A Statement of Invoice from Roger Payne (1739-1797), English bookbinder

Statement of invoice prepared by Roger Payne for binding The Holy Bible containing the Old Testament and the New. Edinburgh: James Watson, 1715. (Ex) 5179.1715. Ms. stored apart from the book in Manuscript Collection C140, Box 37, folder “Payne.’

In rare book libraries, fine bindings made with great skill are often encountered simply on their own, with little sense of their maker other than a name.  Extraordinarily, on a rare occasion, one finds a description of the binder’s work in his own words.  Such is the case with the undated statement of billing from Roger Payne illustrated here.

Scheide Librarian, Eric White, has said of Payne: ‘Roger Payne (1738–1797), perhaps the most famous of all English bookbinders, was well known both for his exquisite gold tooling and his squalid lifestyle. He worked at Eton beginning in the late 1750s, then at London with the support of the bookseller Thomas Payne (no relation). There he served many illustrious patrons,’ including Dr. Benjamin Moseley, Michael Woodhull, C.M. Cracherode, and the second Earl Spencer.

A near contemporary of Payne, the Rev. Thomas Frognall Dibdin (1776-1847) described Payne’s invoices as ‘original and diverting,’ ‘replete with the garrulous chit-chat of an old stager of four score; in parts resembles a Coach-maker’s account,’ and ‘loquacious and … original specimens of arithmetical compositions.’

Our reaction today is to treat the invoices more fair-mindedly as rare contemporary documentation showing what was regarded as valuable at that time.  In this and other statements (at least, another 13 are known and transcribed; see list below) Payne draws our attention to factors crucial to making the binding.  In this instance, he covers these factors starting from the outside of the book to the inside.  But for purposes of getting a sense of his process, the following comments cover from the inside of the book to the outside.

The first of these factors includes the time and effort taken to clean, unwrinkle, mend and otherwise prepare the pages of the text block: ‘Some few places had a little writing ink I took it out safe.’  Then, he draws our attention to the materials of the binding  ‘back lined with Russia Leather under the Blue Morocco cover very strong’  or ‘sew’d with silk on strong & neat bands.’  He’s stating these terms about materials because he knows that binders can choose cheaper components such as linen thread or lining the spine with paper. Lastly he sets forth details about the finishing of the binding ‘all the gold impressions  … worked first plain afterwards work’d in Gold & Double Gold used thro ye whole Work.’  He sums up the work, and in this case his summary occurs initially, with the words ‘Bound in the best manner’ or, in the example illustrated here, ‘finished in the Richest & most elegant Taste  Richer & more exact than any Book that I have ever Bound.’

At the left upper corner of the statement of billing is a diagram of the lettering on the spine. It appears in just this format on the book itself, an edition of the Authorized Bible printed at Edinburgh in 1715 (ESTC T91151). The binding has the initials ‘T P’ on the front cover.  These are those of publisher and antiquarian bookseller Thomas Payne, who served at Roger Payne’s guardian (supplying ‘regular pecuniary assistance’) during the physical decline of his later years.  The total cost for the binding is £ 2.1.6.

The Holy Bible containing the Old Testament and the New. Edinburgh: James Watson, 1715. Ex 5179.1715 Spine height: 19 cm. Larger image














Ownership history

1877 – Ellis & White, booksellers, London,  item 61* in catalogue 41: Catalogue of Valuable Books comprising Many Volumes of great Rarity and Curiosity, including Early Printed Books n English, Latin, German, Italian, & Flemish: Rare Old English Poetry; Some very Remarkable  Volumes Illustrated with Wood Engravings of an Early Date, &c. &c.’ Priced at £42





1890  – Sale of the books of Sir Edward Sullivan, at Sotheby’s, London, 19 & 27 May 1890, lot 770.  Sold to James Bain Ltd. for £62

1892  – William Lorings Andrews, Roger Payne and his art. A short account of his life and work as a binder.  (New York, 1892), p. 31 states that the book is the possession of a New York collector

1895 – Illustrated in Robert Hoe’s One hundred and seventy-six historic and artistic bookbindings dating from the fifteenth century to the present time pictured by etchings, artotypes, and lithographs after the originals selected from the library of Robert Hoe (New York, 1895)

1911 – Sale catalogue of the Library of Robert Hoe, April 24 and ff., lot 297.   Cyrus Hall McCormick (Princeton class of 1879) purchased the book at the sale for $900

1936 – C. H. McCormick dies in 1936 and the books pass to his widow, Alice Marie Holt McCormick.  She later remarries and becomes Alice H. Brown (Mrs. Marshall Ludington Brown.)

1948 – Alice H. Brown gifts the books of her first husband C. H. McCormick to the Princeton University Library.

List of other statements of invoice by Roger Payne
Dibdin records and transcribed the following bills in The Bibliographical Decameron, London, 1817, vol. II, p. 511 ff.:

  1. Glasguae. MDCCXCV. (ESTC T86592): Dibdin, BD, II, p.512 (also transcribed in C. Davenport, Roger Payne [Chicago, 1929], p. 70, illustrated plate 31), undated original in the John Rylands Library. Invoice total £ 16.7.0
  2. Petrarch, described in Spenceriana, vol. 4, p. 141-143: Dibdin, BD, II, p.512-513 (also transcribed in C. Davenport, Roger Payne [Chicago, 1929], p. 71). Undated. Invoice total £ 4.7.0
  3. C[l]avis Astro[logiæ] Elimata, bound for Dr. Benjamin Moseley (ESTC R39993): Dibdin, BD, II, p.513. Undated. Invoice total £ 0.4.0
  4. Harmony of the World by Heydon London 1662, bound for Dr. Benjamin  Moseley (ESTC R16451): Dibdin, BD, II, p.514. Dated ‘1796, 11th’ Invoice total £ 0.10.6.  This book is held by the Scheide Library at Princeton and will be the subject of a future blog posting.
  5. Soul of Astrology, by Salmon, London 1679, bound for Dr. Benjamin Moseley (ESTC R6301): Dibdin, BD, II, p.514. Undated. Invoice total £ 0.9.6
  6. Vesalli Humani Corporis Fabrica, bill in possession of Edward V. Utterson: Dibdin, BD, II, p.514 (also transcribed in C. Davenport, Roger Payne [Chicago, 1929], p. 72). Undated. Invoice total £ 0.15.0
  7. Sandys Travels MDC.X. Wheeler and Spons Travels M.DC.LXXV, bill in possession of Edward V. Utterson (ESTC S121765 [1615 ed. and many later ed.] and ESTC R9388 [1682 ed.]): Dibdin, BD, II, p.515. Dated ‘Dec. 1st’ Invoice total £ 1.13.0

C. Davenport records the following bills in Roger Payne [Chicago, 1929], in addition to those noted above:

  1. Cambridge 1694 (ESTC R24132): Davenport, RP, p. 69, illustrated plate 29, undated original in the British Library. Invoice total £ 4.9.0
  2. Lilly’s Christian Astrology. London, 1695. Bound for Dr. Benjamin Moseley (ESTC R233955 [1647 ed. and several later ed.]): Davenport, RP, p. 73, (also transcribed in Sydney Glover, ‘A Famous Bookbinder …’, The Collector’s Magazine (London, 1905), p. 42) undated original in 1908 Sotheby’s auct. of the books of Lord Amherst of Hackney. Invoice total £ 1.3.6
  3. The Faerie Queene … MDXCVI (ESTC S117748): Davenport, RP, p. 74, illustrated plate 30, undated original in the British Library. Invoice total £ 2.10.0
  4. Mosaical Philosophy by Fludd. London, MDCLIX (ESTC R6980): Davenport, RP, p. 75, undated original in the British Library. Invoice total £ 1.13.6
  5. Heydon, Elhavarevna. London, 1665. (ESTC R8694): Davenport, RP, p. 76, undated original in the British Library, shelf mark C.66.b.1. Invoice total £ 1.18.0
  6. Plot (Robert). The Natural History of Staffordshire. Oxford, 1686. (ESTC R21986) Davenport, RP, plate 32, undated, original owned by booksellers John Tregaskis and Son, ca. 1929. Invoice total £ 4.14.6


Transcription of Payne’s statement of invoice

"" Letter’d in ye most exact Manner, exceeding rich small Tool Gilt Back of a new pattern studded in Compartments. The outsides finished in the Richest & most elegant Taste Richer, & more exact than any Book that I ever Bound.
The insides finished in a new Design exceeding elegant. Bound in the very best manner sew’d with silk on Strong & Neat Bands. The Back lined with Russia Leather under the Blue morrocco cover very strong & neat Boards.

The Finest Blue Morocco All The Gold Impressions except studds worked first Plain afterwards work’d in Gold & Double Gold used thro ^ye whole Work


Frontispiece was pasted very clumsy on another leaf I took it off & cleaned the paste off & mended 3 places. Title 1 piece

Jeremiah III. Proverbs XIX. Saint Matthew VIII ) Mended and several placed ruled where the pieces was put on.
A hole in ye printing have endeavour’d to make perfect by another Holy Bible. I cleaned all the printing part from ye other side required great care & time & several Back margins mended which cannot now be seen. ___ Some few places had a little writing ink I took out quite safe.


Roger Payne in his workshop. 














By S. Harding. Frontispiece to C. Davenport, Roger Payne (Chicago, 1929).

Sir Thomas Phillipps – Illustrations of his distinguishing marks of ownership in books and manuscripts from the Phillipps Library

Supplementing examples posted by Peter Kidd on his website ‘Manuscripts/Provenance,’ in the entry for Sir Thomas Phillipps http://www.manuscripts.org.uk/manuscripts/provenance/collectors/phillipps.htm

A. N. L. Munby writes in Phillipps Studies No. 4 (Cambridge, 1956), p. 165

In the 1820s Phillipps commissioned an armorial bookplate, which was however inserted very sparingly in books and manuscripts (fig. 1). Many of the early acquisitions bear a stencilled stamp of his crest, a lion rampant, applied rather crudely to the front paste-down or to the first leaf (fig. 2), and, on the paste-down, in the case of manuscripts, was inscribed the number allotted to the book in the Catalogus Librorum Manuscriptorum (fig. 3); in most instances this number was repeated on a tiny printed slip glued to the spine (fig. 4). Many thousands of manuscripts are identifiable at sight by their drab buff boards, Phillipps’s usual binding style. (fig. 5) A very large number of the printed books have no identification of ownership by Phillipps other than the small pencilled initials ‘MHC’ at the top of the front paste-down, denoting that the item in question had been entered, but not necessarily printed, in the Middle Hill Catalogue (fig. 6). Many books in the great residue of the library purchased in 1946 by Messrs Robinson have been provided with a discreet armorial label which identifies their provenance (fig. 7)

Figure 1 – Armorial bookplate

Figure 2 – Stencil

Figure 3 – Stencil with number

Figure 4 – Slip on spine

Figure 5 – Middle Hill Boards

Figure 6 – MHC (Middle Hill Catalogue)

Figure 7 – Bibliotheca Phillippica – W. H. Robinson Ltd.

Proofs of Pine’s Horace (1731-1733)

Princeton is fortunate to own what are the only recorded marked-up proof pages from one of the most famous illustrated engraved books of eighteenth-century England, commonly known as Pine’s Horace published in London, 1733-1737.   [For full details about Pine’s Horace see “Engraved Throughout: Pine’s Horace (1733) as a Bibliographical Object,” the 2015 Lyell lecture given by Prof. Michael Suarez https://rarebookschool.org/first-lyell-lecture-available-to-view/]

The proofs are bound in early 20th century brown polished goatskin and consist of the first 67 pages of volume one.  They were gifted to the Library in 1916 by Robert Patterson, Class of 1876, as yet another donated accession to the large collection of editions of Horace that he had first established by the academic year 1908-1909.

We have no idea how they came into Patterson’s hands because there are no marks of provenance within the book.  During the decades that the  proofs have inhabited the shelves, they seem to have been overlooked by scholars, because there is no mention of them in academic or library publications.

What follows is a glimpse of some of the salient features of the proofs, which taken together give some sense of the process by which this famous book came into being.

These features fall into two groups: on the one hand, the proof pages themselves independent of any correctors’ markings and, on the other hand, the annotations supplied by various correcting readers, which are quite numerous, occur on almost every page, and can be identified as tracing back to four separate readers.

First, the pages, themselves.  There are several points here:  1) the proofs are on the same paper as the finished book. laid paper watermarked with ‘Strasbourg Bend’; 2) the leaves are are a mixed set, that is, a few are proofs before letters (such as p. 67), but most are proofs with lettering; and 3) on page 31 the proof has a vignette of Prometheus being tortured by the raven whereas the finished book depicts Prometheus fashioning a human skeleton.

Second, the annotations:  There are 4 distinct sets of annotations, each in a different contemporary hand.

  1. A red ink now much faded marking usually single variations from the copy text, such as noting that the copy text had a ‘J’ where Pine engraved an ‘I’
  2. A closed up italic hand rendering several types of notes: 1) observations about the images ‘A large wolf would have been properer here. Or a Moor with a bow and quiver’ (p. 42) beside the full length figure of Hercules; 2) regarding typographic style ‘You have never before put a capital to a common noun  …’ (p. 28) or ‘This e should be of the small size …’ (p.20)
  3. A larger looser italic responding to the notations rendered by 1 and 2 above; examples: ‘that y should not touch the l = I doubt its too late to put it back’ (p. 21);  ‘Put the admiration after ludo!’ (p. 4) [That is, put an exclamation mark after  … — ed.]
  4. Pencil annotations correcting the Greek inscriptions in the illustration on page 40

Of the for 4 sets of annotations, set number 3 turns out to be of  particular interest. The writer of set number 3 pays especial attention to textual matters, orthography, and indentation relating to the layout of stanzas.   Those attentions suggest someone particularly interested in the text of Horace rather than the illustration.  To find a candidate for these annotations, I looked at the roster of names acknowledged in Pine’s preface.

In the front matter to the book, Pine acknowledges the following for their aid in the project.

  • Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and 4th Earl of Cork (1694-1753); known as the ‘Architect Earl’
  • Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke and 5th Earl of Montgomery (c. 1656-1733); collector of fine art and ancient coins
  • Sir Andrew Fountaine (1676-1753); art collector
  • Sir Richard Mead (1673-1754); eminent physician, collector
  • Sir Thomas Sadler, Deputy Clerk of the Pells
  • Thomas Bentley L.L.D. (1693-1742); classical scholar; onetime librarian of Trinity College, Cambridge; edited editions of Callimachus, Caesar, et al.

Of these 6, Pine especially notes Thomas Bentley as ‘eminent in learning’ and given that Bentley edited an edition of Horace in 1713, I suspected that the notes of set 3 might be his, but I needed to find examples of his handwriting.

One contemporary example is a 1731 letter written by Thomas Bentley to Zachary Pearce (1690-1774) preserved in the Turnbull Library at the National Library of New Zealand, Wellington.  The letter was reproduced in facsimile in the Turnbull Library Record, vol. xiv, issue 1, 1 May 1981.

The convergence of the hand of the set 3 annotations and the hand of the Turnbull letter is convincing, as in the example below  (Turnbull left; Princeton right)


Lastly, when you compare the corrections in the Princeton proofs with the finished book, it is clear that in a number of cases Pine made the requisite changes.  This brief description and analysis are by no means exhaustive.  There is still much more to learn from these proofs.

>>> Census of other copies of the proofs

  1. Copy described by Maurice de Péreire in his article ‘Notes d’un amateur sur les livres illustrés du xviii siècle (suite 1) published in Bulletin de bibliophile et du bibliothécaire.  (Paris: Henri LeClerc, 1921) p. 197 to 200.  Present whereabouts not known.  De Péreire describes this copy has having the prospectus title page with date Feb. 24, 1730-31, followed by a list of subscribers, together with the first 67 engraved pages.
  2. Bodleian, Oxford – Proofs of vol.1, pp.1-67. Preceded by a list headed Subscribers, with an additional list in MS. by J. Pine. Pasted in are Proposals for engraving by subscription. The date is erased]. Shelfmark: Pre-1701 Weston 590502835
  3. Morgan Library, New York City — Prospectus volume for Pine’s edition of Horace, 1733, containing ‘Proposal’, printed list of subscribers, and early proof impressions of book I, pl. 1-67 of Odes.  Bound in contemporary calf.  Shelfmark: PML 65587 http://estc.bl.uk/N39784
  4. Victoria and Albert — Library states that this copy is ‘assumed lost’  — 24, 1730-31. Proposals for engraving by subscription, on copperplates, the works of Horace … as the specimen annex’d. Shelfmark: Forster 12mo 6931  [Given the February date of the prospectus, it is assumed that this copy had proofs of vol. 1, pp. 1-67]
  5. Princeton University Library. Shelfmark: PTT 2865.321.233



Charles Lamb’s books at Princeton

Bartlett & Welford’s sale catalogue of 60 lots consisting of volumes from Charles Lamb’s library (February, 1848) [ExL 0513.557.55] The Princeton copy includes a hand written table giving the buyers for each lot and the amount paid.  The catalogue and the mss. table have been digitized.

The story begins in 1848, an annus mirabilis in the tale of Charles Lamb’s library.  This was the year in which 60 lots of Lamb’s books came up for sale in New York. (The 60 lots comprised more than 136 titles in total.)  The lots appeared in a  private sale on the premises of the Astor House booksellers Bartlett & Welford in the first part of the year. The booksellers claimed that the books were selected from the mass of Lamb’s books and ‘the remainder destroyed … so that no other such opportunity can offer to the admirers of C. Lamb, for securing a memento of their favorite author.’  Then, in October, 1848, 17 lots bought by John T. Annan of Cincinnati in the Bartlett & Welford sale were auctioned by the New York firm of Cooley, Keese, & Hill. Unlike collectors across the Atlantic, American book collectors had a special affection for Lamb, his writings, and his books, and were willing to pay strong prices.

The distinct character of this American passion for Lamb is brilliantly recounted in Book Madness: A Story of Book Collectors in America by Denise Gigante (Stanford; Princeton PhD. 2000), recently published by Yale University Press.

The head note in Catalogue of Charles Lamb’s library, for sale by Bartlett & Welford, booksellers and importers, 7 Astor House, New York states
>> During the long illness of Miss Lamb, the collection of books that had formed the solace and delight of her brother’s life, met with neglect and partial dispersion among his friends; at her death the following volumes were selected from the mass as worthy of preservation, containing notes, &c., by the late possessor, and the remainder destroyed—so that no other such opportunity can offer to the admirers of C. Lamb, for securing a memento of their favorite author. The notes, remarks, &c., referred to and quoted in inverted commas, in the following list, are warranted to be all in the autograph of Lamb (except when otherwise mentioned), and it will be seen that many of his most favorite works are there; no attempt has been made to re-clothe his “shivering folios;” they are precisely in the state in which he possessed and left them. <<

Bartlett & Welford didn’t disclose who made the selection of the 60 items. From Book Madness,(p. 42) we learn that it was Charles Moxon, Lamb’s publisher and husband of Lamb’s adopted daughter, Emma, who had inherited the books.  Moxon was quite familiar with the enthusiasm in America for Lamb, and in the autumn of 1847 he worked out a deal with Charles Welford to market the books in America (p. 52).  The  February 5, 1848 issue of Literary World announced ‘These books, which Lamb so loved that they seemed a part of himself, have been plucked from the smoke of London, deracinated from the pavements of Cockneydom, and now they are in the Astor House, all written over in the margin by Coleridge and Southey and Lamb himself. What will their fate be now?’

Evidently during February and perhaps in some following months Bartlett & Welford sold all the lots and a record of the buyers and prices is recorded in the Princeton copy of the catalogue, a gift from Charles Scribner, Class of 1913, as part of his Lamb collection.

