For the past year or two, I’ve been fairly assiduously culling my cookbooks. They presently number something like 789, down from a thousand-ish. I have a pretty comprehensive spreadsheet for them—this was concomitantly a learn-spreadsheets trip—though at the moment with a chimeric total number; there are additions and removals not yet reflected. One of the most recent additions is an in-every-sense-small Penguin 60s UK boxed cookery set.
Penguin 60s were 60 miniature 60-page excerpts of famous Penguin titles on the occasion of the publisher’s, yes, 60th anniversary, in 1995. I bought a set of the American editions at the time, using a generous discount from a big chain bookstore. On the cusp between true Olden Days book-buying and the EZ online of today, there was a brief interim of loyalty-program discounts in such stores—this one was, I think, 1/3 off for special orders. Something like that. Significant! I bought my OED this way, combining the special-order discount with some kinda Sunday-paper insert coupon, and manymanymany cookbooks, as well as the aforementioned Penguin 60s. The discount reduced the already not-large price to very small, like the books themselves, UNlike the OED, which is of course not small in any sense.
I was on a casual jag back then, still am on this jag now, of picking up Penguin orange-spines, and not-orange, when I saw them for cheap in thrift and Friends of the Library stores, and I had a passing idea that the commemorative miniatures would be of introductory interest to my then-little child. This did not come to pass, probably since none, not a single one, of the 60 had the merest suggestion of aircraft, heavy construction equipment, trucks, trains, or tanks. But I added the row of little books to the Penguin orange-spine shelf. And there they reside today. Culling Mind dictated researching their value; it is, yes, small, but collaterally the existence of the UK cookery boxed set was revealed, so: not only not culling but the opposite of culling.
At some point in my casual Penguin collecting, in a supreme thriftscore made all the better because it was on a trad birthday thrifting expedition, I found a pair of Bill Curry cast iron jack bookends with a finish improbably almost exactly matching Penguin orange. It’s similar to the orange of Orange Amplifers, which it should be noted are also UK. And not completely distinct from pre-disgrace Mario Batali’s signature color.
I already had some Bill Curry jacks—my first pair had been my Mom’s, which held up books in her house from my childhood on. She was both a Staten Island municipal park jacks grand champion, and had very good design taste. Her Curry jacks are a natural iron finish, like most actual jacks. I have always been preternaturally secure in their proportions being so exact that if it could in some fantastical way be engineered, they could be used in an actual game of jacks. The ball would have to be enormous…. The gods of thrift shopping have sent two other pairs my way as well, chocolate brown and silvery semi-polished chromed. Fellow thrifters should be apprised that if I see the Bill Curry giant jacks before you do they are definitely coming home with me.