The Schoolmaster’s Assistant aka a new (old) smelly book!

Even though I am a semi-hoarder (okay a card carrying hoarder) of old smelly books, I just can’t stop visiting the websites of my favorite sellers who fuel this addiction! So, a few months ago I stumbled upon, bid and bought this little beauty,

‘The Schoolmaster’s Assistant, being a Compendium of Arithmetic both Practical and Theoretical’ ~ 1797 by Rev. Thomas Dilworth

This book is not pristine by any means, but it is very interesting and very old. I did a little research, and it turns out that this was a very popular math book in Great Britain and America during the mid to late 18th century.  It was apparently brought to Boston by English Schoolmasters and used before, during, and after the Revolutionary War.

Rev. Thomas Dilworth was an English cleric and schoolmaster who not only authored this mathematics book, but was also the author of a popular literacy textbook, “A New Guide to the English Tongue”, that was known to be used and owned by Noah Webster as well as Abraham Lincoln.

After this book’s preface, which is really a letter to the schoolmasters who will teach from this book, there is an essay written by Dilworth entitled, ‘On the Education of Youth, and Essay’. It is humbly dedicated to the consideration of parents.  In this letter he writes about the importance of an education and then he lists some specific instructions (or as he says, some particulars) to the parents about their responsibility in making sure the education given to their children by the schoolmasters has not gone to waste. I am not a teacher, but I’m sure that modern-day educators would totally agree with Dilworth’s “particulars” today!

I will paraphrase (a lot) but here is what he says about education and parents:

1. Constant attendance at school is necessary for a good education.
2. Parent’s should not let their commands go counter to the masters.
3. Parent’s should be aware of their own children’s defects and not expect more out of them than they are capable of mastering.
4. Children should be aware of the scandal in telling a lie.
5. Injustice against their fellow classmates is not allowed.
6. Immoderate anger and a desire for revenge should not be tolerated at home or school.
7. Don’t believe everything your child says about what’s happening at school.
8. They must get used to the little hardships at school to improve their learning.
9. Children aren’t always taught the same friendship, peace and harmony at home that they are taught at school.

I doubt if teachers today can be as forthright with their students’ parents as Dilworth was back in the 1700’s!

But the last few paragraphs of this essay really astounded me and made me really like Rev. Dilworth. He concluded his essay with his thoughts on the “fair sex” which I have included here in its entirety:

While I am speaking of the education of children I hope I shall be forgiven if I drop a word or two relating to the fair sex — It is a general remark that they are so unhappy as seldom to be found either to spell, write, or cypher well : and the reason is very obvious, because they do not stay at their writing schools long enough. A year’s education in -writing is, by many, thought enough for girls, and by others it is thought time enough to put them to it, when they are eighteen or twenty years of age, whereas by sad experience, both these are found to be the one too short a time, and the other too late. The first is a time too short, because, when they are taken from the writing school they generally forget what they learnt, for want of practice : and the other too late because then they are apt to look too forward, imagine all things will come of themselves without any trouble, and think they can learn a great deal in a little time ; and when they find they cannot compass their ends as soon as they would, then a very little difficulty discourages them : and hence it is that adult persons seldom improve in the first principles of learning as fast as younger ones. For a proof of this, I ap peal to every woman, whether I am just in my sentiments or not. The woman who has had a liberal education this way, knows the advantages that arise from a ready use of the pen ; and the woman who has learnt little or nothing of it, cannot but lament the want of it. Girls therefore ought tobe put to the writing school as early as boys, and continued in it as long, and then it may reasonably, be expected that both sex es should be alike ready with their pen. But for want of this, how often do we see women, when left to shift for themselves in the melancholy state of widowhood, (and what woman knows that she shall not be left in the like situation ?) obli ged to leave their business to the management of others, sometimes to their great loss, and sometimes to their utter ruin ; when, on the contrary, had they been ready at their pen, could spell well, and understand figures, they might not only have saved themselves from ruin, but perhaps have been mistresses of good fortunes. Hence then may be drawn the following, but most natural conclusion, “

A man ahead of his time it seems!

There are so many things I love about handling these great old books, the great old covers, the old timey printing, and of course the school boy graffiti!



I wondered what that smell was!

I came across this Abebooks YouTube video thanks to Neatorama. com.

It explains that lovely aroma which permeates several rooms in my home. I no longer have to make excuses for my aversion to house cleaning or Jasmine…it’s been my smelly old books all along!

Helen Welshimer

You’ve probably never heard of Helen Welshimer

~~I’m not surprised~~

Except for the fact that she was my dad’s cousin, I wouldn’t have known who she was either. Ms. Welshimer was a poet and a journalist and an essayist during the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. She wrote for a couple of newspapers in Ohio and eventually became a freelance writer with NEA (Newspaper Enterprise Association), where her interviews and articles were syndicated nationwide. She was a contributor to several magazines, including Good Housekeeping and published several books of poetry.

