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Friday, 14 August 2015

Mason's Hygienic Library, Puckle Street, 1960s



Every so often a relic of of a subscription library turns up, in this case a novel from Mason's Hygienic Library, or Mason's Book Club as one of its stamps depicts.  Lorraine Rogers wrote an account of her mother's experiences in the circulating library at 45 The Crescent Ascot Vale which she called "Threepence a Book", which was the going rate in the 1940s.  By the 1960s Mason's was charging eightpence a book, as their schedule shows.


Preparation of the books to go on the shelf would have kept a librarian very busy between borrowers.  The dustjacket was removed and cut down, the front illustration pasted onto the front cover of the book and the blurb, which described the contents, pasted inside the book.  A white pen was used on this book to write C  ROM on the spine, indicating that the books were shelved by the initial letter of the author's surnames in sections - in this case ROM for Romance section. 

Two labels were pasted onto the book, the schedule of fees shown above on the inside cover, and an ownership label on the outside back cover, which declared "All Books Sterilized", and borrowers should "Choose your Author as you would a friend".  

In addition to the two labels were a further four separate stamps, one of which was a large one into which the borrowing dates were stamped with a further date stamp.  When the book was taken out of circulation, a Cancelled stamp was added. 

The Elusive Quest was published in 1965.  The dates stamped to indicate the return date run from 1965 to 1969.  It was most likely taken out of circulation after that, as there was still room for further stamps, perhaps indicating a declining interest.  Considering how poorly constructed a romance it is, it is a wonder it last that long on the shelves. 

You can see the rest of the stamps on the Time Travellers website.