Monday, November 4, 2013

1908 bookplate from novel used at The Jacob Tome Institute

In 1908, The Jacob Tome Institute purchased a copy of Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe for 33 cents and issued it to one of its pupils.

Was it ever returned? Possibly not.

The bookplate affixed to the inside front cover (shown above) indicates that the novel was supplied to a student named Worthy E. Coslett on April 21, 1908. He is the only person listed as a recipient, and this is what was written in the column on the book's status:

So, Worthy never gave it back? Did he like Daniel Defoe's novel that much?

Or, perhaps, the book was officially given to him as some sort of reward or incentive. We'll certainly never know for sure.

I can't find much about the life of Worthy, beyond a 1910 U.S. Census report that indicates that he was born around 1894 in Pennsylvania and had moved to Cecil County, Maryland, by 1910. He would have been about 14 when he was issued this book.

For information about Jacob Tome and The Jacob Tome Institute, the best account I discovered is a piece by historian June Lloyd. Tome, it turns out, was born in York County, Pennsylvania, near Hanover. Here's a relevant excerpt from Lloyd's account:

"Jacob Tome (1810-1898) grew up poor in York County, but died at Port Deposit, Md., as one of the richest men in America. ... His crowning achievement was the Tome Institute, a free school founded for Cecil County children. The day school opened in 1894, with the 600 student capacity quickly reached. Estimated construction costs were around $500,000, and Tome's initial endowment was $2.5 million. Jacob passed away on March 16, 1898, pleased that the first commencement from the school was about to take place. An even grander school with multiple buildings was erected above Port Deposit after his death. Probably due to the Great Depression, the Institute's holdings depreciated to a point that the upper campus was sold in 1938 and closed in 1941, but in 1942 the U.S. Navy took over, and the site became the core of the Bainbridge USNTC, eventually training 244,000 sailors. ... USNTC Bainbridge closed in 1976, and in 2000 the closed base, including multiple imposing former Tome Institute stone buildings, was turned over by the federal government to the state for redevelopment."

But that's only a sliver of Tome's fascinating life. To learn more, I recommend Lloyd's article as a great starting point.

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