Lost Love

“My heart is listening,
Open and clear,
For somebody’s voice
That I’ll never hear.”

She was accomplished to say the least but unfortunately I never got to meet her. Helen died in 1954 at the age of 53 and I was born a few years later. I’ve always wished that I had gotten to know her because she seemed so glamorous. She was beautiful and talented, a small town girl who left Canton, Ohio to live in New York City and also a bit of a mystery.

Fourteen years before Helen died she came home to Canton and became bedridden, a semi-invalid that never recovered her health. I dare not speculate on what happened to Helen but it was a tragedy that someone so vibrant and young, spent so many years suffering. Helen continued to write but remained at home taken care of by her mother.

My parents owned one of Helen’s books and I’ve recently acquired two others.  When I ordered Shining Rain off of the internet I was astounded when the book arrived and three letters and two Christmas cards fell out.

The original owner of the book of poems must have been a huge Helen Welshimer fan and it seems had written several fan letters to her home in Canton.  Helen, her mother Clara and her sister Mildred, penned responses to the fan letters and the owner of this book stored her treasures amongst its pages.

I am so happy that these letters, written by my family were preserved and that I was lucky enough to be the person that bought this particular copy!  Serendipity!

Here are two links to articles written by Helen during the height of her journalistic career:,2120427&dq=helen+welshimer&id=7A1QAAAAIBAJ

History of the World’s Fair

It was shelf dusting time again! This time I’ve rediscovered this book:

I was so excited when I found this book a few years ago at an antique shop in Pennsylvania.  Like a lot of readers I loved Erik Larson’s book about the Columbian Exposition, The Devil in the White City  So when I found this written history from 1893,  I got pretty excited and of course had to buy it!

Held in Chicago in 1893,  this World’s Fair was created to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of the new world. The Exposition transformed 600 acres of Jackson Park into a small city of over 200 structures, mostly temporary. There were over 26 million visitors during the 6 months the fair was open which is an astounding statistic!  On Chicago Day held in October the one day attendance was 716,881!

General view of the manufactures building

Tiffany's exhibit, manufactures building

The publication date on this book is 1893 so it must have been published shortly after the Exposition’s closing date in October of that same year. It’s incredibly detailed and includes the story of how the Exposition was financed and built, the names of all the people involved, pavilion information and even attendance records.  To be honest it’s pretty dry reading but fascinating none the less. I do wish that it had more photos of the exhibitions and pavilions though. I’ve posted a few of the better ones including this picture of the first ferris wheel!

The Good Ol’ Days?

It was time to peruse my shelves tonight and when I did I found this little 32 page booklet stuffed between two novels. I had forgotten all about buying it umpteen years ago. But I know what must have drawn me to it ~~ this Gibson Girl on the cover.

It’s filled with songs like “Good-Night Ladies”, “Marching through Georgia, “America the Beautiful” and “Old Folks at Home”. I hate to admit it but I knew the tune to about half of these ditties!  And then there are the brief paragraphs on amusements–parlor games really. Things like the Five Senses Game, Charades and The Shopping List Game.

But to me the major amusements of this booklet are the drugstore ads sprinkled throughout. It looks like this booklet was published by S.C. Wells & Co., a manufacture of medicines and household chemicals, and then given out for free to advertise their products.  My copy was given out by Beane’s Drug Store of Gardiner, Maine, sometime at the turn of the century.

Coronet Headache Tablets, Shiloh Cough Syrup and Hammond’s Liniment the King of Cures all have small ads but the granddaddy of everything that ails you is a one all cure-all called CELERY KING. Every heard of it? Me neither!
Here are some of the things Celery King will cure ~~

“Are You Melancholy, Despondent?”     

“Poor Complexion?”     

“How is your Stomach?”    

But this full-page ad is the funniest. You just have to read it for yourself to appreciate it!

Sentimental Journey

I am very sentimental especially when it comes to family. So was my dad. He and I were, and I still am, kind of the keepers of the family “stuff”. You know what I’m talking about~~photos, letters, postcards, baby clothing, school papers and of course books.

And we had a lot of books in the house when I was growing up. My mom was a huge mystery reader and loved Agatha Christie. My dad was more of a non-fiction fan, reading everything related to the Civil War with a few Louis L’Amour westerns thrown in to the mix.

As a kid I always got a huge kick out of the fact that we still had some of my dad’s old school books on our shelves. My pop was born in 1914 and was the second youngest of 6 kids so these books were passed down through several members of his family and are almost 100 years old.

I thought it was hysterical that my dad and his sisters had not only written in these books, but drawn pictures and made comments in the margins, basically all the things that I was told NOT to do to books.  Who knew that kids back in the early 1900’s were just like kids in the 1960’s? That was a revelation to me!

So of course being the sentimental pack rat that I am, I still have a couple of these books on my shelves today. I still get a kick out of the fact that my dear old Dad used these books in school over 80 years ago…even if it was only for practicing his art skills!