A Find

How often do good finds appear soon after the deadline for the project that they would have suited? .

This is a travellers’ French phrasebook that was owned by a First World War British soldier, his name, J Faunt, and his regimental number and address, and most importantly the date appearing on the inside front cover, showing that he was using a civilian phrasebook during the last year of the war.

The inkstain fingerprints on the page shown do not unfortunately match the colour of the ink on the inside cover, but one cannot have everything. The important point is that this shows that civilian phrasebooks, with all their inappropriate references to leisure activities, were acquired by and used by soldiers during the conflict. Officers would be more likely to have opportunities to go skating or have specific requirements for the purchase of patisserie, but J Faunt did not rise above the rank of private. However, phrases such as ‘Is that your lowest price?’ and ‘as a precaution’ would have been useful to more or less everyone serving in France.

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