Recently in Noteworthy long-held accessions Category

New interactive online exhibit for "By Dawn's Early Light"

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In March 2014, the exhibition “By Dawn’s Light” opened at the Center for Jewish History in New York. It details the contributions of antebellum Jewish authors, composers, and comparable creative figures to American culture. The show includes numerous loans from the Princeton University Library.  [See this link for more particulars.]

Available now is an interactive online exhibit allowing one to zoom in closely on items relating to such topics as poetry, theatre, religious work, travel, and several others.

The link for the interactive is:
  A representation of Columbus’ landing on an island in the Bahamas, with caption “Concerning the recently discovered islands in the Indies sea.” Note portion of land labeled “Insula hyspana.” This illustration appears in the [Basel:] I.B. [Johann Bergmann, de Olpe] 1494 edition (Goff V-125 ).

❧ Columbus’s description of his first voyage first appeared in print in a Spanish edition published in Barcelona in 1493. Within four years it had gone through fifteen known editions, including seven Latin editions, one German edition, a paraphrase in Italian verse in five editions, and a second Spanish edition, Valladolid, about 1497. These fifteen different editions were products of presses scattered in ten cities across Europe.

❧ Of these fifteen editions, there is at Princeton an exemplar for three of the seven Latin editions and an exemplar of the German edition. The most direct manner of listing these is the number assigned in F.R. Goff, Incunabula in American Libraries (1964):

• C-758. Latin. [Rome: Stephan Plannck, after 29 April 1493]. Cyrus McCormick copy, presented to PUL. Permanent Link:
• C-759. Latin. Rome: Eucharius Silber, [after 29 April] 1493. Grenville Kane copy, acquired by PUL. Permanent Link: and the Scheide Library copy. Permanent Link:
• V-125. Latin. [Basel:] I.B. [Johann Bergmann, de Olpe] 1494. Grenville Kane copy, acquired by PUL. Permanent Link:
• C-762. German. Strassburg: Bartholomaeus Kistler, 30 Sept. 1497. Grenville Kane copy, acquired by PUL. Permanent Link:

❧ REFERENCE: W. Eames, “Columbus’ Letter on the Discovery of America (1493-1497)” in the Bulletin of the New York Public Library, 1924, 28:597-599. (NB: Eames lists seventeen editions; however, the number is actually fifteen because Eames was unaware that three issued by Marchant in Paris were variants of one edition.)

Update regarding Princeton's copy of Le Miroir des événemens actuels

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The following announcement is of the same disposition as Mark Twain's statement "The report of my death is greatly exaggerated."

A 2011 posting on the blog "Revolution in Fiction" stated that the Princeton copy of Le Miroir des événemens actuels was missing.

C'est pas vrai ! It has always been in the collections of the LIbrary.  A scan of the Library's copy can be seen at

A Brief Essay by Minjie Chen (陈敏捷)

Wrapped in paper and tucked in the protective case of Tong Jian Zong Lei (通鉴总类), a Chinese history book, were four aging black-and-white photographs. With frayed edges and small stained spots, the pictures have nonetheless retained their sharpness, allowing us to see what a skilled photographer had captured through his curious lens one century ago in the hometown of Confucius. Fading handwriting on the back of each photo provided precious clues to their content and provenance.

The history book, compiled by SHEN Shu of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and printed in 1363 during the late Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), is part of the private Scheide Library collection housed in Firestone Library at Princeton University. The photos, according to notes on the back, were taken by a physician named Charles H. Lyon and presented to John Hinsdale Scheide (1875-1942, Princeton class of 1896) by Mrs. Lyon in January 1937.

KONG Lingyi
1. Duke KONG Lingyi (photographed between 1900 and 1918)

The first photo is a portrait of a round-faced Chinese man in the official robe and headwear of the Qing Dynasty. If the ink note scratched on the back, “a descendant of Confucius,” is reliable, the subject of the photo is KONG Lingyi (孔令贻, 1872-1919). As a seventy-sixth generation descendant of Confucius in the male line of descent, Kong inherited the title “Duke Confucius” (衍圣公) from his father at age five. The note also indicates that Dr. Lyon, the photographer, is the “physician to the subject.” It is unclear how often Kong had sought Dr. Lyon’s medical expertise, but interacting with Westerners from afar and posing for photographs would not have been out of place for Duke Kong. European ambassadors and colonial administrators had paid visits to the Confucius Temple in Qufu (曲阜), Shandong Province, and had photos taken with the Duke, who lived in the Kong family mansion adjacent to the temple complex, as generations of the sage’s offspring had done. In a photo held at the National Archives in London, a slightly younger-looking Kong is seen with Reginald Johnston (1874-1938), a Scottish colonial officer who had escorted a portrait of King Edward VII to Confucius’s hometown (and who later became famous for having tutored China’s last emperor, Puyi).

What is remarkable about the portrait taken by Dr. Lyon is that it is a half-body shot of the Duke. During the late Qing dynasty, when cameras were still a novelty to the Chinese, it was taboo to photograph less than a full-body shot of a person, because it was deemed bad luck to have the subject missing arms, legs, or other body parts in photos. Was Kong informed of the outcome of his photo, and was he comfortable about it? As a physician, did Dr. Lyon hold any power of persuasion over Kong, assuring him of the harmlessness of a partial-body picture? At any rate, Lyon’s photograph offers a rare close-up view of the second-to-last Duke Confucius in Chinese history.

2. Queli, an arch outside the east wall of Confucius Temple
Statue of Confucius Stone dragon pillars
3. Statue of Confucius 4. Stone dragon pillars

Three other photos were taken in and outside the Confucius Temple, where ritual ceremonies were performed every year to worship the sage. Photo no. 2 shows an arch named Que li (阙里), which stood outside the east wall of the temple. Confucius was believed to have started his teaching career in this neighborhood, hence the location of the temple. Photo no. 3 is a front view of the statue of Confucius in Da cheng dian (大成殿, meaning “the Hall of Great Achievements”), which was the architectural center of the temple complex. The statue was inaugurated in 1730 (the eighth year in the reign of Emperor Yongzheng), replacing an earlier one destroyed in a fire in 1724. The fourth photo focuses on the porch of the hall, which is guarded by limestone pillars carved with dragons riding clouds.

Lyon would never know that he had captured the image of vanishing cultural relics. In 1966, twenty years after Lyon died at age 72 in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution broke out in China, followed closely by the “Destruction of Four Olds” campaign. Confucius’s legacy was a prime target among the “old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits” to be condemned and eradicated from Chinese society, ostensibly to make room for a brand new world. Hundreds of Red Guards swept into the temple, mansion, and cemetery of Confucius in November 1966, smashing up statues, stone tablets, monuments, and numerous other antiquities. The tombs of Confucius and KONG Lingyi, who died in 1919—one year after Dr. Lyon left China—were both leveled. The Hall of Great Achievements was stripped of statues of Confucius and sixteen of his most famed followers, except for a broken head left among the ruins. The Internet is not short of violent images showing Red Guards in fervent action in Qufu. Online photos revealed that, before being reduced to debris, the 236-year-old statue of Confucius had been disfigured and disgraced by the “revolutionists” who had plastered strips of paper with blasphemous slogans all over it.

With the same determined pursuit for visual clarity with which he had taken Duke Kong’s portrait, Lyon had positioned his lens straight in front of the sage’s statue, taking in the exquisite latticed boards and a pair of lively-looking dragons about to untangle their bodies from the columns. Lyon’s photo is not the only one of the Confucius statue that was no more. However, compared with what we have found in print and digitized resources, his shot is clearly the one that best allows us a belated gaze into the (now ruined) entire shrine from a satisfactory angle.

MAO Zedong’s death in 1976 brought about the end of the Cultural Revolution. In spring 1983, barely five years after DENG Xiaoping had assumed leadership of China and introduced reforms, the government allocated 480,000 RMB (roughly equivalent to 560,000 USD today) for restoring all seventeen statues in the Hall of Great Achievements. Striving for faithful replication in shape, size, and detail, sculptors started their extensive preparation work by collecting information from written records, images, videos, and oral interviews with local residents. (Regretfully, the project team was not aware of Lyon’s superb shot.)

Face of the statue of Confucius
5. Face of the statue of Confucius (photographed between 1900 and 1918)

According to the restoration team, the only deliberate point of departure from the original statue was the sage’s facial expression. Launched in 1984, the new statue of Confucius gently smiles down at his worshippers. Local residents were reportedly happy with the reinstated, amicable-looking Confucius, commenting that they used to find his old statue “really scary” (Gong and Wang 62). Such a hearty welcome almost made the silver lining of the massive loss from the “Four Olds” campaign. However, with the aid of Lyon’s photo record, might the jury still be out on whether the old statue truly presented a forbidding expression?

We do not know much about Dr. Lyon and his family or about the couple’s relationship with John H. Scheide. Lyon was born in China to a missionary family possibly from Wooster, Ohio. He graduated with an M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1898, and, as a member of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, went to the Philippine Islands in 1900. By 1902 he had become a medical missionary in Jining (济宁), Shandong Province, working as the chief physician of the Rose Bachman Memorial Hospital for Men, which was operated by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the USA. More than a century later, that hospital, now called the Jining First People’s Hospital, is still in business (and accepting patients of both genders). Lyon married Edna P. van Schoick in Shanghai on Dec. 19, 1902. The two met when Lyon visited Edna’s father, Dr. Isaac Lanning van Schoick, who had returned from a mission in China to his home in Hightstown, New Jersey (“Going to China” 9). Indeed, one of the places in which Dr. Van Schoick had been stationed was Jining, to which Edna was perhaps no stranger.

