Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Disappearing: Dictionary Stands

A hand-crafted wooden stand holding the weight of a giant dictionary is a thing of the past. A reference book that stood in the corner of a public library or a place of reverence in a private residence. Thousands of pages filled with words that enabled meaning, now replaced by Google and predictive text.
Swivel dictionary stand

The dictionary and stand in this photo resided in the master bedroom of my grandmother-in-law, about five feet from her chaise lounge

Dictionary cover

Dictionary pages

I suppose an American woman of a certain time and place may have sprawled on the chaise lounge, sipping her sherry, devouring her bootleg copy of Lady Chatterly's Lover, turning a page to discover a peculiarly English word requiring her to swoosh, in her silk pyjamas, to the swivel dictionary stand for illumination.

"Lady Chatterley's Lover" by D.H. Lawrence
Privately printed in Florence, 1928

Have you ever been illuminated by a dictionary?


The Food Hunter said...

I've always wanted one of these me old fashion.

deb at nonna's house said...

I like being able to see and feel the weight of information.

Jan said...

I love your story. I can just see my grandmother relaxing on her chaise lounge, in her silk pajama's smoking a cigarette (she quit in the late 60's; Book in hand, drink next to her reading away. My Grandfather would probably be napping nearby. My Grandfather never used the Chaise. the easy chair in the room was his domain, and the Chaise my Grandmothers. They both however used the dictionary, and would often have me look up words rather than tell me what something meant.