Today was quite a throwback to both earlier days and one of those dreams you have of finding a little bookshop with all those things you wish your local bookshop just happened to have. Apparently word on the street (some Sherlockian street) that a little shop in Verdin, Illinois had gotten a Sherlockian collector's books at some point in the past year or so and was worth a visit. Since Verdin is somewhere between Rob Nunn's city and mine, Rob invited me to meet and shop and have lunch.
Unfortunately for Rob, "Books on the Square" has two locations, the Verdin one and one a half hour north in Springfield, and computer navigation can be a fickle mistress, so while I arrived at the shop at the appointed time, Rob found himself a half hour away. And while I am a good and patient soul, standing on the town square in Virden, Illinois for a half an hour with the only thing of interest in site being the one bookshop we were going to look at . . . well, I went on in without him.
When the clerk asked, "Looking for anything in particular?" however, I replied, "Not really," just to give Rob a fair to get there before I found anything of Sherlockian import. I had already discovered another building the owners had with a one dollar book sale, but exploring that past the edges of the dollar books, I found an amazing selection of E.W. Hornung "Raffles" books and a nice looking biography of Henry Ward Beecher, so I did give him a little time. But as Twitter followers have seen, I still discovered the cache of Sherlock long before he got there. And it was, indeed, a good one.
There were a lot of things one just does not expect to see in an Illinois town of 3,514 people. Not just the recent manuscript reproduction series by the BSI, but the British and French reproductions from earlier days. The Adventure of the Shoscombe Abbey was definitely one I hadn't see before. All of the red-backed BSI history series stood attentively in line. Conan Doyle biographies that weren't on my shelf of Conan Doyle biographies, and that sucker is a few feet of them. It was one of those shopping experiences where you knew your budget was definitely going to run out before your desires ran out. (Thanks to the internet, you definitely don't get the bargains you got in 1985 when even serious dealers didn't always know what they had.)
So what did I buy?
Well, at this point, I've got almost all of the mainstream stuff I really want, and I'm not really a completist collector, going for function over numbers. But when the price is right, I'll still go for something that's just strange, and that's where a couple of my purchases went. First, Ira Bernard Dworkin.