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.

No comments:

Post a Comment