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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

Books in the Ancient World

The earliest books were in the form of papyrus rolls on which the text was written in columns. A continuous length of papyrus was written from the left to the right so that a reader would unroll the papyrus with their right hand and roll it up with their left. The ends of the roll were usually reinforced to protect against wear, and convention dictated that the book should be left with the beginning on the outside: therefore a considerate reader at the end of the 'book' would re-roll it for the next person. Only the inner side of the papyrus was used for writing, although in some cases the outer side could be used. In order to identify the contents of a scroll, a tag of parchment was attached which bore the title. It can be seen that the papyrus roll was more difficult to handle than our modern book format. A reader required both hands to roll and unroll the 'book' which made note-taking awkward, and it would have been difficult to find a particular scroll in a collection. Although papyrus rolls could in theory be any length, both very long and very short rolls were unmanageable. Around the time of Augustus, an average length of a 'book' became 700 - 900 lines.

Once a book was published in the Roman world, the author had no further control over it. As there were no copyright laws, any person who had access to a book was able to make a copy. Initially, publication might be through the release of the book to a number of friends but once released it could then be copied and circulated to a wider audience. The earliest evidence for a trade in books in the Roman world is from the Ciceronian period, although the private circulation of books provided the main source of texts for many individuals.

ABC - A History of Alphabet Books

Alphabet books - what are they? They are books that are created for younger readers, which show the letters of the alphabet, along with related words and/or pictures that usually begin with the given letter. Sometimes rhymes or just single sentences will be used to highlight the letter being learnt. Many ABC books will feature the letters in upper and lower case, to help the child recognize that they represent the same thing.

A Brief History of Jazz

Jazz began in the early twentieth century in New Orleans, in the U.S. state of Louisiana. There were lots of musical influences in the area of New Orleans, as many different nationalities travelled through the port for varying reasons. Spanish folk music, French military band music, Ragtime, European ballroom dance music, Blues music and others, all popular within the New Orleans area, all had an impact on the birth of Jazz.

Primarily invented by black musicians, Jazz was not written down in the same way as previous music, but the styles and tunes were passed on from one to another by ear. The exciting thing about Jazz was the improvisation of different instruments, around a main melody. In early Jazz this may have included popular folk and blues tunes of the times.

Followers of Rupert Bear - 24th Annual Meeting - 2007

A host of Nutwood characters greeted the hundreds of Rupert Followers who gathered in Warwick for their 24th annual meeting on 4th August 2007 to enjoy the day's events.

In addition to the dealer's stalls with thousands of Ruperty items on offer, there were origami demonstrations taking place with the opportunity to make your own paper birds and aeroplanes, as well as a full programme of events in the afternoon.

We were delighted to hear that the classic Rupert we are so familiar with is here to stay. We were introduced to the new Rupert artist Stuart Trotter who will be illustrating the annual published for Christmas 2008 which will also contain all new stories. Stuart, who has illustrated Postman Pat and Thomas the Tank Engine among others, has been a life-long fan of Rupert and promises that the little bear will be very much recognisable as the Classic Rupert. 

A Walk In The Forest of Dean

I went on a wonderful walk the other day in The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, collecting blackberries for jam making (and eating one or two as I went), being thoroughly uplifted by the sight of so much abundance on our trees this year, with all their shades of colour, and listening to the birds seemingly enjoying their day too.

The Forest of Dean, covering an area of fourteen square miles on a peninsula between the rivers Wye and Severn, has much industrial history. A few generations ago it would have looked extremely different with many mines and tramways, not the leafy place it is now. Many residents can still tell tales of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers working in the pits and other industries and, very often, playing in the brass bands, of which there were many. Today brass banding is still strong in the Forest, as are the arts of recital and singing. One such grandfather worked as a postman. He travelled by horse every day from St. Briavels to Gloucester and back again to fetch the mail, where on his return it was sorted and delivered locally. The story goes that if he stopped for more than one pint at lunch time his horse made its own way home, wanting his sustenance too. The same gentleman was fond of saying that other folk worked from 12 noon to 1pm and took an hour for lunch!

A day in the life of stella books

A customer rang me other day and asked whether we were a warehouse or a shop so I thought I would tell you a little bit about us and a typical day in the shop.

