Saturday, May 15, 2010


While I was browsing through the pictures I had taken at the Book Garden last weekend, I noticed a curious thing.

This booklet (which I did not purchase):

was printed in 1944, so it is roughly the same vintage as these:

I found the former as shown, carefully categorized and preserved in a plastic sleeve, with no stray marks on the front page. I found the knitting booklets indiscriminately tossed in a plastic shopping basket, with the prices ranging from 10 cents to $1 marked in permanent marker on the front.

In fact, the vintage knitting booklets are worth every bit as much, if not more, than the farming pamphlet, though the marker on the front does reduce their value. A copy of the "America at Work and Play" booklet recently sold for $21. I could not find any original copies of the other two for sale, although one of them is reproduced on a CD for $13. One seller has taken a copy of Anne Orr's knitted bedspread book and is selling copies of the individual patterns for $6 apiece, plus shipping. These things are a veritable goldmine to someone so inclined. Not to mention the obvious fact that the pattern books contain instructions for objects that can still be made and used, decades later.

So why would the assumption -- from an experienced seller, no less -- be that a piece of farming ephemera is worth more than vintage knitting patterns?

I can tell you what the professors at my women's college would have to say about that. Although the tide seems to be turning a bit, the fact remains that "woman's work" is not still not viewed as a valuable enterprise, let alone one that would lend itself to dedicated collection and preservation. I'll leave the thoughtful examination of the reasons behind such thinking up to the scholars.

Me, I'm just happy that I lucked into such a treasure trove.

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