Of the 60 lots, the following are now at Princeton

Ben JonsonWorks (London, 1692).
“The blank leaves, margins &c., are filled with extracts from the old Dramatists and early English Writers, with additional poems, corrections of the Text & co. &c., in Charles Lamb’s early hand-writing, forming a most curious and valuable memento of his favorite studies.” (Bartlett & Welford, 1848).  Provenance:
• Lot 20 at  Bartlett & Welford’s private sale of Lamb’s books (February, 1848) purchased by George Templeton Strong for 25 dollars.
• Lot 904 at Bang’s sale of George T. Stong’s books (New York, 1878)
• Lot 964 at Bangs’s sale of the library of Charles W. Frederickson (New York, 1897). Sold to Charles Scribner’s Sons for $375.
• Christie’s NY, Dec. 14, 2000, lot 104 (“Property of a Gentleman”) via James Cummins to Pirie.
• Collection of Robert S. Pirie, Sotheby’s NY, 2 Dec. 2015, lot 987, to Princeton. (Call number: RHT 17th-739a RHT / Digitized )

John SucklingFragmenta Aurea (London, 1646) “Charles Lamb’s copy, with mss notes from Aubrey’s Lives, Notes, & co.” (Bartlett & Welford, 1848). Provenance:
• Lot 48 at  Bartlett & Welford’s private sale of Lamb’s books (February, 1848) purchased by Horatio Woodman for 5 dollars.
• Lot 960 at Bangs’s sale of the library of Charles W. Frederickson (New York, 1897), sold to Frank Howard Dodd and Edward S. Mead for $270.
• Henry Bache Smith (collector), A Sentimental Library ([New York], Privately Printed, 1914) p. 148
• Halsted B. Vander Poel (Christie’s London, 3 March 2004, lot 106). via Quaritch to Pirie.
• Collection of Robert S. Pirie, Sotheby’s NY, 2 Dec. 2015, lot 988 to Princeton. (Call number RHT-551A / Digitized )

The history of Philip de Commines, knight, Lord of Argenton.  
“With interesting MS notes by Charles Lamb at the commencement and ‘Memorabilia’ by Coleridge at the end on the free towns and republics of the Middle Ages & c.” (Bartlett & Welford, 1848). Provenance:
• Lot 59 at  Bartlett & Welford’s private sale of Lamb’s books (February, 1848) purchased by George Templeton Strong for 10 dollars.
• Lot 374 at Bang’s sale of George T. Stong’s books (New York, 1878)
• Lot 960 at Bangs’s sale of the library of Charles W. Frederickson (New York, 1897), sold for $135.
• Charles Scribner’s Sons subsequently purchased it for $180.
• Henry Bache Smith (collector), A Sentimental Library ([New York], Privately Printed, 1914) p. 146
• A.S.W. Rosenbach (bookseller) then sold to Princeton, June 1947. (Call number: Ex 1509.146.26.11q  / Digitized )  N. B. See article about this book by Prof. Jeremiah Finch published in the Princeton University Library Chronicle at https://www.jstor.org/stable/26401659

Old Plays & c. spine title on a sammelband  consisting of 12 items   Lamb lists the contents on the front pastedown.   Provenance:

• Lot 54 in the Bartlett & Welford sale catalogue, but there described as ‘Tracts, Miscellaneous, 1 thick volume, 12mo. Descriptive Catalogue of Pictures, and Poetical and Historical Inventions, by William Blake, 1809. Lord Rochester’s Poems, Lady Winchelsea’s Poems, C. Lamb’s Confessions of a Drunkard, with Corrections, &c., Southey’s Wat Tyler, &c. 12 tracts, with MS list of contents.’  Sold to John T. Annan for $6.
• Lot 376 in Cooley, Keese, & HIll, Catalogue of a private library, embracing a large collection of rare and valuable works in early English literature; … and eighteen volumes from the library of Charles Lamb.  New York, 1848.  Sale consisted of books from the Library of John T. Annan of Cincinnati.  Sold to Campbell for $4.25 (per priced copy of the catalogue at the American Antiquarian Society; thanks to Elizabeth Pope who supplied images of the pages for lots 359 to 376, headed in black letter ‘Charles Lamb’s Books.’)
• Seven Gables Bookshop (NY) to Robert H. Taylor, February 1972.  Taylor legacy to Princeton in 1985. (Call number: RHT 19th-305)


Lamb has annotated the poem ‘A Noctural Reverie’ ‘the best poem in the collection’

What is the language of the text on this page?

Quiz: What is the language of the text on this page?

A) German
B) Latin
C) Chinese
D) Turkish

This rare book was brought to our attention by Professor Matthew Grenby of the University of Newcastle, who conducted research at Special Collections in preparation for his presentation at “Books for Children: Transnational Encounters 1750-1850,” a symposium hosted by the Cotsen Children’s Library in 2019. The ‘unintelligible’ scripts prompted some sleuthing by the Cotsen staff. The backstory of this book (Rare Books 2014-0211Q, accessioned in 1904!) is shared at the Cotsen Curatorial Blog, in an essay by Minjie Chen, entitled ‘Opium, Gospel, and the Conquest of the Babel.’ Click to find out the correct answer!

Bookplate of John Rutherfurd (1760-1840)

Bookplate of John Rutherfurd (1760-1840) on front pastedown of Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments (London, 1759) (Ex 6305.863.11). Rutherfurd has numbered this book as ‘No. 1.’ The ‘Library, College of New Jersey’ booklabel and adjacent markings in ink indicate that this book first came into the Library of Princeton University in the middle of the 19th cent.

Book number 141 in John Rutherfurd’s library: Timothy Dwight, The Conquest of Canaan (Hartford, 1765). (Ex) N-003742

John Rutherfurd (1760-1840) graduated Princeton with the Class of 1776. A lawyer by profession, he served as Senator from New Jersey from 1791-1798. (See his biography in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.) His books were held by the family for many years and then much of his library was sold in a three-part sale by the City Book Auction (New York City) in 1952 (3 pts. in 2).

Other books owned by Rutherfurd —
• No. 5 – [Allinson, Samuel, compiler.] Acts of the General Assembly of the Province of New-Jersey. (Burlington, 1776). Private collection.
• No. 20 – Wallis, John (1616-1703). A Treatise of Algebra, both Historical and Practical. London: John Playford for Richard Davis, 1685. Sold Christie’s London in 2020.
• Number not known – Shaw, Samuel. An Interesting Narrative of the Travels of James Bruce, Esq. Into Abyssinia, to Discover the Source of The Nile. Abridged from the Original Work. New York: Re-printed for Berry and Rogers, 1790. Doyle auctions, lot 166, April 17, 2019.
• Ownership inscription – The Petitions and memorials of the proprietors of West and East-Jersey … New York: Shepard Kollock, 1784. Princeton University Library (Ex 1174.271.2 c.1)

Image courtesy of Joseph Felcone.

Image courtesy of Joseph Felcone.

The First American Edition of ‘The Vicar of Wakefield’ (1767)

Recently acquired. The Michael Zinman copy of the first American edition of The Vicar of Wakefield. (2022-0031N). With contemporary signature ‘Sally Walker’ and later signature ‘S.W. Tarleton.’

How do we know that Princeton’s recently acquired Dublin ‘fourth edition’ is indeed the first American edition of The Vicar of Wakefield?

American bibliographer John Alden and Irish bibliographer Mary Pollard have studied this question closely and determined that despite the Dublin imprint, this edition of The Vicar of Wakefield was printed in Boston by the firm of Mein and Fleeming in 1767.  Their determination was based on several factors including: one, the font of type used to print the text; two, advertisements published by Mein and Fleming in various Boston newspapers; and three, paper stock.  Both have published convincing arguments for this determination.

In brief, the story begins early in 1810, when the patriot printer and printing historian Isaiah Thomas published in his History of Printing in America remarks on Mein’s bookselling practices

‘Some [of his stock] had a false imprint, and were palmed upon the public for London editions, because Mein apprehended that books printed in London, however executed, sold better than those which were printed in America, and, at that time, many purchasers sanctioned his opinion.’ (Thomas, Hist. of Printing in Amer., [Worcester, 1810), I, p.362).

Some 130 years later, bibliographer John Alden picked up on this statement  and examined closely, one by one, the imprints of Mein and Fleeming during the years of their partnership, 1767 to 1769. Alden first detailed his findings in a research paper prepared at the University of Michigan in 1940 and then published his work in 1942 in the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America.  In the 1980s, bibliographer Mary Pollard extended Alden’s work and using her knowledge of Irish printing, a topic in which she was an expert, she convincingly assigned the Vicar to the shop of Mein and Fleeming, based on typographic and other evidence. Rather than try to summarize further, I refer you to their respective articles listed at the end of this essay.

While the story of the identification of this false imprint is interesting, equally telling is the tale of the marketing and advertising of this edition of Vicar in Boston.  It is the story of a bookseller caught in the vortex of abruptly shifting consumer demands, caused by American reactions to punitive British Parliamentary commercial acts.

Marketing in times of shifting consumer demands –

The Edinburgh-native bookseller, John Mein, arrived in Boston in October 1764. At the time, Boston had about a fifteen printers and booksellers, serving a population of over 15,000. (New York and Philadelphia had larger populations by about 3 to 5,000 more.)

At first, Mein had a bookstall on Marlborough Street where he sold not only books and pamphlets but also Irish linens and “excellent bottl’d Bristol beer near two years old.” By October 1765, he took over the leading bookshop in Boston, the London Book-Store on King Street. Concurrently, he opened a commercial rental circulating library, the first such in Boston.  It offered a stock of 1,200 volumes ‘in most branches of polite Literature, Arts, and Sciences,’ at an annual subscription price of £1 8s or a quarterly subscription at 10s 6p.

While the rental circulating library appears not to have continued past May 1767, he maintained the London Book-Store, offering imported books to his Boston clientele. He even conducted an auction of ‘several libraries of curious and valuable books’ in late May and early June 1766. Moreover, he further extended his business by venturing out as a publisher.  He was not a printer, so he took a printer to partner for his projects, at first William M’Alpine and later John Fleeming.  M’Alpine printed an edition of Issac Watt’s Hymns for Mein in 1766 (ESTC W7723) and a few other works.  However, Mein’s partnership with Fleeming was more robust.  Together they issued more than 50 separate publications between 1766 and 1769.  These locally produced books were offered together with imported stock at Mein’s London Book-Store. Further, Mein and Fleming first began issuing a newspaper, the Boston Chronicle in December 1767.

Alden identified 16 false Mein and Fleeming imprints issued between 1766 and 1768.

How did Mein go about marketing these? We’ll take the case of the Vicar as a case in point.

We first encounter Mein offering the Vicar  in 11 September 1766 issue of Boston Evening Post. It appears in subsequent ads in Boston newspapers in following weeks.

But, on 6 July 1767 in the Boston Gazette, Mein steps up his efforts and publishes a long blurb and offers the book at 6s (previous advertisements did not give a price).   His ‘blurb’ is worth quoting in full

>> The Vicar of Wakefield.  A Tale. Supposed to be written by himself. (Price 6s,) Sperate miseri, cavete felices.

The Vicar unites in himself of the three greatest Characters upon Earth: he has a Priest, an Husbandman, and the Father of a Family. He is drawn as ready to teach, and ready to obey;  as simple in Affluence and majestic in adversity. Every reader must be delighted with him for his sincerity, his hospitality, his fervent and overflowing affections, his divine propensity to forgiveness and reconciliation, his unaffected magnanimity in deep affection, and his exemplary moderation when raised to affluence and joy. The Family of Wakefield, in which a kindred likeness prevails of minds as well as of persons, and the other characters introduced are well marked and properly supported, and there are interspersed much rational entertainment, genuine strokes of nature and humour, and pathetic pictures of domestic happiness and domestic distress,  drawn from Life, and directed to the heart.

This excellent novel does great honor to the author Dr. Goldsmith, for moral tendency; and for recommending and enforcing in the most exemplary matter, the great obligations of universal Benevolence: the most amiable quality that can possibly distinguish and adorn Human Nature.  <<

Mein’s publicity campaign appears to have taken a turn toward larger promotion of the Vicar.

Another of Mein’s false imprints, his edition of Tissot’s Advice to the People … with Regard to their Health, according to Alden, showed a similar pattern of publicity – first just brief statements (in July 1767), then in October 1767, two columns of advertisement. Alden concludes that the earlier ads were for imported editions, but the October 1767 ad is for a new edition, Mein’s own edition with a false London imprint.

It’s entirely possible that Mein’s promotion of the Vicar followed a similar path.  The earlier ads (September 1766 ff) were for imported editions, while that fulsomely announced in July 1767 is Mein’s own edition with the false Dublin imprint.


‘Hath Just Imported’ – p. 183 in issue for 2 May 1768 of Mein’s Boston Chronicle. (ExOV 0921.201 v.1)

In Mein’s own newspaper the Boston Chronicle, he continued to advertise the Vicar. For example, in the 2 May 1768 issue of the Boston Chronicle, he prints an entire full page of advertising  (3 columns, more than 2600 words) detailing that he ‘Hath Just Imported’ more than  100 separately published titles, falling into the following categories: general interest (52 titles), psalmody (5), law (14),  new novels (19), school books and classics (20).  He further supplemented his individually named offerings by adding that also on offer were ‘all the lawbooks most in use,’ and ‘also a numerous collection of the best novels and books of entertainment in the English language.’ And among the novels, is listed: ‘Vicar of Wakefield. 2 vols. Moral, entertaining, and pathetic.’ Also in the May 9 supplement, he printed a long excerpt from the Vicar, viz. Chap. 10 of Vol. 2.

He continued to advertise it in his twice weekly newspaper during subsequent weeks.  The last ‘Hath Just Imported’ ad ran in the issue of the Boston Chronicle for August 29, 1768.

As a book importer, Mein had much to gain by holding fast to the status quo for bringing in British goods into Boston. However, local merchants in reaction to the recent Townsend Acts restricting trade, pivoted in their preferences and started what was called the Non-importation movement.  Their insistence was on now on goods made in America.

Change in consumer preference –

Within 13 months, by the fall of 1769, circumstances had radically changed. Despite his own preferences, Mein overhauled his messaging about his stock, and on 26 October 1769 in the Boston Chronicle, he issued a new book stock advertisement, this time headed ‘Printed in America.’

Of the 20, titles in that stocklist, all were books in high demand, each for their own reasons. There were books popular as practical texts (Dilworth’s spelling book, Tissot’s Advice on Health, McKenzie’s Art of preserving health) and books conforming to preferred religious sentiment (Orton’s Memoir of Dr Doddridge, Dr. Fordyce’s Sermons, Tate and Brady’s Psalm book). Others picked up on the political sentiments, such as Dulany’s Considerations on taxes or the pro-American Sermons to Asses, alleged to have been written by Benjamin Franklin. Some were popular entertainment such as Garrick and Colman’s Clandestine Marriage. And there were children’s books, such as Tommy Thumb’s Little Storybook.

And, added to this mix of steady sellers, were editions of Sterne’s Sentimental Journey and Goldsmith’s Vicar of Wakefield, both false imprints but at least contextually declaring themselves to be American imprints.

Likely because of loyalist political sentiments, Mein left Boston by 1770 as stated by Isaiah Thomas, or perhaps in the later part of 1769, according to other scholarship.

But, that’s not the end of the marketing of Mein’s ‘Dublin’ edition of Vicar.  When one looks closely at Mein’s ad ‘Printed in America’ (including his edition of Vicar) one sees a linked gathering of Mein books, all now claimed to have been ‘Printed in America’ and some with false imprints.  The linked network includes Tissot’s Advice, Garrick and Colman’s Clandestine Marriage,  Sterne’s Sentimental Journey, Fordyce’s Sermons, ‘Franklin’s Sermon on Asses, etc.

In April 1772, this same linked network of books is advertised by the English booksellers Edward Cox and Edward Berry in the Boston News Letter (April 9), for sale ‘cheaper than can be bought at any Shop in Town.’ In this ad you will find, along with the Vicar, Tissot’s Advice, Garrick and Colman’s Clandestine Marriage,  Sterne’s Sentimental Journey, Fordyce’s Sermons, ‘Franklin’s Sermon on Asses, etc.

Clearly, this linked network of stock had been remaindered to these booksellers, who also advertised the Vicar in their stock catalogue of 1772.

Based on available evidence, this is the end of tale of the marketing of Mein’s edition of the Vicar, for within a few years, with the outbreak of war, Cox and Berry resettled in New York, soon to be occupied by the British by the summer of 1776.

Chap. X of Vicar laid side by side with excerpt of the same chapter published in Mein’s Boston Chronicle, Supplement for issue Monday May 9, 1768. (ExOV 0921.201 v.1 and 2022-0031N)


John Eliot Alden, ‘Notes towards a bibliography of Mein Imprints’ (University of Michigan, June 1940) https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/003242614

John Eliot Alden, ‘John Mein, publisher: an essay in bibliographic detection,’ Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 36 (1942), 199-214. https://doi.org/10.1086/pbsa.36.3.24293527

Mary Pollard, ‘The First American Edition of ‘The Vicar of Wakefield,’’ in Peter Fox (ed.) Treasures of the Library, Trinity College Dublin (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1986) 123-130





A Magnificent Manuscript of 1458, Signed by its Scribe — and by its Illuminator?

Giovanni Balbi, Catholicon. Scheide Library M 163, f. 2r

An immense folio manuscript of Giovanni Balbi’s Catholicon, the essential Latin dictionary of the later Middle Ages, is one of the most spectacular illuminated manuscripts preserved in the Scheide Library. Bound in 15th-century tooled calfskin over wooden boards, it consists of 326 vellum leaves measuring 534 x 355 mm, and is estimated to weigh as much as a well-nourished toddler. The book was first recorded in 1783, in the library of the Augustinian Canons of Heilig Kreuz (Holy Cross) in Augsburg, Germany.1 

The completed manuscript, one of the longest of all medieval Latin texts, was signed by its diligent scribe, Hainricus Lengfelt, on Saturday, 18 December 1458. Lengfelt, originally from Erfurt but active in Augsburg, is known to have produced two additional manuscripts: a very similar second copy of the Catholicon, written for the Cistercians of Aldersbach bei Passau in 1462 (illuminated by Johannes Bämler, now at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, Clm 2975); and a German translation of Arnoldus de Villanova’s Remedia ad maleficia (Colmar, Bibliothèque Municipale, Ms 81), dated 1467.

Hainrich Lengfelt’s signature (1458) in the Scheide Catholicon, f. 303r.

Scheide Catholicon, f. 76r

The rich illumination of the Scheide Catholicon, which includes 29 large capital letters painted on gold leaf with extensive foliate borders, long has been securely attributed to Heinrich Molitor, a leading calligrapher who worked both in Augsburg and for the Benedictine Abbey of Scheyern during the 1460s.2

It was recently noticed that the large initial M on folio 182 recto has a handsome brown-ink M written in the margin to its left, whereas the other illuminated letters of the alphabet have a much smaller guide letter. A similar M, written next to various large initials in a Latin Bible manuscript illuminated by Molitor, now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (Ms lat. 140), appears to serve as Molitor’s signature.3

Scheide Catholicon, f. 182r (with Molitor’s ‘M’ in left margin?)

Latin Bible, Paris, BNF, Ms. lat. 140, illuminated by Heinrich Molitor, with ‘M’ written next to other illuminated initials.

If this interpretation of the otherwise unexplained M proves to be correct, then the Scheide Library’s Catholicon would be one of the extremely few 15th-century manuscripts that was ‘signed’ both by its scribe and by its illuminator.

Lengfeld’s pride in his calligraphic skill (and possibly Molitor’s justifiable pride in his illuminated initials) should be considered in light of the immense changes in book production methods that arose in Germany during this period. The emergence of Europe’s typographic printing technology in Mainz during the early 1450s, credited to Johannes Gutenberg, led to the publication of extensive folio editions of the Catholicon at Mainz in 1460 (by Gutenberg?) and by Günther Zainer in Augsburg in 1469, as well as some twenty further editions printed by others by the year 1500. Whereas Lengfeld and Molitor would have had many more books to write and illuminate, future generations had far fewer opportunities to work on this scale and at this level of luxury.





1 Philipp Wilhelm Gercken: Reisen durch Schwaben, Baiern, angränzende Schweiz, Franken, und die Rheinische Provinzen… 1: Von Schwaben und Baiern (Stendal, 1783), pp. 258-59.

2 John T. McQuillen, ‘Fifteenth-Century Book Networks: Scribes, Illuminators, Binders, and the Introduction of Print’, The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 107, No. 4 (December 2013), pp. 495-515.

