The person who runs Forgotten Bookmarks says: “I work at a used and rare bookstore, and I buy books from people everyday. These are the personal, funny, heartbreaking and weird things I find in those books.” Telegrams, death notices, photos, letters, a coupon for Octagon Soap Chips (buy one get one free—with translations into Italian, Polish, and Yiddish!) found in Lou Gehrig: Boy of the Sand Lots by Guernsey Van Riper, Jr. (Bobbs Merrill, 1949)… This is a great site. And if you leave a comment on this post before tomorrow, you have a chance to win a beautiful 1941 Heritage Press edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, complete in one volume. (Via MetaFilter.)


  1. The Used Book Cellar at the Brookline Booksmith has a similar archive of finds of the week.
    For individuals who run into these (on a much smaller scale, of course), the question is, do you accumulate them separately or keep them in the book (as I usually do — yesterday it was ’60s Mexican postcards of Can-can dancers and a brutalist hotel in one on Diego Rivera)?

  2. Keep them in the book and make a copy.

  3. John Emerson says

    I think I’ve told this story: I once found a note in a translated book by the co-translator, a graduate student who explained that the author of the book had rejected his work and had had it reassigned to a new translator. The writer of the note (whose name did appear on the title page, probably for legal reasons) had not been invited to the conference on the book. It was a genuinely distressing note; the guy was at the very beginning of his career and had a big black mark already.

  4. Glad you guys are enjoying my site – thanks for the mention!

  5. Very interesting, thank you, Languagehat! We find some odd things in books when we prepare for the Friends of the Library book sale, too.

  6. Cherie Kartchner says

    I once found, in the library stacks of a religious college, a set of several dozen thick old (18-19th c.). That wasn’t the interesting part. The interesting part was opening them — apparently nobody had leafed through them in a long time, because I found pressed in them flowers, stems, and leaves, as well as bits of paper and things indicating they were bibles from a mission to China. I don’t know if the botanica was Chinese or from “home,” wherever that was for the missionaries. I wanted to take a flower, but I left them as I found them. I wonder if they are still there?

  7. jamessal says

    This is unbelievable. I bought the giveaway edition of Alice, minus the slip cover, at a secondhand shop not six weeks ago — for five dollars! I had known I was getting a good deal for such a handsome book, but it wasn’t until just now that I thought to look up its real value: $150 with markings and wear at Amazon (and mine looks like it’s never been read)!

  8. jamessal says

    I had known I was getting a good deal for such a handsome book
    Such a handsome set, that is.

  9. Last night I picked up a used copy of Hana al-Shaykh’s Women of Sand and Myrrh. The bookmark left inside is a post-it note with a local hospital logo and phone number and a handwritten note:
    How are you going to keep from using?

    It looks like Dina got as far as page 25, because that’s where the bookmark is and that’s where the pink highlighting ends.
    Who was Dina? Maybe Arab? Is “Dina” from “Deen”, Arabic for “faith”? Did she stop using? And whatever happened to her that her book was donated to charity? Perhaps she was sent back to the Middle East by her family, as has happened before to those who found the temptations of the West too hard to navigate.

  10. Funny story: I checked out a book from the local library recently. This is a book I’ve read before, but it had been a while and I was in the mood to read it again. I opened it up and out fell a photo of my family! Apparently the last time I read the book I used an old picture as a bookmark, and it had been waiting at the library for me ever since.

  11. and a brutalist hotel in one on Diego Rivera
    I was quite relieved to google “brutalist hotel” and find it was related to both cement and Le Corbusier.

  12. Tom- Affiliate Link Cloaker says

    It is pretty interesting to read other peoples experiences about their lives, Hope i win the book.

  13. AJP Crown can probably more accurately identify the style and perhaps even the architect. (I don’t think it’s someone I should know like Mario Pani.)
    The site is apparently for users to share their finds.

  14. I can’t really help; except that it looks like a ‘fifties, International Style design with a podium — see SOM’s glass Lever House, of 1952. The cars in the picture seem to confirm the approximate date.

  15. Sorry, I meant to say that I like the podium and the other picture with the floating man.

  16. The book in which they were inserted was the 1966 edition. No doubt the building and photograph were a few years old.
    The Hotel El Presidente was one of César Balsa‘s. Which makes sense: a smart young Harvard (or MIT or BU) man (or woman) retiring this year and jettisoning most of their books would have stayed in the Zona Rosa in the mid-60s. Rivera murals and the MNAH by day and trendy nightlife.
    Which is, of course, why these bookmarks are so inviting.
    The hotel was apparently severely damaged by the September 19, 1985 M8.1 earthquake. It has been replaced by this, with its Vasarely reticulations. (Not that that stops the robots behind this from listing it.)

  17. Rivera murals and the MNAH by day
    MNAH googles as Mean, Nasty-Ass Hoe. Hmm. Frida Kahlo? No, I think it’s the National Museum of Anthropology and History.

  18. John Emerson says

    Thos beautifully-made Heritage Club books are actually quite cheap. My parents were members, and when we settled the estate I took about 40 and my brothers and sisters took about 15. I found that the remaining 60 or so would sell for about $5-$15. In many cases prices are low because the authors were out of style (George du Maurier, Anatole France, Longfellow, Booth Tarkenton) but Gibbon’s three volume Decline and Fall, complete, is $30 including shipping. (I don’t mind slight signs of wear, though; they’re never quite pristine.)
    The Heritage Club selection seems to be the personal taste of George Macy of the department store starting about 1930. About two thirds classic and mosern classics, and about a third dated stuff from 1880-1930.

  19. would have stayed in the Zona Rosa in the mid-60s. Rivera murals and the MNAH by day and trendy nightlife.
    The “new” Presidente-Intercontinental on Campos Elíseos fits the “new” bill, as one would have stayed in Polanco in the late-00s. Tamayo murals and the MNAH by day and trendy nightlife. Or if you’re of a trendier streak, the condesadf in Condesa (not my nook, though).
    And, now, the name kind of works better, as it is indeed at the “new” Presidente where heads of State stay when here (and when Obama was here, it’s where a few of the hundreds [literally] of Secret Service/Army snipers stood—I could see them from my window). Meanwhile, the Zona Rosa has somewhat transformed into a Zona Roja.
    (Oh, and there are quite a few Pani buildings still around, somewhat in tatters, where you can get a cheap apartment by Manhattna standards.)

  20. I just clicked on the link, with some trepidation, and discovered the site is still going a decade later. Congratulations to “unmoderated”!

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