The Old Scrapbook – St. Albans Edition. A pub history.
A Pub History Mystery - Limited Edition for the UK.
The Old Scrapbook, St Albans edition by Jack Adams is pub history treasure trove to delight anyone interested in history, culture and British pubs. Based on this old archive of pub history from the 1950's, The Old Scrapbook is designed to be an interactive work. The reader can investigate the archive and contribute towards pub history with their own observations and investigations.
The St Albans edition is a signed copy only available to customers in the UK. The book will be sent with a couple of extra goodies also signed by the author
The Old Scrapbook, St Albans edition, by Jack Adams, is a work about pub history. What we love about the subject of history is that it gives some sense of our own identity. We look at the past, see images of people who forged their lives in the face of all the challenges we recognise in our times. Only the culture and technology has changed, the trials of human life have always been the same. Our continuity and the future of our families relies on the foundations of the past. We cannot forget the real value of our shared history and the pub history of the Old Scrapbook is a very real part of that value.
The Old Scrapbook, St Albans edition by Jack Adams, at first glance, looks like a simple and sometimes bland collection of ephemera about pubs. Easily passed over, this archive hides much more than it shows but to unlock its secrets the reader needs to understand how historians look at visual sources.
Jack Adams delivers easy access to these methods whilst providing rich entertainment for the enquiring mind. In delivering a challenge; “Who was the collector?”, he lays out a line of enquiry but only as a guide. If the author seeks anything from his readers then it is critical debate and he specifically wants the reader to search out their questions about pub history and find their solutions.
Why a scrapbook is fascinating history.
I turned around as someone said, “Excuse me…” to see a man holding in his outstretched hands a plastic carrier bag. “I think you are the person to have this.”I had just finished giving a talk on changing cultures and pubs for the Pub History Society’s meeting (2010) at The National Archives in Kew, London.
Always after such talks, people want to come and speak to you. Some have questions, some have ideas, some just want to say hello but now and again someone has something they want to share with you. Maybe a photograph, maybe a book, all sorts of odd things really but this time it was not just something different, it was something special. I knew that the moment I looked into the carrier bag.
Inside was what looked like a jumble of papers. I realised the bag was not so much about ‘carrying’ as ‘keeping’ the contents together. Flakes of paper, torn pages, a spine shorn of backing, no front covers, this was more archaeology than a library item.
I cannot remember what the man said after his introduction and I have forgotten how he came by the old scrapbook. We had a few words and he just turned and left. I took the package home and looked at it.
This scrapbook was a work of passion, that much was obvious. There were no identifying marks of ownership, no declared intent in the ‘collector’s’ purpose, no immediately apparent dating evidence and no obvious sequence or order. This was just a scrapbook filled with cuttings about pubs and pub history related stories. On the top right-hand corner of each page there was a pencilled page number, sometimes inked over, and on a few pages, at the bottom right, in pencil, were to be found the letters’ P.T.O.’.
The last page number was 116 but pages were missing, some pages had one of their items cut out but other parts remained, some pages were loose from the battered spine but most were still attached. All in all, about 90 or so pages survived. This was the source from which The Old
To be able to see this as a priceless archive of sociological and historical knowledge you probably had to be trained, passionate about history and slightly kookie. The man with the bag did not know two of these qualities about me but he definitely spotted third.
Immediately apparent, when looking at the material presented in the scrapbook, is that the culture of the day it presents is post-war Britain. Within the pages, we find several bits of dating evidence which suggest this compilation was not made earlier than 1956. An era in our history which was very different to the world in which we find ourselves today.
This may seem to be not so long ago but it is a world away from our lives in the present and we must be careful that we are not fooled by such a small passage of years into missing the vast sociological distance. Our discovery here of another time, another culture and stories forgotten is what makes the scrapbook interesting. What turns ‘interesting’ into ‘fascinating’ is depth. The surface of a pond with all its ripples and reflections is interesting but when you start to consider what lays beyond and behind the surface, that’s when fascination strikes you.
On the surface our scrapbook is interesting but once you start to reach beyond that surface into the depths lurking behind every part of it, once you start to look at the wholeand begin to discover the social ecology of memory layered into every page, that is when you translate interest into fascination. To reach beyond the surface you need to be able to ask penetrating questions. The most fascinating question once we reach beyond the surface of the scrapbook is who exactly was the collector? That is our history mystery.
Our scrapbook and I say ‘ours’ because in buying this book you have made it part of your own history, presents us with challenges we do not commonly find in our day to day lives. If we can find enigma, if we can find intrigue and if we can find pleasure and enjoyment in working together to recover as much of this story as is possible then are we not cementing the bonds of our common humanity?
This approach aims to create a book about a subject in which you do much more than read and put on a shelf. This is a book which is interactive and dynamic as a history project and in which you can become involved at whatever level you chose. There is no limit on approach and there is no requirement for anything other than your chosen level of participation. You can be an historian or a sociologist, you can be an amateur or a professional, you can be a lord of the realm or a road sweeper, in this work such distinctions are brushed aside and we all work together as common people. This is a shared work in which there are no hierarchies other than your insight.
The Old Scrapbook, St Albans edition by Jack Adams