A small lending library in 1850
Ever wondered where a vintage book has travelled? Who has read it? How many have owned it?
This first edition of Pendennis by William Makepeace Thackeray is a lone volume that has been heavily read and repaired over the years and might seem uninteresting yet some books have clues to their history and this has a letter tucked in the back explaining it's earliest years as a special book enjoyed by many.
First published as a serialisation this book has been bound together by the people who originally purchased the part work. The note in the back dated 6 August 1891 has been written by whoever purchased the complete book (in 3 volumes) together with Our Mutual Friend and Vanity Fair in Norwich. The writer details that the books came from someone who "kept a small lending library amongst the working classes to whom he had been to the day I bought them in the habit of lending them out." It even details how the man and his wife had been married for 63 years and lived in their present home for over 50.
Imagine how many people were able to enjoy this because of the gentleman's generous decision to share his books.
It is unclear how long the purchaser of 1891 had the books. There is a Foyles book sticker on the inside cover so it must have been sold to them and sold on at some point. A faint pencil mark on the inside appears to read 2 vols, 1st ed. £2/2s. If there were 3 volumes originally I don't know which was lost at this point. The most recent indication of an owner is the name Johanna & Norman Platt 30th July 1964 on the first page of the binding.
I purchased this in a second hand shop in Hay on Wye a couple of years ago for £5 because it had beautiful endpapers. By that point it was one volume on it's own and all the books that were in that original library had taken different paths. When I got home and found the written note in the back it became extra special to me.