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Celebrating the Presidency of Princeton

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Pages from Newsletter09-13.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Pro_Page_2_Image_0002.jpg

The retirement of Shirley Tilghman as the19th President of Princeton University at the end of June 2013 provided an opportunity for the Friends of the Princeton University Library to celebrate the presidency of the University by making a gift to the Library in her honor. The Special Collections curators presented a wide range of possibilities to identify a suitable purchase. The choice: one of the extremely rare books that can be documented as having belonged to Jonathan Dickinson (1688-1747), the first President of the College of New Jersey.


At its modest beginning in 1746 in Dickinson’s parsonage in Elizabeth, the college consisted of the president, one tutor, and eight or ten students. Dickinson’s books were the college library. Tactica Sacra (Sacred Strategies), by John Arrowsmith, Puritan divine of Trinity College, Cambridge, is a manual for the spiritual warrior, part of the armament of clergyman Dickinson. A large quarto of 400 pages in its original 17th-century full calf binding, the book carries an inscription on its title page in Dickinson’s hand: “Jonathan Dickinson’s Book… .” The group of Friends who supported the acquisition are named on a bookplate added to the volume.

The University’s efforts to acquire books with a Princeton association started in earnest during the second half the 19th century. The extant books belonging to Jonathan Edwards were added, as well as some from other early presidents, including Samuel Finley. John Witherspoon’s books had been acquired in the first part of the 19th century due to the efforts of his son-in-law Samuel Stanhope Smith. These volumes were purchased not so much because they had belonged to Witherspoon but because, after the Nassau Hall fire of 1802, the college needed books. Recognition of the associational value of the Witherspoon books came to a climax during the librarianship of Julian Boyd. In the early 1940s Boyd instructed rare book librarian Julie Hudson to reassemble the Witherspoon library, which had been dispersed throughout the collections. The earliest survivors of the college library are on view in the Eighteenth-Century Room, just inside the entrance to the Main Exhibition Gallery in Firestone Library.

Tactica Sacra is the Library’s first book from Dickinson’s library with his statement of ownership. Given some years ago was a copy of Poole’s Annotations (2 vols.; London, 1683-1685), which has a record of Dickinson’s family and offspring in his hand on the verso of the last leaf of Malachi. However, these volumes lack the title pages, which presumably would have carried his signature and marking that the Poole was “his book.”

In addition to the Dickinson inscription, a hitherto unknown early American book label, “Samuelis Melyen liber,” is fixed to the front pastedown. The Reverend Samuel Melyen was the first minister of the nascent congregations in Elizabeth and environs. Jonathan Dickinson married Melyen’s sister Joanna in 1709, around the time that he began his ministerial work in the Elizabeth Town parish. Melyen died ca. 1711, and Dickinson emerged as the leading minister, a post he held until his death in 1747. Samuel Melyen was clearly the first owner of this book. Dickinson’s inscription in full states that it was a gift of one Mr. Tilley: “Jonathan Dickinson’s Book Ex dono D. Tilley.” The Tilley family and the Melyen family were related by marriage, but the precise identity of “D[ominus (i.e. Mister)]. Tilley” is not yet known. Dickinson apparently owned another book in which he inscribed “Jonathan Dickinson’s Book Ex dono D. Tilley.” It is a copy of Samuel Cradock, The Harmony of the Four Evangelists (London, 1668). The present whereabouts of this copy are unknown; it was last recorded in 1896. Further, recently come to light is a comparably inscribed book held at the Hougton Library: a London, 1688 edition of the Psalms [Details] [Image].

The Princeton association of the Tactica Sacra does not stop with Dickinson. Beneath Dickinson’s inscription is the following: “Jonathan Elmer His Book 1768.” Elmer (Yale 1747) was pastor at New Providence, New Jersey, from 1750 onward. A slip in the book states that after Jonathan Elmer it was owned by Philemon Elmer (1752-1827); then his daughter Catharine, who married Aaron Coe, Princeton 1797 (d. 1857); then by their son the Reverend Philemon Elmer Coe (Princeton 1834); then his sister Catherine Elmer Coe, who married Alfred Mills (Yale 1847); then by their children Edith, Alfred Elmer Mills (Princeton 1882), and Edward K. Mills (Princeton 1896).

Bookplate for President Tilghman_Page_1_Image_0001.jpg

When Pyne Library opened in 1897 [more], such rare books as the Morgan Virgils were shelved in a special room fitted with glass-fronted bookcases. The ground-floor room was the New World offspring of the Old World wunderkammer. Its purpose was public exhibition of private treasures. By extension, the Library’s location designator “Ex” (shorthand for “Exhibition Room” [more]) became the designator for the Library’s general rare book collection. It remains so down to today. A brief photo essay about the room follows.

    1916 floor plan keyed with pictures (left to right) NW corner, NE corner, SE corner, and SW alcove (Hutton death mask collection)
For larger image [ link ]
An early photograph; display cases have not yet filled the entire floor as they would do during the 1910s and 1920s. Original at Hist. Soc. of Princeton. Rose glass plate negatives: no. ROS6194.
  An early photograph of the Hutton alcove; more masks would be put on display during the 1910s and 1920s.  
For larger image: see
  Northeast corner of the Exhibition Room
For larger image, see:
  Northwest corner of the Exhibition Room For larger image, see:
  Southeast corner of the Exhibition Room. Visible are hinged panels on stands displaying prints by Rowlandson and Cruikshank. In the case adjacent is the Wordsworth Collection, assembled by Mrs. Cynthia Morgan St. John, and on display in hope that a donor would purchase it for the Library. In 1925, Cornell University acquired the St. John Wordsworth collection.
For larger image, see:

  The Hutton Alcove near full build-out; more masks added to the foundation collection.
For larger image, see:

  Exhibition room repurposed to reader space starting in the late 1920s. Rare books and other objects moved into the Treasure Room on the second floor of Pyne.
For larger image, see:

Frederic Vinton, collector

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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]

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

"A Relic of John Bunyan (?)": The Mystery Continues

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In 1968, collector Robert T. Taylor presented a copy of three works by the English puritan, Issac Ambrose (1604-1664/4), all printed in London in 1650 and bound together in one calf-bound volume, repaired but retaining its early 17th century covers. It has the bookplate of Roderick Terry, clergyman and in his day, a renowned book collector of Newport, Rhode Island. When part II of Terry’s books were sold on November 7-8, 1934, this book, lot 44, sold for $55. Terry, most likely, obtained it from George T. Juckes, 35 St. Martin’s Court, London, who dubbed himself “The Bookfinder.” Juckes had the book in 1912 and detailed his speculations about it in both an article in Notes & Queries (“A Relic of John Bunyan(?)” II Series, vol 1, August 31, 1912, p. 162-163) as well as in long detailed single sheet printed description headed “A Genuine Relic of John Bunyan,” likely also dating from 1912. (Juckes priced it at £100.)

Juckes offered three arguments for tying the book to Bunyan.
1) He cited several notes either in or with the book by owners other than him saying so.
2) He noted that the subject matter of the book, indeed, a phrase repeatedly used in it — “the new birth” — conforms to language ascribed to Bunyan by his “anonymous biographer, “evidently … one who knew him well.” 3) Two authorities compared the marginal notes with two established examples of Bunyan’s handwriting and, according to Juckes, “both agree … the handwriting … is identical.”

What are we to make of these arguments?

Juckes is right when he states: “… in the year 1768 [the book] belonged to one Ludovic Auber, and has is signature in three places, also the date 1768. It afterwards passed into the hands of another owner, as the following inscription shows, “James Martin, is (sic) Book, October the 5th. 1785” Then we have another inscription in a different handwriting of about the same date, as follows, “The Notes in the magin (sic)were written by that valiant advocate for Truth, John Bunyan, while in prison.”Still later it came into the possession of Lady Gregory, wife of Dr. Olinthus Gregory, who has written the following on a sheet of old paper, “The marginal notes in this book were written by John Bunyan. I know not the evidence upon which the fact rests. but it was fully believed by my dear husband, Dr. Olinthus Gregory, A.G., Woolwich Common, June 1842.” [Juckes further adds “It then passed into the possession of Canon Acheson.”]

Moreover, the letter of the two authorities is present with the book and one authority thinks the handwriting is “very much alike.”


However, today, how much more of the literary remains of Bunyan are documented, although they are still sparse. See: * Index of English Literary Manuscripts, vol. II, 1625-1700, part 1, p —- as well as T.J.Brown “English Literary Autographs XXXIII, John Bunyan, 1628-1688” in the *Book Collector, vol 9, Spring 1960, p. 53-55.
Needless to say, the comparison of these marginal notes against a corpus larger than that known in 1912 must be done afresh. Given that this wider comparison is still undone, we must set Juckes’s contention to one side. Today, Bunyan’s authorship of the marginal notes remains an open question.


Issac Ambrose (1604-1664) Prima, the first things; or, Regeneration sermons …[bound with] The Doctrine & Directions *[and] *Ultima.
London, Printed for J.A., and are to be sold by N. Webb and W. Grantham, 1650. Call number (EX) 5849.122.2 Provenance: •Ludovic Auber (1768) •James Martin (1785) •Olinthus Gregory = Olinthus Gilbert Gregory (29 January 1774 - 2 February 1841) mathematician • “A.G.” = 2nd wife of Olinthus Gregory, whose identity is not known according to Oxford DNB []. •Canon Acheson = the Rev. Johnston Hamilton Acheson, Kirby-Cane Rectory, Bungay, Norfolk (19th cent.) •George T. Juckes, bookseller, London •Roderick Terry (1849-1933) (bookplate) •Gift of Robert H. Taylor in 1968

Copy of DSCN3227.jpg
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Constitutions des treize états-unis de l'Amérique. A Philadelphie [i.e. Paris] et se trouve a Paris, chez Ph. - D. Pierres, Imprimeur Ordinaire du Roi, rue Saint-Jacques. Pissot, pere & fils, Libraires, quai des Augustins, 1783. Call number: (Ex) 7583.01.267.11 copies 1-4.

Benjamin Franklin provides two key quotes regarding this book.

❧ First, on June 10, 1783, Benjamin Franklin wrote to printer Philippe-Denis Pierres

"Sir, I received the Exemplaire of the Constitutions. ... I desire to have 50 of the 8vos bound in Calf, and Letter'd, and 50 half bound, that is, between Paste boards, with a Sheepskin Back and Letter'd, but not cut, I desire also 6 of the 4tos bound in Morocco. ..."

Ex7583.01.267.11.copy4 -sm.JPG❧ Ex copy 4 is one of the "50 of the 8vos bound in Calf and letter'd" (Franklin to the printer Pierres, 10 June 1783). Ex copy 4: Inscribed by Benjamin Franklin on t.p.: "Translated by the Duke de Rochefoucauld, and the Translation revised before Impression by B.F." Note illustration above. Gift of Andre de Coppet.
Ex7583.01.267.11.copy3 -sm.JPG❧ Ex copy 3 is one of the "50 half bound, that is between Paste Boards with a Sheepskin Back, and Letter'd but not cut" (Franklin to the printer Pierres, 10 June 1783). Ex copy 3: Presentation copy to George Hammond from Benjamin Franklin with inscription by Mr. Hammond. It remains both uncut and unopened.

❧❧ Secondly on December 25, 1783, Franklin wrote to Thomas Mifflin " ... The extravagant Misrepresentations of our Political State, in foreign Countries, made it appear necessary to give them better Information, which I thought could not be more effectually and authentically done than by publishing a Translation into French, now the most general Language in Europe, of the Book of Constitutions which had been printed by Order of Congress. This I accordingly got well done, and presented two Copies handsomely bound to every foreign Minister here, one for himself, the other more elegant, for his Sovereign. It has been well taken, and has afforded Matter of Surprise to many, who had conceived mean Ideas of the State of Civilization in America, and could not have expected so much political Knowledge and Sagacity had existed in our Wilderness. And from all Parts I have the Satisfaction to hear that our Constitutions in general are much admired. I am persuaded that this Step will not only tend to promote the Emigration to our Country of substantial People from all Parts of Europe, by the numerous Copies I shall dispense, but will facilitate our future Treaties with Foreign Courts, who could not before know what kind of Government and People they had to treat with. As in doing this I have endeavour'd to further the apparent Views of Congress in the first Publication, I hope it may be approved, and the Expence allow'd. ..."

❧ Franklin's "two Copies handsomely bound to every foreign Minister here, one for himself, the other more elegant, for his Sovereign" included 4to editions. For example, the 4to at the New York Public Library is printed "sur papier d'Annonay" and has the supra-libros of Louis Joseph de Bourbon-Condé (1736-1818). A 4to at the Bibliothèque Nationale has the arms of Marie-Antoinette. ❧ Moreover, 8vo copies stamped with arms are known. Princeton has such an 8vo. At left is Ex copy 1: Stamped on spine with arms of the La Rochefoucauld family. Given the "accolé" character of these arms, they may be those for the Duke's mother, Madame d'Enville (the Dowager Duchesse de la Rochefoucauld d'Enville; Marie-Louise Nicole Elisabeth de La Rochefoucauld, 1716-1797), also a friend of Franklin. This copy also has the 19th century booklabel of James Toovey (d. 1893). Presented to the Library by Junius S. Morgan, accessioned May 10, 1893. [Note: A 4to bound in red morocco with the supra-libros of LaRochefoucuald was sold at Sotheby's, Monaco, on 9 December 1987. See: Bibliothèque La Rochefoucauld au château de La Roche-Guyon: provenant de la succession de Gilbert de La Rochefoucauld, Duc de La Roche-Guyon (Sotheby's Monaco S.A., 1987) lot 641. The 4to binding is reproduced as the frontispiece to the catalog.]

