Wednesday, March 25, 2015

a mystery of a book and a 60 year old update

Today I decided to pull out some poetry books, just feeling in the mood. I think over the years I have become more of a poetic reader and writer, as opposed to when I was younger. I remember writing all through my childhood, occasional poetry in my late teens and early twenties, but not much. A few years back, about when I started this blog, I decided I wanted to accustom myself to enjoying poetry that doesn't rhyme, and I am proud to say that I accomplished that goal. I have grown to appreciate more types of poetry than I use to, and have even written a lot of different types myself, including non-rhyming poetry, which can be readily found in the archives.
Anyways, amidst pulling out all my poetry books to pour over, I also pulled out a Shakespeare book, which to me also falls under poetry. This is one of my free library finds during our base library closing (you can read about it in my Death of a Library post), and found myself wondering how old this book is, as it appears to have been well loved.
It is a Modern Library copy of The Comedies of Shakespeare, but oddly does not have a copyright date anywhere to be seen. I have done a ton of searching online today to try and figure this out, with not much luck. This is a listing on Amazon for a used copy that appears to have a dust jacket that was similar to the one I have. I removed it and tossed it though, as it was pretty yucky, being a very old library book and all. That adhesive on the tape they use on the dust jackets looks like it gets pretty nasty after a few years. This listing says it is a 1959 edition, however, I think that may be wrong. I found a lot of listings in Etsy for these old books, and the ones that look like they would be from the same line are listed as being copies from the 1930's or early 1950's.
On the inside title page, near the binding, the library seemed to write the date the book was received and put into their system, as well as some other cataloguing information. The date written in pencil on this book is September 10, 1958. So I think that makes the 1959 date impossible. So, who knows? It is an old book, probably the oldest book I own, I think. I have owned older in the past, but don't currently own them anymore. I find it super interesting that this book has no date anywhere.
Most versions I was finding online had a small date running across the top of this page, which is completely blank on my copy. It is quite perplexing. Were books originally published in the early 1900's without copyright dates printed? I learned that Modern Library started printing books in 1917. Anyone else have a book in their collection without any date? I'd be curious to hear about it!
I do love how incredibly worn this book is. I can just imagine how many people borrowed this book and chuckled through Shakespeare's comedies. Though I have no idea if they are truly funny, I've only read a few of his tragedies. I suppose I should give these a try at some point. I am a tad perplexed at all the random words underlined in red. Ship, mistress, kind, gentle, friend. Weird!  For today though, after all my researching, I am wanting to check out a few of the other poetry books I picked up at my base library during their closing.
 UPDATE: I did find a great article online here, that has helped me to pinpoint this edition to have been published between 1939 and 1962. Since the date written inside from the library is 1958, I would say then that this edition was published somewhere between 1939 to 1958. I have yet to find further info to place it more specifically, as they used this same design for 20 years. I have an inner hunch that it was published in 1957, so if that is true, it is pretty close to being a 60 year old book. Imagine that!


  1. Aren't old books just epic? I love smelling them, feeling them, turning the pages…ahh:D