnesota-beautiful day.





Book Scouting the Midwest – Last Chapter!

After a full day of book scouting in Evanston on Thursday, we headed straight south into Chicago to visit old friends from Canandaigua, New York who had recently relocated to Chicago.  It was great to see my friend Laura and her husband Tony in their new digs!

Laura and Me

Laura and Me

They were kind enough to invite us to dinner and to stay for the night.  After a good supper we took a long walk around beautiful downtown Chicago.


Their beautiful view of Lake Michigan from their living room window

 Lovely view of Lake Michigan from their living room window

In the morning we had coffee and walked around the neighborhood with Laura.  Then we were rolling down the highway again, arriving in Fort Wayne, Indiana at about 2:00pm in front of Hyde Brothers Books.

Hyde Brothers Books, 1428 Wells St., Ft. Wayne, Indiana

Hyde Brothers Books, 1428 Wells St., Ft. Wayne, Indiana

This is a regular stop for us when passing through the Midwest.  An excellent shop with two floors of books in all genres, complete with rolling library ladders.  As always, we made some nice purchases here.  Sam Hyde, who owns this shop, has a brother named Joel who broke off and started his own book shop a few miles away several years ago.  When Joel started his own shop, they came up with a solution to split the inventory; hence, Joel’s shop is called Every Other Book. 

I failed to snap any photos while we visited Joel’s shop —  maybe because we are just a bit road-weary and befuddled, or  possibly due to the fact that we were too engrossed in Joel’s books!  We found a nice stack of collectible quality books here…decorated cloth bindings, a lovely children’s book, and some Modern Library editions.

Anyway, thanks to both the Hyde Brothers for keeping great book shops available in Ft. Wayne and for their hospitality.

We loaded up our books and headed east, driving until 9pm.

Aaargh!  Like hungry pirates adrift too long at sea, we washed up in Toledo, Ohio and took a late dinner at The Black Pearl Restaurant .  Friendly mates and good food!


Black Pearl Restaurant, Toledo, OH

 We stayed overnight at a nearby hotel, and upon waking  we noticed a HUGE antique mall off to the left our room when we stepped outside for a morning stretch.

Maumee Antique Mall, Maumee, OH (Near Toledo)

Maumee Antique Mall, Maumee, OH (Near Toledo)

We had to go in and look for books.  The place has over 300 booths and showcases in over 110,000 square feet of space.

There were quite a few dealers that carried books (some newish, some old) spread out all over the place.  We split up and searched the entire place in about two hours.  We came up with only two collectible books!  We always say that antique malls are where old books go to die, and this was no exception.

Soon, we were on the road again, logging a hundred miles or so before stopping for a late lunch.  Now where do you think we are here??

20130615_152121_resizedWould you believe…Cleveland, Ohio?  We stopped a guy walking a dog in a residential area of Cleveland to ask about finding a good place for lunch, and he was kind enough to tell us about a place called The Sunset Grill on Whiskey Island on the North edge of Cleveland.  It is a place that locals go — I’m not sure anyone from out of town could ever find it without assistance.

It was like a big family picnic that goes on all summer!

Having fun on Whiskey Island - Cleveland, OH

Having fun on Whiskey Island – Cleveland, OH


Bar made from a boat - Sunset Grill, Whiskey Island

Bar made from a boat – Sunset Grill, Whiskey Island

They had the BEST pulled pork sandwich I have ever tasted.

We set out on the last leg of our journey homeward, arriving back at Old Scrolls Book Shop and HOME at about 10pm on Saturday evening, (June 15).

I’ll be back — after a little rest — with a wrap-up and summary of our book scouting journey, and I’ll share photos of some of our wonderful finds.

We hope you enjoyed exploring the Midwest with us!





The Music of Words in the Land of Promise

Land of Promise – The Story of The Northwest Territory, by Walter Havighurst (NY: Macmillan, 1946)

Here is yet another wonderful book which we discovered on our recent book scouting trip.  An author-signed first edition, I bought it to read prior to offering it for sale, because it had me at hello with it’s lovely dust jacket illustration and it’s excellent prose.   What a pleasurable reading experience!  The book is rich in detail on the early history and settlement of the upper Midwestern United States, which in our country’s youth was known as “The “Northwest Territory.”  It is a page-turner, and kept me awake into the wee hours many a night;  had me reaching for the atlas to look up locations being discussed, even planning road trips to explore the places brought to life through the author’s words.

Endpaper maps from “Land of Promise – The Story of the Northwest Territory”

Here is a paragraph regarding the “Mound Builders” of Ohio:

“Above the wooded gorge of the Little Miami River on its way to the Ohio is Fort Ancient, the greatest military stronghold in prehistoric America.  Its grass and tree-grown walls extend four miles and enclose a hundred acres in two rudely triangular areas connected by a serpentine passageway.  Thousands of travelers have wondered at its irregular shape and some have seen clearly marked the outlines of North and South America, joined by the sinuous Isthmus of Panama.  So they credit the Mound Builders of a thousand years ago with a knowledge of geography that no European possessed until centuries later.”

Here are incredible stories from an incredible time in the history of mankind, as early explorers, missionaries, fur traders, followed by settlers moved into unknown territory from the original east coast colonies across the Alleghenies and Appalachians into the wilds of the Midwest.   There is the story of the race to claim the land by the French, the British, and the Americans, all of it long occupied by Native American Tribes.  Then the intrepid surveyors who followed with chain and compass – laying out the sections of land for settlement in places where the wolves howled at night, mosquitoes feasted on them by day, in country that was rough, isolated and difficult.  “They waited, sometimes weeks on end, for an observation of the stars to clinch their meridian.” 

