Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas gift for Frederick W. Skiff

The writing in the book featured here comes from two sources--the author and the owner of the book. Further, the book was a Christmas gift from the author, as documented in the writing of both Frederick W. Skiff (owner) and Lilian Whiting (author).

The book is The Joy That No Man Taketh From You, by Lilian Whiting; Little, Brown, and Company; Boston (1907). The author's inscription:
To Frederick W. Skiff, Esq. with grateful appreciation of his most kind courtesy & the faithful regards of Lilian Whiting, Boston. Christmastide, 1916.

And she didn't stop there. On the next page (blank page before the half-title page) she quotes a passage from William Vaughn Moody:

From wounds and sore defeat
I made my battles stay,
Winged sandals for my feet,
I wove of my delay.

I guess it will be impossible to know what, if any, meaning that passage held for Mr. Skiff. Perhaps it was just something Ms. Whiting came across, liked, and thought to amend to her inscription.

And although Ms. Whiting thoroughly documented the presentation to "To Mr. Frederick W. Skiff, Esq." and the year and time of year with "Christmastide, 1916," Skiff desired to repeat the information in his own hand above his bookplate (and a touch on the bookplate):
Presented to me by Miss Whiting Christmas 1916 F.W.S.
That line of penciled inscription and its location is the icing on the cake for me.

Frederick W. Skiff (1867-1947), of Portland, Oregon, was a notable bibliophile and prolific collector of Americana. He also authored a few books: Adventures in Americana: Recollections of Forty Years Collecting Books, Furniture, China, Guns and Glass, Metropolitan Press, Portland, Oregon (1935) and Landmarks and Literature: An American Travelogue, also by Metropolitan Press (1937).

After Skiff died in 1947, his collection went to the San Francisco auction house of Butterfield & Butterfield, in San Francisco. The auction catalog (left) featured Skiff's bookplate.

William Fowler Hopson (1849-1935) was the Connecticut-born, American artist/engraver who created Skiff's ornate bookplate. Hopson was a well-known and well-respected artist, drawn (pardon the pun) to bookplate illustration. And if you've got a late 19th-century Webster's Unabridged Dictionary lying around, you might find between the covers a few thousand engravings by Hopson, who was commissioned to do the work.

A good bit of bookish history here thanks to the collective provenance provided by the writing found in this book.

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