Provenance – Antique Books Owned By Famous People Of The Past!

What Is Provenance?

If you love old books then it’s no surprise to you to find it full of markings and even signatures of any previous owners scrawled inside of the front pages!  Now, there are two schools of thought on this. For some people, condition is everything!  Therefore, finding a book full of markings will not suffice.  However, nowadays, this sort of thing is being dissected by those who believe in the history that these book markings can provide.  Therefore, provenance is the book’s history of ownership and it is a topic that has many people dedicating their lives to this new field of study.

Now, we can only assume that most names penned in these books are ordinary folks who are simply marking their territory by signing the inside cover of their newly acquired asset.  However, once in a while, you find a book that has the signature of a well known person from the past and that’s when you realize the significance of provenance!  For example:

A book that Ralph Waldo Emerson bought and read for himself!


Then later GAVE to this 17th Century female poet, Lucy Larcom!


Obviously, it’s easier to find (or recognize) a famous person’s signature in a book that he/she wrote.

The trick is, finding their signature in a book that they owned for their own, personal delight!  That’s exactly what happened to me, TWICE, in ONE book! Also, it is clear that when I purchased it on eBay, the person selling this had no idea that it was signed by famous people. This might be an easy mistake to make considering that the book was not written by the person who signed it and therefore, it can easily be overlooked.  Besides, as time goes on, the art of simply READING these signatures and markings is being left to those who strive to pursue it.  Otherwise, we are only equipped to read the typed word. . .

These famous signatures were found in a book from 1845 which contain markings from both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Lucy Larcom.


For Those Who Love Old, Antique Books, Provenance The Key To History!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *