Peter Wiernik (1865-1936)
"Peter (Peretz) Wiernik was born in Vilna on March 6, 1865, to Hirsch Wolf and Sarah Rachel (Milchiger) Wiernik. His father was a maggid (“itinerant preacher”) and his mother was a merchant. As a child, Wiernik attended a heder where he received a basic traditional Jewish education. He studied Talmud privately with tutors until the age of thirteen.
After his bar-mitzvah, Wiernik became an apprentice to a wood carver, and continued his Talmudic studies in the evenings. He began teaching himself secular studies and he remained an autodidact in this area the rest of his life.
Wiernik later moved to Riga, where he spent the next four years apprenticed to a turner. From there he traveled to Kovno and Minsk, and lived with his older brother, a Hasid, in Smorgon (Smorogonie, Wojewodztwo Wilenskie). He worked there as a private tutor.
In 1883 Wiernik returned to his parents, who had since moved to Bialystok, to recover from an ailment. After his recovery, Wiernik worked as a box-maker and studied Talmud with his father. He also developed an interest in Jewish bibliography. In 1884, he met Leon Zolotkoff who helped provide the young man with direction in his secular studies. Wiernik left Russia for the United States, and arrived in Chicago on July 25, 1885.
Peter Wiernik's first years in the United States were difficult. He worked as a peddler, a common laborer, a stevedore, and as a handyman in a warehouse for imported goods at the harbor and in a lumber yard.
In 1886, Wiernik was asked to write a series of articles on life in Chicago for the daily Hebrew newspaper Ha-Yom. The request came from Leon Zolotkoff, who had moved to Saint Petersburg and was on the editorial staff of the paper. A year later, Zolotkoff himself immigrated to the United States. He arrived in Chicago with Sarah Wiernik, Peter's mother, and the two shared a lodging with Wiernik. The whereabouts of Peter's father at this time are unknown. In December of that year, Zolotkoff became the editor of the Jewish Courier and Wiernik set type for the paper. Wiernik also served the Courier as a reporter and a writer, and eventually succeeded Zolotkoff as editor. Wiernik left the newspaper in 1896, and worked at the Western Bottle Supply Company with Bernard Horwich.
On February 1, 1898, at age thirty-three, Wiernik left Chicago for New York. He worked as a writer and typesetter for the English page of the Yiddishes Tageblatt [Jewish Daily News] until 1901. (The Tageblatt was owned by Kasriel Sarasohn and his son-in-law, Leon Kamaiky. It was in the offices of this newspaper that the officers of the Central Relief Committee were first elected, on October 4, 1914.) While at the Tageblatt, Wiernik was commissioned to write some thirty articles for the Jewish Encyclopedia. Most of the articles were biographies of rabbis and scholars.
A major advance in Wiernik's career occurred when he became the chief editor of the Jewish Morning Journal, around the time it was founded in July, 1901, by Jacob Saphirstein. When Saphirstein died in 1914, Wiernik was able to exercise full editorial freedom in the content of his articles. He wrote several pieces for each issue almost until the time of his death, totaling several thousand editorials between 1901 and 1936. Wiernik also wrote for Der Amerikaner [Jewish American], a weekly publication of the Morning Journal. In addition to these ongoing commitments to journalism, Wiernik also published several books during his tenure at the Jewish Morning Journal. His A History of the Jews in America appeared in English in 1912, was translated into Yiddish in 1914, and revised in 1931.
Peter Wiernik's prominence in the Yiddish press led him to become involved in many Jewish organizations, both in the United States and abroad. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (1921-1936). According to Joseph Hirsch (“Peter Wiernik and His Views,” D.H.L., Yeshiva University, 1974, pp. 255-257), Wiernik served as chairman of the Committee on Poland between 1919 and 1921; the Committee on Landsmanschaften between 1921 and 1924; and, in 1929, of the Central Relief Committee, an affiliate organization of the JDC representing Orthodox Jewish interests.
Wiernik was especially involved in Jewish culture and education. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Yeshiva College, and a trustee of the Israel Matz Foundation for the support of indigent Jewish scholars and writers. He was president of Habruta, an open forum on Jewish cultural issues that invited Jewish guests from abroad to speak in New York (1925-1935).
Peter Wiernik died in Brooklyn, N.Y., on February 12, 1936."
The biographical information was copied directly from the Yeshiva University Library websitehttp://libfindaids.yu.edu:
The Independence Hall bookplate was probably used in the 1920's or 30's
The bookplate for Adele and James Gerstley was engraved in 1906.
It is signed W.PB. (William Phillips Barrett) but the actual engraving was done by Charles Bird.*
*Ref. P28 Bookplates Signed W.P.B
NEW BOOKPLATE BOOK
In 2003 Jim Keenan wrote The Art of The Bookplate
In 2003 Don Roberts wrote Rockwell Kent The Art Of The Bookplate
This month (hopefully) I will receive a new book written by Martin Hopkinson .
The title is Exlibris:The Art of The Bookplate
You can preview(and order) the book at this site if you are in the U.K. or from Amazon if you are in the U.S.
Next Week I will scan a few of the mystery bookplates I received yesterday. See you soon.