Old scrapbooks tended to have photos mounted with photomounting corners and perhaps notations of who was in a photo or where and when it was taken. They often included bits of memorabilia like newspaper clippings, letters, etc. An early known American scrapbooker and inventor of scrapbooking supplies was Mark Twain. Twain carried scrapbooks on his travels as he collected souvenirs, clippings and pictures.
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In addition to the collection of photographs, tickets, postcards, and other memorabilia, journaling is often a principal element in modern scrapbooks. Journaling is text that describes, explains, or accents the photographs on a scrapbook page. Contemporary journaling can take many forms. It can be reflective and story-like, take a reportive tone, or simply be a list of words. Journaling may also include song lyrics, quotations, and poems. The value of journaling lies in the fact that it provides an account of family histories that may otherwise not be preserved.
The following photographs show some of the pages from a "Memorial of Friendship" scrapbook kept by Anne Wagner, a British woman, between 1795 and 1834. She belonged to the same social circle as the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Anne Wagner's scrapbook includes pages she created, as well as contributions from friends and relatives. The scrapbook contains handwritten poems, notes left by friends and relatives, and decoupage ephemera like locks of hair, decorative paper clippings, ribbons, and detailed watercolour sketches.
Page trimmers allow you to cut paper cleanly and precisely. Use a page trimmer when you need to cut cardstock, patterned paper, or pictures to fit neatly into your album. You can save time by stacking multiple pages in your trimmer and cutting them simultaneously. For smaller cutting tasks, use a sturdy pair of scissors. Long-bladed scissors are helpful for quick cutting jobs that require flexibility, such as cutting out letters or tricky shapes. Scissors are also handy for cutting scrapbook embellishments like ribbons and stamps.
Basic materials include background papers (including printed and cardstock paper), photo corner mounts (or other means of mounting photos such as adhesive dots, photo mounting tape, or acid-free glue), scissors, a paper trimmer or cutting tool, art pens, archival pens for journaling, and mounting glues (like thermo-tac). More elaborate designs require more specialized tools such as die cut templates, rubber stamps, craft punches, stencils, inking tools, eyelet setters, heat embossing tools and personal die cut machines. A lot of time people who enjoy scrapbooking will create their own background papers by using the tools mentioned along with "fancy" textured scissors.
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In the 15th century, commonplace books, popular in England, emerged as a way to compile information that included recipes, quotations, letters, poems and more. Each commonplace book was unique to its creator's particular interests. Friendship albums became popular in the 16th century. These albums were used much like modern day yearbooks, where friends or patrons would enter their names, titles and short texts or illustrations at the request of the album's owner. These albums were often created as souvenirs of European tours and would contain local memorabilia including coats of arms or works of art commissioned by local artisans. Starting in 1570, it became fashionable to incorporate colored plates depicting popular scenes such as Venetian costumes or Carnival scenes. These provided affordable options as compared to original works and, as such, these plates were not sold to commemorate or document a specific event, but specifically as embellishments for albums. In 1775, James Granger published a history of England with several blank pages at the end of the book. The pages were designed to allow the book's owner to personalize the book with his own memorabilia. The practice of pasting engravings, lithographs and other illustrations into books, or even taking the books apart, inserting new matter, and rebinding them, became known as extra-illustrating or grangerizing. Additionally, friendship albums and school yearbooks afforded girls in the 18th and 19th centuries an outlet through which to share their literary skills, and allowed girls an opportunity to document their own personalized historical record previously not readily available to them.