Rare find

by brae  

Along the way of researching, I often run into old books due to the era I choose to emulate in my builds.  Making a turn of the century mail wagon led me on such a journey.  There are other books I'll mention, but this one is a true gem.  It's called Plans and Dimensions of U.S. Mail Wagon of 1880 by A.S. Dodd.  In 1951, Jack D. Rittenhouse published a reprint of the article from a magazine called The Hub and limited it to 295 copies.  Given the rarity, it's not surprising to find that there are only seven libraries that have a copy, six of which are universities.

I tried to obtain a copy through interlibrary loan, but the request was denied due to the item's status as non-circulating.  The closest locale was over 700 miles away, so a road trip wasn't really in the cards.  I wrote to the Wyoming State Library to see if their copy was circulating since it didn't indicate that it was not.  A staff member replied that they would send it out of state but it would have to be kept on the premises of my local library.  That was perfectly acceptable to me, so off my request went.

It showed up a short time later, and the library staff indicated I could see it on my usual Bookmobile stop since the Bookmobile was considered library property.  But, I wanted to be able to take my time and perhaps make some copies if it turned out to be a good resource, so I waited until the upcoming weekend to head to the library.  My boyfriend and I went to the library and saw an amazing bit of history.  While not particularly useful for my project, the booklet was simply wonderful.

The booklet was set into a card folder to protect it, but it was still worn from handling and age.  I don't know if libraries still stamp due dates with the modern barcode technology, so it might have been checked out since 2003, or maybe not.

The copy was held together with tape in some places, so we gingerly made copies and took photos.

When we got home after dinner, I did another quick google search and a copy popped up on amazon.  The listing indicated it was in like new condition and included a 1981 stamp of the very mail wagon featured in the booklet.  It was pricey, but when it arrived, it was more than worth it.  :D

There's a little separation of the outer page along the fold, but other than that it is perfect.  The stamp sleeve has been signed by the publisher.

Such a great addition to the original reprint.

So, now we know there are eight still floating around for sure - seven at libraries and mine.  :D

16 comments

Comment from: ann [Visitor]  
In this age of technology those of us who love books and value knowledge, appreciate your story. In doing my genealogy, I found a 1925 history of my great grandfathers generations back--1630 on Google reader, or all places. I admire your tenacity in looking for information to make you project historically accurate. That is so cool. And one final note: your book was only 35 miles away from me. I live in a tiny town in northern Colorado, and Cheyenne, Wyoming is just up the highway.
03/28/19 @ 19:46
Comment from: brae [Member]
As appreciative as I would have been for a library run done as a favor, I am so glad I got to see the booklet in person. :yes:
03/28/19 @ 19:48
Comment from: Samantha [Visitor]
How wonderful, what a great find! Books are my favourite thing other than minis. Especially non-fiction/educational. Just a teeny teeny bit jealous but only in the nicest way. :D
03/28/19 @ 21:39
Comment from: Sheila [Visitor]
I love that you were able to find this! What a great resource. It would be so much fun to reproduce in mini!
03/29/19 @ 07:23
Comment from: Jodi [Visitor]
I love that the book was only apparently checked out 7 times in all those years, and still 68 years later, is a valuable resource! I'm glad that you got to see it in person, and was able to find an actual copy of your own. There must be collectors out there who would appreciate it as much as you have. I am curious to know if it is filled with only statistical facts or some more information about the times. Who was the author? Was he an historian, or just really into wagons? Fascinating, Brae!
03/29/19 @ 09:42
Comment from: Kamelia [Visitor]
I love books. I have so many. I prefer the paper in my hands much more than reading anything on the screen. So I think it's absolutely wonderful you found this. :)
03/29/19 @ 11:31
Comment from: Carrie [Visitor]
You have a nice little piece of history. Sounds like a story you would hear on The Antiques Road Show....Keep it safe for future generations with your completed build. &#59;)
03/29/19 @ 13:20
Comment from: betsy rogers [Visitor]
Oooohhhh... Bibliophiles all over will appreciate this rare gem! That you were able to find a copy is a marvel of modern technology for sure! Your research techniques are clearly superior! :):) Bravo for continuing to search!
03/29/19 @ 15:10
Comment from: Wendy [Visitor]
Another terrific story! As a retired librarian, I'm proud of the libraries' role, but extra impressed with your ability to research!
03/29/19 @ 16:12
Comment from: brae [Member]
There are a few paragraphs about A.S. Dodd, who was not only the designer of this wagon but also had worked as a mail contractor for fourteen years. He would have known what was needed, and the USPS clearly agreed when they approved his design for use. The rest of the booklet contains technical specs written longhand, which would likely mean something to someone versed in the building of carriages and wagons. I'll be reading it more closely now that I've made a scan of the original. So fascinating. :yes:
03/29/19 @ 16:47
Comment from: Anna [Visitor]
Wow what a find. I can only imagine how satisfying and exciting it would have felt to find such a gem along the way of search for wagon details.
03/29/19 @ 18:52
Comment from: azteclady [Visitor]
Oh, how I love this! My mother was head librarian for the equivalent of Housing and Urban Development Department in Mexico for some 30yrs. starting when the agency was first founded, and this is the kind of "hunt" that would have thrilled her to bits.
03/30/19 @ 05:59
Comment from: Megan [Visitor]
As an ex-librarian, this post made my heart race. What a wonderful find! Equally wonderful to know there are still librarians out there keeping books alive and a handful of people who appreciate it.
03/31/19 @ 00:47
Comment from: DEE [Visitor]
I really admire your dedication to scale. It shows in your work and now I see how you get such details. Also, I'm putting together a tutorial page on my blog and I added a link to your brick tutorial. Check it out at http://designinminiature.blogspot.com. Yours was the only tutorial I used that had a request for copyright permission so I wanted to make sure that you are OK with it. Can't wait to see how Ivy Hollow shapes up.
04/01/19 @ 17:41
Comment from: Jeanne [Visitor]
Hurrah for libraries!
04/02/19 @ 06:56
Comment from: brae [Member]
I certainly do love and utilize my library often. :yes:
04/03/19 @ 05:59


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