Friday, November 19, 2010

Family Bibles

The Center owns two copies of the “Geneva Bible,” one of the most famous English translations of the scriptures and an enormous influence on Renaissance literature and culture, including the plays of William Shakespeare. As is the case with copies of most old “family” bibles, they contain various examples and genres of manuscript annotation, all of which reflect various social roles of the book. The Bible held an important function for the early modern family (as it has for families in many historical periods), building community through sessions of reading aloud while at the same time guiding the moral and spiritual development of its owners. It also served as an important educational site, especially in the development of literacy; MS annotations consisting of “pen trials” and other forms of handwriting practice found in bibles suggest they were used in this way. The typically extensive and personalized annotation of bibles should also come as no surprise since many households of the time owned only one book, usually a Bible, Book of Common Prayer, or John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments.

The Bible : translated according to the Ebrew and Greeke, and conferred with the best translations in diuers languages [Geneva Bible]. Imprinted at London: By the Deputies of Christopher Barker, printer to the Queenes most excellent Maiestie, 1598. 
[2], 434, [4], 441-554 leaves; [164] p. ; 23 cm. (4to). STC (2nd ed.) 2171   

Renaissance Center copy has the New Testament of the 1599 Barker edition; in later mottled calf, in phase box; births and baptisms of the children of Richard Palmer are recorded on 3I2v and *1v (dated 1627-1638); signature of Edmund Pell (1719) on 3I2v; inscribed on front pastedown: "Geoffrey Palmer bought at Lampert [?] March 1857"; given to the Renaissance Center by William A. Ringler.

These notes, written in English secretary hand, record the births of various members of the Palmer family in the 1620s, including Richard (the father), and his daughters Anne, Jone, and Avelina. I believe that Richard Palmer wrote the entries and crossed out the first record, which is essentially the same as the third (the birth of Anne Palmer), except for its incorrect birth times. But there is the also the possibility Richard wanted his own entry to hold the primary position in the family records. 

The first two entries (for Richard and Anne) read as follows:

Richard Palmer the soone of Jefferie
Palmer was baptised the x daye of Iunne
in the yeare of our Lorde 1572

Anne Palmer the Dautter of Richard
Palmer was borne at Winge the ffifth
daye of September beinge Wedsonda[y]
betwixte one and Twelfe a Cloke at
nighte: 1627    

blank leaf with ms family records

The second leaf continues with seventeenth-century Palmer family records, including the birth (and death) of his son Charles, along with the death and burial of Avelina Palmer. The records also contain the names of two godfathers (Sir Anthony Coolly and Roger Palmer) and a later ownership inscription from an Edmund Pell, dated 1719.

The Bible : translated according to the Ebrew and Greeke, and conferred with the best translations in diuers languages [Geneva Bible]. Imprinted at London : By Christopher Barker, printer to the Queenes most excellent Maiestie, 1586. 
[2], 434, [4], 441-554 leaves; [164] p. ;  21 cm. STC (2nd ed.) 2145.   
See catalog record for detailed local notes. 

Our other copy of the Geneva Bible, published in 1586, probably contains one of the greatest chronological ranges of annotation of any books in the collection."Robert White of Babworth," whose ownership inscription appears several times throughout the book, appears to be one of the bible's earliest owners. On leaf containing the "preface to the Christian reader" (shown above), he has added an inscription in the period's secretary hand: "Who soeuer heare in doe looke Robert White."

This leaf contains a number of additional early inscriptions, including two more by Robert White ("Robert White Bookee" and "Robert White Booke"). Nicholas and Francis Kent, two men who owned the book in the later seventeenth century, have also added their names, as has a Thomas Hemsworth. In a faint ink at the bottom of the leaf one can just make out a record related to his son Robert (I cannot determine if this is a record of birth, baptism, or burial): "Robert hemsworth the sonne of Thomas hemsworth [????] the [??] of marche."

I wrote about these manuscript annotations in an earlier post. It consists of yet another ownership inscription by Nicholas Kent, who has added an amusing piece of doggerel verse relating to the book.


