My local library had a big book sale this past weekend, and I scored big. One of my finds is a Golden Nature Guide about sea shells.
I see Golden Guides frequently in used book stores and tag sales. Usually, they're soft-cover and pocket-sized at 4 by 6 inches, though I have a 6 by 8 inch hardcover that says it has "Library Binding."
I own GGs about Weather (1987), Zoology (1958), Stars (two editions, 1956 and 1975), and Botany (1970).
All of the ones I've seen are illustrated in a very distinctive style. I consider it "mid-century" but I don't have the language to explain why. Having the entire book illustrated does give it a pleasingly cohesive feel. Though Golden Guides are still being printed today by St. Martin's Press with updated, photographic cover images, the insides appear to share the old illustration style.
Any depictions of humans and their belongings will tend to date a book, but so will references to ordering things via "mail listings." Sea Shells of the World was printed in 1962, but there's a gift inscription ("To Christine from Linda") dated 11/2/68. I assume Linda was about to head to a tropical beach.
I used to cut up these books and use the images in collages, but I've grown too fond of them to do that now. I have actually used them as guides, to find the name of a moth, or a type of cloud.
I'm not exactly a collector; I'm picky about which ones I'll buy. Most of all, they have to not smell musty, and they need to be cheap (they are seriously abundant, so no need to spend more than $2-3 on one). Sea Shells was in a "fill a bag for $3" haul.
Have you come across a Golden Guide?
I'm Debbie Way, an artist and writer who enjoys making things.