For more on the publishing history of this book see Echeverria, Durand, "French Publications of the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitutions, 1776-1783," Bibliographical Society of America, Papers, 47 (1953) p.313 ff.

"Collat. & perfect. p[er] J. Wright" • Who was "J. Wright"?

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wright.jpg “Feb. 6 1722/23 Collat. & perfect. p[er] J. Wright” on leaf facing title page of H. Grotius, Poemata (Leiden, 1545) Call number (ExV) 2949.411.

John Carter in ABC for Book Collectors states “When [one] pencils on the endpaper ‘collated and perfect’ (or simply ‘c. & p.’), he is using it in the special sense of ‘to examine the sheets of a printed book, so as to verify their number and order’. The operative word is ‘verify’. Verify by what? If no bibliographical description of a book is available and no other copy for comparison, collation in this sense can do no more than reveal obvious imperfections.”

Fair enough, but when did this practice begin? And who might have first used it? Perhaps the case of “J.Wright” will give some clues.

❧ Ten libraries report owning books marked with the “Collat.” formula signed and dated by J. Wright.

They are found on incunables at several libraries:

• University of Glasgow. Shelfmark: Bl9-g.25 “Feb. 10. 1723/4 Collat. & perfect. p[er] J. Wright.” [Image of inscription] and By.3.38“June 26. 1723 Collat. & perfect. p[er] J. Wright.” [Image of inscription]
• Houghton Library. Call number: Inc 4142.10 “June 27. 1723. Collat. & perfect. J. Wright”
• Bodleian Library. Shelfmark Auct. L 1.2-5. “Collat. & perfect Jan. 8 1724/25”
• Princeton. Call number: PTT 2865.341.007 “Jan. 25 1722/23 Collat. & perfect. p[er] J. Wright”

Then on later books such as the following at

•John Rylands Library: Livy (Venice, 1520) “Collat. & perfect. [?] J. Wright” JRUL copy at R213746
•Several examples listed in the ESTC for copies at Huntington, Folger, University of Wisconsin and Yale. Search the copy-specific notes for ‘Collat.’ and ‘Wright’ and six entries return; imprints dating between 1601 and 1689. Inscriptions:
“Feb. 5. 1722/23 Collat. & perfect [?] J. Wright”; “Mar. 1. 1723 Collat. & perfect J Wright; Fawsyde, Bervie, N.B.”; “Oct. 5. 1723. Collat. + perfect. J. Wright”; “Dec 2. 1723. Collat. perfect. P.[?] Wright”; “Dec. 2. 1723. Collat. & perfect. J Wright.” “Dec. 5. 1723. Collat. & perfect. J. Wright”
•Two are listed in the Hunt Catalogue by Allan Stevenson: 351 and 385 “Dec. 9 1723. Collat. & perfect. J. Wright.”
•Four others at Princeton: imprints dating between 1543 and 1706. Inscriptions: “Feb. 6 1722/23 Collat. & perfect. p[er] J. Wright.”; “Oct. 23 1723 Collat. & perfect. J. Wright”; “Oct. 29 1723 Collat. & perfect. J. Wright”; and “Dec. 10 1723 Collat. & perfect. J. Wright.”

[There’s even a Wright book on sale at Bibliopoly! “June 14 1723 collat[ed] & perfect p[er] J. Wright” (The Great and New Art of Weighing Vanity, Glasgow, 1672).]

❧ Inspection of these books shows frequently they contain another concurrent mark of provenance along side that of Wright’s inscription. Commonly, they carry “Dupplin Castle” (inscribed, together with shelfmark), or the armorial bookplate of the Right Honorable Thomas Lord Viscount Dupplin, Lord Balhousie, dated 1699, or the armorial bookplate of Thomas Earle of Kinnoull Viscount Dupplin Lord Hay of Kinfauns (motto “renovate animos”). In sum, many books Wright marked trace back to the seat in Perth of the Hay Earls of Kinnoull. A contemporary of Wright tells us that the coincidence of his name with that of Kinnoull is not an accident.

❧ So who was J. Wright? “Lord Kinnouls Library keeper,” John Wright, according to Humfrey Wanley (1672-1726), librarian for Robert Harley. In his diary, Wanley records meetings and transactions with Wright during the 1720s. The following summarizes Wanley’s diary entries:

“John Wright was described by Wanley on his first recorded visit to the library (8 February 1722-23) as ‘a Scots Gent’ and of him we know nothing more except that he is said, again by Wanley, to have been ‘my Lord Kinnouls Library keeper’. This was George Henry Hay, seventh Earl of Kinnoull, who had succeeded to the title in 1719 and was married to Robert Harley’s youngest daughter, Abigail. On his first visit Wright brought a small group of MSS and old printed books to sell; subsequent entries show that the printed books were rejected and that the prices he asked for his MSS were considered too high; only on his abatement of these prices did Harley buy them. Thirteen in number, they are listed by Wanley under 24 June 1723 in the addenda to the second volume of his diary.” [C.E. Wright “Manuscripts of Italian Provenance in the Harleian Collection in the British Museum: Their Sources, Associations, and Channels of Acquisition,” in Cecil H. Clough (ed.), Cultural Aspects of the Italian Renaissance: Essays in Honour of Paul Oskar Kristeller (Manchester, 1976), pp. 472]

1872 • Printers' Sheet of Miscellaneous Trade Receipts

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Ever wonder how 19th century collectors had writing ink cleaned from book pages? (“Be gone you pesky old annotations!”)    Might you be curious as to how they had their maps varnished? Or prints cleaned? Or books preserved?    Here’s some answers:


For a transcription, go to this link

Call number for: Crisp, William Finch. The Printers’ Sheet of Miscellaneous Trade Receipts. Great Yarmouth, [England], [1872.] is (Ex) Broadside 390.

For other “trade receipts” and “how-to” advice from W. F. Crisp, see the Internet Archive.

Finding John Witherspoon's books

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Witherspoon's books entered the collections of the Library in 1812. They were comingled with the 706 volumes of his son-in-law Samuel Stanhope Smith, purchased for the sum of $1,500. For decades Witherspoon's books remained distributed within the working book stock of the Library, which totaled 7,000 volumes by 1816. After the Civil War, the surge of interest in leaders of the American Revolution included a focus on Witherspoon.  At the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the Presbyterians erected a statue of Witherspoon.  Like his visage, his books were also of interest.

The hunt for the books began during the tenure of Frederick Vinton, librarian from 1873 until his death in 1890.   There was no precise list of such.  Evidence of ownership was based on two grounds:  1) Witherspoon's signature and book number at the top of the title page (his usual practice) and 2) mention in the list of books in his son-in-law's library.  Only examination of the books themselves and comparison with the Smith list could affirm ownership.

Vinton recorded his findings on blank pages of an 1814 catalogue of the library.  Varnum Lansing Collins, Class of 1893, served as reference librarian from 1895 to 1906.  He regularized Vinton's findings into an alphabetical list, perhaps in preparation for his biography of Witherspoon published in 1925.  In the 1940s, during the tenure of librarian and Jefferson scholar Julian Boyd, curator Julie Hudson physically reassembled the Witherspoon books into a separate special collection with the location designator  WIT.  The project took years, resulting in a collection of more than 300 volumes. In addition to re-gathering the books, Ms Hudson oversaw repairs and rebinding by "Mrs. Weilder and Mr. [Frank] Chiarella of the PEM Bindery" [in New York.]

Since Ms. Hudson's efforts, a few more Witherspoon books have come to light. During 1949-50, volume one of the third edition of Miscellanea Curiosa (London, 1726) was acquired by exchange.  In 1963, Mrs. Frederic James Dennis gave Witherspoon's copy of The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America containing the Confession of Faith, the Catechisms, the Government and Discipline (Philadelphia, 1789), signed by him on the half title.  In 1967, the Library purchased Witherspoon's copy of  Thomas Clap's  The Annals or History of Yale College (New Haven, 1766.)  In 1978, the Library purchased Witherspoon's copy of volume one of Jacques Saurin's  Discours historiques, critiques, theologiques, et moraux, sur les evenemens les plus memorables du Vieux, et du Nouveau Testament . (Amsterdam, 1720.)  Lastly, there appeared in a 1998 auction in New Hampshire, Witherspoon's copy of The Odes of Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, Knight of the Bath  (London, 1768), however, this was not acquired and its current whereabouts are not known. 

Perhaps if more of Witherspoon's books are to be found today, then they are to be found in the collections here.  This proved the case earlier this week.   Now identified as Witherspoon's is this entry in the Smith catalogue: "Works of Abraham Cowley ....  1 Folio."



Witherspoon number 244, Works [by] Mr Abraham Cowley (London, 1668) adjacent to Witherspoon number 245, True History of the Church of Scotland [by] Mr David Calderwood (1678). [Note: autograph of Witherspoon was snipped away during the 19th century. Autograph collectors prized signers of the Declaration of Independence.]


[Call numbers for these two volumes: (Ex)3693.3.1668q and WIT 1481.233q, respectively]

< Inscribed before 1847 on the front free endpaper of Witherspoon number 244, Works [by] Mr Abraham Cowley (London, 1668).  This is likely the scribbling of a student:

Distinguished Characters of Princeton by a friend
Boss Carnahan       [President of Princeton, 1823-1859]
Johnny Maclean   [Vice-president under Carnahan]
Boss Rice   [Rev. B. H. Rice, D.D., served in Princeton pulpit,  1833 to 1847],  Cooley   [Rev. E.F. Cooley], Daniel  McCalla, Petin the boot black, Moses Hunter, Albert Ribbenbach [?], Old Quackenboth  (Uncle Joe), Buddy Be Dash, Catling Ross [?], Goose Leg.
Note on catalogues:  See the finding aid for the Library records in the Archives at Mudd Library:  AC123
The catalogues are in Subseries 5E, Early Catalogs and Technical Records, 1802-1961.    

Why Cruikshank was collected

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Image00001a.jpg Image00001.jpg 1920_Case_50_Cruikshank.jpg

In April 1871, New York antiquarian bookseller, Joseph Sabin (1821-1881) told why works by artist George Cruikshank (1792-1878) were valued and deemed collectible.

“CRUIKSHANK. This veteran inimitable and popular artist, whose works have afforded boundless amusement to all classes on both sides of the Atlantic, …. … There is no living artist who has used his pencil so often or so well for the benefit of mankind. Society owes him a debt not only for much enjoyment but for many valuable lessons. He is a great teacher of morality, whom the people should ‘delight to honor.’ It need only be added that George is popular among his associates. His face is an index to his mind. There is nothing anomalous about him or his doings. His appearance, his illustrations, his speeches are all alike - all picturesque, full of fun, feeling, geniality and quaintness. His seriousness is grotesque, and his drollery is profound. He is the prince of living caricaturists, and one of the best of men.” The American Bibliopolist Vol 3 1871 page 134-135.

Note on pictures above: At right, detail from a photograph taken ca. 1920 of Case 50 in the Exhibition Room of the Princeton University Library. The case shows several books from the Library’s collection of George Cruikshank, presented by Richard Waln Meirs, Class of 1888, in 1913. Two items are identifiable: cover of My Sketch Book (1834, issued in 9 parts) and plate 3 of part 6 “Porters.” [Call number: (GA) Cruik 1834.2q]

Further details about the Library’s extensive holdings of Cruikshank books, prints, drawings, and manuscripts are the following links:


An illustrative chart by William S Heckscher, probably drawn in the 1950s.
[Click on thumbnail above to see much larger image.] This is a chart meant to be read two ways.
    First, reading from left to right gives a sense of chronological change, from ancient times on the left to the seventeenth century on the right. Secondly, the chart can be read in zones, as follows:
• Focal point of the chart is the first emblem book, the Emblematum liber by Andrea Alciati, first published in Augsburg in 1531.
•To the left of the focal point are arrayed 19 sources and seven antecedents.
•To the right are a series of branching diagrams covering seven diverse types of emblem books developing after Alciati. These are heroic, moral, and didactic, together with their subdivisions.
   Note the foot of the chart: here are glosses for the labels above. For example, at lower left, the label ‘Egyptian: Hieroglyphs’ is explained as ‘Obelisk in Rome’. Much of the text of this chart was reworked in 1954, when it was incorporated into the Library’s exhibition The Graver and the Pen: Renaissance Emblems and Their Ramifications. (ExB) 0639.739 no. 12 [link to full text ]
   Prof. Heckscher was a keen collaborator in the Library’s efforts to collect and interpret emblem books. He collaborated in publication of the 1984 short- title catalogue of emblem books in the Library. He complied The Princeton Alciati Companion: A Glossary of Neo-Latin Words and Phrases used by Andrea Alciati and the Emblem Book Writers of his time, including a Bibliography of Secondary Sources relevant to the Study of Alciati’s Emblems (New York, 1989). At present, Princeton’s holdings of emblem books and their cognates number more than 700. The collection continues to grow yearly.

A Look at Belle da Costa Greene

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Thumbnail image for belle.jpg. Used with permission of Nicholson Baker.

“Fifty Thousand Dollars for that Book!” Color-printed illustration by Alexander Popini published on page one of The World Magazine (New York), May 21, 1911.

Belle da Costa Greene, librarian of the Pierpont Morgan Library between ca. 1906 and 1948, began her library career at the Princeton University Library.

She started in either 1901 or 1902, depending on the source consulted. Received tradition is that she was the protegé of Junius Spencer Morgan, associate librarian from 1897 to 1909, who, in turn, arranged for her employment by his uncle, financier J. Pierpont Morgan. She began work for JPM in January 1906 and by 1907-8 she was referring to herself as ‘librarian’ (cf. Pierpont Morgan Library Archives, Morgan Collections Correspondence, 1887-1948, Call Number: ARC 1310, G. Gruel, L.).

