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Encyclopaedia Britannica, and what to do with it.

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Encyclopaedia Britannica, and what to do with it.

Old 9th Mar 2020, 00:25
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Encyclopaedia Britannica, and what to do with it.

A surprise call from my daughter today. An attic is being cleared out and it seems the Britannica I gave them some years ago is mine.

The American professor I bought it from claimed to have paid $9,000 for it, but I was never convinced the fine cover was very thin leather. An believe me, I did look carefully with minimal destruction. I paid him $400 and after a while some $1.38 per lb for my shipping home. In fact, the books were the only thing I had a grumble about customs over. They'd opened a box and left a couple of the mint books strewn open.

One of my first carpentry jobs was to make a huge bookcase that was built into the house to support joists near the staircase. It was okay, but needed better panelling. I sold the house having got to look at a book or two over some ten years.

I've just spent half an hour looking for a photo of them. I have numerous shots but can't find one. Anyway, the shelves were about 6' span and they took up a row and a half.

It seems charity shops don't want them and daughter is talking about taking them to the dump. The vast majority of the pages have never seen the light of day since printing. Me, left to my own devices, would never have parted with anything.

Anyway, any ideas? They're in north London. NW7 IIRC. The expression, A crying shame, comes to mind.
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 01:31
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A librarian at my local elementary school said they'd appreciate another set of encyclopedia books as they didn't have enough computer terminals to go around for everyone to use.

Okay, young children, maybe not your intended audience...
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 02:15
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Used to have a full set of Arthur Mee's Childrens' Encyclopaedia - and they got a workout, suffering more than fair wear and tear. Also my mother had a set of New Standard Encyclopaedia from 1929, and they were in very good nick. All went to the tip many years ago on one of multiple house moves while in the air force.

Now, when I need to know something, I consult the New Standard Wife, who tells me everything that I need to know.
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 03:08
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I don't know about you, but there's a toilet paper shortage here....
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 06:08
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Brought about by people with s46t for brains!!
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 06:12
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Mrs JHS has been badgering me to get rid of my books. She particularly emphasized this every time she came back from her elderly friends, i.e. how they had already tried everywhere but no-one wanted books, and how they had taken them all to the dump.
"What am I going to do with your books when you die? If you don't dispose of them soon, I will be left with the tiresome job of cleaning up!"

The pressure got worse and worse until for some peace and quiet I went through the shelves and formed bundles of books that I could live without. She generously offered to drive them to the book depository/dump. I never counted them precisely, but about 250 went that way back in January. Each time she would come back, look at my shelves and say, "I can't see much difference. Let's keep this going."

I have put some of the better ones on the staircase, "because these ones will be going to XYZ."

My complete works of Shakespeare (which I will surely read one day) are still keeping the bottom of the bookcase stable. Roll on WURS...
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 08:55
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I used to have a full set, along with the complete OED (20 volumes). Looked beautiful in their bookcases.

But then I was downsizing and worked out I hadn't the used the first in years and the second about once every year (mainly browsing).

Eventually a headmaster took them off my hands for his school library.

Replaced the OED with the DVD version. The internet has replaced the first.

Last edited by ORAC; 9th Mar 2020 at 09:37.
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 09:02
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I got rid of a set of Colliers to someone who was a props person for a theater company. I still have a set of Brittanicas that belonged to my parents and they thought that I would like them when they passed away. Can't really get rid of them now unless I inflict them on my kids.
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 09:10
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I have a lovely eleventh edition set, dated 1910. They belonged to my father and, when we moved recently, my wife urged me to dispose of them. However, a few days ago, she was glad we still have them because, when she was researching some family history, she found exactly what she wanted. One of her relatives had visited Morocco in 1896 (or thereabouts) and all the up-to-date detailed information she needed of that time was conveniently and accurately described.

So, when I pop my clogs, she might still keep them!!
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 09:31
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Do you have the "classic" or the three part Encyclopaedia Britannica?
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 09:36
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I liked the Pears, annual volume, bit like the Guinness book of records. Good for browsing and a good primer for browsing Wiki.
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 12:27
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jack, It is leather bound in 28 volumes plus a separate index.
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 12:56
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It is a conundrum. No matter how interesting they are, are they really worth keeping if nobody reads them?

I visit a lot of National Trust properties and some places have huge libraries, all on show, but the books will never be read. I think that is quite sad really, though I do admit that no one would want to read 99% of them. Apparently the books are cleaned every year and their condition logged, but that is the nearest that anyone would read them.

Actually, if you are going to get rid and dump them, the NT might be a good option as they do stock places with generic items (typical of a set period) from the past and put them on display.
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 13:00
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What vintage? I have my father's Children's Encyclopaedia (maybe 10 volumes); while it's not a patch on Wikipedia for actual reference, it is a fascinating window into the time it was published, the engineering and industrial bits are particularly interesting. Some of the commentary on what we now call the Developing World could definitely not be published in the 21st Century!
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 13:22
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When I was quite small I used to see in my grandfather's house a huge single volume encyclopaedia - many inches thick and so heavy I could hardly lift it with both hands. The covers were solid and heavily engraved, either cardboard or possibly plywood. I don't recall what it was called and have never seen anything like it again.
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 14:03
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I grew up with that style.....absolutely loved them!

My parents bought a set of Compton's which were nice but shallow in content....then sprung for the Britannica set....which came with an annual update which we got for years.

I wrote many a Paper in School using that as a source of material.....back in the late 1950's and early 60's.
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 14:27
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Originally Posted by pasta View Post
What vintage? I have my father's Children's Encyclopaedia (maybe 10 volumes); while it's not a patch on Wikipedia for actual reference, it is a fascinating window into the time it was published, the engineering and industrial bits are particularly interesting. Some of the commentary on what we now call the Developing World could definitely not be published in the 21st Century!
I got mine whilst Pa was at Leuchars so that puts it in a 1957-9 timeline. Parts of it definitely not PC.

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Old 9th Mar 2020, 14:49
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Encyclopaedia Britannica, and what to do with it
Well, given the events of the past three years, you should probably discard most of it, say all the bits that refer to Scotland, NI and possibly Wales (do that bit last) and rename it the Encyclopaedia Englandia
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 15:32
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When we moved from Germany a few years ago I gave the twenty odd volumes of Caxtons Encyclopedia to a local English language school, it gave the students something to practise with that wasn't on the syllabus.
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Old 9th Mar 2020, 18:10
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Originally Posted by Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! View Post
Well, given the events of the past three years, you should probably discard most of it, say all the bits that refer to Scotland, NI and possibly Wales (do that bit last) and rename it the Encyclopaedia Englandia

Given the events of the last few weeks I would punch a hole on one corner that will fit over a nail, paper may be in short supply..... well that is untill the MOD release the 2 billion rolls of war reserve "paper toilet, shiny, government property, for the use off" that they know doubt have squirreled away.

Tragic when you can pick up a set off fleabay for under a tenner.
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