Scent of Books and Books Shops

The ensemble of his library was alone worthy to kindle all his fire. How tint blended with tint, the rich brown calf with the chaste lustre of the vellum back, the severity of _the dark russia, with the subdued warmth of the red morocco, the olden gleams of the lettering an tooling, the undefinable fragrance, ‘ like a steam of rich distilled perfumes,’ which pervades a. library fertile in russia bindings,....
Fraser's Magazine, Volume 59
 By James Anthony Froude, John Tulloch

How can we help entering into his enthusiasm for his old books, as he inhales “the fragrance of the stout pages, and caresses the tarnished tree-calf covers of these twenty-one worn volumes of Shakespeare’s Plays.” He says, “Spenser’s noble folio here on my desk has a singularly precious association connected with it, for it was bought immediately after I came from the stately funeral of Lord Tennyson. The linking of the two august poets in this way has meant an added joy in the perusal of my copy of Spenser ever since that day. * * * "‘ A few dollars will go a long way among London book-stalls. Little Eighteenth Century editions of The Spectator, and of Pope and Gray and Cowper, may often be picked up for sixpence a volume.
Friends' Intelligencer, Volume 68

RECENT publications of known  authors, strongly bound in serviceableable calf, are amongst the necessities of life, inasmuch as they contain food pure and simple; but stray volumes lovingly extracted from out-of-the-way nooks in old book-shops, and having special associations, are to be classed with the luxuries of existence; they have the fragrance of the East about them, and all the glorious mystery of summer-dreams.
The Bibliographer; a Journal of Book-lore, Volumes 5-6

In the good old days, when there was such a thing as genuine "society" in provincial towns and sleepy cathedral cities; the days when the country newspaper appeared only once a week, and it was a treat to be allowed to read a Times that was merely three days old; in the days, in short, when the electric telegraph was not, and even the steam-engine was but little understood, there was no town in Great Britain which did not possess a rendezvous for those who took an interest in literature and literary matters in the shape of a bookseller's shop. The booksellers of Edinburgh, Glasgow, York, Leeds, Manchester, and Birmingham were, in those halcyon days, the great patrons of our national letters and the source of inspiration on all things literary. The clergyman, the schoolmaster, the doctor, and any stray student who preferred the comparative quiet of the country to the bustle of the capital, foregathered in the shop of the local bookseller. There they enjoyed the pleasure so dear to the book-lover of turning over the uncut leaves of the new volumes to which the delicious fragrance of the press-room still clung. 
The Speaker, Volume 10

Old Books are best! I confess to that belief. Why else did I put aside the prim little Shakespeares in their fresh green leather in the showy Holborn shop, and buy the old Malone variorum edition of 1803 in Booksellers’ Row? Books associate themselves for us with the places where we bought them and the places where we read them. These old Shake— speares forever recall that yellow fog and that ancient stall on a certain December afternoon. The notes may not discuss the latest German theory of Hamlet’s mad— ness, but they are delightfully ample and leisurely, covering mostly the greater part of the page, and their obsolete wisdom is always vouched for by Malone, or Johnson, or Steevens, or T. VVarton, or other old-time editors. Hardly will you meet with such a world of quaint annotation, save in Dr. Fumess’ generous pages, where the droll, strange editors of the Eighteenth Century find so kindly a welcome. Old Books are best! I think it, as I inhale the fragrance of the stout pages and caress the tarnished tree-calf covers of these twenty-one worn volumes of S hahespeare’s Plays.
Book News: An Illustrated Magazine of Literature and Books ..., Volume 25

"the Smell Of My Old, Old Books."
"My garden aboundeth in pleasant nooks
And fragrance is over it all;
For sweet is the smell of my old, old books
In their places against the wall.
Here is a folio that's grim with age
And yellow and green with mold;
There's the breath of the sea on every page
And the hint of a stanch ship's hold.
And here is a treasure from France la belle
Exhalth a faint perfume
Of wedded lily and asphodel
In a garden of song abloom.
And this wee little book of Puritan mien
And rude, conspicuous print
Hath the Yankee flavor of wintergreen,
Or, may be, of peppermint.
In Walton the brooks a-babbling tell
Where the cherry daisy grows,
And where in meadow or woodland dwell
The buttercup and the rose.
But best beloved of books, I ween,
Are those which one perceives
Are hallowed by ashes dropped between
The yellow, well-thumbed leaves.
For it's here a laugh and it's there a tear,
Till the treasured book is read;
Aud the ashes betwixt the pages here
Tell us of one long dead.
But the gracious presence reappears
As we read the book again,
And the fragrance of precious, distant years
Filleth the hearts of men.
Come, pluck with me in my garden nooks
The posies that bloom for all;
Oh, sweet is the smell of my old, old books
In their places against the wall!"
 Meehans' Monthly: A Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and ..., Volumes 6-7

Her first glance, however, showed nothing but books, seemingly packed solid. The curious smell of old leather and dusty. yellowed paper had mingled with it something foreign, which She sniffed vigorously—it seemed -to be a hint of warm spice and of sandalwood and the pungent odor of marline! Visionsof coral islands in the tranquil blue of the far Pacific, green palm-trees and vivid birds, the hot, tropic sun blazing on yellow sands rose in her imagination—it was a very satisfying smell, Joan decided, and one that promised interesting and romantic developments.
St. Nicholas, Volume 48
 By Mary Mapes Dodge

