Bookends and Bookmarks

900 Year-Old Hearth Piece, Notebooks, and Resources

I have a little challenge for you.  What’s the oddest thing you use as a bookend or bookmark?  Here’s why I’m asking…

Last week, I bought a new bookcase for behind my desk.  It’s the same size, more or less, as the bookcase that was there before.  However, this one has glass doors over the shelves.  This not only looks great, but has another tremendous advantage.  You see, Persephone cat likes to knock things off that particular bookshelf.  Sometimes she likes to shelve herself, which is often to the detriment of the books, since she also likes to bite books, especially paperback books.

Acquiring this new bookcase meant taking all the books off the shelf unit that was there, moving it, then moving books hither and yon.  Admirable as this new bookshelf is in many ways, the glass doors take up a little room, so the shelves are less deep.  They’re also fixed, so I needed to consider height, as well as depth, when re-shelving.

(In case you wonder, the former bookshelf was moved into our office closet and is serving as a new home and sorting area for some of the books and journals Jim brought home from his office when he retired a bit over a year ago.  My archeologist is also a scholar.)

In the course of doing this, I found myself looking at the various things I use as bookends.  There are several very attractive actual bookends, including several made from slices of stone that show off the crystals very nicely.  There’s a carved horsehead in Mexican onyx.  There’s a nice set of metal bookends, shaped like gates into Chinese gardens.  These have the added bonus of not taking up much space themselves.

Odder things have been drafted into bookend duty.  There’s a mah-jong set, one of several I acquired when researching the “Breaking the Wall” books.  There’s a pair of cast resin “jade” fu-dogs.  There are several wooden boxes, which do double duty by holding other things.

However, my personal “winner” for the oddest thing to be used as a bookend is a segment from a 900-year-old Ancestral Puebloan (aka Anasazi) hearth curb made from adobe.  When Jim and I were dating, he was co-directing a dig near Taos.  I went to visit him and fell in love with the simple grace and beauty of this hearth.  Since it was due to be destroyed, Jim brought me home a segment, and it has been a prized furnishing in my office ever since.

Moving books also turned up any number off interesting bookmarks.  In addition to the usual freebee bookmarks for forgotten bookstores and long-ago book releases, there were plane tickets (from the days when such existed), file cards, scraps of paper (including those with research notes scribbled on them), and envelopes.

Librarians and used-bookstore staff often have wonderful stories of things they find used as bookmarks, including, memorably, in one case, a $50.00 bill in a used book.  My most interesting find was a file card on which Roger Zelazny made some notations for a long-ago project.  Based on the topic, I’d guess it may go back as long ago as This Immortal (aka “And Call Me Conrad”) but I can’t be sure.

How about you?  What’s the most interesting thing you have used as a bookend or found as a bookmark?  There’s no prize except bragging rights, but I’d love to hear!


11 Responses to “Bookends and Bookmarks”

  1. the6thjm Says:

    As bookmarks, I use actual bookmarks (I have a few favorites) or trading cards from F&SF TV shows (my favorite of the latter is a card from the show “Sliders” which has 3 of the 4 main characters and the phrase “We’re not in Kansas…”). It’s the beginning of their adventures.

    As a bookend, the most unusual was a purposeful choice. I’m a fan of the short-lived TV show “Wonderfalls” which had a monkey-sitting-on-books bookend that talked to the main character. After several years, I found it on ebay and got one.

    It hasn’t talked to me.


  2. John C Says:

    I’ve found a few interesting things, like Ethiopian currency, but my absolute favorite find in an old book was a 1907 letter from the author of Langland’s Piers the Plowman to my great grandfather.

    • janelindskold Says:

      I wonder at how the Ethiopian currency got there? Wasn’t Piers Plowman written in the 1300’s? I’m a little confused.

      • John C Says:

        My folks met while working overseas, which is my best guess for the source of the Ethiopian bill.

        For the letter – I should have written translator or editor, rather than author — the full title of the work seems to be “The Vision of Piers The Plowman by William Langland Done Into Modern English by the Rev. Professor Skeat”. The letter itself is a very polite invitation to lunch.

    • janelindskold Says:

      That’s very cool! To both… Thank you!

  3. Alan Robson Says:

    I have bookends made up of capital letters that form a word. The bookends are in two halves, one for each end of the shelf. The one on the left says OK and the one on the right says BO.

    Read them from left to right and they say OKBO, and who can possibly argue with that? Sometimes I wonder if I should swap them over. But the word I get when I do that is sheer gibberish…

    I think I’ll stick with OKBO. It makes so much more sense.


  4. Harried Harry Says:

    I use the normal stuff like actual metal bookends (from my former employer which were going to be trashed, a stack of paperbacks and a box of CDs which I haven’t used yet. Nothing fancy but they work.

  5. anevergreen Says:

    I mostly use small stuffed animals (which I have a lot of), though not on the lowest shelves, because then the cats steal them (to be fair, the cats still steal them on higher shelves, but its less often and since one of them can fly to the TOP of the bookcase and steal those, not a lot I can do to prevent *something* from getting stolen. Fortunately, they don’t damage them after the stealing; it’s all about the acquisition).

    • janelindskold Says:

      We have that problem, too, especially with our nine-month-old Mei-Ling. She loves the ones on Jim’s shelf in particular. Happily, the only one she wrestles is Dog, a rescue stuffie I found in the street.

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