A Collector’s Corner might sound like a place for tweed suits with pince-nez to dust off 18th century works of art, but at the Friends of the Library Book Sale, visitors will also discover pop-up books that play bird sounds and copies of Harry Potter.
The special corner sits apart from the rest of the sale that starts this Saturday and runs until Wednesday. Yes, physical walls create a barrier, but the corner represents a sale within a sale, complete with its own line to enter and cash register.
Items in the Collector’s Corner have a twist. Not just any copy of “The Game of Thrones” gets a spot on the shelves. However, signed copies, limited editions, out-of-print books and vintage copies gain access.
Linda Connell explains that the corner contains every genre that visitors find in the regular sale area, but copies of Jane Austin in the normal sale might cost 50 cents while a copy in the corner has a special characteristic that makes it worth more.
Because of their price, the Collector’s Corner closes for the last day of the sale—10 cent book day.
“They have a little bit more value to them in here,” Connell said.
She’s volunteered for Friends of the Library (FOL) since 1978 when a neighbor roped her into it. Now, she’s convinced another neighbor to join.
FOL volunteers sort through all the books donated for the sale, and any that seem to belong to the Collector’s Corner get sent for inspection. Connell and the other volunteers can then determine if the book qualifies and what a reasonable price would be.
However the work requires more than research skills. The volunteers also repair books with tattered dust covers or binding that starts to rip.
In some cases, nothing helps. One book in this year’s sale has twine wrapped around it like ribbon on a Christmas present to keep it from falling apart. Trying to reattach the cover with the materials on hand would destroy the integrity of the book and the old leather cover.
Still, someone may want the centuries old book for the pages inside.
The cosmetic work improves the look, but one of the biggest impacts to the price is whether or not the book still has its dust cover. An intact dust cover can double the item’s value, but without one, volunteers slash the price.
Even covers in poor condition can help, and volunteers can create new ones by attaching the remains to Mylar, a clear polyester film.
The Collector’s Corner also specializes in Florida history and genealogy.
“One of the big areas that we that people tend to like is the Gainesville area history and also natural history,” Holly Prugh said.
The corner has a section of local high school and UF yearbooks and collects items on Gators sports history and even local restaurants.
This year, the corner received a variety of Time magazines from the WWII era along with tin signs, Popular Science magazines, a signed election copy of “Trump: The Art of the Deal” and a 1881, two-volume edition of “The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government” by Jefferson Davis.
Connell said the majority of the corner’s inventory will need to be replenished after the sale, not a lot is left behind. She already knows some of the regulars who will show up early and start working through the shelves.
Book dealers come from all over for the sale, and Connell said Gainesville represents itself well with the size of its sale and some of the interesting collections it produces.
UF has boosted the sale’s supply. People retire, downsize their collections, move away or pass away and need a place to take their books, resulting in FOL donations on different fields of expertise.
Sometimes the donations leave volunteers wondering who would donate such oddities or treasures—like a book of autographs from all the members of the congressional session of 1869.
Connell said her fellow volunteers have kept her coming back for so long and getting to see people’s reactions to some of their finds.
“My favorite part is to see somebody walk in the store at sale time and say, ‘Oh, I’ve been looking for this for such a long time and here it is’,” Connell said.
The Spring 2022 sale will start Saturday April 23 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. before running noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday through Wednesday.
Here’s a sampling of the books in the Collector’s Corner for Spring 2022:
“My Adventure as an Illustrator,” by Norman Rockwell, first edition, signed.
Taras Shevchenko (Ukraine’s Poet Laureate and Artist), portraits and creative work, printed in the Soviet Union, 1964.
“Machu Picchu, A Citadel of the Incas,” by Hiram Bingham, limited to 500 copies; includes a pull-out map, first edition, 1930.
“The Pickwick Papers (The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club),” first edition, 1837.
“The Eighth Day,” by Thornton Wilder, signed, limited edition.
“The Dream Keeper,” by Langston Hughes, first edition, rare, 1932.
“Aquiferious,” by Margaret Ross Tolbert, signed, two copies, 2010.
“The East Coast of Florida,” by Nance, three volume set, 1962.
“Old Tales and Trails of Florida,” by Myrtle Hilliard Crow, 1987.
“The Writings of Colonel William Byrd,” limited edition, #166 of 500, 1901.
“History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781,” by Lt. Col. S. B. Tarleton, first edition with multiple intact fold-out maps, 1787.
“A Sermon” occasioned by the Death of George Washington delivered in the Baptist Church, Savannah Georgia, January 19, 1800, very rare.
“What’s Got Your Back Up?”, by Bill Mauldin, signed, 1961
“Shipping News,” by E. Annie Proulx, first edition.
“Dragon’s Teeth,” by Upton Sinclair, first edition, 1942.
“Look Homeward Angel,” by Thomas Wolfe, signed, 1934.
A large selection of books by or about Thomas Wolfe.
“The Story of Scotch Whiskey,” by Tom Bruce-Gardyne.
“Collecting the Confederacy,” by Shannon Pritchard, limited edition, signed, as new condition.
“About Robins,” by Lady Caroline Blanche Elizabeth Lindsay, published in England with color plates, 1889.