I realize, though, that it might have been hard for you to share my enthusiasm for this tome, given that I only showed you its exterior and didn't share any of the goodies inside — the stuff that really catapulted it toward the top of my list.
(Regarding that list, some of my other favorite books have included a 1900 Grimm's Fairy Tales, a doodle-filled geography book, a book with mystery photos tucked away inside, and a different geography book that was filled with pins and thread.)
The book in question, as we move into Part 2 of this post, is the school textbook A Brief History of the United States, which was published in 1885 by A.S. Barnes & Company.
And now it's time to crack it open and divulge all the cool secrets with this 130-year-old volume. We'll go through the book from front to back.
1. Homemade endpaper
Grover Cleveland administration), the inside front cover was blank and white. At some point, it was the recipient of a good bit of artwork. The side-by-side color waterfront scenes, now half striped away, appear to be a kind of ink or watercolor image that was applied directly to the page. Then there's the dramatic pencil drawing of a man firing a shotgun at a bear (or werewolf?) standing on its hind legs. The page, with its mixed media and decay, reminds me of some of the Brooklyn graffiti I documented in 2012.
2. Introduction to the former owner
Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Charles Brison of Columbia. This is a recurring theme — the spelling of the last name as both Bryson and Brison at times. There might be a logical explanation for this. Or it might simply be that many American families didn't start taking the spelling of their names seriously until the late 19th or early 20th century.
3. A butterfly flutters by
4. Indian Head cents
Indian Head penny rubbed it with pencil lead or perhaps charcoal, and made impressions of the coin on the page. That's pretty nifty, especially because it was an Indian Head that was used.
5. Charley Bryson, in lovely script
6. The artistic version
7. The bizarre artistic version
9. Willie Brison and an Indian
10. An odd doodle
11. Textbook illustration of Puritans
12. Steal not this book...
Steal not this book my honest
friend for fear the gallows
will be your end and God will
say on judgement day where
is that Book your stole and
if you say I do not know then
God will say go down Below
For more, see Papergreat's February 2011 "Steal not this book..." post.
13. Man on horse
14. Willie H. Brison
15. Nice beard and moustache
16. Some silly graffiti
David Farragut and David Dixon Porter, respectively. Maybe this chapter was a bit dry.
17. Deep thoughts
18. Odd-looking character
19. Random sketches
20. One more signature...
21. And one more sketch...
I could have probably scanned and posted another 10 illustrations or inscriptions. But I think you get the picture. Obviously, we shouldn't encourage students to scribble in their textbooks while they're still in use. But, if they do happen to get a little overzealous with the with their pens and pencils, maybe we should tuck those books away for future generations. We couldn't have had all this fun if this history book had gone into the garbage 70 years ago.