The three images above depict a series of leaves containing Hindson family records dating to the eighteenth century. The manuscript annotations are fairly standard for family records in bibles, being very similar to the seventeenth-century notes related to the Palmer family I transcribed above. The second image contains not only the Hindson family records but also inscriptions from the book's earlier ownership history, including "Robert" in Robert White's hand and a gift inscription related to the Kents: "John Kent Book given by his Uncle Richard Kent who was Buryed ye 14th day of Aprill, Anno Domine 1671." The third image contains more of the Hindson records, including one related to a family business: "Began to work with my father July 12 1766."

This image contains some of the book's latest family records, related to the Dawbarn family in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Written in a number of different hands and inks, the annotations record births, marriages, and deaths of family members from the 1820s to the 1910s, including Robert Hugh McKay Dawbarn, described as a "noted surgeon." 

The final image bears a gift inscription dated 15 July 1849, when a "Miss Robinson of Newark, England" presented the bible to "Charles Dawbarn of Wisbeck, England." The remainder of the inscription describes the bible's special place within several families during its history:

"This Bible the comfort of 'a family' for many generations, now passes from the possession of its last survivor, with the earnest prayer, that its blessings may rest upon many succeeding generations."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bookplates and Provenance II: late 19th-early 20th centuries

Since I am giving a talk next Wednesday at the Center (Reading Room at 4pm on 11/10) on "Bindings and Bookplates" from the collection, I have focused this post on some of the materials I plan to discuss. During the talk I will demonstrate the historical styles and materials used in bookbinding with items from the collection, some of which I will pass around. I also plan on showing digital images of bookplates and labels from the collection representative of different styles and subjects. What follows are several bookplates from the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. 

Nineteenth-Century Circular Style (1897)
Charles I, King of England, Reliquae sacrae Carolinae, or The works of that great monarch and glorious martyr King 
Charles I 
Hague [i.e. London] : Printed by Samuell Browne [i.e. by William DuGard for Francis Eglesfield], 1651.
[16], 276, [6], 268, 10, 149-324 p., [2] leaves of plates (1 folded) :  ill., port. : ;  18 cm. (8vo).
Renaissance Center copy 1 is in contemporary calf (rebacked; front inner hinge cracked); armorial bookplate of Alan Stepney-Gulston (printed in red, with printed date "1897" and place "Y Derwydd"; an additional portrait, of Charles II at age 19, is bound facing p. 231 of the Eikon basilike. 

Demonstrating the typical nineteenth-century "circular style," this bookplate belonged to Alan Stepney-Gulston of Derwydd estate, Carmarthenshire, Wales. Ownership of Derwydd estate has been traced back to 1500, but it is in the eighteenth century when the Stepney-Gulston family (arising from marriages to Sir Thomas Stepney of of Llanelli and Joseph Gulston) anchored its identity there. It seems the estate was in its heyday during the eighteenth century, went into a slow decline thereafter, and was eventually sold in 1998. Nonetheless, Derwydd's nineteenth-century residents had tried to restore the estate to its former splendor. Alan Stepney-Gulston (1844-1919), an avid collector of artifacts and sometime president of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society, refurbished Derwydd and filled it with curious antiquities. Alan was also an accomplished poet, painter, and photographer. The Stepney-Gulston motto—"crescit sub pondere virtus"—commonly translates to "virtue thrives under oppression."

Bookplate as book: Vienna, 1916
Hugo Grotius, De jure belli ac pacis libri tres. Amstelodami : Sumptibus Abrahami à Someren, MDCLXXXIX [1689].
[14], XXXIV, 904, [16], 32, [108] p. :  ill., port. ;  21 cm. (8vo).  
Renaissance Center copy is in contemporary sprinkled calf (hinges partly cracked); bookplate of Oscar Ladner (dated in the plate 1916) on front pastedown

This bookplate adopts the form of an actual book, the title page bearing the typical ex libris information and an "imprint" noting where and when it was produced (Vienna, 1916). The plate belonged to Oscar Leopold Ladner,  an Austrian Jew of Bohemian descent who owned a factory in Vienna. With his wife Alice (depicted in the bookplate's "frontispiece"), he had a son Gerhart, who would become an accomplished twentieth-century art historian and produce important work on papal portraiture. In Vienna, the Ladners were acquaintances of Sigmund Freud and his daughter Anna.

