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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

How to date a book

In English the word “date” has multiple meanings, so if you are thinking romance, then sadly this is most likely not for you!

 

Now, when I started working in a book shop and you asked me to find the publication date of the book, I would think “yes I know how to do that” well after a few years I changed to “errr why is it so difficult to find the publication date!”. Now after a few more years, I finally feel I am vaguely getting to grips with the process, and so I thought I would share some of the tips I have picked up.

Snorri the Seal by Frithjof Saelen

When I was very young, even before I could read, I was enthralled by the story of a vain little seal called Snorri.

In the late 50s my big sister Elspeth had been been given the book, “Snorri the Seal” as a prize at her primary school when she was seven years old and I suppose that as she grew out of it, so I grew into it, and became as fascinated by the pictures contained within as Snorri was by his own reflection in the ice.

The book follows the perilous misadventures of a baby seal called Snorri who ignores his mother's warnings about the dangers of the Arctic and its creatures and instead swims happily among the ice-floes. As he wanders further from home he is attacked by Growler the polar bear, spied upon by a pair of scheming seagulls called See and Saw and stalked relentlessly by a killer whale called Grab.

Military Books

View current stock of Military books

It is always pleasant to chat with customers who drop into our Tintern shop, and I have heard all manner of fascinating anecdotes and family recollections and learned many facts over the years which I would not otherwise have known.

The other day, as I was circumnavigating the shop collecting together books for the orders which had been placed online, I was apprehended by two jovial gentlemen in Room 10 - which is currently home to our collection of Military Books. They were astonished by the range, as well as the quality, of our military books section and were enthusiastically working their way around the shelves, calling out delightedly as they discovered some elusive gem or a volume which brought back memories of previous events in their lives.

C.F. Tunnicliffe

View current stock of C.F. Tunnicliffe books

It is often illustrations that people remember from childhood books. They can describe the illustration but have no idea who produced it. I am no exception as I can remember illustrations from the Ladybird book 'What to look for in Winter' very clearly but it is only recently that I have discovered that they were by C.F. Tunnicliffe.

Above: Tunnicliffe illustrations from 'Mereside Chronicle'

Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe was born on 1st December 1901 in Langley near Macclesfield in Cheshire. When he was eighteen months old the family moved to a farm at Sutton Lane Ends where Tunnicliffe spent the rest of his childhood. Tunnicliffe's interest in art began here and his drawings would appear on the walls of the cowshed and stable! His artistic talent was recognised by the Headmaster, Buckley Moffat, and Charles went on to attend the Macclesfield School of Art as well as going to the Manchester School of Art one day a week.

Here Comes The Sun

Meteorology & Climate books in stock

No, don't panic! 

This is not an advance warning of global catastrophe as the planet is consumed by a rampaging sun. Nor, and possibly this may be an even greater relief, does it have anything to do with 1970s television. Note for our younger readers: in the Seventies we'd sit glued to the TV set, possibly by the static electricity from all that damn nylon, as the Holiday programme, hosted by Cliff Michelmore, scorched across our screens to the refrain Here Comes The Sun... Ah, yes, those indeed were the days.

At this time of the year thoughts turn towards our nearest star, or more specifically towards its effects on the weather in our particular corner of the world. After the chill, grey days of winter I think that most people, even the snow-lovers and 'coldies', derive some pleasure from the increasing warmth of the sun's rays on our faces as we go about our business.

Baedeker Guides

View current stock of Baedeker Guides

Baedeker travel guides, with their distinctive red covers with gold titles, although having been published since the 1800s are what is to be considered 'modern' guidebooks. (Interestingly, Baedeker guides published up until 1856, were not the now famous 'red', but a tan colour). At this time, travel literature or personal accounts were by no means a new thing, with some dating back to the 2nd century CE, but how did these famous travel guidebooks come about and how did they differ from previous works?

Karl (Ludwig Johannes) Baedeker (1801-1859) came from a family of booksellers, printers and publishers, so had a background in the business. From 1823-1825, he worked in Berlin at the booksellers Georg Andreas Reimer and then spent some time in Essen (where he was born), working for his father. 1827 really saw Baedeker stepping out on his own fully, when he moved to Koblenz to set up his own bookselling and publishing business.

Seismic Shock

View current stock of Portugal books

The Great Lisbon Earthquake – Physical and Societal Effects

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake (‘terramoto’ in Portuguese), occurred in Portugal on Saturday, 1 November 1755, the holiday of All Saints Day at around 09:40 local time. The earthquake measured at least 8.5 on the Richter scale and together with the fires and a tsunami (‘maremoto’) that were caused, the earthquake almost totally destroyed Lisbon and inflicted severe damage to the Algarve in Southern Portugal. The epicentre was in the Atlantic about 200 km (120 miles) southwest of Cape St. Vincent. It remains difficult to say how many died but probably around 50,000 with an unknown, but vast, number made homeless. 85% of Lisbon's buildings were destroyed.

