Friday, March 25, 2011

Customizing Camden III

This will be the third and final post on "Customizing Camden," a multi-part series of entries I began three weeks ago that presents images and commentary on the Center's collection of annotated books written by the antiquary William Camden (1551-1623). Today I will focus on two books formerly owned by major figures in early modern England, the London stationer Humphrey Robinson and the Professor of Music at Oxford from 1661-1682, Edward Lowe. 

William Camden, Annales rerum Anglicarum et Hibernicarum regnante Elizabetha. Lug. Batauorum [Leiden]: Ex officina Elzeviriana, MDCXXV [1625]. [16], XVI, 855, [41] p. :  port. ;  18 cm. (8vo). 

Renaissance Center copy is in contemporary calf (lacks portrait); in phase box; inscription on front free endpaper: "Ex dono charissimi amici mri Humphredi Robinson Stationarij Londinensis. a. d. 1627. R.E.", and ms. initials "R.E." on title page; armorial bookplate of J. W & O. Farrer and stamp of the University of Illinois Library on front pastedown; bookseller’s description and invoice (of C.A. Stonehill) to William A. Ringler, Jr., laid in.

First published in 1615, Camden's Annales was the first biography of Queen Elizabeth I. This copy of the 1625 Elzevir edition contains not only the work's first three parts (completed in 1615), but also its fourth (completed in 1617), which Camden instructed his friend Pierre Dupuy of Leiden to publish only after his death (Herendeen, ODNB).

The book was formerly owned by "J.W. and O Ferrer," whose "die-and-sinker style" bookplate (popular in the nineteenth century) sits alongside the ink stamps of the University of Illinois (at Urbana-Champaign) library. 

While the bookplate and stamps may strike one as rather typical marks of provenance in antiquarian books, this gift inscription (on the front free endpaper) is a rarer bird, documenting the book's association with Humphrey Robinson (d. 1670), one of seventeenth-century London's most important and prolific bookseller-publishers. 

The inscription reads:

Ex dono charissimi amici Mri Hum=
phredi Robinson Stationarij
Londinensis. a.d. 1627


From the gift of [my] dearest friend Mr. Humphrey Robinson of the London Stationers. a.d. 

It may be impossible to determine who "R.E." was (I eagerly invite speculation), but the inscription nonetheless documents the gift-giving activities of an important stationer in the first few years of his full company membership (he became a freeman in 1623). Robinson's career spanned nearly fifty years (1624-1670), during which time he produced such eminent literary works as the Beaumont and Fletcher first folio (with Humphrey Moseley, 1647), John Milton's A Masque presented at Ludlow Castle [Comus] (1637), and Francis Bacon's Essays (1669). As was customary with gift inscriptions of this kind, the text here was written by "R.E.," the recipient of the gift, rather than Humphrey Robinson, the gift-giver. I believe the manuscript price ("4s") is in a different hand, and may have been a retail price associated with the London book trade. 

William Camden, The historie of the most renowned and victorious Princess Elizabeth: late Queen of England: contayning all the important and remarkeable passages of state both home and abroad, during her long and prosperous raigne: composed by way of annals: neuer heretofore so faithfully and fully published in English. 
London: Printed for Benjamin Fisher and are to be sold at his shop in Aldergate streete, at the signe of the Talbot, MDCXXX [1630]. 

[22], 138, 120, 104, [6], 105-148, 224, [20] p. :  port. ;  28 cm. (fol.)

Renaissance Center copy is in contemporary (?) calf (lacks Aaa⁴; hinges split at top; final leaf torn); signature "Ed: Lowe" on recto of pi1 and "Edwd. Lowe" on inside front cover; earlier signatures "Richard Whyting [?]" and "John [---]" on recto of pi 1 are partially obliterated in ink; ms. notes on front free endpaper, including "Second hand Cost 4s 2d" in an early hand.  

This 1630 translation of the Annales, "neuer heretofore so faithfully and fully published in English" as the title advertises, contains several interesting manuscript notes dating to the seventeenth century. 

The first of these two inscriptions (the one partially obliterated by ink) appears to read "Robert Whesting." I have been unable to identify him. The second inscription, on the other hand, belongs to Edward Lowe (c. 1610-1682), who served as Professor of Music at Oxford University from 1661-1682. His italic hand and signature survive in a number of contemporary music MSS held in UK institutions. A less stylized version of his signature, from a music manuscript at the British Library, can be seen here.

Lowe also signed the book's inside front cover. 

Perhaps the most interesting manuscript writing in this copy of The Historie of Elizabeth appears on the front free endpaper, a page bearing a number of signatures, scribbles, sums, and notes. I haven't fully worked out the manuscript notes on this page, but there seem to be at least three (probably four) different hands at work. The "Robert Whesting [?]" who signed [pi]1r seems to have begun his signature at the very top of this leaf, to the right of the sum that comes out to 15:0:5. The descender of the majuscule "R" he uses looks very similar to that of the "R" in the note reading "A Receipt" near the edge of the page (both shown below).

Near the top center of the page, in a different hand, a "John W [...]" started to sign his name. In the bottom left-hand corner of the page, in yet a different hand, is a note recording the book's second-hand price: "Second hand / Cost 4s:2d" (shown below).

Finally, in the page's messiest secretary hand (possibly by "John W."), there are a series of notes that appear to relate to someone borrowing the book. 

The annotator begins this note twice (upper center of the page)—"This vnto" and "The Co" —before committing to the substantial note in the page's right center. 

The note itself (marked by two heavily inked vertical lines) reads:

Condicion (of this obligacion)
    is such      s
                               this vnto her returne
                               I affecte as deare
                               as my owne heart
                               yet that receue 
                               mee neare                       

(Special thanks to Heather Wolfe for helping with the transcription.)

The note seems to outline a situation in which someone (probably a lover) was required to return a book to an unknown woman ("her") who the borrower "affecte[d] as deare / as [his] owne heart." This note, along with the book's other manuscript additions, afford us with brief but tantalizing glimpses at both the second-hand book trade and the social practice of book lending in early modern England.

That does it for this week's post and the "Customizing Camden" series. Hope you have enjoyed the entries.

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