Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Poetry of the Visiting Card: Miss Jennie Todt Meets Catherina Gerhard

In writing about the poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – Paul Revere’s Ride, Evangeline, and The Courtship of Miles Standish – I’ve been using an edition of his poetry published in 1898 by Houghton Mifflin. It’s the illustrated “household edition” of his complete poems and, according to the price sheet at the front of the volume, it would have cost $1.50 when it was published. (I have the non-gilt edition; the gilt-edged edition would have been $2.00.) That translates to about $42.00 today, and about $56.00 for the gilt edition.

The first owner of the book inscribed her name and the date on an inside cover page: Catherina Gerhard, Christmas 1899. The inscription suggests it was a Christmas present, and that Catherina was pleased enough with the gift to write her name inside.

Something I never noticed before, likely because the book opened to the page with the name and date, was that the page before it was slightly stuck to the front cover. I carefully pried it apart, and discovered no additional writing or inscription, but a visiting card, simply printed with the name “Miss Jenny Todt.”

To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

Top photograph: The visiting card of Miss Jennie Todt found inside Longfellow's Complete Poems.

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