I have inherited my grandma’s autograph album. She was born in 1887 and was given it when she was eighteen for a Christmas present from ‘P.’ – whoever that was! Autograph albums weren’t just for signatures, in those days people would draw pictures, write poems, even paint little water colours, and this treasure I’ve received is full of delights.
My grandmother received in 1905 and I’m working my way through trying to find out about the people who contributed to it. So far the dates go up to the time of the first world war; her fiancé who became my granddad was away in France, but he’s signed it earlier when he was about to go abroad – for three years! Later my mum and her sisters inherited when they were still school girls, so their friends have added their signatures too.
One of the paintings is my featured image – it’s of Napoleon of course, but who painted it? Erich H. Gyngell? Gyngels? Syngell? I can’t make it out and I can’t find him anywhere either! Another couple of pages had printed rectangles for a group of people to sign:
There’s my mum, M. Matthews, and her uncle, Horace – and on the previous, similar page, his wife Lottie had signed but they had signed twenty odd years previously, for grandma as had Myra Rickard. I don’t know any of the other names – L. Collier who signed in 1913 would also be grandma’s friend, The beautifully named Florentina Goodwin was the wife of Alfred, and had been born in Surrey to Florence and Herbert in 1877.
The others who wrote their names in 1935, would have been friends of my mum and her sisters while they were living in Pavenham – someone, G. Newton/Newtow/Fewtow had written the name of the village below their signature. Could I. Beane be Irene Beane who was born in Bedford in 1924, the same year as my aunty and a year before my mum?
I will try and track down the friends of grandma as a girl and my mum in 1937, but with so little to go on, I’m not sure I will ever succeed!