3 I thank Paul Needham, Scheide Librarian (Emeritus), for bringing this Bible to my attention.

Mystery Solved: A Long-Lost Spanish Vocabulario (ca. 1492-93) Comes to Light at Princeton

Alfonso de Palencia, Universal vocabulario (Seville, 1490), EXI Oversize 2530.693q

Many of the most important discoveries in the study of rare books are the results of fruitful collaborations. In this case, we were confronted by an anomaly: Princeton’s copy of the first printed Latin-Spanish dictionary, Alfonso Fernández de Palencia’s Universal vocabulario en latín y en romance, vol. I (Seville: Paulus de Colonia, 1490), which lacks its title page and introductory ‘argumentum’, begins and ends with single printed leaves from an entirely different book a Spanish-Latin dictionary printed with a slightly larger fifteenth-century typeface:

Universal vocabulario, 1490 (video)

Whereas these stray leaves seem to owe their survival to having been recycled as binding waste that served as protective endleaves for the Universal vocabulario of 1490, there is some question as to how they became available to the eighteenth-century binder, and whether they may have been selected for their lexicographical content. However, a more central mystery remained to be answered: what exactly was the dictionary that provided these long-forgotten fragments?

Princeton fragment 1, verso: ‘Prologo’ to Queen Isabella

Princeton fragment 2, recto: Apuesta–Arcaz











The first fragment, blank on its recto, consists of a short ‘Prologo’ in parallel Spanish and Latin, dedicating a new dictionary to Queen Isabella of Castille and Leon, Aragon, Sicily, and Granada. The second clearly belongs to that dictionary: it contains the Spanish terms Apuesta–Arcaz on the recto and Arco–Arreboçar on the verso (77 terms in total), each with brief Latin definitions that occasionally cite passages in the works of Virgil; the heading ‘dela letra A’ appears in the upper margins. After inconclusive consultations with several experts, the first breakthrough came from Oliver Duntze at the Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke in Berlin, the leading research center for the cataloging of fifteenth-century European printing. Duntze was able to provide an almost certain identification of the printers: the types precisely matched those of the Seville press of Meinhard Ungut und Stanislaus Polonus, specifically the state of their types used in 1492.

The date ‘ca. 1492’ was a good match for the status of the royal dedicatee, Queen Isabella (1451–1504), who took the specified title of ‘Reina de Granada’ only after the capture of that territory in January of that year. However, the text contained in these leaves, including the royal dedication, did not match up with any known Spanish dictionary printed during the fifteenth or early sixteenth centuries. None of the bibliographical tools at our disposal or the book historians we consulted could provide an identification of the edition that was the source of these stray leaves; we began to suspect, as had Frederick Vinton, the librarian who oversaw the acquisition of the volume in 1873, that they represented a previously untraced edition – and a potentially important discovery.1

A turning point came in February 2018, when Dr Cinthia María Hamlin, a specialist in medieval literature from Secrit-CONICET (Argentina’s National Scientific Research Council) and the Universidad de Buenos Aires, visited Princeton University Library’s new Special Collections Reading Room and requested to see several early Spanish books. During her visit I inquired whether it would be a distraction to ask her opinion of the mysterious leaves in the Universal vocabulario of 1490. She quickly became fascinated by them, knowing that one does not encounter pages from an unidentified fifteenth-century Spanish dictionary every day. We agreed that the problem deserved much further research, both for the benefit of European printing history and Spanish linguistic history.

Working from digital images upon her return to Buenos Aires, Hamlin investigated the mysterious dictionary, eliminating all of the candidate texts by Antonio de Nebrija and Fernández de Santaella and analyzing the linguistic characteristics of the limited sample of word definitions that the fragments provided. Within a little over a month she made a startling breakthrough. Following up on a suggestion offered by her colleague Juan Héctor Fuentes, she discovered that an anonymous fifteenth-century Spanish-Latin Vocabulario, known only from a manuscript at the Real Biblioteca del Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial (MS f-II-10), matched Princeton’s printed fragments nearly word for word.2

Colecciones Reales. Patrimonio Nacional. Real Biblioteca del Monasterio del Escorial, f.II.10 (f. 17v).

Princeton fragment 2, verso: Arco–Arreboçar (with Latin definitions similar to those of the Escorial MS).












Thus, Hamlin and Fuentes hypothesized that the long-lost Vocabulario represented by the fragments, datable to 1492-93, was the first Spanish-to-Latin (not vice-versa) vocabulary ever printed, preceding Nebrija’s first Salamanca edition (variously dated between 1492 and 1495, but most likely 1494-95). The two scholars’ discovery has been introduced in the co-authored ‘Folios de un incunable desconocido y su identificación con el anónimo Vocabulario en romance y en latín del Escorial (F-II-10).’ Romance Philology 74/1 (Spring 2020), 93-122, and will be developed further by Hamlin in ‘Alfonso de Palencia: autor del primer vocabulario romance-latin que llego a la imprenta?’ in Boletín de la Real Academia Española (forthcoming in 2021).

After further research, Hamlin concluded that the anonymous author of the Escorial Vocabulario, and, therefore, that of the previously unknown printed edition preserved in Princeton’s binding fragments, was none other than Alfonso Fernández de Palencia (1423–1492), the author of the very same Universal vocabulario of 1490 into which the mysterious Princeton leaves had been bound. As Hamlin notes, Palencia’s Universal vocabulario has many of the the same ‘authority’ quotations, highly similar definitions (especially for toponyms), and several of the terms have the same grammatical explanation and thus almost certainly are the works of the same author. This important discovery, too, will be explored in greater detail in Hamlin’s forthcoming article.

Fifteenth-century Spanish printing of any kind is difficult to come by in libraries outside of Spain. It is even more remarkable to have located traces of a previously unknown Spanish edition of that period. Moreover, it is a signal accomplishment to have been able to resurrect an unknown printing of a previously anonymous work of such importance, in vernacular Spanish, and then to augment our knowledge of that text with both a long-lost royal dedication and a convincing identification of its author, one of the most influential Spanish humanists of the fifteenth century. The fields of printing history and Spanish linguistic history have profited mightily from the collaboration that solved this bibliographical mystery.

More about Princeton’s Universal vocabulario of 1490 (EXI Oversize 2530.693q):

The book consists of vol. 1 only, covering letters A-N. Its gilt red-dyed goatskin binding is probably 18th-century Spanish. The earliest known owner was Richard Heber (1773–1833), the English bibliomaniac; this copy was offered in part 2 of the Heber sales, Sotheby’s (London), June 1834, as lot 4689. In 1873 it was purchased by the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) along with an important collection of old books and Reformation pamphlets owned by Dr. Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg (1802–1872), a noted philosopher and philologist at the University of Berlin and father of a famous surgeon. It is possible that Trendelenburg bought the Vocabulario at the Heber sale of 1834, but there may have been unknown owners between 1833 and 1873.


1 Frederick Vinton, the Librarian of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), inscribed the second fragment “This is a great curiosity. It is part of a Spanish Vocabulary entirely unknown to Bibliographers and must have been printed about the same time as this of Palentia in which the Latin precedes the Spanish.”

2 Gerald J. MacDonald, Diccionario español-latino del siglo XV: an edition of anonymous manuscript f.II.10 of the Real Biblioteca de San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Transcription, study, and index (New York: Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies, 2007).

Teaching the SLAVE SHIP

Like many, I first saw this image in my childhood, and I have never forgotten it. However, in retrospect, I do not believe that I was taught the history behind the image correctly – at least, not the whole history.

In a blog entry originally posted in 2017 and recently recirculated widely, Corinne Shutack advocated 75 specific constructive actions in support of racial justice. Among them was the recommendation that parents, teachers, and concerned citizens should encourage their schools to ensure that the topic of slavery in American history is taught correctly.1 Noting that a correct history is one that listens to many voices from the past, Shutack asked ‘is your school showing images such as Gordon’s scourged back, a slave ship hold, and an enslaved nurse holding her young master?’ The slave ship hold to which she refers is the ‘Description of a Slave Ship’, a powerful image produced as a broadside (a public poster) in London in 1789, as well as its many derivatives. Although these important images do not record the ‘voices’ of the enslaved, they do represent essential eyewitness testimony to the cruel practices of enslavement through the depiction of a slave-trade ship’s cargo hold.

Description of a Slave Ship, 1789 (woodcuts). Oversize 2006-0018E

Educators who wish to display these images in teaching may wish to know that Princeton University Library owns the two earliest original broadsides of the ‘Description of a Slave Ship’, both printed in 1789. They have been digitized and are freely available to all. Two points worth emphasizing to students are the large size of the broadsides, which measure two feet tall, and the ship doctor’s horrifically detailed report, which accompanies the image, but is often left out in textbook reproductions. Here is the link to higher-resolution images of the two broadsides (in the page that opens, the image download button is on the left, below the contents panel next to the two images):


Description of a Slave Ship, 1789 (engraved). Oversize 2016-0001E

Published by British abolitionists in April 1789, the broadsides of the ‘Description of a Slave Ship’ provided the most recognizable, shocking, and unforgettable of all images associated with the Atlantic slave trade. The plans and sections diagram in painful detail how the slave ship Brookes was intended to stow its full capacity of 482 men (in chains), women, and children. In reality, the inhumanity was even worse: up to 609 people were imprisoned within the ship during its two-month journeys from the coast of Africa to the West Indies. The accompanying text refuted the rationalizations of ‘the well-wishers to this trade’ with facts, statistics, and the ship doctor’s gruesome eyewitness report that invoked the reader’s moral duty to take action against ‘one of the greatest evils at this day existing upon the earth’.

Two variants of the original ‘Description of a Slave Ship’ are known, both published in London between 21 and 28 April 1789 (many later reproductions appeared in books). According to minutes of the London Committee of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, the printing consisted of 1,700 broadsides illustrated with a copperplate engraving and 7,000 illustrated with woodcuts. Princeton’s engraved version includes some hand-written corrections to the printed text. For the history of these images, we recommend reading Cheryl Finley, Committed to Memory: The Art of the Slave Ship Icon (Princeton University Press, 2018). Princeton acquired the engraved version in 2016 as a counterpart to the woodcut version, purchased in 2006 with matching funds given by Sidney Lapidus, Class of 1959.

Please feel free to share these images with teachers you know.

1 Corrine Shutack, on MEDIUM’s ‘Equality Includes You’ page (August, 2017): https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234


WHAT COULD BE BETTER? Pairing and Comparing the Scheide and Kane Copies of Fifteenth-Century Books

Question: What could be better for the study of early printed books than examining a copy of a rare 15th-century edition?

Answer: Examining two copies of a rare 15th-century edition.


Thanks to several formerly independent channels of 20th-century collecting, now united, Princeton University Library’s Special Collections owns multiple copies of more than thirty 15th-century editions. We do not consider them ‘duplicates’, as that would imply that they are absolutely identical, and that nothing is to be learned from the ‘second’ copy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even if every letter of every word printed on every page were virtually identical (with printing shop corrections and other improvements, this is often not the case), the individual copies would still reflect entirely different histories of readership and survival, preserving unique material evidence that may be crucial to the attentive researcher, or of worthwhile interest to the casual student of book history.

Illustrated below are four examples of 15th-century editions represented by two copies. In each case, one of the copies was owned by Grenville Kane (1854–1943) of Tuxedo Park, New York, whose fine library of early books and Americana was purchased by the Trustees of Princeton University in 1946, while another copy is in the incomparable Scheide Library, long on deposit in Firestone Library but bequeathed to Princeton University in 2015 by the late William H. Scheide (1914–2014), Class of 1936. The first things that strikes most present-day viewers are the differences in their hand-decoration, and in their various bindings – copy-specific features that were added only after the individual sets of printed sheets were sold to their first owners. Moreover, three of the selected pairs also exhibit distinctive typographic variations, belying the notion that they are ‘duplicates’. Here we offer only the briefest introductions to these pairs of books, which call out for further study and comparison:


Cicero, De Officiis. [Mainz:] Johann Fust & Peter Schoeffer, 4 February 1466. 

Scheide 31.17

These two small folios, both printed on vellum, are from the second edition of Cicero’s treatise on the honorable fulfillment of moral duties, one of the first Classical works to be published. The Scheide copy, richly illuminated in Franco-Flemish style, is among the most beautiful of the roughly 50 copies that survive. It emerged from the collection of Ralph Willett (1719–1795), whose library at Merly was sold by Sotheby’s in 1813, and later was owned by Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773–1843), and Robert Stayner Holford (1808–1892), of Gloucestershire, respectively. In 1925 Holford’s son sold the book to the Philadelphia bookseller A.S.W. Rosenbach, from whom Gertrude Scheide Caldwell purchased it as a Christmas gift for her brother John H. Scheide in December, 1927.

EXKA Incunabula 1466

Princeton’s other copy, decorated in German style, has been traced back to 1572, when ‘David Weisius’ was recorded as its donor to the town library of Augsburg. This individual was probably David Weiss (1531–1593), Augsburg patrician and town benefactor. It remained in Augsburg until 1798, after which it passed through three important private collections in Moscow.1 In 1931 the Soviet government sold it through Maggs Brothers, London, to Grenville Kane, whose collection came to Princeton University Library in 1946.




Recent research has led to the important discovery that the pair of painted coats-of-arms on the first page of Princeton’s Cicero refers to the German noble families of Truchseß zu Wetzhausen (left) and Wilhelmsdorf (right). To date, the only known union between these families was the mid-15th-century marriage of Jakob Truchseß zu Wetzhausen of Dachsbach and Susanna von Wilhelmsdorf.2 Their son, Dr Thomas Truchseß zu Wetzhausen (ca. 1460–1523), Dean of Speyer Cathedral, one-time student and later defender of Johannes Reuchlin, and correspondent and host of Erasmus of Rotterdam, was almost certainly the owner of Princeton’s 1466 Cicero.

Comparison of the Princeton and Scheide copies also reveals several typographic variants, including the presence in the Scheide copy of a four-line Latin incipit, printed in red on the first page, but omitted from the Princeton copy, in which a shorter titulus was written in by hand; numerous instances of each of these contingencies survive. Another striking difference is found on f. 14 verso, where the Scheide copy has the heading printed as usual in red type, while in the Princeton copy, the entire heading was printed upside down – an isolated accident that resulted from one of the many complications of printing with two colors.


St Augustine, De Civitate Dei. Rome: Conradus Sweynheym & Arnoldus Pannartz, in domo Petri de Maximo, 1468.

EXKA Incunabula 1468

This Royal folio is either the second or the third edition of this foundational text of Western Christendom, following the Subiaco edition of 1467 and possibly the Strasbourg edition, datable not after 1468. The first page of the text in the Princeton copy was illuminated in colorful Italian ‘bianchi girari’ style. Interestingly, for the gilt initial G that introduces the words ‘Gloriosissimam civitatem dei’, a woodcut stamp, not printed in other copies, provided black outlines for the illuminator’s work, which continued free-hand into the margin. Several pages bear extensive contemporary annotations. The volume was bound in the 1790s for the British bibliophile Michael Wodhull (1740–1816), and was acquired by Princeton in 1946 with the Kane collection.


Scheide 59.5

By contrast, the copy purchased by John Scheide in 1940, which emerged from the Syston Park Library in 1884 and was rebound in London by Douglas Cockerell in 1903, never received its requisite initials or decoration by hand; indeed, the book reveals virtually no evidence of use by early readers. The copy is nevertheless of considerable interest, as its introductory leaf bears a beautifully written and historically significant gift inscription (below), which records that Nicolò Sandonino (1422–1499), Bishop of Lucca beginning in 1479, presented this book to the Carmelites of San Pietro Cigoli in Lucca in 1491. It is curious that these friars, who disposed of numerous important books during the early 18th century, seem to have had no use for the bishop’s gift.

The Bishop of Lucca’s gift inscription, 1491.


Leonardo Bruni, De bello Italico adversus Gothos. Foligno: Emiliano Orfini & Johann Neumeister, 1470.

EXKA Incunabula 1470 Bruni

The first book printed in the small Italian town of Foligno was this history of the 5th-century Goth invasion of the Italian peninsula, compiled in 1441 by Leonardo Bruni. It was published in 1470 by Johannes Neumeister, a peripatetic printer from Mainz who made a career of enticing investors into supporting unsustainable printing ventures. It is bound with another rare Chancery folio, the only copy held in America of Bernardus Justinianus, Oratio habita apud Sixtum IV contra Turcos. [Rome]: Johannes Philippus de Lignamine, [after 2 Dec. 1471]. The rubrication throughout is French, and the bottom margin of the first leaf bears the inscription ‘Jacques le Chandelier, 1550’. This owner is probably to be identified with the contemporary Royal Secretary in Paris by that name. The volume later wandered through a series of distinguished European private libraries and came to Princeton University with the Kane collection in 1946.3

Scheide 40.1

The Scheide copy, illuminated in the Italian ‘bianchi girari’ (white vine) style, is probably the one offered by the Ulrico Hoepli firm in Milan in 1935. It subsequently entered the library of Giannalisa Feltrinelli (1903–1981), an Italian heiress and bibliophile who had homes in Rome, Milan, Geneva, and Stanbridge East, Canada. The book was auctioned at Christie’s in New York on 7 October 1997, lot 19, to H. P. Kraus. When his firm’s inventory was auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York in December 2003, the book remained available and was bought after the sale by William H. Scheide.



In addition to featuring contrasting French and Italian hand-decoration, the two copies are differentiated by variant typesetting in their colophons, which include different spellings of the surname and hometown of Neumeister’s patron, the master of the papal mint in Foligno, Emilianus de Orfinis. Whereas the colophon in Princeton’s copy reads ‘Ursinis Eulginas’, that of the Scheide copy has been corrected to ‘Orfinis Fulginas’ (below).


Ptolemy, Cosmographia. Ulm: Lienhart Holle, 16 July 1482.

The Super-Royal folio ‘Ulm Ptolemy’ of 1482 is famous for its 32 large woodcut maps, including the great double-page ‘World Map’ carved by Johannes Schnitzer of Arnsheim, 26 regional maps based on Ptolemy’s 2nd-century CE descriptions, and five new maps of Italy, France Spain, Scandinavia, and the Holy Land, based on manuscript projections by the editor of the work, Nicolaus Germanus, a Benedictine monk from the diocese of Breslau who lived and worked in Florence.

EXKA Ptolemy 1482

The Princeton copy, sold by the Rappaport firm in Rome toward the beginning of the last century, came with the Grenville Kane collection in 1946. The Scheide copy, richly hand-colored throughout, was inscribed in 1509 by Johannes Protzer (d. 1528), a scholar and bibliophile of Nördlingen, Germany. It emerged in the collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps in the 19th century and was acquired by John H. Scheide from A.S.W. Rosenbach in 1924.

Scheide 58.6

Although bibliographers sometimes discuss two 1482 Ulm ‘editions’ of this book, in fact there was only one edition, albeit one with many of its maps accompanied by textual descriptions that can appear in one of two or more alternate settings. For example, in the Princeton copy (below, left), the ninth map for Asia is accompanied by text that was composed into columns of 27 lines within a somewhat cramped square-shaped woodcut frame. By contrast, in the Scheide copy (below, right), the same page was composed more spaciously into 30 lines, fitting less tightly into a taller rectangular frame. To date, there has been no conclusive analysis of all the variant pages. Only a systematic comparison of multiple copies will provide a clearer understanding of the production of the 1482 Ulm Ptolemy.


What Could be Better?

Whereas traditional rare book librarianship tended to look upon the acquisition of ‘duplicates’ as undesirable or wasteful, given that precious funds could go toward adding texts that were not already represented in the collection, it is worth considering the special pedagogical and research value of comparing two copies from the same edition side by side. Experienced scholars as well as first-time students can appreciate that the two copies present distinct multiples of the original creation, each one preserving its own archeological record of survival and human intervention. Rubrication, illumination, binding, annotation, censorship, damage, repair, and other reflections of ownership and use offer fascinating traces of their disparate trajectories through history, revealing the many ways in which old books, as Milton observed, ‘are not absolutely dead things, but doe contain a potencie of life in them’.


Readers may be interested in the Morgan Library’s virtual tour by John McQuillen, “Why Three Gutenberg Bibles?”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIteWBHSa00&fbclid=IwAR2615uiqBWL15HGX8kAnOykQfWUBshMmNUIv1CRI6fBlQ8IvZ6jzz-jbjk


1 Count Aleksei Golowkin (d. 1811) of Moscow, whose gilt coat of arms appears on the front cover of the red-dyed goatskin binding; Alexandre Vlassoff (d. 1825), Imperial chamberlain in Moscow; Prince Michael Galitzin / Golitsyn (1804–1860), also in Moscow, with whose family it remained into the 20th century.

