Do you write on the end page in the books you give to others? Have you ever received a book from someone to find an inscription on an end page? I don’t think I’ve ever received a book from my sister without her writing something on the front end page where she addresses me, writes something like “you’re going to love this”, and indicates the occasion along with her name. As a book collector and seller I often come across this and very often find it related to a Christmas book.
One of the more interesting aspects of this practice is the continued handing down of a book and that being documented in these inscriptions. The photos at the top of this post are of Streams In The Desert by Mrs. Chas. E. Cowman. The first inscription was Christmas 1944 to “Mother” from “Beth”. This book was later presented in 1971 by the same Beth to Elizabeth after the
death of her mother. Elizabeth then presented the book to Vera Jean in 1973.
On a trip to Canada in 2016 I found The Prospector by Ralph Connor published in 1904. The first inscription was simply the name and date of the original owner. He appears to also have written his address but only indicated “City” as the name of his city. The book was given on Christmas day to Walt in 1995.
One of my favorite books is A Little Book of Western Verse by Eugene Field published in 1899. It is packed with poems of a variety of topics. This book of poems was originally owned beginning March 7, 1900 by someone with the initial of “C”, at least that’s my best guess. The book was later given by Carol to Mrs. Sheldrake on April 12, 1938. Next it was presented to Mrs. Bartness on Mother’s day May 10, 1963.
The next time you’re looking for a unique gift for someone, consider passing on a book that’s been in your family for a long time. If you don’t have a book that’s been passed down from generation to generation, consider finding one at a local antique mall or used book store. Add to the inscriptions knowing that someone may read it many years from now. A gift like this can easily be accompanied with a gift card to a coffee shop that offers a cozy place to read.