Books that Belonged to Lizzie Borden

25 Feb

(Recycled post from November 2008)

An interesting collection of books that belonged to Lizzie Borden came my way a couple months ago, including this one “Good Cheer” signed in her own hand and dated on her birthday, July 19, 1901 when she turned 41 years old.  Makes me wonder if it was a gift to her or something she bought herself.  These were issued in volumes and were full of “feel good” platitudes.  Perhaps someone wanted to literally cheer her up.

Books that belonged to Lizzie Borden

1. New Standard Funk & Wagnall Dictionary, 1915 with her written initials (“L.A.B.”) and “Washington” on the front fly and the “Maplecroft” seal unique to Lizzie’s personal collection of books.
2. The book Good Cheer, Vol 1 No. 1  Nov. 1900.  A paperback of Victorian feel-good platitudes.   In addition to her initials (which we’ve seen in many of the books Lizzie owned, she has also written underneath “July 19, 1901.”  Lizzie was born on July 19, 1860 and 1901 would have been her 41st birthday.
3. The Index Guide to Travel and Art Study in Europe by Lafayette C. Loomis, Illustrated, 1889, 635 pages.  (One cannot help but wonder if this was given to Lizzie or she purchased it Used for her 1890 Grand Tour of Europe.)  Added value to this book is Lizzie’s writing in the back – a several-line description of a painting she liked – kittens playing in a dooryard, “one like Bobbie” she writes, plus the name and address of a woman from Cambridge.  Perhaps this was someone she met on her travels during those 19 weeks and only had the Travel Guide in hand upon which to write her address.
4.  Wayside Poems, Harpers 1895.   Has “L.A.B.” signed in her hand.
5.  Edwin Porter’s –  History of the Borden Murders.  Press of J. D. Munroe 1893.
Note: When viewing the slide show below, put your cursor over the image to stop and read the captions.

This collection was previously acquired by Robert R., a gentlemen collector in his early 80’s, who acquired them from Ernest Terry’s nephew many years ago.  Robert related to me that he had been perusing the Antiques section of the Sunday Chicago Tribune when his eye fell on an ad of Lizzie Borden books, along with a Walter Gay pastel landscape (with no Lizzie connection) and he decided to contact the seller.  He met the nephew and his wife at their home who were preparing to move to Florida.  Robert said the nephew also had a couple cartons with silverware that belonged to Lizzie but had just been sold to a local antique dealer for $1,000.

Now it was Helen Leighton and Grace Hartley Howe who received most of Lizzie’s personal property and I have always believed they gave “hand offs”, i.e., things neither of them wanted to keep, to Lizzie’s chauffeur, Ernest Terry, (and perhaps a few others).  This would explain how these books would end up in the Terry family.  We do know of many other books besides these that belonged to Lizzie.  They pop up from time to time.  About 7 years ago several were donated to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/Museum and are on display there in Lizzie’s bedroom.  And about 2 years ago a half dozen or more appeared on eBay.  One can be assured there are many more “out there.”  I am, understandably, thrilled that these few came my way.

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Posted by on February 25, 2010 in Collectibles


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