Monday, June 6, 2016

1874 Boston Public Library Overdue Book Notice

In a previous blog post I claimed to have the world’s largest collection of overdue notices on postal cards. Postal cards are the pre-stamped cards sold by the post office which were first issued in 1873. I also wrote posts about possibly the oldest (December, 1873) and second oldest (May,1874) overdue notices mailed on postal cards. I now have another contender for the second oldest overdue notice mailed on a postal card. It was mailed by the Boston Public Library on February 5, 1874, and is shown above and to the left. The postal card itself was printed for use in 1873 but the “3” has been struck out and replaced with a “4”.  It is an especially elaborate overdue notice citing the library’s rules about overdue books in their entirety. The library staff member taking ownership for sending the overdue notice was Edward Capen, Keeper of the Lower Halls.  The postal card notes that, “In charging yearly several hundred thousand volumes to borrowers, the utmost precaution will not prevent an occasional mistake; and borrowers are particularly requested to notify the Superintendent promptly of any errors on the Library’s part.” Although Edward Capen is listed on the postal card as the "Keeper of the Lower Halls" he had been appointed as the first "Librarian" of the Boston Public Library in 1852 by the Boston City Council and continued to officially hold this designation until 1874. In 1858 a position designated as "Superintendent" was created over the "Librarian" position. The first Superintendent was Charles Coffin Jewett. Although the overdue notice was not mailed on a postal card, I have in my collection of librariana an overdue notice mailed on Jan. 7, 1832 by the Sir P. Dun's Library in Dublin, Ireland. 

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