Mystery #1, submitted by Jim Wilcox from Binding and Marking:

Says Jim: I’ve seen an older book where printed pages from other manuscripts, or maybe those that were found to have typos, have been used for spine lining. But in this case it looks more like someone just threw a few scrap pieces of paper on and glued it together. Or was it running through a machine and no one ever saw what was happening?  

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Haphazardly placed strips of thin machine-made paper running diagonally across the spine

Mystery #2, also submitted by Jim:

Says Jim: The cover had been stapled through 4 times and the staples had been removed. It’s something that has yet to see its first patron. So it’s another ‘your guess as to how it happened is as good as mine’.  

Says Sonya: Picture this: how would the person have to hold the book in order to staple through its cover, leaving staple point impressions on the textblock? Were they holding the stapler opened flat? (because the whole textblock with its covers is not likely to have fit inside an ordinary stapler) And the other question is “why staple on top of a book?” We have seen 2 such books from the same publisher in the last week, both traumatized by staple holes. What gives? Any guesses? 

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Staple holes on the outside of the cover

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More staple holes on the inside of the cover

 

Mystery #3, submitted by Sonya, Collections Conservator:

This is a notice printed by the Iowa State Health Department in February of 1894, an order to vaccinate. Please note the curious watermark: World Fair 1893 (which was held in Chicago) and our old friend Atlas holding up the globe.

There are some rather thin theories floating around the lab but we must admit – we are stumped. Was there too much of this paper printed for the World Fair in Chicago, so it was offloaded to the different states around the Midwest? What was this paper originally meant for? Does Atlas have abs or is it his body hair?

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The complete watermark: World Fair, Atlas with globe and the 1893

When I lived in LA County, I had to order my son’s birth certificate from the County Clerk’s Office. And I got a notice that they were almost out of the special stationary, so people could only order 1 copy of any certificate. Shocking! Well, if they could run out of official certificate paper, there could certainly have been an overproduction of World Fair specialty paper. Google was no help in my “research”. Any bright ideas out there?

 

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