Inside The Charming “Friendship Book” from 1795

This quirky book is filled with mementos and poems that tell show decades of friendship.

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!

Celebrating the birth of Princess Anne. Via/ NYPL Digital Collections
“A faithful friend is the medicine of life.” Via/ NYPL Digital Collections
Behind the rice paper is an inscription from Eliza, almost like a pop-up book with tabs. Via/ NYPL Digital Collections
Collage from 1804. Via/ NYPL Digital Collections
Braid of hair tied with a blue ribbon and inscription by Elizabeth Venables, 1803. Via/ 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
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.”
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!