Monday, February 24, 2014

S5: Modern Voyages of Discovery, Vol. 2.

This submission was actually not so much a submission for the blog as it was a donation of a book.

At least it was small...

Book: Modern Voyages of Discovery, Vol. 2
Submitted by: Random kid.

Caught up in the moment of watching others in the store use the machine, a lil boy of twelve or so put in his toonie and received this boring-looking tome. He was not pleased. I’ve seen this happen once before where a mother and her two elementary school-aged kids ended up playing the Biblio-Mat slots. She received a book on flowers, her son received a book on horses, and her daughter received a book on accounting in the early 1900’s. This boy that received Modern Voyages of Discovery, Vol 2 didn’t have the same disgusted look, though, and instead of sulking away, he just handed it me and said he didn’t want it.

At least it looks nice on a bookshelf.

Funny enough, this pocket-sized book actually turned to be pretty interesting upon closer inspection. The weathered indigo cloth cover looks fairly mundane but the edges have a faded psychedelic pattern that may have been metallic at one point. 

Hopefully I don't get mercury/lead/copper poisoning.

Opening it up, the 356 pages are in amazing condition as it turns out the book was printed in 1830. 

The only illustration in the whole book.

Written by a Rev. Dionysius Lardner who also had enough suffixes to fill out a dozen business cards, it is the second volume of Modern Voyages of Discovery, which recounts all the important journeys and discoveries of the new world. Flipping through it, I’m going to guess it’s pretty much a collection of different conquests and “liberations”.

Half those titles could've been made up and I would never know.

Anything with Ponce de Leon can't be all that boring.

It's not conquest, it's "liberation".

Sadly, if the kid had actually kept this book, I think he would’ve actually enjoyed it since it reads very similar to The Swiss Family Robinson. Just goes to show that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. (Sometimes you need to look at the edges as well.)

Received an interesting book from the Biblio-Mat? Submit it to

Monday, February 17, 2014

S4: Mr. Punch in London Town

Dropped by the Biblio-Mat for a photo op and out came another book that I wish I had gotten a year ago for the blog:

Book: Mr. Punch in London Town

When were jesters ever non-creepy?

Collecting “the cream of national humour contributed to “Punch” by our leading comic draughtsmen and humourous writers from the year 1900 to the present day”, this 240-page book is an anthology of cartoons, poems, and short stories from the legendary Punch magazine.

Once again, I’m blown away that this was inside the Biblio-Mat as Punch has such a rich history behind it. Started in 1841, it was one of the premier humour mags of its time (think of it like an olden day MAD Magazine). It gave us Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (first published in serial form) as well as John McCrae’s ‘In Flanders Field’ poem, which almost every Canadian recites in school on Remembrance Day. Sadly, it folded in 2002.

While this anthology doesn’t have a publish date, it lists itself as the 15th volume and from the looks of it, I would guess it was from the 1950’s. With 266 cartoons, it is filled to the brim with dad jokes, way before they were considered dad jokes.

Vintage clothbound cover.

The colour-blindness joke is on the only colour illustration in the book.

Oh London...

"You may say I'm a dreamer..."



Moustache stroking should really be in here.

Received an interesting book from the Biblio-Mat? Submit it to

Friday, February 14, 2014

OT3: Love is in the air?

In the grand celebration of Valentine’s/Single Awareness Day I figured I’d post this 1928 gem from The Monkey’s Paw:

If I were to guess, this fruit would be cheese.

Arousing criticism since the 1920's.

Apparently stupidity was once a sin.

Have fun with your friends and loved ones, and remember what John Waters said about making books cool again ;)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

S3: The Human Comedy

A few weeks ago there was a party at The Monkey’s Paw to celebrate the book-a-week project and the Biblio-Mat. Fighting every desire to drop a pocketful of toonies into the Biblio-Mat, I waited near the end of the night to get try my luck with the machine for the first time in 2014. Watching people walk away with everything from young adult fiction to Proterozoic studies, I was unsure what temperament the Biblio-Mat was in but ultimately ended up with what was possibly the most amazing book of the night:

Book: The Human Comedy

Screams antiquity.

Published in 1893, this copy of Honoré de Balzac’s The Human Comedy, published by Peter Fenelon Collier, ranks way up there with The Leisure Hour and The Pathology of Princes in terms of sheer wonder at how it made it into the Biblio-Mat as even though it’s just volume one of three, it’s a gorgeous book that contained a wide selection of his short stories in their entirety.

A tad bit of sun-fading.
Gorgeous cover.

He really doesn't look like a happy man.

The spine was a bit faded but the cover survived the last hundred and twenty-one years extremely well. The gilded lettering kept its brilliance on the embossed black cloth cover with just a few nicks here and there. The 464 interior pages also held up nicely, however, there are only a handful of illustrations inside.
One of the oldest books I've received from the machine.

Half hoping for a cat meme.

"Life is a comedy to those who think; a tragedy to those who feel."

I’ve never studied or read Balzac, being more focused on English Lit, but he being one of authors who kicked off the realism movement, I knew a bit about his works and his immense influence on modern literature, which adds to the amazement that this was in the machine. I didn’t have any intentions to read a Biblio-Mat book cover to cover again this year but with a century-old translated copy of La Comédie humaine at my fingertips, more than a few nights are going be spent delving into French society in the 1800’s.

Monday, February 3, 2014

S2: Myths and Their Meaning

This week’s Biblio-Mat submission comes courtesy of someone with much better photography skills than I:

Book: Myths and Their Meaning
Submitted by: Matthew Wylie

Very much dig the clean design of the cover.
From Matthew:

“This is a wonderful schoolboy's classic (Allyn and Bacon) printed in 1928. This particular text was part of Central C. & M. T. High School's library (Newark, New Jersey - where the author, Max J. Herzberg, taught). The only and last stamped date on this edition is 1933, "Central High School" - Norwood Press; Academy Classics for Junior High School. Furthermore, this is the very textbook that the Headmaster and the Latin teacher would have both had stashed away in their respective offices, while the Philosophy "professor" would have at least, once upon a time, "laid hands upon it." 

The first sentence of the "Illustrative Material" preface (xiv) reads, "This is an age of interest in pictures."”

A very prestigious-looking book. I particularly like how it appears to weave historical artifacts into the text to lend some context of what is being referenced. Also pretty awesome that it's from the same school the author taught at. Thanks for the write up and research into the history, Matthew!

Keep the Biblio-Mat book pics coming - submit to if you’ve received something interesting.