Rose Leaves: a book of fairy tales


I’ve already mentioned my fondness for the most recent addition to our local-bookstore scene: Brier Books, which features a selection of new books displayed throughout the handful of rooms that make up the ground floor of a little 1920s bungalow.

One of our other absolute favorites has been around much longer — decades, in fact. Black Swan Books specializes in used and rare titles. And it, too, fills the rooms and hallways of a (much larger) old house, from floor to ceiling.

It’s difficult to walk into this bookstore and not a) spend half the day browsing the multitude of bookshelves and/or b) come away with a treasure, whether that’s a beautiful antique, a book you never knew you needed, or a book you’ve searched for in vain everywhere else.

We stopped into Black Swan for a visit a couple of Saturdays ago and found another treasure for our small but slowly growing collection of antique books. I think the other antique books in the bookcase are probably envious of the newcomer’s gorgeous cover and spine ….



This exquisite little book (seriously, it’s little: only about 5x7 inches) was published in 1880. It contains a collection of traditional Swedish fairy tales or, as the title page says, “tea-time tales for young little folks and young old folks.” And for decoration, there’s this magnificent frontispiece by the (English, I think) artist Mary Sibree …



… and smaller illustrations at the beginning of each tale, like this sweet hedgehog …



I’ll admit that I may never actually read some of the antique books in our collection; some we acquired (or kept when they were passed down or given to us) simply because they’re old and lovely to look at. But this book of fairy tales, in addition to being gorgeous, is one I’m looking forward to reading as well.

If you have any antique books on your shelves, what are your criteria for choosing them?

mug of tea