Frederic Vinton, collector

Frederic Vinton served as the 20th librarian of Princeton from the fall of 1873 until his death on January 1, 1890.

His legacy of publications and achievements includes being a founder of the American Library Association (1876) and publication of his monumental 894 page

Subject Catalogue of the Library of the College of New Jersey, at Princeton.
(New York, 1884).

He also left a series of scrapbooks as part of his official legacy. He made these in order to both document and systematically record prodigious national events during his term. He recognized that making a scrapbook was a way of supplying the Library with a reference book on a topic even before such was produced by publishers. It was a way to bring the ‘recent past’ to collections formed by customary 19th century academic codes privileging ancient history, the classics, national literatures and other topics germane to the seven liberal arts.

Vinton’s efforts conformed to the rationale provided in 1880 by journalist E. W. Gurley, who posed the question “Who should we make scrap-books?” and noted:

“In Franklin’s day there were two newspapers in America; now there are about 8000 periodicals of all grades, constantly flooding the land with a stream of intelligence. Much of this is ephemeral, born for the day and dying with the day; yet scarcely a paper falls into the hands of the intelligent reader in which he does not see something worth keeping” (E. W. Gurley

Scrap-books and how to make them
[New York, 1880], p. 10)

He went on to answer the question “Who should keep a scrap-book?” and responded “Every one who reads … Jefferson was in the habit of collecting, in this form, all the information bearing on certain points in which he was interested. … Sumner was an habitual gatherer of Scraps, and found them invaluable aids to even his vast field of information. … It is said of another noted Congressman that he dreaded an opponent of much inferior powers, because the latter was a careful compiler of Scrap-Books, and thus had a fund of knowledge which the more brilliant man did not possess. … ” (p. 11)

Vinton’s scrapbooks center on the theme of death and disaster.

1874-1878 — Consists of newspaper accounts at Charles Sumner’s death, as well as those looking back on his political career. Call number; (Ex) Oversize 1083.891.673e. Finding aid [link]

1881-1882 — Collection of newspaper accounts concerning the assassination of President Garfield, and the trial of Charles Guiteau. Call number; (Ex) Oversize 10862.378.37e. Finding aid [link]

1888 — Collection of newspaper accounts concerning the New York city snowstorm of 1888 : known as the Great White Hurricane of 1888. Call number; (Ex) Oversize 10992.863e. Finding aid [link]

1889 — Collection of newspaper accounts concerning the Washington centennial, 1889, and the Johnstown flood, 1889. Call number; (Ex) Oversize 10822.956.953e. Finding aid [link]

True Images of Illustrious ❧ 1577 Giovio

The Elogia had its origins in the biographies, rhetorical in form and intended to be brief, vivid and memorable, which Giovio composed to hang below the portraits in
his museum on Lake Como. “Giovio’s idea of founding a portrait museum on the
lake was his most original contribution to European civilization. While
Wunderkammern and princely collections were not new, the idea of filling a villa
with portraits of famous people on canvas or on bronze medallions, calling it a
museum, and opening it … for public enjoyment was a new departure … . The
inspiration had come to him, he said, of adorning his room, ‘Mercury and Pallas’,
with the ‘true images of illustrious men of letters, so that through emulation of their
example good mortals might be inflamed to seek glory’. Thereafter his
correspondence shows him badgering all manner of persons for portraits … . [There]
were various precedents for Giovio’s inspiration to form a portrait collection, but
none was quite what Giovio had in mind. Although intended as figurae of glory and
incentives to emulation, most collections or cycles featured idealized or imaginary
representations, whereas from the very start Giovio demanded an exact likeness,
preferably done from life but otherwise from sound evidence such as coins,
medallions, portrait busts, or earlier authentic portraits … . When he had the
inspiration of enlarging the identifying inscriptions to elogia, or capsule biographies,
his innovative scheme was complete.” (T.C. Price Zimmermann, Paolo Giovio: The Historian and the Crisis of Sixteenth-Century Italy, [Princeton, 1995], pp. 159-160).

❧ Paolo Giovio (1483-1552). Elogia virorum literis illustrium. [Basel] P. Perna, 1577. Call number: (Ex) Oversize 1038.392.11q

Anatomia Statuae Danielis ❧ 1586

“A monumental historical and genealogical work presented to John George (1525-1598), Elector of Brandenburg, a member of the House of Hohenzollern, and Augustus I (1526-1586), Elector of Saxony, of the House of Wettin. The work relates the genealogy of Christ and the Judean kings, and the union of Monarchy and Christianity in general, with the understanding of monarchy as seen in the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. As such the major empires of known history is envisioned as elements of a statue, cf. Daniel´s interpretation of Nebuchadnessar´s dream, in which he sees a statue made of gold, silver, copper, iron and clay, illustrating the four empires. The main texts of these chapters are accompanied by genealogical lists of virtually every ruler, by then known, of the empires in question, and forms a more or less complete historical line from biblical Nimrod up till the then contemporary emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Rudolph II (1576-1612). It also contains a brief chapter on the Ottoman empire and its genealogy, since the Holy Roman Empire, of which Brandenburg and Saxony formed and important part, was on the brink of war with the Ottoman Empire at the time. The last part of the book is concerned with the genealogy of the Saxon Electorate, and its relation to the Kings of France, the Dukes of Savoy and the Margraviate of Montferrat. In full, the book forms a both religious and historical masterly treatment of monarchy and the monarchical ruler and its association with divine power, based on the before mentioned imagery of the Book of Daniel. In addition, it can be seen as a rethinking of the position and power of the German Electors to whom it is presented, since the Reformation, in which an older relative of Augustus I, Frederick III The Wise (1463-1525), played an important role, had taken place less than 70 years earlier” (Text supplied by Kaabers Antikvariat [København])

