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Welcome to The Collins Library

McSweeney Books presents The Collins Library, a reprint series of rare & out-of-print books. Each volume comes newly edited and with a preface written by series editor Paul Collins. You may find The Collins Library collection at Amazon.com, independent retailers and the McSweeney Bookstores in San Francisco & New York.

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The Collins Library Almanac

Welcome to The Collins Library Almanac, a pseudo-blog that we update regularly with poetry, book excerpts, editorials from The Collins Library staff & more. If you have any ideas for entries that you'd like to see in our almanac, please forward them to us over at our contact us page.


3/1/11 - Thanks, Dad!

From an Original Will, proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury:

WM. WILLIAMS, late of the Island of Jamaica, Esq., proved October 21, 1768.

"I give and bequeath unto that most abandoned, wicked, vile, detestable rogue and imposter, who has assumed, and now goes (or lately did go) by the name of Gorsham Williams, pretending to be a son of mine; one shilling only to buy himself a halter, wherewith to hang himself."

2/24/11 - Heavy Reading

The Birmingham Journal says -- A singular illustration of the ductility and tenacity of iron has been produced at the establishment of G. Downing, Esq., the Brown Iron Works, Smithwick. It is in the form of a book, the leaves of which are iron, rolled so fine that they are no thicker than a piece of paper. The book is neatly bound in red morocco, and contains forty-four of these iron leaves, the whole being only a fifteenth of an inch thick. This curious book is the work of Charles Hood, who is in Mr. Downing's employ.

2/17/11 - Butt Farmers

Amongst the damp moss at the root of the rata trees, in the shady forests not far from Aukland, and also in various parts of the northern island, are found those extraordinary productions called vegetable catepillars, the hotete of the natives. The most remarkable characteristic of the vegetable catepillar is, that every one has a very curious plant, belonging to the fungi tribe, growing from the anus; this fungus varies from three to six inches in length, and bears at its extremity a blossom-like appendage, and evidently derives its nourishment from the body of the insect.

2/13/11 - Be Mine

Engaged Ladies. It is probably not generally known, that when once a woman accepted an offer of marriage, all she has, or expects to have, becomes virtually the property of her husband; and no gift or deed executed by her between the period of acceptance and the marriage is held to be valid; for were she permitted to give away or otherwise settle her property, he might be disappointed of the wealth he looked to in making the offer.

2/9/11 - The Happy Sweatshop

[At the Cleveland Hardware Company] a payroll folder is placed in each of the pay envelopes every week. One folder bearing the caption It's Hot and We Have Hot Jobs was got out in the hot summer months and reads as follows:

A good summer sweat does more to get the poison out of our systems than anything else. Lots of rich men pay a dollar and more to take a Turkish bath, and it is nothing more than taking a good sweat.

This is the most healthy time to work in the forge shop. It opens the pores, lets out the poisons, and there is no cold draft which brings bad results.

Eight hours work at the C.H. Co. every day, then a good swim in Lake Erie and a few hours rest in the parks. Spend some money for tent to sleep out in your yard, and you will never need a doctor.

1/31/11 - If You Died Here You'd Be Home Now

Inhabitants of Hatherleigh had an unusual spectacle of yesterday afternoon, when one of the quaintest houses in the town collapsed. Known as Coffin House, because of its peculiar appearance, it was situated in the district known as Fishmarket. It was erected, of cob with a thatched roof, upwards of a hundred years ago. The man who built it encroached slightly on the highway, compelling the builder to alter his plans; the result was that the shape of the house assumed a form almost identical with that of a coffin.

1/22/11 - Three-Way Tie For Last

On Tuesday last in Greenwich Park, great Numbers of People from London, and the adjacent Parts, diverted themselves (as is common on publick Holidays), with running down the Hill (formerly call'd the Giant's Steps) that fronts the Palace; but some of the more venturous would run down the steeper Part of said Hill, under the Terrace of the Royal Observatory. One of them, a young woman, broke her Neck, another ran against one of the Trees with such Violence, that she broke her Jaw-bone, and a third broke her Leg.

1/8/11 - Neither Fish Nor Fowl

Died on the 4th instant, at Edinburgh, aged seventy-five, Mr. John Howell. He made eccentric attempts to rival the bird and the fish in flying and swimming. His debut in the flying line was in a park, which now forms the West Princes-street Gardens. At the time the ruins of an old tannery stood at the bottom of the west bank, from an elevated point near which John took his soaring flight; but he was not long in coming precipitiously to the ground amidst a heap of old stones, by which he had one of his legs broken.

He next essayed to rival the fish. Having constructed, at considerable epense, a large model of a fish, which was to be propelled by the arms and legs of a person placed inside, a trial of the machine was made in a deep pool of water on the water of the [River] Leith. John's brother was present; and so satisfied was John of the value of of his invention, that he proposed to his brother that he should play the part of the fish. The brother declined this proposal; and John entered the fish himself.

Scarcely had the fish entered the water when it capsized; the keel turning upwards, and poor John submerged. Sounds of an alarming kind were heard to issue from the belly of the fish, and no time was lost in dragging it back, when the inventor was liberated from his perilous position; but it took nearly half-an-hour before "suspended animation" was restored. In plain English, John was nearly drowned.

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