2 Johann Gottfried Biedermann, Geschlechtsregister der Reichsfrey unmittelbaren Ritterschaft Landes zu Franken Löblichen Orts Baunach (Bayreuth: Dietzel, 1747), table 197.

3 Early owners included Paul Girardot de Préfond (during the 1760s) in Paris; Pietro Antonio Bolongaro Crevenna (1735–1792) in Amsterdam; Michael Wodhull (1740–1816) in London; and William Horatio Crawford (1815–1888) at Lakelands in Cork, Ireland. In 1897 it was offered by the Quaritch firm (Catalogue 166, no. 770).



Non finito: Unfinished Initials in Princeton’s 1469 Apuleius

Unfinished initial and border in Princeton’s Apuleius (Rome: Sweynheym & Pannartz, 1469).

The first edition of the works of Lucius Apuleius of Madauros (ca. 124–ca. 170 CE), a North African philosopher and rhetorician, was published in Rome by Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz in 1469. Printed in an edition of 275 copies, it includes the ‘The Golden Ass’, a bawdy proto-novel in which the protagonist, Lucius, experiments with magic and thereby inadvertently transforms himself into a donkey, a circumstance that allows him to observe human behavior, undetected, from a new vantage point. The tale of Cupid and Psyche also appears here for the first time, narrated as a story within the story.

Illumination with ‘bianchi girari’ in Virgil’s Opera (Rome: Sweynheym & Pannartz, 1469).

As was customary in early printed books, Sweynheym and Pannartz left large open spaces at the beginnings of each of the ‘books’, each intended to be filled in by hand with rubricated or illuminated initial letters. One of the prevailing styles of hand-decoration in Italian books during this period featured spiraling white vine tendrils, called ‘bianchi girari’. Princeton’s rare first edition of the poetical works of Virgil, also printed by Sweynheym and Pannartz in 1469 (at left), exemplifies this colorful style.

The Apuleius of 1469 offers unusual insights into fifteenth-century book production in that it was intended to display ‘bianchi girari’ initials and borders, but the work was never finished:

Instead, the book displays graceful preparatory drawings for the decoration, executed in plummet (soft lead) for establishing the composition and brown ink for the final outlines. The initials A and B (shown here) would have been covered with gold leaf, and the interstices between the outlined tendrils would have been colored red, blue, and green, and possibly augmented with yellow. Sketchy little circles in the margins indicate where gilded ‘bezants’ would have provided additional ornamentation. One of the tendrils to the left of the initial A breaks off suddenly, just where it should have continued down the left margin of the text; this argues for the interrupted nature of the work, and seems to rule out the possibility that this is later ’embellishment’ by a nineteenth-century admirer of the fifteenth-century style.

The Duke of Hamilton’s engraved armorial bookplate, ca. 1820.

Princeton’s copy of the Apuleius was owned in the early nineteenth century by Alexander Douglas-Hamilton (1767–1852), 10th Duke of Hamilton and 7th Duke of Brandon, in Lanarkshire, Scotland. The Hamilton Palace Library was auctioned by Sotheby’s in London on 1 May 1884, with the Apuleius listed as lot 95. It passed through the Quaritch firm in London in 1888 and entered the collection of Robert Hoe of New York City, whose books were sold by Anderson Galleries in 1911 (lot 91). The next known owner was Grenville Kane, a New York collector who obtained it in 1920. His estate sold his library to the Trustees of Princeton University in 1946.

Two Major Discoveries among Princeton University Library’s Printed Binding Fragments

Princeton University Library is home to several hundred early printed fragments discovered within old bookbindings. These are the vestiges of old printed books, which, having fallen out of use centuries ago, eventually came to be conscripted into inglorious servitude as recycled waste material within the bindings of newer books. The last surviving witnesses to otherwise lost books, they serve historians of book culture as primary evidence of the rising and falling fortunes of texts, patterns of readership, and routes of dissemination. As such, they should be counted as books in their own right, albeit copies that happen not to have survived intact.

Recent discoveries of early printed binding waste at Princeton include a bifolium from Boniface VIII, Liber sextus decretalium (Mainz: Johann Fust & Peter Schoeffer, 1465), which now serves as the vellum cover of Johann Funck’s Chronologia, hoc est, Omnium temporum et annorum ab initio mundi  (Wittenberg: Zachariah Lehmann, for Andreas Hoffmann, 1601), formerly at the University of Tübingen. This is the second-earliest printed fragment still preserved on a bookbinding at Princeton. A fragment of the Gutenberg Bible, ca. 1455, preserved in situ on a German law book printed in 1666, was featured in an earlier installment of the “Notabilia” blog:


Especially important for the study of 15th-century book culture is the discovery — in a neglected box of old binding fragments — of two paper leaves of a previously UNKNOWN edition of a German Prognostication for the Year 1482, by Wenzel Faber von Budweis (ca. 1455–1518), a Bohemian-born physician and astronomer at the University of Leipzig. The quarto booklet was published in Augsburg by Christmann Heyny, using the late Günther Zainer’s types, probably toward the end of 1481.

The vernacular German text consists of Faber’s predictions for the coming year that were pertinent to the city of Leipzig and surrounding regions. Faber was one of the leading authors of this popular genre, known as Practica, and Princeton’s Prognostication for 1482 is the earliest surviving work by this author. The complete text is known from a Leipzig edition of the same year, uniquely preserved at Nuremberg’s Stadtbibliothek, but no other trace of this Augsburg printing has ever been found. It has been catalogued as a new, unique item in the Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke in Berlin. Their description, listing only the Princeton fragments, is below:

For much more on Wenzel Faber von Budweis, including two manuscripts at Princeton University Library that he owned – one of which includes a partial inventory of his library at the time of his death, see Don C. Skemer, ‘Wenzel Faber von Budweis (c. 1455/1460–1518): An astrologer and his library in the early age of printing’, in: Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 82 (2007), pp. 241-277, and these catalogue records:


https://catalog.princeton.edu/catalog/4990964With thanks to Falk Eisermann & Oliver Duntze, Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke, Berlin.

East Meets West in an Early Seventeenth-Century Book from Oxford

Browsing in Princeton University Library’s rare books vault, I came across a copy of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics in parallel Greek and Latin (Hanover: Wechel, 1610), bound in tooled calfskin at Oxford, which was inscribed on the rear end leaf by a 17th-century hand in dark black ink:

This incke came from Japan w[hi]ch is 17,000 myles from England.”

Evidently, a traveler to Japan brought a sample of sumi ink home to England, where someone tried it out on a blank leaf of the 1610 Oxford Aristotle. According to a helpful email from Ad Stijnman, noted researcher on historical inks, “the sumi ink will have been brought to England in the form of a stick, the way oriental writing ink is kept, likely not in a bottle European style, and only prepared shortly before writing.”

This strikes me as a potentially very early and interesting instance of contact with Japanese material culture in England, dating perhaps only a few years after the first English contact with Japan, established in 1610 by William Adams (who did not return to England), and the more diplomatically successful 1613 voyage by John Saris, who brought numerous Japanese objects back to England the following year. The alleged distance that the ink had traveled, 17,000 miles, may offer a clue as to which sea and/or land routes were taken.

Scholars with greater expertise in this area are invited to comment!

Book Nooks and Collectors’ Corners at Princeton

Bookplates (and ghostly traces of adhesive), stamps, and signatures tell of where this volume, resting in the Chancellor Green Rotunda, has been. It’s a copy of Antony and Cleopatra from the Works of Shakespeare edited by R. H. Case. Note, especially, the inscription, “Willard Thorp,” in the top right corner and continue through the end of this post.

“The history of book-collecting is a record of service by book-collectors—a service performed sometimes deliberately, sometimes unconsciously—to the republic of letters,” wrote John Carter in 1948, referring in the same sentence to the Parrish Collection of Victorian Novelists at Princeton.[1] Carter, whose books remain classics in the rare book field, was a professional book dealer and Reader in Bibliography at Cambridge University when Taste & Technique in Book Collecting appeared, four years after Morris L. Parrish’s bequest to his alma mater. News of the gift, as well as a sense of its importance, evidently got around.

The Parrish Collection deserves the recognition it received, containing as it does over 6,500 novels, periodicals, graphics, and examples of ephemera in English and American first and subsequent editions, as issued, and in exceptionally high condition. The Robert H. Taylor Collection also astonishes, illustrating the scope of English literature from the 1300s to the 1920s in over 4,000 rare books and 3,300 manuscripts. The contents of the Scheide Library, which currently include the first fourteen printed editions of the Bible, speak for themselves.

Not all collections at Princeton, though often the products of careful assembly by private hands, share a setting in Rare Books and Special Collections at the PUL. Some were also established in honor of scholars or alumnae, but are largely overlooked in well-trafficked campus areas. Others tuck themselves away into remote locations that see fewer visitors over time. Some are transformed at the requests of changing patrons; others are simply waystations for books that served bygone needs.

There are pockets of books around Princeton that run the gamut of miscellaneous libraries, from the little-known and the even less asked about, to the reinvented and the recently installed. Most reflect the commitments to scholarship of private individuals whose legacy endures in traces of ownership such as bookplates and inscriptions, even if their collecting habits lose their legibility over the years. All invite a poke through the shelves – however dusty – and a peek between the covers – however delicate – with something of the confidence of Morris L. Parrish himself, that a book “loses its purpose of existence” if it cannot be read.[2] 

…and nice, this time from the shelves of the Campus Club Library.

From the stacks of the Chancellor Green Rotunda, a message to book borrowers naughty…











The Van Dyke Library sits inconspicuously on the ground floor of the Old Graduate College, at the end of a sunken stone corridor removed from the main courtyard. Card access is restricted to residents of the GC, moreover, though perhaps in keeping with the dedication of the library in 1934 to the specific needs of graduate students. The library was organized in the memory of Paul van Dyke, Class of 1881 and subsequently professor of history at Princeton, by a committee of GC residents who selected “current books of biography, history, science and philosophy, but no fiction” for the stacks.[3] The original collection, assembled from contributions by university affiliates and purchases by the committee, still stands, although more recent additions have accumulated in the study space.

The Hinds Library also takes its name from Princeton faculty. It serves as an English seminar room in McCosh Hall and contains the collection of Asher Estey Hinds (1894-1943), whose books on literature and literary criticism have blended generously with additions from later donors. Hinds’ books have section and shelf locations penciled in on their inside back covers and often display an unassuming bookplate in the front; an inventive Hinds Library monogram also appears in white at the feet of their spines.  Newer publications often have no indications of previous ownership, but others contain inscriptions or even bookplates of their own. One such example is a book signed by Willard Thorp, who served as Holmes Professor of Belles Lettres and co-founded what is now the American Studies Program in 1942.

Hinds’ contemporary in the English Department gave his name to another library space in McCosh, almost directly upstairs from B14. Although the Thorp Library, dedicated in 1991, does not reflect Thorp’s own collection and serves instead as the departmental lounge, it recently welcomed perhaps the newest minor library at Princeton.[4] In fall of 2017, the Bain-Swiggett Library of Contemporary Poetry was installed in 22 McCosh through support from the Bain-Swiggett Fund and committee. As its name implies, the library makes a rotating, circulating collection of contemporary English-language poetry available to the university community, any member of which may borrow a book for up to two weeks and suggest new acquisitions. Updates to the inventory are reflected quarterly in the Bain-Swiggett Poetry Collection newsletter.

The Julian Street Library was established by Graham D. Mattison, Class of 1926, in memory of friend and author, Julian Street. Still housed in Wilson College, Wilcox Hall, it opened in 1961 with a selection of 5,000 books “most frequently in demand by students for broad supplementary reading” and curricular development, growing to 10,000 holdings by the 1970s.[5] Today’s academic demands probably divert attention from the remaining books themselves, which open to the Street Library bookplate and still carry loan cards in back, to the J Street Media Center, which offers access to multimedia software, a recording studio, and an equipment lending program to all undergraduates.

Princeton’s other undergraduate colleges have resident collections of their own, and libraries are fixtures in eating clubs as well. Campus Club, which was turned over to the university following its closure in 2005 after 105 years of activity, still stocks a number of books donated by club members, deaccessioned from the PUL, and removed from Lowrie House, to name just a few provenance highlights.[6] The Campus Club Library sits on the second floor of the building, although books also line the walls of the Prospect Room one floor down.

Books from the Walter Lowrie House found their way to the library in Prospect House as well – perhaps somewhat ironically, given the president’s opposite relocation in 1968.[7] The Prospect House Library resembles other minor collections around campus: its holdings, shelved floor to ceiling in a ground-floor room of the faculty club, are an assortment of recruits from the PUL, the Princeton Club of New York, private individuals, anonymous donors, and even the Julian Street Library, mentioned above.

Probably the largest “miscellany” of non-PUL books at Princeton, with perhaps the widest range of publications, occupies the two-tiered study area in the Chancellor Green Rotunda. The present iteration of the space opened in 2004, after a renovation that restored and upgraded Chancellor Green and East Pyne Hall, and the shelves were apparently rumored to remain empty.[8] A variety of books and journals, old and new, some inscribed or containing bookplates, has since relocated into the area from faculty offices and other local bookcases. One record indicates a donation by the Princeton University Archives and the Princetoniana Committee of the Alumni Council, but the books in question have by and large mingled with foreign language journal runs – mainly French and German – and worn paperbacks of classic texts. Curiously, Chancellor Green and East Pyne together served as Princeton’s university library from 1897, when the collection outgrew the former building, until 1948, when its 1.2 million volumes found ampler residence in the brand new Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library.[9]


Please comment on any prospective additions to this survey of inconspicuous book deposits in the box below. Special thanks for their valuable research assistance to John Logan, Literature Bibliographer, and Stephen Ferguson, Associate University Librarian for External Engagement.

[1] Carter, John. Taste and Technique in Book-Collecting: A Study of Recent Developments in Britain and the United States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1948, p. 5.

[2] Wainwright, Alexander. “The Morris L. Parrish Collection of Victorian Novelists.” Princeton University Library Chronicle, Volume LXII, Number 3, Spring 2001, p. 366. http://libweb2.princeton.edu/rbsc2/libraryhistory/195-_ADW_on_Parrish.pdf

[3] “Organize New Library As Van Dyke Memorial: Friends of Late Historian Seek to Endow Non-Fiction Collection for Graduate College.” Daily Princetonian, Volume 58, Number 174, 26 January 1934. http://papersofprinceton.princeton.edu/princetonperiodicals/?a=d&d=Princetonian19340126-01.2.8&srpos=1&e=——-en-20–1–txt-txIN-Friends+of+Late+Historian+Seek+to+Endow+Non%252DFiction+Collection+for+Graduate+College——

[4] “McCosh Warming.” Princeton Weekly Bulletin, Volume 81, Number 7, 21 October 1991. http://papersofprinceton.princeton.edu/princetonperiodicals/?a=d&d=WeeklyBulletin19911021-01.2.5&srpos=1&e=——-en-20–1–txt-txIN-%22mccosh+warming%22——

[5] “Foreword.” The Julian Street Library: A Preliminary List of Titles, compiled by Warren B. Kuhn. New York and London: R. R. Bowker Co., 1966.

[6] “Renovated Campus Club to become new gathering place for students.” 14 September 2006. https://www.princeton.edu/news/2006/09/14/renovated-campus-club-become-new-gathering-place-students

[7] “Goheen To Move From Prospect House.” Daily Princetonian, Volume 91, Number 145, 17 January 1968. http://papersofprinceton.princeton.edu/princetonperiodicals/?a=d&d=Princetonian19680117-01.2.2&srpos=14&e=——196-en-20–1–txt-txIN-walter+lowrie+house——

[8] “Chancellor Green Offer [sic] New Study Space.” Daily Princetonian, Volume 128, Number 45, 8 April 2004. http://papersofprinceton.princeton.edu/princetonperiodicals/?a=d&d=Princetonian20040408-01.2.3&srpos=1&e=——-en-20–1–txt-txIN-Chancellor+Green+Offer+New+Study+Space——.

[9] Read about the history of the Princeton University Library and see Chancellor Green as it looked in 1873 here: http://library.princeton.edu/about/history.

Two 16th-Century Cambridge Bindings by Garrett Godfrey


Virgil. Opera Vergiliana docte et familiariter exposita. Jodocus Badius, ed. Paris: François Regnault, 1515.

Junius Morgan Collection 2945.1515q

While reviewing Princeton University’s extensive collection of early editions of Virgil’s poetry, I noticed that the Paris edition of 1515, presented to Princeton by Junius S. Morgan toward the beginning of the last century, was preserved in a worn but handsome early 16th-century blind-tooled calfskin binding that was unmistakably English. Upon closer inspection, the letters “GG”, embossed repeatedly into the elaborate cover decoration, caused a flash of recognition: this is the monogram of Garrett Godfrey, a bookseller and binder active in Cambridge from 1502 until his death in 1539, now recognized as one of the most notable figures of the early modern English book trade. As Princeton did not otherwise own a binding by Godfrey, this was a significant discovery.

Like many of England’s binders of the period, Godfrey came from the Netherlands. According to Roger Ascham’s Toxophilus (1545), “Garret our bookebynder” recalled that when his famous countryman Erasmus of Rotterdam made several long visits to Cambridge (between August 1511 and January 1514), the great humanist scholar would ride his horse around the market hill as a respite from his studies before returning to his quarters. Many of Godfrey’s surviving bindings enclose works by Erasmus, and it has been suggested that Erasmus lived in the home of the bookbinder during his visits to Cambridge.

The fact that a 1515 Parisian edition of Virgil’s works had been imported to Cambridge is not surprising. Although Virgil’s poetry was studied, and enjoyed, throughout Europe, it was not until 1570 that England would print its own Latin edition of this Classic work. The present book, with extensive scholarly commentary and notes, was owned early on by an Englishman whose name is inscribed on the title page: “…Magistri Thome Lane quondam vicarii de Reydon et Southwold in Suff.” This individual seems to be Thomas Lane (d. 1541), vicar in Reydon and Southwold in Suffolk, about 75 miles east of Cambridge.

Godfrey’s binding of the 1515 Virgil also includes two pastedowns recycled from the vellum leaves of a discarded manuscript of Averroës (Ibn Rushd), In Aristotelis Metaphysicorum libros commentarii, Book 5, that apparently was produced in Cambridge in the 13th century (the initial E for “Ens” begins chapter 7; the P for “Potentia” begins chapter 10). A survey of other Godfrey bindings likely will reveal related fragments, likewise used as pastedowns.


Godfrey’s activities as a bookseller and binder in Cambridge are particularly well documented thanks to the chance survival of several leaves from his account books, which were found in one of his bookbindings now at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. The surviving accounts, datable from 1527 to 1533, include lists of book titles, often with their prices, as well as the names of their buyers. These records refer to four copies of Virgil’s Opera bound for various patrons, but it seems impossible to match up such transactions with Princeton’s book.


[Johannes Justus Landsperger]. Candela Evangelica. [Cologne]: Eucharius Cervicornus, 1527.

[Bound with:] Johannes Fabri, Bishop of Vienna. Causse rationabiles. Cologne: Petrus Quentell, 1527.

Princeton University Library recently purchased two theological works printed in Cologne in 1527, recognizing that the items offered far more significance for the history of books than the bookseller had realized. The two octavos were bound together in what the dealer described online as a period blind-tooled calfskin binding. More precisely, it is a rare signed panel-stamped binding by Garrett Godfrey.

The calfskin binding is one of two dozen (or so) that survive with Godfrey’s panel stamp bearing his monogram, “GG.” These initials normally appear on the upper cover within a shield at the foot of a large Tudor rose surrounded by scrolls bearing the couplet “Hec rosa virtutis de celo missa sereno Eternu[m] florens regia sceptra feret.” On Princeton’s acquisition, the leather is worn and the shape of the shield is difficult to see. At either side of the rose are two angels in a field of flowers with the arms of St. George on the left and those of the City of London on the right.

 The panel stamp on the lower cover bears the royal arms of Henry VIII beneath a crown, all supported by two angels amid flowers. 

Godfrey’s accounts mention both of the titles contained in Princeton’s recently acquired volume. In fact, they appear in consecutive order in two distinct entries. Unfortunately, both entries are among those that do not supply the prices or the names of their buyers. The earlier entries read:

candela evangelica

1 cause febri 

The second entries, written amid several other bindings datable to 1527, read:

candela evangelica

1 cause fabri 

One of these pairs of books, or one just like it, bound together and sold by Godfrey, must be the pair now at Princeton University Library.

