Saturday 28 July 2012

Cold, Rain, Markets and Old Penguin Books

They rest on our roof for a few minutes. There must be close to
30 of them flying around this evening. 
Winter is still here yet we are half way through it now.  Though we still have another long month to go. While we can't sit around wishing our lives away it was necessary to go out today and forget about the cold. We are just above 0 degrees as I write, there is a large flock of white cockatoos in the trees and on the roof of our house outside the window.  They look like they feel the wind.

Oldest operating brewery in Australia from 1824. You can see
Mt. Wellington in the background.  (stock photo)

They fly down to the Cascade Brewery every day which is a little over a kilometre away from here.  They eat the apples in the large crates as the brewery produces apple juice as well as beer.  There are thousands of apples stored outdoors in their yards. The cockatoos and currawongs stop here on the way back to Mt. Wellington for the night as we are in their flight path.

Salamanca market  (stock photo)
Mt Wellington in background

Today Salamanca Market was on and I went there to meet a mate for lunch. On the way I stopped at a local neighbourhood market and picked up a couple of Penguin books a stall holder had set aside for me. I also found some more at Salamanca. 

Many people who talk to me about Penguin books believe all of them are orange. I am constantly educating people about the variety of the vintage numbered books published before 1970. Today I am sharing a few of  the ones I found today.

Yes this is orange but has
lovely illustration.
Published 1961 number 1659
What so many people think
they all look like.
Published 1944- number 262
I also found a very special one I will post up in more detail as it is very historical and I certainly do not find some of the more obscure ones often in Australia. You'll have to wait for a day or two more to see that one.
Penguin Poets have both beautiful and unusual covers
Number D 108 published 1968
Penguin Plays have geometric designed covers.
Number PL26 published 1960

No. 36- published  1949  An assortment of
short pieces of writing from well known authors.

No 517 - Published 1951
reprinted Green crime Penguin. 

Travellin Penguins come in
many shapes and colours.
I hope people enjoy the assortment as well as the local Hobart scenery.
One of the interesting green crime
cover illustrations. I love these covers.
Number 2323 Published 1965

Thursday 19 July 2012

A Rough Shoot by Geoffrey Household

Vintage Penguin Number 2273
First published 1951 (for Century of Books challenge)
Penguin Published 1965

When I found this Penguin book I loved it right away because I think the cover (by Charles Raymond)  is gorgeous. It is not often that one sees a Penguin book cover that has so much colour in it. Reds, yellows combined with the white title and the author's name in black is quite striking. It also depicts the story very well with a burning car and a fugitive man.

I also found this little paper cut-out in it. I always enjoy finding things in second hand books. The cut-out is navy blue and quite intricate. I wonder where it came from and what the story is behind it.

As I will never know the story behind the cut-out I certainly know the story now of A Rough Shoot.

The book opens with:

"It all began on an autumn evening so silent and peaceful that no one who had the luck to be out-of-doors, with copse and downland stretching away from him till the folds of England vanished into a mist of grey and green, could have a thought of human violence. We had had two weeks of storm, and then came this Tuesday, October 18th, which belonged to late summer.  All the life of grass and hedgerow was too busy satisfying hunger to be on guard.  I didn't fire a shot the whole afternoon - not for lack of opportunity but because I wanted to see what game I had on the shoot and what were its movements if undisturbed."

Told from the first person point of view throughout I was not ready for the roller coaster ride through the following days that the narrator took me through.
One moment he is calmly walking the land, looking at wildlife, hoping to pick off a couple of rabbits for the evening table, the next he is running for his life.

As dark approaches he notices two men who look as if they do not belong in the hedges in front of him. They do not see him. One stands quite bored, gun in hand, while the second is leaning over and into a hedge with his 'trousered backside' in the air. Our narrator is unable to see what he is doing.

When a large bird flies up into the tree above the first man and that man raises his gun and calmly shoots it out of the tree our narrator is quite incensed at such a senseless killing.  In return he decides the men must go and as he is quite a distance behind them he decides to fire some buckshot into the man with the raised backside knowing he is at a sufficient distance to not be hurt seriously.
He shoots, the first man runs off down the slope towards the road at the loud sound of the shotgun and the man who was shot dives forward into the hedge in a slumped position, not moving.

Our gunman is bewildered at the odd position his victim falls into and the fact he is not moving. He carefully approaches the man only to find that when shot, he fell forward onto a spiked item and has died instantly.

