Friday, July 30, 2010

Bookplates and Provenance I

This will be the first of many posts dedicated to bookplates from the Center's collection of early printed books. Since the majority of our rare books survive in original or at least very old bindings, they have retained many of the marks of provenance lost in many books less-than-carefully rebound during the last two centuries. Enjoy!

Sir John Hayward, The first part of the life and raigne of King Henrie the IIII
Imprinted at London : By Iohn Wolfe [i.e. Marmaduke Parsons] and and [sic] are to be solde at his shop in Popes head Alley, neere to the Exchange., 1599. [i.e. 1638?].
[8], 149, [3] p. ; 18 cm.
Renaissance Center copy is in modern half calf and gray-green cloth; armorial bookplate of Granville C. Cuningham on front pastedown, with his signature and date "1903" on verso of front free endpaper.

Belonging to Granville C[arlyle] Cuningham (1847-1927), engineer and author of Bacon's Secrets Disclosed in Contemporary Books (1911), this armorial bookplate features the arms of the Cunningham family of Stewarton, East Ayrshire, Scotland. The arms feature a "shakefork" (basically a pitchfork), an object that alludes to a 12th-century local legend of Stewarton, one involving Macbeth, King Malcolm, and a pile of hay. Legend has it that after Macbeth (Mac Bethad) murdered King Duncan (Donnchad), the dead king's son Malcolm (Máel Coluim) attempted to escape assassination and flee into England. But by the time he reached the outskirts of Stewarton, Macbeth and his agents had caught up to him and were closing in fast on his position. In a last ditch attempt to evade his pursuers, Malcolm implored a local farmer, currently in the middle of hay-forking, to help him hide. "Over, fork over!" Malcolm yelled, demanding the farmer to cover him with hay. While its potential for success seemed unlikely, the plan appeared to work. By the time Macbeth appeared on the scene, Malcolm was nowhere to be found; rather than finding his enemy, he found a farmer and his hay. So the assassins moved on, Malcolm emerged from the hay, and the King of Scotland kept his life. In recompense for the deed, Malcolm apparently awarded the farmer with the "Thane of Cunningham," thereby creating the Cunningham family of Scotland.

Robert Ferguson, An Enquiry into, and detection of the barbarous murther of the Late Earl of Essex
London : s.n.], Anno 1684.
Wing (CD-ROM, 1996) F737
Renaissance Center copy is in later half brown morocco and green cloth; bookplate of William Minet on front pastedown.

William Minet (1851-c.1927?) came from a long line of French Huguenots who immigrated to England in the late seventeenth century. In the wake of the Edict of Nantes' revocation (the edict had granted full legal rights to French Protestants since 1598), William's ancestor Isaac Minet fled to England, where he opened a perfume shop in London with his brothers. Around the middle of the eighteenth century Isaac's grandson Hugh would purchase substantial lands near Lambeth, an area which in the nineteenth century would be developed for suburban housing. William donated a portion of these lands (known as Myatt's Fields) to the City of London in 1889, and a year later opened the Minet Public Library, founded in honor of his recently departed wife. Minet edited, with the assistance of his wife Susan, a number of church registers for the Huguenot Society of London.

His bookplate features the Minet family crest (a wing erect with three bars), a memento mori, the motto "Life beyond life," and the true signs of a learned man, a bookshelf and cat. The motto may refer to the book entitled Life Beyond Life: A Study of Immortality (1907) by Charles Lewis Slattery, D.D.

Desiderius Erasmus, The Praise of Folly, ed. P.S. Allen (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913)

This nice slip-case edition of the great humanist work boasts interesting early twentieth-century Oxford provenance related to the history of medicine. The book is a presentation copy given by William Osler (then Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford) to D'Arcy Power (a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons). Power (1855-1941) was a noted surgeon and medical historian who wrote numerous biographical works on English physicians, most notably William Harvey. For his distinguished service in military field hospitals during World War I Power was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. The better known William Osler (1849-1919) is most famous for inventing the concept of medical residency. An Ontario native, Osler attended the Toronto School of Medicine and McGill University, where he would become a professor in 1874. During the remainder of his career Osler worked at the University of Pennsylvania (1884-1889), the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (1889-1905), and at Oxford University (1905-1919). Osler always stressed the necessity of experiential learning in the instruction of medicine.