An inscription on the rear endleaf provides the identity of a 16th-century owner: “Iste liber pertinet [ad me] Edmundo Poulter.” Our earliest post-16th-century knowledge of the book is its appearance in the collection of the English bibliographer and bookbinding historian Edward Gordon Duff (1863–1924). It was sold in the auction of Duff’s books at Sotheby’s, London, 16 March 1925, Part I, lot 38, going to the book historian and bookseller E. P. (Ernst Philip) Goldschmidt (1887–1954) for £8 5s.* The book appeared again for sale in the catalogue of E. P. Goldschmidt & Co., Ltd., Early Printed Books: Medicine, Mathematics and Early Science, XVIth Century Books and Many Specimens of Early Bindings, Bibliography, Etc. (London, [1928]), no. 249. It came to light again and was auctioned as an anonymous property at Sotheby’s, Catalogue of Atlases, Maps, and Printed Books (London, 29 June 1981), lot 407. At some point thereafter, a change in ownership resulted in a loss of knowledge, and so the initials “G.G” tooled in gold lettering on its old cloth box (probably Duff’s) no longer held any discernible meaning. It was only when the book was offered online in 2019 that I recognized the binding as the work of Garrett Godfrey and snapped it up for Princeton.

* I thank Dr Arnold Hunt, Cambridge University, for contributing this information.



In the summer of 2019 Lara Katz, a high school junior at Pierrepont School (Westport, CT), volunteered for a one-month directed research project on medieval manuscript fragments found in bookbindings of Princeton University Library’s early printed books. Surveying dozens of fragments, Lara was able to identify numerous medieval Latin texts that were highly abbreviated and difficult to read. Among these were two recycled pastedowns in the octavo Garrett Godfrey binding (above), which preserve portions of Johannes Duns Scotus (ca. 1266–1308), Quaestiones super libros Metaphysicorum Aristotelis, Book 5; a rubricated headline across each leaf, which reads “Metha[physi]ce V,” confirms Lara’s discovery.


We are delighted to note that Lara Katz has been accepted to Princeton University and will be attending as a member of the Class of 2024. Congratulations, Lara!

A Familiar Face: Hilprand Brandenburg’s Bookplate

By Jen Meyer, Curatorial Assistant, Rare Books

Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to be in David Pearson’s course Provenance: Tracing Owners & Collections at Rare Book School in Charlottesville, Virginia. We were just beginning to learn about the history of bookplates when a familiar sight appeared in his presentation:

This woodcut bookplate with an angel holding a shield bearing on ox first caught my eye three years ago when Princeton University purchased a two volume set of Astesano, Summa de casibus conscientiae [Strasbourg: Johann Mentelin, ca. 1472?]. At the time, I knew nothing of the bookplate’s history or importance, but I did know I was looking at something unusual.

Astesano, Summa de casibus conscientiae [Strasbourg: Johann Mentelin, ca. 1472?], vol. 1.

Three years later, at Rare Book School, the same image appeared on the screen and I learned that this was the one of the earliest known bookplates. It belongs to Hilprand Brandenburg of Biberach (1422-1514), a learned cleric who donated “450 books large and small” to the Carthusian Monastery at Buxheim in Swabia, Germany1. The donated books were also carefully inscribed by librarian Jakob Louber around 1505 with the title and provenance of each gift2.

When I returned to Princeton after my trip to Virginia, I looked up the recent purchase I had remembered and spoke to my colleague Eric White, Curator of Rare Books, about the experience. It turns out Princeton University holds more examples from Hilprand’s library and the Carthusian monastery at Buxheim. I set out to read about and explore their provenance.

Princeton’s holdings from Buxheim share their early history through the year 1883. The monastery was dissolved in 1803 as part of the German Mediatisation, and the books became the property of Graf von Ostein, passing to his sister, Gräfin von Hatzfeld, in 1809, and then to their cousin, Graf Friedrich Karl Waldbott von Bassenheim, in 1810. The books were finally sold by Graf Hugo von Waldbott-Bassenheim (1820-1895) via auction in Munich on Sept. 20, 1883 (through Carl Förster).

After the 1883 auction in Munich, each of Princeton’s copies came to the University through different paths and with varying evidence of their provenance.

Astesano (d. 1330?). Summa de casibus conscientiae [Strasbourg: Johann Mentelin, ca. 1472?]. 2 vols.

Astesano, Summa de casibus conscientiae [Strasbourg: Johann Mentelin, ca. 1472?], vol. 2.

Containing the original Hilprand bookplates that caught my attention, these volumes are Princeton University’s most complete example of their early history. Both volumes of Summa de casibus conscientiae have a Hilprand bookplate as well as inscriptions by Louber marking their donation. They also have armorial Buxheim library stamps at the foot of the first text pages. The bindings (see below) are contemporary blind-stamped alum-tawed pigskin over part-beveled wooden boards, and bear small stamps with an ox, Hilprand’s armorial. Additional provenance evidence for this two-volume set includes:

  • Lot 3308 at the Munich 1883 auction.
  • Bindings: From the “Phönix” workshop (Kyriss 162), covers with blind fillets forming a panel design, differing between the two volumes but using some of the same stamps. Titles lettered in ms. at head of spines “Summa casuum Astexandi”; chased brass center-and corner pieces with bosses, two fore-edge leather and brass clasps on lower covers.
  • Lot 30 at Leipzig 1913 auction via C. G. Boerner, Katalog der Bibliothek des Königlichen Baurats Edwin Oppler.
  • On front pastedowns, gold-stamped leather book label of E.P. Goldschmidt.

Detail of binding, showing Hilprand’s armorial stamp (small shield with ox).

Alphonso, de Espina (active 15th century). Fortalitium fideo contra fidei Christianae hostes.  [Strasbourg, Johann Mentelin, not after 1471].

Hilprand’s painted armorial.

This volume has Louber’s inscription on the front endpaper as well as evidence of the removal of Hilprand’s bookplate. There are also two stamps of the Carthusian monastery of Buxheim on the first leaf. At the base of the spine is a Buxheim library shelfmark in red: E 307. Last but not least, painted at the foot of leaf 9r is a small blue shield with a white ox, Hilprand’s armorial. Additional provenance evidence for this volume includes:

  • Lot 3254 at the Munich 1883 auction.
  • Binding: 15th-century pigskin over boards, blind stamped, including the name-stamp ‘Meister.’ Johannes Meister was active in the book trade in Basel.
  • On front pastedown, there is a book dealer description pasted down. Additionally, there are various pencil and ink notes here and through the book.
  • On rear pastedown, there is a book label reading: E LIBRIS | GULIELMI NORTH | A.M. | SID. COLL. | CANTAB. This is the book label of William North, fl. 1854-1919, Sidney Sussex Coll. Cambridge, BA 1878, MA 1888.

Augustine, of Hippo, Saint (354-430). De civitate Dei. [Strasbourg: Johann Mentelin, not after 1468]. 

This book was purchased for the Scheide Library in 2017. It features Louber’s inscription recording Hilprand’s gift, but again no bookplate. However, between the inscriptions, one can see some faint coloring left over from the blue shield and angel’s wings. On the first leaf of the text there is an inscription “Carthusiae in Buxheim” and the oval stamp of Buxheim library. At the base of the spine is a Buxheim shelfmark in black: N 173. Additional provenance for this volume includes:

  • Lot 3306 at the Munich 1883 auction.
  • Binding: 16th-century blind-stamped pigskin over beveled wooden boards (possibly executed in Buxheim); concentric rectangles decorated with rolls in a floral design; two metal clasps; manuscript fragments from a 12th-century Missal with heightened neumes used as pastedowns.
  • Book label from the Library in Milltown Park on verso of front flyleaf. From the library of William O’Brien (1832-1899), Irish judge and book collector who bequeathed his library to the Jesuit community at Milltown Park, Dublin.

Petrarca, Francesco (1304-1374). Capitula in librum Francisci petrarche de vita solitaria incipient and Secretum Francisci Petrarche de Flore[n]cia poete laureati De co[n]temptu mundi incipit foeliciter [Strasbourg: The R-Printer (Adolf Rusch), not after 1473].

This book also has Louber’s inscription recording Hilprand’s gift, but again no bookplate. On the first leaf of text is an inscription “Carthusiae in Buxheim” and the stamp of Buxheim library. At the base of the spine a Buxheim shelfmark appears in black: H 419. Additional provenance for this volume includes:

  • Lot 2872 at the Munich 1883 auction.
  • Binding: 15th-century blind-stamped pigskin over thick wooden boards, sewn on 4 split tawed thongs: from Kyriss shop K162 ‘Phoenix’, which Hummel & Wilhelmi (Katalog der Inkunabeln in Bibliotheken der Diozese Rottenburg-Stuttgart. Wiesbaden, 1993) localize to Biberach, and which Ernst Kyriss asserted had bound many volumes for Hilprand Brandenburg. Catches and clasps present.
  • Presented to Princeton by Junius Spencer Morgan in June 1896. There is a bookplate on the front pastedown acknowledging a gift simply from “M.” The accession no. “100364 Sesq. 364” is written in.

Arms of the Brandenbergs [ca. 1480-1500]

Graphic Arts Collection, Princeton University Library. 7.0 x 6.3 cm

As evidenced by the Princeton holdings listed above with traces of removed bookplates, many Hilprand bookplates did get separated from books they were originally placed into. An example of a removed Hilprand bookplate is held in our Graphic Arts Department. The brown stains may provide clues as to which book it was removed from long ago.

While investigating Princeton’s holdings, I was able to consult with my colleagues Eric White and Paul Needham, who have written articles about Hilprand and his legacy. They also have kept a census of known copies of his books, including more than 40 manuscripts and 130 printed volumes.

It is interesting to see the various ways these early bookplates have survived – or not survived – over the past 500 years. The chance to see these examples firsthand and explore their provenances has been a great opportunity to delve deeper into history and our collections.

Astesano, Summa de casibus conscientiae [Strasbourg: Johann Mentelin, ca. 1472?], binding, vol. 1.


1 Paul Needham: “The Library of Hilprand Brandenburg.” In: Inkunabel- und Einbandkunde. Bibliothek und Wissenschaft 29. Wiesbaden 1996, pp. 95-125; Friedrich Stöhlker: Die Kartause Buxheim 1402-1803. Folge 4 (1976), p. 844.

2 Eric Marshall White: “Three Books Donated by Adolf Rusch to the Carthusians at Basel.” In: Gutenberg Jahrbuch 2006, p. 231.

Who played Brutus?

Call no. 3925.35.13.1692

If you examine the close-up image of the seventeenth-century title page on the left, you will make out a few handwritten letters showing through from the other side of the paper. There they are, hiding between the printed lines of the title and subtitle. What do they say, or mean? I found these mystery marks while working in Princeton University Library’s Rare Books department, perusing a London 1691 printing of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

This book looks old, and it is: the old English type wobbles, jumping from large to smaller fonts; the tall letter s looks like f; and the paper is textured and mottled, shading toward brown. This is a far cry from how most of today’s readers encounter Shakespeare’s plays, in tidy modern publications, edited and re-edited by generations of scholars, and machine-printed on bright white paper. What do we really know about Shakespeare’s early legacy? How did people read and perform his work during the long period between his death in 1616, and the paperbacks with explanation and commentary we read in high school?

By far the most famous edition of Shakespeare is the First Folio of 1623, a mammoth undertaking that collected almost all of Shakespeare’s plays for the first time. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, however, different printers were hard at work producing editions of individual plays. These were relatively cheap quartos (a smaller format that was ideal for individual plays) that often got bound together with other plays and tracts. Today, relatively few copies of these early editions survive.

A recently launched project, the Shakespeare Census, aims to catalogue all existing copies of 17th-century editions of Shakespeare in libraries across the world. English professors Zachary Lesser (University of Pennsylvania) and Adam Hooks (University of Iowa) developed the project to collect valuable information about the early publication and reception of Shakespeare. If you search the Census, you’ll see that Princeton University Library has 35 copies of individual Shakespeare plays published between 1598 and 1700.

As it’s relatively rare to find significant marks made by early owners within these books, Gabriel Swift (Reference Librarian for Special Collections) and I were delighted when we noticed that the scribbles on the title page of Princeton’s 1691 Julius Caesar were actually inky show-through of four names written among the dramatis personae printed on its verso. Someone who saw the play had recorded the names of the actors playing various parts! We found a ‘Mr. Wilks’ and a ‘Mr. Booth’ — a jarringly familiar combination of names — but of course the murderer of Abraham Lincoln, a member of a lauded family of Shakespearean actors, was a much later figure (he appeared in Julius Caesar in 1864, but not in the role of Brutus).

With more research, we found a different production that included all four actors listed in Princeton’s Julius Caesar: Wilks, Booth, a Mr. Powell and a Mr. Mills. This occurred between 1708 and 1715 in Drury Lane, London (see C. B. Young, Introduction to The New Shakespeare Julius Caesar, Cambridge University Press, 1955, p. xxxvi-xxxvii). These names echoed through the 18th and 19th centuries. Shakespearean acting was a dynastic business, and actors with these names in multiple generations worked on both sides of the Atlantic. If you were a literate book-buying London theater-goer in 1710, you might have read an encouraging review and sought out these actors, or you might have been surprised by their performances and wanted to record the memory. You might have bought a copy of the play and annotated it.

Handwritten records like this one are one way that historians understand how people have enjoyed Shakespeare’s plays in different times and different places. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears: If you go to a Broadway show and keep the ticket, or if you attend your daughter’s elementary school concert and underline her name on the program, you’re contributing to the historical record!

These are the kinds of discoveries we hope to make when we contribute to a research project like the Shakespeare Census, which aims to enrich our understanding of the literary past. The little detail of the actor identities, which we found three centuries later, helps us imagine the faces of the audience seeing Julius Caesar in 1710, gasping at the sudden flash of the knife, and hearing the now-familiar lines, perhaps for the first time.

Miranda Marraccini is a PhD candidate in Princeton University’s Department of English.

A Fifteenth-Century Rubricator’s Complaint

The 1483 Horace, with Donatus fragment visible.

In November 2017, Notabilia reported Princeton University Library’s acquisition of a copy of Horace, Opera (Venice: Johannes de Gregoriis, de Forlivio, et Socii, 17 May 1483), the original binding of which included two fragments of the Ars minor of Aelius Donatus, printed with the same typeface that had been used to print Gutenberg’s 42-Line Bible in Mainz, ca. 1455.


One intriguing aspect of the book that we were unable to explain was the rubricator’s cryptic inscription at the end of the Horace:

We contacted Dr. Falk Eisermann at the Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke in Berlin, who consulted with Dr. Christoph Mackert at the University of Leipzig, who provided the answer. The rubricator complained, quite understandably, that he had completed his arduous work, encompassing hundreds of red and blue initials and thousands of paragraph marks and red capital highlights, with “DIGITIS FESSIS” — tired fingers.

Some of the rubricator’s handiwork.

Rare Book Working Group Asks, “Why Pay More?”

Dick Donovan, Wanted! A Detective’s Strange Adventures (London: Chatto & Windus, 1892).

For its second session of the fall term, the Rare Book Working Group (RBWG) at Princeton University Library asked the question shared by generations of booksellers and readers: “Why pay more?” Its survey of “cheap books” through the ages opened with examples of economizing Virgilian ventures from the early hand-press period, compared the Shakespeare First Folio of 1632 to shilling editions released during the Victorian era, crossed the Atlantic for an introduction to the evangelical pamphlets of Lorenzo Dow, and investigated signs of book ownership in productions of the popular press. Professor Seth Perry (Religion) and RBSC experts, Eric White and Gabriel Swift, highlighted material evidence of cost-effectiveness in American and continental European publications, respectively, while student assistants Miranda Marraccini and Jessica Terekhov spoke to the nineteenth-century reading revolution. A sampling of “inexpensive” rare books was on hand for the interactive portion of the session, during which participants shared observations into the economics of readership as captured in marketing strategies, popular genres, and publishing innovations.

The earliest book introduced was a 1469 folio collection of Virgil’s complete works, followed by a 1510 octavo edition, four times as small. The group related the size reduction to lower production costs and speculated that a 1511 publication of the Aeneid alone, although in quarto format, may have suited tighter budgets by economizing on content.

Virgil, Opera (Rome: Sweyn- heym & Pannartz, ca. 1469).

Virgil, Aeneid (Leipzig: Wolfgang Stoeckel, 1511).










The juxtaposition between other early modern staples, the first appearance of Shakespeare’s collected works and the first quarto edition of any of his plays (Love’s Labour’s Lost), and a selection of popular anthologies from the nineteenth century was similarly revealing. Leading the race to the bottom in the 1800s were Ward, Lock and Co., whose six-penny Complete Works outstripped and underpriced competitors in 1890. Princeton owns neither this edition (yet), nor Dicks’ shilling Shakespeare of 1866, which sold 700,000 copies within two years of its release upon the 250th anniversary of the bard’s death.

The Works of William Shakespeare, ed. by William George Clark and William Aldis Wright (London: Macmillan and Co., 1884).

Of special note among the anthologies displayed was the Globe Shakespeare published by Macmillan in 1884, two decades after their first Globe venture. Princeton’s copy is unique for its indications – and illustrations – of prior ownership. The book is inscribed on the half-title page by Francis Turner Palgrave, perhaps most famous for editing The Golden Treasury of English Songs and Lyrics (1861) in collaboration with Alfred Tennyson, to his daughter, “Margaret I. Palgrave, with best love from her Father, June 1894.” Turning past Margaret Palgrave’s bookplate on the inside front cover reveals a curious combination opposite the half-title: a magazine clipping of two kittens above a pin commemorating the Shakespeare Festival of Mercy in 1915.

A canine curiosity; ibid.

Flower petals are interleaved throughout the book, having been left in long enough to have stained certain pages, and a pasted-down illustration of a hound in profile completes the picture on the back free endpaper. The RBWG agreed that such colorful evidence of ownership provides insight into earlier reading practices and clues to one book’s career through different libraries through the centuries.


Lorenzo Dow, Progress of Light and Liberty ([Troy, N.Y.: William S. Parker, 1824?]).

With Professor Perry at the helm, the group journeyed abroad and toured the eastern seaboard with Lorenzo Dow, an evangelical preacher known for his eccentric style and far-flung presence. Professor Perry discussed Dow’s early nineteenth-century tracts, several of them brittle pamphlets with creases where they were presumably reduced to pocket size, in relationship to Dow’s appropriation of Thomas Paine as well as his marketing techniques, which included selling publications on a subscription basis and distributing copies through newspaper offices. The highlight of the crop was the fifth printing of the Progress of Light and Liberty, sown and uncut as issued in Troy, NY, in 1824. Perry explained that the value of the text as a physical artifact consisted in its having been spared material accretions by later book dealers, owners, or holding institutions, who would have interfered with the original condition of the 36-page pamphlet. Perry later commented:

I think cheap books give us a window onto intimate, portable, active aspects of print culture. Cheap books go places and do things that fancy books typically don’t. Early-American itinerant preacher Lorenzo Dow (the subject of my second book) published a lot of cheap print – pamphlets and broadsides that he carried around with him to sell and to post – and he was routinely worried about them getting soaked in his saddle bags when he traveled in the rain. Seeing that always makes me think what a different approach to print culture his texts represent from, you know, fancy gilded books that would never have found themselves in a wet saddlebag. Cheapness is not always just about class and access to print, but also about print imaginaries – cheapness opens up different ways for producers and consumers to imagine what print can do, and where, and for whom.

The Beggarly Boy, a Cheap Repository Tract (London: John Marshall, [1796?]).

The final portion of the session was devoted to a roundtable showcase of “cheap books” over the centuries, from a 1558 medical handbook with censored passages to a number of late Victorian railway reads, called yellowbacks given the typical color of their paperboard covers (see, for instance, Wanted! A Detective’s Strange Adventures). Late eighteenth-century moral tracts, published under the direction of Hannah More (Cheap Repository Tracts), almanacs (Ames’s Almanack Revived and Improved), primers (The New-England Primer Improved), and school prizes (ironically, Colonel Jack: The History of a Boy that Never Went to School) rounded out the survey of affordability, a category in flux almost since the very beginning of Western printing.

The RBWG invites students and faculty in any discipline with interests in book and printing history to its spring sequence, which will feature a program on “East and West” and a tentative visit to off-campus collections. Please contact Jessica at terekhov@princeton.edu to join the RBWG listserv for future updates.

