Asbestos-Bound Book Symbol of Another Era

by Sokolove Law

It may be hard to imagine, but there was a time, not too long ago, when asbestos use was pervasive in our society. In fact, the mineral was present in items as diverse as cigarette filters and crock-pots. Asbestos also appeared on-screen, as fake snow in Hollywood movies. (It appears abundantly in the poppies scene in the classic Wizard of Oz.)

Even until the 1950s, asbestos was still considered the miracle mineral due to its ability to resist heat, fire, and chemicals. These qualities meant that asbestos was widely used in many industries. Years would pass until scientists began to demonstrate that exposure to asbestos caused devastating diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Underscoring the public’s comfort with the deadly substance, a publisher used it to bind a special edition of the famous book, Fahrenheit 451. This 1951 dystopian fantasy by Ray Bradbury depicts a frightening future for America. There, books are outlawed, and the so-called firemen seek out and burn any that they find. All books must be memorized verbatim to preserve their ideas.

An asbestos binding is an ironic statement for a novel that decries book-burning.

A copy of this rare (and potentially hazardous) edition was recently listed on eBay Inc’s. auction site. As the culture website Boing Boing notes: It’s in pretty rough shape, but it’s a much-sought-after rarity (albeit one that should be kept in an airtight plastic bag).

The volume appears to be an EXTREMELY RARE 1953 edition published by Ballantine Publishing Group that was bound in Johns-Manville Quinterra, a chrysolite asbestos material. This edition had only a 200-copy run; Bradbury signed each one and numbered them.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Call Sokolove Law today for a free case evaluation.

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