Little documentary evidence of her work at Princeton remains, however, in the files of collector Morris Parrish (1867-1944) is the following 1934 letter from bookseller E.V. Maun to Parrish. Belle Greene’s unexpected physical characteristics were a source of curious questions from the white alpha males of the rare book world in which she worked. Even though the following is cited by scholar Heidi Ardizzone in her amply detailed biography of Belle Greene’s passage as a woman of color from “prejudice to privilege,” the letter is worth reading in full.

March 27, 1934
Dear Mr. Parrish:

At 11:30 this morning, I delivered the books to Miss Bella da Costa Greene and attach herewith a receipt for them, given at her instance and by her hand because she had visions of being snipped off by a taxicab when she went to lunch.

Miss Bella da Costa Greene is fortyish with brown hair and wears horn-rimmed spectacles.  My first impression of her was that she looked bloated as if she had a touch of dropsy or perhaps drank too much, although she is not overly heavy and still not thin.  She has a bulbous nose (perhaps caught from the numerous photographs of her patron, many of which hang, stand and lie about her office) and her skin must be very swarthy, for, she wore white powder which made her look kind of speckled gray, like the negro you see pouring dusty cement into the mixers on building construction jobs.  She was dressed in a sort of classic garment of black velvet relieved here and there by bits of chartreuse lace.  She has short, stubby fingers and chews her nails—to the quick.

Miss Bella da Costa Greene was very gracious and made an appointment to see me at 11:30.  I was exceedingly flattered at my distinction when I heard her tell the operator upon several occasions that she was in conference with scholars and could take no calls.  She brought out the Dickens that had been offered and pronounced an anathema upon all collectors.  

They decided one day that the 1884 book was the first and then decided that the 1883 was the first and why should she bother her head about all of this business anyway.  She did give you the distinction, however, of labelling [sic[ your books the best she had ever seen and they certainly were infinitely better than the ones she had.  Hers were badly faded and the bindings were somewhat battered.  Her 1883 copy was inscribed by Dickens on Dec. 17, 1893 and hence she could see no reason why anyone could see the 1884 book as a first and she was decidedly annoyed that any particular value was placed upon the Stave I—for such a little difference was of no specific import.

Miss Greene told me that she would like to see your library but that she could scarcely afford the time because she had to spend so much of her time with scholars.  She hesitated a long time before writing to you, because she felt it was somewhat presumptious [sic] but finally bolstered up the requisite nerve.

She detailed a man to show me through the library and I spent considerable time in the manuscript vault, looking over the Dickens, Collins, Byron, Browning, et al.

I stopped in yesterday to see the dealer, Edward L. Dean and looked over what he had.  His prices seemed quite fabulous and I doubt that there is much that would interest you.  It is well that you keep him at postage distance or he will talk an ear off you.  I went through his safe with him, heard all about his children’s croup and spent no more than 15 minutes there.  He professes to be a close friend of A. Edward Newton and accuses his friend of creating artificial values for books by the media of his writings in magazines, etc.  Dean also collected for Jerome Kern and says that Harry Smith has been taken to Arizona for his health.

I forgot to tell you that Miss Greene disapproves of your book covers and continued to protest about them even when I told her that they were used only to protect the books while I was transporting them.  She would also like to meet Mrs. Maun and have her see the library some time.

I hope that this report of your New York agent is adequate and withal, comprehensive.

And I do thank you for the perfect week-end.

Very truly yours,
Ernest V. Maun

Source: C0171, Series 4: Parrish correspondence, box 22, folder 1

This is the third, and for now closing, entry on books owned by Americans before 1700, and in particular, those of Thomas Shepard, (father, son, and grandson), seventeenth century New England Puritan ministers. [Particulars: Thomas Shepard (1605-1649) of Cambridge; Thomas Shepard (1635-1677) of Charlestown; Thomas Shepard (1658-1685)] of Charlestown.]

Statistics (as of 20 December 2012):
Holdings of Shepard books by libraries

• 42 titles in 44 volumes at the Princeton University Library [from the library of Samuel Miller (1769-1850)]
• 16 titles at the Princeton Theological Seminary Library [also from the library of Samuel Miller (1769-1850)]
• 65 titles in 19 volumes at the American Antiquarian Society [Mostly in the Mather family library; note: 25 are bound in one volume inscribed “Thomas Shepard 1660” - see: Thomas J. Holmes, “Additional Notes on Ratcliff and Ranger Bindings,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, N.S. 39:2 (1929: Oct 16), p. 291-295)]
• 7 titles at the Massachusetts Historical Society
[See for much provenance detail from Jeremy Dibbell]
• 6 titles at Harvard (5 at Houghton, 1 at the Divinity School Library)
• 1 title at the John Carter Brown Library [detail]
• 1 title at the Pierpont Morgan Library (TS II’s Eliot Indian Bible) [detail]
• 1 title at the Huntington Library [detail]
• 1 title at the Folger Library [detail]
• 1 title at the New York Public Library [detail]
• 1 title in Bentley Collection at Allegheny College
• 1 title at Boston Public Library

Total extant: 143 titles distributed among thirteen libraries

In addition, there are books known but untraced, as per the following entry from the diary of John Langdon Sibley, librarian of Harvard (assistant from 1825-1826 and 1841-1856, librarian from 1856-1877, and librarian, emeritus from 1877-1885.)
“December 21, 1854
Thursday. Called on Rev. William Jenks, D.D. to procure a tracing, for Duyckinck, of New York, of an autograph of Thomas Shepard. He said Charles Francis Adams was a descendant & might have some of his books & writing; but unless he had he knew of only one besides the one in a Bible which he owned, & that was in a set of Augustines Works which he gave to go to the missionaries in Syria, where it probably now is. The Dr. showed me the Bible, also Cotton Mather’s manuscript Paternalia, which he owns & various other rarities, among them incredibly long & minute genealogical tables of his family. ….” (source:

[For details about some of the Thomas Shepard books, see]

[As to manuscripts of Shepards: see: American Antiquarian Society (Shepard Family Papers), Houghton Library (Shepard, Thomas, 1605-1649. Papers (bMS Am 1671)), New England Historic and Genealogical Society Library (Mss 553: TS I compiled “Confessions of diverse propounded to be received and were entertained as members” ca. 1635-1640) and the New York Public Library (TS I’s Journal, call number Mss Coll 2741)]

Selected notabilia

• Inscriptions (one of several examples)

“Thomas Shepard’s Book. 1669. June. 8. # Bought with the money (viz. ten shill[ings]) wich that most Reverend & Apostolicall man of God, Mr J. Willson, 1st pastor of Boston 1st Ch[urch] gave me in his Will. He dyed Aug. 7. 1667.” - on gutter of the title page of George Gillespie, Aarons Rod Blossoming (London, 1646) (Ex 5919.391)

• Annotations

In addition to written marginalia, Thomas Shepard II (1635-1677) used system of symbols to mark passages, such as

The origins of these symbols appear to be from a common stock of astronomical and chemical signs, such as those given in Basil Valentine in his Last Will and Testament (London, 1671) “Chymicall and Philosophycall Characters usually found in Chymicall Authors.” Such symbols are also seen at

Assuming that a sign’s original significance might give a clue as to its meaning for Thomas Shepard II, some findings show this assumption to have some validity. For example, there appears to be some consistency with the use of the quartered circle or the circled cross. Among the several significations for this sign, it was an early sign for Terra (Earth). What sort of passage would have earthly import? A number of times, Shepard marked passages relating to the duties of magistrates with the quartered circle. Here’s an example,

Page 64 in Samuel Rutherford, Free Disputation against Pretended Liberty of Conscience (London, 1649). (RCPXR 5747.795)

• Summaries of text
Found between pages 90 and 91 of Thomas Hall (1610‐1665) The Beauty of Magistracy, London : printed by R[obert]. W[hite]. for Nevil Simmons Bookseller in Kederminster, 1660. (RCPXR 5228.427).
Slip measures 7 cm x 7 cm.

Apropo of this small slip is the following from Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana (Volume II, p. 124 of the 1820 edition): “… his piety was accompanied with proportionable industry, wherein he devoured books even to a degree of learned gluttony; insomuch, that if he might have changed his name, it must have been Bibliander. … he had hardly left a book of consequence … in his library (shall I now call it, or his laboratory) which he had not so perused as to leave with it an inserted paper, a brief idea of the whole book, with memorandums of more notable passages occurring in it, written in his own diligent and so enriching hand.”

In the above passage, Mather is writing about TS III. Yet to be determined is which Thomas Shepard wrote this summary.

Other notable topics

a] Several books have long, detailed indices written in the hand of either TS I or TS II or both. Why were certain topics deemed index-worthy?

b] Shorthand — A number of the books have notes in shorthand. Could these shorthand notes relate to the document in shorthand discussed in the following article? Francis Sypher, “The ‘Dayly Observation’ of an Impassioned Puritan: A Seventeenth-Century Shorthand Diary Attributed to Deputy Governor Francis Willoughby of Massachusetts,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society,N.S. 91, April 1981, pages 91-107. The ‘Dayly Observation’ diary has written on its cover, in the hand of Isaiah Thomas: “Sermons by Rev. Thos Allen and Rev. Thos Shepard the Elder with Observations in Shorthand supposed to be written by Thos Shepard junr son of Thomas Shepard of Cambridge” and it forms part of the Mather Family Papers at AAS.

c] The larger question of the dispersal of the Shepard family library. Ownership evidence in Shepard books at Princeton indicate that the heirs of TSIII held the books throughout the 18th century. Preliminary findings show that they passed to Samuel Miller sometime between the mid-1790s and mid 1810s. The Shepard books that did not get to Miller each have their own story of successive possessors.

d] The signature and date ‘Thomas Shepard’s book. May 9, 1667’ appears on a front free endpaper of Princeton incunable ExI 5201 .678, Biblia latina [Lyons:] Johannes Siber [after 7 May 1485, about 1488] (Goff B-615). The Bible also carries the TS brand on the top-edge. Could this Bible be the earliest, still extant dated instance of American ownership of an incunable?

Detail from Martin Luther, Enarrationes (Strasbourg: Georg Ulricher, 1535), leaf 453 verso.

What has made the identifying the Shepard books possible? Nothing in the catalogue records identified them, so the process proceeded by other means.

At the beginning stages of the process, I soon noticed attributes common to all — the books had accession numbers falling into a close range of numbers, the date of accession stamped in each was also within a close range, and usually the books bore a Princeton bookplate noting that the books were formerly owned by the Reverend Samuel Miller and had been given by one of his descendents. Those commonalities suggested that by closely examining the full listing of the Miller gift in the Library’s accession books, I could come up with a set of possibilities from which Shepard books could be positively identified. The Miller gift came in 1900 and, the Library’s accession records for that era always listed author, title, place and date of publication, size, and a note about the binding. Given that the last Shepard died in 1685, it was self-evident that the Shepard books would be a sub-set of all books in the Miller gift printed before 1686. Together with my assistant, I set out to examine every pre-1686 book in the Miller gift. This examination is still in progress and, because individual books are routinely reclassed and relocated as library circumstances change, identifying the present shelf location of a pre-1686 Miller book has sometimes involved piecing clues together from various now superceded Princeton library catalogues.

One book, discovered Friday, January 8, reminded me that each and every pre-1686 Miller book needs to be examined, if all the Shepard books are to be found. Accession numbers 150673 to 150678 are for a set of the works of Martin Luther in Latin. My instinct was that ownership of the works of Luther by a Puritan was unlikely, and, given the press of all that needed to be done, perhaps this entry could be skipped. (There is no entry under Luther in the listing of the holdings of the library of Cotton Mather, see: J. H. Tuttle’s `The Libraries of the Mathers’ in the “Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society” 20 (1910): 269-356.) Nonetheless, my assistant and I looked at the set (reclassed sometime during the 1930s from theology to German literature - but that’s another story) and when the first large volume came down from the shelf, she said “It has the brand!” We quickly pulled down the other volumes. All marked. Remarkable: the Shepards owned a set of Luther.

The last volume to come down off the shelf, labeled ‘VIII’ on the fore-edge, was their copy of Luther’s  Enarrationes (1535). It completely surprised us. There on the last leaf was the following:

“Thomas Shepard’s Books: 1649: August: 25: NE:” The date had a familiar ring to me - I knew I had read it somewhere before. The genealogy of the Shepard family provided the answer - this was the death date of the first Thomas Shepard, the family patriarch and pastor of the church attended by the first students of Harvard College.

And so, new questions arise: Is it likely that Thomas Shepard I signed this on his death day? If his son Thomas, chief inheritor of the books, signed it, then why did he date it on the day of his father’s death? Could it be that some of the Shepard books at Princeton indeed carry the reader’s notations in the hand of Shepard I? [To be continued]


Collectors are fond of classifying, for putting a book in a series gives it meaning. Series are always shifting, and lately because of the work of book historians on the history of reading and book ownership, curators have been rethinking the series into which their books may fall. Recently, in the annual report of the Library Company of Philadelphia, there was notice of a new addition to those books “in the collection known to have been owned by Americans before 1700, ” The recent acquisition put their “current tally at about thirty-six.”

Of course, it’s normal to wonder if this is a big number, small number, or just about the mean for an historic American library. It’s difficult to contextualize this number because much remains to be done to systematically identify such books. Similarly, little is known about what the order of magnitude for the total sum might be.

