Wednesday, June 27, 2018

All sorts of weirdness packed into a mid-century bookplate

This bookplate looks like it belongs to one of those mysterious secret societies, like the Illuminati, the Priory of Sion, the Order of the Talamasca or the Carbonari. Mixed among the ornate flourishes are seahorses, a skull, an oil lamp, nude figures, and what appears to be a shovel with a square cross. All of this is elaborately melded together into the general shape of a slightly unsettling coat of arms. Somebody call Tom Hanks!

Next to the bookplate, the name "Kenneth S. Howard" and the date May 10, 1955, are written in cursive writing. That's written perpendicular to and removed from the bookplate, so we can't be certain whether it's Howard's bookplate. Also, Kenneth S. Howard is way too generic of a name for us to track him down, although there was one individual with that name who wrote some books about chess.

The bookplate appears on the inside front cover of 1955's The Susquehanna, a history of the titular river, by Carl Carmer (1893-1976). Carmer's most important book was 1934's Stars Fell on Alabama, about the lifestyle, people and (horrific) racial relations in that state at the time. He also wrote about folklore, superstitions and bizarre hoaxes such as the Cardiff Giant, so maybe we can find some way to incorporate him into the "mystery" around this bookplate.

No comments:

Post a Comment