Owner’s Signatures

H2Leaf through “Mechanic’s Companion,” and you’ll find a signature at the top of some of the pages. Those are, I assume, the signature of the original owner (J. Hildebrand?) of the book I scanned to produce my printing.

So why didn’t I clean those up (i.e. erase them) as I was working on all the foxing? Well, I think they’re charming – and they don’t interfere with legibility, so I left them.

Today, it is more common to use a bookplate or sign one’s copy in the front of ones books to identify the owner. But it was fairly typical at one time to sign multiple times, and on the same pages in every book in one’s library. That way, if the cover and end sheets were damaged or removed, one could turn to the chosen pages and know to whom it belonged. A borrower (or thief) would be less likely to remove pages with necessary information!



About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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10 Responses to Owner’s Signatures

  1. I’m more concerned with the $25 fine for having more than 20 hundredweight of ether in one place in south Manhattan ( page 75 ). When that degrades it’ll make a serious bang. And anyone who had that much sulfuric and nitric acid would be in for a serious discussion with DHS.

    Your first book seems to be a winner, Meghan. I’m glad that I bought it but it’s NOT going into my shop and I’ll take a scrub plane to anyone who writes in the margins as you suggest in the preface.

  2. John says:

    Excellent choice. I like that you left the handwriting, it’s fabulous. I’ve kept a few of my grandmother’s letters, not so much for the content (precious to me as that is) but for the superb handwriting. She had a magnificent hand.

    Penmanship must be a dead school topic in these days of computerized communication but just look at that signature! It’s almost art. Couldn’t we use a little more of that?

  3. J.C. says:

    That’s so cool! Of course you should have left them in. Check out that hand.

  4. Tom Levandusky says:

    Another person that’s glad you left them in.
    They’re part of the history of the book, like dents in a workbench top.

  5. Todd Reid says:

    Nailed it! This is what Chris would do to sell books. LOL! Thanks for leaving the signature in it give the book a lot of character.

  6. flatironjoe says:

    I have done this in almost all the books I own for many years. Initials, in the margin near the binding, always on the same page number. I never thought I was the first to think of this, but good to see there is historical precedent. And good choice to leave these in! Leaving the “patina” of age on classic works is just good restoration practice, right?

  7. potomacker says:

    Marginalia rules!

  8. SSteve says:

    The library where I worked when I was fifteen stamped “South San Francisco Public Library” on page 101 of every book. I don’t remember what they did with books that had fewer pages.

  9. DR_Woodshop says:

    Other than the obvious useful information in the book, this is my favorite feature in reprint. Looking forward to your next offering.

  10. Amos Bullington says:

    Another lovely book for my library. Thanks and congratulations on fine job.


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