Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bookplates and Provenance III

Today's post highlights a few more bookplates from the Center's rare book collection. As in similar entries about provenance, I have attempted to track down the people associated with these bookplates and provide you with a bit of information about their lives.

Sir John Vanbrugh, Plays, 2 vols. [Center owns v. 1 only]
London : Printed for J. Tonson, and J. Watts; and for J. Darby, A. Bettesworth, and F. Clay; in trust for Richard, James, and Bethel Wellington, MDCCXXX [1730]. 
Contemporary calf, 12mo
Here we have an early twentieth-century plate depicting a pastoral scene. The bookplate was designed by Edwin Davis French (1851-1906), one of the most important bookplate designers of the nineteenth century. This plate is signed 1906 (I think, it may read "1900"), and considering its late date it is likely this is one of the last plates French designed. 

"Nathan T. Porter, Jr." is most likely Nathan Todd Porter, Jr., a New York businessman born in Brooklyn on December 5, 1867. He attended high school in Montclair, NJ, and graduated from Yale in the class of 1890. According to the 1907 edition of Who's who in New York City and State, Porter was a "dry goods commission merchant," and ran the firm Porter Brothers and Company with his brother Thomas Wyman Porter. 
The Elizabeth Club at Yale University owns several early printed playbooks with Porter's bookplates. See Stephen Parks, The Elizabethan Club at Yale University and its Library (New Haven: Yale University, 1986), 51, 74, 82, 108, 117, 120.

Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae.
Lugduni Batavorum [Leiden]: Ex officina Hackiana, Ao. M D C LXXI [1671].
Contemporary full vellum binding.

This bookplate and inscription belong to Augustus Montague Summers 
(1880-1948),an eccentric Englishman who wrote on subjects as various 
as the occult and Restoration drama. The signature dates from his youth:
in 1899 he entered Trinity College, Oxford, where he received two degrees
(B.A.1905; M.A.1906). The bookplate (signed by an unidentified "J.W.") 
probably dates to this early part of Summers' life as well, since we know
of a later bookplate reading "Alphoinvs Montagve Svmmers Liber svvs" 
(designed by Eric Gill)—Alphonsus being a name in religion Summers' used
after 1910 when he received a clerical tonsure from the Church of Rome
(Davies, ODNB). 

In fact, the ODNB article on Summers' is quite an interesting read. His
career in the Anglican Church was cut short around 1908, when 
"rumours of studies in Satanism and a charge of pederasty" became 
associated with his name. He wrote a number of books on vampires, 
demons, and werewolves. His activities as a literary critic are well
known (he published a history of the gothic novel in 1938), and his
work on English Restoration drama is particularly important 
(including a six-volume Works of Aphra Behn).

Pierre de la Primaudaye, Academie Francoise


A Paris : Chez la vefue Claude de Monstr’oeil, ruĂ« S. Iean de Latran, & en sa 
boutique en la Court du Palais au Nom de Iesvs, M. DC. X [1610]. 
Contemporary limp vellum binding

The Latin quote on this bookplate is from Lucretius, De rerum natura,
Book I, ll. 927-8. In the Rolfe Humphries translation of 1968, the lines
read: "I come to fountains / Completely undefiled, I drink their waters, /
Delight myself by gathering new flowers." The lines metaphorically link
flowers, clear fountains (of the muses), and, of course, books.

Katherine Theresa Butler (1883-1950) wrote a two-volume History of 
French Literature (London: Methuen, 1923), and at the time of its 
publication was Director of Studies in Modern and Medieval Languages
at Girton College, Cambridge.

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