Sometimes it is just one person donating an item from their home that they think will help tell a story about the history of our town. Sometimes we find a Hatfield item on eBay and solicit a funder. Sometimes it is a collaborative effort, reflecting the generosity of several people. Like this one.
“The Hadley Chest” by Clair Franklin Luther, published in 1935, first came to the attention of John Nove, a South Deerfield bookbinder, when it was brought to him by Ken Schoen of Schoen Books, also in South Deerfield. The book was part of a group of books needing repair from an estate sale in Amherst.
John, who has previously brought books he’s repairing (that are for sale) to the attention of institutional collections, recognized that this book was of local historical significance. He contacted me, as the curator of the Hatfield Historical Museum, since “Hadley chests” describe a type of joined chest that was made in Western Mass (including Hatfield) in the late 1600s to 1730 or 1740.
John has repaired and/or made protective boxes for a number of books in the Hatfield Historical Museum collection under the CPA-funded Museum Collections Management & Preservation Grant.
Since our collection did not include a copy of this book, we were very interested. Though only one photographed chest listed a Hatfield owner, the author listed many Hatfield women who received chests as well as discussed likely Hatfield builders of the chests.
What happened next was – Ken agreed to sell the book (with a damaged spine) at a VERY reasonable price; John volunteered to repair the spine at no cost; and an anonymous donor volunteered to fund the purchase. The book is numbered 131 out of the 525 copies printed 85 years ago.
The book now resides in the collection of the Hatfield Historical Museum, where it can be enjoyed by all! Thanks to all three – John, Ken and our anonymous donor.
In addition to running Grey Seal Bindery, John Nove is Chair of the Deerfield Historical Commission. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ken Schoen, owner of Schoen Books, https://schoenbooks.com/, is a former Deerfield Historical Commission member.