Shorey’s Books and the Pocket Shakespeare

For the (all too brief) year that I lived in England, I sent myself out on several pilgrimages to see important homes and museums of revered authors: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, and William Shakespeare to name a few. I purchased old books and new books, each with a different history-whether I was creating its history, or just adding to it.  I purchased several of Shakespeare’s works, hoping to finally understand his way with Iambic pentameter (I still look for antiquated Shakespeare, even though I have a large collection already!)  And while my understanding is certainly growing, I can’t help but admire Shakespeare’s tenacity on writing as a whole, his cleverness, his mysterious life, and his continued popularity.

This post started out all about Shakespeare, my growing love for finding antiquated Shakespeare books, and Brainerd Kellogg, but as things usually go, it altered course, and this post is now about something completely different.  But stick with me, and hopefully it will all come full circle.  Or, at least we hope.

I purchased the following book for no other reason than it’s cover (yes, I’m a huge judger of books by their covers), and let me tell you, this little book has quite a history.

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Besides it’s tattered and well loved cover, decorated with scotch tape, and slightly water stained, it turns out that this little copy of Shakespeare, originally published in 1882 by Brainerd Kellogg, a 19th century giant in English grammar and literature (a cool thing all on its own), made it’s way from the famous Shorey’s Book Store in Seattle, Washington.

Shorey's, an early image.  Image courtesy of DorpatSherrardLomont,a group of Seattle loving bloggers who provide in depth histories on all aspects of Seattle.

Shorey’s, an early image. Image courtesy of DorpatSherrardLomont,a group of Seattle loving bloggers who provide in depth histories on all aspects of Seattle.

Begun in 1890 by Sam Shorey and his business partner, Bradford Trask, first as a magazine store and tobacco stand, Shorey’s eventually became an antiquarian hub and used bookstore.  The stamp on the back of one of the pages attests to this:

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I personally have never been to Seattle (but desperately want to go), so I have no notion besides what I’ve read of how awesome Shorey’s once was.  I’m guessing, back in the day, it ranked up there with It changed locations several times in it’s history, but one location, clarified by the little, faded pink stamp, makes this pocket Shakespeare extra special.  It lists their location as ‘3D & Cherry St.’

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Early on it Shorey’s debut, the bookstore moved from it’s original location at Third and Yesler Way to Third and Cherry (about 1894).  There it stayed until 1922, when the store and 100,000 books moved a few blocks up to Third and Marion. So, thanks to that handy little stamp in a ripped out page highlighting several of Kellogg’s books, we can now pin this volume to a traveler (or resident who then moved to Virginia) in the Seattle area between 1894 and 1922.

Shorey’s books closed its doors in 2005, thanks to the growing market of selling used books on the internet, and Washington State lost its oldest bookstore west of the Mississippi.

Perhaps one of these days I’ll re-look at this little pocket Shakespeare and discuss its other amazing aspects, like it’s connection to Brainerd Kellogg, and it’s publication in 1882), bur for now, I am pleasantly surprised by it’s fascinating adventure in Seattle!

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Filed under 1890s, 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, Books

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