Monday, February 14, 2011

A Special Gift


For Valentine's Day, I went looking for things I love to share with you and got sucked deeply into a tangent that I thought was far more interesting than the planned list...


I started with OLD BOOKS. Jessica put up something about old books last week, and I told her I had a bunch from my grandpa. This is just a subset of them.

The taller red one that you can't read is a copy of Robin Hood, with the gift inscription in the front cover dated 1911. The giftee, someone called Hamilton Barrett (or Arthur Hamilton Barrett), had several books in my grandfather's collection—I wish I knew someone who could tell me the connection, but I am guessing this is perhaps a cousin or uncle who had no children of his own. The small book that is almost completely gilted is a beautifully illustrated Pinocchio that has both the name above and my grandfather's.


The one that really caught me, though, was this one. Poetical Works by Thomas Moore. The leather of the cover has the cut-out and had a leaf pattern stamped into it—the author and title in raised letters. The gilting is definitely wearing off in places and the pages are very brittle, but the treasures inside?



First, the book opened to this page by itself. Four leaf clovers are rare—I think I've found one or two, but not often... here though, is a gift from some long lost relative... It's VERY big, as clovers go



And then, more special still... the history of the book (and some history of my family) in the front cover. The post-it was written by my grandma, who you all know was the best person EVER.

The notes say:

“Christmas present to Heather from her father. Dec 25th 1881.”

and then

“Tami, Hattie was Grandma Baker's sister. Grandma Baker was Great Grandmother Boyd's mother. Hattie and G. Baker (America Thompson) were raised by their Grandfather, Dr. Ford, after their mother's death during the civil war.”


So there we have it... what a wonderful Valentine's gift—a little connection to my grandma and my history, courtesy of my love for old books.


Have you ever had an unexpected treasure pop up and touch your heart like that? I'd love it if you shared!

38 comments:

Melissa said...

WOW! What a find in the Thomas Moore book! that's so cool that you found some of your family history in that book and that the four leaf clover was their - hope it brings you lots of luck!Actually all of them They all look so pretty and wonderful.

Jessica Bell said...

OMG! I can't believe it! I have the EXACT same Thomas Moore book in the collection I blogged about last week! Unbelievable! Can you find a date in yours? I can't in mine. Nada, no dates anywhere. What a funny coincedence!

sue said...

gosh this reminds me of all the beautiful old books I acquired when my mother died. In one of them I found pages of beautiful delicate watercolour paintings, I have no idea who painted them, there's no signature. I haven't been through all of the others, I will now! Yours appear to be in excellent condition.

Cruella Collett said...

Hooray, hooray, it's Valentine's Day! These are some grand old books you are sharing with us, and now you know what the best thing about grand old books are: their grand old secrets! LOVE the note from your grandma, and the clover too :)

Lucky Valentine's :)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Your grandmother was an amazing lady.

I have a collection of old books that I keep out. Kids, in particular, love leafing through them--I think they don't ever see anything that old anymore!

So glad for your Valentine treat!

Hart Johnson said...

Melissa-thank you! I hope so, too!

Jessica--that's NUTS! I didn't see a date either, except the handwritten one (1881)-so it is that old or older, but the early pages are so brittle I'm a little afraid to look too enthusiastically.

Sue-that watercolor sounds wonderful! Mine are in mixed shape--I think it depends how loved they were. Sadly, more loved, means worse shape. The kid stories (the variety you'd read more) are in poorer shape than the adult ones.

Cruella Yes--love their secrets! I have others, not quite so old, with notes in them and I love those, too.

Elizabeth-she really was. And I think you're right. I got these books because at my grandma's I was always the one pulling out the old books to look through them.

Mary Vaughn said...

After my dad died I found a box that contained the immigration papers for my grandparents and their citizenship papers. My day was always so very proud of his parents. No one new he had these.

ViolaNut said...

THIS is why I don't like e-books. Alas, I have no family books - my grandparents on one side were barely literate, and the whole lot of 'em were too poor to have any really nice volumes (also, none of 'em made it to the US before the 20th century).

Old Kitty said...

Oh wow!!! Talk about priceless treasures!!! How lovely!! Yay!!!!! Awwww happy happy Valentines Ms Naked!!! Take care
x

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's amazing you found the clover. Keep that old book in a safe spot. And no reading in the tub!

Boonie S said...

This seems like an excellent find.
I was 'custodian' of the family books and paintings. I left them with my brother for safe keeping and he sold the lot! - not for the money; he's pretty well breached in his own right. That's family for you.

Have a nice day, Boonie

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

that clover is HUGE!
And those books are awesome! I wish i had some old books

Jess said...

Awwww! Thanks so much for the photos and post about old books. I can almost smell the musty pages from here (a smell I love) :)

Carol Kilgore said...

I have some of my mother's old school books. In one is a note in two different handwritings, as if she and a girlfriend passed it between themselves in class. The note is about one of my uncles.

Hart Johnson said...

Mary-Oh how cool! I would love to have stuff like that! I actually have some copies from my maternal line, but I don't know who has the originals.

Leanne-your family immigration is even newer than mine! My first line came to the US in 1812, but the others were mid-1800s. (and yes.... won't find this in eBooks)

Jenny-they ARE priceless! And a happy one to you, too!

