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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Feline Ex Libris

Here is an interesting bookplate from 1903 that will appeal to both feline fanciers and collectors of ex libris alike. It also brings into play an early woman physician, an activist writer for the Indians, and the historic works of craftsman Gustav Stickley. All because of a cat named Darius Dunain.


Found yesterday on a bookscouting trip, this bookplate is affixed in the book, Cat Stories, by H.H. (Helen Hunt Jackson), Little, Brown, and Co., Boston, 1903 (reprint from Roberts Brothers, 1879, 1881, 1884). It appears to have been a gift copy from the publisher, maybe as a review copy.

The parenthetical pedigree is noted above only because I find the book about as interesting as the bookplate. I come across cat books everywhere when out scouting. The last several decades have produced a huge number of books about cats, but this is probably the oldest book about cats I've ever come across. The stories date back to the 1870s.

The author, Helen Jackson, is best known for her novel, Ramona, which dealt with the government's poor treatment of Indians in Southern California. That's quite a range from cat stories to an activist novel for the plight of Native Americans.


Mabel Cornish Bond, owner of both the book and the cat in the bookplate (Darius), was a female physician in Washington D.C. in the early 1900s--very unusual for the times. She was also a poet, a writer, and a cat breeder.

The bookplate indicates a residence by the name Villa Bondi Dumblane in Washington, D.C. This was the Bonds' home, adapted from Gustav Stickley's Craftsman House #10 from the 1904 series of house plans in the Craftsman magazine. Stickley’s Craftsman Workshops supplied some furniture and light fixtures for the house. Stickley furniture today is very valuable and highly collectible.

As for Darius, he shows up in a google search in a cat registry and stud book. By all accounts and assumptions, he lived a very pampered life.

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