The Acquisitions Table: Augustus Gill’s Penmanship Book

Gill, Augustus.Penmanship Book [1830s].

A new addition to our ever growing Penmanship Book Collection is a volume kept by a student named Augustus Gill, who was probably born in Canton, Massachusetts around 1820.  What is most striking about this particular item is its cover, which features an African leopard and the phrase “Be just and fear not.”  The blank book was printed by “Condon &Marden,” printers, and sold by “John Marsh, at the Stationary Warehouse” in Boston, probably in the 1830s.  Within the covers are the typical penmanship practice pages, with the author practicing words such as commandment, murmur, inconveniences, and termination.  But what makes this volume even more special are the additional pages in the back where Augustus practiced letter writing (addressing multiple letters to “Dear Uncle Asa”), and tried his hand at poetry and mathematical word problems.  His poems include verses on Death, Fidelity, Roses and Spring.  And Augustus must have been a good math student, as his arithmetic all adds up!

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