What I found inside The Southern Gates of Arabia

Some months ago I wrote about things I have found in books. Back then, I had not really started thinking about how finding stuff in books could become part of this blog, but I have been thinking it over and I think I will begin a new feature about it. I am not about to go into any kind of competition with the good people of Found magazine and the Found blog, as my finding things in books usually happens at long and irregular intervals, but I think it can be interesting to look at the things people leave inside books and consider what it can tell us about them and the books.

My first featured find is the three items I discovered inside The Southern Gates of Arabia by Freya Stark.

The first is simply a plain bookplate stating that the book is a bequest to the National Library of Iceland from Mrs. Ellen Gertrude Austin, dated 1942. Presumably the book is part of a bigger bequest of books. The edition was published in 1938, so the book was almost new when it was given to the library.

About 80 pages in I came across a letter, written by someone living at what appears to be Musley College, although with this handwriting it could be any of various spellings close to that (Mosley, perhaps?). The letter is addressed to a Miss Binney (or some such spelling) and Meri (?) White, one of whom probably borrowed the book from the library at some time. It is unfortunately undated.

The second find came a little further on. It is an old-fashioned brochure and order form for a subscription to Blackwood's Magazine, at the cost of 30/-, which is presumably 30 shillings in the old British monetary system. The wording promises something quite English and conservative and tries to entice rather than push the reader into subscribing. I doubt the brochure is newer that from the 1950s.

Both these finds indicate to me that not many people can have checked the book out from the library since it was first shelved, because if it had been, they wouldn't be there. Or perhaps it has only been borrowed by people who respected the items and left them where they were? I suppose I will never know, but out of curiosity I intend to ask the librarian what the library does with found items like this when I return the book.


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