Edwardian Education

View current stock of books on the Edwardian period

Hard LabourFour shillings per week, 7:00 am to 5:30 pm Monday to Friday and half day on Saturday as well. That is what Reggie earned when he left school aged 14 in 1913 working for Mr. Pidgeon, market gardener.

Just one fact from a fascinating document from St. Stephens school near Saltash in Cornwall. More than just a register; each year a summary survey of the pupils about to leave school was carried out. This looked at their height, weight, where they lived, what their father did, what they wanted to do when they left school and some notes as to what actually transpired in the years after leaving school. In an Education Act in 1907 local authorities were given powers to authorise medical examinations as it was hoped these would help diagnose childhood diseases early. It was possibly this that led to the height and weight measurements being included in this school report of the 29 pupils (17 boys and 12 girls).

Hay-on-Wye

View current stock of Herefordshire books

My decision to write about Hay, or Hay-on-Wye to give our town its full name, stems from a snippet of conversation I overheard during my lunch break a few weeks ago. This is how it went:

Wife: Did you bring the camera?Husband: No I didn't – but there's nothing worth photographing here anyway!

At the time they were standing in full view of the Castle - but facing the other way!

I have always lived near Hay so I thought I would tell you a little about things that I find interesting and, for those who bring their camera, maybe worth photographing. The best place to start, I think, is with the Castle as it is probably the biggest and oldest building in Hay and is built on raised ground above the market square – you can't miss it! Parts of the building date from around 1100 but various sections have been knocked down, damaged, rebuilt, added to and restored in its long and varied history. It has changed hands many times and has survived frequent attacks plus a couple of damaging fires, the most recent of which was in 1977. The castle has been owned by Hay Castle Trust since 2011 and, with the help of Cadw and other partners, they hope to protect and conserve the remaining buildings with a view to opening parts of the castle and grounds to the public. At the moment you can only walk around one the side of the castle from an entrance on Castle Street or from opposite the main car park.

Mabel Lucie Attwell

View current stock of Mabel Lucie Attwell books

As many of you will know, from reading our articles, Maria's favourite children's book illustrator is Mabel Lucie Attwell (see articles on Comforting Thoughts & For Today and Bunty and the Boo Boos). However, on checking, it appears that we have yet to research an article of her history... so here goes!

Snowdon

View current stock of Wales books

‘Twas a dark day when I decided to join my hubby along with Chris, Cliff & Sammy the dog on a trip to North Wales. Now don’t get me wrong, I love North Wales, it is so picturesque. The problem is, I like my hills flat, especially if I have to walk them!

My hubby, Chris, makes the trip to North Wales and the Snowdonia National Park three times a year and walks/climbs/scrambles the various peaks. I usually elect to stay home. This time, however, I needed a break from the kitchen sink and so I decided I would join him. No promises of climbing any hills though!

Autumn Thoughts

What does Autumn mean to you?

To me, it means that Winter is on its way... out come the jumpers and thick tights, shorts and summer tops go away into the loft to be discovered anew next Summer.

Down come the hanging baskets of flowers which have been making the outside of Stella Books look pretty and welcoming all Summer long. Rose's Books' glorious array of petunias is also long gone. My flower tubs at home are looking bedraggled and need emptying for the Winter months. The last mow of grass of the season is also done (I hope!).

Here in the UK, the start of the first and longest term of the school year starts. The children go back to school after the long school summer holiday. If only they knew how quickly the school years will pass them by!

New Uses for Old Passions

View current stock of books about Collecting

I am, as my better half will confirm, a lost cause when it comes to collecting. If I acquire two of anything, by whatever means, it can become the start of a new passion.

I am a completer, for example in music, if I like one piece of music by an artist, I am liable to buy everything they have ever recorded, like it or not, I really must get out more I think.

Anyway when it comes to books my collecting began many years ago as an offshoot of a love of films. It started with studio collections, there were a series of books on the likes of Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Columbia Pictures, United Artists et al, containing a full list of the films made by the studio with details of stars, directors, awards etc.

Swords

View current stock of Swords books

“Never give a sword to a man who can't dance” - Confucius

The sword has been referred to by many as the “Queen of the Weapons” and certainly not without merit. Throughout the ages, the sword possessed beauty in the many forms it took and in the art with which it was adorned. It took skill and a sophisticated knowledge to make a sword and also, it took a lot of skill, knowledge, practice and co-ordination to wield that sword efficiently.

We have quite a collection of swords at home, I am not entirely sure why or how we have acquired most of these to be honest, but at the last count we have a Roman Gladius, two fencing swords, one Tai Chi sword, one wooden practice sword, a metal replica Mediaeval sword and an assortment of foam rubber and plastic 'toy' swords! Most we have on display in some way or another as they do have a certain aesthetic appeal and the toy swords usually get an airing in the summer when my husband and I get it into our heads that it would be fun to stage a theatrical sword fight... and then quite quickly regret it when one of us gets mortally wounded! A recent tidy up and subsequent re-discovery of many of our swords wedged behind bookcases and crammed into umbrella stands; combined with a slightly worrying recent addiction to the TV series 'Game of Thrones', prompted me to investigate further the fascinating history of this 'Queen of Weapons'.

