Second-hand or new? Antique, please!

Just another #wpad blog challenge. Twenty-one down, ten to go!

Second-hand… what are we talking about here, books? Husbands? Hedgehogs? Don’t laugh, until recently we had a second-hand hedgehog – inherited from a school-friend of one of my daughters. He has moved on now, which I guess that makes him third-hand. But for the purposes of this post, I’ll settle for books and films.

Film is easy. Second-hand whenever possible. Why pay 21,99 for a DVD when you can have it for 5,49? Actually, I always try the local library first – the gentleman in charge is a true film lover and consequently there are currently around 1,200 films available, numbers rising. They will even order almost anything I suggest to them.

For books, I’ll give the lawyer’s answer: it depends.

Anything I need for study or business purposes I will get second-hand, provided it’s in decent condition and up-to-date. I’m going to be scribbling in the margins anyway.

Books I intend to read for pleasure I sometimes get second-hand, but only the holiday-read type of books – no offence to Kate Atkinson, but I just got three of her novels second-hand for the beach. Other than that, I usually go for new – although I am beginning to consider second-hand, in order to save some pennies for the kind of books I really like most:


I love rummaging around in antique book shops. A visit to London is incomplete without a few hours spent in Cecil Court. My dream is to have a bookshelf full of old editions – The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, anything by Dickens, Henry James, Mark Twain, Jane Austen in three volumes, all those wonderful authors bound in leather with gold-rimmed paper, exuding a slightly musty smell… heavenly.

antique travellers in egypt

You can make the most delightful discoveries in antique book shops. The one pictured above I found online; the full title is A Handbook for Travellers in Egypt (including descriptions of the Course of the Nile through Egypt and Nubia, Alexandria, Cairo, the Pyramids, and Thebes, the Suez Canal, the Peninsula of Mount Sinai, the Oases, the Fayoom etc) by Murray, John; Eaton, Frederick Alexis. Beat that!

A few years ago I came across a philosophical gardening book printed in the 1870s, an absolute gem. On the same trip, I found the most stunning edition of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, with delightful woodcuts, beautiful type-setting, a huge heavy book for a mere £ 400. Same price for a gorgeous two-volume edition of the Pickwick Papers I ogled in Cecil Court last year.

And therein lies the rub. I’d have to buy a lot of second-hand books to come up with enough of a price difference to afford that one Shakespeare play.

Or I will simply become a rich and famous author myself just so that I can afford my own personal antique library.

PS I would, however, not go for an antique husband or hedgehog. The upkeep is just too much.


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