From here you know it can only get worse.  The story then takes off as the man who does not want to be convicted of manslaughter finds a way to dispose of the body, at least temporarily until he can gather his wits.
When he secretly goes back the next day to set things right on a more permanent basis there are other people involved.
Travellin Penguin ends up with much
more espionage than rabbits in this story.

This story is very convoluted as he meets the soon to be criminals, all politically related to a movement in Poland involving espionage and spies, a local village landlord, a hastily built airfield, a dead man in a burning car and the shooter's wife hiding two criminal fugitives in the attic of the house as calmly as if they'd been invited for afternoon tea. That is when she is not removing the children in the house to a local ice cream parlour to get them out of the way.

The men become good mates through one of the funniest get away scenes involving leaving the attic catching trains in the dead of night via other trains running in the dead of night in order to get to London to a vacant apartment where the "mystery" package will ultimately be delivered.

There are scenes of riding trains upside down hanging out the window from the roof,  stopping at country pubs, involuntary meetings with locals who threaten to blow the whole getaway open, perseverative police constables who are more like bloodhounds than men and managing all of this as though it was a walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon.

Everyone appears to have good will towards everyone, between their arguments, then you know they will be caught except at the last minute another situation arises, always to their favour that lends itself to yet another amazing escape. They have quite a few conversations about the political situation that developed after WW II, some of it quite hilarious.

"Good God, man, are you going to put your miserable private affairs before service to your country?"

"I never in my life heard such a lousy argument. I was still by no means convinced that I was serving my country, and even less that his wild scheme would benefit anyone but the four men waiting in the boundary hedge. Yet he left me with no possible reply. I didn't wonder the Poles made him a general. He could only  be that or a trooper. All other ranks are supposed to think with their brains."

This book is only 125 pages long yet the amount of activity would suit that of a book twice as long.  It is an excellent read for a train or plane as long as you sit next to someone who doesn't mind you laughing out loud.

I found it to be a purely recreational,  quite enjoyable read, succinctly written culminating in an exciting, satisfying ending.  If people get a chance to read it I would recommend it. It was certainly a fun romp through the English countryside into which I disappeared with some very interesting characters.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

New Penguins Found Today From 20 cents to $1.00

The lovely view of the Tasman Bridge from
the Domain where the U3A class is held.
On Tuesdays I attend a Play Reading course through the University of the 3rd Age. It is great fun so I always look forward to it.  The class takes place in the Phillip Smith Building which is a lovely old building, if at times seemingly falling apart. I notice cracks in the wall don't get much attention.
A group of 12 or 13 people sit around the table and our extremely knowledgeable instructor takes us through various plays to read out loud.

Today we finished The School of Scandal by Sheridan which everyone really had fun with.

Flash and Filigree & The Magic Christian
by Terry Southern
No. 2304 published Penguin 1965

Everyone gets right into character and by the end of the hour long class we are teary with laughter. I have decided that it really is fun to read out loud and many passages actually are much better being read aloud rather than silently.  Next week we will begin Oscar Wilde's play Lady Windemere's Fan which by the way is in Penguin Book number 600.

As if that hour isn't great fun I have established a Tuesday afternoon routine that once the class finishes I then visit the local St Vincent de Paul's shop which is just down the street. I didn't get there last week so was looking forward to going today.  I then went on to the Tip shop as I also had not been there for a couple of weeks.

Number 2837, published 1969

Well, the Penguin gods were smiling as I picked up five lovely old first published books for less than $3.50. One that I didn't have was in the 20 cent bin which is always a pleasant surprise.

I thought I would post up the photos as they look very interesting especially the later published ones in the 2000+ series.

Alain Bombard's book The Bombard Story
is the real 1079.

I also discovered an error in the numbering of the book Barchester Towers. On the spine it is numbered 1079. As I began to catalogue it I noticed I already had another book with the same number. Evidently Penguin made an error printing the number on the spine but when I opened the book up to the first page the correct number of 1180 is present. 

Although marked on the spine with number
1079 it really is number 1180.

I think it is interesting to find little mistakes that publishers make. Most of Penguin's quirks have been recorded through the publications of the Penguin Collector's Society. I'd be surprised if I am the first person to spot this error. And no, it does not make the book worth any more though no doubt I will run into a book seller who will come up with some wild story to increase its price.