The Lotos Club plate

Thomas De Laune, Tropologia, or, A Key to open scripture metaphors
London : Printed by John Richardson, and John Darby, for Enoch Prosser, at the Rose and Crown in Swithins Alley, at the East-End of the Royal Exchange in Cornhill, MDCLXXXI [1681].
[20], 207, [9], 14 p., 15-16 leaves, 17-328, 76, [12] p. ;  32 cm.   
Renaissance Center is in 19th-century full brown morocco with brown and blue morocco doublures; bookplate of Georgie Briar Slater on verso of front free endpaper; bookplate of the Lotos Club, New York, on front flyleaf; a signature at the top of A2r, dated 1755, with a strip of paper mounted over it, appears to read "John Gweilnap". 
Renaissance Center copy bound with: Benjamin Keach. TroposchÄ“malogia. London : Printed by John Darby, for the author, 1682. 

"In the afternoon they came into a land / in which it seemed always afternoon." The quote is from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "The Lotos Eaters" and serves as the motto for the New York City based "Lotos Club" (1870-present). It is one of the United States' oldest literary clubs and was apparently founded as a place to host and impress visitors from abroad. According to its constitution as cited on the club's website, “the objectives of this institution shall be to promote and develop literature, art, sculpture, music, architecture, journalism, drama, science, education and the learned professions, and to that end to encourage authors, artists, sculptors, architects, journalists, educators, scientists and members of the musical, dramatic, and learned professions in their work, and for these purposes to provide a place of assembly for them and other persons interested in and sympathetic to them, and their objectives, effort and work.” The design of the bookplate itself was clearly influenced by Egyptian art and the aesthetics of the Art Nouveau movement.

Harold Chapin's plate, with harlequin
Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso. In Venetia : Presso i Sessa, MDCIX [1609].
365 (i.e. 265), [5] leaves :  ill. ;  17 cm. (8vo).   
Renaissance Center copy is in contemporary (?) vellum (title page mutilated, removing most of date; date and description of 2L7,8 from Agnelli & Ravegnani); ms. "C.W. Heckethorn" on front; bookplate of Harold Chapin on front free endpaper (with the designer’s initials "S.L.R.") and his signature on front pastedown.

Harold Chapin (1886-1915) was an English stage actor and playwright who worked in London for the majority of his career. His plays were produced in the West End theaters as well as in New York City. He wrote several one-act plays and is best known for his three-act "The New Morality." Tragically Chapin was killed in action during World War I in the service of Britain's Royal Army Medical Corps. His "pictorial style" bookplate features a harlequin, one of the comic descendants of the zanni characters from commedia dell'arte and a fitting image for an actor. Chapin's four-act "Marriage of Columbine" features the typical theatrical trio of Columbine, Pierrot, and Harlequin. 

Ex Libris of Frederick Keel
William Hone, Ancient Mysteries Described: especially the English Miracle Plays 
London : Printed for William Hone, 45, Ludgate Hill, by J. M’Creery, Tooks Court, 1823.   
[2], x, [11]-298, [2] p., [4] leaves of plates (1 folded) :  ill. (1 col.) ;  22 cm.    
Renaissance Center copy is in a binding with a modern calf spine and earlier marbled boards and leather corners (lacks final advertisement leaf); bookplate of Frederick Keel on front pastedown, with his note on front free endpaper: "given to me from grandfather Compton’s library 1909. F.K." 

The German-American baritone singer Frederick James Keel (1874-1954) had a keen interest in the songs and ballads of early modern England. In 1909 he edited Elizabethan Love-Songs (London: Boosey and Company), which he dedicated to his wife. Keel also edited collections of folk songs and wrote his own ballads, including several with nautical themes. His pictorial bookplate exhibits influences of the turn-of-the-twentieth-century Art Nouveau movement. The pastoral scene represented on the plate depicts two young lovers listening to a harper within a picturesque landscape. As in the Chapin bookplate above, artist-book owners often used the iconography of the bookplate to symbolize their chosen artistic vocations.