S is for Stevengraphs Bookmarks

THOMAS STEVENS (BOOKMARK)

When I was a child we had in our possession a bookmark embroidered with a poem called ‘The Old Arm Chair”, by Eliza Cook.  I thought  my grandmother told me that it was a sampler made by one of my great grandmothers and I admired the tiny letters, marvelling at the detail.

One day I took it to school to show the sewing teacher.  She held it in front of her critically and announced that it was machine made.  To make matters worse she accidentally ripped it in half.  She quickly stuck it together with sticky tape and handed it back in a hurry.  Too scared to tell my mother I hid it away in a book.

The funny thing is I found it the other day when searching through memorabilia.  Taking another look I realised it was machine made so now with the benefit of Google I was able to find out its origin.

It was made by weavers in Coventry who made silk ribbon pictures.  This made me think it could have belonged to Emma Moore who lived in Bedworth.  The interesting thing about silk weaving is that the industry crashed in 1860 after employing 45% of Coventry’s population.  Thousands left the area because of unemployment but it was a young master weaver called Thomas Stevens who set up his own factory producing bookmarks, cards, badges etc.  The bookmarks first appeared in August 1862.

old rocking chair

Whatever the story behind the bookmark the people who bought it have long gone but it is funny how some things stay in the family and are never discarded.  I will have to make sure it doesn’t disappear into a book for another forty years.

16 thoughts on “S is for Stevengraphs Bookmarks

  1. What a nice story, so good you found the bookmark to go with it. I love the poem, too. Poems about mothers must have been very popular. My mother memorized a poem in school (she was born in 1911) and taught it to me when I was little. “Somebody’s Mother” was about a young boy taking the time to help an elderly lady across a busy street.

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  2. What a lovely bookmark, and how wonderful you were able to discover the history of it’s making. And I’m sure it’s happy to be out in the light of day again after such a long hideaway.

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  3. Linda, i love the bookmark and the poem. The Old Arm Chair really resonated with me. With my serious health issues, I’ve been rather dependent on my chair and for periods when I’ve had serious chest infections, I’ve become stuck in my chair unable to get out having violent coughing fits while the NDIS sat on my request for an electronic recliner and after a year, declined it. A week later, a friend rang me and told me about an electric recliner on free cycle around the corner and this lovely couple dropped the chair round and set it up in the lounge room. Absolute beautiful angels who really warmed my heart after being so let down by the NDIS, especially when I had the funding available.
    Our lounge suite was worn out and we hadn’t been able to find a replacement. Then I was walking back home with the dog and spotted, 2 x 2 seater and 2 x recliners all leather beside the road. I sped home and alerted Geoff and sat on them until he got there with the car. We were stoked.
    I breastfed both my children in our original chair and read to them. All those special moments.
    Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve looked up some of her other poems and they’re great too.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

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  4. Reblogged this on Beyond the Flow and commented:
    I really loved Linda’s post about a special bookmark which passed down through her family. I also loved the poem: The Old Armchair by Eliza Cook. It brought back very precious memories of when our children were young.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

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