 The last book I found was this lovely old copy of Thin Ice by
Compton MacKenzie.  Penguin published several books by
Mr. MacKenzie.  He is an author I don't know much about so I can see there is another "Penguin Job" awaiting me.

It is quite odd how I can go for weeks and not find a single Penguin and then suddenly the ice breaks and they seem to be everywhere.

Tomorrow I will be home most of the day though my husband is meeting me at the movies.  He is housesitting a friend's farm for 6 weeks so we have dates. I think it is a lot of fun and in the dateless moments I have lots of time to read. I might even get a meal out of him.

Happy Page Turning ....

Monday 16 July 2012

New Pelicans and Updated Library Lists

Vintage Penguin Australian
Pelican No. 08
Australia has their own series of
The reason I have not posted up a book review this week or much else is because I am linking a list of all of the Vintage Penguin Books I own to t his blog.
I am almost finished.  Just under the blog heading, Travellin' Penguin I have the links listed.  I still have one more link to finish and should do so in the next day or two.
Eventually I will link other Penguin series as well but the main series takes priority at the moment.
I still need to list the books numbered from 2000 to 3000+

Vintage Penguin Pelican
A 32  (I need Vol I)
This is Vol. 2
I am also finishing up reading a Penguin book by Geoffrey Household that I will be reviewing in a day or two as well.  I chose it because I loved the colours on the cover. Very bright reds! 

This past year has been a big year for accruing Penguin books and it is very time consuming putting them all up on The Library Thing with their photos (where they can also be viewed) as well as getting another list up here.  It will be nice to have an electronic list when I am in the op shops and other places looking for books. I will be able to link my mobile phone with it.  No more little black book with squished up pages.

1949 -How much has changed
since then?
Pelican A 191
Vintage Penguin Pelican
A 85
During the past week I visited the Red Cross book shop where all books range from 50 cents to approx. $2.00 each. Someone had brought in a box of very early Pelicans in excellent condition, many still wearing their dust jackets.  I don't generally pick up all of 
the Pelican books as there are so many of them and I'm not likely to read most of them.  Some of these books have aged better than others. There has been so much change in the world that reading the old Pelicans is more for the sake of interest of what was happening when they were published and much is not relevant anymore.  But they are lovely books and although they stay on the shelves longer than other Penguin series I have decided if they are first published and numbered between 1 to 500 I can store them.

Pelican A 41
published  1939
They will be a nice addition to the library when hopefully the entire Penguin collection will be donated to an Australian university once I can no longer house them.

Feel free to use the list of books I have transferred to this blog from a long used spreadsheet I have worked off from for several years. I don't mind if people copy it for their own use.  After all I don't own it, I too am only using it.

Also if anybody ever wants to donate any books I don't have to my "Australian archive of first published Penguins feel free."

Enjoy the photos of the latest finds at the Red Cross book shop and stay tuned for some book reviews coming your way before long. 
Pelican A 19
Published  1937
Volumes I
Pelican A 46
published  1939

Pelican A 55
Volume II
published 1939

Penguins shopping
for Pelicans today.

Monday 9 July 2012

Preposterous Penguins

As it's Monday I thought I'd post up something a bit more personal with a bit of humour. Everyone needs a laugh on a Monday.

There are so many places to find a Penguin. I thought I might have a regular post to let people know where I come across my Penguins.

Today I found Penguins with Koko and Odie.  Odie loves them, Koko not so much.
Happy Monday as Australia gets it before the rest of the world !

I'm Odie. I am one year old and am learning to
read.  Books about cats are my favourite.
I wasn't allowed books in the pound. I love it here.

Hi,  I'm Koko.  I am special as I have a map of Tasmania imprinted on my face.
Hobart is where my nose is.
I like to read a bit. I thought this book might be better than it was. Couldn't work out who killed
the Mockingbird.
Think I'll go sit on the window sill and watch birds. These Penguins aren't doing it for me today.

I'm only here today because it's MY blog and I am
an attention seeker.  Cool, aren't I !
More on the books in a couple of days.

Saturday 7 July 2012

The Value of Vintage Penguin Books

"Wow!" people say, "Those books must be worth a fortune !"  They may be worth a fortune but more for me providing a fortune to other people as I snap them up everywhere I go.

