Guestbook, volume 2, page 36. 1953. Fontaine Archive.

Deciphering the signatures in the Fontaine guestbooks held in the Fontaine Archive collection is a fun game. Who were these people? Were they important? Or notorious? Are they still alive or are their heirs? Maybe they would like to know where and what their parents were doing in the 1950s in Germany? Fortunately we can cross-check the guestbook entries with a diary entry or letter to see if Virginia wrote or typed out the name. If it is in old German script (Sütterlin), we send a scan to friends who can read the handwriting. If none can, we stare and take guesses, typing varieties of spellings into de.wikipedia, the German Wikipedia. We have uncovered over 400 names using these tactics.

One of the latest finds was the art historian Donald E. Gordon (1931-1984), who was only in his young twenties when he was at the Fontaine’s home in Frankfurt. The name wasn’t hard to read, but figuring out which Don Gordon he was took a bit of research. Eventually, we discovered in his biography that he was in Germany during his early twenties, at the University of Hamburg researching Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. In the guestbook he mentioned it was “good to speak English again” and to be with “art-loving Americans.” From this, we concluded he was studying at an academic art program. On this same page are the signatures of artist Noche Crist (née Maria Nicola Olga Ioan) (1909-2004), self-taught Romanian artist,; the Stuttgart and Wuppertal architect and distant cousin to Virginia, Heinz Rasch (1902-1996),; and an unknown person, Marg Moll. Does anyone recognize this name?