Alex-Oh, I never read the old ones in the tub! In fact I only read them at a table where I can really support them.

Boonie-I can't believe he did that! You should flog him with a carp!

Sarah-That's what I thought!

Jess-welcome! I love that old book smell, too. That is a lot stronger in the books that are still in boxes.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, Carol, how fun! Did the friend have a crush on your uncle? teehee

Cold As Heaven said...

Old books are cool. I have quite a few, in particular Russian Classics, that I've bought in 2nd-hand stores >:)

Cold As Heaven

Colene Murphy said...

Awe, wow! This is amazing! I love your old books. So lovely!

RosieC said...

How amazing. Congrats on your finds :) We don't have any old family books for various political family reasons. I generally just enjoy notes in library books instead :)

Happy V-day, Hart!

Simon C. Larter said...

Whoa. Those are some pretty cool vintage books. And a four-leafed clover? Even awesomer.

Hopefully that means this'll be your lucky year, good lady! :D

Arlee Bird said...

Those are some absolute family heirloom treasures. I don't think I have anything as old as some of yours, but I do have a few around somewhere. I really should locate them and take better care of them.
For Valentine's Day I blew a special thank you kiss your way on my post today.

Lee
the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

LTM said...

oh, that is so awesome!!! That was my thing when Jessica posted that--I have old books from my great-greats and I love reading their old margin notes. Fascinating. But look! You've found even better goodies~ Happy V'day, T-Hart~ <3

Hart Johnson said...

CaH--I would LOVE to have some Russian classics. I have a nice older Anna Karenina from a 2nd hand story, but it is from the 50s or so--not THIS old. I do have some Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson though that are special, as they are both OLD and stories I love.

Colene-thank you!

Rosie-rough when families get nasty with stuff. Mine has been pretty great, though I am also an oldest of an oldest, so I may have more than my share (plus I am the one who always LIKED the old stuff)

Simon. I know, right?!

Lee-definitely find your family treasures! And back atcha on the happy V-day!

Leigh-very cool that you have some old books, too, and very nice your ggparents were note takers! Happy V-day to you, too!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I love old books and personalized old books are even better. I have found things in books before, but nothing that special.

Deb and Barbara said...

Oh, wow, I LOVE this! Perfect V-day celebratory article. I love old books and all they represent, and yours have especial meaning. I have a ring that was given to me by my father-in-law's once-nanny that was given to her by my father-in-law's mother. That is one of my special treasures.
B

Summer Ross said...

This is pretty awesome! I adore old books- specially the way they smell. I had a neat surprise in one of the old ones I found at an antique store- in the very back of the book (which was about poetry) The lady who used to own it, actually put a poem on paper and slipped it into the back. there were news articles littered all over in it too. It was awesome to see!

N. R. Williams said...

Very cool. No treasures like this, I think we have all moved to many times.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Lynda Young said...

Oh my goodness, I love old books. They are remarkable pieces of history.

Ella said...

Oh Hart, how lovely and especially this time of year! I love finding treasured family heirlooms~
Mine, was this week, I was talking to my kids about what a character my Dad was. They never knew him. Then I find a notebook, he use to write down the movies he ran(projectionist). It was full, fun to take a cinematic journey backwards. Then I found a library book, he stole, lol. He is living up to his persona. Happy Valentine's Day, it was sweet to read about your family herstory/history!

Ciara said...

Wow, what an amazing find. I saw you on the Crusade list, of course, I already follow you. :) Thought I'd say hi again anyway. LOL

Holly Ruggiero said...

That's so cool. I have a few things like that. It's like a little tug at your heart.

Helena said...

What a wonderful old book, but it's the family inscription that's really inspiring. I don't have anything like that, but sometimes I buy cool very old travel books (like the Middle East in the 1920s) from thrift shops.

jenny milchman said...

Wow, Hart, the pictures alone made this post. Those books are gorgeous. And seeing that larger-than-life (seeming) perfectly preserved clover. And the the voice of your grandma from the past, about the past...

Happy Valentine's Day to all. Love endures.

Luck's good, too ;)

The Words Crafter said...

Wow, that's so incredible! How wonderful to have treasures like that in your family. Wow....

Hart Johnson said...

Jane, me too! I'm pretty pleased!

Barbara-oh, that ring sounds wonderful! I have a few jewelry pieces, too, but I like your roundabout story!

Summer-I love the smell, too--love the book with a poem and news articles though! I bet where they ARE matters.

Nancy-that's too bad! My hubby though, wishes I'd lose all mine.

Lynda, they are, aren't they?!

Ellie-oh, the notebook from your dad sounds wonderful! And I love the character he sounds like!

(rest in a minute)

Hart Johnson said...

Ha! *pokes Ciara*

Holly-that heart tug was what got me!

Helena-Oh wow! I bet those traveler things would be GREAT for writing aids!

Jenny-they ARE wonderful! Just a nice happy string of finds... (say... you get a mention tomorrow)

WC-that's in, really... My family always seems sort of generic until I see these special little stories...

lbdiamond said...

Oh my gosh, this is AWESOME!!!!!!

Sharde(Shar-day) said...

Hi Crusader!