Rare Book Working Group Examines “Her Book”

Portrait of Lady Caroline Lamb, in her Verses from Glenarvon (1819), painted by Eliza Jones. 2018-0034N

The “Rare Book Working Group” (RBWG) at Princeton University Library began its second year of programming by exploring the topic of “Her Book” on October 25, 2018. Eric White, Curator of Rare Books, and Gabriel Swift, Reference Librarian for Special Collections, brought out more than 50 books from the 17th and 18th centuries, each inscribed by an early female owner. The RBWG participants, which included graduate students, faculty, and library staff, discussed the value and implications of this provenance information as historical evidence, and recorded the data for entry into the library’s online catalog — which historically has overlooked much of this kind of evidence.

White and Swift introduced the “Her Book” workshop with examples of women’s early achievements in book production and collecting. These included a copy of De viris illustribus, printed in Florence in 1478 by the Dominican nuns at San Jacopo di Ripoli; book illustrations by Suor Isabella Picini, a prolific engraver at the Franciscan convent of Santa Croce in Venice at the beginning of the 18th century; an unsigned 17th-century English embroidered dos-a dos binding, very probably made by a woman; Lady Caroline Lamb’s presentation copy of her rare Verses from Glenarvon (1819), hand-embellished with her portrait by Eliza Jones (above); and the 1819 auction catalogue of the library of Anne-Thérèse-Philippine, Comtesse d’Yve (1738–1814) of Brussels, whose rich and diverse collection included a copy of the Gutenberg Bible in its original binding (now at Eton College).

New Testament and Psalms (1628). Embroidered dos-à-dos binding.          RHT 17th-35

Frances Wolfreston’s copy of Guillaume de Bartas, His Deuine Weekes & Workes (London, 1605). RHT 17th-223

For the longer “workshop” portion of the two-hour session, participants examined a selection of books from the Robert H. Taylor Collection, signed (and occasionally annotated) by the Englishwomen who owned them. These included six titles inscribed “Frances Wolfreston hor bouk [her book],” which Swift brought out in order to highlight the possibilities of reconstructing women’s libraries and reading habits; a scholarly project on this little-known 17th-century owner, led by Sarah Lindenbaum, who first located Princeton’s specimens, is already well under way. See: https://franceswolfrestonhorbouks.com/

The participants also examined Jane Franklin Mecom’s copy of her brother Benjamin Franklin’s Experiments and observations on electricity, made at Philadelphia in America (1769), featured in Jill Lepore’s exemplary study, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (2013).

Jane Austen’s copy of A Companion to the Altar (London, c. 1790). EX 5866.934

In addition to deciphering names (such as Jane Austen’s) written in books, the RBWG also explored larger patterns of book ownership and the scholarly value of mining a broad corpus of evidence. Faculty participant Seth Perry agreed that RBWG workshops offer an excellent opportunity to approach broader questions and find new avenues for research that arise from a rich but often hidden historical record.


Ownership inscriptions in the selected books include:

Jane Austen, April 24th 1794

Fanny Burney

Fanny Anne Burney, from her Grandfather

Anna Seward

[Lady] M[ary] Cowper

Mary Tolson her book [wife of the author, Rev. Frances Tolson]

(continued below)

Margaret Clarke her Book […] Elizabeth Harris

Anne Thomas 173[?] (trimmed; with printed bookplate: “Ann Thomas No. 104”)

Ann Savil Shepherd 1780

Rhoda Spaulding Gaffrey

Jane De L’Angle

Mrs. Mary[?] Leo Feild her Book 1720

Mrs. Audley given to William D[—?] 1833

Ann Goodkind her Book February 2[?]th 1761

Elizabeth Greyon given me by my Aunt Alice Abdy, November the 24 1682

To Mrs. Rose of Kilravock, with Mr. [Robert] Burns’s best compliments

Elizabeth Calldicot

Mary Portmant

Mrs. Eliza Symonds

Mary Luth[?] (trimmed)

Catherine Fleminge Book

Francis Glossop the gift of his Aunt Catherine Gibbs

Mary Ibborson

Elisabeth Dickenson […] Elisabeth Richardson […] Hannah Dickenson […] Mary

Abigail Burby given by Sir Tho Tyrell

Ann Piggot 1700

Euphime Proctor 1769 [gilt leather label]

For the complete RBWG worksheet, see: Her Book – Sheet1

Eric White and Gabriel Swift wish to thank student assistants Jessica Terekhov, Rosamond van Wingerden, and Conner Johnson for their help compiling and organizing the “Her Book” RBWG workshop.


Revolution-Era Textbook ~ A Time Capsule from Princeton’s Past

Homeri Ilias, v. 1 (London: Charles Rivington, 1768).

A recent gift to the Princeton University Library opens a time capsule from the university’s remote past. At the dawn of America’s Revolutionary War, when Princeton was still known as the College of New Jersey, at least four students signed their names to a copy of an assigned text. The book, volume 1 of Homer’s Iliad in Greek with parallel Latin text and notes, was printed in London in 1768, the same year that John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, became the university’s sixth president. Used heavily during the 1770s, the book offers today’s Princetonians a lesson in institutional history and a glimpse of the earliest actors involved.

Samuel Whitwell, Jr. was the first of the students to have used the 1768 Iliad. His signature appears on the book’s flyleaf and title page. His father’s name appears in the printed bookplate, pasted inside the front cover, which also bears an inscription by Isaac Tichenor, who presumably inherited the book from his upperclassman. The names of Robert Wharry and William Ross, non-graduate members of the class of 1778, are written on the flyleaf.

The younger Samuel Whitwell, of Boston, was among the students who met John Adams during the latter’s visit to Princeton in August 1774. He completed his degree that year, studied medicine after graduation, and served as surgeon to the 3rd Massachusetts Regiment from 1777 to 1783. Wharry (also Wherry) followed in his footsteps as a surgeon’s mate in a Pennsylvania regiment from 1778 until the end of the war. Little is known of Wharry’s classmate, William Ross.

Isaac Tichenor was perhaps the most active reader and ultimately the most prominent member of the group. The next page of the book, actually a fold-out map of ancient Greece that faces the title page, also bears Tichenor’s signature. His interlinear glosses (his signature appears among the annotations on p. 10), demonstrate his attempts to parse the classical text and render words and phrases into English. Upon graduating in 1775 after two years at Princeton, the Newark native studied law in New York and assisted the Continental Army at the Battle of Bennington in Vermont. The end of the Revolutionary War saw him settled in Vermont, where he pursued a long career in legislature as a state assemblyman, councilor, supreme court justice, and governor, and as a Federalist senator in Congress from 1796 to 1797 and 1815 to 1821.

In politics, Tichenor was (respectfully) nicknamed “Jersey Slick” for his polished appearance and manners, but he and his fellow Princetonians assumed other pseudonyms as members of the Cliosophic Society on campus.[i] “Handel” may have referred to Tichenor’s affinity for music, while Samuel Whitwell borrowed his alias, “Dickinson,” from the first university president.[ii] Robert Wharry was known as “Warren” after the physician, Joseph Warren, a hero of Bunker Hill.[iii]

Tichenor would likely have heard John Witherspoon’s “Address to the Students of the Senior Class,” delivered “on the Lord’s Day preceding Commencement, September 23, 1775.” The president divided his remarks into three branches: “your duty to God, and the interest of your souls”; “the prosecution of your studies, or the improvement of your talents, as members of society”; and “prudence in your commerce with the world in general, your outward provision, and other circumstances in life.”[iv] If his speech differs in tenor – and certainly in length – from a contemporary commencement address, his enforced curriculum at Princeton has little in common – except perhaps rigor – with an average course of study today. A speech Witherspoon delivered in 1772 outlines four years of instruction:

In the first year, [students] read Latin and Greek, with the Roman and Grecian antiquities, and rhetoric. In the second, continuing the study of the languages, they learn a complete system of geography, with the use of the globes, the first principles of philosophy, and the elements of mathematical knowledge. The third, though the languages are not wholly omitted, is chiefly employed in mathematics and natural Philosophy. And the senior year is employed in reading the higher classics, proceeding in the mathematics and natural philosophy, and going through a course of moral philosophy.[v] 

Witherspoon added to this the four lectures he delivered annually to juniors and seniors on chronology, history, composition, and criticism and indicated that he would continue to teach French to interested students. Tichenor, then, would have been early in his Princeton career during his lucubrations (imaginably) over Homer.

That the president’s account was unembellished is supported by a letter from an undergraduate to a prospective student during Tichenor’s term at the College. Edward Crawford wrote to his brother, James, who hoped to enter the junior class:

‘The studies you will be examined on…are Virgil, Horace, Cicero’s Orations, Lucian, Xenophon, Homer, geography, and logic. Four books of Virgil’s Aeneid together with the Bucolics and Georgics and four books of Xenophon are only looked for; but I would advise you if you come to college to study the whole of Xenophon…Try to accustom yourself to read Greek and Latin well as it is much looked to here and be accurate in geography; study if you can the five common rules of arithmetic, interest, rebate, equation of payments, barter, loss and gain, fellowship, compound-fellowship, the double rule of three, comparative arithmetic, geometrical progression, vulgar and decimal fractions and the square root.’[vi] 

An A.B. candidate at Princeton today, as every undergraduate knows, must fulfill a writing and a foreign language requirement in addition to distribution requirements in seven fields. Homer is no longer mandatory reading, but Isaac Tichenor’s 1768 Iliad survives as a memorable precursor to a standard issue from the Loeb Classical Library.

[Homer. Iliad]. Homeri Ilias graece et latine, annotationes in usum serenissimi principis Gulielmi Augusti, ducis de Cumberland, &c. Regio jussu scripsit atque edidit Samuel Clarke, S.T.P., vol. 1 (London: Excudit Car. Rivington, Impensis J. Pote, [etc.], 1768), 7th edition. This item from the library of Rev. Alfred L. Baury (1794-1865), Episcopal Minister in Newton, MA, was thoughtfully donated by Caroline Knox of Waltham, MA, with assistance from Nell K. Carlson, Curator of Historical Collections, Andover-Harvard Theological Library, of the Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, MA. It is an outstanding addition to Princeton’s early bibliographical heritage.

[i] Tichenor, Isaac; 1775; Undergraduate Alumni Records, 18th Century, Box 32; Princeton University Archives, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

[ii] Whitwell, Samuel; 1774; Undergraduate Alumni Records, 18th Century, Box 29; Princeton University Archives, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

[iii] Wharry (Wherry), Robert; 1778; Undergraduate Alumni Records, 18th Century, Box 38; Princeton University Archives, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

[iv] The Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon… Vol. 3. Philadelphia: William W. Woodward, 1802. p. 101.

[v] Witherspoon, John. “Address to the Inhabitants of Jamaica, and other West-India Islands, in behalf of the College of New Jersey.” The Miscellaneous Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon. Philadelphia: William W. Woodward, 1803. p. 349.

[vi] Edward Crawley to James Crawford, Aug. 29, 1774, Presbyterian Historical Society. Quoted in: Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. Princeton, 1746-1896. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1946. pp. 93-94.

~ Jessica Terekhov, PhD candidate in English, is the graduate assistant to the Curator of Rare Books, Princeton University Library


Vestiges of a Lost Carolingian Bible Discovered at Princeton

Ink offset on the upper board of EXI Oversize 5707.674q

The fifteenth-century binding of Princeton University Library’s copy of Nicolaus de Ausmo, Supplementum Summae Pisanellae et Canones poenitentiales (Venice: Franciscus Renner, de Heilbronn and Nicolaus de Frankfordia, 1474), preserves the ghostly remains of one of the greatest of all lost books: the ninth-century “Tours Bible” of Trier, a large-format manuscript written at Tours ca. 835 as part of the religious reforms initiated by Charlemagne (742–814), later deposited at the Imperial Benedictine Abbey of St Maximin in Trier, only to be discarded for use as binding waste in Trier during the fifteenth century.

Since the closure of St Maximin in Trier in 1802, approximately 85 fragments from this lost Carolingian Bible have come to light, all within fifteenth-century book bindings from this monastery’s library. Many are preserved in Trier’s Stadtbibliothek, while others are in Vienna, London, Berlin, Bonn, Koblenz, Walberberg, and three institutions in the United States: Indiana University’s Lilly Library, Cornell University’s Olin Library, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Carolingian ink offset on the lower board, reversed and enhanced image.

Princeton’s vestiges of this lost Carolingian Bible are neither a full vellum leaf nor a small fragment, but rather the reversed offset of ninth-century minuscule script, written in red and black ink, which has adhered to the Trier binding’s bare wooden boards, formerly covered by two vellum fragments from the discarded Tours Bible, which were removed at an unknown date. Decipherable with the aid of enhanced digital images shown in reverse, the preserved text consists of the Latin chapter summaries for 4 Kings (IV Regum), which would have preceded the beginning of that biblical book. The vellum leaf that bore this offset text, which was cut into two pieces and pasted down horizontally across the interior surfaces of the upper and lower boards, appears not to have survived. Thus, the offset in the Princeton binding is the only witness to its existence and the only record of its contents.

Detail of the Moutier-Grandval Bible. London, The British Library © British Library Board.

Some idea of the lost Tours Bible from Trier may be obtained by comparing the offset discovered at Princeton to the same biblical text in the ninth-century “Moutier-Grandval Bible” at the British Library, one of the greatest of all surviving Carolingian manuscripts. In both bibles, a red-ink rubric reads “Incipit capitulatio de Libro regum quarto,” while a series of Roman chapter numerals and initial Ds written in red ink descends the left side of the column. The script and spacing exhibited in each of the bibles is closely comparable, suggesting that they were produced within the same scriptorium.

Comparison of the Princeton offset (top) and Moutier-Grandval Bible in London (bottom).

Inscription on f. 1r

The Princeton copy of Nicolaus de Ausmo, printed in Venice in 1474, reached St Maximin in Trier soon after its publication. There, presumably during the later 1470s, it was inscribed “Ex libris Imperialis Monasterij S. Maximinj” and was bound (with the Carolingian Bible fragments) in wooden boards covered with blind-tooled calfskin; one of the tools impressed into the leather verifies its early provenance, bearing the words “Codex sancti Maximini.”

Detail of binding: “Codex sancti Maximini” stamp



When St Maximin in Trier was dissolved in 1802, many of its library’s books went to the local Stadtbibliothek, but many others were scattered to the four winds. The Nicolaus de Ausmo of 1474, along with several other books from St Maximin, became part of the collection of Joseph von Görres (1776–1848), a German writer and historian in Koblenz. His collection of printed books was sold by Süddeutsches Antiquariat in Munich (Katalog 32, dated 1903 [i.e. 1902]), no. 2. The catalogue entry mentioned the book’s provenance from St Maximin in Trier, but not the Carolingian binding waste or its offset. The book was owned next by Edward Duff Balken (1874–1960), Princeton Class of 1897, who presented it to Princeton University Library in 1940. The Carolingian offset was discovered and identified by Eric White on March 29, 2018, during preparations for a meeting of RBSC’s Rare Books Working Group, an informal book history workshop for interested Princeton University graduate students.

For further reading:

Die Touronische Bibel der Abtei St. Maximin vor Trier: Faksimile der erhaltenen Blätter… Ed. Reiner Nolden (Trier, 2002).

Florentine Mütherich, “Die Touronische Bibel von St. Maximin in Trier,” in: Studies in Carolingian Manuscript Illumination (London, 2004), 341-60.

The Only Copy in America of Virgil’s Bucolica [Strasbourg: Heinrich Eggestein, ca. 1473-74]

Vergilius Maro, Publius. Bucolica [Strasbourg : Heinrich Eggestein, about 1473-74] f°. Goff V-203.      Oversize VRG 2945.325.001q

Given the rich holdings of Virgil’s poetry in Princeton University Library, one of the world’s foremost repositories of fifteenth-century editions of his works, it is perhaps easy to overlook the collection’s earliest separate edition of the Bucolica, which is one of only five copies to survive and the only copy preserved outside of continental Europe. Written in 42–39 BCE, the Bucolica (Latin ‘On the care of cattle’) was Virgil’s first major work, preceding the Georgics and the Aeneid. The Bucolica consists of ten brief eclogues that evoke the idyllic scenes and daily hardships of rural life within the Roman Empire. The poems were sensationally popular in ancient Rome and have never gone out of favor, as medieval Christians admired Virgil’s mastery of Latin verse and perceived messianic themes in his imagery. Virgil became Dante’s hero, and readers of the Renaissance esteemed Virgil above all other poets. In modern times, improved editions of his works, as well as reliable translations, continue to find a broad readership.

The first printing of the works of Virgil, including the Bucolica, Georgics, and the Aeneid, appears to be the folio edition published in Rome c. 1469 by Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz. Princeton University Library is one of eight institutions to hold that edition, and the only one outside of Europe. The first separate printing of the Bucolica appeared in a smaller quarto format from the Cologne press of Ulrich Zel, c. 1470, which is known in only eleven copies.

Princeton’s earliest Bucolica, from the second separate edition, was printed in Strasbourg by Heinrich Eggestein about 1473-74. It is a slender Chancery folio (30.9 × 21.2 cm) of sixteen leaves in which the poems were composed in a single narrow column of 27 lines per page, spaciously leaded as in a school book. In the past the edition has been dated variously as c. 1468, c. 1470, and c. 1472. The earlier dates are clearly too early, falling before Eggestein introduced his type known as ‘4:99G’, used here, which also appeared in datable editions from 1471 to 1473. The dating of c. 1472 for Eggestein’s Bucolica, cited in most of the prevailing bibliographies, accords with the printer’s chronology but it does not take into account the key evidence of his paper supply. Paul Needham, the Scheide Librarian at Princeton, has determined that the watermarks found in the Bucolica, depicting a Bull’s Head surmounted by a Tau Cross, belong to a Chancery paper stock from Basel that also was used c. 1474 in Valascus de Taranta, Tractatus de epidemia et peste [Basel: Martin Flach, c. 1474]. Needham suggests that the best dating for Eggestein’s Bucolica is therefore c. 1473-74.

Eggestein’s edition of the Bucolica first came to light in 1810, when the French bibliographer Jacques-Charles Brunet (1780–1867) described it in his Manuel de libraire, vol. 2 (p. 648), citing the copy then owned by Comte Léon d’Ourches (1766–1843) of Nancy. The confident attribution in 1810 of an unsigned Bucolica to Eggestein exhibits a precocious knowledge of early Strasbourg typefaces. In the following year that same copy of the Bucolica was sold in the Catalogue des livres rares, précieux et bien conditionnés du cabinet de M. Léon d’Ourches (Paris: Jacques-Charles Brunet, 1811), lot 619, to the Parisian booksellers Guillaume De Bure l’aîné and his two sons; soon thereafter the De Bure frères sold that book to the Bibliothèque nationale de France, where it remains.

Duru’s 1853 binding.

Princeton University’s copy of Eggestein’s Bucolica was the second to emerge, one of only two copies ever to appear on the rare book market. It was first recorded in the German bookseller Fidelis Butsch’s Catalog einer ausgewählten Sammlung von Inkunabeln, literarischen Curiositäten und Seltenheiten (Augsburg, 1851), p. 35. In 1853 it was rebound by the fashionable Parisian binder Hippolyte Duru in brown morocco (goatskin) paneled in blind with darkened fillets, gold corner fleurons, and inner dentelles in gold over marbled endpapers, with all edges gilt.

Duru’s stamp.

Inside front cover.

The Princeton copy also bears the bookplate of the Parisian printer and book collector Ambroise Firmin-Didot (1790–1876), who is probably the owner who brought the book to Paris from Augsburg to be rebound by Duru. In the Catalogue illustré des livres précieux manuscrits et imprimés faisant partie de la bibliothèque de m. Ambroise Firmin-Didot (Paris, 1878), the Bucolica was sold as item 104 to Bernard Quaritch, who offered in his List 327, Latest Purchases (1879), no. 18687. Soon it came into the possession of Rev. William Makellar (1836–1896), a not particularly wealthy Presbyterian minister in Edinburgh who managed to acquire a Gutenberg Bible in 1885. In the Catalogue of the Extensive Library of Valuable Books and Manuscripts of the Late Rev. William Makellar (London, 1898), Sotheby’s sold the Bucolica as lot 3127 to the Piccadilly bookseller James Toovey (1813–1893) for £22; Toovey kept it within his ‘reserve’ collection, most of which his heirs sold to J. Pierpont Morgan of New York in 1899. However, the Bucolica, and many other important editions of Virgil (including the rare first edition of c. 1469), went instead to Morgan’s nephew, Junius Spencer Morgan (1867–1932), an 1888 graduate of the College of New Jersey, which is now known as Princeton University. An outstanding amateur scholar, philanthropist, and collector of art and books, Morgan gave the entirety of his great collection of Virgil editions, encompassing more than 700 titles, to his alma mater over a period of many years. His is the only copy of Eggestein’s Bucolica ever to leave continental Europe.