Lyon’s hospital was approximately 35 miles west of Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius. An excursion to Qufu on the back of a horse or donkey along the rural mud road could take several uncomfortable hours, longer if by sedan chair. With a healthy dose of curiosity and determination and the cool-headedness of a physician, Lyon helped preserve the image of what would be demolished by unprecedented political fervor.

One might question the appropriateness of a missionary visiting the temple of Confucius, who, after all, had been treated as a demigod in China. At a formal level, Western missionaries had studied the compatibility and divergence of Confucianism and Christianity, seeking understandings that would, they hoped, aid their evangelical work with the Chinese. On a personal level, anecdotal stories and individual cases suggest that missionaries might have considered the philosophy of Confucius with varying degrees of open-mindedness. Some may even have been influenced by long-term exposure to the ideas of the very people whom they had traveled across the ocean to convert. An especially “quirky” missionary of such a kind can be found in the film The Keys of the Kingdom (1944). Father Francis Chisholm (played by Gregory Peck) returns to his Scottish hometown church after having served the greater half of his life in China. He is heard giving sermons like “The good Christian is a good man, but I have found that the Confucianist usually has a better sense of humor.”

The digitized photos and their catalog record can be found by searching “Temple of Confucius in Qufu” (call number 3.1.19) in the library catalog.


We would like to thank the University of Pennsylvania Archives and the Philadelphia Free Library for offering generous and timely assistance in locating Charles H. Lyon’s biographical information for us. The East Asian Library of Princeton University kindly created a detailed bibliographical description of the photos.

Time line:

1724: A lightning strike sparks a fire in the Temple of Confucius in Qufu, Shandong Province, destroying the statue of Confucius.

1730: The temple is restored after a five-year reconstruction project.

1872: KONG Lingyi, a seventy-sixth generation descendant of Confucius, is born in Qufu.

ca. 1874: Charles Hodge Lyon is born into a missionary family in China.

1877: As the first-born son of his family, Kong inherits the title “Duke Confucius.”

1898: Lyon graduates from the University of Pennsylvania with an M.D. degree.

ca. 1902: Lyon becomes a medical missionary in Tsining-Chou, China (now Jining of Shandong Province in northern China), serving as a physician at the Rose Bachman Memorial Hospital for Men.

1902: Lyon and Edna P. van Schoick are married in Shanghai on December 19.

1918: Lyon returns to the United States.

1919: Duke Kong dies in Beijing at age 47.

1937: Mrs. Lyon presents the photos taken by Dr. Lyon to John H. Scheide (Princeton class of 1896) on January 19.

1946: Lyon dies in Phillipsburg, New Jersey.

1966: Red Guards attack the Confucius temple, mansion, and cemetery, and destroy numerous antiquities, the statue of Confucius among them.

1983: The government funds the recovery of the Hall of Great Achievements, aiming for a faithful replication of the statues built in 1730.

1984: By August, all seventeen statues have been restored. The inauguration ceremony is held on September 22, speculated to be the 2,535th anniversary of the birth of Confucius.

Selected Bibliography:

“Charles Hodge Lyon.” Journal of the American Medical Association 131.6 (1946): 547. Web.

“Dr. C.H. Lyon Dies at Age of 72.” Philadelphia Inquirer Apr. 21, 1946: 10. Print.

Gao, Wen, and Xiaoping Fan. Zhongguo Kong Miao [Confucius temples in China]. Chengdu Shi: Chengdu chu ban she, 1994. Print.

“Going to China to Become a Bride.” The New York Times Oct. 25, 1902: 9. Web.

Gong, Yanxing, and Zhengyu Wang. Kong Miao Zhu Shen Kao [Deities in the Confucius Temple]. Jinan: Shandong you yi chu ban she, 1994. Print.

Kong, Fanyin. Yan Sheng Gong Fu Jian Wen [A history of the mansion of Duke Confucius]. Jinan: Qi Lu shu she, 1992. Print.

Pan, Guxi, et al. Qufu Kong Miao Jian Zhu [Architecture of the Confucius Temple in Qufu]. Beijing: Zhongguo jian zhu gong ye chu ban she, 1987. Print.

“Rose Bachman Memorial Hospital for Men.” Western Medicine in China, 1800-1950. Web. Apr. 19, 2013. <>.

Shandong Sheng wen wu guan li chu, and Zhongguo guo ji lü xing she Jinan fen she. Qufu Ming Sheng Gu Ji [Places of historical interest in Qufu]. Shandong ren min chu ban she, 1958. Print.

The Keys of the Kingdom. Dir. John M. Stahl. 1944. Film.
“William Morris, the 19th-century designer, social reformer and writer, founded the Kelmscott Press towards the end of his life. He wanted to revive the skills of hand printing, which mechanisation had destroyed, and restore the quality achieved by the pioneers of printing in the 15th century. The magnificent ‘Works of Geoffrey Chaucer’, published in 1896, is the triumph of the press.” — The British Library

Independent researcher and now-retired preservation librarian at the Library, Robert Milveski recently completed intensive research into the four copies of the Kelmscott Chaucer held at Firestone. His work not only corroborates particulars published in the landmark study, The Kelmscott Chaucer: A Census by William S. Peterson and Sylvia Holton Peterson, but also extends it. In a 6,200 word essay augmented with two appendices, Milevski examines a great range of copy specific details, especially ownership history and the particulars of each binding. The link below takes you to his article.
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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]

True Images of Illustrious ❧ 1577 Giovio

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1577_Giovio_titlepage.jpg 1577_Giovio_portrait.jpg 1577_Giovio_Baldus.jpg The Elogia had its origins in the biographies, rhetorical in form and intended to be brief, vivid and memorable, which Giovio composed to hang below the portraits in his museum on Lake Como. “Giovio’s idea of founding a portrait museum on the lake was his most original contribution to European civilization. While Wunderkammern and princely collections were not new, the idea of filling a villa with portraits of famous people on canvas or on bronze medallions, calling it a museum, and opening it … for public enjoyment was a new departure … . The inspiration had come to him, he said, of adorning his room, ‘Mercury and Pallas’, with the ‘true images of illustrious men of letters, so that through emulation of their example good mortals might be inflamed to seek glory’. Thereafter his correspondence shows him badgering all manner of persons for portraits … . [There] were various precedents for Giovio’s inspiration to form a portrait collection, but none was quite what Giovio had in mind. Although intended as figurae of glory and incentives to emulation, most collections or cycles featured idealized or imaginary representations, whereas from the very start Giovio demanded an exact likeness, preferably done from life but otherwise from sound evidence such as coins, medallions, portrait busts, or earlier authentic portraits … . When he had the inspiration of enlarging the identifying inscriptions to elogia, or capsule biographies, his innovative scheme was complete.” (T.C. Price Zimmermann, Paolo Giovio: The Historian and the Crisis of Sixteenth-Century Italy, [Princeton, 1995], pp. 159-160).
❧ Paolo Giovio (1483-1552). Elogia virorum literis illustrium. [Basel] P. Perna, 1577. Call number: (Ex) Oversize 1038.392.11q


In 1882, on the ‘Academie Presse’ at West Point, there was printed the first authorized edition of Mark Twain’s satiric Elizabethan ribald confection [1601] Conversation as it was by the Social Fireside in the Time of the Tudors. In the following decades, the saucy text became steady meat for bibliophiles eager to consume privately printed editions. During the 1920s, each annum averaged about two editions. A bibliography published in 1939 lists 44 privately printed editions, and, according to one expert, “there had undoubtedly been many more.”

Recently, among the ‘many more,’ a twin pair of editions have become better known. The two are the work of a member of Princeton’s class of 1912, Eugene V. Connett III. Prior to founding his own imprint, The Derrydale Press, Connett did commission design and book production for well-heeled Eastern bibliophiles like himself.

For some years, it’s been known that Connett produced in 1925 a 100 copy edition of 1601. [Title page illustrated above.] This edition is well described in the standard bibliography of the Derrydale Press, compiled by Henry Siegel and Isaac Oelgart. [It’s entry A on page 34.] Furthermore, Connett also produced in 1925 a 30 copy edition, less typographically complex than the 100 copy edition.

Even though Connett’s involvement with these productions is known, it was always a mystery as to who commissioned him. The 100 copy edition clearly states “printed for H.D.W.”

Who was “H.D.W.”?

We now have an answer. In the course of preparing a bookseller’s color-printed catalogue of the Derrydale Press, Princeton Class of 1983 member Henry Wessells discovered who “H.D.W.” was. He did so by following up a note written by Connett and tucked into a copy of 1601 that appeared in a New England auction a number of years ago. This direct evidence from Connett, Wessells learned, is also confirmed by circumstantial evidence found in the Derrydale Papers.