Robert Burns

View current stock of Scotland books

Burns.The very name sets ablaze fierce emotions and reaches the deepest depth of feeling in all Scots. The very name reeks of and is Scotland.

Yet Burns was more. Like Da Vinci, Shakespeare, and Beethoven, Burns rises above limited nationalism to stride the stage of the world. His genius had a universal vision; his humanity embraced the common person world-wide; it goes beyond poetry to understand that the humble ambitions of a mouse are nearer to the grandest ambitions of Man than Man could ever realise.

And all this began in ‘an auld clay biggin’ in Alloway upon the 25th of January, 1759 when the first son of William Burnes (or Burness) and Agnes Broun was born. Raised in poverty as the eldest of seven, Burns substituted words for playthings; early on he was dazzled and fascinated by them as he learned to toss them about and watch them sparkle, form alluring pictures, and -- sometimes -- flare dangerously. The formal education that he had was little and provided by another remarkable man, John Murdoch, who nurtured Burns’ instinctive grasp of English. Another mark of the poet’s intelligence was his greedy devouring of books -- he loved Shakespeare. Later he would learn French and study geometry and surveying. His intellect soared above the conditions it found him in.

Garden Visitors

View current stock of Gardening books

Dull… I hear you say. But wait – these visitors to our garden in Portugal are certainly not dull to look at and most are fascinating to learn about. Join me in a trip around the garden in late summer and autumn.

My husband Cliff and I have been living here in our little country cottage for three months now and have not ceased to be fascinated by the variety of wildlife we see here. When we first arrived at the end of the summer we were amazed at the clouds of butterflies which flew up from the straggly plant bearing pink flowers just by the house. We have since found out that the plant is oregano - both beautiful and useful. The oregano was superseded by the bushes of thyme with their delicate purple flowers. Bees, butterflies and other insects love them.

a journey of discovery

View current stock of Literature books

I finished reading a book a few weeks ago that had such a profound effect upon me that I am still recovering from its influence now! Perhaps you would say this is not such a strange thing for avid readers to experience from time to time, however, what is a little different in this case, is that this particular book was actually written for early teen readers. I know this may prompt some sarcastic commentary on my mental age but, in my early 30s, the achingly beautiful 'Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe' simply blew me away. A somewhat introspective coming-of-age story about two Mexican-American boys growing up in El Paso, Texas, in 1987, the story brings up questions of identity, both in terms of sexuality and culture, the nature of trust and loyalty and explores teenage experimentation with drugs and drinking. The book's real focus though is friendship and how the perspective and love of a good friend can make you look at yourself differently and motivate you to change for the better.

The Wye Valley Railway

View current stock of Railway Books

Having lived in the village of Tintern all my life (since the mid 70s) one of the main things that I wish I had been able to see is steam trains chuffing their way along into Tintern Station. This would have been a spectacular sight as from the south the railway line exits a short tunnel then runs straight on to a bridge across the River Wye before a short run into Tintern Station.

Tintern Station is located at the end of the village about ½ mile from the north edge and about 1 mile by road from Tintern Abbey - although only ½ mile by railway line, as the road follows the river's broad horseshoe bend whilst the railway was constructed to follow a relatively straight line. The station is the only station on the Wye Valley line open to the public, it is operated as a Tourist Attraction by Monmouthshire County Council, and they regularly hold events there. It includes a permanent display charting the history of the railway with so much more information than I could give you in this short article, so well worth a visit if you are in the area.

The Magnificent Wye Valley

View current stock of Wye Valley books

 

It is good indeed to have a haven to retreat to in these troubled times, and the beautiful Wye Valley is just that, not only for myself, and the other families lucky enough to live here, but the many visitors who come to appreciate its many qualities and splendour. It is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with rolling hills, many lovely stone-built houses and a wealth of history. The River Wye is reputed to be Britain's most beautiful river and also one of the cleanest, and its important plant and animal life has made it a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It has been appreciated for centuries, and a "Wye Tour" was considered a must for those wishing to seek out Europe's most picturesque settings.

Wishing For Spring

After the snow in January - I looked out into my garden last week and noticed some Snowdrops and thought, although it's still winter, spring is soon going to be on its way – and I can't wait!!

It's a long-standing joke here at Stella Books that I feel the cold - and come in with many jumper layers in the winter (and sometimes even in the summer!), with blankets to go over my knees and occasionally even heat packs! So I look forward to the warmer days and longer hours of daylight that spring (and summer beyond) bring.

One of my favourite things about the spring time is seeing all the baby animals - spring lambs, baby goats, little cows, piglets - really anything small and cute! At least once during the spring/summer time I have to visit a local farm or petting zoo to see all the new animals. What's better than some fresh air, spring sunshine and adorable baby animals to make you smile, after being cooped up for the winter?!