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Don’t judge a book by its cover

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When I began buying books for the North Carolina Collection, I was amazed and delighted to see the role that trust plays in the buying and selling of rare and out-of-print books. Sellers trust me to be the person I represent myself to be, and I trust them to describe honestly the books they are selling. Confident in the accurate the description of a book, I then decide if the book is worth the asking price. In the decade plus that I have been doing this job, I have rarely been disappointed in a purchase. Last week, I thought I was about to experience one of those disappointments.

I purchased, from a bookseller I have long done business with, a small 1928 pamphlet, The Archers Handbook. It is a manufacturer’s catalog and guidebook from the Archers Company, a small Pinehurst firm. When I opened the carton from the bookseller, my spirits sank to see a small, slightly battered 4 x 6 inch pamphlet. While the pamphlet clearly deserves a place in the North Carolina Collection because it documents this firm and provides insights into the history of recreation in the state, I thought I had overpaid for it. That gloomy thought troubled me until the end of the day when I sat down and went page-by-page through the volume and became enchanted by the clear drawings and color illustrations in the volume. The clean, crisp images of bows and arrows are a delight, even for someone who left archery behind when she quit the Girl Scouts. My trust was restored. But don’t take my word for the beauty of these illustrations, see some of them for yourself.