“H.D.W.” was Henry Devereux Whiton (1871-1930). H.D.W, according to Wessells, “was an industrialist with interests in the sulfur industry, a sportsman, and a philanthropist. During the 1920s he lived in Long Island and was a member of the Piping Rock Club and the Bellport Yacht Club. No doubt it it was through such associations that he came to know Connett.” Whiton’s obituary published in the New York Times, November 1, 1930, mentions many achievements but is totally silent on his paying for an edition of 1601. This comes as no surprise, for in 1906 its very author, Mark Twain, wrote “I hasten to assure you that it is not printed in my published writings.”

❧ [Mark Twain] [1601] Being a fireside conversation in ye tyme of ye goode Queene Bess Done into a privately emprynted booke, 1926. Call number: (EX) 3679.7.386.12. Gift of Eugene V. Connett III, Class of 1912

❧ With thanks to Henry Wessells for providing many details.

"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

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Algarotti, Francesco, conte, 1712-1764.
Saggio sopra la vita di Orazio
Venezia, Nella stamperia fenziana, 1760.
Call number (PTT) 2865.557

[The following is a transcription of an article published in The Nation. The author was Reference Librarian at the Library. ]

Harry Clemons. [Algarotti’s Vita di Orazio and Gray.] in The Nation, Aug. 22, 1912, xcv. 167-8


    In the Horace Collection, recently presented to the Library of Princeton University by R. W. Patterson of Pittsburgh, is a book which bears interesting traces of ownership by the poet Gray. It is a copy of the “Vita di Orazio” published in Venice in 1760, which, according to an autograph note on the title page, was given to Gray by the author, Count Francesco Algarotti, in February, 1763. That the scholar poet read the little volume with critical thoroughness is evinced by nearly a hundred marginal comments in his delicate chirography. These notes shed no new light, perhaps, on the recluse of Stoke Poges and Cambridge; but as evidences of his quiet habit of scholarly acquisition and of his nice sense for language many of them seem worthy of quotation.

    At least an epistolary acquaintance existed between Gray and Count Algarotti, and it is on record that each publicly expressed a considerable degree of admiration for the work of the other. (Gray’s Works, ed. by Gosse, London, 1884, Vol. Ill, pp. 147, 155, 159, 298.) The Italian litterateur, who was within a year of his death when the “Vita dl Orazio” was presented to Gray, had at this time become well known among literary and court circles in Europe. Lord Byron, writing from Venice to the publisher, Murray, in 1818 (Byron’s “Letters and Journals,” ed. by Prothero, London, 1909, Vol. IV, p. 223) mentions a collection of manuscript letters addressed to Algarotti by Lord Hervey, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Gray, Mason, Garrick, Lord Chatham, David Hume, and others. Voltaire had affectionately dubbed Algarotti “Le cher cygne de Padove,” and he had become a favorite with King Augustus III of Poland and with Frederick the Great. The former had appointed him a Councillor, and Frederick not only made him a Count of Prussia and a Court Chamberlain, but after Algarotti’s death erected to his memory the tombstone which stands on the south side of the Campo Santo at Pisa. It was while coursing through the career of Frederick that Carlyle’s impatient pen fell afoul of this “young Venetian gentleman of elegance, in dusky skin. In very white linen and frills, with his fervid black eyes”— and paused for the few strokes of characterization (Carlyle’s “Frederick the Great,” book x, chap. 7; book xi, chap. 3), which have probably succeeded better in making the learned Italian dilettante and his “Poesies” and “Classical Scholarships” rememberable to English readers than all the voluminous commendations of polite admirers. It is of interest that the virile criticisms of Carlyle are not without support from these private comments in the book which belonged to Gray.

    Of these marginal notes In the “Vita di Orazio,” some were evidently intended merely as a sort of irregular brief analysis of the contents. For example:

· Political cause of 3d Ode of 3d Book of Horace.
· False taste in language in Horace’s time.
· Examples from Italian of word-coining.
· Character of Horace’s works.
· Horace’s Irony against himself.

    There are other notes which, as might be expected, exhibit Gray’s own somewhat pedantic knowledge of literature and history. His familiarity with Horace is indicated by several case in which he skillfully detected quotations from the Latin poet which Algarotti had assimilated into his own Italian. The range Is wider than Horace: references to Cicero. Ovid, Homer, Dante, Racine, Leo the Tenth, Vitruvius, Sperone Speroni, and as many others, were carefully noted in the margin. On one page Gray discovered that an expression used by Algarotti was “the motto of the Cruscan Accademy at Florence.” Other comments are:

· This Influence of civil causes in forming the characters of Catullus’, Ovid’s and Horace’s Muse is Just and ingenius.
· this remark of Ariosto’s want of knowledge with the polite world is just.
· Character of Plautus just.
· a just valuation of the work of the Augustan age.

To another passage, which discusses the popularity of the theatre over undramatic poetry, he added:

· natural enough as the greatest part of an audience even in the polite ages is illiterate and more prone to feed their eyes than their ears.

And in connection with Algarotti’s estimate of Horace himself Gray queried:

· how far may these sententious passages of our Poet tend to give us a real notion of his true character? Should they not be parallel’d with the character given of him by other authors.

    But a large proportion of these private annotations are criticisms of style. In a letter written to Count Algarotti a few months after he received this book (September 9, 1763), Gray apologized for his use of English by saying: “Forgive me if I make my acknowledgments in my native tongue, as I see it is perfectly familiar to you, and I (though not unacquainted with the writings of Italy) should from disuse speak its language with an ill grace, and with still more constraint to one who possesses it in all its strength and purity.” (Gray’s Works, ed. by Gosse, London, 1884; Vol. Ill, page 155; Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. IV, Oct. 1818, p. 38.) Yet these marginal comments reveal no hesitation on Gray’s part to express the most specific criticisms of Algarotti’s Italian. Curiously enough, many of the notes are addressed directly, at Algarotti, as if Gray were a college instructor blue-pencilling a theme. He was some four years younger than the Italian. But as the fruit of above twenty years of writing, the author of the “Elegy” had up to this time permitted only eight of his poems to be printed; and to whatever cause this frugality was due, it is evident that his own severe apprenticeship had given him the confidence of a master in language.

    Not all this criticism is adverse. We find such comments as “elegant expression,” “excellent use of the word here,” “this is a happy term and used by you very apropos.” With these, however, are not only such brief strictures as “too affected a term,” “Why not the common term?” “energetlck but affected term,” “I do not like this expression,” “a little affected obscurity here,” but also a series of fuller criticisms which sufficiently indicate Gray’s conclusions concerning the style of the Italian writer:

· Avoid affectation in the use of certain uncommon terms.
· avoid prosing Horace’s scraps too often.
· beware of affecting certain singularities and uncommon forms of diction.
· a friend of mine says you have ingenuity but that your works want to be translated into Italian.
· beware of borrowing the more trite images from the fine arts w[hi]ch custom is unbecoming your refined genius.
· In transposition of words beware of uncommon peculiarities.
· why this continued affectation of il instead of lo the common expression.
· never generalize, but in the espousal of sentiments or doctrines above the vulgar.
avoid affecting the quotations of our English Poets: w[hi]ch are sometimes too frequent in your Essays.
· I do not at all approve of these sentimental quotations.—except those from Horace’s own text.
· beware of too much Italianizing certain Latin terms of Horace.
· I cannot help observing some affectation in your metaphorical expressions, something too recherchée.
· I think you are too figurative in your common stile.
· do not play so much with your Pen.

All this, as I have said, offers no discovery concerning Thomas Gray; but It unquestionably affords us a familiar glimpse behind the “oak” of the scholar’s study.

        Harry Clemons.

[Coda: After Princeton, the author served as university librarian at the University of Virginia from 1927 to 1950.

The Library now has a new website for this newspaper.  See the following URL

Link to the original posting


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Two items in our Peter J. Eckel Newsboy collection are featured in a just-released New York Times interactive

“Newsboys Still Standing Firm”  (article in NY Herald, July 30, 1899) [Box 8d]
Newsboy’s  Prayer” (in  street argot) [Box 10]

Finding aid for the entire collection is available at


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.

Settle bindings reconsidered

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Arms of Coville covering 1705 Eusebia Triumphans bound with 1707 Carmen Irenicum Call number: RHT 17th-771
Arms of Morrison impaling Webb covering 1709 Eusebia Triumphans Call number: RHT 17th-773

Illustrated here are Settle bindings.   Howard Nixon (1909-1983), in his Five Centuries of English Bookbinding, describes these, with some disdain:

“Elkanah settle, who was born in 1640 and had been hailed as a rising playwright in the 1670’s, had dwindled by the end of the century into a hack versifier holding the unremunerative post of ‘City Poet.’  In 1700 he started to work what can only be described as a successful racket, which he carried on for the rest of his life. He composed topical poems, at first on political events and later on more personal subjects such as births, deaths and marriages in the families of the great and wealthy. They were put into leather bindings with elaborate (if not very good) gold tooling embellished with the arms of the likely patron, to whom they were dispatched in hopes of a suitable reward.  Should the reward not be forthcoming and the book be returned to Settle, he had the original recipient’s arms covered with a leather only on which were then tooled those of a suitable candidate.”

Despite the contemptuous regard of earlier book historians, these bindings are nonetheless remarkable artifacts documenting a writer’s effort to cultivate patronage during the period 1703 to 1723.  Initial estimates show that perhaps 100 or more of these survive.  

