Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Little Bookmark in History

I have been reading Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther, which has been on my TBR pile for several months. I'm thoroughly enjoying this quaint pre-WWII English story including the fact that the book copy I have was published in the 1940s and smells just as an old book should. What I didn't expect to find while reading was an old bookmark. Somewhere around chapter five I came upon the following bookmark and figured it was probably from the seller previous to the seller I bought the book from... then I saw the phone number. I don't know the age, but I'm guessing this book mark dates back to the 1960s simply by the fact the phone number is only numeric and not a mix of alpha and numeric figures.

Further research into the bookstore Allsopp And Chapple in Little Rock, AR led me to the following information:

1. The bookstore no longer exists.
2. It was co-owned by Frederick William Allsopp (June 25, 1867 to April 9, 1946), but was sold in 1919 to a new owner. It was again sold in 1958 and at that time still operated under the original name of Allsopp And Chapple.
3. The "Chapple" in the bookstore name was James Chapple who might have been related to Mary Chapple Allsopp (Frederick's wife??).
3. Born in England, Mr. Allsopp emigrated to the US with his family sometime in the mid to late 1800s.
4. Although never the editor or publisher, Mr. Allsopp was a business manager of the Arkansas Gazette and helped to shape the future of Arkansas newspapers.
5. Mr. Allsopp was a life-long lover of books and eventually published books as well as co-owned the aforementioned bookstore, Allsopp And Chapple, which is said to have been the leading bookstore in the county at that time.

I wasn't able to find out anything more, but still it was fun to stumble upon a bit of history. Holding the bookmark I can't help but ponder the unanswered questions time has turned to mystery. Like, who was the customer was that bought Mrs. Miniver and was it at Allsopp and Chapple? Or did they buy another book and then reuse the bookmark while reading Mrs. Miniver? What was the bookstore like? How old is this bookmark? How did the bookmark end up in a book that was bought by me several states and at least 1,000 miles away?

History can be full of the oddest little mysteries.

1 comment:

Jon said...

Funny. I just bought an old cookbook from the 50's and a similar bookmark fell out of it. Mine's older than yours, though; mine has the alphanumeric phone number FR 2-1846.

Googling led me to this blog entry, among other places.