Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Inscription on a Flyleaf

Catholic Bibliophagist has been inspecting the flyleaves in her library.
Many of the used books in my library have inscriptions. Most are simply the name of the previous owner, with perhaps a date.

C.W. Ihle. June 28, 1907.

That's an odd surname. Is it an abbreviation?

A few include addresses or phone numbers. I wonder what Mrs. Ellwood N. Hough (or, more likely, her heirs) would think upon receiving a mysterious postcard with the message, "I have your copy of Mamma's Boarding House." And why did she get rid of that book anyway? Or was her library junked by television-watching offspring after she went to that great library in the sky?

A copy of The Colleges of Oxford by Andrew Clark M.A is inscribed to

With his wife’s dearest love
Sept 27th/92 (That's 1892, by the way; the book was published in 1891.)

Was she interested in Oxford too? Or was she sweetly indulging her husband's favorite hobby horse?

And what is the story behind the inscription in Shakespeare's Songs and Poems?

With the hope that you'll be kept so busy reading these songs you won't have time to sing them. . .
We have a first American edition of Anthony Trollope's Can You Forgive Her? (bought on Bibliofind from a Gay and Lesbian bookstore for $10) that is inscribed in beautiful handwriting John C. Spencer/ Nov. 1865. Mr. Spencer was very careful -- he also pasted a bookplate inside the front cover, which gives his name and city of residence (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) and notes that this is book No. 268. I would very much enjoy perusing Mr. Spencer's well-tended catalogue, but as his library is doubtless scattered among habitues of internet booksellers, that pleasure must be forgone.


Melanie B said...

I love book inscriptions.

When we moved into our current residence I found a box in the basement containing a Bible and a Lives of the Saints, both wrapped in tissue paper and inscribed as a confirmation gift. (Obviously neeither book has ever been read.) The Bible even contained a newspaper clipping, also with details of a confirmation. So far our attempts to track down the owner have been unsuccessful.


My favorite -- but I can't remember what book it's in! -- says,

"Gigi - you are a very responsible child. Congratuations. - Mrs. Bozek."

It sometimes runs through my mind as I'm going to sleep.

Herdingcats said...

I love these inscriptions too. I'm a French Horn player and there is a book called "Professor Schmutzig's Complete Method fur der Ventilhorn" which is a wonderful spoof book. Every hornplayer gets a copy at some point in their lives. There's an unwritten rule in our community that you cannot buy this book for yourself. It's always a gift and always inscribed. I just gave a special student her copy and wrote a wry inscription. I just took a peek at my copy, it's signed with a drawing from the friend who gave it to me 25 years ago!