“as an expression of affection for”

I spent my whole day yesterday at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center in the downtown library. With the cheerful help of the staff I quickly found what I had come for, some materials in the West University Place Collection. Then, since it was pouring rain, I decided to stick around and see if I might find something else to keep me busy. I wound up immersed in the papers of Leopold Meyer, a prominent Houston businessman and philanthropist. Much to my surprise there was a thick file labeled “Rice University and Fondren Library.” Inside was something wonderful.

Mr. Meyer was a lover of rare books and had amassed a large collection of books, letters, and manuscripts. At some point he decided to give much of this collection away and the method he chose was unusual. He gave them to Fondren not as is common”in memory of” friends and relatives who had died but rather “as an expression of affection” for people still living. There are pages and pages of these, with volumes given in honor of George Brown and Norman Hackerman and dozens more:


The effect this had on those so honored was powerful and they responded with beautiful letters of thanks. Here’s a typical one, this from Harry Battlestein:


I nearly wept from the cumulative effect of all these letters and if I’d been in the Woodson instead of the public library I would have. The first thing I did when I got to work today was to see if I could locate any of these volumes. It was almost laughably easy–once you start looking, you find Mr. Meyer’s bookplate all over the rare books collection. Here’s the one he gave in honor of Bob Hope:


And here’s his lovely bookplate:

Leopold Meyer bookplate 049



Extra Bonus: I was really drawn to that bookplate and as I examined it noticed the artist’s name–Furth. Hertha Furth was an Austrian painter and illustrator who lived much of her life in New York. I found her basic biography here. But for something really astonishing, check out this excerpt from a memoir called Ten Dollars in My Pocket: The American Education of a Holocaust Survivor by Elizabeth Welt Trahan.

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11 Responses to “as an expression of affection for”

  1. Helen Toombs says:

    What was the edifice at 1400 Hermann Drive?! Mr Battelstein’s address.

    • 1400 Hermann is a midrise apartment building, now condos. Designed by the Wyatt C. Hedrick firm and opened in 1957. Still standing. Mr. Battelstein must have had an apartment there.

      • Helen Toombs says:

        Got it. Indeed, I knew what’s there now. Had no idea of the building’s true age! Thanks, Marty.

  2. Rachel Dvoretzky says:

    Such stories! And note that Leda is wearing elegant mules.

  3. marmer01 says:

    She was a true style Leda.

  4. joecwhite says:

    From the wikipedia article on Lord Lytton, “Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton PC (25 May 1803 – 18 January 1873), was an English novelist, poet, playwright, and politician. He was immensely popular with the reading public and wrote a stream of bestselling novels which earned him a considerable fortune. He coined the phrases “the great unwashed”, “pursuit of the almighty dollar”, “the pen is mightier than the sword”, “dweller on the threshold”, as well as the well-known opening line “It was a dark and stormy night”.”

  5. francis eugene 'gene' pratt says:

    NO Bulwer-Lytton article is complete without the information contained at

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