Some small booklets from the 1820s recently came to the Lab to be cleaned and prepared for digitization at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Ashleigh, our Conservator, noticed a couple of them had a small loop of string attached in the upper left hand corner.
Well, the booklets are all copies of “Freeman’s Almanack”. Before the days of smart phone calendars and weather apps, before the days of catching the weather on the radio or TV, people had almanacs. In fact some people still use them today, though these days their scope has expanded and some of them can be many hundreds of pages, depending on the information they contain. Back in the 1800s they usually looked like small magazines. Published yearly, they contained articles and snippets of wit and wisdom the publishers thought their target audience (often farmers) might enjoy. Most important though were the tables, usually organized to represent a calendar month, giving times for sunrise and sunset, astronomical highlights such as eclipses, church festivals, planting dates, and what kind of weather to expect.
So what about the loops?
Well, the almanac would be something a 19th Century family might refer to often, perhaps even daily. Where do you put such a thing in your home so everyone can grab it quickly when they need it? You hang it on a nail of course! How do you do that? You make a little hole in the top left corner of the booklet, you run some string or thread through the hole to make a loop, and you pop the loop over the nail.
Problem (and mystery) solved!
Veronica Sorcher (PLCH) – Conservation Technician