Some treasures I found as I was cleaning out my aunt’s apartment last week were two birthday books that belonged to my grandmother Annie Jantz and her sister Matilda Jantz. Birthday books were first published in 1866 by a Bristol publisher named W. Mack. They increased in popularity when it became known that Queen Victoria checked her birthday book every morning.
My grandmother’s birthday book was called The Book of Beauty and for each day of the year there is a quote from a famous poet about beauty. Grandma received this birthday book in 1911 when she was 19. She kept it up to date for many decades. Grandma married in 1917. The names of her children born in the 1920s are all in the birthday book. My Mom shared her birthday with her cousin Verna and both their names are recorded for July 11. Grandma has also entered the names of her grandchildren born in the 1950s and 1960s. My name is there too.
My brothers both got lovely verses of poetry as quotes for their birthdays. My brother Mark’s is the famous line from Keats….”A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
Grandma has also recorded her sister Matilda’s birthdate in 1885. Matilda died in 1911 the same year Grandma received her birthday book.
Perhaps Matilda’s death is the reason Grandma ended up with her sister’s birthday book. Matilda’s birthday book is in German gothic script and although not dated must be considerably older than my grandmother’s birthday book.
Matilda’s birthday book quotes Scripture rather than poetry. Here Matilda has recorded the birthday of her sister Marie who was five years younger than she was and two years older than my grandmother.
In this photo you can see my grandmother at age 12 with her two sisters. Marie 14 in the chair and Matilda 19 standing behind Annie.
I had never seen a birthday book before I discovered these two that are more than a hundred years old. They are real family treasures.