Holding Some History

Who knows how many are left in the world, and I have one in my hands, right now! (Well, in truth, I had to put it down in order to type this…) It’s a double-first, of sorts.

In 1859, Charles Dickens won an argument with his publisher that had gone to court, and as a result, he started his own magazine. It was a weekly journal that he called “All the Year Round.” He imagined it as a literary paper, and found a quote from Shakespeare to supply the name for his new enterprise. In OTHELLO, Wild William had a passage that went: The Story of Our Lives from Year to Year – All the Year Round.


Dickens put it on the masthead of his first issue, which was dated Saturday, April 30, 1859.

And that was the issue that was in my hand before I set it down to type. Issue No. 1 – right there under the name of Charles Dickens.

I’m enough of a history nut that I imagine what was going on when these pages came off the press and were delivered to his subscribers. The US Civil War was still years in the future. Braum’s Concerto in D-minor hit the Top 10 in new releases. The elevator was invented, so folks could finally reach the upper floors.

And on July 11, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens – was published.

In July. But here in my hands (I picked it back up, but I’m setting it back down again…), is/was the very first printed version of that epic Dickens work, having made its April debut in the premier edition of his new journal.


So. It is the Number One issue of the new magazine, containing the introduction of his new novel-to-be.

A Tale of Two Cities was serialized with a chapter or part of a chapter appearing each week in the journal. It was through his subscribers that Dickens was able to make a living while continuing the writing process. Subscribers not only got first crack at the story – as an added bonus, when the story was concluded the collected chapters could be dropped by Chapman and Hall publishers to be bound into a single volume.

A great addition to any home library!

An average first edition (in book form, as opposed to bound from subscriber chapters) can be found in the neighborhood of $4000. And I suppose the TRUE first edition is the copy issued as an entire book.

In the meantime though (and since I’m not likely to ever own a true First Edition copy), I’ll have to be satisfied with having a copy of the first PRINTED edition of the story in my hands (okay, technically – on the desk to my left) along with Issue No. 1 of ALL THE YEAR ROUND. Geek fun for Dickens fans.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was at the bookstore that serves lunches…

Come visit!


Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow OK!

Held Together by Rust and Grime.

I’m not a banjo picker. But then, before this afternoon I wasn’t a banjo repairman. We all have to start somewhere.

In this case, it starts with a well-appreciated (by that I mean pretty beat-up) Kay five-string banjo – which according to several websites (so it has to be true, right?) – was manufactured in Chicago in the 1960s. It came into my hands from one of our lunch guests who was thinning out his collection of musical instruments.


Over the years I’ve learned that some vintage things are held together by years of collected grease and grime. Apparently, this particular instrument was held intact by the old rusty strings. Before becoming the next Flatt & Scruggs banjo-picking sensation, I thought I’d just whip some new strings on the thing.

Tightening up the first new string, and…



The string went all slack (and decidedly non-musical). Tried several times to get some tension on the string before I finally examined the gear and tuning peg.

Well. The tiny spot where over a half century ago some craftsman connected two pieces of metal together – was broken. Probably not beyond repair, but certainly out of my superglue range of skills.

After a little further investigation, I determined that the banjo is no Antiques Roadshow segment, and would not have been even in better shape than its current state. So I ordered some tuning gears and today they arrived.

Wouldn’t fit in the banjo.


Plan B could have been:

A. “Return to the Internet” to find some other parts
B. Make the parts in hand work out.
C. Give up and just throw the darn thing away

Mostly because I love using my cordless drill, I chose B. That’s how I happen to have an image of a drill bit digging into a banjo.

Fun is where you can find it.

There is probably a special banjo hole-reaming tool out there. Probably expensive. The keep drilling with a larger-diameter drill bit method did the trick for me.

Unfortunately, the cordless drill has been in the cabinet for a time, and ran out juice shortly after taking the picture. So, I’m writing this as the battery recharges.

I hope to have the gears mounted and ready for stringing by this evening.

Then I can pop over to the music section and see if that Beginner’s Guide to Guitar Pickin’ is still on the shelf.

Come visit!


Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow OK!

The Pickin’ and the Paper.

It’s always a surprise when it arrives. Random. Not like the every Saturday delivery of TIME magazine (which, by the way, USED to be a real magazine). Maybe a head-to-head comparison isn’t fair, but the arrival of FRETBOARD JOURNAL is almost cause for celebration.

My guitar-pickin’ acquaintances would certainly appreciate the chance to fawn over the pictures of exotic guitars, some of which are famous in their own right.


If we carried magazines at the shop, I’d have this one on the shelf – but I’m guessing that it is distributed only by subscription. No barcodes that I can see, and no pre-printed price on the front cover. Glossy pictures on slick, quality paper.

Come to think of it, the term ‘magazine’ probably doesn’t even apply. It says ‘journal’ right there on the front.

Turns out, the publication has magical qualities:

It has a print-shop scent, and each issue reminds me immediately of the printing class I took at the Vo-Tech campus as a high school senior.

The interviews with guitar-makers allow me a new appreciation for the construction of musical instrument. I’ve had git-fiddles around me most of my life, but never stopped to think about what makes one instrument sound better than another.

My routine gets prompted and I’m anxious to pick up and practice or play.

And – when I open that finely-constructed cardboard packing box and realize that FRETBOARD has arrived – it makes me think of Linda and Dennis, whose thoughtful gift lets me enjoy each new issue.

Keep pickin’ – they said.

(I’ve got blisters on my fingers.)