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Hunting down antique gardening books.

Old gardening books make unique Christmas presents for gardening relatives or friends. Many have rich illustrations. Some are valuable collector's items. Others provide a glimpse of how gardening has evolved over the years. And even though they're gifts from the past, they can still introduce today's readers to new plants or different ways of growing familiar plants.

Where to find antiquarian books

First, look under Books in the yellow pages of your telephone book. Listings may note a specialty in used or rare books. Among the many stores that carry gardening books, the quality of the selection varies widely. One store might offer a quantity of inexpensive paperbacks, another a limited stock of rare (and in some cases expensive) collector's items.

Stores that specialize in horticultural subjects will have the best selection, but their books will also probably be more expensive. You may find some of the best deals in out-of-the-way towns, especially in agricultural areas or college towns.

Call some stores and ask if they carry hardbound, out-of-print gardening books. Then you can visit a few to peruse their collections.

You can also find old book dealers through the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, 50 Rockefeller Plaza, New York 10020. For a membership directory, which includes a description of each dealer's specialty, send a stamped, self-addressed business-size envelope with 65 cents postage on it. Local stores sometimes supply regional membership lists.

Some dealers sell through the mail. For price lists from four in the West that specialize in gardening books, write to B.L. Bibby Books, 1225 Sardine Creek Rd., Gold Hill, Ore. 97525 ($2); Ian Jackson, Box 9075, Berkeley 94709 (free); Gretl Meier, Quest Rare Books, 774 Santa Ynez, Stanford, Calif. 94305 ($1); Sweetgrass & Company, Box 711, Alhambra, Calif. 91802 ($1).

Look for Western classics

The best used-book stores have a librarylike ambience conducive to browsing.

Their gardening sections will probably include a variety of horticultural, botanical, and natural history titles recently published to more than a hundred years old. Regional titles are among the most interesting to gardeners in the West. Some out-of-print Western books you might find are pictured above.

Although many of these books provide interesting gardening insights, remember that they are old. Some information particularly chemical recommendations will be out-of-date.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Dec 1, 1988
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