One conjecture about the over-all was offered 74 years ago. In 1936, Harvard historian Samuel Eliot Morison proposed that “it would be an interesting and by no means insuperable task for one of our industrious bibliographers to make a catalogue of all the books that are known to have been in New England before 1700. My guess is that he would find about ten thousand separate titles, and that the number of copies of each work would range from several thousand of the Bible, and several hundred of the more popular works of puritan divinity down to a single copy of the less common works.” (Intellectual Life of Colonial New England, 2nd ed. (New York, 1956), p. 149.)

He (or she) (a.k.a. “industrious bibliographer”) has yet to appear on the scene.
                            • • •
The rare books collections at Princeton offer material for such a catalogue ranging from books owned by John Norton (1606-1663) (Princeton call number: Exov 5763.518) and Daniel Russell (d. 1679 in Charlestown)(Princeton call number: RCPXR 5959.277), down to John Cotton (1585-1652) (Princeton call number: Ex 5456.276). Only single books are associated with these names, whereas, on the other hand, a remarkable tranche of more than 40 chiefly seventeenth century works of puritan divinity come from the personal library of the Reverend Thomas Shepard (1635-1677) to which his son and heir the Reverend Thomas Shepard (1658-1685) added a few.

In addition to dated signatures appearing in the books, each and every one carries the marking depicted here on the top-edge:

Shepard-close.jpg Shepard.jpg

The mark is the monogram ‘TS’ branded into the top edge. Appearance suggests two simple branding tools at work: a straight bar for the cross stroke and down stroke of the ‘T’, and a half-circle stroke first eastward, then turned westward to form the ‘S.’ [To be continued]

Collecting Ottoman 'Incunabula'

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“The Library of Grand Vizier Ragib Pasha,”
engraving in the
Tableau général de l’empire othoman
by Ignatius Mouradgea d’Ohsson
published in Paris, 1787-1790.

In the new issue of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, a newsletter issued by the department, editorial assistant, William Blair, tells the story of the Library’s collecting books printed on the first Muslim-owned and operated printing press. Any copy of books from the press of İbrahim Müteferrika are rare, yet the Library’s collecting success has been remarkable. The Library now owns fourteen of the seventeen titles published by his press.

Full text of the article

Private libraries: listed, described, detailed: 1855-1919


Lists of private libraries in the United States — contemporary to date of publication

1855 A Glance at Private Libraries (Boston) by Luther Farnham (1816-1897) Boston, Press of Crocker and Brewster, 1855.

1860 Private Libraries of New York by James Wynne (New York : E. French, 1860)

1863-1864 — Hubbard Winslow Bryant publishes notices of private libraries in the Portland (Maine) Daily Press. Collected by Roger Stoddard and reprinted in 2004.

1875Washington Chronicles, Sep 15, 1875. William H. Dorsey Scrapbook Collection 247.1. “Our Libraries. The Public and Private Libraries of Washington”

1878Private Libraries of Providence by Horatio Rogers. Evidently first appeared in 1875 as a series of newspaper articles in the Providence Press

1878 — “Our Private Libraries” - Philadelphia Ledger and Transcript, Nov. 30, 1878. Clipping in William H. Dorsey Scrapbook Collection, vol. 249, p. 28. Continued: [From a Philadelphia newspaper] 1878 William H. Dorsey Scrapbook Collection, 249.2 “Private Libraries. Rich book collections in this city—the library of B.B. Comegys, Esq.—a glimpse at his literary treasures. That excellent literary journal, Robinson’s Epitome of Literature, has been, for the past few months, publishing a series of interesting articles upon the private libraries belonging to citizens of Philadelphia. From the issue for June we take the following …”

1878The Libraries of California: Containing Descriptions of the Principal Private and Public Libraries throughout the State by Flora Haines Loughead (San Francisco, A. L. Bancroft, 1878)

1879 Philadelphia Ledger and Transcript, Jun. 28, 1879. William H. Dorsey Scrapbook Collection, 249.54 “The Private Libraries of Philadelphia. The library of George W. Childs, Esq.”

1886 Brooklyn Eagle, Jul. 18, 1886; page 11. “Books and Pamphlets. Observations among curious Brooklyn shops.” Includes section enumerating the private libraries of Brooklyn. beginning “The great private libraries of Brooklyn are many. …”

1887 — R.R. Bowker in the Preface to the 1887 edition of The Library List proposes to publish a list of private libraries “in the next record number of the Library Journal, at the beginning of 1887”

1892-93 — Charles Sotheran, “Private Libraries” pp. 112-132 in James Grant Wilson (ed.) The Memorial History of the City of New York. Contents: Book-collecting in the Seventeenth Century — The First Private Library Known in the City — Libraries of Frederick Philipse, General Philip Schuyler, and others — The Livingston Family’s Libraries — General Use of Book- plates— A New Literary Spirit Developed at End of the Colonial Period — List of Fifty Important Private Libraries in 1860 — Fate of these Valuable Collections — Changes in the Character of Collections of To-day — Robert Hoe’s Library and its Features — Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet’s Historical Library — The Drexel Library — Libraries of the Rev. Dr. Dix and Samuel P. Avery — William Loring Andrews’s and Rush C. Hawkins’s Collection — Marshall C. Lefferts’s Early Americana—Jay Gould’s Books — The Astor and Vanderbilt Libraries — Thomas J. McKee’s Works on the Drama — Charles W. Fsederiekson’s Shelleyana — Other Private Libraries.

1892 Four Private Libraries of New York by Octave Uzanne

1897 List of Private Libraries. I. United States, Canada [title repeated in French and German]. Leipzig, G. Hedler, 1897. Copy: Harvard University Library, available in Google Book Search [July 2006]. Lists more than 600 entries; index by topic; ads for antiquarian booksellers at end.

1900 Descriptive Sketches of Six Private Libraries of Bangor, Maine by Samuel Lane Boardman (Bangor: printed for the author, 1900)

1910 — “Private Book Collectors” published in the Annual Library Index, 1910 (New York: Office of Publishers’ Weekly, 1910). Note: possible that the predecessors to this annual carried lists of collectors, see: Annual Library Index, 1905-1910, and the previous Annual Literary Index, 1892-1904.

1912 — “Private Book Collectors” listed on pages 195-220 of the American Library Annual, 1911-1912 (New York: Office of Publishers’ Weekly, 1912). Updates the list first published in 1910. Headnote explains scope and changes (approx. 200 words). Arranged geographically.

1913 — “Private Book Collectors” listed on pages 317-348 of the American Library Annual, 1913 (New York: Office of Publishers’ Weekly, 1913). Updates the list published in 1912. Headnote explains scope, notes 300 changes (approx. 200 words). Arranged geographically.

1914 — “Private Book Collectors” listed on pages 303-339 of the American Library Annual, 1913-1914 (New York: R. R. Bowker, 1914). Updates the list published in 1912. Headnote explains scope, notes 500 changes (approx. 200 words). Arranged geographically.

Not in Annuals for 1914-1915, 1915-1916, 1916-17, 1917-18. Replaced by listings for business, special, religious, theological, law, medical, normal and high school libraries.

1919 — J. A. Holden, A List of Private Book Collectors in the United States and Canada (New York: R. R. Bowker, 1919), which went through several editions up to 1948 under the title Private Book Collectors in the United States and Canada.

Restoring Order

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Many at Princeton remember with great esteem the late Lara Moore, who, when she died at age 32 in 2003, was the History Librarian of the Library. Her example and achievements endure in many ways, such as in the able work of her successor, and, now, with the publication Lara’s book, Restoring Order: The Ecole des Chartes and the Organization of Archives and Libraries in France, 1820-1870, based on her Stanford dissertation. Her book is an important contribution to the history of libraries and archives.

Lara argues that the changing French governments shaped and re-shaped libraries and archives in order to mold public perception of their regime. Form and function traced back to policy. From this perspective, the trajectory of library development was not a smooth, upward, continuously progressive path from the disorder of the 1789 Revolution to post-Revolutionary order. Rather, the path was really “a series of very different attempts to recreate both ‘disorder’ and ‘order’ ” (p. 17). She also points out that while we may think we study the past, we should not overlook that we concurrently study previous generations’s conceptions of what they thought about the past (p. 22).

Is there an analog in American library history for this phenomenon? Or, put another way: “Was there an ancien regime to affirm or repudiate?”

Certainly for the ruling Protestants of nineteenth century America there was such an ancien regime to repudiate. I have encountered this attitude in an incident in the history of the Princeton University Library.

In 1878, Evan James Henry, a local Princeton lawyer, presented to the Library rubricated leaves of the Book of Psalms, once part of a Latin Bible printed in Strasbourg, ca. 1468. [Call number: (ExI) 5168.1468q].

At the time of donation, Princeton librarian Frederic Vinton interpreted the value of the gift as follows:

We may, therefore, fearlessly assert that we have a book printed more than twenty years before the discovery of America; about the time Warwick drove Edward IV out of England; while Louis XI reigned in France; before Lorenzo reigned in Florence, or Ferdinand and Isabella in Spain; just after Erasmus saw the light, and before Michael Angelo was born. Scarce one of the existing Universities in Christendom had been founded. All Europe was Catholic then, and free institutions had not begun to be. The spirit of modern discovery had not awakened, and men were still living in the dull ways of the middle ages. Until the Egyptian obelisk arrives, this book will be one of the most venerable things in America.

[Frederic Vinton] “A Rare Book in the College Library,” Princetonian 2, no. 15 (February 7, 1878): 173-174.

Restoring Order (Duluth, Minn.: Litwin Books, 2008) also reviewed in Reading Archives.

Obituary for Lara Moore (1971-2003)

Dr. Richardson Goes Book Hunting: His Report of October 1908

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Esteemed Princeton Librarian and founding editor of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Julian Boyd (1903-1980) described former University Librarian, Ernest Cushing Richardson (1860-1939), as an extraordinary man. “…There are few major ideas stirring the library profession today that did not, in one form or another, germinate in his fertile brain.” (Annual Report, 1947, p. 9)

Richardson’s tenure at Princeton was from 1890 to 1920, and his connection with the University continued even later first with the courtesy title of ‘Director’ and later as emeritus. These were vibrant, expansive years for academic and research libraries, when for the first time librarians in American higher learning began to think about programs of national scale. In many respects, their collective thinking synchronized with comparable thinking occurring in the learned professions, government, cultural institutions, and higher education. Richardson’s ideas ranged from standardized, national rules for cataloguing to various ideas for sharing the resulting catalogue records among libraries. He was insistent on establishing all manner of union lists, including what we now know today as NUC Pre-56. He devised methods for inexpensive distribution of holdings information, using the ‘title-a-line’ format resulting from the easy production of a 100 character lead-type line by a Linotype machine. Richardson also had wide-ranging ideas about adventurous schemes for collection development in academic and research libraries in the United States.

What academic libraries should buy, how they should buy it, and where they should buy it were all open questions in Richardson’s day. In 1891, the University of Chicago sought to resolve these questions initially by purchasing the entire book stock of the learned German bookselling firm of S. Calvary Buchhandlung in Berlin - a projected purchase of over 300,000 volumes and 150,000 pamphlets. In the end, Chicago took only about quarter of all these items, but set a basis for rapid growth. By 1900 they possessed the fourth largest academic library in the United States at over 303,000 volumes. Other libraries continued a program, first begun in the nineteenth century, of purchasing the libraries of learned professors. The progression of these purchases is well documented in the 1912 publication issued by the United States Bureau of Education entitled Special Collections in Libraries in the United States.

Yet another model resolving these questions was individual local work done by a head librarian carefully developing lists of wants, then foraying into the book market to fill those wants. During the 1890s at Princeton, records indicate that Richardson labored over producing a list of over 200,000 wants for the library. This was, in short, his reckoning of what the core collection of a leading American university library should be. Unfortunately, no individual particulars about those 200,000 wants are known; we only know the fact that he intensively developed such a list.

In the document that follows, dated October 12, 1908, we get a glimpse of Richardson the individual at work. He has returned from a long working tour of Europe during the winter of 1907 - 08. He was excited about the outcome of his book hunting, financed partly at his own expense and partly through the support of two long-time boosters of university development at Princeton —— Moses Taylor Pyne (1855-1921; Cl ’ 1877) and Arthur H. Scribner (1859-1932; Cl’ 1881). The former being a scion of the wealth stemming from Moses Taylor (1806-1882), one of the richest men in New York, and the later of the famous publishing firm. Richardson was constantly aware that they were of the ilk who thought daily about ‘return on investment’ and who sought reassurance that their money was well-spent. Richardson knew that spending other people’s money was an exercise in confidence-building, so the tone of his report is that of providing evidence of cunning stewardship. For him, future gifts were the result of present actions.

[Princeton, October 12, 1908
Annexed to Librarian’s Report to the President and Trustees
By Ernest Cushing Richardson, Librarian]

Special Report on Purchasing Trip Abroad
    As mentioned in June and in the report to which this is annexed, the librarian, who was spending last winter abroad, took advantage of the gifts of Messrs. M. Taylor Pyne and A. H. Scribner with certain other provisions to buy something less than 12,000 volumes of acknowledged value, for something over $5,000.
    The effort was made to test for his own information and for the information of the trustees how far the market cost of books could be improved on by special methods of purchase when there was capital in hand.
    Pains were taken to exhibit as many as possible of the various kinds, classes and ways in which advantage may be had: (1), buying in bulk (2), buying in quantity (3), buying from small dealers (4), buying in out of the way shops (5), occasional bargains from large dealers (6), buying at auction (7), buying of non-booksellers.

