Every so often, I spend a weekend afternoon trawling round second-hand bookshops and what you might call vintage shops in search of, well, anything that attracts my interest. Today was my winter wander - around Highgate and Archway, taking in two good charity shops, Oxfam and Mind, the excellent Ripping Yarns near Highgate tube, and the always intriguing Green Room down Archway Road.
This is my favourite purchase - bought entirely because of the wonderful, and gloriously dated, cover. It came out in 1929, don't you know. It's sub-titled 'a handbook for electors', and was clearly aimed at the new women's vote (women only got the vote on the same terms as men, I believe, in 1928).
The principal author was Amabel Williams-Ellis - whose father, John Strachey, was editor of the 'Spectator' and similarly named brother dallied variously with communism, socialism and Oswald Mosley.
This too I bought largely because of the remarkable cover. The book is by a Zionist writer, Izak Goller - 'stark, undiluted melodrama', in his words - and was published by the Ghetto Press in London in 1931.
Goller co-founded the press 'to provide both the Jewish and non-Jewish English reading public with modern Anglo-Jewish literature.'
It is, to me at least, a bibliographic curiosity - in great condition, and hardly expensive at a tenner. If anyone knows anything more about the author or indeed the symbolical importance of the revolt of the Maccabees, do let me know.
Richard Acland's Forward March - published in 1941, with a remarkably dull cover - was a key step in the foundation that year of Common Wealth, a radical (slightly libertarian) party which went on to win a series of wartime Parliamentary by-elections.
Acland was a Liberal MP and a Christian progressive who allied with the author J.B. Priestley and a former communist Tom Wintringham to set up Common Wealth. It was a remarkable phenomenon but collapsed very quickly with the return to peacetime politics. The last vestiges of the party survived into the 1990s.
All the books came from Ripping Yarns. At the Green Room, I bought some intriguing bagdes. The 'silver' badge I got - for a very modest amount - because I though it was a Common Wealth badge or tie pin. Their emblem was a 'W' inside a 'C'. I'm now not so sure.
I had no idea what the S.U.M. was - though the badge is very striking. I suspect after sleuthing round the interent that it stands for the Sudan United Mission - bringing the gospel to the 'dark' continent, and all that.
Anyway, that's what I did during my afternoon wander. I hope you approve.
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