Old books Painting by Juan Álvarez Cebrián | Saatchi Art

I spent yesterday clearing the furniture out of my mother’s house. I had mentioned elsewhere to John, in connection with that, that charity shops wouldn’t take books. He said he could remember from his youth that ‘library books had a warning on the pocket where the card went: “Please report any infectious diseases immediately before returning this book” or words to that effect. Perhaps back then, TB or whatever diseases were prevalent in Scotland could be passed on through book exchange. Munguinites would probably be able to give us the whole story behind that”.’ 

So there’s a wee challenge. Does anyone remember anything about that?

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Thanks to DonDon, Devo for Indy, Dave, John.

73 thoughts on “ALL OUR YESTERDAYS”

    1. Spot on, Don Don, the first battle between two ironclads, USS Merrimack & CSS Monitor, in the Battle of Hampton Roads during the American Civil War. It changed naval warfare fundamentally, as did so many aspects of that war as far as ‘modern’ warfare is concerned.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. BangBang on once again, DonDon. My caption reads: 1862 – CIVIL WAR HIGHLIGHTS. The struggle in America was notable for many things, among them the first fight between ironclad warships, portrayed above in a contemporary print. This took place at Hampton Roads, Virginia, between the Federal ‘Monitor’, whose turret is plainly seen, and the Confederate ‘Merrimac’. Neither suffered vital damage.

      I’m sure Danny will tell us more in due course.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Regarding the library books. Before the days of penicillin some infectious diseases couldn’t got rid of easily. A common thought was that books could be a carrier of diseases, if they had been in the home of someone who came down with one the infectious diseases. I think the books were destroyed. I haven’t read of any reports of the deaths of thousands of librarians over the decades.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Pic 6: June Whitfield
    Pic 11. when drive belts ruled the world.
    Pic 12: John Thaw and Dennis Waterman in The Sweeney.
    Pic 19: time to hide behind the sofa.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pic 14 has to be the Ford Model T production line and Pic 15 is a crystal radio receiver set, the world’s first widely used radio receiver. I can remember speaking to old people (like me now) who had one. It must have been like the internet to them – minus the scams and clickbait.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You used a real cat’s whisker on a crystal set when you built your own.
      Wife’s granny refused to let her grandad pull one so he had to wait till the cat shed one. Remember NOW used to carry loads of small ads for them in 50’s.

      There was a much copied Punch cartoon of Daleks at the foot of a flight of steps saying “This wrecks our plan for world domination”. We had a friend’s son who did watch Dr Who from behind the couch.

      The Monitor v Merrimac battle was brought back to mind for me during some dire British heavyweight boxing bouts in the post – Cooper lean years when 12 rounds would pass with much grunting and hardly a serious blow.
      Finally,was Monitor the source of the name of that type of later warship, basically a floating gun platform with few of the attributes of a real ship ? Anyone know ?


      1. Yes Jim, the USS Monitor did give its name to that class of warship.

        The line dividing monitors from gunboats became rather blurred.

        There is a surviving example in Portsmouth, called rather prosaically M33.
        It served in both World Wars.

        A more interesting question is why the USS Monitor came to be so named in the first place.

        Maybe Danny can help?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. DonDon, I suspect that it was derived from the common definition of a monitor as someone who keeps watch and deals out punishment to offenders, as in monitors in schools.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting link, Marcia, and puts the ad into perspective. The tin looks huge compared to the lassie holding it, and she’d need both arms just to carry it. But your link tells us the net content was 1lb (including wrappers) and the tin was only 5cm high – two inches.

      Lovely bit of design, though, and lovely story of how the Mackintoshes built the business from such small beginnings. Their £100 joint savings in 1890 would be about £13,000 in today’s money. Is that enough to buy a pastry shop?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wonder if the lassie kept her trim figure after eating the chocolates?

        Somebody said that all a woman needs to be happy is a box of chocolates and a mirror. I thought it was Mozart but I can’t find a reference. Does anyone know?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Aye Glesca airport, Abbots Inch.
      Taken a couple of years ago following the river to the Erskine Bridge.
      There are still some 10 BA aircraft parked up on the old cross runway and in the George V dock cruise liners.
      The aviation scene is starting to pick up again but very slowly.
      Wee trip to Spanish Mainland?
      With the graphs on show it looks like the border at Gretna may have to have the Roman stonemasons back.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. First glance at Pic 1 prompted a Goldilocks moment… “Who’s been photographing MY bookshelves?” Second glance proved otherwise, but there are remarkable similarities – some with calf binding, others in paper wrappers; some fat, some thin, and a random mix of subject matter. Yes, I’ll bid for that if up for sale.

