Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Books and Old Shelves - Old Tales and a New Year!

Today being on the cusp between the Old Year and the New, it seemed a suitable occasion for a post combining the Old and the New as well. The later part of this year, my mother in law (a wonderful woman) moved into a (high class) assisted living arrangement at age 88. Her new apartment didn't have room for all of her furniture, so when asked if we wanted any of it, I lept at the chance to acquire some "new" old shelving. Like many historical wargamers, my book collection must weigh as much or more than my lead! (My freind, Bob Jones, would tell me it's time to give them all away and stick entirely to digital media - not happening for another decade or two, Bob!) This pair of bookshelves fit exactly beneath a window in my study/computer room. It wasn't until it was in place that I discovered that the height of the shelves *precisely* matches that of Ospreys! Thiss is great, as Ospreys have a tendency to warp etc when set on end on their own.

The new shelf in place. As you can see, I have plenty of Ospreys (don't we all?), Also prominent are works by Chandler, Gill, Petre, Arnold, Oman and many more, as well as my "Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen" sequels. Of course, I have at least 4 times as many more books on OTHER shelves, but still, these shelves have been hugely useful!

This old fashioned "Barrister's Bookcase", of the sort that often held legal books, had been in pieces in the basement of my in-laws condo since they moved there 20 + years ago. It originally belonged to my wife's paternal grandfather (his old chestnut desk, refinished, has been my desk at my office for over 30 years)  It seemed to be thoroughly broken, but it still looked like it had such promise that I decided that I'd take it and see what I could do to fix it. 

Once the pieces were laid out in my own basement, I realized that it was actually a modular unit, and although one of the 4 modules was broken beyond any reasonable chance of repair, the other three were... perfectly fine, and just needed to be stacked up in the right order to be almost as good as new. Viola! A new, classy bookshelf for my colletions!

After some consideration, I decided to install my English Civil War troops into these shelves. They are among my most attractive figures, yet the soft  metal alloy pikes mean that they don't travel away from home. They had been out on display back to my college dorm days in the mid 1970's, and so they are now once again today!  On top of the shelf is an old fashioned cast iron coffee grinder from my parent's home. The unit could use a little wood polish once I get around to it!

Close up of the ECW troops on the shelves. That left one more empty shelf - what should I put in that display case? 

Well, it turns out that I have a number of HMG Historicon trophies that had just been siting out gathering dust on top of an old refrigerator in the basement, so this presented an ideal location for displaying them. 

    The large Eagle was from Historicon 2007, the "Vietmeyer Award" for the Battle of Dennewitz, 1813, presented to me tableside by Pete Panzeri, commenting that it was for Big Battles with big figures, in the tradition established by Fred and CLS. 

    On the far left is an unpainted figure in tricorne, from Historicon 2010, the first year at Valley Forge. I actually was awarded TWO of them that year for 1809 games - one for Tarvis 1809, and the other for Sacile, 1809. Both times the presenters commented that the games looked good, were large, and had many players including youths, but that what struck them, was that it was a NAPOLEONIC game, and yet all the players were LAUGHING and SMILING and obviously having a great time. Well, yes!  

    The ACW figure was another PELA award, this time from Historicon 2011, for Znaim, 1809. Similar comments were made on presentation of that award, and the game WAS a blast. For that I thank the players at least as much as the GM. 

   The green Hussar was given to our informal "Hofkreigsrat" group of six at Historicon 2009, for the best theme game (1809 theme), for Eggmuhl. We also ran Razyn, Teugen-Hausen, Aspern-Essling, a Raid set in central Germany 1809 (Von Schill and an Austrian Streifkorps versus a motley conglomeration of Westphalians and Rhinebund minor principality troops), and of course - Wagram. 

    The final figure is of course of  The Emperor himself, and was a gift to me this Christmas from one of my patients, herself the daughter of one of the old guard physicians of our town from the pre World War 2 years. It is from her late husband's collection, as a thank you for taking on a grand daughter with severe medical and emotional problems  who had been to 4 different ER's over 2 weeks, severely ill,  without benefit. (She is now thankfully dramatically improved - it's amazing what you can learn from the patient themselves - as Sir William Osler said "If you listen to the patient, they'll tell you what's wrong with them". The sad thing is that such an obvious thing seems almost profound to doctors now days... and it did even back then, too!)

    Well, enough then of the old. What of the new? This Christmas I got several interesting new books from friends and family. In no particular order, here they are:

This latest sequel (by John Carr) to the late H. Beam Piper's wonderful novel, ":Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, was due out quite some time ago. It turns out that John himself was very seriously ill, and hospitalized for over a month with a bone marrow transplant. He has finally recovered, and I can't wait to read this latest saga set in the Aryan Transpacific Timeline, Styphon's House Subsector. For more on Kalvan's adventures, see the label on the side bar and John's website,

From our good friends who "get" my love of history, and share it as well, comes this book about the sunset years of the Empire. I look forward to reading this one  as well!

It has been said that the only person in history who has had more books written about them than Napoleon is Jesus Christ. Thus, a new Biography of Napoleon?  Yes indeed, and it has had very favorable reviews. I haven't  read a non military history of the Emperor in many years, so I look forward to this tome as well! 

