Monday, May 9, 2016

OUTSIDE THE BOX - You Never Know What You'll Find At A Book Sale

Books have been at the forefront of my mind of late.  This upcoming weekend will see a pair of huge charity used book sales open their doors and I've got a few titles that I'd like to add to my ever-growing list of books to read.

I've got about a bazillion titles in the basement but the collector in me just can't let a good sports bio go by.

Over the past couple weeks I've been volunteering at one of the sites, prepping for the big weekend by lugging in books from the car trunks of generous donors, sorting the thousands of books (and tossing some of the old, torn or soggy page turns into the recycling bin) and setting up the 200+ tables with titles that will keep the place hopping.

This is just half of the curling rink that has been taken over by this book blitz over the past little while.  It truly is a mountain of books.  And I'm having a blast going through them and helping out a great cause (my back may disagree with me when all is said and done).

On Sunday though the stars must have aligned just right because I came across a stunning find.

People have any number of reasons why they would box up some of their old books and donate them to a used book sale.  Just clearing out space, bored with the topic, finished reading it or are tired of seeing it staring at them from the shelf.  Regardless, we get anything and everything at these sales, from old vintage classics to the new release award winners.

I had been busy doing a lot of the grunt work for most of the day yesterday - lifting boxes, moving boxes, emptying the recycle name it.  For some reason I felt like taking a break and decided to do some sorting.  I grabbed an oddly shaped box and found an empty table.  I cracked the cardboard open and my eye caught one title in particular.

As a goalie fan and as a Jacques Plante fan I was excited to see a really nice copy of this book.  It was obviously the first one I pulled out of the box.

I leafed through the pages to check out the condition of the pages and they matched the cover - superb.  But then I saw some scribbling on the inside title page and my jaw dropped.

Yeah.  You're seeing this right.  A signed copy from the man himself, dated February 1973.

I must have let out a naughty word or two because the guys next to me wanted to know what was up.  I showed them the signature and they kind of looked at me like "What's the big deal?"  Clearly they were not hockey fans.

Jacques Plante passed away 30 years ago....before the boom of signature memorabilia and cut autos in the world of sportscards.  And while his scribe might not be uber-rare, you just don't see them pop up very often - if ever - in this capacity.

Now, I could have done one of two things.  I could have put the book into the sports section and kept my eye on it for sale day and make the easy $5 purchase, or (and this is what I ended up doing) I could have passed the title along to the organizers with some knowledge on just how rare and desirable this autographed copy can be.  They plan on putting it into a featured area with (what I hope will be) a fair price tag so that the charity and the buyer both benefit from this amazing find.

The crazy thing is that this isn't the first time I've discovered a jaw dropping signature on the inside cover of a sports book at a charity book sale.  Anyone remember my Foster Hewitt story?

Always check your used books for signatures.  There are gems to be found.

Right place, right time.


  1. I routinely hit my Goodwill and look through the books for signed copies. Have found a couple so far. I forget the first, but the last one was Rick Springfield's autobiography signed by Dr. Drake himself.

  2. Hopefully there's some good karma coming your way - it's lucky you were the one that caught it, seeing as your compatriots didn't appear to be hockey fans!

  3. They're lucky you were there. I guess it's a bit like catch and release. You have the story and a picture.

  4. Replies
    1. I'd be lying if I said the thought didn't cross my mind. But I just couldn't do it. Part of me is actually looking forward to seeing it sell and how much it goes for.

  5. You're a better man than I; I would have scooped that up without any trepidation.

    Book sales are great (an opinion I'd share regardless of my library background) and you can always find cool and interesting things at them. And of course, CHECK THEM PAGES!

    1. YES!!! Always check the pages.

      Earlier the same day I saw a copy of Clint Malarchuk's book Crazy Game in the recycle container. I pulled it out and took a look at it. Seemed to be in good enough condition to me, but it wasn't until I flipped through the first couple pages that I knew it was a keeper. Yup......signed.

      I knew he had done some signings in the city last year. It's one title I always check.

  6. That is one cool signature. But I think your decision was even cooler. I'd like to think I'm an honest guy... but man oh man... that would have been tempting. I'm a firm believer in karma, so maybe you'll find a hidden gem sitting in a dime box one day.

  7. That sure is a heck of a find and another fantastic story to accompany it. You're quite the stand up guy for letting others know about it. I would have been hard pressed to do the same. Do they accept Paypal?

    1. I don't believe so. Once I find out how much they will be pricing it at I can update you here as well. I've had a few people express interest already so I am anticipating something quick and exciting.