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    Purchase memoranda were roughly classified (1) immediate wants, (2) early wants, (3) books of acknowledged value but not presently needed. Books of the first class included those which it was known would be, if not gotten this winter, shortly bought in routine at the market price. Any reduction at all on the market price for these was of course so much clear gain. The second class, that of early wants, included the books which it was likely might at any moment pass into the first class and the general plan was to buy such if they turned up at half market price. The third class included the very large number of books evidently useful sooner or later. Beyond this class and shading into it is a great mass of minor usefulness or valuable for rarity or curiosity to be bought in general only when the bargain is great. In this class this year were a great many Americana which in many American Libraries would be counted at least in the second class.
    Booksellers were visited in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, the South of France and Spain. Few books were purchased in Holland and Germany, except the Goertz: lot of 3800 at Berlin. In Switzerland perhaps a couple of hundred were gotten at Lucerne, Zurich and Stans. In Italy, a few were gotten on the Lakes, a few more at Milan and Bologna, a couple of thousand more or less at Florence, Leghorn, Pisa, Siena and neighboring points, as many at Rome, a few hundred on the Rivera, a thousand or fifteen hundred in the South of France and perhaps half as many more in three or four places in Spain, chiefly in Madrid.
    Germany, where the book trade is so well organized, proved as always not so good a hunting ground for individual bargains as Italy or the smaller cities of France but the Goertz collection this year has afforded an excellent example of what may sometimes be done even in Germany by buying a bulk. In general we do nothing with this class of buying (as I said when this collection was first offered) but, properly managed, it may be one of the best methods for cheap buying. The principle of such buying is, to be sure that a certain number out of the lot is worth the price of the whole and consider the rest thrown in. In

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this case I satisfied myself before purchase that 1/3 the books would be priced in a fair priced German catalogue at three times what was paid —- having satisfied myself first of all that it was an unusually useful lot, in unusual condition, and with almost no duplicates.
    Auctions were attended at Florence and Rome and it was found that, with careful preparation, these Italian auctions are still among the very best sources of reasonable purchase in the world. Among the best sources of purchase when one has a large purchase list and a good memory for prices are the bookshops in the smaller places and those shops in the larger places which have no printed or even written catalogues and where no language in spoken save the vernacular, but when one’s range of wants is small the searching book for book through hundreds of thousands of volumes of stock is hunting a needle in a haymow. The larger and more disorganized stock, the better the chance of bargains, but to look at each one of one hundred thousand volumes takes much time patience and industry and does not pay unless one has so many wants, that he may expect to find, say, 1 in 1,000 volumes examined.
    With careful memoranda, another of the most satisfactory sources of purchase especially when the list of wants is moderate is the native shop with the priced slip catalogue of stock. Here one may purchase from his memoranda with mathematical certainty. In Florence where there was most time available, three book-sellers were worked in this way, under the uniform understanding that if more than $40.00 worth was bought, there should be a 25% discount. In each case it would have been possible to have bought two or three times as many books at 1/3 the known market price, if time and money had permitted, but it was necessary to save both for other cities.
    It is often asked if one cannot buy just as well from catalogues as from shops and it is true that the catalogues of the smaller dealers are a great possible

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source of bargain, but in the first place none of the minor dealers publish more than a small fraction of their stock and, in the second place these same catalogues are one of the chief sources for the organized trade especially in Germany and the most obvious bargains are immediately snapped up. Even a telegram was not quick enough to get for us a $50.00 copy of a $200 set which appeared in a little South Italian catalogue —- a set for which we were glad to pay $90.00 later; as it stood almost to the head of our list of wants.
    The only really satisfactory way to purchase is to have memoranda of precise prices. This implies large want lists and very careful preparation, for it requires the utmost familiarity with prices and the kind of things which go to make up values in order to judge from general knowledge. With such familiarity a good deal can be done by guessing prices, and it must often be done. There is for example no way of getting actual quotations on unique documents and there is no great risk either in purchasing say a book on America, before the year 1700 for 25 or 30¢ whenever the opportunity offers. If, however this is done on any very large scale a certain percentage of errors may be allowed for. Mistakes are sure to be made now and then in both directions and one has not only the pain of having paid too much sometimes but often the chagrin of having missed good opportunities through ignorance of values. There were at least two narrow escapes last winter; in one case I hesitated to pay $2.50 for a book which proved worth $35 and at another time hesitated over giving $3.00 for a lot which proved worth several hundred dollars. If another dollar had been asked in either case, Princeton would have lost the bargain.
    In general the buying from non-book-sellers in not very satisfactory. If one knows exact values, it seems morally necessary to pay a private individual at least 1/3 of the average memorandum price as being what he might hope to get from a dealer. The dealer in art antiques however often has a few books, and although the prices for these are apt to be extravagant, there are liable to be bargains among them. This was found to be the case at Lucerne, at Pallanza, in one case at

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Rome, at San Remo and since returning to America in one excellent case at New London. In purchasing of dealers whether of books or of antiquities, one may purchase in good conscience on the best terms that he can get since the dealer has made his legitimate profit in any event.
    While dealers everywhere in general claim not to give more than 10% discount and many of the best dealers are stiff in this, it was found that purchase of quantity often led to a 25% or even 40% discount and one dealer hinted even at 50%. No less than three large dealers practically said that their figures were for amateurs and that they would make the prices “right” for a librarian. Many such dealers offered to consider any offer and to “adjust” any difference of opinion: in one case a well known expensive dealer “adjusted” for about 1/3 the price printed in his catalogue.

    Turning to report on the net result or purchasing last winter as compared with the routine purchases at the market rates, two or three things should be stated. In the first place 10% must be deducted from catalogue prices in reckoning the net catalogue price compared with cash price paid. In the second place it is true that the catalogues differ a great deal among themselves and no doubt the prices of many of them are excessive, but in point of fact the more expensive dealers quoted are those recommended by the American Library Association’s Committee on book buying and who are known to have sold largely to American libraries and Professors in our a University recently, at a maximum discount of 10%. The comparisons made are generally on a basis of 20 cts. to the franc and .25 to the shilling or mark.
    In comparing prices it is always necessary to take into account condition and binding and these have been so taken into account go far as possible, but it has not always been possible to discriminate in detail between auction and catalogue and cash prices.

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    The comparisons of prices here given are of necessity chiefly by comparison of the price paid with the auction or catalogue prices. The very best comparison would be with prices known to have been actually paid by American libraries for the same books. This is by the nature of the case difficult to get at, but in a few cases this method may be applied to duplicates among our own purchases and to books bought by Professors for their own use. In one important case the Goertz collection, we are able to make a pointed illustration of this most concrete of all bases, that of prices actually paid by another library.
    This Goertz collection is the chief, and practically the only example of buying in bulk among these purchases. The collection consists of about 3800 or (if separate works bound in the same volume are counted) 4,000 volumes printed in the 16, 17, 18th centuries, in admirable condition. They represent that part of an excellent library, collected in the 18th century, which was not wanted by the Berlin Royal Library, simply because it already had the books. They represent, therefore, books which had been deemed worth adquiring for the Berlin Library and presumably thus form on the whole the more immediately useful, if less rare, portion of that library. We paid less than $750 for them on the spot or perhaps .18 a volume. The bulk was so disproportionate to price however that they had cost over $1,000 when laid down here, although the expenses of packing and transportation were reduced to the lowest terms.

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In this matter we have the following clear case of comparison with the actual purchase price of another American library. At the Sunderland Library sale, some years ago, Professor Hartranft of the Hartford Theological Seminary, of is library, checked through in the catalogue those numbers for which he saw definite scholarly use, checking in general history and philology as well as theology. The numbers were checked with 1 2 3 4 5 or 6 crosses to indicate the order of importance and directions were given to the agent to purchase only such as went cheap. In the Goertz collection are some 356 volumes which were in that sale. 113 of these volumes are unavailable for comparison because the Sunderland copies had special bindings or autographs which affected the price, but 243 volumes sold for 2225 shillings and of these Hartford got 92 volumes for 906 shillings. These books represented what the agent counted select bargains among the much larger number of books checked. These 92 books, now in the Hartford Library, cost it about $225 on the spot while our copies of the same cost us $18. The whole 243 volumes that we have cost us $45., while the corresponding copies cost Sunderland buyers $550. Examining whether the Sunderland prices are excessive we find recent quotations on twenty two of the volumes. These cost at Sunderland sale $58.75 and in the recent catalogues $110. - or nearly double. It appears thus that the 243 volumes which cost us $45, cost in the Sunderland sale $550 and are presumably priced in recent catalogues at not less than what we paid for the whole 3800 or 4000 volumes.

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2. Another test was made in Italian History and 38 out of 87 volumes in Italian History have a market value of 290 lire or say $1.40 per vol. against 18¢ paid by us.
3. Again of 54 volumes on the History of Holland and Belgium, 17 are found in the two most recent catalogues at a value of $40.65, which with 10% off gives a comparison of $36 to $3 cost.
4. Once more: the section of this collection which was counted least useful for our purchases was that of theology, this department being cared for by the Theological Seminary. This section was happily surprisingly small, being only about 1/8 and nearly half of these of direct value in history and philology. The financial value of these as rarities is such that 110 volumes are priced at $298.50 in standard catalogues.
5. Again: Natural Science and medicine. 13 vols. priced at $30.50 cost us $2.30
The question how useful old books of the sort of this Goertz collection are is one which is often asked. It is not easy to answer such a question concretely, but it may be said in the first place that many Professors who have examined these books have found things useful for their purposes. One of the chief points in getting such books and one of the chief reasons why American scholars are so handicapped in their work, when they are working in this class of material, is the fact that it is only by having the material to use that men find the use that it is to them; not having they do their work without it and their work suffers. It is a pity that no record was kept as to actual use of these books during the month after boxes were opened but there were two or three things which are to the point. One of the first books that Prof. Paul Van Dyke saw was one that he had wanted for immediate use, and for which he had already put in an order slip which he canceled when it was found there. At another time another Professor came and said that “Scaliger Poetices 1581” was needed and that three of the departments had agreed to share the expense of getting a copy; could we tell him how much it would cost? We had pleasure in telling him that it was here and bought for a sum quite within the united resources of the three departments, having cost, including importation expenses, perhaps 25 cents.
    Another way of seeing the value of such books comes out by the fact that the prime object of the purchasing last winter was sources for history, this being the object for which Mr. Pyne had given his money. In this line the Goertz collection includes 56 sets properly under the head of collections, 11 of these being series of Scriptores while there were also 27 volumes of Treaties of Peace and 234 volumes of early historical periodicals giving the current events

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of the time and most useful for historical purposes.
    And finally: Shortly after my return last spring the library had specific suggestions from two Professors (one of the Prof. Osgood) as to whether we couldn’t do some thing in the way of Neo-Latin writers in which we were weak. Dean West had previously made a suggestion to the same effect and it had been with a good deal of interest that the librarian had found this collection rich in this line. When considering purchase, it was with much pleasure therefore that the was able to tell Mr. Osgood and Mr. Critchlow that there were no less than 108 items in this field in the Goertz collection.
    It may be said in brief of the Goertz collection that the total number of volumes embraced in these five sample tests is 421, costing us $74.80 having a catalogue valuation of $975.50 or more than was paid for the 4,000 volumes. These 4,000 volumes at the same ratio would be worth more than $9,000 (less 10%) and, although the ratio of the remaining will probably be less, it is fair to say that a reasonable market price is more than was paid from all the 12,000 volumes purchased last winter.

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    Turning from the Goertz collection to the remaining 2/3 of the purchases, it is not quite so easy to get a definite statement for books purchased in such various methods and places without a complete working up of catalogue prices for all but there are two or three lines of analysis which give a pretty good view of general values.
    The chief object in purchase was historical sources for which Mr. Pyne had given money. The figures for these books is especially interesting on account of the fact that the majority of items fall within the first and second classes of purchase i.e. those in which it is a decided economy to buy for 50% of the catalogue price. A report made to Mr. Pyne in January included 343 volumes for which we had clear market prices of $719.60 and which cost us $333.50. To this may be added now 186 volumes giving with the others a total of 529 volumes having a market value of $1149.00 and for which Princeton paid $418.00.
    Another good example is in the field of maps and atlases. Just before going abroad a collection of about thirty early American maps were offered for sale to Mr. Pyne. He asked if we would like them and if the prices were fair. The matter was referred to Prof. Bingham who was our specialist and who had an elaborate system of price memoranda. He pronounced the maps desirable and the prices fair and his judgment was confirmed by quotations from recent catalogues. Purchasing during the past winter it was often necessary to get several maps in a lot or a volume and this resulted in a number of duplicates of these maps and from these we get a basis of actual comparison with our buying at ordinary good rates.
    Nearly 100 volumes of atlases were purchased and perhaps 200 separate maps for not more than $200.00. 27 volumes of these atlases seem to have a fair market value of not less than $785.00 and one of the separate maps, purchased with 59 other for $3.00 is quoted at $80.00, several others being worth $10.00 or more each. Circumstances proved that it is much cheaper to buy maps at wholesale than at retail, one of the best ways being to get imperfect atlases —- although it is hard to tell often in the case of atlases what is perfect as copies were published with very different selections of maps. One not very perfect atlas contained, together with several other American maps and many foreign ones, two duplicates of maps purchased by us for $5.75 each. The cost to us of the whole

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atlas was the cost of one single map and the cost of each American map less than $1.00 as compared with the regular market price of $5.75.
    One more illustration may be taken from the works on Latin America purchase through the aid of Mr. Scribner. The price of these have not yet been so well worked out as in the above cases, but 80 out of 196 volumes, costing Mr. Scribner $109 have a catalogue value of $ 463.
    Among these books too we have a cross check for actual purchase prices as one work of first importance cost one of our Faculty $20.00, and appears in English catalogues for £4-8-0 or more, but was gotten for $6.00.
    Another somewhat different line of illustration is found by analyzing all the purchases made at a smaller center: Toulouse. This is as good as any in prices and the condition of the books is very superior. 1053 volumes were bought here for $551.00. A selection of 101 of these volumes indicates a market price of $553.60 leaving the remaining 952 a clear profit. Quotations are now in hand for 468 volumes out of the whole 1053 and these indicate a fair market price of $1104.75 for these volumes and, although these are quite the more valuable portion, indicate a total value of not less than $1800.00 or 2000.00 for the 1053 vols. costing $551.00.
    In bringing this matter to your attention it is not pretended that foreign purchase is the only method of purchase or that other librarians may not exercise this as well as ourselves. The same principles apply to the auction and book-shops of our own country. Only by the nature of the things the bulk of the books wanted even in English are foreign books. These are found here less often and this fact although it now and then works for cheapness on the average tends to a very much higher price. There are few instances in which other libraries do work the foreign travel method in a practical fashion but there is no reason why anyone would not. It is simply a matter of patience, industry and above all of adequate preparation.
    The net conclusion is that with capital, preparation and attention books may be bought for this library at one third or one fourth the market value for books not needed at once.

