Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Brattle Book Shop

We occasionally go to the Brattle Book Shop in Boston. The shop touts itself as an "Antiquarian" book store, but they have a somewhat limited selection of old books, and personally I think the most collectible books are snapped up quickly by insiders or folks who have an "in" with the shop's operators. All the same they do have a lot of inexpensive used books (less than $5) for a large amount of them, and occasionally you can find something in there that is worth picking up. My wife went with the purpose of looking for books that might help identifying the antique jewelry she sells. I had no particular goal in mind, but I wound up getting over $60 in books myself, almost all architectural/castle associated. I'd recommend these if you could find them at a local used book shop, none were more than $15.

Castles of Britain, by Christine and Bamber Gascoigne

Castles, by Charles W. C. Oman

American Castles, by Julian Cavalier

The Construction of Gothic Cathedrals, by John Fitchen

The first three are pretty much just interesting to look at and worth browsing for some ideas as to construction detail. The final book gives some very detailed information regarding how cathedral construction was done, and it looks like some of the information could be used today to build a structure; everything from the mathematics behind vault construction to how wood was cut for bracing the structure in a decorative pattern.

Antiques fit for royalty

We happened across R. Jorgensen's shop while out and about hunting for antiques for ourselves or to sell on my wife's Ebay and Ruby Lane stores.

The Jorgensen establishment is just one of those places when it comes to price: "If you have to ask..." That said, there were some of the most beautiful historic pieces of furniture that I've ever seen outside of a museum present. There was quite a variety, and some of the pieces were very, very rare; of the type only seen in high-end magazines or the kind that you see on Antiques Roadshow where someone brings it in only to find out it was made by an early American furniture maker, and its worth enough to pay off their house... Everyone knows what good furniture slooks and feels like, but these items were quality; you could tell at first glance. it took no expertise on our part to see this. These are the kind of items that really could belong in museums.

The shop is very unassuming and not pretentious at all. We were very surprised when the senior Mr. Jorgensen himself took us up a brief tour of the workshop and showed us some of the incoming pieces that they'd purchased and were restoring for sale in the store. He was very kind and informative; and treated us like we really were potential customers, even though it was pretty obvious that we weren't purchasing (nor could we afford) anything.

At any rate, if you suddenly find yourself with a lot of extra cash and a castle that you'd like to furnish with historical beauties, check 'em out.