The magic of an old book

Thoughts and feelings have their own way of growing, blooming, weaving a story in your soul…

You open a book in an antique bookshop and your eyes see M. DCC. XLII. Then you jump to the last page and realize you can afford it! After that you take the book next to it and read MDCCLXXX, and the last page shows a price comparable to that of a book published in 2016! You call for help in your mind, and come across some memories left by your high school teacher’s insistence on the Roman numerals.  You wonder which of the two would explain it: the antiquarian had had a drink too much the night before pricing the book, or he cannot read Roman numerals… the second seems less likely, so it’s probably the first. Whatever the reason, this is a “buy and run” moment!

Sadly, the same antiquarian seems to have been one hundred percent sober when he priced a MDCCLXIII book printed in Augsburg, with marvelous Gothic writing on the rough paper…

In 1763 Leopold Mozart, born in Augsburg in 1719 as the eldest son of a master bookbinder, had been living in Salzburg for 27 years. The year when this book was manufactured he was travelling with his little Wolfgang and Maria Anna to make their extraordinary musical talents known to the world, and Augsburg was their second stop – Leopold was returning to his birthplace as a proud father of two wonderfully gifted children, and the three concerts given by the music prodigies in Augsburg, end of June-beginning of July 1763, were part of the Mozart Family Grand Tour, which would last over three years, from 9 June 1763 to 29 November 1766.

Augsburg, 1763. A beautiful book is printed in a workshop. Leopold Mozart returns to his birthplace with his son and daughter.The first public concert is given by the Mozart Children on 28 June. The second on 30 June. The third, and last one, on 4 July. The book that you are holding in your hands is a bridge between you and the past…

Whenever I visit an antiquaire I can close the door to the outside world, travel in time, dwell into the past, into its infinite worlds to which I feel connected through the magic of old books, with their rough paper and magnificent writing and ornaments…

I left the 1763 book on the shelf, with a sigh. She will be waiting there for someone who can afford to buy her, and, through her, delight in the feeling of connecting with a moment in the past when an Augsburg workshop sent her on a long journey through time, a travel of 255 years, until she reached the shelf of an antique bookshop in my town…


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