Original typescript located in the Board of Trustees Records (AC120), box 25, folder 2 (15 October 1908)

Overwrapped in otterskin

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Johann Buxtorf. Lexicon Hebraicum et Chaldaicum (Basel, 1645)
Call number: (Ed) 2291.231.11

Native American and English contact is documented by this copy of Buxtorf’s Lexicon (1645) owned by the Reverend David Brainerd (1718-1747).

Pictured above is the front cover and spine of the book. An otterskin piece, decorated in a pattern characteristic of Native Americans of the Eastern woodlands, wraps over the tattered original spine and boards. Mismatched pattern stripes at the inside corners (not pictured) show the wrapper to be a fragment of a larger piece. This suggests that the wrapper was salvaged from another Indian artifact no longer useful at the time for its original purpose but eligible as repair material. It is unknown precisely when the overwrapper (or, overcover) was added but various evidence suggests occurrence during the eighteenth century.

In 1739, Brainerd entered Yale but was expelled for sympathizing with the Whitefield revival and, so it is told, for remarking that a college tutor had ‘no more grace than this chair.’ A missionary of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, the Rev. Brainerd evangelized among Indian groups in New England, New York, and Pennsylvania. His most notable success came among the Delaware at Crossweeksung. In the spring of 1746 he and his Indian wards moved their community to Cranbury. In October of the following year Brainerd died in the house of Jonathan Edwards - a future president of Princeton - in Northampton, Massachusetts. Brainerd was engaged to marry Edwards’ daughter Jerusha when he died of tuberculosis at age 29.

The book was bequeathed by Brainerd to Jonathan Edwards and was passed down through Edwards’s descendants, including the Rev. Tryon Edwards, and Dr. Fitzhugh Edwards. It was presented as a gift of the descendants of Jonathan Edwards through Mrs. William F. H. Edwards on September 7, 1907. It followed the family’s earlier gift of books from Edwards’s library made on September 27, 1897.

The Library has loaned this book to Morven for the exhibition “Picturing Princeton 1783: The Nation’s Capital,” on view until June 2009.

'The rare book library as a research centre'

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In 1956, a year before Thomas R. Adams became librarian of the John Carter Brown Library, he queried the university librarian at Princeton about the administration of the rare book collections in the library. The questionnaire was part of a larger survey project resulting in Adams’s article in Library Trends, entitled “Rare Books: Their Influence on the Library World.” (April 1957). Adams’s first five questions were headed “Origins of the Collection.”

Tom Adams was always interested in fundamental questions, such as how and why a collection began. I learned this fact when I worked for him between 1969 and 1974. I was reminded again of this characteristic as I listened to several of his closest personal friends in the profession speak at his memorial this past Saturday.

His last publication appears in the Winter 2008 issue of The Book Collector. It is a valedictory entitled “Defining Americana: The Evolution of the John Carter Brown Library.”

He begins with a remarkable sentence: “The emergence of a rare book library as a research centre had its origins in a reaction to the growth of the tax-supported free public library.” In one swoop, Tom Adams has told us how began the enterprise in which he made his career. His reason fits a larger theme common in collecting - that all collecting is reparative. Thus, one aspect of the ‘rare book library as reseach centre’ was to provide a locus apart from the leveling, ‘best books’ approach provided by an agency of the modern, democratic state. On the other hand, his genesis story can also be considered in terms of changing public policy. Indeed, Adams moves in this direction on page three in his summary story of American libraries. Their roots, he says, lay in the reading publics associated with colleges, churches, or subscriptions ‘companies.’ But as the reading public enlarged in the 19th century, and, concurrently, as did their voting rights and their popular powers to shape public policy, so did ideas about what a library could be. Tax support enabled possession without ownership — the actuality that readers could have a book in their hands independent of the means needed to control it as property.

Adams’s point then is that owners of precious, rare books found such developments alarming because they disabled a system for the future public life of a collector’s books. For these collectors - Adams gives the names on page one: … Peter Force, Thomas Aspinwall, George Brinley, James Lenox, Henry C. Murphy, James Carson Brevoort, Samuel Latham Mitchill Barlow and John Carter Brown — in the days of their youth, the college, church, and company model was in place. There was a certain wholeness in this model. But, by their latter years, and certainly by the early years of their children, a new, mixed, more democratic model was in place. To recover ‘the place of grace’ tracing back to earlier times, it made sense to set up a future apart and anew. In this context, then, we come to the words of John Carter Brown’s son who declared in his will “that this library … shall preserve its identity as a whole” (p. 5)

Although it makes sense to conclude that for Carter Brown’s son, John Nicholas, the phrase “to preserve its individual identity as a whole” meant disunion with the merging democratic tendencies of a Boston Public or a New York Public, there is still the question as to what was meant positively by this phrase. What is a library’s “individual identity”? Can its identity really be independent of the community that shaped it?

I suggest that the John Carter Brown represents an idea comparable to the the idea of the States United. It represents the hope that a singular act will preserve an abstraction — just as it was hoped that a particular declaration made in Philadelphia one past July would bring liberty.

Therein lies the positive meaning of ‘to preserve its individual identity’ — namely, the point of the library was to define, to describe, to help us understand an idea rather than mass-commodify it. ‘The rare book library as a research centre’ is about questions, rather than answers.

Note: Page citations above are from the reprint of the article whose front cover is pictured above.


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The above is a graph generated by Excel from a table of the holdings for the general rare book collection at Princeton, commonly referred to as the Ex collection.

The x axis (horizontal) is date of publication. The y axis (vertical) is the number of books in the Ex collection with that date.

Of course, the obvious question to ask is: “What does this graph tell us about the general character of the collection?”

On the one hand, there is an expected answer. The number of books held in the collection and printed in a given year rises over time from the beginning of printing in the 15th century down to the present. This enlarging curve is comparable to the standard graph of all books produced worldwide from the beginning of printing down to the present. Print production follows the curve of expanding world population. It makes sense that as there are more books produced for a given year, there are more books collected.

However, if you look closely, you will see spikes at the following points: 1640s, 1680s, 1770s, 1790s, and the 1860s.

Q. What is the reason for these spikes?

A. War, revolution, and the threat of revolution.

The collections have long had a bias toward books printed in either Great Britain or the United States. Such were the cultural origins of many of past donors and providers of endowments. Recovering origins has long been a characteristic of collecting. But these reasons would only account for general trends.

More specifically, war and revolution are periods that produce a surge in the production of print. Contest and controversy accelerate communication. When it is over, however, it makes sense that there are those who seek to recover what has been lost and determine what has come about afterwards by collecting. Their collecting follows the publishing patterns of war, revolution, and the fear of revolution.

1640s - The English Civil War generated innumerable pamphlets
1680s - Restoration of Protestant monarchs to the English throne
1770s - War in the British Colonies in North America
1790s - Fear in England of the invasion of French revolutionary ideas as well as of Napoleon’s army
1860s - Civil War in the US / War between the States

Parallel worlds -- The New Bibliopolis



At right is figure 1.4 in Willa Z. Silverman’s recently published The New Bibliopolis: French Book Collectors and the Culture of Print, 1880-1914 (University of Toronto, 2008). “Binding with silver and gold tooling by Pétrus Ruban (1896) for Voltaire, Zadig, ou, La Destinée (1893).” [Illustration credit: Princeton University Library, Rare Book Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, (Ex) PQ2082 .Z3 1893q]

Explaining why and how this book came into the Library, not to mention that it was first owned by Henri Beraldi (1849-1931), an important character in the New Bibliopolis, is a story unto itself. More fundamental is a larger narrative of two parallel worlds. Considering closely the story of the New Bibliopolis provides an intriguing glimpse at collecting in the New and Old Worlds at the end of the nineteenth century.

Prof. Silverman provides a comprehensive view of a world created by bibliophiles of a post-war generation. They are the “generation that came of age with the disastrous 1870 French defeat by Prussia.” (p.12) They were wealthy, literary men who took language and discourse seriously. They prized being able to recognize what the stakes were — technology was going to displace the humanity of communication. Technology was headed to up-end what they prized in communication, such as the stimulation of the imagination. They “established themselves as champions of a paradoxical ‘newness’ that in fact attempted to combine an allegiance to modernity with a stalwart defence of French traditions.” (p.19)

What is striking here is that this group shared a mood now recognized as part of a larger mood occurring internationally in the advanced capitalist nations at the end of the nineteenth century. For the United States, this mood is best documented in Jackson Lears’s No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920, detailing in full the narrative of “a yearning for authentic experience” (p. xix) among the “ruling groups in a developed capitalist society” (p. xvi). This group too was a post-war generation, coming of age after Appomattox.

In both instances collecting served a restorative end. For the French “bibliophiles contemporains,” documented so well by Silverman, collecting meant creating, distributing, and preserving books signaling the ideals of their own era, rather than purchasing, re-binding, and shelving books from the past. For them, modern bibliophily meant being “creative,” “prospective,” and being “a wise friend of books, free from all ostentation and vanity”(p. 5, 16). They dubbed those of the old school as “the archeologicans of the book” (p. 22, 222 n. 4).

On the other hand, late nineteenth century American collectors sought out old books, paid high prices for “Americana” (early European books about the discovery and settlement of the Americas), and valued the transformative power of the original to “connect the present with the past.” Authentic experience was the prize.

The phrase above regarding “connecting” is that of Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918), historian, book collector and first president of Cornell, who added that “in our work, it seemed to me well to impress, upon the more thinking students at least, the idea that all they saw had not ‘happened so,’ without the earnest agency of human beings; but that it had been the result of the earnest life-work of men and women, and that no life-work to which a student might aspire could be more worthy. … ” (Autobiography, p. 407-409)

Olympia Press

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In June, at Christie’s (New York), the Library acquired the collection of Olympia Press publications consigned by the Press’s bibliographer, Patrick Kearney. The work of many years, the Kearney collection brought together virtually the entire output of the Press, more than 400 volumes, published between the firm’s first imprint in 1953 and its last in 1974. Included are books issued in the firm’s several series, such as the Traveller’s Companion Series (Paris and New York), Ophelia Press, (Paris and New York), Collection Merlin, Ophir Books, Atlantic Library, Far-Out Books, Le Grande Séverine, Othello Books, and Odyssey Library.

Put “Olympia Press” into Google Book Search and back come thousands of citations. These range from appearances in such conventional works as Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature or the Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives to less expected locales such as Wittgenstein’s Ladder: Poetic Language and the Strangeness of the Ordinary.

This range of attention reflects that particular double character of the Olympia Press. In 1965, the New York Times noted

“Mr. [Maurice] Giordias began the Olympia Press on a shoestring in 1953. He catered to English speaking tourists, with high priced, highly spiced books in plain covers, stamped ‘not to be introduced into the United States or the United Kingdom.’ Olympia, however, always published more serious books as well. Its current list has such title as ‘The Ordeal of the Rod,’ ‘The Bedroom Philosophers,’ and ‘Lust’ with Lawrence Durell’s ‘The Black Book,’ Valdimir Nabokov’s ‘Lolita,’ J.P. Donleavy’s ‘The Ginger Man’ and novels by Samuel Beckett.”

Illustrated above are the cover and first pages of the firm’s 1962 promotional price-list. The provocative red and black design raises questions.

What is censorship? Its history is that of a constant dialogue between the enforcer, the observant, and the violator. The terms of the dialogue change regularly with time and circumstance. Each side is bound by a sense of order. The enforcer and observant appeal to some sense of local, political order, while the violator usually appeals to some larger sense of order, such as that stemming from one’s sense of nature or of humanity.

It would be easy to push aside past known cases of censorship, as simply relics of a former age. On the other hand, if one is to understand the workings and character of the modern political state, then one must try to understand censorship. It is entirely possible that censorship is as definitive of the modern state as the doctrine of military power or the doctrine of copyright.

If we are to know what censorship meant for those who enacted, enforced, observed, and violated it, we need to see and know what was regarded as offending. A scholarly, disinterested motive to know the past is the basis on which the decision to make this purchase was made.

Cataloguing the collection — book by book — is partially completed and continues through the fall. The purchase also included “approximately 34 folders and envelopes containing typescripts, correspondence from Maurice Girodias (signed), Marco Vassi, and others, pamphlets, leaflets, photocopies of journal articles, and additional miscellaneous items relating to the publishing history of the Olympia Press.” These additional materials are in two parts: one gathered as Manuscripts Collection number C1262; the other as (Ex) Item … (in process, oversize).

