Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Lusitania and Books for the Library of Congress

On May 7, 1915 the British steamship Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-Boat off the coast of Ireland on its return trip from the United States. The ship sank in minutes and 1,201 passengers and crew lost their lives. The sinking of the unarmed ship helped turn world opinion against Germany in the early stages of World War I, and was a factor in eventually bringing the United States into the conflict. On June 13, 1914, less than a year before its sinking, the Lusitania carried a shipment of new and secondhand books from the London book dealer Edward G. Allen & Sons destined for the Library of Congress. This consular certificate and invoice provide a record of that shipment. The Library of Congress had a long history of acquiring publications through London book dealers, and it is very likely that the Lusitania which made regular round trips to the U.S. had carried previous shipments of books for the Library of Congress. The total bill for this shipment was 45 pounds, 7 shillings, and 5 pence. Some of the titles included were: Handbook of Jamaica 1914, Statesman's Year Book (11 copies), Bibliography of Irish Philology, Franco-German War Indemnity, and Short History of Feudalism in Scotland. The $2.50 American Consular Fee Stamp on the document should be of interest to revenue stamp collectors.

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