Writer Nick Asbury asked me recently to describe just what it is about found stuff that I find so interesting. He wanted a quick snippet so I didn't go into too much detail but this incident was very much in my mind:
I was routing through an everything-a-pound charity bookshop a couple of months ago and saw one of these on a shelf. I didn't recognize it as being anything specifically interesting but noticed how nicely the type on the spine was positioned. Unusually, it was distinctly, and clearly intentionally, positioned high not vertically centred. Then there was the fine rule dividing the author and title; you don't see that very often.
So I slipped it off the shelf and two more things struck me (it was A History of Flight by the way, below left): The full bleed cover illustration was beautiful and, wait a minute, there's something else...the size/format; it was kind of smaller than you'd expect from this kind of reference book and somewhat narrower.
Intrigued now I flipped back the dust jacket, as you do, and found a lovely bit of gold blocking. A bit of gold blocking that seemed familiar...where had I seen it before? And there is was, the answer, a few pages in (below right).
I'd seen it on that blooming marvelous Nitsche Flickr set. What I was holding had been designed by Erik-bloody-Nitsche. Joy soon doubled as I found another...tripled when I found another...and, finally, quadrupled; Four volumes of The New Illustrated Library of Science and Invention, packed full of interesting facts and amazing images.