Shellbacks Library

Update  2022 – This posting was originally written in 2013. At some date since then this publisher appears to have gone out of business and there is no indication of a successor.  A number of web pages for Toad Hall Books, D.N. Goodschild and related topis seem to exist as archived sites but it is not clear if they are active. A Facebook page for Shellback library contains a number of complaints about service and orders. Readers may wish to use caution regarding some or all of these links.

This morning’s mail brought three more volumes I had ordered from D.N. Goodchild’s Shellbacks Library.  The library is a remarkable print-on-demand collection of books (mostly out-of-print) relating to all things nautical. The listing included books on Boat Building Information & Classic Boat Designs   Canoeing & Small Boat Voyaging   Knots & Sailmaking, Sail Boat Plans  Power Boat Plans  Small Craft Plans, Cruising & Seamanship Boatcraft & Fitting-Out  Square Rig     Maritime History & Exploration       The Sea Around Us     Tales from Before the Mast    Music, Nautical Fiction     Fishing Gear     Surf Boards     Polar Exploration     Young People’s Books.    Models  There are hundreds and hundreds of books and plans in the collection.

I am particularly interested in the books on small boat sailing and the three most recent additions to my library: E.F. Knight’s Small Boat Sailing,  Thomas Fleming Day’s Hints to Young Yacht Skippers and John Scott Hughes’ Little Ships all date from the period 1900 – 1930. Many of the authors in Goodchild’s collection are English but the facsimile editions are mostly from American publishers. IMG_3615

The books are copies of the original text and illustrations. I was leery of the binding which is not gathered but is “perfect binding” however they appear to be holding up well. I really like the inclusion of the illustrations. The volumes have uniform covers and include a ribbon for marking one’s place. The price is quite reasonable. I have been particularly impressed with the speed of production, given that each volume appears to be printed and bound after the order is received in Pennsylvania.


At this time of the year, with ice still choking the harbours it is very pleasurable to curl up with a good sailing book. Who would not be encouraged to read of long ago voyages in small boats or a 100-year-old text which promises “An Explanation of the Management of Small Yachts, Half-decked and Open Sailing-Boats of Various Rigs; Sailing on Sea and River; Cruising Etc.”


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