Saturday, August 31, 2013

Antique Surprise



Photo courtesy of author
I've recently relocated to Rhode Island.  A few weeks ago I wandered into an antique store in the quaint historic downtown of Newport.  Most of the items in the store were expensive.  Interesting stuff, no doubt, but when I spied a beautiful marble bust for three thousand dollars, I knew most of the items (or as you’ll soon see, almost all of them) were out of my price range.  After a few minutes, however, I discovered a side room and in it a very small stack of books.  In between two large, non-descript books, I found a slim book, about the size of a piece of paper.  It looked to be in good condition.  There was nothing written on the spine, so this of course made me curious.  

I pulled out the thin book and read the title: Washington, The Nation’s Capital by William Howard Taft and James Bryce.

I was excited to learn that William Howard Taft -- our 27th President and later Chief Justice -- wrote a book about Washington D.C.  And I later learned that the coauthor, James Bryce, was the British Ambassador to the US.  

The owner was asking five dollars for the book.  A pittance for some beautiful images and illustrations that made up this slim work.  After further inspection, I realized the binding was beginning to come off the spine.  That would explain the price.  Oh well.  One man’s trash is another’s treasure...so they say.  

I plucked down my cash and walked out with my find.  
William Howard Taft(c) and James Bryce(r) via Wikipedia

Later, when I got home and gently turned the pages, I smiled when I came across a picture in the book (circa 1917) which showed a few sheep grazing in a green pasture.  The caption read, “In the Suburbs of Washington.”  My guess is where there was grass, there is now a mall -- or a highway.  

Oh, how times change.

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