Sunday, March 27, 2011

LEFT INSIDE: Tombstone Bookplate w/ Verse

Here's another unusual bookplate that was lightly glued inside one of my books.  I removed it and placed it in my ephemera collection several years ago.  My pencilled note (barely visible in the upper left corner) says it came from an R. Austin Freeman book about Dr. Thorndyke.  Can't remember the exact title. Strangely, though, I do remember that I bought that book in an Evanston (northern suburb of Chicago) used bookstore.

The author/owner was a local man here, apparently a noted collector of mystery and crime fiction.  He was also involved in the mystery book convention scene back in the 1970s.  Through the miracle of Internet search engines I  discovered he was one of the organizers for Bouchercon when it was twice held Chicago.  Have no idea if still lives in Chicago or Evanston or indeed if he is still alive.

I recognize all the characters mentioned in the verse, but shamefully had to Google the name Schlessinger.  I don't know my Holmes as well as I should.


  1. Ha, that was plenty of fun to read! Thanks for sharing- it's an interesting find.

  2. Welcome back, John. Interesting post. Sometime you must tell us more about the ephemera collection. It's just the sort of collectible I'd like to know more about.

  3. Carol-

    I intended to make Sunday the day I make a weekly post of the "Left Inside" feature, but I keep forgetting about it. Hoping that I get on track next month.

    The collection is nothing more than a shoebox filled with bookplates, cards, photos and other paper items that I have found in the hundreds of books I have owned over the years. Next week's is rather politically incorrect but I'm going to post it anyway. If anyone is offended by it - tough! It's all history as far as I'm concerned.

  4. This is perhaps a bit off-topic, but that verse reminded me of a ghoulish poem, and I'm convinced most of you will be able appreciate it:

    To a Skull on My Bookshelf

    O bony relic of forgotten days,
    Which, from my bookshelf, dominates the room,
    Your empty sockets, with sardonic gaze,
    Follow me weirdly in the deepening gloom!
    I often think, if sudden speech returned,
    You might reveal that secret, grisly jest
    You're grinning at—or tell me what you've learned
    Of that dark realm to which we're all addressed.

    By what rude hands were you exhumed, and why
    Wrenched from your body in its earthy bed?
    Who knows but such indignity will I
    Receive at other hands, when I am dead,
    And, strangely resurrected, may adorn
    The wall or desk of one as yet unborn!

    – Elizabeth Virginia Raplee (Weird Tales, Oct, 1937)

  5. TomCat -

    Thanks for that. I usually skip the poems when reading the old Weird Tales. I won't have to ruminate or write poems about this as Raplee did. I'm going to be cremated and scattered somewhere over water - probably the Pacific.

  6. Interesting, thanks for sharing. Both my mother and older brother used bookmarks at various times, and I have some books with those in them, and I used a press at one point to emboss my own mark into books, but soon learned such bookmarks and other identifiers reduced the value of books and stopped. Not that I intend to sell my books, but someday someone might want or have to. I suppose bookplates, like bookmarks, will eventually go away as the printed book falls to the electronic version, and a very sad day that would be indeed.

    On another topic, I've just gotten two books, the first two Strangeway novels, by Nicholas Blake. Your doing, I assure you.