We are in the lovely village of Tintern in the Wye Valley in South Wales. I’m sure you have heard of the famous Tintern Abbey, built in the 11th century and now a magnificent ruin - well we are a wee bit further along the village. The road runs alongside the River Wye, which is tidal and can be quite scary at times especially at high tide. We have watched the river rise until it fills the field on the opposite bank and then slowly cover the road outside the shop.

Followers of Rupert Bear - Annual Meeting 2005

Great excitement in Nutwood! The 22nd annual meeting of the Followers of Rupert Bear took place Saturday August 27th.

For some years now several hundred Followers of Rupert have converged on Warwick, to meet, talk about Rupert, drink beer (and tea & coffee!), buy Ruperty stuff and enjoy what we have come to call "Fellowship" and this year was no exception.

We enjoyed the company of Mary Cadogan who gave us a foretaste of her new book about the women in Rupert's world, with Mary Tourtel, Rupert's creator, of course being the most important. This year's play was "Rupert And Gaffer" and once more the theatre was turned into the world of Nutwood with all Rupert's chums, the Sage of Um in his flying Brella and, making his first appearance, a magnificent sea serpent! (see below).

Tintern in Flood - 2006

Here at Stella Books in Tintern, Monmouthshire we are fortunate to be able to work in such a beautiful environment - the River Wye winds through the village in graceful curves, wooded hillsides reach down to the lush river banks, and the famous ruins of Tintern Abbey rise imposingly to the south. But at certain times of the year this peaceful scene changes dramatically...

Left: The flood waters begin to creep across the A466.

The River Wye is tidal and the river level changes throughout the day accordingly. Normally these changes are relatively small and may not be noticed by the tourists who visit Tintern to enjoy the scenery and Abbey ruins, but at the spring tides the river level can overtop the banks and flood the adjacent fields - and buildings!

A.H. Watson

A few years ago whilst looking through some books the illustrations of A.H.Watson caught my eye. To start with I thought I was looking at the work of E.H.Shepard (whose work has been made famous by the illustrations of Winnie-The-Pooh and friends) as their style was so similar! When I realised these were indeed the illustrations of someone completely different and someone who I had never heard of before I then went on to look for some further examples of this artist's work… and so my collection grew.

Over my years of collecting, I have really come to appreciate more and more the delicacy and gracefulness of her simple line drawings and to see just how unique her style is - very different to E.H. Shepard who I at first likened her to. Join me on a brief journey through the life of a talented and yet largely unnoticed artist.

Aesop

Almost all of us are familiar with Aesop’s fables – but how many of us know anything about him?

The life and history of Aesop is clouded in obscurity. It is generally accepted that he was born in Greece around the year 620 B.C. and was born into slavery. He was owned by two masters and was said to be deformed but very clever and witty. Sir Roger L’Estrange, relying on Planudes, describes the fabulist as “in his person deformed to the highest degree, flat-nos’d, huchback’d, blobber-lipp’d, a long mishappen head, his body crooked all over, big-belly’d, baker-legg’d, and his complexion so swarthy that he took his very name from’t, for Aesop is the same with Aethiop….” This complimentary description is formed without any historical basis worth consideration.

Official Statement on the 'New' Rupert from the Followers of Rupert

The Followers of Rupert are pleased to learn that the Express has concluded a deal that will ensure Rupert will continue to be enjoyed by 21st century children.

We hope that any changes that are made do not stray too far from the traditions and formula that have made Rupert so popular for the past 85 years. It is, however, important that he reach younger audiences and we are confident that these new initiatives will provide ample opportunities for fresh adventures and merchandise, and trust that they will be supported by new fans and the traditional collector alike. We are all aware of the happy coexistence of the "classic" Winnie the Pooh, as drawn by E.H. Shepard, and the "Disney Pooh" enjoyed by so many children. We are confident that Rupert's long, distinguished history and integrity will ensure that he will also be here to welcome the beginning of the 22nd century.

'Flog It' at Rose's Books

On July 21st we at Rose's Books were delighted to have a visit from the film crew of the antiques TV show "Flog It!"

The show is presented by Paul Martin and invites members of the public to bring along collectable items for valuation by the programme's experts. The items are then put into auction with the owners hoping to realise the valuation prices.

Hay-On-Wye had been selected for a special feature within one of these programmes and Rose's Books was invited to participate. Paul interviewed Maria Goddard, proprietor of Rose's Books. The team spent some time filmiing around the shop and Paul was particularly enamoured with our collection of Ladybird Books, some of which he remembered from his childhood.