Archives in the Metropolis

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London, July 4, 2008. It’s a little before 10 pm. I can hear fireworks out my hotel window. Somewhere in this old metropolis, I would like to think, the loss of empire is ignored while former colonists celebrate independence. And, tonight at the British Museum in the grand room that once housed King George’s library, there were readings from Frederick Douglass and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The books have moved out to the new British Library building. With minimal intrusion, the room has been converted to exhibition space under the theme ‘Enlightenment.’ Although the trophies of empire are everywhere, from the native goods collected by Sir Hans Sloane to a famous engraved stone labeled ‘captured in Egypt by the British Army 1801,’ modern day labels remind us, in the section regarding eighteenth century overseas exploration, that, in light of the viewpoint of indigenous peoples, ‘discovery is a relative concept.’

Nonetheless, discovery is the reason why I am here. I made the journey in order to answer questions about American rare book collectors of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For them the empire of books led to London and a dealer known in his day as the ‘Napoleon of the Book Trade,’ Bernard Quaritch (NY Times, 19 December 1899). Founded in 1847, and continuously in business down to today, the firm generously made its archives available to me for my research. I couldn’t have been better greeted and treated. All the staff were wonderfully helpful and hospitable.

I got some answers, especially about one of Princeton’s primary donors of rare books to the Library, Junius Spencer Morgan. But I also learned a lot about the context in which Junius Morgan made his purchases from Quaritch both retail and via auction. And, surrounding this story of just one American collector is the much larger story of Quaritch’s overseas expansion, in particular into America. Bernard Alfred Quaritch, son of the founder, made his first sales trip to the United States in 1890 and continued thereafter almost annually until his death in 1913. One letter in the archive sums up the outcome of BAQ’s efforts. From New York, on September 15, 1911, he wrote to his business colleague, E.H. Dring: “America is certainly our best market now.” Yet to be answered in detail is the obvious question about how and why did this come to be so. I picked up some signals this trip, but much more exploration is required. After all, ‘discovery is a relative concept.’

Collecting in 19th Century America

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Leary’s bookstore stocked used and antiquarian books, illustration on rear pastedown of blankbook issued by the firm ca. 1880. Call number for blankbook: (MSS) C0938 (no. 62)

The survival of books occurs under contested conditions. In fact, you could say that the whole life cycle of books - creation, production, distribution, use, survival - occurs under contested conditions. Clearly then if the book historian has any job, his or her job is to investigate and understand those contested conditions. Since my work as a curator is chiefly about insuring the survival of books, I’m curious about the back-story to my work, namely, whatever relates to the story over the years regarding the survival of books and the contests surrounding survival.

Lately, I have been trying to understand the world of book collectors and dealers in the United States during the middle of the 19th century. I’ve picked those years because I’ve discovered that they represent a “take off stage” in the arc of the practice of bibliophily in this country. A number of bibliophilic writers maintain that in the US during the period from ca 1885 to ca 1930 there occurred sustained high practice in book collecting, often referred to at the “Golden Age.” It was an age marked by such titan collectors as Henry Huntington and J. Pierpont Morgan, funded by wealth produced the American economy, which by 1900 had become the world’s largest, a position it has held down to the present. It was also an age marked by an unprecedented out-pouring of collectible goods from England and other countries of Europe. One factor precipitating the English flow was the change in the entailment laws, instituted to help English nobles cover the shortfall in income resulting from reduced agricultural production of their lands. The change allowed them to sell manorial property, and the art and books therein were among the first to go. Other factors, such as sales done to meet rising death duties, sustained this flow for years to come. The general contours of the “Golden Age” are pretty well known - there are a handful of histories about this period; there are memoirs of dealers, collectors, accounts of auctions, in goodly abundance. In fact, the period has been institutionalized by the several collector’s clubs founded then and still surviving, the most famous of which is the Grolier Club in New York. The modern era in special collections in university libraries traces back to this period, as does that evidently uniquely American collegiate, bibliophilic institution, the undergraduate book-collecting contest.

My interest is in those years just before this so-called “Golden Age” for several reasons. I have a number of questions: Books, and collectors, and money were around before the t the so-called “Golden Age,” so why didn’t it occur earlier? We know the mores and methods of the generations of the “Golden Age,” so what did their predecessors do that was the same or different? What were the contests relating to the survival of books during these mid-century years? Unlike the story of the Golden Agers, there’s no place to turn to for an explanation of these mid-century years. With no place to turn, I decided to answer these questions on my own.

My hunt for the answers to these questions required and still requires that I look at a number of sources: chiefly, whatever documents I can find by collectors, dealers, or libraries of these years, or about the collectors, dealers and libraries of the mid 19th century. Consequently, I am reading the following:

• newspaper accounts of auction sales, collector’s libraries, stories about the book trade (such as W.C. Prime’s account of bookseller William Gowan’s cellar), etc.

• book trade journals, such as Joseph Sabin’s The American Bibliopolist (1869-1877). [Some vol. available at Google Books .]

• auction catalogues, in particular their front matter, or owner’s annotations. - the Poinier copy of the Rice catalogue (1870) is my best example.

• correspondence - precious little remains in the way of dealer’s correspondence (T. H. Morrell, and then a few others)

• diaries of collectors - see William Templeton Strong

In short, I’m on the hunt for whatever I can find as evidence. Both findings and evidence are very scattered, discontinuous, and scarce. Already emerging are some fragmentary particulars, which I group into three parts as follows: 1) regarding values and mores, 2) further themes and questions centering chiefly around norms, hierarchies, and the notion of gift, and 3) themes and questions yet to be investigated much further, especially the roles of the various agents

Values and norms of 19th cent collectors

• To be “Choice and Select” — “William Gowans, a bookseller who knew American literature better than most of his colleagues, was critical of [Albert Gorton] Greene’s ‘prodigious congregation of dirty second hand hymn books.’ [footnote 1] ‘To put them into a private collection is like choking an elegantly furnished parlor with a quantity of broken and dilapidated furniture, filling up space, and so obscuring the useful and ornamental piece.” [footnote 2]. These quotes from page 16 of Roger E. Stoddard, “C. Fiske Harris, Collector of American Poetry and Plays,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, Volume 57, First Quarter, 1963, 14-32.

• Understanding value — Gowans further criticizes Greene: “Had the judge been a more liberal buyer, his books to-day would many of them have realized ten times the cost. He seemed to think a rise in the price of any book was preposterous; and such a conviction prevented him from making many valuable acquisitions.” — page 17 in Roger E. Stoddard, “C. Fiske Harris, Collector of American Poetry and Plays,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, Volume 57, First Quarter, 1963, 14-32. Note: preposterous = contrary to the order of nature, or to reason or common sense.

• Value of the quotidian — In March 1875, C. Fiske Harris sent out copies of his Index to American Poetry and Plays in the Collection of C. Fiske Harris (Providence: Printed for Private Distribution, 1874). It listed more than 4,000 volumes of poetry, plays, and songs written by Americans. William Cullen Bryant remarked to Harris “Your work, Index to American Poetry and Plays, has amazed me by showing me what multitudes of persons on our side of the Atlantic have wasted their time in writing verses in our language.” [footnote 3]

• Many vs. the few —- “The Astor Library is truly a noble institution. … I hope it will be taken care of, but in the hands of the millions it will soon be tarnished. Books fare bad enough in a College library but when thrown open to Tom, Dick & Harry in a such a City as N[ew] Y[or]K. Heaven save the mark …” John Carter Brown to John Russell Bartlett. 15 December 1853. Papers of John Russell Bartlett, JCB.

“I would prefer a half dozen gems of the first water books beyond criticism, to a cartload of unimportant books - A sale of such richness in Americana may never take place again.” - John Nicholas Brown (age 23) to John Russell Bartlett. 7 January 1884. From Dresden, re: the Henry C. Murphy sale, 3-8 March 1884. Papers of John Russell Bartlett, JCB.

Themes and questions relating to norms, hierarchies, and the notion of gift

•With autograph collecting during the nineteenth century there was the assumption that they had an almost magical utility for mirroring directly the soul of the writer. Another way of putting this idea is that autographs offered an intimacy not reproducible any other way. Poe satirized the credulity of those who believed this proposition. That he satirized testifies to how widespread this belief was. See his “Autography” in Graham’s Magazine (Nov. 1841- Jan. 1842). Clearly at stake here are questions relating to norms and hierarchies: what’s collectible and what’s not, and what categories validate something as collectible.

•More on 19th century thinking about collecting — There is evidence that some then considered collecting to be a process of recovery - the process of collocating what belongs together because there’s a pattern which it is our task to come to realize. This is comparable to intuiting Providence by careful study of nature and nature’s patterns. The implication is that collecting is akin to a moral duty. This was the kind of thinking behind a college collecting publications of alumni, or locals putting together the works of a town’s literary lights. Giving a material form to “genius” was considered the right thing to do. The lowly physical acts of gathering material objects served higher, perhaps spiritual purposes.

•Clearly there are hierarchies among and embedded in collectibles - how do these get established, why are they necessary? I suggest one answer to the question about why hierarchies are necessary — it is because of the “gift economy” aspect of collecting, that is, collecting is done inside an exchange economy, but collecting is not, in the end, really about exchange of cash for goods, but goods for esteem. In a gift economy, the point of exchange is not to tie off relationships, to complete them, but rather to re-enforce them, to continue their binding nature.

•One very important aspect of the “gift economy” was literal exchanges between collectors. I am not precisely sure what all was involved here, but it seems to involve passing one’s duplicates to another in exchange for their duplicates. In autograph collecting, duplicate had a special meaning, yet to be fully determined.

•Genesis story - It seems that by the by the end of the century, it was a commonplace for a collector to have a “genesis story” - some sort of narrative which served to mark out the beginning of the endeavor. Another variant on the genesis story was the tale of the first practitioner, such as the Rev. William Sprague being the first collector of autographs in the US. (How could that be proved?) Such a genesis story may not be the real genesis story, but whatever was invented served the need. Where did the need come from? Perhaps as basic as having an individual having personal name in order to function in a society. The genesis story expanded by century’s end into the collector’s memoir. Early memoirs such as Henry Stevens’s is fraught with struggles with “egoism” or “egotism,” which I take to mean a kind of behavior able to undermine the “gift economy” or “love of man” (philanthropic) aspect of collecting.

•The making of privately illustrated or unique books was considered noble because it was creating a kind of gift. Many “illustrators” intended to leave them to their children as an important legacy. The gift economy was in high contrast to the growing capitalist economy of the nineteenth century.

The dictates of the gift economy may be another reason why Princeton librarian E. C. Richardson used the term “Kept Books.” Valuable gifts were included in that group, so the term connoting the role of gifts as books kept as bonds of relationship.

Also under the dictates of the gift economy, “exhibition” takes on another meaning. It is the making visible of what was or is invisible — the outward showing of an inward bond. And, so the exhibition room in a library is not only where you can see rarities, it is also a court of good will.

Note: change later overlays earlier terminology — the term “Treasure Room” — the term in wide use by the 1920s — is from the Greek “thesauros” meaning store or hoard. The denotation is possession rather than a state of being (viz. exhibiting, keeping).

Yet to be investigated much further — the roles of the agents

•Roles of those connected with the process of collecting and, in particular, those who created dialog about collecting — in particular, the <> Role of dealers (such as, Joseph Sabin and his American Bibliopolist, or Charles De F. Burns, who published American Antiquarian: a quarterly journal devoted to the interests of collectors of autographs, paper money, portraits, &c.) <> Role of public interpreters (such as Charles Dibdin, Herman Ludewig (bibliographer), John Russell Bartlett, or the newspaper reporters who wrote chiefly about the public auctions) <> Role of auctioneers (goods were pushed and pulled into the American market from abroad — dealers imported from London and auction these goods — carrying inventory over time was costly, so the auction created a sense of abundance without long term costs — how did they calibrate what to sell? Perhaps the sale of Charles Lamb’s books in New York in 1848 is a useful case study) <> Role of collectors (gossip that they exchanged with each other)

What does role mean here? There’s more than an exchange of goods. Both as a providing agent and an exchange agent for expert information, these men brought to light what had, so the story went, been hidden in darkness and they showed its relevance for current felt needs, such as keeping up with the “aesthetic wave” or preserving what was vanishing, such as the wave of collecting following on after two of the most important last of the Revolutionary generation, Adams and Jefferson, died in 1826. That is how the story went at that time. I sense a story hidden yet deeper, based in a value system understood at the time, but only uncertainly understood today.

1 Gowans. Catalogue of American Books, for Sale at the Affixed Prices, New York, 1864, No. 27, p.26

2 Idem.

3 Bryant’s letter of 12 Mar. 1875, quoted by John C. Stockbridge in The Anthony Memorial: A Catalogue of the Harris Collection of American Poetry with Biographical and Bibliographical Notes, Providence, 1886, p. xi.

What ever happened to the Broadman Library?


A recent gift to the Library reminded me that I had first read about the Broadman Library in an old back issue of The New Yorker. Joseph Broadman (1883-1966) was a Manhattan medical doctor who eventually gathered more than 500,000 pamphlets, posters, periodicals, and newspapers relating to World War I and the unstable peace thereafter. He also developed a patented method for the preservation of wood pulp papers, chiefly newsprint. The story in The New Yorker was like other stories about his collecting — all either mentioned directly or alluded to common themes, namely, that, in the case of Joseph Broadman, collecting had become:

  1. A pastime turned into a vocation. The theme here is unintended consequences; also, that fulfillment is found unexpectedly, rather than resulting from a series of conventional steps. Example: “Over twenty years ago Dr. Joseph Broadman of New York City, began the pursuit of an unique hobby. Shortly thereafter that unique hobby began the pursuit of Dr. Broadman.” — opening paragraph by Hayden Welles in 1935 article in New York University Alumnus. [See list of sources below for details.]

