Friday, August 8, 2014

Bookplate on the fly

You've been given a new book and you're all out of bookplates. What to do?

No worry, just write your own ex libris.

That's what one recipient did below in his copy of Will and Ariel Durant's The Age of Louis XIV.

He also indicated the gift givers.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

President Johnson and the problems in the world

It's 1968 and you want a clear understanding of the problems in the world. All you have to do is read No Retreat from Tomorrow: President Lyndon B. Johnson's 1967 Messages to the 90th Congress.

At least, that's what a Jamestown, Tennessee grandfather thought when he read this book and passed it onto his grandchildren with the following inscription inside the front cover:
Today I received this book from President Johnson and I wanted you to have it.
Read it carefully and I am sure you will have a better understanding of all the problems in the world today.  

What isn't clearly understood from these words is whether that "clear understanding" results from Johnson's articulation of the world's pressing issues or from his policies that may be contributing to them.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Gambler's Caveat and Gratitude

Here are a couple of unusual reader inscriptions found within a few pages of each other. 

In a copy of The Greatest Gamblers: An Epic of American Oil Exploration, by Ruth Sheldon Knowles (McGraw-Hill, 1959), the book's owner first felt it necessary write a brief inscription to the borrower, reminding him that the book was expected back.

To: Dr. Hood (but not for keeps), Jim

I've never seen a book with a "loan note" in it like this. Was there something implicit in the book's title that rendered the loan a gamble? Was there a precedent for this with Dr. Hood? Or was Jim merely eliminating any ambiguity associated with presenting his book to Dr. Hood?

Regardless, this reader inscription  tells us that Jim valued this book and wanted it to stay in his collection.

The owner of the book, Jim, soon reveals that he is one of the gamblers in the title and contents of the book. About three pages later, the author's dedication reads as follows:

To all the unsuccessful explorers who
have drilled America's 300,000 dry holes
and whose failures have guided others 
to the discovery of an abundance of oil, 
I dedicate this book with gratitude 
and admiration for their courage, venture-
someness, faith, persistence, and optimism.

Underneath the dedication, it appears that Jim has written his own expression of gratitude for the author's recognition. His reply reads simply, Thank you, JGS.

I've never seen this before, either--a reader's written response to a book's dedication. One could (and probably should) assume that a sarcastic thanks is inferred, given the context of the dedication and further assumption that Jim was one of the wildcatters who drilled a dry hole or two.

Perhaps this gambler was just hedging his bet when he loaned this book to his friend or colleague, Dr. Hood, with the caveat "not for keeps" to ensure it was returned.