See it now: “one object that few can have ever seen: … a Renaissance iPad.”

New York Times writer, Edward Rothstein concludes his review of the current exhibition at the Morgan Library:

“… it has one object that few can have ever seen: a rare pocket-size calendar from 1609 with blank pages treated with coatings of gesso and glue. Using a stylus (no ink required), the owner could keep a diary without worrying about either honesty or secrecy. Instructions are given for treatment after writing: “Take a little peece of Spunge, or a Linnencloath, being cleane without any soyle: wet it in water” and “wipe that you have written very lightly, and it will out, and within one quarter of a hower you may write in the same place againe.” It is the first erasable diary, a Renaissance iPad.”

Here’s the Princeton exemplar, an edition from ca. 1605: [Writing tables with a kalendar for xxiiii. yeeres, with sundry necessarie rules. The tables made by Robert Triplet] [London, c. 1605?] 16mo in eights, 29 leaves (of 32) only (wanting A1, C4 and D8). Call number: Ex Item 5627567. Acquired in July 2009.

George du Maurier, illustrator of the first detective novel

Who wrote the first detective novel? That question was answered recently in the New York Times Book Review. He was Charles Warren Adams (1833-1903), according to Paul Collins in his article “Before Hercule or Sherlock, There Was Ralph” (Sunday, 7 January 2011). Adams’s novel was “The Notting Hill Mystery”, first published in eight parts in the journal Once a Week: An Illustrated Miscellany of Literature, Art, Science & Popular Information between November 29, 1862 and January 17, 1863. It was subsequently published in one volume by the journal’s publisher, Bradbury & Evans.

Author aside, then what about the seven illustrations accompanying the text? Several are signed “DM” at lower left and “Swain” at lower right? Who are they? “Swain” is Joseph Swain (1820-1909), one of the most active wood-engravers of 19th century Britain. “DM” is George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier (1834-1896), one of the great book illustrators of Victorian England.

Du Maurier was a certain interest of Morris L. Parrish, whose collection of Victorian novelists is one of the great strengths of the Library. For more on Parrish’s holdings of du Maurier, see the following note and list prepared by Alexander Wainwright:

[Transcription of caption]
It is unnecessary for us to state by what means the following papers came into our hands and it could be no compliment to the penetration of our readers if we indicated beforehand the nature of the mystery they are supposed to unravel. It will, however, require a very close attention to names and dates to comprehend the view of the compiler, as to the case he is investigating; and, so far, it is requisite to rely on the reader’s patience and discernment. The whole particular of the case will extend to some seven or eight numbers of “Once a Week,” and some things which are dark at first will appear clearer in the sequel. If the compiler has really discovered a new species or description of crime, it is natural that the evidence of it, which is circumstantial, should be somewhat difficult of acceptance. The illustrations are simply added to make the reader’s task more agreeable, but, of course, it is not pretended that they were made simultaneously with the events they represent.

[Once a Week, Nov. 29, 1862, p. 617]

The dispersal of Sylvia Beach’s books

Above: Howard Rice surrounded by Sylvia Beach’s personal papers, office files, and the sign for Shakespeare & Co., 31 March 1964. At left: Her desk and some books, 12, rue de l’Oléon, 31 March 1964.

When Sylvia Beach died in 1962, relict in her apartment were books, business papers, correspondence, photographs, paintings, and literary memorabilia. By agreement with her sister, Holly Beach Dennis, Princeton purchased these effects in early 1964. Associate librarian for special collections, Howard C. Rice arrived in Paris in late March and spent three weeks in the rooms over her famous bookshop, Shakespeare and Company, 12, rue de l’Oléon.

Even though Sylvia Beach had given away 5,000 books to the American Library in Paris in 1951 (New York Herald Tribune, April 25, 1951) and even though she had sold her ‘Joyce Collection’ (as she called it) to the University of Buffalo in 1959, the apartment held, counting just the books, according to her sister’s lawyer, Richard Ader, 8,000 to 10,000 volumes. Untold numbers of papers and other objects filled closets, shelves, and walls. Howard Rice described as a ‘struggle’ his efforts to sort, collocate, organize, pack, and arrange shipping or further disposition of the apartment’s contents. When Rice returned to Princeton in April, he had completed dividing the contents as follows:

• 31 shipping cases sent to the library filled with more than 2000 books, hundreds of photographs, thousands of pages of personal and business papers, as well as some paintings and artifacts. For customs purposes Rice said these should be described as two paintings plus ‘books and papers for an educational institution.” He also described it as “‘the Sylvia Beach Collection’ proper — that is, her papers, inscribed copies of books, first editions of American, French and English authors, inscribed photographs, drawings, etc., …” Today these are arranged in two groups: the Sylvia Beach Papers (C0108) and the book collection given the location designator ‘Beach.’

• Another group of books – on the order of 3,000 to 4,000 – “constituting the basic library of English literature which once formed the core of the ‘Shakespeare and Company’ lending library was presented “to the University of Paris, for use in the library of its English Department, the Institut d’Etudes Anglaises et Nord-Américaines.” Rice wrote that these books were “…. far more than a mere circulating library for current reading. French teachers, students, and English scholars, as well as translators and writers, were in the habit of finding [at Shakespeare and Company], alongside the avant-garde writers of the twentieth century, not only Shakespeare, but also, in his company, the Elizabethan poets, the eighteenth-century novelists, the Romantics and the Victorians. Such books, which Miss Beach brought into France, with persistence and discrimination, from across the Channel or the Atlantic, may now continue their ambassadorial and fertilizing role among new generations at the Institut’s library, located in the Rue de l’École de Médecine, in the ‘heart of Paris,’ where Sylvia Beach lived for more than four decades.” (Princeton University Library Chronicle, 26:1, p. 12) Current successor to the library of the Institut is the Bibliothèque du Monde Anglophone <>

•An unnumbered group of books was consigned by Howard Rice to antiquarian bookseller André Jammes. One document in the librarian’s records (AC123, box 51) shows these amounting to a 1500 Francs credit (or about $300).

•Maurice Saillet, a friend of Sylvia Beach since the 1930s, acquired her apartment after her death, and, according to Howard Rice’s notes, was “the key person during HCR’s sojourn.” Saillet’s collection of Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company is now in the Carlton Lake Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas. It evidently includes some of Beach’s books.

Coda: In the late 1950s, Sylvia Beach prepared a 53 page list headed “The Library of Shakespeare and Company / Sylvia Beach / Paris – VI” together with a one page list of “Memorabilia from the Shakespeare and Company Bookshop, 12, Rue de l’Odéon – Paris -VI” Plans for making this list are mentioned in Sylvia Beach’s letter to Jackson Mathews, dated 2 July 1959. (Letters of Sylvia Beach, ed. K. Walsh [2010], p. 284). A copy of the list is in the Noël Riley Fitch Papers (C0841, box 3, folder 10).

Coda II: Photographs from Howard Rice’s memoranda in C0108, box 276.