      Niko, the technology is a bit primitive but that makes it all the more easy to learn. And the big advantage is that you don’t need a power source or a wifi router to access the contents. No worries about battery dying and you’ve forgotten the charger. To be on the safe side, keep a torch or a candle handy so you can continue access after dark or if your gas/electricity fails and you don’t have a paraffin lamp or a Tilley.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Don’t know rightly, Niko. I have to charge mine up regularly otherwise all I get is a blank screen.

      We should ask the politicians who now appear in front of their book shelves when they are on tv.


  4. It was actually a requirement in law, the Public Health Amendment Act of 1907 required people to not knowingly pass on bedding, clothes and paper from an infected household. I think in those days it would have been mostly TB. I imagine an infected person coughing phlegm all over your copy of Oliver Twist would have been quite frightening.
    There are still books in circulation that have the sternly worded warning pasted on the first endpaper.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There were “notifiable diseases”. TB obviously, but some of the fevers that used to be prevalent back then… Scarlet Fever for example.


      1. He was Regan there and his oppo was Carter, almost the names of the American presidents of the time. You know, when American presidents weren’t a joke. I never had much time for Reagan but at least he had guts.

        This was just after an attempted assassination attempt.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Interesting background to the name. Sweeney Todd was the fictional ‘demon barber of Fleet Street’ who murdered his customers with a straight razor. In rhyming slang, the name was applied to the Flying Squad, and with the usual habit of retaining the non-rhyming part became just ‘the Sweeney’.

        But the Flying Squad itself didn’t get its name because of speedy response and attended at crime scenes. It was the first unit of the Metropolitan Police to be motorised and the vehicle was a cast-off from the Royal Flying Corps, the RAF predecessor. Pedestrian police therefore contemptuously referred to their motorised colleagues as the ‘flying squad’. The name stuck and became formalised, evolving into the Sweeney nickname.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Don’t know about TB and books, but my first job was as a secretary in the Department of Respiratory Diseases in the Edinburgh City Hospital in 1978.
    It was a lovely building but the grounds were beautiful with magnificent trees that back in the day were thought to help patients with TB recover.ß

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess they thought that the trees produced fresh air. Rich people were sent to sanatoria in the mountains in Switzerland, and weren’t some patients put outside, even on cold days, so that they would breathe “fresh” air?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Have already posted a comment on several points but it is either still awaiting moderation as last communicated or didn’t survive it, but to add another couple, Is the man on the horse Teddy Roosevelt by any chance ?

    Also today I shall be partially re-enacting a famous scenes from The Untouchables where Robert Stack and his men pour away a stash of illegal liquor. My son left 16 years ago and we found old packs of cans of beer at the back of the garage (undrinkable though hardly illegal). Will just take caps off and pour down sink but pity no barrels to smash !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL LOL.

      I’m sorry about your non-appearing posts, Cairnallochy. I shall hasten to the inner workings of the Republic and try to find out what happened to them.

      You could smash the bottles…?

      Update: I’ve looked and can’t find any posts in the spam folder. I’m sorry.

      I’ll keep looking.


      1. I tried making a couple of posts yesterday …nothing appeared.
        I just thought it was my ‘puter playing up as per… either that or I’d been “naughty-stepped” for scandalous outrage and reckless puns.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Is sink a synonym for gullet? Even after 16 years they should still be drinkable. Maybe even valuable collectors items? Worth checking – and tasting – before pouring down the drain.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When I was a student I had a part-time job in a pub, which was almost obligatory at the time. We were cleaning out an unused bit of the cellar for some reason, and we came across a very well hidden wooden crate (stashed there by some penniless student bartender twenty years before?)
        In it were some cans of Pipers Export. My boss was most enthusiastic and set about putting the old cans on display on high shelves around the bar, but we decided to open one to see what it was like, but it was a pre-ring pull can and we didn’t have an opener (Remember them? You had to punch in two triangles either end of the can.)
        With growing desperation I looked around for a solution and found a hammer and only slightly rusty nail. A few punches later he poured out a flat brown liquid with bits floating in it. *sigh*

        Liked by 1 person

  7. For the many who remember watching “The Untouchables” on TV. This is how the American TV viewer first saw the programme in 1959.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Never seen a Crystal Receiver before. Mother talked about wrapping the wire around a rolling pin for Grandad as a teenager as part of the make your own process.

    That would be in the 1920s, I reckon

    Liked by 1 person

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