July 25, 2010

I Still Love the Original Meaning of "Bookmark"

I just did a Google search on "bookmarks."  And suddenly before me, on the search results,  were pages and pages of  links in which  people were asking questions or giving information about "bookmarking" on their computers or the internet. You know, as in "Remember to bookmark our site", etc. 

Not exactly the kind of "bookmarks" I was searching for.  I think my age is showing!  I was referring to the kind of bookmarks I received when I was a kid in Sunday School or VBS.   I received them for perfect attendance or for memorizing the day's Bible verse.

I remember when I was in third grade, I received a bookmark from the irate school librarian after she discovered I had "dog eared" one of  her library books.  Up until then, I had not known there was anything wrong with that.  But I promise you that I have never turned down the corner of a page in any book since then!

When I lived in Indonesia, a native Indonesian sold me some bookmarks he had made from the bark of trees.  Then there are the bookmarks I have all over my house that I have acquired one way or another.

Of course, I can never find one of those bookmarks when I need one.  So then I resort to using an old envelope,  a store receipt, or even a tissue from the Puff box!  Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, excepting it's kind of  like resorting to chewing shoe leather when I could really have tender steak!

Anyway, back to my Google search for "bookmarks".  Looking carefully,  I did find a few sites that talked about the history of bookmarks--yes, the kind I was searching for!  And they actually do have a history!

I learned, for instance, that people realized early on that they needed something to mark the place in books. Books long ago were scarce and very valuable.  Their spines could be injured if they were put face down.  And already back then, it was a "no-no" to crease  the corners.  (In third grade, I probably thought the librarian had lived "back then!")

One of the first references of the use of bookmarks goes back to 1584.  Christopher Barker gave Queen Elizabeth I a fringed silk bookmarker. Then in the 1700's, books were made with narrow silk ribbons bound into the spine of the books that the reader would tuck in the page to be marked.  My family's very old family Bible has such a silk marker.

And throughout the years, bookmarks have been made of paper, leather, ribbon, silk, linen, satin, plastic, cooper, gold, pewter, brass, glass beads, wood, ivory, bone, papyrus, cardboard, bark, and animal skins.  Maybe you can think of more to add to this list.

I still love the original meaning of "bookmark."  I love books, and I love to read! And they are nice little rewards to give to children who, hopefully, also are learning to love books and love reading.

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