I finally got to visit the Collector’s Treasury in Braamfontein where the books are stacked from floor to ceiling over 5 (yes FIVE) stories. I was amazed to find that they don’t just hold books, they also have a host of vinyl records and antique items (old cameras, old binoculars, tea sets, bone-handled cutlery, paintings, old smoking pipes, etc). Your gaze is captured every which way you look and you have to look at least twice because you just aren’t able to take it all in at one glance.
I was only there for an hour (although it felt like a few minutes) and only managed to browse through two floors. There were a few times where I had to orientate myself because it’s easy to get lost in all the little nooks and corners. Considering the store is said to be the largest used book store in the southern hemisphere, you can imagine the piles of books becoming a maze of happiness for any book lover.
At first there doesn’t seem to be any order to the books. They are just placed on top of each other in teetering piles where any sudden movements could cause the piles to avalanche. But as you explore deeper you see that there is some order in the chaos. Many of the books have been categorised into sections relating to art, religion, fiction, cooking, gardening, first editions, classics, etc. But for the most part there are just piles and piles of books.
I came across this first edition story book. Imagine my surprise when I opened the book to find it was published in 1911, had the most beautiful illustrations, and was priced at R6,000.00.
I happened to pick up a random book, and since I tried to keep my hands to myself so I didn’t end up with piles of books to buy, you’ll find what happened pretty intriguing. It was a random book. With a boring cover. (Yes I judge books by their covers.) With a title that really didn’t sound enthralling. I opened it up to the first page and found a name written in 1916. A “J McDonald”. If the other initials are A and E, then I have the same initials as whoever this McDonald was. Weird huh.
This was one of the things on my list to do this year. See what else I’ve got up to or what I plan to get up to over here!