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18th Century Lady's Monthly Museum Book 18th Century Lady's Monthly Museum Book 18th Century Lady's Monthly Museum Book

Such a reading, however, may not give Annette the credit she deserves. If she led a life in anyway parallel to that of Dorothy Stout, the later owner who would donate the Lady’s Monthly Museum to the Kansas State Historic Costume & Textile Museum, there is, simply put, more to the story. But first, we should probably get an idea of exactly what we’re looking at here. What exactly is this object, dubbed worthy of inclusion in a personal library bearing such an elegant bookplate as Roberta Klendshoj’s?

Perhaps missing a dust jacket but more than likely not, the brown cover (above) of volume 2 of The Lady’s Monthly Museum, or Polite Repository of Amusement and Instruction resembles a marble cake, perhaps symbolic of the fancy desserts within. But the cover bears none of the bold titles that might help to sell it. With a matching barren backside, the only defining characteristics of the book’s outerwear situate themselves on the spine (left)—from the top, we find what is perhaps a sunburst or a flower stamped in gold, then, separated by bars of flourish, the words “Lady’s Museum” stamped against a burnt red background. Below is another sunburst, the number “2” circled by flourishes against a burnt forest green, another sunburst, and one more sunburst just for good measure. The lack of a true cover and the implications of a number’s presence on the spine seem to suggest that the Lady’s Monthly Museum was meant to be, above all else, an object of collection. The number 2 suggests a number 1 before it and future volumes to come.

Some minor vertical wear to the spine exists, where the darker brown has rubbed off to reveal a lighter tone, but it appears to be missing some of the more defined telltale folds of a book that actually spent some time being read. But the sheer number of words per page (something like 300 each) would certainly require the spine’s extended bending in order to properly and actually enjoy all of the book’s textual contents. So it would appear, as is evidenced by the complete lack of marginal and textual markings (despite having likely been in the hands of at least three owners, two of whom we know, from the book’s publication in 1799 to its entry into archives in 2008), that the book was an object to display. Its place was on a shelf between others like it, not in the hands of a reader.

18th Century Lady's Monthly Museum Book 18th Century Lady's Monthly Museum Book 18th Century Lady's Monthly Museum Book

The pages are yellowing at what could be considered a normal to below average rate considering the volume’s 215-year age. On the inside of the front cover, we find one of the only signs of actual ownership within the entire volume—a book plate (above). Etched in black against a background that is noticeably whiter than that of its surrounding pages (probably indicative of the fact that Klendshoj was born some 100 years after the publication of her book) is a lamp with a flame illuminating the surrounding library. A banner reads “Ex Libris,” meaning “from the library of,” and below that in a space set aside for a name, our “Roberta Klendshoj.” This is not handwritten, but rather typed in what would appear to be a fashion only made possible by some professional printing practice—perhaps made to order in bulk. Outside the edges of the bookplate, it would appear that there once existed some sort of small pencil notes, but those have since been erased. They would have appeared in an area generally bearing prices applied by bookstores selling the volumes individually and aftermarket.

There exists no table of contents at the front of the volume, but its final pages (out of 504 total) bear an index of the volume’s essays, anecdotes, and more. The last section in the book actually outlines “directions for placing the engravings,” (above) with page numbers specified for the insertion of the black engravings preceding each month’s prescribed chapter (example, “Angelina 253,” left). It is certainly worth noting that referencing the exact page numbers prescribed in these directions leads to the deliberately precise location of the engravings. But it is unclear whether the publisher who compiled the volume or the Museum’s subscriber placed these engravings. The volume does appear to be a sort of compilation with each chapter signifying a specific month of 1799. The entirety of the journal is black text on white paper, excepting five double-page spreads of colored costume (example below).

Roberta Klendshoj’s copy of volume 2 of the Lady’s Monthly Museum was donated to the Kansas State Historic Costume & Textile Museum in 2008 alongside her copy of volume 3 of the same publication, bearing a matching bookplate. In addition to those publications, at least 4 volumes of the similarly-themed Ladies’ Pocket Magazine from Klenshoj’s collection were donated, though they bear a different bookplate (right). The volumes’ donor, Dorothy Stout of Columbia, MO, even offered Klendshoj’s copy of History of British Costume: from the Earliest Period to the Close of the Eighteenth Century, which is certainly indicative of Klendshoj’s rather pronounced interest in women’s fashion. Could it even be that Klendshoj taught college courses in the subject of women’s fashion as Stout did at Stevens College in Missouri many years after her? Yes, it is possible that Mrs. Klendshoj implemented this text in her work as a teacher, save for the simple fact that there is no significant evidence she ever did work as a teacher. But it is also entirely possible that the Lady’s Monthly Museum was an object purchased solely for its entertainment value and/or reputation.

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