I recently came across something I wrote about 5-6 years ago for another blog under a different name - on the perils of trying to collect early Watch Tower materials. As a brief respite from all this serious research, I have cut and pasted a little bit that may strike a chord with older readers who have been collectors and researchers from before the internet era.
A number of decades ago, I used to advertise regularly in trade journals for publications of a certain religious group – a key one was called The Watchtower that started in 1879. A dealer contacted me to offer an original volume for 1901-1903. It was very expensive, and I was doing religious work away from home with a companion of similar age at the time. And we were broke. Really, really broke. But I had to have it. Money from necessities was diverted to obtain the prize. Then each day I waited impatiently for the parcel to come.
Finally it did. I ripped open the paper, and there it was – the Watchtower on the spine. Not quite the size I expected, but hey – how much did I know at that time about the shape and size of its past years? I opened the book wide, and there on a full page spread were the immortal words:
BILE BEANS FOR BILIOUSNESS
Those who may know the journal in question will understand how incongruous that was. I flipped through the pages and – aaagh - this wasn’t MY Watchtower, this was ANOTHER Watchtower – a literary journal published by the Broughton Baptist Church - full of life enhancing anecdotes, and advertisements for patent remedies for the ailing Baptist community of Greater Manchester.
My working partner behaved with true Christian charity.
How much did you pay for it?
Fifty years have gone by since then, but I can still remember as he curled up and pounded the floor in hysterics, as I looked aghast at my prize and thought what I could have spent the money on.
That volume is still on my shelves today. (As is another volume called Awake - a bound volume from the Church Missionary Society from 1902 – and that date really should have been a give-away).
I keep them there as a lesson.
I’m just not sure of what.