Vintage Science Fiction Cover Art

One summer day when I was about twelve, I complained to a friend that I couldn’t find anything interesting to read. My friend gave a little laugh and said, Come with me. Leading me to her garage, she flicked on the light, waited a moment for dramatic effect, and said, Pick.

I was in awe. One whole wall of the garage was covered by homemade bookshelves and those shelves were stuffed to overflowing with, what I would soon discover, were science fiction paperbacks.

They’re my dad’s, my friend said. He’s kind of a sci fi junkie. You can borrow anything you want.

I stepped forward and picked one at random. Inherit the Stars by James P. Hogan. The cover art convinced me to take it home. And so began an addiction to science fiction that would last thirty years (and counting).

So a few years ago, when I was in the depths of my thrift store addiction, I began buying old sci-fi paperbacks. It gave me something new to hunt for, and I really liked the cover art, especially from the 40s, 50s and 60s. (If you read my last post you’ll know I have a fascination with yesterday’s vision of tomorrow.) But it was hard to display the covers if the books just sat on a bookshelf. So I decided to take on another craft project. I started collecting the covers, some cheesy ones and some of the classics that I had read as a kid, with the thought that I would one day try to decoupage them on the top of an old trunk.

Since I am not a particularly successful crafter and a great procrastinator, the covers went into a  manila envelope and have been occupying the bottom drawer of my desk for a few years now. But one day, I swear, I’m going to finish this project. In the meantime, they’re this week’s Thrift Pick of the Week.

Confession of a Thrift Store Junkie

I’m not sure when I got hooked. It might have been the day I found a 3 foot plastic Millennium Falcon for almost nothing. (Our boys were huge Star Wars fans and that thing retailed for more than $100.) Or maybe it was when I came across an old tin globe. It was painted in bright colors and had the signs of the Zodiac on the base. I had absolutely no use for it. So I bought it. I couldn’t help myself. Suddenly, every time I saw an old globe in a thrift store, I had to buy that, too. Soon I realized I was regularly trolling every second-hand store in town in search of globes or other cool old junk.

When I started, I swear, I was just trying to save money. We had a pretty tight budget (imagine if the lower middle class had a basement), and I could get cheap clothes, books, and furniture. This was years ago, before our youngest was in school, and a trip to the thrift store became entertainment, especially on those winter days when it was too cold or snowy to go outside for long. It gave us a way to get out of the house without spending a lot of money. (We could only go to the library so often.) There was a Goodwill nearby that always had a huge bin of little 50 cent toys next to the bookshelves. We usually got out of there with reading material for me and a double fistful of little toys for the little guy, and I rarely spent more than $3 or$4.

Then the globe happened. Suddenly, thrift shopping was less a budgeting strategy or winter entertainment and more a strange addiction. The youngest got older and went off to kindergarten, and I kept thrift shopping. My habit escalated and I added flea markets and garage sales. I bought buckets of toys for the boys, cookware and books for my partner, doodads for the house – all kinds of things we really didn’t need but they were all such a bargain!

And I began collecting “vintage” things: typewriters, old suitcases, science fiction novels from the 40s and 50s with the cool freaky cover art. And more globes. At one point, I had accumulated 15, I think. Most of them had to live in the basement because at the time, there were five of us living in a house with less than 1200 square feet. My partner and oldest son staged an intervention.

That was years ago, and I’m much better now. These days I try (usually successfully) to limit myself to one store once a week, and sometimes I don’t buy anything at all. But sometimes I find something really cool. So once a week, I’m going to post my “Thrift Pick of the Week” just for you other thrifters and treasure-hunters out there. This week, my globes. Next week, look for science salvage.

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