During the 19th and early 20th centuries, autograph albums were quite popular. These handy little books of blank pages would be passed around amongst friends, who would usually write a little memento, poem (original or quoted), or merely their signature and address. Similar to what modern kids do in yearbooks, but a little more involved. The owner would often carry the book around throughout his or her (usually, her) life, and the album would become a record of this person’s social life.
These are quite enjoyable, and a lot of people collect them not only for that slice of 19th-century sentimentality or amateur poetry, but also for the very real historical and genealogical data they may contain.
The images with this post are from a spectacular such book from 1790s Germany. These are a few of the original paintings (and one calligraphy work) that are in the book, which just measures about 4″ high. Can you imagine painting this well & that small??