A Pretty New-Year’s Gift by Solomon Sobersides. 1796, Thomas, Thomas, & Son: Worcester. 15h8084
Diving into the stacks of the Baldwin can often feel like you’re on a treasure hunt: the looming shelves hold countless books and every one of them hold the possibility for a new paratext discovery. Well this trip into the stacks I found paratextual gold: a book that bears multiple warnings from various owners against the theft of the book. Sounds interesting, right? Multiple people, five by my count, owned this book, A Pretty New-Year’s Gift by Solomon Sobersides, and wrote this warning: Steal not this book for fear of shame for here you see the owner’s name. There are slight variations among the various versions but that is the main message. Shown here are the pages where the inscriptions appear.
Isn’t this the most elegant and cool way to say “keep out, not yours!” I only wish I had known this phrase when I was a kid to use on my own books. On this page you can read that the book once belonged to a Louvena and she wrote the warning when she was fourteen years old in 1874! This is an amazing example of inscription and marks of hand because not only does it have the unusual phrase but it also carries the names of the owners and multiple dates, and one location, as well.
In this picture we see one of the owner’s address, written in a stylized, highly artful handwriting which continues on to the next pages.
In the above picture you can see the spelling errors the owner, Jonas, made as well his age when he was when he owned the book with a repetition of the thief’s warning.