Loren Faust. Anatomia Statuae Danielis. Kurtze und eigentliche erklerung der grossen Bildnis des Propheten Danielis, Darin ein historischerausszug der vier Monarchien / und aller ihrer HeuptRegenten / auff die glieder des Bildnis / ober eines menschlichen leibes gerichtet / und sonderlich vom angang und fortpflantzung des Reichs Jesu Christi / ordentlich mit gemisser jahr rechnung bereichnet. Beneben Christlicher erinnerung und erklerung der Genealogien, und Fürstlichen Stammbaums der hochlöblichen Herzogen zu Sachsen etc. Als zu einem Extract und Memorial solcher ganzen historien / neben etlichen zugerichten Tafeln / mit lust und nuss zugebrauchen. Aus allen fürnembsten und bewertisten Chronicis und gelerter leut schriften mit trememsleis zusammen gezogen – Durch – Laurentium Faustum, Pfarrern unter der Meisnichen Thumbpropstey / zu Schirmenitz. Anno Christi M.D. LXXXVI (1586).
Colophon: Leipzig / Bey Johann Steinmann M.D. LXXXV (1585). 8°. [28]+404+[8] pages. With four folded plates. Call number: 2009-1746N. Digital scans of the other plates listed at

A Comment on Bookplates: Militar. Collection of the Hon. Lt. Gen.l G.L. Parker

Standard categories for bookplates, such as armorial, pictorial and others are commonly found in Franks. One norm of the vast majority of plates is that they declare ownership simply by stating the name of the owner. Sometimes added to the name may be the title of honor, honorific, and / or name and location of his estate.

Contrasting with these straightforwardly ‘nominative’ bookplates, there is a small minority that label the collection to which the book belongs rather than simply stating the owner’s name.

It is easy to provide 20th century examples of this sort of ‘collection‘ bookplate. See, for example, that for, Ellis Ames Ballard Kipling Collection,

Franks gives a 19th century example, being that for the Bewick collection of the Rev. Thomas Hugo, F.S.A. (1820-1876).

However, when I recently came upon the bookplate illustrated at right I began to wonder: could this be the earliest example of a ‘collection‘ bookplate? The instance I came upon was that for the Militar[y] Collection of the Hon[orable] L[ieutenan]t Gen[era]l G[eorge] L[ane] Parker. [Bibliographical details in note 1 at end.]

Many books with this bookplate have been on the market in recent years because they all trace back to the library of the Earls of Macclesfield, the first portion of which was auctioned in 2004 and continued to 12 parts in all, the last being in 2008.

Edward Edwards in his 1864 description of the Macclesfield library states that Gen. G. L. Parker was the second son of the 2nd Earl and upon his death his collection of military books was added to the main Macclesfield stock in Shirburn Castle (ca. 1791). (Cf. Libraries and founders of libraries, Chap. X, p. 325 ff).

What are we to make of this bookplate, so unlike the normal ‘nominative‘ plate? If Gen. G. L. Parker added this plate to his books then his practice was perhaps indicative not only of the newly emerging trend in specialized collecting but it was also perhaps avant garde in his providing plates marking his collecting practice rather than just stating his name as possessor. I think this later hypothetical is a bit of a stretch.

An alternative possibility is that the plates were added to the books after their receipt at Shirburn Castle as a means of marking them out from the rest of the collection. I don’t know if this possibility has been noted before. I lean toward this later explanation for the following reasons.

Conventions about how a proper 18th century bookplate should look were fairly rigid. The norm was a two part arrangement: if armorial, then achievement of arms at center with name of owner set off below. This plate does not conform to this convention.

The visual convention of this bookplate is more that of the cartouche of an 18th map or the trade label of an 18th century craftsman. The title or name is worked into the overall baroque design. This style is the customary for naming what an object is, or what an artisan does, rather than just signalling a possessor.

Moreover, there was a antecedent at Shirburn for the “Militar.” case. Consider the case of another Macclesfield bookplate — that with the caption “Of the Collection of W. Jones, Esq.”

Arthur J. Jewers in his article on the Macclesfield bookplates says that the 2nd Earl had this bookplate “specially engraved for a valuable collection of books bequeathed to him by W. Jones, Esq., who died in 1749, thus giving us very nearly the date at which the plate was cut.” My conclusion is that the Jones bookplate is a model for the “Militar.” plate. (Cf. “Parker Bookplates” Journal of the Ex Libris Society (London, 1898-99), vol. viii, p. 180 ff. and vol. 9, p. 9 ff.) [See illustration at right.]

• A further particular about the copy in which this “Militar.” plate appears • Apart from the curious character of this “Militar.” bookplate, the Parker “Militar.” plate had been pasted completely over that of the book’s first owner, Alexander Dury.

When the book was first encountered, the Dury plate was partially visible as showthrough. Only the last few letters of Dury’s name were originally visible underneath the Parker plate. What’s more, stamped on the spine was an heraldic crest. No crest was listed in British Armorial Bindings as belong to the Earls of Macclesfield, so the question became “Whose crest is this?” Once the Parker plate was partially lifted by a conservator, then all was relieved: full name of the first owner, a display of his achievement of arms, including his crest, a demi-lion rampant.

Note 1: This bookplate is on the front pastedown of Voltaire, 1694-1778. Le siècle de Louis XIV : publié par m. de Francheville …Londres : chez R. Dodsley, 1752. Call number (Ex) Item 6357495q