Some powerful English families have lived on the island of Jamaica ever since 1655. I had expected to find some prestigious coats of arms on some of these books. In vain. The most interesting things I’ve come across were some writings in the Gage copy, on the front end paper : This book belongs to me, Simpson Bickford, 1655 - the very year this second edition came out, as its author was reaching Jamaica (did the book came aboard a ship of the Western Design ?). Then : William Bickford, january 2, 1698. There was a very powerful Beckford family at the time in Jamaica – this book might have been theirs. As I was contemplating this copy for the last time, I came across another writing – a recent one, reading : valued 12£ - 1944. No matter its poor condition (as you would expect from a library book), that would still be a fair price... had these books any commercial value. But they are not for sale. They are strictly dedicated to the sharing of knowledge. Their value, because of that, is priceless – it is historical. This copy might not be a very nice one, it has something no other will ever have, the Public Library of Jamaica stamp. Though printed in England, this book is here in its natural environment – it is simply where it naturally belongs.
In the next episode, we will keep on exploring the history of Jamaica through some of the books found on the shelves of the National Library.
(c) Thibault Ehrengardt, 2012.
Thanks to the National Library of Jamaica and the kind assistance of Mrs Winsome Hudson and Mrs Phillips.