The Acquisitions Table: Birthday and Autograph Album, 1874.

Birthday and Autograph Album. Bethlehem [Pa.]: Henry T. Clauder, 1874.

Partially printed books that were meant to be filled in by their owners have been of particular interest to AAS’s curators over many years. AAS’s online catalog already has more than 200 records with the genre term: Partly printed, partly blank books.

One example is a recently acquired blank birthday book and autograph album published by Henry T. Clauder of Bethlehem, PA, that has a separate page printed for every day of the year so people could sign on the day of their birthday. The full morocco binding with fancy gilt titling on spine and on both boards and with all edges gilt suggest it was intended to be gifted.

In fact, this particular example published in 1874 is accompanied by a letter from the album’s publisher, Henry T. Clauder, presenting it to the historian and popular author Benson J. Lossing. Perhaps Clauder hoped to gain the successful author’s endorsement? Endorsement or no, Clauder was still offering the Birthday and Autograph Album in his 1877 catalog of publications, which consisted primarily of German and Moravian publications. The longevity of the album in his catalogs was not necessarily a sign of successful sales. Clauder had only printed the month and day on each page, not the year, so that if left with unsold sheets only the title page would have to be changed to reissue an “updated” album in later years.

Published by

Elizabeth Watts Pope

Curator of Books, American Antiquarian Society

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