D'Arcy Power's bookplate was made by an "EED" in 1908, and features the D'Arcy family motto: "one god, one king." An inscription on the front free endpaper records the exchange of the book on January 12, 1914.

A note pasted-in between the front free-endpaper and the engraving of Erasmus further documents the presentation of the book.

Having addressed his friend with "Dear Power," Osler notes that the Clarendon Praise of Folly was "edited at [his] suggestion by Mrs. P.S. Allen." Evidently at this point in his career (he had just turned 64 when this note was written) Osler was so influential at Oxford that the humanities as well as the sciences demanded his expertise. Professor Joseph L. Black of the UMass English department generously donated this book to the Center.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Renaissance Artist's Copy of Vitruvius

Vitruvius, Pollio, De architectura libri decem
[Lyon] : Apud Ioan. Tornaesium, typogr. reg. Lugd., MDLXXXVI [1586].
[16], 460, [36] p., [1] folded leaf of plates : ill., port. ; 24 cm. (4to)
Renaissance Center copy is in contemporary (?) limp vellum; ms. annotations throughout.

Probably the book in our collection most heavily annotated by a contemporary reader, this sixteenth-century edition of the Roman engineer Vitruvius' landmark architectural work was likely owned by a trained artist. While the extensive marginal notes running through the entire volume demonstrate the owner's readerly labors and unquestionable interest in the text, numerous ink sketches--many illustrating content from the printed work--suggest the owner's formal training in artistic techniques.

It appears that most of the marginal drawings hold a direct relationship with adjacent chunks of printed text. As such, the illustrations could have served as mnemonic or reference devices, enabling the reader to quickly navigate the text by finding the corresponding illustration in the margins. On the other hand, this could have been the property of a student who transformed word into image as an exercise of some kind.
In the image above, one can see a drawing of a figure worshipping a vase; the corresponding text describes the Ancient Egyptian practice of storing sacred water in a “hydria” for safekeeping and worship in a temple. The last line of that paragraph, roughly translated, reads: “then laying down on the earth with hands raised to the heavens, they give thanks for divine benevolence.” And this is exactly what the illustration portrays. Considering the handwritten marking of the passage in addition to the illustration, it seems likely the owner accorded great importance to this part of the work. And if the illustrations do in fact serve a reference function of some kind, then they hold a practical role as a means of marking off the most important passages in a book filled with important passages.

The relation of the second image to its corresponding text is less direct than in my first example. You can see a drawing of four women looking into a mirror, complete with a reflection and lines indicating their field of vision. The corresponding text briefly describes the reflective properties of mirrors, noting, “no mirrors reflect fixed images.” The passage concludes with a bit of Senecan wisdom explaining how mirrors can benefit the beautiful, the ugly, the young, and the old alike. Nowhere in the passage is there any description of women looking in a mirror, but it is possible that the drawing reflects Seneca’s idea that “the young are admonished in the flower of age,” one of sententiae listed at the end of the paragraph. The drawing may also reflect the earlier sentence on the mirror’s inability to reflect fixed images, since the illustrated reflection doesn’t quite match up with the figures.

Some of the illustrations demonstrate the act of reading the text. In the above image, the eye of the reader/artist has digested, transformed, and visualized the words read on the page, physically recreating the architectural concept previously existing only in the abstract language of the text.

Here the book's owner has marked an important passage with the manicule (Latin for "little hand"), a device similar in function to the "nota bene" or "florigelum," i.e. one used to indicate quotable or important sections of a book. But unlike most of the crudely drawn manicules of the period, this one shows signs of an artist's touch; the graceful posture of the hand almost resembles Adam's in the famous painting of the Creation adorning the Sistine Chapel.

Here are a few more illustrations from the book:

Early modern sunbathing?

