Lucky Bookish Treasures

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When my grandma passed away in January, my mother gave each of her children a special something from Grandma. My item was a book published in 1852, the fourth edition of Young Ladies’ Oasis. This book is a collection of poetry, essays, and stories “appropriate” for young ladies.

Today, I wanted to browse through it, and what did I find but what I’ve been looking for all my life: A lucky 4-leaf clover.

Years ago, my mom told me a story. When she was a young girl, she and her aunt were sitting in their backyard when she said, “oh, I’ve found a four-leaf clover!” She was sitting in a patch of them. I have been looking for my own four-leaf clover since I first heard that story.

Apparently, Gram (my grandmother’s mother) took one of the clovers home and pressed it in this book of hers, which we assume she received from her mother, who was a young lady in 1852 when Young Ladies’ Oasis, fourth edition, was published.

I love how the clover has left a mark on the page. A shadow of that lucky day.

The clover is pressed between pages 192 and 193, in the midst of an essay called “Pretty Women.” It ponders pretty women throughout “history” (Rachel in the Bible, Helen of Troy, Cleopatra) and wonders why women today (1850s) aren’t using their good looks to their best advantage. I haven’t read all of the essay yet, but saw this.

Every lady is at liberty to bring out her own ” good points” as she thinks best, and it is easy to do so, as well as to conceal her weak ones, without departing from the fashions that prevail.

One of the two of these ancestors of mine (probably not my grandma, given the aging), also left a few other treasures.

This looks to me to have been embroidered with hair. But maybe I’m just wishing. It’s probably thread. I’ve always thought the embroidered-with-hair thing to be very cool, but my husband says that it is disgusting. Are you in the disgusting camp or the cool camp?

And then, someone enjoyed an autumn afternoon while reading Young Ladies’ Oasis. (I suppose it could have been morning, but I always picture sunset when I picture autumn.) I love the dark spots on this leaf. I haven’t read this essay yet.

Young Ladies’ Oasis is, of course, available online by now. I am going to read it. Not in the fourth edition that I own but in the ebook. The ten minutes I spent with it today have done far more damage to this family heirloom than I’d like to admit.

What’s the most memorable thing you’ve found in a book?

Do you own any heirloom books, or at least very old ones?

Reviewed on April 27, 2011

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • What a fantastic story! Sadly, we don’t have an artifacts to hand down in my family, not that I know of anyway. The story is that my great-aunt Bea always takes everything and won’t let anyone see/have them. I sort of wonder if perhaps everyone’s just too timid to ask Aunt Bea. But anyway, I love reading stories like this! Imagine – you’ve been looking for a clover like that all your life, and instead of finding it outdoors, you found it in a book. What a tale!

  • In my opinion, hair embroidery falls into the camp of “both gross and cool.” Like a snake unhooking its jaw to digest a whole mouse, for example.

    What a collection of treasures this book held for you! That’s amazing. I love finding things left between the pages of used books, even if they’re just a metro ticket or a receipt, but this is a whole other level. πŸ™‚

  • I think it would be pretty cool to find embroidery with hair. πŸ™‚

    When my grandmother passed away a few years ago, my family (aunts/uncles) asked me to go through the books in the basement and pull out what I wanted. Anything I didn’t take they took to Goodwill. While I found some more modern books, I stumbled on a collection of “young adult” books of my grandmother’s from the early to mid 1940s. Each of them have her name and the date in them.

    I have them packed away now, but I love that I have that memory of my grandmother. To know that she read them when she was younger touches my heart. πŸ™‚

  • What a wonderful way to remember your grandmother! I love finding treasures inside books. The hair thing doesn’t bother me…as long as I don’t think about it too, too much. LOL

  • That is fabulous! The best treasure I ever found in a book was a picture that my grandmother used as a bookmark. It was old and wrinkled, but definitely a picture of she and my grandfather when they were just young kids in love.

    I think the embroidering with hair is awesome! I hope it really is hair not hair colored thread πŸ™‚

    • The Very Hungry Bookworm Β» I don’t think I’ll ever know if it is hair….I don’t want to touch it too much or it’ll fall apart! And a photo would be a wonderful find in a book!

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