  2. A private activity now conducted on a scale that makes it a public utility. Example: “Dr. Joseph Broadman of 141 West Forty-first Street, without any previous training in history or library work, without any realization of the magnitude of what he was attempting, has assembled this collection with brings exclamations from historians and librarians.” — paragraph two of a 1930 New York Times article “Novel War Library Grows From Hobby”

  3. A lesson as to what our pubic priorities ought to be. Example: “It is our hope that some day this very valuable library will be on public display. It is a commentary on the times - that no money is available for a collection of information that could well be a vital force for peace.” — Editorial headnote to 1959 article on the Library by Broadman published in General Practice.

  4. An activity that others will eventually “finally” tally. Example: In the 1935 NYU article, the author Welles closes by speculating: “It will be hard when Dr Broadman’s contributions to history are finally tallied to decide which is the greater. Will it be his Library on the World War …or will it be his paper preservative? Welles answers his own question “Probably the latter, for without the preservative, ravenous Time will slowly but irresistibly devour the Library.”

So what happened to the Broadman library?

For years, he tried to sell the collection. His efforts, starting in the 1930s, were directed at university libraries, such as Indiana, and Princeton. After the end of World War II, he renewed his efforts to place the collection by publishing a 35 page pamphlet entitled Broadman Library of World War I and World War II: Including the Years Intervening and Following. Its Inception, Growth, Contents, World Opinion.

Despite Broadman’s efforts, no one took his collection for many years, and one can only speculate on why this was so, as I do later in this note.

Eventually, late in life, in 1966, he gave the collection to a newly established Quaker institution on Long Island, the Friends World College. The college moved around the island several times and eventually settled on the North Shore in Lloyd Harbor. That is where the collection was last seen.

In the spring of 2006, I gathered the story of its last days from former college officials and from local town’s people. To quote my notes:

“I eventually reached Donald W. Smith of Greenport, NY who was on the board of trustees of the FWC in 1990-1991. (1991 was the year in which the FWC merged into Long Island University and became the Friends World Program. The merger had been brought on by a funding crisis.) He told me on April 2, 2006 that the Broadman Library was stored on the grounds in various buildings such as the second floor of the Barn and in some of the stables. He further said it had been offered around by FWC to a number of public libraries as well as to Swarthmore College. No one wanted it. Thus, he continued, when the remaining real estate of FWC at Lloyds Neck was sold in 1990, the grounds, buildings, and contents such as the Broadman Library, passed to the new owner.”

The FWC property was known as Livingston Manor. The new owner eventually pulled down all the outbuildings together with the main house, evidently ca. 1994-95. When the barn containing the Broadman Library was demolished, the contents too passed into oblivion.

Ironically, all that remains of the Broadman Library, as far as I can tell, are records about it, such as correspondence files at the New York Public Library, the FDR Library, Indiana University, even here at Princeton. Publications about the collection issued by Dr Broadman himself also remain. His collection has vanished.

Further reflection • Broadman tried to claim value for the collection by making it part of a category of value that had not been collected by traditional collectors whose goods are preserved by the workings of the antiquarian book market. Instead, and perhaps because of his professional training, he chose to make it a part of a category of value that was created by universities and research institutions. It is they — the professionals — who value breath, depth and equal opportunity for all viewpoints.

There were advantages and disadvantages to Broadman’s approach.

On the one hand, it brought him regard with those from whom he sought regard, such professional men as university presidents, historians, and diplomats.

On the other hand, he did not completely share their values. He challenged an emerging consensus among them regarding the use of microfilm as a means of dealing with the preservation of large twentieth century archival collections. Broadman challenged claims about the stability of microfilm as a satisfactory means for preservation of records. Evidence of the challenge comes from Broadman’s exchange of letters on this subject with Princeton librarian Julian Boyd. In a letter to Broadman dated November 29, 1941, Boyd wrote: “I have read your comments with much interest, though I regret to say with almost complete disagreement. … I am in most complete disagreement with your suggestion that the National Bureau of Standards has been under undue influence in its tests of films, …” Moreover, Broadman also insisted that his collection be preserved with his patented process. (Such a project would cost the host institution untold sums.)

In the end, it was not just lack of money preventing sale of the Broadman Library . For many years, there appears to have been insufficient funds of institutional good opinion, so that, after any money was spent, those in the institution could feel that their opinion had been validated. Just as Broadman wanted to feel better after adding to the Library — he said “There are hundreds of thousands of doctors, but there’s only one library like this” (1941 New Yorker article) — so those in an institution would want to feel better after acquiring the Broadman Library. It takes more than money to preserve a collection.

Another further reflection • The evidence is only suggestive, but I can not help but wonder if Broadman’s motivation for collecting was to accumulate a protective surrogate. Some examples: Official records state he was born in Austria and that German was his native language. The country in which he made his living and raised his family was anti-German. It was clear that he was defensive about his hertiage, as evidenced by a letter to the editor of The New York Times (September 18, 1924) protesting the Times editorial “The Steuben Society Bloc.” Broadman controverted many points, such as the article of the Versailles Treaty that fixed responsibility for the war on Germany. In reply, Broadman wrote “… the publication of the secret archives, Russian, German, Belgian, and Serbian, proves the fallacy of this charge.” In 1940-41, Broadman began issuing “Research Bulletins” with such titles as “Facts vs. Propaganda” and “Hitler, the Man of Honor …?” New York Herald Tribune reporter Barrett McGurn, in his article on Broadman, August 3, 1941, stated that Secretary of the Navy William Franklin “Frank” Knox responded to Broadman’s bulletins as “warning … the world situation leaves no room for complacency.” McGurn concluded that “Dr. Broadman was now stressing in his bulletins the need for America to use all its forces to make certain a repetition of the Allied victory over Germany.”


• Newspaper and periodical articles

“Novel War Library Grows from Hobby. Dr. Joseph Broadman’s Collection of Human Data on Conflict Called Best of Kind. Experts Praise It Highly. Contains Magazines, Newspapers, Clippings Costing Thousands - Several Colleges Seek to Buy It. Has Cost Thousands of Dollars. Untrained as Librarian. Fine War Library Grows from Hobby. Foot Notes Give Many Facts.” The New York Times, Sunday, July 20, 1930.
[available at NY Times archive 1851-1980]

“A Hobby That Became an Institution: the Story of the Broadman Library That Grew From a Handful of Newspaper Clippings Into a Collection of 400,000 Items and an Amazing Invention.” New York University Alumnus, vol. XV, no. 5, January, 1935.

“500, 000 Items in War Library Offered as Gift. Dr. Joseph Broadman, Who Collected Big Work, Will Donate to Any Institution That Agrees to Preserve It.” The New York Herald Tribune, September 8, 1938, page 10.

“Library.” The New Yorker, October 4, 1941, page 15-16. [available at The New Yorker archive]

“One-Man, 50-Ton War Library Wins Renown. Doctor’s Collection, Begun in Pockets, Now Arsenal of Facts Against Nazis.” The New York Herald Tribune, August 3, 1941.

“Dr. Broadman, 83, Library Creator. Author of Book on Curative Role for Bee Venon Dies.” The New York Times, February 26, 1966, page 17.
[available at NY Times archive 1851-1980]

• Pamphlets

William Steward Ayars. Broadman Library of World War I and World War II: Including the Years Intervening and Following. Its Inception, Growth, Contents, World Opinion. (New York: Broadman Library Foundation, 1948) 34 pages. Includes several photographs. [Copy of the brochure is at Mudd Library in AC123 (Library Records), series Librarian’s Records, sub-series Boyd, old box number 148]

Joseph Broadman. The Broadman Library on “War, Peace and International Relations” (New York, 1959). 8 pages. Reprinted from the October 1959 issue of General Practice.

[Related work] Joseph Broadman. The Scientific Preservation of Perishable Papers; A Comparison of the Various Processes of Preservation of Originals and Photographic Reproduction. (New York, Broadman process, inc. [1941]). Includes photograph of Dr. Broadman reproduced above. Broadman is pointing to parcels labeled “Letters to Editors.” This category was one of 12 major sub-divisions of the Library as listed in “Section B” of the Ayars 1948 pamphlet. The other sections were: Newspapers, Indices, Scrap Books (about 1500), Propaganda—Pamphlets and Leaflets, Books (about 3000), Official Records, Posters, Cartoons (several thousand), Scrap Book Index (about 60,000 cards), Periodicals, and Miscellaneous.

• Archival

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Hyde Park, NY • President’s Official File #4825, “Broadman, Dr. Joseph, 1939-45,” contains 71 pages (approx. 20 letters and memoranda) • Samuel I. Rosenman Papers. Folder titled, “Broadman Library of the World War.” It contains 52 pages which consist of some 21 letters and memoranda between March 1942 and November 1943 and attachments. These papers included an 8 page document, “Brief and Incomplete Description of Contents of the Broadman Library.” Broadman and FDR discussed donation of selected runs of periodicals for the library at Hyde Park.

Indiana University. Archives. Bloomington, IN. • File on Broadman in the papers of President Herman Wells, 1938-1943.

New York Public Library. New York, NY. • File on Broadman in the administrative archives of the Library: RG6 (Central Administration Central Administration - Director - Lydenberg, Hopper, and Beals - General Correspondence — Box 7)

Swarthmore College. Friends Historical Library. Swarthmore, PA. • Records of the Friends World College. (RG 4/ 082) Minutes of the Board of Trustees. Vol. 11-13 (April 1971 - January 1974). The minutes of the Trustees Executive Council for August 10, 1972, page 10, “Broadman Library. As previously reported, the Broadman Library collection (an early gift to the college of documents for a peace library comprising a large collection of materials from World War I through World War II). has been badly damaged by vandalization last year of the Nike building in which it was stored. Through the efforts of Francis Koster of C.W. Post College, their chief librarian had taken a look and found it still valuable. That college may help us get funds and a place for it. A further report will be welcomed.”

Princeton University. Archives (Mudd Library). Princeton, NJ. • Library Records (AC123). Sub-series for the papers of librarian Julian Boyd.

On September 28, about 55 delegates to Congress XXV of the Association Internationale de Bibliophile (International Association of Bibliophiles, or AIB) visited the Library for the entire day. In honor of the occasion, the Library published The Invention and Early Spread of European Printing as Represented in the Scheide Library by Paul Needham, the Scheide librarian. Three components make up the large format book: 16 four color illustrations, at exact size; a masterful essay on the Scheide family’s three generations of collecting framed inside the larger narrative of how questions about early printing have been and will be explored; and a final section of 36 bibliographic entries titled “Checklist of Printing in the Scheide Library Pre-dating 1468.” ISBN 978-0-87811-050-6. 32 pages. $15 plus shipping ($2.50 domestic; $9 international)
Send order to Linda Oliveira,

Brayton Ives, collector

Brayton Ives (1840-1914), Civil War general, president of the New York Stock Exchange, and railroad president, formed a library on the model of those from which he obtained his books: Sunderland, Hamilton Palace, Beckford, Syston Park, and Woodhul. The auction of his collection in 1891 was said at the time to be the “greatest sale of books ever held in America.” In the sale catalogue, Ives noted that three of his books, the Gutenberg Bible, the Virgil of 1470, and the Homer of 1488, “will command forever the admiration and respect of educated people as the worthy objects of the highest form of skillful and conscientious typographical work.”


Remarkably, these three books are now at Princeton, having arrived at different times. First was the 1470 Virgil, purchased by Junius Spencer Morgan after the auction and given to the Library in 1895. Ives’s 1488 Homer was bought by Robert Hoe and then acquired by Cyrus McCormick, Class of 1879, at the Hoe sale in 1911; McCormick’s widow gave the volume to Princeton in 1948, twelve years after her husband’s death. When William H. Scheide moved his family library to Princeton in 1959, he brought with him Ives’s Gutenberg Bible.

bk_co_durham.jpg From a descendant, the Library purchased the remaining personal collection of Noah Webster’s son-in-law, William Chauncey Fowler, professor, clergyman and legislator. The 311 titles come to a total of 392 volumes and include books on a wide variety of subjects as well as his personal, marked-up copies of his own works also ranging widely in subject, from anti-slavery to what sorts of books young people should read. Also included are two books formerly owned by his father in law, one of which, Jeremy Belknap’s American Biography (1794), has Webster’s annotation contradicting the author. In addition, because the Fowler family was a share holder in one of the earliest public libraries founded in the United States - the Book Company of Durham, Connecticut (founded 1733), they obtained a number of books from the Library’s stock when the company was dissolved in 1856 and the members voted “to divide the books by auction.” These are variously marked “Book Company of Durham, new library” or “Durham, new library” and include stock numbers (with date of accession as inscribed): 26, 35 (“1789”), 38, 45, 47, 71 (“1791”), 72-76 (“Jan. 3, 1792), 78 (“Jan. 1793”), 86 (“presented by Dr. Stiles, April 8, 1793”), 88 (“presented by Dr. Stiles, April 8, 1793”), 96, 97 (“A.D. 1795”), 101 (“A.D. 1795”), 108 (“1795”), 110 (“A. D. 1795”), 114 (“A.D. 1796”), 129 (“March 5, 1798”), 132, 142-144 (“1800”), 192 (“June 5th, 1812”), 199, 201, 202, 212 (“Jan’y, 1817”), 216, 224, 225, 229, 256, 257, 258, 279, and 286. One book with no stock number is marked “Ethosian Society, Durham, Conn.,” a debating society with a library known to have been formed in 1783 and dissolved in 1793. Few libraries of nineteenth century professors are traceable as a collection today. Equally few are gatherings of books known to have been in one of the thousands of social libraries active in ante-bellum America. Historians of reading are eager not only to know what those books were but to actually examine such documented survivors as these.

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