But still Ray was not satisfied. Oxford was still only superficially Oxford. The more he threw himself into every side of university life, the more societies he joined, the more dinners in which he participated, the more was he convinced that the true atmosphere of Oxford was completely missing. The only occasion on which he really felt he was at Oxford at all was on one afternoon soon after he had discussed The Oxford Mercury with Steele. After so much excitement, Ray felt that he needed rest, and he made his way slowly and somewhat disconsolately down to Parkin's. He had an excuse for going there, namely that he had to buy a copy of Maine's "Ancient Law," but that was not really the reason why he went. He went because he had, that afternoon, an irresistible desire for books, the feel of books, the smell of books. 
 By Beverley Nichols

 In an Old Bookshop by Mary Frances Sanford-1903
Here in the teeming city's heart
There is a place, where he who enters in
May shut away the tumult and the din
Of strife for bread, and bide awhile apart.
For here the master's of a might art,
With all their store of treasure, wait our will,
And in their presence, so benign and still,
Our clamourous cares grow silent and depart.
The fragrance of the past is everywhere: 
Sun burnt Morocco and the Orient
Have lent their treasures worthily to dress
Wisdom profound and fancies heavenly fair,
Garnered in bygone years from lives long spent
Yet living thus in all their loveliness.

Every morning, on our way to the galleys, we passed the little stronghold of culture.
We lived on the north side, where a free air came in from the lake. Starting from a zone that was one hundred per cent ozone, our long walk to the editorial dungeons led us through many city odors, some of which were curdled to the dignity of smells.
If we had been blindfolded and led along on familiar city trail, we could have called the corners and the landmarks because of the aromatic variations.
For instance, there was a German place just on the border of the residence district. A sweet-sour exhalation, of a happy flavor, used to come through the swinging doors and permeate the street until overcome by the smoky fumes of pitch from the new asphalt.
Further along, a suggestion of the soap works, plowing by invisible current through an alley, was pleasantly modified by the sharp, tangy odor spilled from a huge red building in which leaf tobacco was ground into a smoking mixture.
A mist of gentle decay hung over the sluggish river, but the first diagonal street to the south brought a quick assortment of most agreeable scents, all suggestive of the sunny tropics. Every doorway breathed of spices or coffee turning in a roaster. At the corner where the wagons were heaped full of bananas and the sidewalks were stacked to the awning with varieties of citrus, the redolence was heavy and almost cloying in its sweetness.
The neglected down-town pavements gave out a flat malarial vapor in the morning sun and a cold gust of rancid mud and mildew arose from the LaSallestreet tunnel.
Even the city hall had a character of its own. From the apertures we could get whiffs of dead tobacco smoke and a convincing proof that the crowd huddled inside should have been hung out for a thorough airing.
The odor banked in front of each cook shop was almost heavy enough to have form and color. We had to push through several of these strata before turning the corner to greet the delectable smell emerging from Frank's Place.
It was not a printing house smell. The latter is a rank composite of fresh ink and rag paper and lubricating oils.
Amateur smellers sometimes put all printed matter under one head in the list of factory sensations and do not distinguish between a book shop and a press room.
There is the same difference that an epicure would find between a green carcass still quivering on the ground and a gamey cut that had been hanging and mellowing for many days.
Also, there is a difference between a common ordinary book-store (with the volumes still sweating from the bindery) and a repository for old books.
Frank's place was incredibly packed from floor to ceiling with books old enough to command respect and with private histories augmenting their value.
And so, there was embanked, all about the premises, like a still incense, the gently, musty, dusty, old papery aroma of well-seasoned books. Air which is tinctured with this refined essence becomes a soft irritant to the nasal passages, like good snuff, inducing the visitor to sneeze once or twice before starting on his ramble along the shelves.
Frank's place was a few square feet of St. Paul's churchyard set down in Madison street.
McCutcheon and I would look in and see the dim aisles lined with stationary loungers, all reading fixedly and no one purchasing. We wondered if Frank found it profitable to conduct a free reading-room.
We would inhale deeply hoping that some bacilli of inspiration might still be floating in the dust from the rare old volumes, and then we would hurry on to the works and do our daily grind of stories of the street.

"If Imatra did not exist, then Valinkoski would be the most beautiful waterfall in Europe." A traveller wrote these lines on the fly-leaf of a faded vellum-bound sketch-book, in the last part of the eighteenth century. The book fell into my hands by chance in an old bookshop in Helsingfors. It had evidently been well taken care of and still had a faint aroma of some long-forgotten perfume clinging to the yellow pages. That perfume came again to my remembrance with the breath of some pungent herb that filled the forests around Imatra with an odd sharp sweetness, that I never noticed elsewhere during my travels in Finland. It may have been that a heavy rain-storm that morning had brought out the perfume more than usually. Whatever the cause, the air was delicious. I was undecided whether to go to Tainionkoski or Valinkoski that afternoon. Imatra divides them—from one it gathers the first breath of battle, and the other throws it a mirage of peace that it can never reach.
A Summer Tour in Finland
 By Sylvia Borgström MacDougall