I recently came across this post from Tumblr user Froody. In their post they mention they are collectors of old books and recently encountered a book whose origins couldn’t be explained.
Froody writes “I collect old books. Mostly turn of the century stuff published between 1870 and 1920. My parents did too. They emassed a collection of books somewhere in the thousands. They got them out of abandoned houses, at auctions, as gifts and at every antique store on the east coast. My dad cleaned out his house after the divorce and I got some of the books. I planned to keep the good ones and hopefully sell some of the ones I didn’t have room for. For the past several days I have been researching the different titles and publishing dates to see how much they’re worth, usually it’s somewhere between $15-$50 so I’m not getting rich off it any time soon. I encountered this book:”
“Beautiful, right? Screams late Victorian period opulence. Definitely keeping it. I check for an owner’s name or little note on the title page, I love books that were Christmas gifts long ago. Instead I find this:”
“A gift for a student as an award for her academic success. From either 1875 or 1895. Very fucking cool. I search for the Chatsworth Institute of Baltimore Maryland in hopes that I am holding a significant piece of history in my hands. No such Institute has ever existed in Baltimore, none. Not historically, not currently. There is a Chatsworth school in Maryland but it’s a contemporary public school. I cannot find record of this school anywhere online, there is nothing left behind, it must have been a formal school to afford to give awards. There should be some trace of it. It’s like this book came from an alternate universe.
Let’s go to the title page:”
“Beautifully illustrated by a W Cunston or W Gunston. Neither name being up anyone. The name of the author of this book is nowhere to be seen. The publisher is London based and mostly published childrens books (including the words of Beatrice Potter) and that is the only concrete fact I can get. Googling “Eilon Manor” and “The Four Sisters” brings up very little. I sift and I find a book called Eilon Manor published in 1863. Like Baptista, it’s an incredibly boring piece of literature for Victorian young women. The author is listed as D. Richard, no first name, no gender, no location. D. Richard does not seem to exist either.
I cannot find any other copies of Baptista a Quiet Story. I cannot find D. Richard or W. Gunston. I cannot find a publishing date on this book. It is truly as though it slipped out from another parallel dimension.”
I’m sure there’s a logical and not at all ominous explanation for the book but I can’t help but think of it as the book from The Ninth Gate.