the journal


Collecting Travel Guides

Filed Under retrotravels.net, Uncategorized

Satchel GuidebookHow many stores can your nose recognize? Back when Amazon was just located in South America, I spent my weekends in musty old used bookstores looking for copies of National Geographic magazines and maps.  When I get an old book and carefully open its foxed pages, I always think about those summer days reading the magazines in the back of a shop.

Like many National Geographic collectors, there would come a day when the wife/parents/landlord couldn’t accept the piles of yellow-bordered soft covers and they would need to be ditched.  It was my parents that caused my collection to end up in front of the local library.  I had amassed a collection of every issue from April 1997 (the current issue at the time) all the way back to 1932.  Although a box or two of the old ones escaped donation, I still think about how cool it would be to have bookshelves filled with those golden global guides.

Now I’ve moved onto other musty guides: travel guidebooks from the turn of the century.  I have a modest collection (under 100) that takes up a few shelves in my apartment.  I’m pretty sure my place smells like a used bookstore because of them, but I don’t mind.  It’s the smell of my teens, a time when I could only dream of travel.

Scott Brown, editor of Fine Books & Collections magazine, has recently written a great article over at AbeBooks.com straight-forwardly entitled Collecting Travel Guides. In the article, he hits upon the history some of the elderly forefathers of travel guides – Baedeker, Cook, Locke, Fodor – and shows some of the more sought-after ephemera including a “Biedermeier” Baedeker from 1852 which is currently available for sale on AbeBooks for a measely US$4,370.00.  I can hear you grabbing for your credit card now.

I chuckled a little at a line from the article:

“As always in book collecting, condition affects the price, but since guidebooks were intended to be used while traveling, collectors tend to be more forgiving of wear.”

I think I’m more forgiving than most.  Check out the article here when you get a free moment.

  • laurie

    I love the smell of old books, too! When you read the article did it make you feel good to know you’re not the only one?

  • http://www.imeem.com/people/UrLHU6j Wrigebterlirty

    It’s amazing