Went to visit the parental units today and *squeeeee* they gave me my dad's old 10-volume set of children's stories. Now, what makes this one special is he got it from his grandmother.
The set has a date of 1912 (first printing) and 1918 (revised edition) on it, which means many of the fairy tales in the first volume of this set are in original form. For example: Red Riding Hood ends her story by getting eaten. Goldilocks and the Three Bears is actually The Old Woman and the Three Bears and she escapes by jumping out of a window. Other stories are in the beginning stages of being toned down. Cinderella's evil stepsisters don't get their eyes poked out by birds at the end of the story, but instead are married off to gentlemen of the court and forced to be her maids-in-waiting. Hansel and Grethel (yes, Grethel!) aren't eaten by the witch, but they do kill her, steal her stuff, and get back home to dad.
All the illustrators are names you might recognize, including one Maxfield Parrish.
So deeply cool, complete with rag pages (not wood pulp) and *very* well-loved spines (I'll have to get them rebound at some point). The volumes in the worst condition are one (my brother and me) and ten (the poetry volume which is due to my then seven-year-old dad).
And let me tell you, the collection in just the first volume would put many attempts at multiculturalism to shame. There are stories from Russia, Poland, China, Japan, Jamaica, New Guinea, France, Spain, Ireland, India, Native Americans (called American Indians in the book), Scandinavia, as well as the usual suspects of the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Perrault, and Aesop.
Let me repeat the year these books were published (because it's sooooo worth repeating): 1918.
My odd collection of very old books is growing. I have turn-of-the-century editions of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Wonder Book for Boys and Girls (illustrated by Mr. Parrish) and The House of Seven Gables courtesy of an uncle (mayherestinpeace), as well as a turn-of-the-century book of Irish folk tales and a primer.
The Nathaniel Hawthorne books (and I'm a Nathaniel Hawthorne freak) were a huge surprise. My uncle had all these books in his (damp, musty, mold-infested) basement and he let my brother and I rummage around to dig out his collection first edition Wizard of Oz books so my brother could give them a good home. I found the four books in the paragraph above, pulled them out, and told my uncle he should find a book dealer so they'd find a good home, rather than let these volume rot in the basement.
Anyway, six months later, he and my aunt move. Then he falls ill with cancer. Goes temporarily into remission. Then dies from cancer. So, we're talking two years from the time I dig these books out to the time he dies. I don't give these books even a thought. Hell, I forgot that I even dug them out to begin with. Two months after my uncle was buried, my aunt brings out these very same books and hands them to me. She tells me that he kept these books out and was going to give them a good home by giving them to me for a b-day present, but he fell ill the first the time. When he fell ill the second time and it looked like this was it, he told her to give them to me after he passed on.
Damn. I do love those books. Here's to you uncle, you ol' Yankee you.
So, score on the antique books. Twice in one lifetime. Sheesh. I could get myself addicted to this.