Long live friendship books
Young men first
Autograph books with their sugar-sweet chromos were not, when the story started, the treasured darlings of little girls. On the contrary. Young men were the ones who collected in blank books mottoes and signatures of preferably famous persons.
Such small albums were stored with the baggage when the men started out for study or went as craftsmen on the road. Women were not allowed to do so by that time. They had to herd house and garden.
Companions on the way, fellow students and professors wrote witted maxims in the family register, and the ones who could even painted a small scene. Others bought printed images to be pasted in, or commissioned professionals.
In the 19thcentury the men lost their interest in such albums. Women now took over and they did not just make do with pictures. They often braided small wreaths of hair and sewed them on carefully.
Life is a journey
These books allow very personal insight into the world of the our ancestors, so for example in Franz Stahl's album. A descendant has made some research and penned in pencil at the back of H. Stahl's entry, 1861:
Hermann Stahl, oldest son of Franz-Joseph Stahl, started to work in a bank, escaped home with 17 and went to sea, suffered shipwreck on the French coast, managed to save himself by swimming and wandered back to Germany. He arrived in rags and poor as dirt in Essen, met his later wife by walking in the city, hired in Krupp’s cast steel factory and worked his way up to a head of department.