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This “Friendship Book” from 1795 is Charming Beyond Belief

Wagner lived in Lancashire, England, and was the aunt of poet Felicia Dorothea Browne, and Wagner apparently traveled a bit if her scrapbook is anything to go by. We love that everything from drawings to cut-outs to human hair made the book!

NYPL Digital Collections

Celebrating the birth of Princess Anne. Via/ NYPL Digital Collections

NYPL Digital Collections

“A faithful friend is the medicine of life.” Via/ NYPL Digital Collections

NYPL Digital Collections

Behind the rice paper is an inscription from Eliza, almost like a pop-up book with tabs. Via/ NYPL Digital Collections

NYPL Digital Collections

Collage from 1804. Via/ NYPL Digital Collections

NYPL Digital Collections

Braid of hair tied with a blue ribbon and inscription by Elizabeth Venables, 1803. Via/ NYPL Digital Collections

NYPL Digital Collections

Some of the symbols are quite mysterious. Likely only Wagner knew their true meanings. The infinity symbol with diamond makes frequent appearances throughout the book. Via/ NYPL Digital Collections

NYPL Digital Collections

Lovely poem either by or about Livia. See full transcription below. Via/ NYPL Digital Collections

“Lest Time’s pervading powers should harm
There’s tributes, which with Fancy’s aid
Are wreathed by Life’s endearing charm
The breathings of Affection warm-
Each vivid tint of tender thought
Are here to Sanctuary brought
Safe, since on Friendship’s altar laid.”
NYPL Digital Collections

This wonderful watercolor by Wagner’s friend, Georgina, was one of the last entries in the book and the date “1834” is clearly visible below her signature. Via/ NYPL Digital Collections

The whole book is chock full of wonderful memories and quaint souvenirs of another world in which ladies collected mementos of their cherished friendships and social connections. Part autograph book, part sketchbook, part travelogue, Wagner’s friendship book is a unique artifact from the Georgian era.

Click “Next Page” for a look at charming street photographs from a Victorian spy camera!

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