Monday, July 16, 2012

My Favorite Bookplate

Many zillions of years ago I checked out a book with the infamous Widener bookplate.  (It wasn't the following book; I'm just using it as an example.)

Read the second bookplate.

I was rather shocked, because I didn't know the story behind the infamous bookplate:

"In 1931 Joel C. Williams, A.M. '09, Ed.M. '29, a former instructor at Groton and a former high-school principal, was caught with 2,504 stolen Widener books at his home in Dedham, Massachusetts. He said he was preparing himself for a college professorship. His thieving had begun eight or 10 years before, but had stopped a year and a half before he was caught when, according to a newspaper account, "extraordinary steps were taken by the Harvard authorities to prevent students 'sneaking' books out of the library without permission. A turnstile was erected at that time and suspicious bundles were ordered examined." An editorial writer in the Boston Post said that the case "suggests impaired mentality." When the books came back to Widener, librarians had an acerbic bookplate printed and affixed to each volume. It reads, "This book was stolen from Harvard College Library. It was later recovered. The thief was sentenced to two years at hard labor. 1932." A security measure of sorts."  From Harvard Magazine.  The Crimson article.

Note that, though literally true, the text of that bookplate is misleading.

Despite the security measures, the thieving continued.

1 comment:

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