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Ghosts of Past and Present, Autographed [Apr. 3rd, 2009|12:14 pm]
Weird History



I'd read about turn-of-the-century autograph book "The Ghosts of My Friends" quite some time ago, and after patiently scouring ebay managed to score the ideal- one older, more decrepit book filled with signatures and one empty book in excellent condition. I've finally photographed the former, and will begin to fill the latter with signatures of my friends.

Here's how it works: the book's pages are pre-creased; your friends sign their name in ink on the semi-glossy pages and fold it over to create a personalized Rorschach blot, to which they can then add little legs, arms and features, should they so wish (only one or two examples in my book had this). The same company created a book for 'Hand-O-Grams', something most of us have done in Kindergarten- leaving one or more thumbprints on a page, you doodle a little picture on them. Birds seemed rather popular.

This book features signatures from three periods- 1909-1912, when the owner of the book had her friends and family sign the majority of the pages in a heavier brown-black ink, 1922 & 1930, when another relative picked up the book and had some repeat signatures along with new ones in a thinner black ink, and on the back of some pages, 1943 from a younger generation of the family done in a blue ink. The images are presented in the order they appear in the book.

It's hard to lose the blotting paper habit but the results are worth it.

"We" are no other than a moving row
of magic shadow-shapes that come and go
Round with the sun illummied-lantern held
at mid-night by the Master of the Show

"If life an empty bubble be- How sad for those who cannot see the rainbow in the bubble"

"The best in this kind are but Shadows"

"Inscribe herein your 'bug'.

November 10, 1909
Katherine Lewis Guthrie

The blue is the signature from the 40's- Qualrar White (?)

Alice Heath Enslow

Grace Shepard Alishin

Margaret C. Shepard

Alice Doolittle

Jane Killgore

Ann Elise Van Bibber

Look upon His cares (ears?) my Love
And (phame)?? them with true eyes!

Eleanor Hamilton Enslow

Eleanor Enslow Stable

Rolland C. Mossmau

Frank B. Graves

Margueriuli Huitaker (?)

Kate Fuller

"Forsaernet me olim meminisse invalit."

(This is literally Greek to me. They were still teaching Latin and Greek in schools; I came from an age where handwriting was cut as so much wasted nonsense.)

It will be a pretty day tomorrow if it doesn't rain. Yes?- No?

There is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune omitted and _______

Virginia M. Tyler

It is the sad,sad fate of a school girl's heart,
To meet, to love and then to part...

"Not this way at Marshal."

Helen Parrott

There was a young Polly that lived in an Oak
The more she saw the less she spoke

The less she spoke the more she heard
Why can't you be like this wise young bird.

Catherine B. Enslow

Margaret Enslow

Charlotte B. Tyler

You asked me for something original, but I hardly know where to begin
for there is nothing original about me except my original sins.

Margarett Kahle Russell

L.H. Enslow

"The sweetest nut hath sourest rind!!
Such a nut is my Constantine"!

Juo L. Kable

W.T. Dabney, Jr.

E.M. Gaines

J.R. Enslow

Moritz Loth

W. J. Loth Jr.

Jm S. Gibson

Sam W. Loer

Women are super-numerary when present
but missed when absent.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you,
Weep and you weep alone-
For the sad old earth must borrow its mists
But has sorrow enough of its own-

Here today & gone tomorrow
they'll all forget- none will sorrow

Lawrence Witten

Being minus the gift of verse
one so dense might easily do worse
To search the poorly stored mind
In the futile effort to find
A few lines full of emotion
Expressive of my deep devotion
For you, Lady of the ghost book
-So turn this page without a look.

H. Fitzhugh Gray

Ruth Daniel

"Facilis descensus Anerno, noctes abane dies patet atri Ianua; sedreno care gradum superasque evadere et auras, hoc apus hic labor est."

May my ghost never return, "Dan."

Charles B Baldwin

When a man begins to see snakes and one head looks like three it's a cinch he's not far from H---
(I'm guessing the last word stands for H-E-Double Hockey Sticks)

Ruth U. Coonley

Constance Anne Czizek

Mary A. Welmore

III Constance Enslow

Mary Alphonzine Welmore

Jean Giomi

Eleen Karraker

Denise Menzer

III Constance Enslow

(this is the only 'ghost' where someone doodled little details on; I think it wonderfully adds to the signatures.)


