Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Best Bookstore, EVER!

Baldwin's Book Barn, located in Chester County, PA, is 4 stories of ruggedly-built shelves that support over 300,000 used and rare books.

The main portion of the store is a former dairy barn built in 1822. Original flooring, rafters, and doors remain, providing the proper setting for the collection.

A grassy embankment behind the barn slopes upward to the second floor, enabling the 19th c. farmer to easily move things to the upper levels. This embankment is characteristic of a Pennsylvania Bank Barn.

Inside is a catacomb of tomes.

Stacks and shelves and row after row of hard to find and out of print literature are a book-lover's dream.

I found the handmade lock on the door that leads from the lobby to the barn particularly interesting. The bowed piece of oak on the left, which was originally longer and has since snapped off, acted as a spring mechanism to slap the bolt shut as the farmer closed the door, thus keeping ol' Bessie from getting loose.

It's nearly impossible to leave the store without finding some must-have book. I purchased three.

One is a book on Pennsylvania Dutch furniture ($27) and one is about handtools ($4). You may notice a few loose papers sticking out of the handtool book. Baldwin's includes whatever papers were tucked within the book by the previous owner. Mine contains articles about woodworking that were clipped from local papers in the 1970's.

So, what's the unassuming little brown book? That is a 1952 reprint of The Village Carpenter, by Walter Rose ($12).

You never know what little treasure you'll find at Baldwin's, but no doubt, you will find one.