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‘Forgotten Bookmarks’ a fascinating collection

Michael Popek’s "Forgotten Bookmarks" is one of the most interesting book-related blogs out there.

Popek, who is a second-generation used and antique book dealer, was always fascinated by the items people would leave behind as place-markers in books. So in 2007, he began a simple blog posting photos of some of the more interesting things he ran across, and it blossomed into a very popular stop for book lovers as well as fans of the strange and interesting.

Popek has taken some of the most popular items he has posted in the past four years and published them in a book, “Forgotten Bookmarks: A Bookseller’s Collection of Odd Things Lost Between the Pages.”

The book is divided into five sections — “Photographs,” “Letters, Cards and Correspondence,” “Notes, Poems, Lists and Other Written Ephemera,” “Receipts, Invoices, Advertising and Other Official Documents,” and my favorite section, “The Old Curiosity Shop: From Four-Leaf Clovers to Razor Blades.”

Popek has included photographs of the items along with the books they were found in, and in many cases, a pain-staking description of what has been transcribed on the back of the items. The photograph section has everything from tintype pictures of stoic ancestors to class photos. There is even a collection of photos of Mount Pelee, a volcano which exploded in 1902.

Dozens of letters and correspondence ranging from children’s Valentines to “Dear John” letters to postcards from the four corners of the world have been transcribed by Popek. Love poems, grocery lists, telegrams, recipes are also apparently great bookmarks.

Some of the strangest items Popek has found include pressed flowers and four-leaf clovers, dog tags, a sheet of unused cap gun caps, a full formed marijuana leaf, and even several razor blades.

It’s fascinating to take a peek at what other folks have left in books and what books they were left in. You name it — if it could mark a place in a book — Popek has probably found it and has included it in his collection.

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