Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Autograph Book

One of the family things that has been passed down to me is an autograph book that belonged to my great aunt's first husband, Mr. Christian, who died soon after they married. I know little about him other than he was thought to be an honorable gentleman. I believe this book originally belonged to his father. It has Mr. Christian's name in the flyleaf and is dated 1868.

At the time a great deal was made of penmanship. A fine hand was the mark of an educated gentleman and was practiced and refined to an art. It was common to keep an autograph book in which one collected the signatures and momentos of one's friends. Those who were sufficiently skilled would add a calligraphic drawing, often of a bird, which demonstrated the skills of the writer.  There are quite a number of these in Mr. Christian's autograph book, of which I will post a few examples.

My middle son, David Christian Miller, was named for this gentleman who had no children of his own, and it will pass to David when I am no longer the holder.


Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

This is a lovely post and I don't think of you young Americans having memorabilia as old as this.
Forgive me - I'm an ignorant Brit.

Seeing the writing reminds me of how I was taught at school with the nib and inkwell on the wooden-slope-topped desk. Thin upward strokes and thick down strokes - gosh, it brings back memories. Biros and keyboards are all well and good but they don't make for good penmanship!


Micki02 said... [Reply to comment]

J'aime beaucoup ces écritures d'un autre temps, j'en ai retrouvé sur les registre d'état civil de mes grands-parents et arrière grands-parents. Cette écriture que l'on appelle "Anglaise" en imprimerie avec ses pleins et ses déliés...
la signature en forme d'oiseau est très originale et impressionnante, j'aimerai pouvoir signer comme cela !!
PS j'espère que Google pourra traduire car là, je suis incapable d'écrire mon propos en anglais !! Désolé !

Unknown said... [Reply to comment]

It is hard to generalize about Americans because we are a diverse lot. Except for Native Americans we are all immigrants from many different countries and traditions. It is true that most of us do not know much about our family history past a few generations back. The truth is that I know only a few things on my mother's side and almost nothing about my father. We tend to remember the decent folks and forget about all the scoundrels and horse thieves.

I remember the wooden desks with the sloping top and hole for the ink bottle. The seat for one was attached to the desk for the one behind, and we traced long rows of curved lines hoping to reform our scribbles into something legible. I really think that the invention of the ballpoint pen was the death knell of penmanship.

Unknown said... [Reply to comment]

Micki - Google rend nos langues respectives, le moins intelligible. J'aime beaucoup votre blog. Je pense que nous mai ont une bonne influence sur l'autre. Pensez-vous ainsi?

Elleona said... [Reply to comment]


Les traces visibles de l'héritage des ancêtres sont toujours poignantes et, en les voyant, on se dit qu'on a sous les yeux un instant de leurs émotions.