We have a lot of old books in the house, most of which we acquired at used bookstores or library book sales. They’re not very valuable, most of the time used books stores will sell them for a dollar or two, and library book sales will sometimes jut give them away. Something I like to do is check to see if there is any writing or dedication in the book by a previous owner. This seems to be much more common in older books than it is now. More often than not there will be a gift note or some kind of message written on the title page. It seems to have Here’s a few of the more interesting things I’ve found.
Mostly, the notes are just signatures of the previous owner. If the name is unusual I try to Google it, but since the books are so old I usually don’t find much. Here’s one that I did find something about. In a 1912 edition of the Baedeker travel guide for Belgium and Holland is written the name and address of a previous owner; Horace Morison, 8 Bishopsgate Street, London. I bought the book at a used book store here in New Hampshire, so I wondered how a book that was owned by someone in London ended up here. Since the name would seem to be uncommon, I did a search and found a Horace Morison who was from New Hampshire. He graduated from Harvard with a degree in Law, later in life he worked for the American Red Cross in London.
Here’s the list of places he was planing to visit in Belgium and Holland.
I like the old maps in Baedeker guides.
‘Harry From Mamma Merry Xmas 1897’
Here’s another one that I found something out about. This book was given to John D Davis from the Tribune for his prize winning letter. Since Mr. Davis had written his address in the book on a different page, I found out that he lived in the Chicago area. A brief story about him in his local paper from 1941 explained that he had once been a textile importer who made several trips to Burma and India during the 1930’s, but he could no longer make his sales trip since WWII had made trips to that area impossible.
Who can write like this now ? Cursive writing is just not being taught like it used to be.
Here’s a book that was given to a student for his penmanship. It’s in an old children’s book.
However, the penmanship of this note is not as clear. Someone named Finch received this book as a Christmas gift in 1937 from his cousin May.
Here’s the best penmanship of them all.
Prof. C.E. Lord from Joseph C Sibley Jr. Christmas 1904.
The bad news is that the used book store that we found most of these books has recently closed, so our source of inexpensive old books is now gone!