I think about my Penguin book collection quite a bit. I can't really help it because it is in my face almost constantly.  To me this collection is invaluable.  But not many of them are monetarily valuable.  Yes, there are a few Penguins that are worth more than others.  I'm not telling you which ones because I am still looking for them and besides that is not the purpose of a Penguin collection.
However they are seldom the ones you think they may be.  Penguin, No 1, Ariel by Andre Maurois is not one of them. I tend to find them quite often.

These are some of my "rescued Penguins".
The whole list is on Library Thing and will soon have a link on this blog.

Books are more valuable the more unattainable they are. It is hard to know when I may or may not find an old Penguin book. I seldom find the ones I am looking for. I am sure when I do finally find them I will have to pay more.  Normally I don't spend more than $3.00 or $4.00 per book. Often I get them for 20 cents, 50 cents or $1.00.

Lately I have been working in a huge warehouse that belongs to the estate of a deceased book seller I knew. If I help sort the myriad of books for the closing out book sales I can set aside the Penguins and put an offer on them. It is a good situation but won't last much longer.

P-U-L-P      A horrible word. Wonder who saved this one.
Thank you whoever you are.
I think what bothers me the most about Penguin books are book sellers asking outrageous prices for them especially in on-line auctions. Currently the book, The Black Girl in Search of God by Bernard Shaw is listed for $34.70 + $8.60 postage within Australia on eBay. I have seen numerous copies of this in the Tip shop down the road. Also the $8.60 postage should be $3.00 for the weight of the book (if that). A complete scam.

Vintage Penguin books are collectable because people love reading them. They love their history. With publication having begun in 1935 and ending in approximately 1970 a voracious reader could follow quite a chronological social history of not only the UK but of the world.

Some people only collect the cerise Travel and Adventure ones or the Green ones favouring Crime stories.

There are also all the other series of Penguin books from this time. The Puffins for children, the non fiction Pelicans, music scores, film magazines and many more too numerous to mention here.
Why can't the book seller just give these to a nursing home
instead of scribbling all over it like this?

The illustrations of some of the Penguin book covers especially for people who collect specific illustrators are exciting for many.

Hunting down the Penguins and ticking off the numbers on their spines are fun for more obsessive people such as myself. Love to see those chronological numbers in order on my shelves.

However there is a silent war happening against Penguin books.  For example there are two major charity services in Hobart. One is Vinnies (St Vincent de Paul) and the other the Salvos (Salvation Army).  I have never in my life found a single Penguin book in a Salvos shop. I find them all the time in Vinnie's. Obviously Salvos are not saving the Penguin books that come in. They receive so many donations that are not suitable for anyone they apparently have included old paperback books amongst this lot.

Someone got a bargain here.
The main problem is they are paperbacks.  Most of these old books are not in mint condition. I almost throw a party if I find one with a dust jacket still intact.

Paperbacks appear to equate with rubbish to many. Keep the hard covered books but an old paperback with an orange cover, no picture might as well be first on the pile.

Second hand booksellers toss them when they can't get $12.00 or $15.00 for them. I wonder if they notice though how they sell when the price is marked down to $3.00.  The whole premise of Allen Lane establishing the Penguin publishing company in 1935 was to provide a good read for a very affordable price.

The thought of going through life with extinct Penguins makes me quite sad.  My goal is to get as complete of a set of Penguins that I am able to in order to have a full collection of them.  I will never reach this goal and I may have a good 20 years more to collect these if I'm lucky.  But I hope they go somewhere to someone who will love the romance, the detectives, the war heroes , the explorers, the comediennes and the animals as much as I do. I visit all the continents through these  stories. I meet incredibly hilarious people or excruciating bores. Men, women, children. The young through to the elderly. The morally upright to an old lady crook stuffing diamonds in loaves of bread as part of her smuggling ring she belongs to.

Where do you think the next stop is for this book
if it does not sell?
Penguins are not predictable.  They were written by brilliant, creative authors. Some more well known than others. Some were one hit wonders and then disappeared. Others like Hemingway, Graham Greene or John Steinbeck will never be forgotten. 

If you're so inclined wandering around in Op shops and you see a Penguin book in the "Last Hope for Life" bin as I like to call it buy it. Give it a home. Make up a little collection. Put them some place safe.
I know nothing is forever but I would love to keep them alive and maybe thriving for yet another century.

