Found objects in books – keep them or bin them?

silk cut

I am reading Maigret at The Crossroads by Georges Simenon. I bought the book in one of Edinburgh’s finest charity shops a while ago and only just got round to reading it. The story dates to 1932 but this edition was published in the UK in 1983. The cigarette card was hidden in the beginning  pages and I am using it as a book mark – perhaps the previous owner did too, who knows?  I love finding things in books, it makes me feel connected to the previous reader/s. I imagine this “80p Claw Back”  card to date back to the early 80s, like the book,  but I’m not sure – anyone know when this kind of card was around?  I do know, however, that in the early 80s there used to be a cigarette vending machine outside our local newsagents. It appeared when the shop was closed, mounted on a metal gate placed across the entrance to the shop. My late mum used to smoke Silk Cut and occasionally bought her cigarettes from that vending machine. Wouldn’t it be bizarre if this card had belonged to my mum, that it was her bookmark?  It may seem crazy but she did like reading Maigret stories and she was always in and out of charity shops – giving and buying stuff, including books. No, it is crazy but it’s fun to think about it:)

Have you ever found anything in a book and if so what was it? Did the object have any significance to you or did you throw it in the bin and not give it a second thought?


(photo of Mum by Karl Habermann)

Screen shot 2013-01-28 at 19.29.13


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11 Responses to Found objects in books – keep them or bin them?

  1. Joy Claridge says:

    love the photo of your mum, my Aunty Gerty xx

  2. Joy Claridge says:

    I like to think you are right about the connection

  3. john gray says:

    I once found a vintage book token worth 2 shillings in a second hand book, unfortunately it expired in 1965. I still have it somewhere, it had a lovely picture of a Fawn on it.

    • It is hard to believe a book could have cost anything like 2 shillings – what would that be the equivalent to nowadays, 15 pence? I’ve been trying to remember how much a packet of Silk Cut actually cost in the early eighties – I used to be a smoker so I should now. Less than a pound?
      Hope you find the book token again, it sounds as if it still has some value 🙂

  4. Bubbles says:

    I’ve never found anything in a book in a library but have by mistake left bookmarks in. The only intentional thing was my project inspiration postcards/envelopes. I love the idea that it could possible be left by your mum and stayed in the card ever since.

    If I did find something I’d leave it in the book for the curiousity of the next reader.

  5. The Maigret you’re reading was #7 of the 103 stories Simenon wrote about his famous detective. A British company just bought the rights to Simenon’s literary estate and reportedly is working with Penguin to reissue his works. The hope is to increase the interest of English readers in the series. It may also the incidence and intrigue of finding things in old books…

    • 107!!! I have a few to go then! I wonder if the Penguin reprints will create new interest? I hope so. I really like the Maigret stories – they’re quite sparsly written and he’s an arresting fictional detective character. I think I read somewhere that Andrea Camilleri ( of the Montalbano detective series) was influenced by Simenon’s Maigret stories but I’m not sure if that is true – although I think some of the Montalbano stories do have a Maigret feel about them. Thanks for sharing the info and yes, maybe it will increase the incidence and intrigue of finding things in old books 🙂

  6. Ruth Hunt says:

    Hi Marianne,
    It’s lovely finding things in books. I once found a lottery ticket which was the first lottery draw done by national lottery. Not old but I remembered when and where I was on that night and who I was with. It wasn’t a winner and a few years out of time even if it had been a winning ticket.
    On a slightly different point, when on long train journeys I do hidden cartoons of the people in the same carriage. Sometimes, if they look ok I will give them to the people who I’ve drawn or if I’m not feeling brave I pop them in between seats for other people to ‘find’.

    • Hi Ruth, there is something very special about finding something in a book that someone else has treasured, isn’t there? How incredible to find an original lottery ticket – even if it wasn’t a winner. It represents all the excitement associated with winning the lottery. Amazing that such a small thing can have so much significance!

      And what a nice idea to draw cartoon pics of people. I think i’d be pretty chuffed if someone drew a wee pic of me 🙂 I really like the idea of finding them between the seats too, though – a wee treat to help while away the boredom of a train journey on rainy day (I alway think of train trips being on rainy days, even though I can’t actually remember being on a train when it was raining!)

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