History, grad school, and gravestones!
Any chance that the "of" is actually an "et"--that is, a rudimentary ampersand? That would make more sense in context, and if it is an "of," the stonecutter produced that "f" very differently from the "f" above it. (Of course, if it's an "et," the "t" curves the opposite direction from the curve of the "t" below it--but given that ampersands are fundamentally stylized "et"s, that doesn't seem so implausible.)
You're right. It's an ampersand. Typo! Fixed now. Thanks for spotting it.
I wonder how to read the "A. Eleven" bit. Did that "A" start out to be an AE and then morph into a stray letter; or was the carver in a sense merging it with the capital E of Eleven into an AEleven; or maybe it was just a screwup.(And I adore the name and spelling of izbeL. It's a perfect screen name for a modern twelve year old.)—RJO
I wondered about that, too. It seems possible that it was an attempt at AEleven. Since it is apparent that this carver was not the most literate person in New England, he may have noticed that the AE is often used in words having to do with age and tried to duplicate it. Or, perhaps, he started to write "Aleven" and just didn't scratch out the A.It's bizarre that he bothered to spell out "eleven/aeleuen" at all — how often do you see the numbers spelled out? You'd think he'd go for the easier numerals, especially when he seems so uncomfortable with writing.
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