Before various technologies increased book production capabilities, the creation of even a single book was labor-intensive. Minuscule supply, mixed with a healthy demand, meant books were among the most valuable items someone could possess during the Middle Ages and certainly before.
As such, the lucky soul fortunate enough to own a book did what they could to deter its theft, which might have included writing a “book curse” or later a “book rhyme” on the book’s inside cover, in the vein of:
Before, this book, you take
and for all of goodness sake,
be nice, think twice.
The Golden Rule is easy advice.
How would you feel
for someone to steal
from you, this book,
for their little nook?
These appeals to a potential thief’s presumed superstitions or morals eventually gave way to Ex-Libris, better known as the “book plate”. Affixed inside a book indicating to whom it belonged, a book plate might be the ornate work of an artist, much like a crest or coat of arms, or it simply could detail the owner’s name and location. Even though today’s mass production economy has mostly negated the need to protect (or steal!) a book, we still find the charm in such anachronisms and proudly provide First Light’s original book plate to our lifetime First Light Years members.