Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2021 Issue

Overdue Library Book Returned 82 Years Late, and It's a Good Thing They Waited So Long

21537d39-2cde-43b7-8496-77e87b5c3b7f

The library card.

A library book has been returned 82 years overdue and that's a good thing. It probably wouldn't have survived if returned on time.

 

Jordan Muscyscyn (pronunciation unknown) was working in his attic, cutting a hole through the roof for a vent, when he discovered some old books. They were hidden under some blown-in insulation. One of them differed from the others as it contained a library card from the Sydney Public Library in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada. The card was dated 1939. The book is The Adventures of Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting.

 

Mr. Muscyscyn is an innocent bystander. He only bought the house five years ago. The borrower was a young girl in 1939. The library prefers not to identify her without permission from her family whom they are seeking to contact. No, it's not to make them pay the fine. As Muscyscyn told CTV News, he found it on what “was the same week that the library had abolished their fines. So I thought it was a good thing, because I wouldn't want to know what the fine on an 82-year-old overdue book would be.” Actually, Nicole MacGibbon of the Cape Breton Regional Library, calculated it for him. Based on 15 cents a day it came to over $3,000. However, he had a couple of other outs from paying the fine. One is that they didn't collect fines on children's books in 1939, and they never charged more than $3 for an overdue book.

 

However, the library really ought to pay Muscyscyn and the then young lady for taking care of their book. In 1959, there was a major fire at the library. Eighty thousand books were destroyed. It is unlikely Dr. Dolittle would have survived. Now, “he” is back home, cared for all of these years. Better late than never.

 

Now, here's another story about an overdue library book, but this time not quite so overdue. The book is Great Heart: The Life Story of Theodore Roosevelt by Daniel Henderson, published in 1919. It was only 72 years overdue. This book was borrowed from the Amagansett Library in Amagansett, New York, in 1949. The book was returned by John Moss, a retired police officer from East Hampton. He says he has a lot of books, but didn't know where this one came from. He thought most likely it was inherited from his parents or one he picked up at a yard sale. I wonder whether, in his police officer days, he would have accepted an excuse like that from someone caught with merchandise that did not belong to him.

 

Late fees were not so onerous in Amagansett. They charged only a penny a day. However, nothing was due here either as they too recently abolished overdue book fees.

 

The circulation policy was placed on the back cover. It said that books could be kept for two weeks and renewed after that except for new books. Presumably, this 1919 book wasn't new to the library in 1949. It also lists the one cent per day overdue charge. Then, it continues with a warning that is eerily appropriate for today: “Any books exposed to contagious diseases will not be received at the library.”

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> <i>Westvaco–Inspirations for Printers,</i> 3 volumes, 1938-61. $200 to $300.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Proef van Letteren, <i>Welk gegooten worden in de Nieuwe Haerlemsche Lettergietery,</i> 1768. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Paul Klee, <i>Bauhaus Ausstellung Juli – Sept.,</i> Weimar, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Michel Seuphor & Jozef Peeters, <i>Het Overzicht Nos.</i> 22-23-24, Antwerp, 1922. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Wolfrum & Co., <i>Modern Graphik, Serie I…,</i> complete portfolio, 1909. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> <i>Gravure et Fonderie deC. Derriey: Specimen-Album,</i> Paris, 1862. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>May 12, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> CURRIER and IVES, publishers -- After Frances F. Palmer. The Rocky Mountains. Emigrants Crossing the Plains, 1866. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [BIBLE, in English]. <i>The New Testament of Jesus Christ, translated faithfully into English.</i> Rheims, 1582. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [BIBLE, in Latin]. <i>Biblia latina.</i> Venice: Franz Renner of Hailbrun [Heilbrunn], 1483. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>May 12, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> SHELLEY, Percy Bysshe (1792-1822). Autograph letter signed ("P. B. S."), to Charles Ollier. Florence, Italy, 15 December 1819. “MY PROMETHEUS IS THE BEST THING I EVER WROTE.” $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> RAMSAY, David (1749-1815). <i>The History of the Revolution of South-Carolina…</i> Trenton: Isaac Collins, 1785. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [BINDINGS]. MUIR, John (1838-1914). <i>The Writings of John Muir.</i> Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1916-1924. 10 vols. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>May 12, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [CHICAGO] -- <i>Park & Guide Map of Chicago.</i> Chicago: Jas. Van Vechten, 1873. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> CURRIER and IVES, publishers -- After Frances F. Palmer. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [ALLEN PRESS]. SHAKESPEARE, William (1564-1616). <i>Romeo and Juliet.</i> Greenbrae: Allen Press, 1988. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>May 12, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> BEMELMANS, Ludwig (1898-1962). Pencil drawing on paper. 247 x 198 mm, sight, matted and framed. Showing a child shooting at a baby's balloon. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> [LOGAN ELM PRESS]. HARVEY, Rebecca. <i>Any Number of Things.</i> Ohio State University, 2013. Single sheet paper scroll. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, May 12:</b> BINYON, Laurence (1869-1943). A small archive of letters and pamphlets. $200 to $300.
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Travel, Atlases, Maps<br>and Natural History<br>Online Auction<br>27 April – 13 May 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 27 Apr. to 13 May:</b><br>Daniel Giraud Elliot. <i>A Monograph of the Phasianidae, or Family of the Pheasants,</i> 1870-1872, coloured plates. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 27 Apr. to 13 May:</b><br>Georg Braun und Franz Hogenberg. <i>Civitates orbis terrarum.</i> Cologne, 1597-c.1606, 5 volumes, hand-coloured, calf. £140,000 to £200,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 27 Apr. to 13 May:</b> Qianren Huang. "Blue Map" of China. [Daoguang, 19th century]. £60,000 to £80,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Travel, Atlases, Maps<br>and Natural History<br>Online Auction<br>27 April – 13 May 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 27 Apr. to 13 May:</b> Abraham Ortelius. <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum,</i> 1595. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 27 Apr. to 13 May:</b> Maxime Du Camp. <i>Egypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie. Dessins Photographiques.</i> Paris, 1852. £100,000 to £150,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 27 Apr. to 13 May:</b><br>China, Canton School. A superb album of 141 watercolours, c.1800. £70,000 to £100,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions