Nestled in the palm of Anne West’s hand is a tiny Bible clothed in purple velvet and adorned with fantastically detailed brass inlay. It’s well over 100 years old, and the elegantly rendered text is in German.
West can’t divulge much about the tiny book, other than to say it immigrated with a German family and that it would be one of the 60,000 books offered for sale at the 39th Friends of the LSU Libraries Book Bazaar.
“Isn’t he a charmer?” West, chairwoman of the Bazaar, asked, moving to another one of her treasures, a vividly colored 1928 edition of “Doctor Doolittle in the Moon,” by Hugh Lofting.
Also making the trip to the sale is a copy of Louis Gottschalk’s “Lafayette in America,” bound in buffalo and trimmed in 24-karat gold; an enormous atlas of Civil War battlefields; a collector’s set of Korean books and postcards; a cornucopia of cookbooks and a complete set of “Letters of Delegates to Congress” — all 26 volumes.
West also is bringing a first-edition hardback of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms,” a first-edition “Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole and a first-edition of “Every Man A King” by Huey Long. “It’s beyond everything,” West said, gushing over the Hemingway. “It’s so perfect.”
While these last few volumes are aimed at collectors, West said the average book lover shouldn’t be afraid.
“It’s for everybody,” she said, adding that prices, even on the hidden treasures table, start at $2. “It’s not all hugely rare. I’m catering to our community and their requests.”
And with 60,000 books to go through, not all the collectible and valuable items get sorted out. Last year, West said, a signed Herbert Hoover book went for $15. It was worth $500, she said.
“People needn’t think they won’t find finds,” she said with a twinkle in her eye. “It’s not all pulled, and I don’t always sort.”