Bad spelling is a handicap to men who select business as their career.

One of the pleasures of buying used books is the surprise you sometimes get when you find something inside that’s been left behind by a previous owner.  I’ve found money ($1 woot!), a 2 f. museum ticket stamped 23 Mai 192x inside an old Baedecker’s Paris and Its Environs and, far more commonly, heart-felt dedications.

My favorite dedication to date was found in a book called Essential Words Complete by Edward L. Bailey. Essential Words Complete is a spelling primer, written to address the “spelling problem”.  It contains “only the commonest words — those which every person should be able to spell correctly.”

According to a stamp on the back cover, by contract, the book sold new for 48 cents and used for 41 cents.

essential words cover essential words back of book

The reason I bought the book was the dedication. It reads:

Sept. 25, 1939
Fred R Trimble
New Florence, Pa.

Given to Fred to improve his spelling by Mother.
Bad spelling is a handicap to men who select business as their career.


essential words dedication

Essential Words Complete has been digitized and is available in the Hathi Trust Digital Library. You can also get a reprint on Amazon for $11.99. Even though it doesn’t seem to be taught in school anymore, as Fred’s mom would tell you, good spelling never goes out of fashion.


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