There are two of us, Sophisticated Readers, living 100 miles apart. We are online only, when it comes to selling, but hands-on only, when it comes to selecting our books.
Some times, we experience an ineffable mystery of connection to our finds: an indescribable cosmic link between us, the pickers, and the books we pick.
Once, at an outdoor book sale in Carlsbad, in the midst of thousands of books piled high on folding tables, I put my hand on an uncommon Charles Bukowski book of poetry: a birthday gift for Sophisticated Reader #2 who avidly collects him. Another time, in Los Angeles, at a thrift store, while out picking books with Sophisticated Reader #2, a Bukowski book fell off a book shelf and landed on top of her head. Luckily, it was a soft cover. Also, luckily, it was autographed by Sean Penn.
You can feel the magic when this happens. “Wait a minute!” the inner voice commands, as if this coincidence, this Jungian synchronicity, could not have happened the way it did. Moments like this are memorable because they are random and infrequent. But recurring. Of course, they do not always involve Bukowski (although wouldn’t that be nice)?
Take the set of Art Deco Fashion Design books, above, we are now selling. The scarce set includes both 17 softcover correspondence-school lessons in fashion design (1930s-’40s), plus a 1938 hardcover fashion design book by the same author & publisher. The hardcover is illustrated , with a surprise bonus of a valuable Deco pochoir fashion plate, tucked inside.
The magic in this pick is that I bought the softcover design-class books in March at an auction in Vista. Sophisticated Reader #2 bought the hardcover recently, at a sale of antique books in Glendale. Our picks were months and miles apart. The books are only, now, re-united, as if there had never been any time or distance between them. They belong together.
Over the many years Sophisticated Reader #2 and I have collected, we’ve never run across these titles. Sophisticated Reader #2 didn’t know I had purchased the lot of fashion design correspondence books, until she told me about her Art Deco fashion design find. But, her book, when added to the school lessons I already had, greatly increased the books’ combined value, for more than one reason.
To paraphrase, the great Kurt Vonnegut, “If this isn’t magic, I don’t know what is.”