Someone once suggested that we add an “Obsolete Technology” section to the Book Fair, so he could give us all his old computers. He was a bit vague on how we would actually make money on his old computers, but he did think it would be nice of us to take them all the same.
We have never added an “Obsolete Technology” section for the same reason that your local supermarket does not have a “Stuff About To Spoil” section. Truth and marketing never do seem to get along.
Nor do we solicit your formerly useful computers. But we do sometimes set out some collectibles which people might MISTAKE for obsolete technology.
Take that manual typewriter I was given last week–not a Blickensderfer but a Royal of the 1930s or 40s. Manual typewriters are about the easiest thing to sell around here, provided they work. There’s something charming in the analog nature of pressing a button and seeing that metal key move which entrances even the most jaded computer user. The last one I had sold to a parent whose six year-old fell madly in love with it. I did not warn him that this was the first step on a slippery slope: I was ten years old when I was given a manual typewriter and look what happened: today I am a blogger.
Some people will tell me that these videocassettes and audiocassettes I sell are obsolete technology, but can a technology be obsolete if someone is still using it? From the five year-old who informed his grandmother that yes, he knew the difference between a record and a CD to the members of the local 8-track club, the customers who want and need something like that 8mm film of sports headlines of 1949.
If you want to go way back, someone dropped off a bag including two strips of very solid glass, each with 4 illustrations. You can tell after only a few frames that what you are seeing is an EXTREMELY condensed version of the story of Robinson Crusoe. These are magic lantern slides, once pushed one by one into the lens area of an oil-powered projector for the entertainment of families and/or small children. (Kerosene-run magic lanterns for children were sold well into the twentieth century–electricity wasn’t available in all homes for quite some time, AND there were no watchdog groups to warn parents about letting kids have toys which burned oil.)
No, they’re actually not all that valuable, these little stories on glass. The glass was really solid (these two survived being added to a bag of mixed paperback and hardcover books and being jostled around the Book Fair Room) and many of them survived. There ARE valuable magic lantern slides, but these are either the more advanced ones–some had levers to make the pictures move–or historic photographs, say, the animals the photographer saw on a trip to Africa in 1893. Simple stories, illustrated by any artist who needed the money, or simply copied from some other company’s slides, are not as desirable.
I haven’t priced that yet, nor have I priced the real antique a friend of the Book Fair dropped off on Saturday. It’s a Blu-Ray player WITHOUT built-in wifi. The old-fashioned kind, dont’cha know. We’ll see what sells first.