half-used five-shilling book of them

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novice_81

Senior Member
German
Hi

A woman wanted to send a letter to someone.

There was a pillar box, just down the road, within sight
of the gateway to Barnhurst, and she had stamps;
a half used
five-shilling book of them and three loose ones
, each
for half a crown, were in the handbag which had
apparently accompanied her into Wandford Hospital
(The Witches/Peter Curtis)

Does it mean she had a book which was half-used and it was full of stamps, and she also had three loose stamps?
 
  • Matamoscas

    Senior Member
    Ireland English
    Yes, that's it precisely, but it was not still 'full of stamps' but half used i.e. half of them had been used and half were left. 'Novice81' :)
     
    Last edited:

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Well, if it was half used, it wasn't full of stamps, it was half-full. It was a book of stamps that had originally cost 5s., and there were now 2s. 6d. worth of stamps left in it. Back in those days ordinary postage was only about 2d.* so it had a fair few stamps in it. Half a crown was 2s. 6d., a very high value for a stamp back then, so presumably one suitable for overseas or parcel post.

    * I don't actually recall - could've been 3d., 4d. perhaps, in about 1960.
     
    Last edited:

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    It means that the five-shilling book of stamps is half full. However many stamps constitute a "five-shilling book," half of the stamps have been used and half are still in the book. This is approximate. If a five-shilling book consisted of 10 sixpence stamps, there might be four, five, or six stamps left.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi novice

    It means she had a book of stamps - as in this picture - which had originally cost five shillings, and half of the stamps in had been taken out and used. She also had three loose stamps.

    EDIT: cross posted with Matamoscas and etb and Fabulist. I'm a slow typist!:(
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Stamps are commonly sold in packages called "books". A book of stamps looks like this:
    http://esl-library.com/images/flashcards/colored/sm/book_of_stamps-CT.png

    The woman here had bought a book of stamps for five shillings. That book of stamps was now half-used, which means that she had used half of them, but still had the remaining half of the stamps left in the book. In addition to the stamps left in the book, she had three loose stamps.

    EDIT - cross post with Loob, who found the same image for a book of stamps!
     
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