Monday, June 6, 2016

For One's Country

There is an interesting secret hidden within this new discovery found in the Samuel Bemis papers. This memo book is from the first Samuel Bemis, the father of the now famous dentist and photographer.

Let's examine it. It is made of 12 sheets of paper folded and sewn together into a booklet.
Each sheet of paper measures 6x8 inches so when folded and sewn together, the booklet is 4x6 inches, small enough to fit in a coat pocket of the time period.

Here you can see the threading pattern used to bind the booklet.

When placed on a light table, you can see the distinctive pattern known as "laid" paper that helps to identify its age.

What you are seeing are the impressions made by the wire screen used to make the paper. A watermark or company logo was also embossed on each sheet of paper. These watermarks also help to when and where the paper was made. However, as the original fairly large sheet of paper was often cut into various smaller sizes for different size booklets, it took us a number of pages to puzzle out the watermark. Here we can see a part of the overall design and the word "Pro."

Another part of the design can be found on a different page and it includes the second part of the main phrase, the word "Patria" 

So now we have the complete phrase, Pro Patria, translated from Latin it traditionally means "For One's Country" part of a larger famous phrase from Horace's Odes poetry,  

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori is a line translated as: "It is sweet and glorious to die for one's country."

Can you see another component of the logo, what seems to be the head of a person? wearing some kind of helmet?

Revealed by light, the pieces fall into place, 

However, not all of the watermark can be found in the booklet, so have to check references, in this the case the internet
We can find ...
Without looking it up, this upside down part of the watermark would never have made sense to me, however, with the complete image, I can then see this is the bottom right section of the watermark.

I could not find the bottom left section of the watermark anywhere in the booklet. But here is what is would look like.

Now look back up at the photographs and you can see the hand of the lion holding a curved sward, Brittanica with her helmet holding a staff, etc.

This is the kind of stuff we do for fun in the cellar of the Conway Public Library where the Henney History Room is located. If you want to join in the fun, become a volunteer! To learn more about anything in this blog comment us or contact us at the Conway Public Library.

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