Old-fashioned romance

Jan 14 is possibly a bit too early to start thinking about Valentine’s Day, but I already am. Not because I’m lovestruck and hopeful, but because I want to take advantage of the masses that buy into the shameless commercialism attached to the 14th of February. Watch this space.

Today, I want to show you something I picked up from BookCastle that I’m betting would be a fantastic Valentine gift if your sweetheart like old books.

Love Poems & Love Letters for all the yearLove Poems & Love Letters for all the year Hosted on Zooomr

Love Poems & Love Letters For All The Year was illustrated by Ruth McCrea and published by The Peter Pauper Press. Amazon lists it as being published in 1970, but the inscription in the book said “1964”. Note that the book cost $1.00 at the time!

Img_9262Previous owner Hosted on Zooomr

Previous owner left her name and what I would assume is the date of purchase:

Barbara Callaghan
August 3, 1964

Things like this in used books are intriguing. Where is Barbara? She would be around 60 by now, assuming she was at least in her late teens when she bought this. I’m also assuming she bought this for herself because if it was a romantic gift from someone, it would probably contain a different inscription. And how would she feel about one of her old books making a journey across the world and being picked up by a bookworm in Kuching?

Despite being 42 years old, the book is in excellent condition, with a couple of small tears in the dust jacket (one of them is my own fault) and very slight yellowing on the edges of the pages touching the dust cover.

Every month starts with a colour plate like this:

JanuaryJanuary Hosted on Zooomr

The poems, quotes and letters here are by poets and authors such as Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Percy Bysshe Shelly, Voltaire, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Lord Byron. Both Brownings are also in here, and no book of classic love poetry will be complete without Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee?

AugustAugust Hosted on Zooomr

The above would have been an appropriate place for a photos of Elizabeth’s poem, but I wasn’t thinking at the time and I’m too lazy to shoot it again.

Good gifts never come along when you are looking (especially if it’s something as obscure as a 1964 edition) so good luck spotting something that’ll make your sweetie think you actually put some thought and effort into it.

As for me, no one’s gonna be falling over themselves getting me anything. They can count themselves lucky because I like things morbid or quirky.

Like this.

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Author: Georgette Tan

writer . poet . introvert . NSFW hand letterer . equatorial eclectic


  1. Speaking of old books, I have a used copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude. On the first page immediately after the cover is this message in pencil – “The book is yours but the sentence is mine. Can we try again, please?”

    Probably not, since the owner of the book got rid of the book!

  2. Interesting. At first glance, I thought “what a soppy girly present – what guy would be impressed with something so gay?” But when I read further I realised that your potential V-gift could be as morbid as the pickled heart. At least in our part of the world, anything second-hand is tinged with taboo. To think that the first owner of the book might be now be dead endows it with almost haunting qualities – the ultimate Gothic Valentine!

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