The piece of library ephemera shown above has no overt identification text or markings. In fact, it was miss identified as being from an American library when I purchased it. The text at the top of the item reads "Permission to use the Reading Room will be withdrawn from any person who shall write or make marks on any part of a printed book, manuscript, or map belonging to the Museum." The word "Museum" was the clue which pointed to it not being what it was purported to be. A notation at the bottom of the item indicated that 100,000 were printed in 1884 which meant that it had to be a pretty active library/museum. I wondered if it could perhaps be from the British Museum Library, and further investigation proved this to be the case. I have a copy of Gertrude Burford Rawlings' The British Museum Library (H.W. Wilson Co., 1916) which describes the process for obtaining books in the British Museum Library. It reads: "To obtain a book from the general library the reader must transcribe from the catalogue, on one of the tickets provided, the name of the book and its author, its date and its pressmark. to this ticket he adds his signature, the date, the letter of his table, and the number of his desk, and then places it in a box at the centre counter. He may have to wait for his book from twenty minutes to half-an-hour, or even more ... ." This description matches up perfectly with the information on the item which is a "ticket" for requesting books. On this ticket, the press mark (location) is 2500-a, the reader is F. H. Stoddard, and the Reader's Seat is C. 1. F. H. Stoddard turns out to be a Professor of English at New York University who was evidently doing research at the British Museum Library. Information on the back of the "ticket" indicates that after the ticket is submitted it is retained by staff until the book is returned at which time the ticket is given back to the reader who in this instance obviously retained the ticket as a record of his research. A more substantial verification of the origin of the ticket can be found in this publication which was found on Google by Ben Abrahamse. The Library of the British Museum was spun off as the British Library in 1973. A brief history of the Museum and its Library can be found HERE. I've had the pleasure of visiting both the old Reading Room of the British Museum and the new building of the British Library. I have a web page on my Library History Buff website which includes library related postal items from the British Isles. Stamps related to both the British Museum and the British Library are included.
Life Imitating Archives
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