Historical Re-gifting: Adopt a Gift Book!

Jan 1/1846
A friend how sweet that sacred sound
It sheds a heavenly music round
Which falls with pleasure on the ear
To cheer us while we tarry here.

A friend

Dedicatory poems like the one quoted above appear in many of the gift books in the American Antiquarian Society’s collections. This particular inscription is in AAS’s copy of The Amulet from 1846, one of many gift books produced annually in America in the mid-nineteenth century. Annuals were popular holiday gifts, although (as you’ll note with this one) they were most often given as New Year’s gifts rather than for Christmas. Like other gift books/annuals, this volume contains many illustrations, poems, and stories that would have appealed to a wide audience.

This holiday season you can add another layer to that gift-giving process by “adopting” one of the gift books AAS has already purchased for our collections and “giving” it in honor of a loved one. You can learn more about AAS’s gift book collection and what exactly this adoption process entails by going to our Adopt-a-Gift-Book catalog.

At adoption prices from $25-$100, you could find a gift for everyone on your list:

  • For the book enthusiast, others have beautiful bindings
  • For an animal lover, one gift book has a story (accompanied by a wonderful image) on the Alpine Mastiffs, or Saint Bernard dogs

In return for your generous donation “adopting” one of these gift books in AAS collections, you will receive:

1) A card with an image from a gift book already in the American Antiquarian Society’s collections.

2) A printout of the AAS catalog record for the gift book. The record will include your name and the person for whom you adopt the book (i.e. The Gift of Santa Claus in honor of All the Good Little Boys and Girls). This information will also be added to a special bookplate in the actual book, adding another layer to its gift-giving history.

3) A thank you letter outlining the details of your adoption and the fact that it is a tax deductible charitable donation.

4) The satisfaction of knowing that you have helped to make America’s printed history accessible to generations to come.

The only thing you will not receive is the actual book – visitation privileges only! AAS’s Adopt-a-Book program works to provide early American books a good home. The money you donate to “adopt” a book that is already in AAS’s collections goes directly towards acquiring more books… and historical prints and campaign newspapers and diaries and children’s picture books.

Only two dozen books are available for adoption this holiday season, so please check the Adopt-a-Gift-Book catalog early to avoid disappointment!

Published by

Elizabeth Watts Pope

Curator of Books, American Antiquarian Society

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