 Save a Penguin. If not for yourself then give it to someone as a gift. They are a wonderful piece of literary history within this world of modern, pop culture and e Books ....... and "No" you won't get rich with them but they will bring lots of fun to your reading life.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Penguins, Pelicans & Puffins

Pelicans on the water at Cornelian Bay. 
They don't seem to mind the cold.
Today I had a solid day of birds and books. All of the books were birds. Some of the birds were books.
Being the first Sunday of the month, it was the monthly scooter club ride for our little group T-tag (Tasmania Twist and Go).  The temperature was 5 degrees C and there was a heavy fog especially north of our meeting place at Cornelian Bay along the Derwent River.  Rain was predicted. As usual only two of us turned up, the two die-hards who will ride in any weather.

We rode out to Salmon Ponds which is a heritage fish farming enterprise from the 1800's. They are known for their heated premises, stunning crepes with banana and chocolate with cream and ice cream and a hot cappuccino. (They have a lot of trout too and the occasional platypus.)

Both of us were a bit tired and the cold, although we dressed for it can be a bit distracting. My mate headed for home and I also thought that direction would be desirable.  However I have not been to the tip shop in this rural area in a very long time. I decided to make one more stop.
Travellin' Penguin heads for the books at the
New Norfolk Tip shop closing down sale.

It is easy to describe this tip shop. I always feel like Bette Davis walking into it, just need the long cigarette holder instead of a motorbike jacket, look around and say,  "What a dump!"  It is dusty, dirty, filthy. I sneezed several times as I moved across the cold cement floor to my first stop. First stop was a shopping trolley full of bashed up books. Free books. Had to have a look but didn't think I'd find anything.

I saw a beautiful old hard cover book at the bottom. Reached down and picked up....the cover.  Gorgeous, however the cover was all there was, no book. There was nothing else. Nada, Nil, Zero, Bupkis.

Then to the shelves. First I had to go by the guy at the counter,
"Nice bike love. "  
My reply, "Yes, I like it, It goes right along." 
"Yeah?  She go very fast? "  
"Yeah, it goes fast enough".  
Conversation ended.

I had to laugh as I went past a few teenage girls going through the bookshelves. Lots of Mills and Boons,  books based on very old American 1970's TV shows, and yet another book called, "Rats at War" with a large illustration of rats fighting, carrying little weapons in a field with a barn nearby. I was tempted to buy it and review it for the fun of it but thought, "Nah Love, get outta here."

I laughed as the girls gathered up many of these books excited about the prospect of reading them all.  It is always so interesting to see what people love reading. It was fun.

1956 Pelican Number A 369

Prices are very cheap at the best of times at this tip shop but turns out today was a 75% off everything Closing Down sale. Evidently this dirty old tip shop has had its day and is yet another victim of the Global Financial Crisis or perhaps the developers want this prime piece of real estate.

I had to laugh when I took my rescued birds to the counter. The same guy who liked my bike so much reached for the books, put them down on the counter and then dragged a large calculator in front of him.
He meticulously opened each book, typed in a number, looked at the next book, typed in another number until he got to the last book. He then punched in a few more decimals, I am assuming the - 75% but the process he used seemed very long.  He  hit the off switch, looked up and said,  "Fifty cents love."

I think the original prices were only 10 or 20 cents to start with.  "No worries mate" as I handed over a 50 cent coin and ran the gamut of yet more junk back to the front door to escape into some fresh air.

The ride home along the Derwent River back to Hobart.
Looks cold doesn't it !  It was.
I felt like I wasn't collecting books so much as rescuing birds from a certain death. Everything in this place will no doubt be bull dozed into landfill.  I am happy to report I cleared out anything Penguin produced as a first published before 1970 and they are now here at home, having been cleaned up, put onto warm shelves and will be happily read one day.  No early burial for these guys.

Yes I do anthromorphise my books.  The photos show you what I saved today for my Australian Penguin "archive" I'm trying to develop here.  I feel good. My work is done for the day.

Now off for a hot bath, a cup of coffee and a good book. A newer book, the old Penguins aren't good with water.

If you'd like to see the first published Penguin family books that have been saved and successfully re-homed please scroll down.

1967 Puffin            Number PS 295
1964 Puffin           Number PS 222

1958 Penguin        Number  1275
1964 Penguin           Number 2167
1968 Penguin      Number 2897
1964 Peregrine     Number Y 39

What a find this was!!
1949 Puffin            Number 40
1964 Australian Pelican    Number AU  8

Safely garaged at the end of the day