From the publisher: This book examines the rise of Sweden as the pre-eminent military power in Europe during the Thirty Years War in the 1600’s, and then follows its line of warrior kings into the next century until the Swedes finally meet their demise, in an overreach into the vastness of Russia. Focusing on the Thirty Years War, which hasn’t been the subject of a book since 1969, Lunde examines the military role of Northern and Eastern Europe from the late sixteenth century to the early eighteenth century. Ultimately, this book examines how a poor country with a population of only about 1.3 million people was able to become a military superpower against larger and more wealthy countries such as Russia, Poland, the Roman Empire, Bavaria, and Spain." With my interest in the Pike and Shot era, and my Scandinavian heritage, this one promises to be a good read as well!  Now I just need some time to curl up and read these latest additions to my library!

Ein glückliches neues Jahr!
Feliz año nuevo!
Bonne année!
Felice Anno Nuovo!
Godt NytÅr!
Próspero Ano Novo!

Which, of course is to say: a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year to you all, my friends!



  1. Great post, Peter! I enjoy seeing how others tackle the space issues that large collections present.

    Geesh! Looking at the books in your new book shelf, I could be looking at a piece of my own collection! My copy of Chandler even has the dust jacket torn in the same place! I am in your camp. Not ready to replace all of my books with digital quite yet.

    Congratulations on your past awards but the start of a new year is no time to rest on your laurels. Look forward to new conquests and awards!

    Happy New Year!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Shelves, shelves, and more shelves is my answer to the storage issue! :-) I was actually thinking I needed to buy a new shelf unit before these came up!

      Yes, I imagine there would be quite a few with similar volumes in their collections. Tear in the same place on Chandler is funny. Until I got my own copy, I must have checked it out of the local Library at LEAST 2 dozen times!

      I'm never going to be a GM to put on games with the real "wow factor" terrain. We all enjoy seeing those, but I don't have the time, space, money or talent for that. IMHO, if you're going to go to that kind of work, you need to bring it to a number of shows over a year or two to make it worthwhile. So if my efforts garner me another of the "baubles with which men are lead" (to paraphrase the Emperor as well as a funny pun on the last word in this context), great. The real reward for a good convention game is players who had a good time, and come away enthusiastic about the rules and or period!

  2. Happy New Year to you and your's as well!
    I'm a Paratime fan as well and I re-read "Lord Kalvin" every so often. Since I used to live in the area covered by the novel, I find it even more interesting!

  3. I must have re read "Lord Kalvan" at least a half dozen times. The sequels are very good, but lack just a bit of the "divine spark" of Piper's original. BTW, all of the sequels except this latest one are now available electronically for $9 each - much less than the (very high quality) hardback books.

  4. Those barrister bookcases are now highly sought after and worth renewing! I have one I inherited from my father-in Law which I prize.

    Digital books will never eliminate print volumes just as Movies, TV, and internet haven't eliminated radio. However, digital will undoubtedly become 70% of the market or more for books on current affairs, how-tos, popular biographies and novels, penny-dreadfuls, 2nd printing of popular novels, subjects of transient interest, and, increasingly, for cheap access to classics and classic editions.

    Print will survive on very special editions, volumes with extensive maps, or artwork, and special subjects like uniforms, etc.

    Most of my Osprey purchases are now digital, and I just purchased that book on the Warrior Dynasty you listed above, immediately, and at a third of its published print cost. Digital books have the nice added advantage of reducing the clutter in the home, trips to unload them at book sales, and buying more bookcases. They are also easier to use for research when you emply various search and bookmarking aspects of the software.

    With a tablet they have an additional advantage of comfort and not requiring a light while reading in bed and thus bothering the missus. If I could digitize my entire military library I would do it and pocket the cash to pay for my expanded table in my re-decorated and much roomier wargame room minus those bookcases!

    1. No doubt electronic formats save a huge amount of space (and time searching for that ONE book you can't find fro your collection, etc). I think you're correct that for graphic heavy and map heavy works, print will retain a role for some time to come, much more than works that are largely text.

  5. Nice cabinets & shelves. Looks like you have had a good Christmas haul. Happy New Year!

    Maybe another Kalvan era game this year? (Been awhile, and there are a lot more Pike and Shot armies around here than when you put on the last.)

    1. I'd certainly consider a return to Kalvan's world on the tabletop. Wouldn't have to twist my arm much at all! :-)

  6. Very nice display cabinet and shelving Peter. I aspire one day to put my troops behind glass instead of in filing boxes. It always feels a shame after weeks of hard brushwork to then hide the troops out of sight!

    As for going digital - well I just think the sight, feel and smell of books is part of the overall appeal. Even at work I tend to print documents to read instead of reading them on screen (one cannot scribble on the screen after all, as I point out!) :-) Book cases are magnificent and yours look great.

    Have a fabulous New Year,
    Best wishes,

    1. Thanks, Jason, and have a wonderful New Year yourself!

  7. Nice setup you've accomplished and happy new year Peter! I must admit I'm favouring digital for the books these days, as not only do I find them more user friendly, but 28mm armies already take up so much space! Checking I see that "Thunder on the Danube" is all available as digital now except the first volume - slightly annoying not being able to get the whole lot digital. There's also the cost of shipping books to New Zealand which can be very substantial but space is the big one for me. Amazingly my partner never complains about all the boxes of figures, just chuckles at the madness of it sometimes :)

    1. Thanks and the same to you, Mark! Shopping costs can be a big issue, and space is one as well for sure. Houses in the US are fairly large compared with much of Europe, and I imagine the same is true in NZ, but still there always sesm to be more stuff than room top store it! :-)

  8. Shelves are like books and figures you can never have too many !!! :-)

    1. Right, and the more you have of the later, the more you need of the former!