It is also a story of riches found and quickly depleted by man…rich soil, bountiful fur, game, timber, iron and copper.   Here were expansive waterways–broad rivers and Great Lakes, at first mistaken for oceans and a route to the riches of the Orient…which in time became great shipping lanes for American commerce.

And then there are tales like this one, which make you want to grab a shovel and map and set out on a quest:

As a political maneuver In 1749, Celeron de Blainville was sent to reaffirm the authority of France in the upper Ohio Valley…

“In his canoe was an article of baggage which had added to the toil of the portages.  A box, sturdily built and surprisingly heavy for its size, was packed with lead plates, on each of which was printed a declaration of possession “…of said river Ohio, and of all those that therein empty; and of all the land on both sides of said river.”  At the mouth of each important tributary to the Ohio the party moored their canoes, drew up in military ranks on the shore and buried a lead plate in the soft soil.  Then to a nearby sycamore or willow trunk Celeron nailed a tin plaque bearing the arms of France and giving the location of the buried plate and repeating its inscription.

Years after the French claim to that country was forgotten, two of the buried plates were found.  At the mouth of the Muskingum a group of Marietta boys dug a heavy lead slab from an eroded place on the river bank.  They cut off a corner to make rifle bullets, but the remainder of that plate is now in the museum of the American Antiquarian Society at Worcester, Massachusetts.  Another plate, removed from the mouth of the Great Kanawha, is now in possession of the Virginia Historical Society at Richmond.  The rest are still buried at the river mouths.” 

The route to the new lands was first by canoe, raft or sailing ship, or on foot; later by wagons or coaches over rough roads…and then by steam powered ships and boats.  Canals were built to link lakes and communities; then the trains came.   This history of the development of America’s heartland is filled with little known facts about astounding yet little known people, as well as details on the lives of those who became legends, like Jonathan Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed.

The growth of cities, with their destinies determined by waterways, railroads and sometimes pure chance, is brought forth in detail and peppered with many intriguing facts.   Chicago (not expected to grow large) was built upon sloppy marshland; in the 1850’s, a huge project ensued where most of the city’s buildings and roads had to be raised 4 to 8 feet.  In 1858, the Tremont House, a big brick four-story hotel, was one of the last buildings to remain at the old level.  No one had mustered the courage to lift it out of the mud.  George Pullman (later of Pullman railroad car fame), tackled the job and completed it in seven weeks with twelve hundred men.

Walter Havighurst wrote many fine books, including The Long Ships Passing – The Story of the Great Lakes.   His first book, Pier 17  (Macmillan, 1935), was a novel about a waterfront strike on the west coast, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

The Long Ships Passing – The Story of the Great Lakes, by Walter Havighurst

His biography and bibliography is available here.

Havighurst died in 1994.  In his Eulogy, Philip R. Shriver wrote:  “Through the years, Walter gained a mastery of the English language equaled by few. He possessed a rare talent for using words, finding through their combinations melody, harmony, and tone. L. Scott Bailey, a 1948 Miami graduate, once said of Walter that “he could set my soul humming with the music of words.”

This book set my soul humming and filled me with wonder.  It is a fine example of the author’s talent.  A signed first-edition of Land of Promise, and a signed revised enlarged edition of The Long Ships Passing,  are currently available at Old Scrolls Book Shop.

Midwest Book Scouting Trip – Day 3 – Chicago

We drove from Marshall, Michigan to Chicago, Illinois today, and our first stop in the Windy City was O’Gara & Wilson, Ltd. in the Hyde Park area (used book dealers since 1937, reportedly the oldest book store in Chicago).   This is a cozy and enticing shop, everything you hope for in a used book shop.  Floor to ceiling shelves, interesting art and artifacts, loads of well organized books — scholarly subjects, religion, philosophy, old novels…its all there.   I climbed a lot of ladders, looking for the good stuff!

O’Gara & Wilson – Chicago, IL

A transcribing monk at the rear of the store; he's not real, but he startled me!

Just down the block is the original Powell’s at 1501 East 57th Street (before it expanded to Portland, Oregon).  When we first entered the store, I wandered around looking at all the newish books and felt we were going to be disappointed here…but first impressions can be deceiving.  Off in a corner of the store were cases of some very fine antiquarian books, and in the basement, of all places, there were more we gained access to after talking with a helpful member of the staff and explaining the type of books we were looking for…he then led us into the bowels of Powells, behind the locked door.  It always pays to introduce yourself and seek out the most knowledgeable person you can find in a book shop, and give them some idea of the kind of books you are seeking.   Open shops put the books out on their shelves which appeal to their walk-in clientele; often they have the good stuff stashed away.

Powell’s Book Shop – 1501 E. 57th St., Chicago

Chicago has a large number of interesting used & rare book shops; it would be easy to spend at least a week there exploring them.  But we have an appointment with an author in St. Paul, Minnesota on Wednesday, so we really had to move on toward Wisconsin and Minnesota.   Traffic was heavy as we crawled through the city to I-94 West (but when isn’t the traffic heavy in Chicago?).   Sometimes as we’re sweating in the attic floor of a hot building, getting lost in a spaghetti highway system, or stuck in a mile of traffic, Ron and I give each other the look — like, “Are we insane?”  But this is what we do to gather the best books for our customers, and we enjoy all of it, even the hard parts.

A few books we rooted out in the Chicago book hunt

Here are some of our latest finds (sorry about the bedspread backdrop — not a lot of choices in tonight’s hotel room (-:  )

Stay with us as we make our way through Wisconsin and on to….?

%d bloggers like this: