Librarians, booksellers, and those of us who frequent secondhand bookstores and book sales have probably all had the experience of finding “surprises” between the pages of books. I asked those on the Bob on Books Facebook page about the things they found between the pages. That made for some interesting reading and I thought I’d share some of it with you.
Some of the more commonly found items were:
- pressed flowers or leaves.
- stamps, envelopes, newspaper clippings.
- boarding passes and various kinds of tickets, including a Gone With the Wind ticket from a vintage theater.
- bookmarks–stands to reason.
- tissues–mostly clean ones fortunately.
- postcards, holy cards, business cards, and pictures.
This last was interesting. Several reported finding anywhere from $20 to $500 in a book. In the latter case, the $500 was from a father to a daughter who took five years to find a particular book and included $100 for each year. Another found $40 in a book that he remembered had been his emergency bank stash back in the 1970’s that he’d forgotten about. Another forgot about the $40 he put in a library book and received back from an honest librarian. One person found 10 $2 bills, and another currency from Texas in a book on Texas history.
One takeaway from one of the people on the page was to go through your relatives books before disposing of them. It appears that the habit of stashing away money in books and then forgetting it is a widespread one. If you don’t someone else may get a very nice surprise!
There were some more unusual finds:
- Someone found a toothbrush (fortunately in its package).
- Several people left ultrasounds in books. One even received a congratulatory card from the book’s new owner!
- A bank ATM card.
- Several notes with the same phone number and the message “CALL ME.” Wisely, the new owner of the book didn’t.
- A guitar pick.
- A wrapped condom.
- A book signed by JFK.
- A mother looking through a son’s book found a nude picture of his girlfriend. I responded “busted!” to which the poster replied, “Yes, she was.”
Perhaps one of the most interesting stories was of someone who bought a box of old books at an auction only to discover that the 1890 invitation to a New Orleans Mardi Gras ball was worth more than the lot of them.
Part of the serendipity of shopping for secondhand books is that you never know what you might find. Usually we are thinking of the books themselves, but sometimes it is the objects one finds between the pages rather than on them. Sometimes we gain a glimpse into the previous owner’s life. Sometimes it is a great old bookmark. And sometimes, what we find may more than pay for the book. It may not be why we shop for secondhand books, but it sure can make them fun!