TRAVEL THERE: YES, I BUY THOSE SOUVENIR BOOKS WHEN I TRAVEL
What is your favorite type of souvenir to buy when you travel? Jewelry, clothing, Christmas ornaments and decorative boxes have come home with me from all over the world. When I was a little girl, dolls were my favorite souvenir. I have a denim jacket covered in travel pins which is sincerely coveted by someone each time I wear it.
Souvenirs of My Travel
I try to focus my purchases on items which represent the handicrafts of a particular region; carved wooden ornaments from Oberammergau, tole enamel work from Vienna and English porcelain. One thing is for sure, if “souvenir of wherever” is stamped, embroidered or carved on it, it’s not going in my shopping bag. I also look for “made in someplace else” tags and avoid them if I can. I want authentic souvenirs. The exception being souvenir books. I can’t resist them. I went over to my bookshelf and pulled off three random examples.
Finest Legends of the Rhine
The first is a 3X5 hardbound edition of “The Finest Legends of the Rhine” by Weihem Ruland, still in it’s dustcover. It begins, “To-day we are deeply touched, as our forefathers must have been, at the recital of the boundless suffering and the overwhelming concatenation of sin and expiation in the lives of Recken and Frauen of the Nibelungen Legend.” I don’t know about you, but my travel journals don’t sound like that. Gracing the pages of the book are charming line drawings, illustrating scenes suggested by the legends. Stuck between pages fourteen and fifteen is a decal from Oberammergau wishing me “Gute Fahrt.” Yes, I’m glad I bought that book.
Great Escapes for the Tower of London
G. Abbot’s Great Escapes from The Tower of London was number two. It’s a paperback, almost double the size of the Rhine Legends book, but about the same thickness. The inside cover tells me the book was written by a Beefeater, Yeoman Warder Abbot. This kindly Beefeater penned a poem to kick off each chapter, “A box of droughts is this the Tower of London./A whistling cage of weather/Set on the city’s edge.” His entertaining narrative is highlighted with photographs he’s taken himself and historical drawings.
Footnotes of the Buckhorn
Finally, there’s the Centennial Edition of Footnotes of the Buckhorn. I probably picked it up for a buck twenty five as I sipped an icy Lone Star Longneck in San Antonio’s old Buckhorn Saloon back in 1981. The place has been gussied up since then. It’s no wonder Fritz and Emile Toepperweins put the little book together. Their ancestors Ad and Plinky Toepperweins, who traveled as sharpshooters for Winchester, considered the Buckhorn their headquarters. There’s a gallery dedicated to them in the Buckhorn Museum. I know, not because I remember, but because Footnotes says so.
Amazon tells me I could get a new copy of Rulands book for $60, but several owners of the same book are willing to let it go for only a penny plus shipping. If all I wanted to do was read it, I could do so for free at Kellscraft.com. But none of these options would bring back the excitement of finding the little book in a gift shop decades ago. I would have missed the memories it evoked anytime I reorganized my books or packed them for a move or unpacked them in one of my new homes. Nor would I still have a “Gute Fahrt” sticker.
The Buckhorn book is the motherlode. A new copy would cost $217.25. I wonder how their new edition would compare to the pristine copy on my shelf. Surely I could get more than a penny for it, because you can’t read it for free on the internet.
Yes, I’m glad to have my souvenir books and I wouldn’t sell them on Amazon, but if you’re interested, I could let the Tower book go for about $96, which is a hundred less than one available copy. The next time I find myself in a gift shop in a strange city, I’ll probably buy a few more. How about you?