“Bookman’s Log” took the summer off, but I stayed busy, cataloging dozens of cartons of cheap books, and sending out lists of of low-end merch under the “Beach Reading” rubric. Of course, some rare book business got done as well, notably at the summer edition of Papermania Plus in Hartford, CT, and most recently at “Firsts” – the London Rare Book Fair, held September 15-18 at the sleek Saatchi Gallery in Duke of York Square.
Despite the growing difficulty of finding big-city venues, Pom Harrington, guiding spirit of the London show, always seems to come up with a stylish and workable location. I wonder if we could get him to run New York for us as well?
But now “Bookman’s Log” is back, baby! And, as a special treat, I’m kicking off this run of entries with a puzzler.
A short while ago, an interesting item “came across my desk” (as they used to say in bookseller’s memoirs). It was an 1849 Boston Almanac,
sent to me by colleague Lynne Veatch, of The Veatchs Arts of the Book. Lynne enclosed a note that said, in part, “Perhaps you can satisfy my curiosity about the Memoranda in this almanac. Why was someone writing ships’ names opposite the dates?”
The book has what I assume to be the ownership signature of one Arnold Freeman.
All Boston Almanacs of this period contained a “Memoranda” page for each month of the year. Freeman filled out each of these pages, for each day of the month, with the name of a ship and other brief notes.
A few of them suggest payment,
and still others contain nuggets of personal information. Specifically, we learn that he had a sister Lucy who died in September, 1849, aged 36 years,
and that he went to Duxbury in August (perhaps to visit her – he stayed there for two weeks),
but then “came home to the city.” Also, that it was “too cold” on January 3rd, at 5 degrees below zero…
but too cold for what?
This sort of stuff is catnip to me, and after about 45 minutes, using only the information above and the vast resources of Google, I was able to figure it out.
So now it’s your turn. What was Arnold Freeman up to?
First right answer will win a FREE copy of my next book, “Mooney’s Manifesto,” about to be published by Spuyten Duyvil, a prestigious small press (Yeah, I know. All small presses are “prestigious.”) in Brooklyn.
The answer will be published in next week’s “Bookman’s Log,” along with a brief recap of how I solved the puzzle.