Sunday, June 24, 2012

LEFT INSIDE: Fond Inscriptions

An inserted card,  a note, and a flyleaf I excised.  Some interesting examples of handwriting here.  Does anyone even write real letters or notes anymore?  I rarely see any form of cursive handwriting among the 20- and 30-somethings I work with these days.  Everyone has strange amalgamations of print and scribbling that are very difficult to read. And signatures tend to be illegible scrawls.

(The first photo is at original size. The other two can be clicked on to enlarge.)

This was on the flyleaf and I cut it out of the book because it was done in fountain pen ink which tends to smear over time. I made a note that this was in a "lurid crime novel" but foolishly didn't write down the title.  Can't remember it now, of course.  1919 - could have been a Sax Rohmer book, maybe Arthur Reeves.

Another one where I can't remember the book.  This is a slip of paper that was inserted inside.  I like that some people who gave books as gifts didn't write the inscription in the book itself.  Very considerate.  But remembrance is misspelled, Sonia. Tsk, tsk.

And the best one reveals quite a bit about the writer and the person addressed:

Text reads:

Dear Mr Whitehead
Many many happy returns. Also may you have a fine winter in the land of sunshine & perpetual youth. I shall look forward to seeing you in the spring.
Your sincere friend
Walter Wallace

I wonder if the "land of sunshine & perpetual youth is Florida? Rather formal to address a sincere friend as Mister, don't you think? What fine penmanship Walter has. Bet he won awards when he was a boy.  Maybe he still was a boy and he was addressing an adult.  That might explain the Mr Whitehead and sincere friend bits. I like finding more personal notes like this one.  They're like little time capsules of eras long gone.


  1. My husband just got a real note from a teacher he had in high school fifty years ago. It was probably the first handwritten note we've had in years except for the occasional note on a Christmas card. Many schools don't even teach cursive writing now, which makes letter writing by hand that much more unlikely.

  2. It would be interesting to meet the person who thinks a lurid crime novel is a suitable gift for "the only girl in the world for me." And perhaps more interesting to meet the girl.

  3. I love inscriptions and I do thing they are going to become rarer as e-readers become more popular - which is a shame.

    Carol: I would love a lurid crime novel ;) Thankfully my OH knows this.

  4. You're right about these notes--they're part of a long-ago world. I just got a hand-written thank you note from a relative to whom I'd sent a graduation gift. The writing was awful, but the thanks was sincere. Between the time my oldest (who is now almost 20) was in elementary school and the time my two youngest (twins, 14) were in same, handwriting as a subject was dropped from the curriculum. I was upset, but as my sister observed, "When are the kids from this generation going to need to write something in cursive?" Recently, I've even seen printed signatures!

  5. In my own view the handwriting in that third note, by Walter Wallace, is far from fine. Indeed I find it to be the worst penmanship of the three. I'm far more impressed by that of the first note.

    1. I was being tongue in cheek, Ron. It never seems to translate in print. But I think it displays character and personality which is what real handwriting should do. The first is more a type of calligraphy rather than true handwriting.

    2. Once again I seem to have taken seriously something that was poked in fun. That's how my girlfriend got pregnant. :)

      (note the emoticon)

  6. In a somewhat related note, a couple of days ago, Bill Crider posted a link on his blog to an article that said the average adult has hand-written nothing (other than, say, a quick note to themselves or a list of to-do items) in the past six weeks. After thinking about it, I can see this might be true. I do "write" every day, but usually with a keyboard. Anything I write in my own handwriting is intended only for me (such as a grocery list); even my notes in Christmas cards get shorter and shorter every year.

  7. Because of you, John (I think) I began following Forgotten Bookmarks. It's a site where the blogger features things he's found in books over the years. Was it you?

    If not, then check them out. The link is on my right sideboard.

    It's funny that a lurid crime novel would be inscribed 'to the only girl for me'.

  8. John: Thanks for an interesting post. While I spend most of my day, as now, before a keyboard I still hand write some each day. My hand writing, including my signature, has always been legible. I try to sen handwritten notes occasionally to people. My sons, 27 and 29, have hand writing that is more like printing but it is clear and their signatures are legible.

  9. The really sad part about the no handwriting thing is something that I saw mentioned on the interwebs when the idea that it was no longer going to be required in school first came out (there's a nice long, rambling sentence for you...). My son (who did have to do _some_ [read very little] cursive in school) can sign his name...and that's about it. He can't read it for anything. That's where the sad part comes in. Think of all the documents from the past that are handwritten. It won't be long and cursive will be like trying to read a foreign language.