Settle’s letter of presentation once pinned into a copy of his 1707 Carmen Irenicum inscribed on the title page: “Ex Libris Edwardi Haistwell xvto Cal. Martis 1710.”
“Sir: Be pleased to give me Leave to make you once mre an humble present, on this great subject, the Union of the Two Kingdoms; hoping it may find Your Acceptance from Your most obliged and most humble Servant. E: Settle.”
Call number: RHT 17th-785.

Gathered within them, there is much to analyze, be it social, cultural, or design history.  Created as objects for presentation to nobility, they raise many questions surrounding such objects. Recipients range from earls down through the ranks to knights and wealthy merchants. So, why was a particular recipient chosen?  Was the present planned to initiate a connection or to sustain one already formed?  Did the present result in an exchange for Settle? Did he obtain any remuneration for his art?

The bindings also provide a moment in the history of English bookbinding styles.
The elements of the typical Settle layout are threefold:   1) perimeter frame of single fillet enclosing 2) corner-ornamented inner frame filled 3) with the arms of the recipient.  The effect of the layout is to focus attention on the arms;   they are the centerpiece of the over-all design.  When thought about in three dimensions, the frames are pedestals; the centerpiece is the exalted object at the summit.

The centerpiece within frames style, based on the progressions of stylistic changes presented in David Pearson’s English Bookbinding Styles, 1450-1800,  first appeared on English bindings in the mid 16th century and occurs on bindings through the 17th century.  The extra workmanship and gilt marked it as ‘upmarket.’  Settle’s choice of binding style associated him with an established luxury tradition.

If there are elaborations in a Settle layout, they normally occur relative to the second element: for example, the perimeter of the inner frame might have winged heads added at each midpoint between corners, or, the field of the inner frame might be stained darker than the surround.  Sometimes the surround is treated to resemble marble.  The corner ornaments are likely to be only one of two types: either an abstract flower ornament or one resembling a thistle.   Initial findings show that the flower tool was used on Settle poems dating from 1703 into 1707;  the thistle tool was used on those dating from 1707 down to his death in 1724.


One exception to this corner ornament pattern has been found.  Covering a 1703 poem, the binding consists of the typical perimeter frame and inner frame ornamented at corners. Rather than the expected flower tool, the corner tool is the thistle. In addition, no arms are present.  What can be made of these incongruities? Rather than being a binding made contemporaneous with the imprint it covers, perhaps this is a  ‘blank’  prepared ca. 1707 as a trial effort for the new thistle tool.

Apart from the ‘blank’ mentioned above, there is one other variation from the threefold layout. It involves an example with arms including a royal crown. This exemplum has neither corner piece nor gilt frame(s).  Why this elimination occurs is only a matter of speculation:  perhaps the sparer layout was regarded as more chaste or perhaps removal of the inner frame was intended to focus keener attention on arms of such high rank.

P8230007-gules four lions rampant quarterly or-Wales-small.jpg

Gallery of images available at

Bindings from the shop of John Bateman, Royal Binder

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Front cover: arms of George Stuart,
Lord d’Aubigny impaling Howard


Back cover: arms of George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury

Captain John Smith. The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles (London, 1624) [Call number (ExKa) Americana 1624q Smith copy 3]
Mirjam M. Foot assigns the above binding to the shop of John Bateman, Royal Binder to James I.
Cf. The Henry Davis Gift. A Collection of Bookbindings. Volume 1. Studies in the History of Bookbinding, (London, 1982) p. 35-49. This is number 65 (p. 49). She evidently based her attribution on the illustration of the front cover published in the Sotheby’s auction sale catalogue of the books belonging to the Duke of Leeds on June 2-4, 1930. This book was lot 606 and it was purchased by A.S.W. Rosenbach for £1400 who eventually sold it to Grenville Kane to add to his outstanding collection of Americana. In the late 1940s, Princeton purchased the Kane collection.

The above example is a confirmed case of a binding from the shop of John Bateman. Are there others in the Library? This is indeed likely so, but to determine such will require further work. One tempting example is at right. It is the binding on John Adamson, The Muses Welcome (Edinburgh, 1618) [Call number (Ex)14431.113q]. A comparable copy is described by M. Foot in her entry 60 (p. 49). The cornerpieces on the Princeton binding match closely those Foot identifies as A1 and A2 on page 41.

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.    

Sold in New York in 1838; now on the Library's shelves

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On February 21, 1838, New York book auction house Cooley & Bangs began a three day sale during which they offered more than 313 incunabula distributed among  1,302 lots.  Many incunables came from the collection of George Kloss and had appeared in the London sale of his books three years before. It is entirely possible that the 1838 sale was the first time in America that so many incunables were offered all at once in a single auction.

One lot, number 537, "Biblia Germanica, wood cuts, 2 vol. fol.  1490," eventually found its way to the shelves of the Princeton University Library.  Its confirmed year of arrival is 1916.  Where was the Bible between 1838 and 1916?  

A  ten  page memorandum accompanying  the Bible provides some answers.  Minister of Fifth Avenue  Presbyterian Church in New York,  the Rev.  Dr.  James Waddell  Alexander (1804-1859), tells us in "Some Account of an Old Bible in the Hands of William Scott" that in 1856 it was owned by parishioner  William Scott, who, other sources tell us, was said to be a friend and cousin of Sir Walter Scott, as well as a trustee of New York's North Moore Street Public School.   It is unclear how and why William Scott came to possess the Bible, but marks of both previous owners and the book trade clearly show that the Bible belonged to George Kloss,  appeared as lot 748 in his 1835 London sale, and later appeared as lot 537 in the 1838 New York sale.

The link between William Scott and Princeton is Scott's grandson, Laurence Hutton, who was a successful New York literary figure.  Hutton relocated to Princeton in the 1890s, one of a several  like-minded literary men  who purposefully settled in town during that decade.  Hutton owned this Bible and after he died in 1904, many of his books were shelved in the Exhibition Room of the Library. According to a 1916 account, they were part of  "the Hutton Memorial Collection, consisting of several hundred books, autographed portraits, paintings, etc., from the library of the late Laurence Hutton, A.M. This collection was left by Mr. Hutton to trustees to be put in some safe place for a permanent memorial and was presented by them to the University."

Library markings inside the Bible as well as catalogue records show that it remained part of the Hutton Memorial until about the 1930s, at which time it was re-classified so as to become part of the general collection of incunabula coded 'ExI.'  It remains in the 'ExI' class down to today.

The Rev. Dr. Alexander's memorandum is a remarkable document in its own right because it gives us a sense of the state of book history knowledge in the 19th century.   Such evidence still remains scattered among a number of sources:   trade journals, such as Joseph Sabin's American Bibliopolist; major city newspapers;  accounts published in larger works, such as Isaiah Thomas's paragraphs in his History of Printing in America on an incunable Bible owned by the Mather family; as well as manuscripts in archives and other repositories.


A transcription of the memorandum follows:

Some Account of an Old Bible in hands of Wm Scott.

By Revd Dr. J.W. Alexander (Copy)

Another Old Bible

From time to time the newspapers give accounts of ancient printed Bibles. Our own columns have contained numerous statements of this kind; and we now add another, in a communication with which the Rev. Dr. Alexander of this city has favoured us at our request.


New York Feb. 1856

Rev. and Dear Sir.

                The first part of a German Bible, belonging, to a worthy member of my charge, is probably unique in this country, and, as I observe by the books, is rare even in Europe. As you desire information respecting it, you will allow me to add a few statements concerning similar editions.

                The old volume, which belongs to my esteemed friend, WM Scott Esq, has lost three leaves, including the title page, but is otherwise in excellent condition. It is bound in vellum, and has that remarkable brilliancy of ink, and depth of impression, which are matter of wonder in Early printing. The folios, (strictly so called, as that they are leaves, and not pages) are numbered, the last being 503. It contains the first part only that is from Genesis to Psalms, inclusively. The illuminated capitals are imitation of those which adorned manuscripts; the gilding and colours of these are well preserved. The coarse woodcuts are also highly coloured. The second page, or first after the title, begins with a German version of St Jerome's Epistle to Paulines, introductory to the historical books. In the middle parts the paper is clean, and well kept. The exterior leaves are soiled, but here and there carefully repaired by insertions. The names of three former possessors, are very distinct, viz:

1.     1.   In manuscript, "G.A. Michel, V.D.M."

2.      2.  On a ticket, under an engraved coat of arms "Matthias Jacob Adam Steiner."

3.       3.  On a ticket, "Georgius A. Klotz M.D. Francofurt ad Moenum." Some owners, probably more recent than any of these, but long ago, as the faded ink shows have written the following bibliographical notes on the inside of the first cover, and the opposite fly leaf. From conjecture as to the age of the several entries, I arrange them thus, though their position is different, on the pages. (Translated.) "A defective part of a very uncommon, rare, and extremely, scarce Bible. I bought the same in 1772 from a book peddler for 24 gr. Still it remains a treasure and ornament of the library."

