Tuesday, 30 March 2010

My Latest Op Shop Find (aka My Love of Vintage Books)

I mentioned in my last blog post that I love to go op shopping (that's thrift shopping for the non-Aussies) and that I love to find vintage books.  So today's post is all about my latest find and some of the uses I have for vintage books.

Miss 4's kindergarten is closely situated to a small shopping precinct and I am constantly there for extra groceries when I pick her up from kinder.  There are also two op shops in this area, both of which I love to visit.  On my most recent kindergarten pick up, I spotted this amazing encyclopaedia in one of the shops.

I browsed through the pages and fell in love!  I bought it, of course, and took it home for further inspection.  It was published in early 1939 and is entitled The Modern Reference Encyclopaedia: Illustrated (the "modern" bit gave my husband and I a little laugh).


It has over 1000 pages of information, fantastic illustrations on almost every page and 51 sepia-coloured photos of prominent people and places at the time (sorry, I forgot to get a scan of one of these).  It even has a short dictionary of Aboriginal words and their meanings and areas of use, a printed world clock telling one the time around the world when it is midday in Melbourne and Sydney, information on world currencies and monetary conversion rates and a short survey of Australia's population numbers (just under 6.9 million at the time of printing; it's now just over 22 million, yikes).  Oh, and for all the cricket fans out there, let's not forget the three pages chronicling the results of Australia vs. England in Test match cricket between 1876 and 1938!

One of the many beautiful illustrations in the encyclopaedia.

So why do I purchase vintage books (besides the fact that they are beautiful and fun to look through)?  Firstly, I have found them to be very handy photography props for my product photos on Etsy, although I probably don't utilise them enough for this purpose.  I have also found them to be great for upcycling in my craft work, but I do double check that I am not cutting up a world heritage tome of renown first!  One of the things I love to create with pages from vintage books is vintage-look wall art inspired by blogger Mrs Limestone.  My somewhat boring main toilet is now a little more interesting after the addition of two such works to the walls (I used vintage illustrations of seashells for these).  I also recently made one to give to my husband's great aunt as part of her 90th birthday present (see below).  Edit: I gave in to all your positive comments and have started selling my vintage wall art creations in my Etsy store too!
Vintage illustration of tulips printed on a dictionary page defining the word "tulip".

Recent customers to my store will also notice that I am now using pages of vintage books as part of my packaging.  I use pages to make small envelopes for the jewellery pieces I sell and I like to stamp or print vintage or vintage-style illustrations onto them as well.  And finally, I find that shapes cut from vintage pages add great interest to my paper craft creations when teamed with plain or handmade coloured paper.

I hope my rather long and rambling post hasn't bored you to tears, but hopefully this will help my readers to see just why I love finding old and vintage books so much.  Do you love vintage books too?  If you do, I would love to hear about how you use them in your craft, or if you simply admire them and use them to beautify your bookshelf.


  1. Oooh that's a good find...I love those kind of things...and your wall art looks fabulous...you should sell some of those on etsy!

  2. I love your tulip pic! The background really works. I can't say I really like vintage books (possibly because I don't like the smell!) but I love what you do with them.

  3. Deb I adore old books. I especially like reference books, as it shows the difference in how things are viewed over time. I have a hard time cutting them up, but I have a few that are in bad shape anyway I plan to use for some projects.

  4. that's a great idea deb! Love the stamps and the tulip. Stuff like that are popular on valentines, holidays etc!

  5. I wouldn't be able to bring myself to put the scissors to the books... they are just so lovely! I really adore the illustrations that you find in vintage dictionaries and encyclopedia.

  6. Great find! Love the sound of your new packaging

  7. Love the concept, agree that I don't like the musty smell but also find that there is something so wonderful about old books... not something you can explain away. I also agree you could sell those on Etsy. Great blog post.

  8. I love old books too - I can't walk past an op-shop without buying at least one...

    I really love your packaging idea: simple but with lots of character, very nice!

  9. What a great find, and I love what you are doing with the pages.

  10. I never pay attention to the books section at op shops (I'm usually too preoccuppied with the clothes) because I don't really like to read used books but this post made me realise how much more I can do with them. My head is buzzing with ideas now, thanks! :D


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