Confessions of a Magpie

 

As an author and self-confessed magpie, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that some of the things I collect are books, and I have a passion for antiquarian children’s books – particularly those illustrated by Edmund Dulac and Arthur Rackham. The first in my collection was one given to my mum as a Christmas present when she was just 8 years old. But whilst having a sort out the other day (what that actually means is ‘while I was moving stuff from one place to another’ – I didn’t actually organise it any better or get rid of anything!) I came across two books which I had forgotten all about. Years ago, I used to run a stall at local antiques fairs with my dad. It was more of a hobby than a profit-making enterprise, and any profit we did make, we invariably spent on more stuff! At one of these fairs, I bought two books from a fellow dealer (at a very reasonable price) and these are the two books that I rediscovered yesterday. Both are notebooks with illustrations. They are historical and physical versions of Facebook with contributions ‘posted’ by the owners’ friends – illustrations, poems, amusing quotations and words of advice. The first was written in the 1800’s – the earliest dated entry I have found is 23rd March 1831 – and contains this beautiful handwriting and hand-painted illustrations

The second book was given as a Christmas present to a person unknown by Dick in 1907. It contains comic poetry, watercolour pictures and drawings and words of advice (both serious and tongue-in-cheek) from numerous contributors – presumably friends of the book’s owner. Each entry is signed an dated. Both books are absolute treasures and each is a snapshot of friendships of the past – Facebook on real paper pages!

 

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