2.        2. (Same hand.) In margin "I, 1785", and then, "It appears to be an edition of the Bible, which on a/c of its iluminated figures was named the renowned or princely work  (das durchlauchtige work;) and to have been printed in one thousand four hundred and eighty three, or eighty eight. (1483 or 1488.) Compare Hageman on Translations of the SS. page 263. Baumgartens  Notices of remarkable books   PI  pp 97-101.  Solgen Bible PI p.9.   Schwartz part II p. 199."

3.     3.  (Same hand.) " Concerning a translation of the Bible near the close of the fifteenth century, see Blaufus, Contributions to an acquatance with rare books, Vol. 1 p. 109.

4.       4. (In another hand.) "It appears to be a part of that rare and uncommon bible, which was printed in small-folio at Strasburg, without the printer's house in fourteen hundred eighty five (1485.) (In margin, "A mistake, see preceding page.") Vide Panzer, Literary Notices of the very oldest printed German Bibles, page 71, the X. m (sic)

5.       5, (Probably the same hand as the last.)

"From Panzer's Extended description of the oldest Augsburg Editions of the Bible, p. 29 XII, it appears that this is certainly the first part of that German Bible which was printed at Augsburg in fourteen hundred and ninety, (1490) by Hans Schönsperger, in small-folios. For all the distinctive marks of this edition of Schönsperger which are there given, correspond most exactly with this copy."

6.      6.  (Another hand partly overrunning the ticket with Steiner's name and arms.) "Panzers German Annals. T182, 285.

¶1ST Part

¶Twelfth complete German Edition of the Bible, Augsburg, Hans Schönsperger 1490."

7.       7.  (In pencil) "Wanting title page to fol 80 to 107." (which corresponds with the fact.)

From the notes it is evident that this fine old volume though but a moiety, was considered highly valuable at least half a century ago. Panzer, who is several times cited above, is the celebrated Bibliographer of Nuremburg, who died in 1804, at a very great age. He devoted himself to the subject of Bible-Editions, and made a costly collection of these, which in 1780 passed into the hands of one of the Dukes of Wurtemburg.  He published (1783 and 1791). "Outlines of a complete History of Luther's version, from, 1517- 1581." Two, at least, of Panzer's more general works, are in the Astor Library. The vulgar error that there was no German translation before that of Luther should be corrected. The first that is certainly known, is that of the Vienna Library, and was made about 1466. (Montfaucon, a/c "Bible of Every Land p. 175.) Several authorities concur in staking the number of printed editions of the German Bible before Luther as fourteen in High German, and three in Low German. (Pischon , Einladungs,  Schrift,  & c. Berlin 1834).

To my friend and co-presbyter, Rev. Fred Steins of this city, I am indebted for the reference to Pischon below, as also for an extract from manuscript notes made by himself on the lectures of Professor Delbrück at the University of Bonn, in 1827, which was thus:

 There were German Bibles before Luther, of which Panzer enumerates fourteen. From Panzen himself, we glean the following notice; The twelfth edition Augsburg, 1490, printed by Hans Schönperger, first part ends with Psalms, contains 503 Folios. (Annals, Vol.1.p.182.) Before the year 1578, there were only fourteen complete editions of the Bible in German, (p.9 & 99). Of these the first is the Mentz Bible, 1462, by Fust and Schöffer.

The first, with date on the title, is the sixth edition, fol. Augsburg, 1477. All these editions are described in Panzer's Annals, a work which is in the Astor Library.

                Before closing this dry and tedious letter, which may gratify one or two booksworms and collectors, let me say a word or two about the inside of the volume. It contains more than 70 woodcuts illustrative of the text, and, most significant in respect to the arts. Each of these extends across the page, occupying about one third of the letter press.

                The Supreme Being is repeatedly delineated, under the figure of an old man. The cuts are highly colored. The patriarchs and prophets are represented in the garb of the fifteenth century, with tight hose, and pointed shoes. Jacob's ladder is reared beside a lake or river, with quite a swell of waves, and a boat. Moses has the horns always accorded to him by Catholic and Medieval art. Naaman washes in Jordan, while a German carriage and pair, with pastillion, await him on the bank.  Not far from a Gothic Castle, Queen Esther is attended by train-bearers, with middle-age coiffure. The pigment in every instance, is laid on boldly. In a word, the pictorial part is precisely in the manner of a clever child, handling his first paint box. This curious specimen of typography has now passed out of my hands, but I have supposed that as so much is said of volumes a century younger than this, you would have patience with some a/c of a pictorial Bible three  hundred and fifty six years old. (In 1856).

I am very truly

Your friend and servant

James W. Alexander



Call number for 1856 memorandum: 

C0323 Alexander Family Collection • Box 2, Folder 13


Example of illustrations:


Die Bibel. (Augsburg: Schönsperger, 1490) [ExI 5187.1490] v. 1, lvii verso - lviii recto,  Exodus, chapter 9:

Plague 6. Boils
9:8 And the Lord said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh.
9:9 And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt.

Plague 7. Thunder and Hail
9:18 Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now.

Reading endpapers • I

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Sixteen faces: pen sketches, 19th century, on verso of rear free endpaper of The Lucubrations of Isaac Bickerstaff Esq; Vol. I (London, Printed: And sold by John Morphew, near Stationers-Hall. MDCCX. [1710]) [Call number: RHT 18th-1087 oversize]


George du Maurier, illustrator of the first detective novel

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Who wrote the first detective novel? That question was answered recently in the New York Times Book Review. He was Charles Warren Adams (1833-1903), according to Paul Collins in his article “Before Hercule or Sherlock, There Was Ralph” (Sunday, 7 January 2011). Adams’s novel was “The Notting Hill Mystery” , first published in eight parts in the journal Once a Week: An Illustrated Miscellany of Literature, Art, Science & Popular Information between November 29, 1862 and January 17, 1863. It was subsequently published in one volume by the journal’s publisher, Bradbury & Evans.
    Author aside, then what about the seven illustrations accompanying the text? Several are signed “DM” at lower left and “Swain” at lower right? Who are they? “Swain” is Joseph Swain (1820-1909), one of the most active wood-engravers of 19th century Britain. “DM” is George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier (1834-1896), one of the great book illustrators of Victorian England.
    Du Maurier was a certain interest of Morris L. Parrish, whose collection of Victorian novelists is one of the great strengths of the Library. For more on Parrish’s holdings of du Maurier, see the following note and list prepared by Alexander Wainwright:

[Transcription of caption] It is unnecessary for us to state by what means the following papers came into our hands and it could be no compliment to the penetration of our readers if we indicated beforehand the nature of the mystery they are supposed to unravel. It will, however, require a very close attention to names and dates to comprehend the view of the compiler, as to the case he is investigating; and, so far, it is requisite to rely on the reader’s patience and discernment. The whole particular of the case will extend to some seven or eight numbers of “Once a Week,” and some things which are dark at first will appear clearer in the sequel. If the compiler has really discovered a new species or description of crime, it is natural that the evidence of it, which is circumstantial, should be somewhat difficult of acceptance. The illustrations are simply added to make the reader’s task more agreeable, but, of course, it is not pretended that they were made simultaneously with the events they represent.
[Once a Week, Nov. 29, 1862, p. 617]

Seventy years ago .... news from the Daily Princetonian

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The Daily Princetonian announced on November 30, 1940  …1940-Nov-30.jpg

There is a rich deposit about purchases and gifts acquired by the Library in the Daily Princetonian, which has recently been fully digitized and is keyword searchable. See the following URL for details:
Raphael Holinshed, d. 1580?. The firste [ - laste] volume of the Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande. Conteyning, the description and chronicles of England, from the first inhabiting vnto the conquest. The description and chronicles of Scotland, from the first originall of the Scottes nation, till the yeare of our Lorde. 1571. The description and chronicles of Yrelande, likewise from the firste originall of that nation, vntill the yeare. 1547. Faithfully gathered and set forth, by Raphaell Holinshed. At London : imprinted [by Henry Bynneman] for Lucas Harrison, [1577]. 2 volumes. Bound in brown morocco by Roger de Coverly for Pickering & Co. Contains bookplate of Charles Lilburn. Also penciled ownership inscription on front pastedown in volume 2: ‘Hargreaves, Alveston, Stratford on Avon.’ Call number: (Ex) 1426.472.11.



Recently discovered in the general stacks of Firestone Library:  

This volume belongs to Bell’s Circulating Library, containing above two thousand volumes, next door to St. Paul’s Church in Third-Street. Where sentimentalists, whether ladies or gentlemen, may become readers, by subscribing for one month, three months, or by agreement for a single book. Said Bell hath also very great variety of new and old books for sale; he, likewise, gives ready money for new and old books. 

This bookplate appears on the front pastedown of the first volume of
Andrew Baxter, 1686?-1750. An enquiry into the nature of the human soul; wherein the immateriality of the soul is evinced from the principles of reason and philosophy. … . The third edition. To which is added, a complete index. London : printed [by James Bettenham] for A. Millar in the Strand, MDCCXLV. [1745] [call number:
Ex 5744.155.1745], 2 volumes, together with a 3rd volume being Baxter’s Appendix to the First Part of the Enquiry…. (London, 1750), [call number: Ex 5744.155.1745a]

Chain of provenance from the colonial era down to today: Bell’s Circulating Library (Philadelphia, fl. 1774-1778) -> Convers Francis, 1819 -> Theological School in Cambridge -> ‘Discarded by Authority of the Andover-Harvard Theological Library’ -> Acquired by Princeton in 1973, classed for the open stacks, then, during reclassification in 2010, it was discovered to have the bookplate of Bell’s Circulating Library, whereupon it was transferred to the rare book division.

