Forget Me Not (1831)

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Introduction

Forget Me Not by Ackermann was an annual anthology of short literary works that was published in 1831. The book  was composed of different accounts, stories and more all from various artists in the early 19th century. The green covered annual was conserved using signatures that guard the Japanese paper. Japanese paper was used to protect the spine.

History

The idea of an annual was a new one that was unseen before in England. Although Ackermann had taken inspiration from works in Germany, Juvenile Forget Me Not was the first literary annual in English. The demographic targeted by the annual was primarily female readers. In the annual was a historical review of the past year, as well as the latest census. It also included a family tree of the British royal family as well as poetry and artworks.

The Author

Rudolph Ackermann was primarily a designer. Born into a working class family in Stollberg, which is now a part of Germany, Ackermann was educated up until university. Due to financial constraints, he was unable to further his education which forced him to became a saddler, following in his father’s path. Making saddles for a living did not satisfy Ackermann. He wanted to apply his design skills to something more ambitious. He wanted to make money, like any creative, to invest back into his passions. At 18 years old, Ackermann built himself up by working as a carriage designer, which lead him to big cities like Switzerland, London and France. He found success, designing carriages for important figures such as the Lord Mayor of Dublin and the first president of the United States, George Washington. Finding wealth and success allowed Ackermann to totally focus on his pure interests. His journey lead to the opening of a print shop, where he sold prints, books and art supplies. He also established a drawing school in London. Ackermann’s lifelong passion for designing lead to his overall success, and his business exploded. The next step for him was to commission his own work.

Ackermann’s expertise in design showed in his prints. He became well-known for conceiving the British periodical Repository of arts, literature, commerce, manufactures, fashions and politics. This periodical was a very mainstream cultural magazine back in the 1800’s and had a substantial influence on fashion, literature and architecture in Britain. It was comprised of illustrations, many of which were his own drawings. Think of it as the originator of the big, lavish, colorful fashion magazines that we see today. The illustrations covered important fashion trends during the time, famous locations, and also portraits of public figures and celebrities. Ackerman’s Repository ran for 20 years, leaving behind a total of 1500 prints. Becoming known for his lavish work, Ackermann turned the medium of a book into an artistic practice. Through it, he was able to create what he loved. Forget Me Not, another one of Ackermann’s creations, is the object we are describing. It is the first English literary annual to have ever been made. The annual is heavily decorated, engraved, and filled with creative content and is completely dedicated to aesthetics. It was popular as a gift for the holidays, and the tradition was kept alive for half a century.

Ackermann was successful in all his ventures, and he never stopped creating. His ambitions grew into other projects. He patented a method of waterproof paper rendering, and he established an entire factory to make it happen. He also patented a geometric technique that solved wheel problems in vehicles. In retrospect, Ackermann’s legacy is extremely vibrant and it spreads wide. He was a creator, an artist, an inventor, and a businessman. He never stopped working, eventually meeting his demise due to his work ethic. His health broke down at 70 years old, and Ackermann suffered a stroke that paralyzed him. He closed his magazine and died in London, 1834. His influence lasted decades after his death.

Genre

The fact that this was the first English annual is incredibly important to highlight. This idea of an annual and accumulating the different works had opened up a whole new market. This innovative market presented the new, prevalent literary works.

Firstly, we can unpack the meaning of genre which is defined by the dictionary to be “a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique”. This is fairly straightforward and we can see the way that this genre had changed the way that literary works functioned. As scholar pay attention to genres in detail they tend to unknowingly dismiss them. This recuperation of a genre opens up academic works and different holes in knowledge. These works had aimed to define this genre as it focused on the cultural aspects of the text. These literary annuals, taking place around a late romantic and victorian era highlighted value for the works and a way to take advantage of the market. They were a symbol of love, and endearment and held great substance. A woman carrying such a book would be perceived as quite educated and of a conventional sign of propriety. The “lady” title would be one attributed to a woman who exhibited the text in her drawing room.

To understanding the way that the genre has established itself it is important to consider the textual information. These have allowed scholars to examine the annual books and interpret a structure of the works. By following that same structure, they carry along the genre and keep it alive. This worked well in this case, as the field was quite small. Ackermann brought forward his ideas from Germany and worked in England to combine aspects that had already been inherent in the market. This notion of his own heritage and the British patriotism that was growing encouraged him to start the annual works. He hired many different skilled individuals to bound and print the annual books in a building he owned. This made him the very first to possess and control a lithography press. This added onto to his experience and his skill set continued to grow. He earned a high reputation and this eventually helped with his idea. Although there had been other annuals that came along and may have even sold more copies, they had never held the same representation and class. Ackermann uplifted properties of printing to the art form instead of downgrading publishing work to men who worked in the field of crafts. His remarkable taste patented class distinctions in England.

Tracing back this genre opens up an understanding of new insights on the publishing history that took place in the 19th century, a time where these annuals were at their uttermost popularity. This whole new niche had opened up, welcoming many literary works and conserved for the development of popular culture. The works are even being digitized and we can see how important they still are and how their conservation is being sought out for.

Bindings

Juvenile Forget Me Not has an embossed title and has gilted edges and measures 6.5 inches by 4 inches. The 1831 volume was bound in Arabesque morocco, although there have been variations, most in hardback. The original binder’s ticket of ‘F. Westly’ or Francis Westley can be found within the British Museum copy of Juvenile Forget Me Not. The slighty plain appearence of the cover alludes to its purpose of a practical children’s literary annual, but the well-done oranametation that is there, especillay on the spine, makes it stand out.

Engravings

This piece amongst all the other annual works was very significant in its time as it established a trend of production, resulting in a publishing phenomenon. Alongside the book were engravings different engravings that commemorated each month of the year. These engravings were kept together in a pocket. However, the book itself did include a few illustrations amongst the text. Ackerman himself commissioned the twelve engravings and consequently gathered workers’ texts to complement it. Traditionally speaking, writers had considered themselves to be essential to the imaginative process. Ackermann reversed this methodology and this resulted in a spark of strong discourse among the literary community.

 

References

Hilton, Sara. “Juvenile forget me not”. University Libraries digital collections. http://bit.ly/2f1ZDS8

Harris, Katherine. “An Edition from the Poetess Archive”. Miami University at Ohio. 2007. http://www.orgs.miamioh.edu/anthologies/fmn/Frame_1.htm

Hogg, James. “Contributions to Annuals and Gift-books”. Edinburgh University Press, 2006. http://bit.ly/2eeGAlZ

Wikipedia. “Forget-Me-Not (annual). 2016. http://bit.ly/2fFqffy

Low, Sampson, “The Publishers’ Circular and booksellers’ record of British and foreign literature”. 1837. http://bit.ly/2eWraan

Warne, Vanessa. “Forget me not: the rise of the British literary annual”. Review 19. 2016. http://bit.ly/2eoP1hZ

Link to similar text, Easy Rhymes For Children: https://wordpress.com/post/printcultureonline.wordpress.com/181

Written by: Lina, Adam and Luke

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