Can you imagine anyone spending hundreds of pounds on more than 30 leather-bound reference books that no one will ever read? Well, lots of us did.
In days gone by parents scrimped and saved to buy an Encyclopedia Britannica set for their children, who would invariably flick through them once, and never look at them again.
At least they looked nice: heavy black books with glossy gold lettering, arranged in alphabetical order, that usually occupied their own special bookcase. They were held in semi-reverance. Expensive, essential books containing all the knowledge of the world
Many will recall the slick, smooth pattered salesmen who flogged the Encyclopedia Britannicas door-to-door, charming mums and dads into buying the massive compendium which would become nothing more than expensive ornamentation.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica was first published in Edinburgh in 1768 and had a distinguished roll-call of contributors, from Albert Einstein to Marie Curie. But, the internet heralded the demise of the print edition, so that now it is only available online.
Many of us may still have a collection in our attics, literary antique, relics of the good old days, when books were books, lovingly printed and bound, when you could read 500 pages on topics as photosynthesis or combustion.
Britannicas were dull but dependable. They were also good for decorating shelves and insulating walls.