4 Reasons to Preserve Antique Books

From my personal collection: Lives of the Queens of England by Agnes Strickland, circa 1845.

From my personal collection: Lives of the Queens of England by Agnes Strickland, circa 1845.

I love books! Actually, a more accurate word might be treasure.
I treasure books, so much, that on the rare occasion when I lend a beloved book, said borrower receives a charmingly delivered threat on their life if said book should be damaged whilst in their possession.

The sight of torn pages and a battered spine makes me want to cry, especially when it’s an old book. Antique books ought to be treasured so they last for future generations.

But Angela, you say, why bother saving old, musty books with their contrived language and outdated narrative style?

First of all, if you cannot appreciate the studious perfume that is the scent of old books, then I legitimately pity your nose. Secondly, I present for your consideration . . .

4 Reasons to Preserve Antique Books.

1. For the History
Antique books are time capsules through which we can remember our history. Not simply remember, but experience and understand historical facts from a human point of view. Without Oliver Twist could we truly understand the hardships an orphaned child faced in 19th century London? We might read the statistics, but Dickens’ words give those statistics a name and elicit feeling. His “out-dated” prose makes us care about history. A triumph which does not fade though its pages yellow.

From my personal collection: Old 1843 advertisement for the works of Charles Dickens in the back of Lives of the Queens of England.

From my personal collection: Old 1843 advertisement for the works of Charles Dickens in the back of Lives of the Queens of England.

2. For the Art
Deckle Edges. Illuminated Manuscripts. Custom bindings in a variety of styles—from Cosway’s tiny portraits to the reflective finish of Polished Calf. Antique books are little masterpieces, each uniquely handcrafted by skilled artisans. In today’s mass-produced, made in China world, old books are a rare and beautiful thing. While some may not appreciate their artistic qualities, I for one believe antique books should be preserved and valued like paintings in a museum. Because do we really want future generations to miss the magical wonder that is fore edge painting?

3. For the Language

Reading an old book you can learn how people felt, believed, and spoke in times of yore through the lovely, “antiquated” phrases printed on every page. By experiencing their period language, you get a feel for the unique culture and time the book portrays. “It is a truth universally acknowledged,” suddenly transports us to Regency era England where gentlemen “ardently admire” and “coxcombs” journey to London for a haircut. Like a time machine fueled with ink, the words of the era transports us to those character’s doorsteps. How unfortunate it would be to never meet Emma and Mr. Knightly simply because their lengthy sentences don’t fit today’s Tweetable vocabulary. Badly done, indeed.

"Say 'No' if it is to be be said. She could really say nothing" - an illustration by Chris Hammond of an 1898 edition of the novel Emma by Jane Austen. Source: Houghton Typ 805.98.1770, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

“Say ‘No’ if it is to be be said. She could really say nothing” – an illustration by Chris Hammond of an 1898 edition of the novel Emma by Jane Austen. Source: Houghton Typ 805.98.1770, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

4. For the Stories

Some of the best stories of all time reside in antique books. How do I know they are the best? Because Hollywood filmmakers are still copying—ahem, I mean, drawing inspiration—from them today! The romance of Miss Bennet and Mr. Darcy. The genius of Sherlock Holmes. The adventure of Around the World in 80 Days. There is a reason facets of these characters and tales keep reappearing in our modern narratives—they are simply that good. Timeless. Despite copyrights dated a hundred or more years ago, they still have the power to move us. Take readers on a journey. And this, I think, may be the greatest reason to preserve old books—to ensure that the adventure never ends. 

Do you own any antique books? I’d love to hear about them in the comment section below! And for those who wish to read more about preserving old books, please order The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection to enjoy my novella, The Substitute Bride, in which my characters endeavor to save a library and their marriage.

2 thoughts on “4 Reasons to Preserve Antique Books

    • Good day, Victoria! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.
      I will admit that some antique books can be laborious to read. I have started a few where the old writing style was so slow paced and contrived that I was unable to finish. But there are enough excellent ones to be found that my love of antique books, old style and all, endures! :-)
      And yes, the smell is a big factor. 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>