Monday, June 27, 2016


We had confirmation recently that this portrait on display at the Conway Public Library was by a deaf itinerant artist John Brewster. See this link.

For a unique perspective on it see our previous post

To follow another connection to the deaf community follow the threads in another recent post, and look into the author of the poem about the universe, Henry Baker.

New Donation

Recently, we had a surprise walk in donation of a bound 1902 map of the White Mountains. We love these kinds of surprises! We already have a wall mounted version of this map that originally sold for $2.50. This one is a bound and folded cloth mounted version that originally sold for $1.50. It is interesting to compare the two versions. It is also fun to look at bits of the lost historic landscape such as the post office in Green Hill and the “village” of Conway Street.


Questions, just ask!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sam'l Bemis his Book

Last week we focused on the context, the physical aspects of this little memo book. We explored the paper, the laid lines, and the watermark.  
Now we will look at the content found within the booklet itself. As you can see, the text reads “Cambridge June 11th 1776
Saml Bemis his Book
This use of use of speaking in the “third person” is a common historical phrase.  

Then it reads, "Doctor Bentlet wrote a preface to Milton. It probably should read Dr. Bentley who wrote a preface to an edition of Milton's poetry. There are many references to poetry throughout the memo book.
There are also many references to more practical, technical subjects.
These pages below show a carefully delineated illustration of watch parts. This Samuel Bemis like his son Samuel A. Bemis was a watch maker. The text on the left page reads in part,
For a moon clock
The moon wheel must be 7 ¾ inches
In diameter it hath 118 teeth
Day of the month wheel 3 inches diameter
It hath 62 teeth


You can also find
“Rule for making Semet” Perhaps "Cement" for tooth fillings?
Rule for making silver soder, Rule for making gold soder
and many other practical notations.

Peppered throughout the text there are many references to classical poetry, the bible and Shakespeare. While these references may have been familiar to people of the late 18th and 19th century, they are not in as common use today. With the help of the internet we are able to track down some leads.

The quotation below for example,
Come forth, O Man, yon azure Round survey,
And view those Lamps which yield eternal Day.
Bring forth thy Glasses: clear thy wond'ring Eyes:
Millions beyond the former Millions rise:
Look farther:--Millions more blaze from remoter Skies.
A poem intituled (phonetic spelling) The Universe
We can find more about this fascinating poem and its author here.
See if you can track down more of these poems and please contact me through the comment section below.



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.