Is this man hiding? ducking? crawling?

larger image 

This image of Jupiter preparing to hurl lightning from the heavens probably corresponds to Vitruvius' discussion of "simulacra deorum" in the adjacent printed text.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Browne 1625 Almanac with Contemporary Annotations

notes for March (sig.A7r)
Browne, Daniel, fl. 1614-1631.
Browne, 1625 : A new almanacke and prognostication for the yeere of our Lord God 1625 : being the first from the bissextile : with briefe tables of the foure termes, and their returnes / composed and properly referred to the longitude and latitude of the pole artick of the famous Citty of London, and may serue generally for the most part of Greate-Britaine ; by Daniel Browne, vvell-vviller to the mathemat.
[London] : Printed for the Company of Stationers, [1625].
[48] p. : ill. ; 15 cm.
STC (2nd ed.) 421.10
Renaissance Center copy is in later (19th-century?) dark blue straight-grain morocco (lacks leaves A2, A6, B3, and ²A6-8); extensive ms. notes in the blank spaces for each month.
Surviving Copies: Seven (MCRS, BL, Lambeth Palace, Bodleian, Folger, Newberry, American Antiquarian Society)

In early modern England almanacs served as helpful guides for farmers and merchants, containing information on important dates of the year, market times, lunar/tidal cycles, and the astrological configuration of the human body. The early modern almanac was often published with a “prognostication,” usually marked by a new title page, as can be seen in the text of Browne’s almanac, which contains a list of major historical events, astrological predictions based on season and region, a husbandry guide, and chart for computing interest. The pragmatic information found in almanacs kept them in high demand during the early modern period, and at 2d a piece most people could readily afford these cheap books. Wealthier book buyers often purchased several different almanacs (over a dozen writers produced almanacs in 1625 alone) and bound them together in one volume, creating an personalized compendium of annual information. While their bindings increased the life-expectancy of such collections, since the relevancy of almanacs expired once their designated years had passed, most copies eventually found their way to the rubbish heap.

Those almanacs surviving today typically contain clues as to how they were used. Almanacs have always been a site for “life-writing,” especially brief and inherently ephemeral notes about the intricacies of everyday life. The calendrical sections of almanacs often contained large blank spaces (or were even interleaved with blank paper) for personal annotations, usually brief and rather mundane in nature. The anonymous owner of the Center’s 1625 almanac has written in his own notes in the blank spaces complementing the book’s calendars. For the most part, the notes make reference to the owner’s travels (probably for business) in Cheshire, England, the typical entry reading something like “to chester” or “to Darby to speak with Thos pulford.” There are notes referring to money paid or received (Sept. 9: to moreton. Rec 30 li of mr wrington”), dinner engagements (Jan. 19: “to Choreley dinner with my mr and mris”), sermons attended (Oct. 23: “at warrington mr weytorne preached”), and local deaths (April 22: “mr hollinshed our parson abijt [died] about 8t in the morning”). Although usually traveling alone, at certain points the almanac-owner travels “with my lady.” We can follow him to “knottsford faire” on June 7 and the “Goosetree exercyse” on February 16. All entries appear in the same pragmatic and business-like style, even those for June 16-17, when the writer’s mother died (“my ould mris obijt about 12”; “my ould mris sepult [buried] at night: at knotsford”).

Here is a transcription of the almanac's manuscript notes:

