Tuesday, June 5, 2012

From the Yukon to Abilene

Our books have lives that we will never know. When you look at a 16th-century book, you know it has been in a lot of places and been held by many hands. Many of our books have a definite provenance--they have gained value by association with famous people and places--but most have had less glamorous, undocumented travels.

We just bought this interesting little tourist book, Scenes from the Land of the Midnight Sun (Dawson: Landahl's Emporium, [1908?]), featuring snippets from Robert Service's poetry laid over photographic scenes from the Yukon. If we can trust the inscription, our copy was purchased at Dawson in 1928, but it somehow managed to find its way to the Hilton Hotel in Abilene, Texas. You have to wonder, how did the parched and weary traveler arriving at the hotel respond to this book? In the Texas mid-day sun, was the cool of the midnight sun just a dream?

We purchased it from a Canadian book dealer, so we have interrupted its journey back to the Yukon. We think the Hanover winter and being ensconced in the Stefansson Collection on Polar Exploration should make it feel at home, but will it long for the smell of cattle, dust and oil?

Ask for Stef F912.Y9 S25 1908 to see it.


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