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A wonderful possession

Here’s an ad from the December 9 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a collection of the works of William Shakespeare.

This edition included Shakespeare’s sonnets, some uncredited brilliant introductions, and somebody’s unique editorial contributions, but the ad doesn’t actually describe whether any of Shakespeare’s plays were included in whole or in part. $7.50 in cash in 1929 is the equivalent of over $110 today, so this book was not cheap, whatever it contained.

The copywriter for this ad chose hyperbole over linguistic accuracy, as the text refers to “the immortal creations of this myriad mind”. “Myriad” literally means “ten thousand” and is usually used to refer to a countlessly large number. So Shakespeare could have had a myriad of creations, but “myriad mind” makes no sense. So there!

British Books was a new firm at the time of this ad. The 1929 Toronto city directory does not list them. The 1930 directory lists them at units 338 and 339 of 73 Adelaide West; in 1929, this office space belonged to the Presbyterian Church in Canada. British Books eventually moved to 70 Bond Street; they appear in the 1936 directory, but not the 1939 one.

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