  • MS notes (sig. A5r; “January”): [10] “to Socklich: & to crickitt ther alnight”; [11] “to Shockletch:”; [12] “Re: of Sr Ric Egerton intrest standing x li”; [13] “to Chester: & to Swanlow: cum mr & mrs:”; [14] “to Alderley y neator [sic? does he mean “Alderley the Nether”?]; [19] “to Choreley dinner with my mr & mrs”; [20] “at knottsford Tho: Whitt: & Adair Cragg:”; [24] “at peevor [I think this is referring to the house of a man surnamed “Peevor” rather than a place name, there seem to be a fair amount of “Peevors” in Cheshire] with Sr Rau” [or “Ran,” the two-minim character has a tiddle over it; two manicules after this name]
  • MS notes (sig. A7r; “March”): [3] “to Darby to speak with. Thos pulford”; [4] “to Alderley per vtkinton”; [11] “Gandie ye drover sepult.”; [12] “at Congleton with mr Ouldfeeld ye maior”; [16] “at Goosetree exercyse”; [17] “at Knottsford exercyse”; [26] “with mrs Margaret to chester per tabley & vtkinton”; [29] “to vtkinton:”; [30] “to Alderley per holfed”
  • MS notes (sig. A8r; April): [2] “to congleton:”; [3] “to prestbury christen: et millhouse diner”; [4] to manc [with tiddle over the “c”; I believe this is “Manchester”]; [22] “mr hollinshed our parson abijt about 8t in the morning”; [23] att prestbury: 222: mr hollinshed sepulter”; [25] “the Saboth day mr westrem [?] [……]”; [26: indecipherable]; [28] “mr Shipton: per mr wood vicar de Sandvich [sic] / to chester”
  • MS notes (sig. B1r; May): [8] “to chester cum Ric. deanam: [?]”; [9] “to Rixhom [Wrexham]:”; [11] “the great show for election of knight per shaw [?]; [14] “to chester”; [17] to Alderley: Tho: hollinshed obijt”; [22] “paid the 22d xd to Tho: deanem 2 leges being ixs pd.”; [26] “with the Jury to veiwe the meerts [?] at edge: [?]”; [28] “at Congleton with mr menri & mr Swettenam”; [31] “at Knottsford faire”
  • MS notes (sig. B2r; June): [7] “at knottsford faire:”; [11] “at macc. [Macclesfield] faire my lady came to Alderley”; [14] “with my lady towardes vtkinton: knot: hens [?]”; [16] “my ould mris obijt about 12”; [17] “my ould mris sepult at night: at knotsford”; [20] “goodes prinsde [?]:”; [22] “to Chester per weevor:”
  • MS notes (sig. B4r; August): [2] “at Radbruck & withington”; [7] “Tom: wilinthon [?] bapt:”; [11] “to Chester:”; [13] “to Alderley:”; [18] to Keridge for ix loades sclate [?]”; [20] “to Congleton & mr Swettenham to Sendford”; [25] “to chounber in the frees & to vttkinton:”; [26] “to Barton ther alnight”; [27] “to melyns [?] ffens Shockleach & Chester”; [29] “to Stanney to Barrowe & back to chester”
  • MS notes (sig. B5r; September): [1] “to Alderley: John Ridgway with mee”; [4] “mr: Jne – lendes – hic.”; [6] “the rent”; [9] “to moreton. Rec[eived] 30 li of mr wrington”; [17] “at peevor et wyth: [withington]”; [24] “to chester with my mr.”; [27] “Justic chamblen obijt at Ludlowe”
  • MS notes (sig. B6r; October): [6] “to Alderley from chester:”; [8] “at wyth:”; [14] “with mr Swettenham & coyth:”; [17] “to chester with my mr”; [20] “to Bewsie”; [23] “at warrington mr weytorne preached”; [24] “to Bould”; [25] “to Bewsie”; [26] “to Areley”; [28] “to chester.”; [31] “to Alderley: mr: R: to Tabley”
  • MS notes (sig. B7r; November): [3] “at Somfordes at Congleton & wything:”; [15] “at wyth:”; [28] “at cheadle with mris kelsall”; [29] “at wyth:”
  • MS notes (sig. B8r; December): [2] “at wyth:”; [3] “to chester with mr Shipton”; [10] “to Aldeley [sic] per wyth:”; [12] “at wyth:”; [15] “at wyth:”; [17] “at wyth:”; [18] “ego nupta: mr Baskervyle obijt in the […]ff”; [20] “to Alderley. John Screer his bastard”; [21] “to wyth:”; [22] “to Alderley & buck:”; [23] “to Alderly Ran: moltershedes business”; [24] “to Congleton & to wyth:”; [28] “to Alderly”; [29] “to wyth:”; [30] “to Ridley”; [31] “to chester:”
Here is the digitized version of the majority of this book:


Thursday, July 8, 2010

16th and 17th Century English Book Ownership I

The Bible : translated according to the Ebrew and Greeke, and conferred with the best translations in diuers languages : with most profitable annotations upon all the hard places, and other things of great importance, as may appeare in the epistle to the reader : and also a most profitable concordance for the readie finding out of any thing in the same conteyned.
Imprinted at London : By Christopher Barker, printer to the Queenes most excellent Maiestie, 1586.
[2], 434, [4], 441-554 leaves; [164] p. ; 21 cm.
Signatures: 4⁰. [pi]² A-3H⁸ 3I² *⁴ 3K-3Y⁸ 3Z¹⁰; A-K⁸ L².