Junius Spencer Morgan (1867–1932). Princeton, Class of 1888.

Three other copies of Eggestein’s Bucolica have come to light. One is part of a Sammelband of several works preserved at the University Library in Freiburg im Breisgau; another was found at the Cathedral Library in Hildesheim in 1908; a third was identified among the thousands of incunables at the Bavarian State Library in Munich. Mysteriously, as in the Princeton copy, the rubricator of the Munich copy mistook the first word of the Bucolica, ‘[T]ityre,’ and filled in a colored initial ‘S’ instead, so that it reads ‘Sityre.’ With its ample margins and clean white paper, the Princeton copy is perhaps the finest of the five that survive.

Rubricator’s beautiful mistake: S instead of T.

Princeton Acquires Hidden Gutenbergian Donatus Leaf

“Time will bring to light whatever is hidden” – Horace

When this 1483 Venetian edition of the poetic works of Horace (65–8 BCE) was offered on a bookseller’s website on August 31, 2017, my eyes were drawn quickly away from its handsome Venetian typography to behold the narrow strip of vellum binding waste visible at the left side of his online image. Although neither the bookseller nor any previous owner had noticed it before, this strip was printed with the typeface used to print the Gutenberg Bible! Minutes later, Princeton had purchased the Horace, and when the book arrived, I was pleased to discover that there were actually two of these narrow vellum strips, one at the front and one at the back, folded and sewn into the binding around the first and last quires of the Horace. It was decided that Princeton’s paper conservator, Ted Stanley, should lift the old paper paste-downs inside each cover, and indeed this revealed much broader extensions of both of the vellum strips, still glued down onto the 15th-century wooden boards.

Above: Horace. Opera, with commentary by Cristoforo Landino. (Venice: Johannes de Gregoriis, de Forlivio, et Socii, 17 May 1483), as offered online in 2017.

Ted Stanley’s blog:


The results of Ted Stanley’s work are seen below, in photography by Roel Muñoz:

Front board and leaf following first quire, inverted to show the printed fragment.


Back board and leaf preceding final quire, inverted to show the printed fragment.


The two vellum fragments, now fully revealed except for two narrow widths that remains folded around the first and last six leaves of the Horace, constitute a complete leaf (folio 11 of 13) from a previously unknown 33-line edition of the Ars minor of Aelius Donatus (fl. 4th century CE), the essential Latin grammar used in medieval schools. Although it uses Johannes Gutenberg’s types, this edition most likely was printed by Gutenberg’s former colleagues in Mainz, Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer (or by Schoeffer alone).

Left: Composite image of the visible portions of the Donatus leaf, still bound inside the Horace.


Whereas the red markings throughout the Donatus fragments were added by hand, the blue chapter initial A on the fragment at the back of the Horace was printed by the press in blue ink containing indigo. This feature helps to date the Donatus edition to no earlier than 1457, when Fust and Schoeffer first introduced colored initials, including the identical A, in their famous Mainz Psalter. Moreover, in line 24, the misprint ‘audiuntur’ instead of ‘audiuntor’ matches that in a nearly identical fragment at Giessen University and in a fragment of a 35-line edition in Paris, which bears the printer’s colophon of Peter Schoeffer (alone). This suggests that all three editions were printed after Johann Fust died in 1466. 

Thus, a few decades after the Donatus was printed, a bookbinder saw fit to recycle the schoolbook in order to provide supports for the binding of the Horace. The rubrication of the Horace is German in style, not Italian. This strongly suggests that the book was imported to Germany from Venice at an early date. The use of a printed leaf from Mainz as binding waste likewise suggests that the Horace was bound in Germany. Moreover, an inscription by an early owner, Johann Ogier (Freiherr) Faust von Aschaffenburg (1577-1631) of Frankfurt am Main, suggests that city, with its important international book fair, as the likeliest location for the demise of the Donatus, and the binding of the Horace.

Today, no copies of any Mainz edition of the Donatus survive intact, and even such small typographic specimens as this are fabulously rare – the last time a Gutenberg-type Donatus fragment was discovered was in 1973. However, what is most important is that the present fragments were found in situ, and Princeton intends to leave them where they belong. These are the only known Mainz Donatus fragments that are still preserved within the binding that constitutes their original datable context, and it is this unique circumstance that provides important information about the lives – and deaths – of Europe’s earliest printed books.

Eric White, PhD
Acting Curator of Rare Books
Princeton University Library

Princeton Acquires a Vellum Fragment of the Gutenberg Bible Preserved as a Book Cover

Biblia Latina (The 42-Line Bible). [Mainz: Johannes Gutenberg, c. 1455].

Princeton University Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is pleased to announce the acquisition of the most significant specimen of the ‘Gutenberg Bible’ discovered during this century. This single leaf printed on vellum (calfskin) is a remarkable survival from what is widely considered the first book printed in Europe: the large folio Latin Bible that demonstrated the immense potential of the typographic method that Johannes Gutenberg, with financial backing from Johann Fust, developed in Mainz during the early 1450s. Given that Princeton University has been a leading center for Gutenberg-related studies ever since 1958, when the Scheide Library and its beautifully preserved two-volume paper copy of this Bible were deposited in Firestone Library (the collection was bequeathed to Princeton by William H. Scheide in 2014), the new vellum fragment provides welcome additional avenues for research into the early history of printing in the West.1

The fragment owes its survival to the fact that – more than two centuries after the Bible was printed, and long after its historical significance had been forgotten – its vellum was considered useful as recycled waste from which to make book covers. Although this grim fate once was common among obsolete books of all descriptions, this is in fact the only specimen of the Gutenberg Bible still preserved as a book binding ever to appear on the rare book market. Clearly, a discarded copy of the Gutenberg Bible was cut into hundreds of pieces for this purpose – but where, and when? The Princeton fragment itself provides evidence of unusual specificity, as it still encloses a copy of the Erneuerte und verbesserte Landes- und Procesz-Ordnung, an ordinance of litigation within the Electorate of Saxony, printed at Cöthen, Germany, in 1666. Moreover, a contemporary inscription indicates that the slender quarto volume was owned by the noted jurist Adam Cortrejus (1637–1706), who earned his doctorate at Jena in 1666, long served as Syndic in Halle, and died in Magdeburg. This owner’s limited itinerary and the strictly local interest of the Cöthen law book both suggest that the bindery of this book – and likewise the lost Gutenberg Bible – should be localized to Saxony-Anhalt, northwest of Leipzig, during the last decades of seventeenth century.

This localization is especially interesting in light of Eric White’s previous research, published in 2010, concerning several dozen other vellum fragments of the Gutenberg Bible that survive as binding waste.2 Categorized by their distinct styles of rubrication (headlines, initials, and chapter numerals added by hand), these fall into eleven groups, each localized to the region in which they first were discovered, or were used as binding waste. One such group, consisting of six identically rubricated leaves, includes three leaves found in 1819 on two different bindings at the Landes- und Universitätsbibliothek in Dresden, two leaves at the Grolier Club in New York City owned by Friedrich Barnheim at Insterburg in 1867, another leaf sold by the Leipzig antiquarian Theodor Oswald Weigel by 1865 (now at the Museo Correr in Venice), as well as a leaf from Apocalypse formerly at the Universitätsbibliothek in Breslau, now lost. Dr. White localized this otherwise lost Gutenberg Bible to the vicinity of Dresden and predicted that any yet-to-be-discovered fragments exhibiting the same rubrication style very likely would hail from that same region. The fact that the rubrication exhibited by the Princeton fragment closely matches that of the Dresden group indicates that all seven fragments derive from the same lost Bible. Moreover, the three German towns associated with Princeton’s binding – Cöthen, Halle, and Magdeburg – are just to the northwest of Dresden and Leipzig.

Front cover, turned sideways, showing the rubricated initial and the chapter numeral v.

Initial F on the Princeton binding.                            Initial F on a fragment found in Dresden.

Detail of front cover, showing rubricated headline PA RA [-lipomenon], i.e., I Chronicles.

Detail of headline P found in Dresden.                          Detail of headline A found in Leipzig.

The Princeton binding was discovered by Stefan Krüger, a bookseller in Cologne, within an unexamined mixed lot of mainly 19th-century law books auctioned in Bonn c. 2006. Krüger made no announcement of his discovery until November 2016, when he advertised online that the binding would be sold on January 26, 2017, at the 31st annual Ludwigsburg Antiquaria, held near Stuttgart. In accordance with the traditions of that fair, the item would be available at a substantial (but by no means inflated) fixed price to the first applicant, or, in the event of a broader interest, to the winner of a lottery among those in attendance.

Chaos ensued on the first day of the Ludwigsburg fair, where at least 76 bidders (including Princeton’s Curator of Rare Books) drew lots for the item. The winning number belonged to a member of a consortium of German dealers headed by the independent bookseller Detlev Auvermann, an emigré to London who formerly had worked for Quaritch, Ltd. He agreed to Princeton’s immediate request for ‘first refusal’ upon determination of his sale price. While Princeton University Library administrators contemplated this major purchase, Auvermann expressed his intention to offer the item at the annual New York Book Antiquarian Book Fair beginning on March 9, 2017. The negotiations formalizing Princeton’s acquisition were completed at the end of February, and Auvermann was able to display the binding at the New York fair, marked ‘sold.’ Princeton took possession of the item on March 12.

Although the surface of the Bible fragment is somewhat abraded and stained, as is usual for vellum leaves used as book coverings, the condition of the binding is excellent; the structure is intact, and the connections between the spine and the covers are strong. Internally, the 1666 Cöthen law book is in very good original condition. A new clam-shell box covered in navy blue Asahi backcloth was created by Princeton’s Collections Conservator, Lindsey Hobbs.

Today, 36 paper copies and 12 vellum copies of the Gutenberg Bible survive reasonably intact, either as complete Bibles or as incomplete bound volumes. Added to these are an incomplete paper copy dismantled in 1920 for sale as individual books or single leaves, and three copies on paper and eleven copies on vellum known only from binding waste. The study of the impact of early printing in Europe is well served by giving closer scholarly attention to the fourteen copies, including the one represented by Princeton’s fragment, that may not survive in the form of books, but which do survive, nevertheless.


Like William Scheide himself, Princeton’s librarians, particularly the successive Scheide Librarians, have researched and published on many aspects of Gutenberg’s invention and the earliest printed books. Moreover, Princeton’s faculty have embedded book history into the university’s curriculum and are training their undergraduate and graduate students to approach the discipline with open-minded curiosity and direct experience of the original artifacts. This major acquisition is intended to continue and enrich that tradition:

  • Princeton’s acquisition of the Gutenberg fragment brings a historically unique and physically ‘at risk’ survival from the first European printing enterprise into permanent institutional protection.
  • Whereas all other Gutenberg Bible leaves discovered since 1900 have been removed from their host bindings, destroying historical evidence, Princeton’s purchase of this specimen establishes forever the premium value of leaving early binding waste intact.
  • Contributing to an emerging field of book history research – the loss of books – this ‘miraculous’ fragmentary survival effectively encapsulates the extreme fluctuations in the Gutenberg Bible’s historical fortune over five centuries.
  • To a degree unsurpassed by any similar specimen, this fragment and its host volume document the time and place at which an otherwise lost copy of the Gutenberg Bible was discarded for use as waste material for book bindings.
  • The physical states of the Gutenberg Bible in Princeton’s Scheide Library and this the fragment perfectly complement each other: two paper volumes in their original binding preserved in benign neglect in Erfurt until 1840 vs. a vellum fragment from a copy cut apart by a binder c. 1666. No American library holds a similar pairing.
  • Prior to this acquisition, Princeton owned the Scheide copy of the Gutenberg Bible and 19 paper leaves from 3 others (worldwide, only the Morgan Library represents as many copies). The addition of this fragment introduces a specimen printed on vellum and provides the unique opportunity to analyze the varied rubrication and provenance evidence of five copies of the Gutenberg Bible in one library.

Call #: (ExI) 2017-0006N



Eric White, PhD
Curator of Rare Books
Princeton University Library


              1 Paul Needham, The Invention and Early Spread of European Printing as Represented in the Scheide Library (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Library, 2007).

              2 Eric Marshall White, ‘The Gutenberg Bibles that Survive as Binder’s Waste’, in Early Printed Books as Material Objects. Proceedings of the Conference Organized by the IFLA Rare Books and Manuscripts Section. Munich, 19-21 August 2009. Bettina Wagner and Marcia Reed, eds. (Berlin: Walter De Gruyter, 2010), 21-35.


THREE DISCOVERIES IN ONE: New Evidence for a Book Bound and Owned in Ulm, ca. 1500-1531

ottoThree discoveries by three different researchers have cast new light on a remarkable 500-year-old book that has been at Princeton University since 1873: Otto von Passau’s Die vierundzwanzig Alten, oder Der goldne Thron, completed by the Strasbourg printer Johann Schott on 28 March 1500. In this work, illustrated with 25 woodcuts, the Twenty-Four Elders of Revelation 4:4 expound upon passages of scriptural wisdom so as to guide the reader to the “golden throne” of eternal salvation.

The first discovery was made in 2007 by Scott Husby, Princeton’s conservator for Rare Books and Special Collections (since retired), who identified the folio’s original (ca. 1500) blind-tooled pigskin-covered binding as the work of bookbinders at Ulm in southern Germany. ulm-o-123The tooled emblems found on the binding, including a distinctive Lamb of God, Winged Lion of St. Mark, and Pierced Heart, are associated both with the bindery of the Augustinian canons of the “Wengenkloster “ of St. Michael in Ulm, and with Konrad Dinckmut, a printer active in Ulm from 1476 and recorded as a bookbinder in that city from 1481; Dinckmut’s sons Hans and Michael appear to have continued binding books with his tools into the sixteenth century.

A Reformation-era inscription within the book supports this localization, as it records that the volume was the property of the Franciscan fathers of Ulm until the eve of the feast of St. Francis (4 October) 1531, when the city’s adoption of Protestantism led to their expulsion (“Gehort den vatter[n] zu Ulm als sy uszogen seind umb Francisci im xxxi jor”):


The second discovery was made by John Lancaster, Curator of Special Collections, Emeritus, Amherst College Library, in October 2016. He identified the mysterious printed paper sheet that had served the bookbinder as a pastedown inside the folio’s front cover. Noting that it came from a Latin grammatical work printed idsc_0007n quarto format, he quickly determined that “the text is Alexander de Villa Dei, Doctrinale – of which there are hundreds of editions. But the lack of commentary rules out many editions, so a quick look for editions without commentary, preferably quite late (since the Otto von Passau was printed in 1500), led to success! [Ulm: Johann Schäffler], 15 Feb. 1500.”

This Ulm edition of the Doctrinale is truly rare: it exists only in a single incomplete copy at the Bavarian State Library in Munich, and – as we now know – the single sheet of binding waste discovered at Princeton. As the sheet appears to have been printed on one side only and was never cut into individual leaves, it would have been discarded by Schäffler’s printing shop in Ulm ca. 1500 and handed over as waste material for use by the Ulm binder of Princeton’s Otto von Passau, a book that likewise was printed in 1500 and imported to Ulm soon thereafter.

The third discovery came in November 2016, when Eric White, Princeton’s Acting Curator of Rare Books, tackled the nagging problem of the handsome coat-of-arms painted inside the book’s back cover, beneath the initials P and R and the date 1505. A longer-than-desired period of fruitless searching ultimately was rewarded when a match was found in a sixtdsc_0008eenth-century compendium of German armorials: the quarters on the right, divided per fess into black over white, refer to the civic arms of Ulm, while on the left the white unicorn on a black field identifies the crest as that of the family Roth von Schreckenstein, prominent patricians of Ulm.

The initials PR are believed to belong to Paulus Roth von Schreckenstein (b. 1435), the Bürgermeister of Ulm during the 1470s. Although his date of death is not known, he may well have left the book to the Franciscans of Ulm soon after 1505. Another Ulm binding with a nearly identical painted coat of arms and the initials PR is at the University of Gießen; it encloses Dinckmut’s rare Ulm edition of Der neuen Liebe Buch (not before 1486) and three Strasbourg editions from 1507 to 1509.

These discoveries increase the scholarly value of Princeton’s copy of Otto von Passau by bringing unusually rich context to the relationships between printers, bookbinders, and both mendicant and secular book owners in Germany five centuries ago; they may also shed particularly interesting light on the broader but heretofore forgotten book collecting activities of a prominent member of Ulm’s patriciate, Paulus Roth von Schreckenstein.


Princeton University Library Rare Books and Special Collections. Call no. ExI 5959.692. Purchased by the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1873 along with an important collection of Reformation pamphlets owned by Dr. Adolf Trendelenburg of Berlin.

Acquisitions at the Pirie Sale


Stephen Ferguson
Associate University Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections

“I’d never intended to practice law,” said Robert S. Pirie (1934–2015), a prominent New York lawyer and investment banker. “I wanted to become the rare book curator.” Pirie was the youngest in a cohort of twentieth-century American collectors of early English literature, among whom Robert H. Taylor (1909–1985) was the oldest. Long-time Princeton resident and major antiquarian bookseller John Brett-Smith (1917–2003), although British-born, was also a member of this cohort. There were many commonalities among the three. All had a bond and loyalty to the legendary New York antiquarian bookshop Seven Gables, which supplied each of them with tasteful, distinguished, and provenance-rich copies of major and minor monuments of England’s literary greats. (For more on the Seven Gables cohort, see Nicolas Barker, “Robert S. Pirie, 1934–2015,” The Book Collector 64.2 [Summer 2015]: 202–10.) Furthermore, their collective imagination and achievement projected their reputations beyond the Northeast and clear across to Britain. In some respects, the attainments of two members of this group are preserved in the Princeton University Library. Robert Taylor’s bequest is well known. Perhaps less well known is the work of John Brett-Smith, who, as bookseller and sometimes donor, augmented, supplied, and extended our collections of English literature. Therefore, when the Pirie collection came to auction in December 2015, we had another—and perhaps the last—opportunity to capture some of the glory of this remarkable group of twentieth-century collectors. Guiding our bidding decisions were themes already strong in the Taylor collection: annotated books, books of notable provenance, and extraordinary books signaling the literary taste of early modern England. The fifteen books purchased at the Pirie sale are listed below.



Thomas Tusser, Five Hundred Points of Husbandry (London, 1580); annotated by Gabriel Harvey (1552/3–1631).

Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War [in Greek] (Venice: Aldus, 1502), bound with Pausanias, Works (Venice: Aldus, 1516); annotated by Roger Ascham (1515–1568) and Richard Morison (c. 1514–1556) (pictured above).

Ben Jonson, Works (London, 1692), and John Suckling, Fragmenta Aurea (London, 1646); both annotated by Charles Lamb (1775–1834).

Pliny, Epistolae (Venice: Aldus, 1508); annotated by Nicholas Udall (1505–1556).

Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, 4th ed. (London, 1658); annotated by Browne (1605–1682).

Matthias Eberhart, Scholastica (Wittenberg, 1572); annotated by Robert Burton (1577–1640).

Erycius Puteanus, Comus (Oxford, 1634); annotated by Leigh Hunt (1784–1859).


Arthur Duck, Vita Henrici Chichele (Oxford, 1617); with the initials of Isaak Walton (1593–1683).

Michel Montaigne, Les Essais (Paris, 1625); with a note in the hand of Abraham Cowley (1618–1687) and bookplates of later notable owners.

Francis Bacon, Sylva Sylvarum (London, 1626); with supralibros of H[enry] G[oodere] and labels of other owners.

Elkanah Settle, Thalia Triumphans (London, 1717); binding with the arms of Henry Fiennes Clinton, 7th Earl of Lincoln (1684–1728).

Abbe d’Aubignac, Pratique du théâtre (Paris, 1657); with the signature of William Congreve (1670–1729) on the title page.

