Tag Archives: birthday books

Queen Victoria Made Them Popular

My grandmother Annie Schmidt’s birthday book

Today is Queen Victoria’s birthday. The British monarch was responsible for creating some interesting social trends. It was because of her, for example, that birthday books became popular. Birthday books had spaces for each day of the year and you recorded the birthdays of friends and family members in the appropriate spots.

Birthday books were first created in 1866 by a Bristol publisher named W. Mack but they really only grew to be widely popular items when it became known that Queen Victoria checked her birthday book every morning. Initially, the books were published with Scripture passages assigned to each day of the year. Later poetry was featured either by a variety of authors or a single author like Shakespeare or Rossetti.

Years ago while helping my Aunt Viola Schmidt move I found two birthday books that had belonged to my grandmother Annie Jantz Schmidt and her sister Matilda Jantz.

My grandmother’s birthday book is called The Birthday 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.

My Mom’s birthday July 11 features a poem by Longfellow about the rain

Grandma married Peter Schmidt in 1917. The names of her children born in the 1920s  are all in the birthday book. My Mom shared her birthdate with her cousin Verna so both their names are recorded for July 11 although Verna was born in 1913 and Mom in 1925.

Grandma also entered the names of her grandchildren born in the 1950s and 1960s. My name is recorded on my birthdate October 16th. The poem by Keats for my birthday talks about the simple loveliness of English girls.

My brother Mark born ten years later on March 5th was assigned a more well-known verse from Keats, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

Grandma has recorded two names here for September 4, her sister Matilda Jantz who was born in 1885 and her niece Edna Ewart who was born in 1911 the year Grandma received her birthday book and sadly also the year her sister Matilda died.

My grandmother’s sister’s birthday book

After my grandmother’s older sister Matilda died her book came into my Grandma Annie’s keeping. Matilda’s book was much older than my grandmother’s although it is not dated.

Matilda my Grandma’s oldest sister records the birth date of their middle sister Marie on February 12th, 1889 in her birthday book.

Matilda’s birthday book is in Gothic German script and features Bible verses rather than poetry.

My Grandmother Annie and my Great Aunt Matilda’s birthday books are real family treasures. I am so grateful to my Aunt Viola for keeping them all these years.

It’s fitting that on Queen Victoria’s birthday my post pays tribute to a birthday tradition she helped to establish.

Other posts……..

All Those Doilies

My Grandmother’s Shoes

My Grandparents Were Readers

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Birthday Books- A Hundred Years Old

grandmas-birthday-book

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. birthday-book-of-beauty-edward-hanscomb
 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. moms-birthdayGrandma 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. MaryLou's page in birthday bookGrandma has also entered the names of her grandchildren born in the 1950s and 1960s. My name is there too.   

marks-birthdayMy 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.”matilda-birthday-book

Grandma has also recorded her sister Matilda’s birthdate in 1885.  Matilda died in 1911 the same year Grandma received her birthday book. img_3769

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.  img_3770

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. 

grandma-and-her-sisters

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. 

This post has been updated with new photos and additional information. 

Other posts………..

My Grandparents Honeymoon

Aunt Vi’s Autograph Book

Great Aunt Marie’s Books

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