The Book of Common Prayer (1706)

This is another Book of Common Prayer with multiple female inscriptions, but this book is particularly intriguing. This edition, which features an engraving of Queen Anne and a beautiful cover, shows an example of women marking books as theirs through ornamental metal decoration on the outside. Sarah Gwynn, who owned this book, gives her name and date of acquisition, May ye (the) 1st, 1707. In the back of the book, another woman, Susanna Webb, signed and added “her Book” in 1770.

But what makes this book even more interesting is the handwriting that appears on multiple pages.

Found on one of the last page and written upside down, this series of numbers may be pages the owner found especially important.

Although it looks like some secret code, my guess is that this is a form of shorthand, given the appearance of regular words like “prfect.” In the seventeenth century, shorthand was used to record sermons, for instance, as the Folgerpedia explains, which may well be the case here.

Source: Book seen on the bookmarket in Deventer on August 4, 2019, offered for sale by Peter Dullaert, Heilige Handel. Photos by Martine van Elk, taken with permission.

Further Reading

“Technologies of Writing in the Age of Print.” Folgerpedia, November 2016.

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