Thursday, October 14, 2010

Things That Fall From Books #5: Family History

One of the saddest and most poignant parts of being a bookdealer is that one is often dealing with someone's 'remains', the things they have gathered together in life and are now being disposed of. This is nowhere more affecting when the person concerned has been the last of their family line and you are handling, for example, family photograph albums or diaries. It's all very well to think about trying to track down members of the family but one has to face the fact that quite often it is precisely because there is no one left who wants these things that they have come into the trade in the first place.

In this case it was a family Bible. For all their impressive size and heft, Nineteenth century Bibles, with all that leather, tooling and brass edging and clasps, are worth basically nothing. There are exceptions of course but it is one of those kinds of book which looks very impressive but which no one really wants. From ephemera which fell from this Bible was mostly from the twentieth century and it was slipped in between the pages throughout the Bible - interesting enough - some bookmarks, wedding services, a will, newspaper clippings, a photo, and so on... but most interesting of all, the certificate of the oath of a Freeman of the City of York, from 1864, on paper, backed with silk, and signed by the new Freeman, a cabinet maker by the name of Alfred Spetch.

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