I had just purchased a volume from a used book dealer when she asked what other titles were on my "want list." I gave her a copy of my current list but, as it turned out, she had none of those books in stock. Normally I would have just thanked her and moved on, but for some reason I felt compelled to ask, "Do you have anything really odd or unusual?"
She thought for a moment, then said, "Well, I do have a dummy book...."
"The binding says it's called THE GIANTS OF LILLIPUTANIA, but the pages inside are blank.What makes this one interesting," she said, "is that it once belonged to Lois Lenski. She was employed by this publisher in the 1920s and used the volume as a journal of her work.""I'll take it!" I said.
The book is mostly blank, but many pages are filled with notes in Ms. Lenski's distinctive, neat handwriting.I am going to have to do some reseach on Lenski's life and career, because I'm still not clear what type of position she held at Platt and Munk publishers. Many of the pages make it seem she was selling books directly to stores such as Woolworth's, yet other pages appear to indicate she was involved in book production, with extensive notes on specific illustrations that were sent to printers, the dates they were due back, the dates proofs were received, etc.
Though I need to do a lot more research on what, exactly, these notes mean, for now I'm just satisfied reading all the titles (LITTLE SUNBEAMS BOOK, LITTLE CHUMS BOOK, ROSEBUD STORIES) Lenski painstakingly recorded, trying to decipher the meanings behind the different measurements and cost allocations scattered throughout the pages, and enjoying the notes and paper samples which are affixed to the pages not with tape or staples -- but with straight pins!
It's certainly a one-of-a-kind volume and I never would have known about it if I hadn't asked, "Do you have anything really odd or unusual?"