Notes: Very few books remain from Robert Bell’s Circulating Library. (Robert Bell is best known as the printer of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.)  Several books from Bell’s Circulating Library are now held by the Library Company of Philadelphia and there is one at Stanford University.  These Princeton volumes add a few more examples to the scant number already known.
    Sentimentalists were persons of taste and sentiment. In the eighteenth century, the later term was not derisive, rather it pointed to refined emotional thought.

At LCP, the following at from Bell’s Circulating Library: Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac, Aristippe, ou De la cour, Leiden, Elsevier, 1658, 2 vol. and two volumes of Pluche’s multi-volume Spectacle de la Nature; or Nature Displayed (Dublin and London, 1740-49) and

At Stanford, James Burgh’s Political Disquisitions (Philadelphia, 1775), formerly owned by Jay Fliegelman. (Call number JFL-276)

Furthermore, the two 1745 volumes at Princeton have annotations in the hand of Convers Francis, dated 1819, the year of his ordination into the Unitarian clergy. He was a senior member of the Trancendental Club.


Click here for a full PDF of this 4 page illustrated newspaper (page size 62 cm x 47 cm).

Recently discovered in an uncatalogued remnant acquired years ago by a now retired curator was this splendid

Illustrated Guide to the Sights of London … chiefly published to enable foreigners and country visitors to the metropolis to examine its general promenades — its national establishments — its places of popular resort and amusement— its public edifices and its historical curiosities in the short space of one week. It presents to the eye at a glance, and on a single sheet, a vivid panorama of all that is worth seeing. Strangers are recommended to make their starting point on the First Day from St. Paul’s Cathedral.”


Profusely illustrated with one large and 107 small wood engravings, this vade-mecum presents seven single-day walking tours. Clearly, what a vade-mecum sells is the perception of a system collected out of the old and new, the religious and the secular, the mythological and the monumental. It sells the means to an experience that the purchaser would not efficiently have otherwise. It was an ingenious invention, and in the hands of such publishers as John Murray and Karl Baedeker, it provided a steady-selling genre that defined contemporary publishing.

Lastly, observe at end of page 4: “Notice to Advertisers — All Illustrated Advertisements intended for the second and enlarged Edition of the ‘Guide to the Sights of London’ must be immediately forwarded to the office, 49, Watling street; and as the number inserted will be very limited, the cuts or wood engravings should be confined to the average size.
London— Printed by John Such, of 29, Budge Row, Wailing Street and published by him and William Fitch, of 49, Watling Street, — by either of whom orders and Advertisements will be received.”

Call number: (Ex) ) Item 5833715 • Evidently unique in North America. One other copy known; it is held by the Guildhall Library, London.

Teach Yourself Arabic -- In Yiddish!

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Author: Selikovitch, George, 1863-1926. Title: Arabish-Idisher lehrer : ṿeg ṿayzer far di Idishe legyoneren in Tsiyon = Turjumān ʻArabi wa-Yahūdī / fun G. Zeliḳoṿits. Edition: 3. oyflage. Published/Created: Nyu Yorḳ : Sh. Druḳerman, 1918. Physical description: 31 p. : ill. ; 23 cm. Location: Rare Books: Oversize (Exov) Call number: PJ6309 .Z444 1918

Rachel Simon, Senior Librarian and specialist for Middle Eastern languages in the Library, has just published “Teach Yourself Arabic — In Yiddish!” in the most recent MELA Notes: The Journal of the Middle Eastern Librarians Association. [For full text of the illustrated article see:] She details the fascinating story of Getzl (George) Zelikovitz (1863-1926), a linguistic prodigy born in Lithuania, educated at the Sorbonne, and served as an interpreter under Lord Kitchener in the Sudan. He settled in the United States in 1887. He remained in the US until his death, working chiefly as a journalist for the Yiddish press in New York and prolifically publishing fiction, poetry and works of scholarship. In 1918, he separately published in Yiddish an instruction book for learning Arabic — certainly a first of its kind and surely the sort of publication that could only come out of melting pot America.

According to Dr. Simon, “The introduction [of Arabish-Idisher Lehrer] explains the purpose and method of the book. Its goal is to teach colloquial Palestinian Arabic—namely, not literary Arabic—to Jewish Legionaries, settlers [kolonisten], merchants, tourists, learned people [maskilim], laborers in Palestine, and maybe even Hebrew teachers abroad. This aim and the target population dictated the method, structure, and style of the book: a practical teaching aid in Yiddish, so that following a short study period the student would be able to talk with Arabs.” (p. 4-5)
She concludes: “The book does make the student somewhat aware of Arab customs, but it reflects more Jewish and Western views and issues. Although it was intended to serve as a guide for Jews as to how to reach out to Arabs, it is more reflective of Western Jews, their beliefs, customs, and modes of expression.” (p. 14-15)

Looking closely at 3½ inches of Thomas Jefferson's Library

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Three books from the Retirement Library of Thomas Jefferson are now held in Firestone: one came as a gift in the 1870s, another was presented in 1905, and the third gift arrived in 1944. Their journey toward Princeton began in Washington in 1829 when Nathaniel P. Poor auctioned the library formed by Jefferson during the latter years of his life.

At Monticello each book had a particular place in Jefferson’s bibliothecal scheme. Central to the scheme was his positing a continuum between book in hand and thought in mind. For Jefferson, mind entailed memory, reason, and imagination. These three faculties were, in turn, mirrored by human endeavors in history, philosophy, and the fine arts. Considered as an outcome of one of these endeavors, any book could be placed within one of these three classes or its sub-divisions. So placing it situated the book both in mind and on the shelf.

Now held at Princeton are auction lot numbers 236, 716, and 753. It’s extraordinary that these three gifts — each received decades apart — today form a pattern: the Library now has one book each from Jefferson’s three major classes.

• Memory / History is represented by
• Reason / Philosophy is represented by

• Imagination / Fine Arts is represented by
[Jefferson’s own handwritten entries in his 124 page library catalogue, now available digitally at the Library of Congress.]

Auction lot number in red crayon on front paste-down.
(Ex) 9825.380 • Inscribed by Professor Charles A. Young in 1860, who gave it to the Library in 1905.
Lot number in pencil; Bigelow’s inscription in ink.
(Ex) HB871.E93 • Purchased by Andrew Bigelow and sold at his sale in 1877 to a member of the Green Family of Trenton, NJ , who, in turn gave it to the Library in the 1870s.
(Ex)2767.1665 • Pencil note in back of volume 1 details sale of book in 1831. There are two slips of ms. notes initialed ‘V.S.’ and dated ‘Febr 12 [18]32’ mounted on two leaves in companion portfolio. Gift of Henry N. Paul in 1944.

Bachelor & Co.: "Give me a book ... Heigh-ho!"

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Drawing and song by Kenneth Phillips Britton. Original [ca. 192-] in James Brownlee Rankin Autograph Collection,
(Princeton University Library collection number C0120,
box 1, folder 1.)
Source for drawing at left: James Baillie, Single. Hand-colored lithograph. New York, 1848. (Courtesy of American Antiquarian Society)

Give me a book instead of a wife
And I shall ask no more of life.
A book all grief and pain assuages
Through the silent thoughts upon its pages.
A book has not a painted face
And can be kept right in its place.
Heigh-ho! The bachelor life!
A book shuts up in time of strife,
But you can’t say the same of any man’s wife.
Give me a book instead of a wife
And I shall ask no more of life.
A book gives joy and bright romance,
But never wants to go out and dance.
A book at night likes it covers, too,
But it never pulls them off of you!
Heigh-ho! The bachelor life!
You can cut a book with a carving knife,
But you can’t say the same of any man’s wife.

Kenneth Phillips Britton.

Finding annotated books

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Maillet-Categoriae-9r.JPG Maillet-aristotle3.jpg

Earlier this year, the Library acquired a remarkable book consisting of eight texts selected from Aristotle’s Organon and Nicomachean Ethics. The texts were published in Paris by Denis du Pré and Gabriel Buon between 1569 and 1573 and bound in two volumes.

Their owner, Pierre Maillet, of Lyon, intensively annotated the texts while attending lectures given by Nicolas de Bonvilliers, from November 1573 to September 1574, at the Collège de la Marche in Paris. His annotations are interlinear, in the margins and on inserted pages. Maillet dates and signs his notes several times and names his teacher in a note in French on fol. 95v of the Ethics. Call number for the Maillet volumes: (Ex) 2009-0499N

Princeton owns other comparably annotated Renaissance texts. A number of these are reported in the Princeton University Library Chronicle. Ann M. Blair, “Lectures on Ovid’ Metamorphoses: The Class Notes of a 16th-Century Paris Schoolboy” (L,2 [Winter 1989], p. 117-144 [ full text] and Anthony Grafton, “Gabriel Harvey’s Marginalia: New Light on the Cultural History of Elizabethan England” (LII,1 [Autumn 1990], p. 21-24 [ full text].

