Sunday, September 1, 2019

Margaret E. Riedel's
embossed book stamp

On one of my visits to The York Emporium, I noticed that several of the vintage hardcovers featured the same embossed book stamp. These books included Larry McMurthy's The Last Picture Show and Alvin Toffler's The Third Wave. (Two very different books, indeed.)

The circular stamp is roughly the size of the U.S. half dollar. It has the large letters MER in the middle and written around the edges of the outer circle is LIBRARY OF MARGARET E. RIEDEL. Here's an image that I manipulated greatly in Pixlr, in order to make it more discernible.

On the two aforementioned books, someone ⁠— presumably Margaret ⁠— left notes about when she read them:

M.E. Riedel
Read July of "72"

M.E. Riedel
Read July of "80"

The embossed stamp is an interesting way to mark book ownership. It's certainly much less common than an inscription or a bookplate. It's probably less common than personalized stamps, too. (I've started using a personalized purple stamp for my book collection; maybe someone will write about mine in 2069.)

I'm sure some of Riedel's books remain sprinkled throughout The York Emporium. But who was she? And how did her books get there? The name isn't as uncommon as you might think. I found references in Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland and Wisconsin, among other locations.

But the best guess is that this book belonged to Margaret E. Burkins Riedel, who was born and died and Dallastown, York County, Pennsylvania. It makes sense that her books would have eventually ended up at The York Emporium. She lived from 1926 to 1994 and died at age 68 (younger than my mother was when she died). Her husband, who never remarried, died in February 2015.

According to her obituary, "she was a regional manager and demonstrator for 30 years for Sara Coventry Jewelry Corp. She was a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Dallastown and the American Legion Post 605 Ladies Auxiliary in Dallastown."

I hope she would be happy to know that her books are still in circulation a quarter century after her death.

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