I’ve always loved my father’s bookplate, neatly pasted into his favorite books, signed with a fountain pen and black ink. Our house was always filled with books of all kinds including lots of paperbacks, but there was something special about the quality hardcovers on the living room shelves that had my father’s bookplate inside. I used to take them off the shelf and open them just for the thrill of seeing the bookplate. (I still do.) They looked so official, like they had my father’s seal of approval.
I have some of his books and I cherish them, and hope that they will eventually be passed down to father’s grandchildren and great grandchildren (and beyond.) But I thought I ought to photograph his bookplate just so that whatever happens to the books themselves, there will also be a digital image.
It’s cold outside — 23 degrees right now, going down to 13 tonight and maybe snow. I’m glad I bought myself some gloves when I was out Christmas shopping last month.
Cranford by Mrs. Gaskell
Illustrated by Hugh Thomson
London and New York: Macmillan, 1892
I love this 1892 edition of Cranford, illustrated by Hugh Thomson. I remember pulling it off the shelf of a rare and used bookstore in downtown Salem, Massachusetts. I was just a year or two out of college and working at the Salem Public Library, and I frequently spend time browsing in the bookstore while waiting for the bus home after work. I forget exactly what the book cost — somewhere between $12, I believe, and although my then-husband and I were living on a tight budget, I had just cashed my paycheck and I impulsively bought the book. It was the time I ever bought a book that I thought of as rare rather than used, and I remember feeling guilty walking out with my purchase, but thrilled, too, thinking that I would have this book forever.
There were two other books on the shelf from the same illustrated series, and I wanted those too, but I refrained, thinking perhaps I would try to save up and buy them over the next few months. I loved the new thought of myself as not just a book lover, but a collector.
Later that week, the bookstore burned down. I never really became a book collector, but I still love this book.
We grew up with the 1947 edition of the twelve volume Childcraft collection. My sister read them first, and then we read them together and eventually shared them with our younger brother. I loved the distinctive orange covers with and the poems and stories, the illustrations, and the distinctive page borders, different on every page. We knew so many of these poems by heart, especially this one, the dramatic adventures of Dilliki Dolliki Dinah by Laura E. Richards. I also loved “The Giant Joe Bean” and my sister loved “The Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee,” both by Mildred Plew Meigs.
Sometimes I pull out a volume and open it at random, and every page brings back memories.
Essex Town Hall and T.O.H.P. Burnham Library
30 Martin Street
The Shingle Style building was designed by Malden architect Frank W. Weston, and opened in 1894. The library was named in honor of Thomas Oliver Hazard Perry Burnham, who died in 1891 and left the town $30,000.
National Register of Historic Places #07000946