Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Former Lives

Sorting through books, lightly dusting them off and gently opening them up after a long period of hibernation feels like wandering through memories frozen in time.

At times I wonder just as much about the journey of an individual book as I do about the story pressed onto its pages.  How did this book manage to survive wars, floods, fires, humidity, heat and eventually make its way into this library?  Even more intriguing is to find a book with institutions or names inscribed on the first few pages.  Sometimes there are even years included...former owners, former libraries and former times.  Occasionally I decide to search for information on these previous owners, gambling on the idea that at one time a library was limited to those of higher learning and education.  For example, I came across this book the other day.  

  Clearly, this book had seem some rough days in the past.  There are signs of water damage and sections torn.  While the leather binding seems to be intact, it looks like it once played host to the sharp point of a compass.  Some sections of the pages are loose as well.  However, the beautiful script of the former owners are what make it stand out.

Giuseppe Meschini, 182?  - This is the name on the the lower half of the page.  After a quick search to exclude anyone with that name today, I found him mentioned on a few websites.  It seems he was a bass player, contrabbassista, in the Orchestra of Santa Cecilia in Rome.  He was also a teacher at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory and perhaps also a mattress maker.  There are some other former items of his floating about on the web.  One is a signed and inscribed edition of the libretto to Cavalleria Rusticana (listen here) dedicated to him from Pietro Mascagni.  There is also an autographed photo of Leopoldo Mugnone, famous conductor and composer, which was dedicated to Meschini. 

The first couple names appear to have been crossed out, though it's still possible to make out some of the letters.  Angelo Nizzola is the first name.  The second name seems to be the same though is a little harder to make out.  For now, I haven't found any information for this name.  If I do, I'll post an update.  

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