This past week in class, we participated in The First Great Morrow Stack Book Hunt. These were our instructions.
As we descended into the stacks, I must admit that I had a slight advantage over my classmates in this competition. One of the books in the set I have chosen as my book of study contains a bookplate, so I already knew I could find at least one. The Duke’s Children, Volume II is the title in the set that contains this bookplate, belonging to Philander Moore.
This is a very pretty and realistic looking bookplate, depicting a serene river. Sadly, an online search of the name did not produce any significant results. The best hit I could find on this name is a University of Mississippi football player, who I am pretty confident is not the owner of this bookplate and book. The identity of the owner of this bookplate remains a mystery.
I must have a lucky touch down in the stacks though. During The Great Morrow Stack Book Hunt, I happened upon yet another set of books that also contained a bookplate. This set is titled The Peasants by Ladislas Reymont. On the title page it is described as “A Tale of Our Times in Four Volumes.”
Now this book is already cool, because it is an Alfred Knopf book. Founded in 1915, Knopf is apparently a big deal in the publishing world. The thing I was most interested in this book for however, was tipped into the cover.
This is a cool bookplate. I can only imagine that the library depicted was Rufus Switzer’s personal library. But who was this guy? I searched his name online not expecting much to pop up, but I was surprised and thrilled with what I found.
Rufus Switzer was a lawyer who first came to Huntington, WV in 1891. Immediately I’m impressed and feel a connection with this guy. I am planning to attend law school next fall, so the fact that the original owner of the book I found was an attorney is really neat.
When Switzer settled into Huntington, he began getting himself involved with the local politics winning first City Councilman and then becoming Mayor in 1909. As Mayor, Switzer encountered several upset citizens who didn’t want a planned city incinerator near their homes. To settle the matter, Switzer pushed for the purchased land to become a public park. The city of Huntington had never had a park before, but thanks to Switzer’s insistence Ritter Park was formed (The Herald Dispatch.)
Huntington was expanded by Mayor Switzer as well, bringing the towns of Guyandotte and Central City into Huntington city limits (Legendary Locals of Huntington.) Switzer continued to help the community of Huntington even after his death. His will provided that his estate be the foundation of both the Huntington Museum of Art and the Huntington Clinical Foundation. And, apparently, some of his books were donated to the Marshall College Library.
The illustrator of Switzer’s bookplate is Bank B. Gordon. While I can find many other examples of his book plates online, including this bookplate for silent film star Lionel Atwill, I cannot seem to find much on his life. I do find it impressive however that Switzer commissioned a bookplate artist to design his personal bookplate.
I am amazed at all the history that can be discovered through one simple piece of paper glued into the inside of a book.