Also see Anthony Grafton and Lisa Jardine, From Humanism to the Humanities (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986) for discussion of the volume of texts annotated in 1572 by Gerardus de Mayres from lectures by Claude Mignault [Call number for these Renaissance editions is (Ex)PA260.xC6.1550].

But, in addition to the Renaissance, in general, how does one find books with contemporary annotations in the Princeton rare book collections?

Go to the Main Catalog -> The opening screen is headed ‘Basic Search.’ In the search box, enter ‘annotations provenance,’ then search by subject heading. You will see a list that looks like this.


To use this table of results, click on a link of interest, such as ‘Annotations (Provenance)—16th century.’ You get a list of 79 books, each individually described.

A list such as this allows analysis of holdings. Here is a table in rank order of rare books at Princeton signaled as having handwritten annotations, usually contemporary. Detail about the kind of notation varies for a variety of reasons. Nonetheless, for those seeking primary evidence about a reader’s response to a text, searching ‘annotations provenance’ is the way to start.

279 Annotations (Provenance)
79  Annotations (Provenance)--16th century.
57  Annotations (Provenance)--18th century.
57  Annotations (Provenance)--19th century.
35  Annotations (Provenance)--20th century.
26  Annotations (Provenance)--'Collated and perfect'
24  Annotations (Provenance)--17th century.
22  Annotations (Provenance)--England--19th century.
14  Annotations (Provenance)--15th century.
3   Annotations (Provenance)--United States--New Jersey--Princeton--19th century.
2   Annotations (Provenance)--France--18th century
2   Annotations (Provenance)--Germany--16th century.
2   Annotations (Provenance)--Italy--15th century.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--18th century.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--20th century.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--France--19th century
1   Annotations (Provenance)--France--Paris--1556.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--France--Paris--1560.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--France--Strasbourg--1515.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--Germany--17th century.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--Germany--Frankfurt am Main--1793.
1   Annotations (Provenance) Germany--Tübingen-- 16th century.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--Italy--Venice--1487.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--Switzerland--Basel--1511.
1   Annotations (Provenance)--United States--New Jersey--Princeton--20th century.

Louis Sébastien Mercier (1740-1814) • Dreams and Utopia

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mercier.jpg mer1.jpg

Two works by

Songes Philosophiques, Première [-Seconde] Partie. Par M. Mercier. A Londres, et se trouve à Paris, chez Lejay, Libraire, Quai de Gêvres, au grand Corneille. 1768. Call number: (Ex) HX811 .M42

L’anno due mila quattrocento quaranta. Sogno di cui non vi fu l’eguale. Seguito dall’Uomo di ferro. Opera del cittad. L.S. Mercier … Traduzione dal Francese sull’ultima Edizione fatta in Parigi l’Anno VII della Repubb. Francese. Corretta, Riveduta, ed Augmentata dall’ Autore. Prima Edizione Italiana. In Genova. Stamperia de’ Cittad. Domenico Porcile, e C. nella strada della Posta vecchia no. 487. Anno II. della Repubb. Ligure [1798]. Call number: (Ex) 2007-3277N


Songes Philosophiques contains ten philosophical dream sequences, eight of which were reused in Mercier’s Mon bonnet de Nuit, 1784-1785 and seven of which were used in his landmark utopia L’An deux mille quatre cent quarante, 1785. This practice of borrowing and rebranding his own work was very much part of what became Mercier’s distinctive style. — Amanda Hall

‘He published prodigiously by recycling passages from one book to another and stretching essays into multivolume tracts. His major works - L’An 2440, Tableau de Paris, and Mon Bonnet de Nuit - therefore have a formless character. They are composed of short chapters on a wide variety of subjects, which Mercier cobbled together without worrying about narrative coherence. When a book caught on, he expanded it, cutting and pasting and fighting off pirates as he advanced from one edition to the next. The result was never elegant, but it often had a gripping quality, because Mercier knew how to observe the world around him and to make it come alive in anecdotes and esays. There is no better writer to consult if one wants to get some idea of how Paris looked, sounded, smelled, and felt on the eve of the Revolution’ (Darnton, The Forbidden Best-Sellers, 1996, p. 118).


First edition in Italian of Mercier’s famous utopian novel L’an 2440. Placed on the Index on 26th August 1822. Only copy recorded to be in an American library.

‘The translator was thought to be Filippo Castelli’, writes Everett C. Wilkie, ‘however, in his Saggi di Eulogia, Genoa, 1838, he himself takes credit for having translated only ‘L’Homme de Fer’. One possibility for the translator of L’An 2440 is Elisabetta Caminer, who translated several of Mercier’s dramas into Italian … Nevertheless, Caminer had died in 1796, two years before this translation appeared. However, this translation has one of the hallmarks of her work, liberties with the original text; and her other translations of Mercier’s works show her sustained interest in his writings. One can speculate that she was the one who began the translation, finishing only a part of it before her death. Castelli might well have finished the translation and gone ahead to do ‘L’Homme de Fer’, which was the last part of the book. Castelli was in Genoa at this time and was active translating other French works into Italian’

Everett C. Wilkie, “Mercier’s L’An 2440: Its Publishing History During the Author’s Lifetime,” in the Harvard Library Bulletin, Vol. XXXII, 1984, p. 393.

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)

Venus' Miscellany • Rich, Rare and Racy Reading

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venus_misc003.jpg Sunday, April 5th’s New York Times Book Review includes a notice of the following by Professor Donna Dennis of Rutgers School of Law — Newark:

Licentious Gotham: Erotic Publishing and Its Prosecution in Nineteenth-Century New York (Harvard University Press, 2009). [See announcement and excerpt (pdf)]

In preparing her study, Professor Dennis used the Library’s copy of Venus’ Miscellany.
New-York : J. Ramerio & Co., [alias for George Akarman]
“A weekly journal of wit, love and humor.”
Editors: Ramerio & Clarke, <1857>.
Library has issues for May 9, 16, 23, 30,
June 6, 20, 27, July 4 and 11, 1857.
Location: Rare Books (Ex) Call number: Dulles drawer E2
Electronic access (pdf, large file)

“By the mid-1850s, working out of a series of offices in the vicinity of Nassau Street, [George] Akarman was well on his way to becoming one of the century’s largest producers of pornography, second only to a legendary publisher of bawdy books named William Haines.” (p. 5)

“In 1856, for instance, Akarman decided to launch a new venture, a highly risky, innovative periodical called Venus’ Miscellany. Calculating that he could not sell the magazine in New York without triggering prosecution for obscenity, Akarman planned to market it solely to an upscale audience of out-of-town subscribers, the sort of people who possessed the financial resources and sophistication to negotiate mail-order subscriptions and purchases.” (p.6-7) He told his readers he intended to put the paper “entirely into a subscription circulation, which will insure it to those who want it, and keep it from who do not want it.” (Venus’ Miscellany, Jan. 31, 1857, p. 3)

The index to Licentious Gotham gives the following entries for this ‘weekly journal’: Venus’ Miscellany (magazine), 6, 7, 109, 170-182, 197, 207; contraceptives advertised in, 171-172; “flash” weeklies compared with, 187-188; letters from female readers, 175-179; mail-order sale of, 182-190, 198; prosecutions involving, 190-192, 194; “racy” reading materials advertised in, 173, 174; story excerpts from, 259

Louis Guillaume de La Follie, 1733?-1780. Le Philosophe sans prétention, ou L’homme rare. Ouvrage physique, chymique, politique et moral, dédié aux savans. Par M. D. L. F., Paris, Chez Clousier, 1775. Call number: (Ex) Q157.L25. Purchased by the Library in 1998-99. Princeton copy has contemporary signature “Mlle de Beaufort” at the head of the frontispiece.

“A picaresque Oriental romance and conte philosophique that created the first airship powered by electricity. (Benjamin Franklin’s experiments with lightning in the 1760s had impressed many observers, including, some years later, a young Percy Shelley.) The fact that fiction soon abandoned this opening to follow the balloon trail of the Montgolfier brothers should not reflect poorly on la Folie, argues Versins (see his Encyclopédie de l’utopie, des voyages extraordinaires et de la science fiction, 2e ed., Lausanne, 1984, page 505), but on the writers whose imaginations could rise no higher than the earth’s atmosphere. But the author’s importance is far greater than that. Here, for the first time, he adds, is the outline of a theory for a new type of literature inspired by science and technology: a theory that would not be truly implemented until nearly a century later with the works of another Frenchman, Jules Verne. In his dedicatory epistle, La Folie compares science to a beautiful woman whose inherent charms are not noticed until she is dressed up attractively enough to excite the curiosity of onlookers. (Through the ages it has not been unusual for writers to misdirect readers in such prefaces, to avow sound utilitarian purposes which they could use for cover from certain kinds of criticism. Whether la Folie’s work really does function as a procurer for Science is another matter. Yet the argument could be made that sugar-coated science constitutes the main course served up by Verne — and many subsequent authors of science fiction.) The ostensible narrator of la Folie’s tale is an Arab named Nadir (an astronomical pun) who, in a vision, beholds the voyages of a Mercurian named Ormisais. In his description of life on Mercury, Ormisais relates the workings of an elite scientific-literary organization (like the British Royal Society or the French Academy) but much more restrictive, with only a dozen members. One of the applicants for the latest vacancy is a young inventor, Scintilla, the true hero of the tale. He shows the Academy members his flying machine, ‘an elaborate combination of wheels, globes of glass, springs, wires, glass-covered wooden uprights, a plate rubbed with camphor and covered with gold leaf’ (Nicolson, Voyages to the Moon, p. 197): altogether a far cry from the winged contraptions of the past. After a short demonstration flight, Ormisais is chosen to take the trip to Earth, but he crash lands and is thus stranded, a stranger in a strange land. He tells Nadir that it took him 500 hours to ‘ascend’ or ‘descend’ to Earth: take your pick, for the universe, he says (enunciating a surprisingly modern cosmology) has neither height nor depth nor center nor frontiers. An important landmark in the evolution of interplanetary science fiction.” - Robert Eldridge (courtesy of L. W. Currey, Inc., Elizabethtown, N.Y.)