One of the Center's copies of the Geneva Bible contains ownership inscriptions from several centuries of different owners. The page shown above features one from a Nicholas Kent, written in 1689. Like many such inscriptions, the note asserts personal ownership of the item and even offers a reward (albeit a paltry one) if the book should be lost. The inscription is written in a mixed hand typical of the period.

Whoosoeuer herein doo Looke.
Nicholas Kent of West Ketford:
Oweth this Booke-1689

If I it Lose and you it finde
I pray be so good and kinde
as for to giue it me againe
and you shall haue neaither
more nor less but Just one
peny to put in purse

Considering the one penny reward, if Kent had ever lost this book (doesn't appear he did), I doubt anyone would have bothered returning it to him--unless of course the finder was amused by the owner's amateur poetry.

Josephus, Flavius, The famous and memorable vvorkes of Iosephus, a man of much honour and learning among the Ievves. Faithfully translated out of the Latin, and French, by Tho. Lodge, Doctor in Physicke
[London] Printed by Humfrey Lownes, for G. Bishop, S. Waterson, and Tho. Adams. 1609.
6 p.l., 811 (i.e. 815), [28] p. 33 cm.
Signatures: 2⁰; [par.]⁶ A-V⁶ 2A-2V⁶ 3A-3F⁶ 3G⁸ 3H-3V⁶ 4A-4H⁶ 4I-4L⁴.
STC 14810

One of the Center's several books formerly owned by early modern women, this copy of Josephus's historical works (Thomas Lodge's English translation of 1609) belonged to a Susan Burnette in the 17th, possibly the early 18th century. On the title page, a modern stamp adjacent to her signature reads: "This edition of this book is rare and has extraordinary features making it valuable." These "extraordinary features" no doubt allude to a little poem Susan wrote on an endpaper, seen in the image below.

Littelle booke when I am gone
tell thy misteris that here was one,
That in hart could bee content
to Liue at her commaundemente

S [paraph] B

I must admit I'm a bit confused with this poem's syntax. What does "one" refer to? The book or Susan? "Liue at her commaundemente" suggests a duteous obligation of some kind, perhaps indicating that Susan served a "misteris" of higher social standing, presumably the person to whom the book would pass in the event of Burnette's death. Maybe Susan wrote this note late in her life, hoping to perpetuate her memory through the acts of inscription and bequeathal. Or, if "one" refers to the book itself, than perhaps Susan simply anthropomorphizes the book as a dutiful servant when she says it "could bee content / to Liue at her commaundemente." Regardless of the reading, the inscription offers an interesting perspective on female book ownership of the period.

Latin manuscript poem in a late 17th-century Horace

Q. Horatii Flacci Opera / interpretatione & notis illustravit Ludovicus Desprez ... jussu Christianissimi Regis.
Londini : Impensis R. Clavel, H. Mortlock, S. Smith & B. Walford, 1699.
1 v. ; 20 cm.
Signatures: pi² A⁸-Y⁸ Z⁴2(A)⁸ 2A⁸-2Q⁸ 2RSTU⁸ 2X⁸-2Y⁸ 3A⁸ 3B⁴-3I⁴2*I² K⁴-O⁴
Wing (2nd ed.) H2765

Entitled "Filia Solis," or "Daughter of the Sun," this anonymous manuscript poem graces the endpapers of a late 17th-century edition of Horace's works in the Center's collection. The poem is written in a neat hand, exhibiting the typical "mixed" (between the older secretary and newer italic) script of the period. Here is a transcription of the poem (translations welcome!):

Filia Solis
Aestuat igne novo,
Et per prata juveneum
Mentem perdita quaeritat.
Non illam thalami pudor arcet,
Non regalii honor [?], nei magni cura mariti:
Optat in formam bovis
Convertier vultus suos,
Et proeditas dicit beatas,
Ioque laudat, non quod Isii alta est,
Sed quod Invencae cornua in fronte erigit.
Si quando miserae copia suppetit,
Brachiis ambit fera colla tauri,
Floresque vernos cornibus illigat,
Oraque jungere quarit ori.
Audaces animos efficiunt tela Cupidinis
Illicitesque gaudet:
Corpus includi & tabulii & faciens, juveneam
Et onnorii pudibundi inalesuadis
Obsequitur volii et procreat lieu nefas! bimembrem
Cecropides juvenis quem perculii fractum man[um?]
Filo resolvens Gnossiae tristia tecta domus.