[User Picture]From: cloudycloud
2009-04-03 06:23 pm (UTC)
Wow! That is amazing and awesome.
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[User Picture]From: youngwilliam
2009-04-03 06:39 pm (UTC)
Man oh man alive, these are great!
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[User Picture]From: insecurelobster
2009-04-03 06:45 pm (UTC)
Fascinating! Thanks for sharing this!
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From: calamityhowler
2009-04-03 06:48 pm (UTC)
These are incredible! Why isn't this still popular?
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[User Picture]From: youngwilliam
2009-04-03 07:49 pm (UTC)
Probably the lack of slow-drying and blottable ink, would be my guess.
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[User Picture]From: poorfrances
2009-04-03 07:00 pm (UTC)
An incredible find! Thanks for all your time in scanning these!
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[User Picture]From: prisbatty
2009-04-03 07:05 pm (UTC)
what a wonderful thing
thankyou for taking the time to share
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[User Picture]From: hardrockzombie
2009-04-03 09:30 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome; thanks for taking the time to read it!
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[User Picture]From: elmocho
2009-04-03 08:32 pm (UTC)
I'm a pen and ink geek, so I really appreciate this. It looks like some of the pens used stub nibs, and some may have had a little flexibility like copperplate nibs.

Today, you'd need a really wet pen and a really slow-drying ink. That paper may also make a difference. Noodler's makes an ink that takes awhile to dry but claims not to feather-- X-Feather. That might work for a similar endeavor. Papers like Rhodia and Clairefontaine also have longer drying times, because they absorb less pigment... going to check...
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[User Picture]From: hardrockzombie
2009-04-03 09:29 pm (UTC)
I also think the paper has something to do with it; I'm a bit of a pen nut and a fellow pen nut (he has the very same style of pen Teddy Roosevelt used) noted the paper was a bit glossy and slick, and thin as well. I'm sort of bothered that the pictures don't really capture how lovely the splotchied ink looks on the page.
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[User Picture]From: elmocho
2009-04-03 09:59 pm (UTC)
I'm a bit of a pen nut...

I have referred your post to the Fountain Pen Network. ;)
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[User Picture]From: electragiselle
2009-04-03 10:06 pm (UTC)
WOW... This is a great find! Congats! on having it as your own!
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From: viking_quest
2009-04-04 01:16 am (UTC)
That is amazing. I want one of my own now.
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[User Picture]From: sarainc
2009-04-04 03:39 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: hardrockzombie
2009-04-11 03:47 am (UTC)
Dooooo it.
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[User Picture]From: araminya
2009-04-04 02:46 pm (UTC)
This is the coolest thing I've seen all year. (No, that's a lot, really.) I'm gonna do this as well! I'm really interested in seeing how it turns out, what with handwriting being so much less pretty these days.

Actually I'm going to try this immediately after sending this reply. :D Thank you for posting!
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[User Picture]From: hardrockzombie
2009-04-11 03:48 am (UTC)
If you get results, please do scan them.
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[User Picture]From: bloody_icecream
2009-04-04 07:47 pm (UTC)
That's really amazing....oooh
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[User Picture]From: alisgray
2009-04-04 11:01 pm (UTC)
How fantastic, and how simple. Thank you for sharing it!
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[User Picture]From: papermuse
2009-04-05 01:11 am (UTC)
I loved looking through these :) I wonder what the people who wrote them were like...
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From: xn_mpls
2009-04-05 02:04 am (UTC)
What an astonishing find. I've heard of it as a parlour game but never made the logical connect that one (or a clever few) might bother to collect their friends' signatures into a comprehensive tome. Right up to the point of despair over the death of handwriting and stationery, I'm enthralled with the beauty, caprice, and haunting nature of these images.

Most grateful that you recorded and shared this.
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[User Picture]From: a_silence_song
2009-04-06 02:07 pm (UTC)
Ridiculously wonderful. thank you for sharing!
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