See also: “The First “Electrical” Flying Machine” by Nora M. Mohler and Marjorie H. Nicolson in Essays contributed in honor of President William Allan Neilson. (Northampton, MA: Smith College, 1939), pp. 143-158.

Lafolie, (Louis Guillaume), a French chemist, born at Rouen in 1739. Discovered the yellow dye extracted from gaude, (dyer’s weed,) and wrote an imaginative work called the “Philosopher without Pretension,” (‘Philosophe sans Prétention,’ etc., 1775.) D. in 1780.” — Joseph Thomas, Universal Pronouncing Dictionary of Biography and Mythology (Philadelphia, London: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1915), vol. 2, page 1471.

More biographical information at

For more on the Library’s Aeronautica, see this article concerning chiefly books, and this article concerning prints.

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.

Poor Richard's Biblomac



Volume 1, number 1, above the fold. Call number (Ex) 0100.733e

August 1940, New York City.
Publishers Burstein and Chappe issue Poor Richard’s Biblomac.
An excerpt from the lead editorial:

For the most part, Poor Richard’s Biblomac reflects and idea we have - an idea that anyone whose stock-in-trade is books - the librarian, the bookseller, the publisher—has a function in democratic society that means something more than delivering books from stack to reader. And, today, when the propaganda of self-acclaimed patriots and pundits is peddled among more and more customers so that democracy is in increasing danger of finding itself saved by totalitarians, when labeling individuals and groups with the neologism “fifth column” is becoming a national pastime and when the word and the book is suspect, there is a need for a publication which will discuss the issues which confront the bookman in his capacity as citizen, discuss his function and urge its exercize. Poor Richard’s Biblomac may not be that publication but we will try.

Because we believe that the book, as much as the bullet, is ammunition for the democratic state—that the needs of our American democracy are best served by more, and not less, democracy, we will expose and oppose trends and movements designed to cripple libraries and hamper book production and reading. We have made a start, we think by devoting part of this issue to the question: shall libraries censor reading?

We have no illusion that we shall turn tides or, more modestly, change attitudes. We are content if, from time to time, we shall be able to create interest and discussion in vital problems, ruffle the calm waters of the status quo and, if necessary, make nuisances of ourselves about things we think matter. Herbert Burstein.

Little is known about Burstein and Chappe. However, one of the contributors to this first issue was Lawrence Heyl, acting head librarian at Princeton during 1939 -1940, and long time library officer, retiring in 1962 as Associate Librarian. Presumably, because of Heyl’s interest in the publication, the Library preserved the Biblomac, which lasted only three issues. Today, it signals the acute concern of American librarians at the time — Archibald MacLeish foremost among them — that preserving democracy meant engagement not isolation.

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)

Princeton’s unique copy of the seventeenth century English engraving “A Mappe of the Man of Sin” is “Print of the Month” for August 2008 on the website British Printed Images to 1700, a digital library of prints and book illustrations from early modern Britain.

The 3,151 word article together with 22 footnotes explains this complicated engraving scene-by-scene and detail-by-detail.

The engraving is also described in Malcolm Jones, “Engraved Works Recorded in the Stationers’ Registers, 1562-1656,” Walpole Society, 64 (2002), p. 1-68 ff., number 176, p. 32 and fig 24.

Below is a detail from A Mappe of the Man of Sin: Wherein is Most Liuely Delineated the Rising Raigning and Ruine of the Kingdome of Antichrist [London, 1622]. Rare Book Division. Call number: (Ex) BT985 .W5e. Purchased from the London bookseller Bernard Quaritch in 1988.

‘Abby-lubber Preest’ • Click on the detail below to see entire original. Dimensions of original: 443 mm x 545 mm.


Conestoga Chief — Only copy recorded

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On November 15, 1857, the Philadelphia newspaper The Press carried this notice on page two:


The hopeful wish that the journal become “popular … profitable” clearly did not happen. No library is recorded as having a copy. Recently, a copy was found in the the Library’s Western Americana Collections. The Princeton copy was acquired on December 8, 1969 but was never entered into the Library’s main catalog. Its existence was noted only in two Princeton checklists of American Indian periodicals, one issued in 1970 and the other in 1979. (It still remains a mystery why a publication intended for a fraternal secret society of white men was included among periodicals published by or for native Americans.) Nonetheless, even though its existence was noted, it was not easily retrievable because it had no call number. During recent final days of a now completed five year campaign to box, inventory, and catalog American Indian periodicals, the Chief was found in a large, thin portfolio. During cataloging, its rarity and significance was discovered. The official record for the Chief now reads:

Title: Conestoga chief. Published/Created: Philadelphia, Pa. : H.L. Goodall, 1857. Description: v. ; 50 cm. Began with vol. 1, no. 1 (Oct. 28, 1857) Notes: “Devoted to the Improved Order of Red Men — popular literature, instruction and amusement.” Intended for weekly publication. Cf. Prospectus (vol. 1, no. 1, p. 8). No more published? Subject(s): Improved Order of Red Men —Periodicals. Related name(s): Improved Order of Red Men. Location: Rare Books: Western Americana Collection (WA) Call number: Oversize 2008-0020E

• • •

An extract from the July 1860 issue of The Ladies Repository, (p. 412-413) tells a tale of reader reaction to the Conestoga Chief. The story is titled “Indians’ Newspaper” and appeared in column headed “Recollections of a Deaf and Dumb Teacher, by Joe, the Jersey Mute.” (Actual name of the author was Joseph Mount.)

“In November, 1857, an Indian established a weekly newspaper at Philadelphia, called the “Conestoga Chief.” I bought a copy of the Chief for the double purpose of reading the thoughts of the red men, as expressed in the columns of that paper, and of showing it to my class, which was then, as now, composed wholly of boys. They were thrown in considerable excitement at sight of the word ”Chief” printed in such large characters, not exactly knowing that it was a “real, genuine, no-mistake” newspaper. They were in hot water, some declaring that they would be tomahawked, burnt alive, and all that sort of thing, and others that they would arm themselves with axes, knives, and the like, and stand with a strong front before the red face rather than submit to the Indian mode of burning alive, of which they had heard so much. As might be expected, all the school and the paper were together by the ears. I had considerable difficulty in restoring order in the schoolroom. I explained to the excited boys that the “Chief” was got up for the purpose of giving information, the same as the other papers of which the pale-faces had charge. They were convinced of their error, and had the magnanimity to own it up. They insisted upon knowing more of the Indians as they now exist, since I was thus placed in possession of a medium of communication with them. I marked three articles for recitation; namely, “An Eye for an Eye; or, an Indian Justice,” “The Indians,” and “Harper’s Mill,” which, in my opinion, were worth the price of the number. As I read those articles by signs, I never saw a more attentive audience in all my life, a fact which shows that even mute children of tender years regard the red face with lively interest, and ever wish to see more of it. One of my boys told me that the most beautiful girl he ever saw was a young squaw residing in the neighborhood of his home, and he said further that he wished to marry her. My boys particularly wished to see Indian girls, they said. Shame, shame on them for their partiality! But since they were then quite young, their ages varying from seven to twelve years, let their weakness in this respect be winked at.”

Strange Adventures of a German Female Robinson Crusoe (1780)

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When first published in 1719, Daniel Defoe’s story of castaway Robinson Crusoe was a runaway success. Many translations and imitations of Robinson Crusoe followed. In fact, the progeny was so great that it became a genre unto itself called, in the plural, “Robinsonades.”
Princeton is the sole library listed in WorldCat, “the world’s largest network of library content,” to own a copy of a 1780 German Robinsonade featuring a heroine whose journey is a search as much for love and romance as it is for wealth. The work is entitled Merkwürdige Begebenheiten einiger deutschen Frauenzimmer, welche auf Reisen, sowohl zu Lande als zu Wasser durch Verheyratungen sehr reich und glücklich worden, und durch Ankauf ansehnlicher Güter sich in Niedersachsen niedergelassen aus eigener Erfahrung niedergeschrieben von Holston und Augusta. The actual names of the authors Holston and Augusta are unknown. At left is the frontispiece of the book. Click on it to see details of dress and scenery. For further information about the genre, see Jeannine Blackwell, “An Island of Her Own: Heroines of the German Robinsonades from 1720 to 1800” in The German Quarterly (1985), 58, 5-26.

Call number for the book: (Ex) 3459.68.363

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.

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