Friday, 25 April 2014

Books and the History they hold

I love second hand books. This is not the Yorkshireman in me being particular fond of a bargain – of course I am, but that’s not the real reason. I love to think about the history of the book – how it’s been loved and cherished and the various hands it might have been through. I also look for the books with inscriptions “To X with Love” etc. which signify something of the background to the book.

One specific example of this (and I have a small number of my own) is the school prize book (do they still do that now?). Two of my own I remember (which are lingering at my parents somewhere) were ‘Legend of the Stars’ – a book about star constellations and the associated legends and a “Diary of Yesterdays’ – famous incidents on every day of the calendar year from past times.

So I was especially intrigued when I found this in one of my various boxes:

Uncle Tom's Cabin c 1904

It’s one of my older books – coming in at 110 years old and certainly looks like it might have been a rather grand book in its day (the picture not doing the contours and colouring any justice) but it’s not the age, per se, which intrigues me. It’s the certificate on the inside:

City of Leeds Education Committee – School Prize for attendance and Good Conduct to ... is it Mabel Hammond, possibly Isabel or Anabel but I’m erring towards Mabel.

I’m plagued by many questions...

Was this a school specific prize or a city wide prize? How many such prizes were given out – as above the book looks like it might have been a good one and I don’t suppose the average everyman would have been reading this book in 1904.

What about Mabel – how old was she, was she receiving what might seem to be a good education, given her age would she more likely have been married with children by the onset of world war 1 rather than forging a working life (or both) – if married did her family survive the war? My own Great Grandfather would also have been a child in 1904  -he lost his life one week after joining the war in 1917 having seen around 1500 of his ‘Bradford Pals’ colleagues die on the first morning of battle.

This is not a book I want to put on ebay or particularly give away to a random stranger. What I’d really like to do is find out about Mabel, find out about her family and find a descendant to hand this piece of family history over to wherever they may be. Other than paying the likes of I don’t really have the faintest idea where to start, but I have a desire to do it. Where is the ‘Who do you think you are’ team when you need them?

All help and suggestions warmly welcomed

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Books By Bike reborn

What seemed like a good idea in the depths of last winter quickly turned, well not sour, but not exactly all sweetness and light.

I was under a 'hernia' cloud for the first few months of the year as my op kept getting postponed for a variety of reasons and then in March / April my garage was broken into and both my trusty Boardman commute (and 'books by bike(BBB)') bike and my Specialized road bike got nicked ... I contributed to this a little I guess in not making the garage more safe than it was and not securing the bikes inside that well , but still ... dirty rotten scumbags ....

Books by foot / Tram / Car just didn't have the same appeal .... and although an extended family member (who was now hooked on expensive road cycling) came to my rescue by letting me have the bike above from his garage, new wheels, tyres and other bits still set me back a bit.

Before I had chance to get it ship-shape however I finally had my hernia op in May, which really knocked me for six physically. It took a lot longer to get back into the swing of things exercise-wise than I'd anticipated. Having lost about 9 lbs over the first couple of BBB months I ended up putting 11 lbs back on - this including a week where I lost half a stone being sick as a dog.... I'm glad to say most of that has come back off:

I've actually managed to get rid of quite a lot of books via the local Altrincham charity shops (and BTW - make sure you gift aid - SCOPE and BHF both provide updates on how much money your items have fetched ..) I still have box loads I can get be giving away. I established some RULES back when I started which pretty much hold true but I'll be changing them slightly  - I also want to link contributions to local foodbank, but more on that in future posts.

First books to be added when I've updated the various linked accounts!