William Burton, Description of Leicester Shire (London, 1622); binding with the crest of Robert Glascock.


A Sammelband, in a contemporary binding, of eight English translations from Ovid, by George Chapman (1559?–1634), Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593), Thomas Heywood (c. 1574–1641), and others, all published between c. 1625 and 1640.



Don C. Skemer
Curator of Manuscripts

Pirie3The Manuscripts Division acquired three works at the Pirie auction: an Elizabethan prayer book c. 1580; a 1666 scribal copy of “The Second and Third Advice to a Painter,” a text that Professor of English Nigel Smith attributes to Andrew Marvell (1621–1678); and the 1660s memoir of an English woman named Mary Whitelocke. The daughter of London merchant Bigley Carleton, Whitelocke penned a fascinating 175-page memoir of her life and intimate thoughts for her eldest son. She traces her life from the time of her first marriage at the age of sixteen to Rowland Wilson (d. 1650), Member of Parliament, also from a London mercantile family. Whitelocke’s second marriage in 1650 was to the prominent Puritan lawyer, politician, and diplomat Bulstrode Whitelocke (1605–1675), a Member of Parliament and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, with whom Mary had seven children. Much of the memoir relates to Mary’s family, home, and religious beliefs. Particularly interesting is Whitelocke’s poignant account of a miscarriage that occurred during her first marriage. There is some discussion of public affairs and events, particularly in her defense of Bulstrode Whitelocke’s public life. The manuscript has been in private collections since 1860, when it was cited and quoted in a biography of Bulstrode Whitelocke. All three manuscripts have been added to the Robert H. Taylor Collection of English and American Literature (RTC 01).

New Provenance for a Princeton Fragment of the 36-Line Bible

Recent findings cast new light on the prehistory of the Scheide Library’s vellum fragment of the 36-Line Bible (Bamberg: Albrecht Pfister?, not after 1461) – probably the third printed Bible and one of the first books printed outside of Mainz. Closer analysis of the rubrication shows that the Princeton fragment, which John H. Scheide purchased from the bookseller Joseph Baer in Frankfurt am Main in 1934, was one of numerous pieces of vellum that a mid-seventeenth-century bookbinder in or near Bad Wildungen in Hesse, Germany, cut out of a discarded 36-Line Bible – evidently no longer needed for local Catholic worship – for the purpose of making archival document wrappers.


The hand-colored initials and other markings in both the Scheide fragment and the fragments preserved at the municipal archives in Bad Wildungen were added by the same fifteenth-century rubricator. Moreover, whereas the Scheide fragment is the lower part of the leaf containing Psalms 10 through 13, a nearly identical fragment still at Bad Wildungen comprises the upper portion of the same leaf. Finally, thanks to recent inquiries to the archivist at Bad Wildungen, additional unrecorded fragments from this same Bible have been found within the archive. The results of this renewed scrutiny, which requires the identification of numerous very small scraps of printed text, are being prepared for publication in Germany.

The 36-Line Bible long has been the focus of intensive study, as its Gothic typeface was developed in Mainz during the early 1450s, almost certainly by Johannes Gutenberg. For book historians, the main takeaway from the study of the scattered fragments of the 36-Line Bible is that there appear to have been four different vellum copies of that Bible that ended up as binding waste, and one or possibly two paper copies, to go along with the fourteen reasonably intact paper copies that survive (no intact vellum copies have been recorded). This suggests a print run of significantly fewer copies of the 36-Line Bible than the 42-Line “Gutenberg” Bible (Mainz, c. 1455), which survives in more than three times as many specimens. Whereas most of the 36-Line Bibles have provenances traceable to the Diocese of Bamberg, the Bad Wildungen fragments come from a copy that appears to have been owned and recycled considerably to the northwest. The new provenance for the Scheide fragment now contributes to an important but often overlooked body of knowledge about the early spread of typography in Europe.

Princeton’s Greek Bible of 1545, annotated by Martin Chemnitz

 Chemnitz.tp.1000             Chemnitz.Adam.1000

On December 8, 2015, it was discovered that Princeton University Library’s “copy 2” of the Greek Bible, Tēs Theias graphēs : Palaias Dēladē kai Neas Diathēkēs hapanta (Basel: Johannes Hervagius, 1545), with a Latin preface by the Lutheran reformer Philipp Melanchthon, has an important but long forgotten provenance. The title page bears a mid-sixteenth-century inscription written by Johannes Willibrochius (d. 1606) of Danzig that records his presentation of the Greek  Bible to his friend “M. Martino Kemnitz,” i.e., Martin Chemnitz (1522–1586). Chemnitz.inscription.1000
Both of these men were pupils of Melanchthon at the University of Wittenberg in the early 1550s, and Chemnitz went on to became the most important Lutheran scholar of his generation. He came to be known as “Alter Martinus” (the Second Martin), as his theological writings were essential for the sustained success of Lutheranism after the death of its founder and namesake in 1546.

Early biographies of Chemnitz mention his careful study of the Bible in the original Hebrew and Greek during the early 1550s, and indeed the Old Testament of Princeton’s Greek Bible bears thousands of marginal annotations in Greek and occasionally in Latin, written in a neat script that matches that of Chemnitz’s autograph letters. The annotations are mainly content notes, with some brief definitions and comments, but not many extended thoughts.

Johannes Willebrochius, who gave the Bible to Chemnitz, was an important figure in his own right. After his graduation from Wittenberg in 1552 he became a leading physician in Danzig. Later, he served as court physician to Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria at Prague and Innsbruck. Like Chemnitz, Willebrochius wrote theological works that ended up on the Tridentine Index of Prohibited Books. The few notes within Princeton’s Greek Bible of 1545 that were not written by Chemnitz clearly match the handwriting found in the letters of Willebrochius.

Front cover (tooling enhanced for legibility)

Chemnitz.rollDated 1550, the folio Bible’s pigskin binding bears the stamped initials “JW.” These initials clearly were added for Johannes Willebrochius before he gave the book to Chemnitz. Other stamps and rolls used to decorate the covers, including a rolled frieze (at right) with roundel portrait busts of Duke Friedrich of Saxony, Hercules, Antoninus, and Septimius Severus, dated 1524 on the surface of the tool itself, indicate that the binding was produced in Wittemberg by the noted master binder Nikolaus Müller.

The Greek Bible was donated to Princeton University Library on December 8, 1965, by Dr. Margaret Irving Handy (1889-1977), pioneering pediatrician of Delaware. It bears the signature of her grandfather, Rev. William Collins Handy (1835-1909), Princeton Class of 1855 (Divinity), later a prominent Presbyterian of New Scotland, New York, who seems to have purchased the old Bible for $1.83 in 1862. His brief autobiography of 1895, reprinted in the Princeton University Library Chronicle 30/3 (Spring, 1969), 200-203, unfortunately makes no mention of his Bible. Interestingly, the rediscovery of the Chemnitz provenance occurred exactly 50 years (to the day) after the granddaughter’s gift to Princeton.

Chemnitz.EvaThe “Chemnitz Bible,” heretofore unrecognized, is rich in research potential: for example, Princeton’s Prof. Anthony Grafton noticed that one of Chemnitz’s Latin marginalia, concerning the Vulgate version’s corruption of Genesis 3:15, cites “Philip” and quotes Melanchthon’s letter of January 1, 1539, addressed to “studiosis adolescentibus” (see Melanchthoniana paedogogica, ed. Karl Hartfelder (Leipzig: Teubner, 1892), 55). The Bible may be consulted in the Rare Books Reading Room; its call number is EX Oversize 5156.1545aq.


What the ’L : an Historiated Initial from the 1540s-1550s

This historiated initial ‘L’ appears at the beginning of the edition of Livy’s Decades published by Johann Herwagen in Basel in September 1555. While depictions of playful putti were an established convention of historiated initials, what are we to make of this pair? Well, it turns out that they have been noticed before, appearing for the first time in the 1543 Basel edition of the Fabrica of Vesalius. They dwell there not in isolation but as part of a twenty-three letter suite depicting putti behaving like medical students — vivisecting a pig, snatching corpses for anatomical study, etc. The website of Karger Publishers advertising their newly published English translation of the Fabrica provides detailed illustrations of the suite: http://www.vesaliusfabrica.com/en/original-fabrica/the-art-of-the-fabrica/historiated-capitals.html. Moreover, Karger lists several studies, including one by Dr. Samuel W. Lambert (1859-1942) available in Hathi Trust. A relevant excerpt follows:

Three Vesalian essays to accompany the Icones anatomicae of 1934 / by the late Samuel W. Lambert, Willy Wiegand & William M. Ivins, Jr

Samuel W. Lambert, ‘The initial letters of the anatomical treatise, De Humani Corporis Fabrica, of Vesalius’, in T. A. Malloch (ed.), Three Vesalian Essays to accompany the Icones Anatomicae of 1934 (New York: Macmillan, 1952), pp. 1-24).

Hercules and the Nemean Lion • Lyons, 1490


Woodcut on leaf A1 of Raoul Lefèvre Le Recueil des histoires de Troyes (Lyons: Michel Topié and Jacques Heremberck, 10 Oct. 1490). Goff L-114. [Call number (ExI) Item 6921096]. One of nearly 100 woodcuts, some full page in size, many half page. This new acquisition has several 16th / 17th signatures passim, all of the surname ‘de Saumery.’
❧ Killing the Nemean lion was the first labor of Hercules. He holds the lion’s skin which was said to be impervious to weapons. Looking on are his host, the shepherd Molorcus who lived near Cleonae as well as the companion of Hercules, Philotes. Lefevre’s Hercules is a “a medieval knight through and through” (The Classical Tradition [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010], p. 426.) William Caxton’s first major publication was his translation into English of Lefèvre’s Recueil.

Readers respond to a war of 18th century editions: the case of Anti-Machiavel

 Call number: (Ex) 7510.606.36.12

Frederick II, King of Prussia, 1712-1786. Essai de critique sur le prince de Machiavel. A Londres, 1751. French translation of Machiavelli’s Il principe by Amelot de La Houssaye and Essai in parallel columns together with ms. annotations in ink headed ‘Différences entre cette édition a cette faite chez a Van Duren que l’on tient être l’originale.’ Call number: (Ex) 7510.606.36.12

The publishing history of Anti-Machiavel is admirably told by Kees van Strien in his Voltaire in Holland 1736-1745 (Louvain: Editions Peters, 2011) p. 103-134, 391-440. Attributed to Frederick II (1712-1786), this refutation of Machiavelli’s The Prince was praised by the enlightened and disparaged by Roman Catholics, strict monarchists, and other conservatives. The Dutch publisher Jean van Duten (1687-1757) published the text in full on October 4, 1740 to the dismay of Voltaire, who had delivered the manuscript to him. Evidently, Voltaire thought some passages should be softened so as not to offend powerful individuals not in sympathy with Frederick’s tenets on government and religion. Voltaire immediately countered with a revised edition. Partnering with the publisher Pierre Paupie, he issued it about 15-17 October, 1740 with the imprint “A la Haye, aux depens de l’Editeur. M. DCC. XL.’ It claimed to correct the errors of the earlier edition.

In this competition of editions, readers wanted both texts together in one book such as this exemplar combining print and manuscript in hybrid (van Strien, p. 127.) In the exemplar illustrated above, the printed text consists of the sheets of the ‘l’Editeur’ [Voltaire] / Paupie edition (1740). Added in manuscript are the bits of original text expunged or otherwise modified. (Who made these transcriptions in ink is not known.) Also preceding the text is a printed title page with imprint ‘Londres. 1751.’ (No such edition appears in ESTC.) In these edition wars, ‘Londres’ was a code for the original unaltered text because one of the opening salvos was Van Duten’s production of the full original text with the imprint of London publisher William Mayer / Meyer (ESTC T191141 and T91110.) (As to ‘1751’, it’s difficult to answer why this year appears, rather than an earlier year during the 1740s when the edition war was active.)

Hybrid copies such as the Princeton exemplar were edged from the market by the publication in 1741 of editions replicating the manuscript annotations of a hybrid in the printed text. Voltaire was the force behind these editions, which appeared under the false imprints of ‘les Frères Columb’ (Marseille) and ‘Jaques La Caze’ (Amsterdam).

15th century bookmark with column indicator

Sermones aurei de Sanctis Fratris Leonardi de Vtino

Sermones aurei de Sanctis Fratris Leonardi de Utino Venice: Franciscus Renner, de Heilbronn, with Nicolaus de Frankfordia, 1473. (Goff L-152) Call number: ExI 5428.579

Although this incunable was rebound in 1945, a remnant of the original 15th century binding was laid in — a bookmark with a rotating column-indicator. ❧ Other examples are known, such as:
• Harvard University, Houghton MS Typ 277, 12th c. [link to image] Register bookmark with adjustable dial set between column II and III (i.e. col. B verso and col. A recto [not pictured]) [See the recent posting discussing this Houghton example in the blog medievalfragments (Institute for Cultural Disciplines, Universiteit Leiden)].
Medieval Rotating Column-Indicators: An Unrecorded Second Example in a Thirteenth Century Bible (Cambridge, Corpus Christi College Ms 49) by Richard Emms published in Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, Vol. 12, No. 2 (2001), pp. 179-184 [Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41154907]

A Binding by Thomas Krüger 1580

Signed and dated: T.K. 1563. British Museum. Dept. of Prints and Drawings. No. 1867,0713.115

Full length portrait of Philip Melanchton. ‘Modern impression’ print acquired by the British Museum in 1867, of panel signed and dated: T.K. 1563., viz., Thomas Krüger, Wittenberg bookbinder.
British Museum. Dept. of Prints and Drawings. No. 1867,0713.115

Front cover of  Ex 5646.604.

Full length portrait of Philip Melanchton. Panel signed and dated: T.K. 1563., viz., Thomas Krüger, Wittenberg bookbinder. Panel stamped in gilt on front cover of blind-tooled pigskin binding of the first Latin edition of the Lutheran Konkordienbuch (Leipzig, 1580). Call number: Ex 5646.604.

From a description of an instance of the use of this panel on a binding at the British Library:

“Thomas Krüger, possibly the son of the binder Nikolaus Krüger of Wittenberg and himself a binder, started work not later than 1560. A number of his panels were signed, either with his full name or with his initials, and some were dated. … The large Melanchthon panel on this binding, dated 1563 and with Cranach’s device at the bottom, … [Ed.: note Cranach’s device: Cranach's.device.from.Weale1]… was copied from a woodcut by Cranach dated 1561,showing Melanchthon wearing the same fur-trimmed robe, neckcloth and shoes as on the panel, but with a closed instead of an open book in his right hand and a cap in his left. The face and hair are remarkably alike. The same woodcut served as example for the panels of other Wittenberg binders, such as those signed by Severin Rötter and Nikolaus Müller.” (- Mirjam M. Foot, “A Binding by Thomas Kruger, 1573. ” The Book Collector Vol 30, no. 2 (Summer 1981) p. 232-3. For image see the British Library Database of Bookbindings [link])

The back cover of this Leipzig, 1580 Latin edition of the Lutheran Konkordienbuch (Book of Concord) is stamped in gold with a full length portrait of Martin Luther, a panel also made by Thomas Krüger. Surrounding both panels is a blind decorative roll composed of four portrait heads and three coats of arms. The roll is signed ‘H.B.,’viz., Heinrich Blume, also of Wittenberg. Further details and bibliography about these two panels and one decorative roll are available in the Einbanddatenbanken (EBDB). For Luther, see Zitiernummer EBDB p002949; for Melanchthon, Zitiernummer EBDB p002950 and for roll signed ‘H B’ with four heads and three coats of arms, see Zitiernummer EBDB r000351

❧ Larger images

Signed and dated: T.K. 1563. British Museum. Dept. of Prints and Drawings. No. 1867,0713.115

Full length portrait of Philip Melanchton. ‘Modern impression’ print acquired by the British Museum in 1867, of panel signed and dated: T.K. 1563., viz., Thomas Krüger, Wittenberg bookbinder.
British Museum. Dept. of Prints and Drawings. No. 1867,0713.115

Front cover of  Ex 5646.604.

Full length portrait of Philip Melanchton. Panel signed and dated: T.K. 1563., viz., Thomas Krüger, Wittenberg bookbinder. Panel stamped in gilt on front cover of blind-tooled pigskin binding of the first Latin edition of the Lutheran Konkordienbuch (Leipzig, 1580). Call number: Ex 5646.604.

Full length portrait of Martin Luther. Panel signed T.K., that is,  Thomas Krüger, Wittenberg bookbinder. Panel stamped in gilt on back cover of blind-tooled pigskin binding of the first Latin edition of the Lutheran Konkordienbuch (Leipzig, 1580). Call number: Ex 5646.604

Full length portrait of Martin Luther. Panel signed T.K., viz., Thomas Krüger, Wittenberg bookbinder. Panel stamped in gilt on back cover of blind-tooled pigskin binding of the first Latin edition of the Lutheran Konkordienbuch (Leipzig, 1580). Call number: Ex 5646.604

Dr. Benjamin Franklin’s Advice to Bathers (1819)

Frontispiece to The Art of Swimming(London: John Bailey, 1819). Call number: Ex 4244.361

Frontispiece to The Art of Swimming (London: John Bailey, [1819]). Call number: Ex 4244.361. ❧ Captions of vignettes: To Swim Backwards; To Carry the Left Leg in the Right Hand; On the Manner of Diving; To Float with the Face Towards the Sky; To Cut the Nails of Your Toes in the Water.

Call number Ex 4244 361

Titlepage of The Art of Swimming … and Advice to Bathers, by the Late Celebrated Dr. Benj. Franklin (London: John Bailey, [1819]) Call number: Ex 4244 361.

The “Cautions To Learners, and Advice to Bathers, by the Late Celebrated Dr. Benj. Franklin” are “a pastiche of pieces of two of the good Doctor’s letters, one to Oliver Neave written some time before 1769 and the other to Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg of March 1773”

These letters were available in published form during the 18th century: that to Neave, published in Franklin’s Experiments and Observations on Electricity. (4th edition, London, 1769), pp. 463-8; and that to Barbeu-Dubourg appeared in an English translation published in the Works of the late Doctor Benjamin Franklin (London, 1793, 1794, 1796, 1799; Dublin, 1793, Dundee, 1796, 1800) (per Edwin Wolf 2nd, Annual Report of the Library Company of Philadelphia for the Year 1980, p.47).

This pastische was first published as such in London by Ann Lemoine in 1798 (ESTC N64777, T216540, and N50903) and was reprinted many times thereafter.

The Princeton copy illustrated here is one such reprint. The date ‘1819’ was assigned by a bibliographer of the literature of swimming, Ralph Thomas, in his Swimming; With Lists of Books Published in English, German, French and Other European Languages [1904], p. 224.

Thomas also notes that this reprint has the ‘objectional interpolation’ – a moniker for nonsense advice thus explained by Thomas: “Unfortunately about 1812 some ignoramus in one of the catchpenny reprints after ‘Then plunge under it with your eyes open’ added ‘which must be kept open before going under, as you cannot open the eyelids for the weight of water above you.’ This nonsense, which at once stamps the writer, and all those who quote it, as ignorant of diving, because it is perfectly easy to open the eyes under water, has been copied from one publication to another, right down to the present day [1904]: nobody ever thinking of verifying the passage, but some of the later writers have refuted the idea.” (p. 188)

Full text of this Princeton copy is available at Hathi Trust.
See http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=njp.32101050403599

A Rhapsody of early British Ephemera: 361 General items and 416 Book Trade : Recently acquired and digitized


For details about Boulter’s Museum see “Notes on an Eighteenth Century Museum at Great Yarmouth “Museum Boulterianum” and on the Development on the Modern Museum” by Thomas Southwell in The Museums Journal, October 1908, p. 110 ff [link] Call number: (Ex) 2014-0001M Box 1, item 98.


Ephemera published in England, Scotland, and Ireland between ca. 1650 and 1850 : The general collection has 361 printed pieces of ephemera relating to commercial trade, institutional, entertainment, museums, medicine, etc. Not only has the Princeton University Library recently acquired these originals, it also provides:
Electronic access: Inventory list with thumbnails and links to full size images: PDF, 53 pages [link]
Description: 1.1 linear ft. (2 boxes)
Descriptive terms:
• Advertisements, trade labels, and commercial announcements for those enterprising in: Alcoholic beverages, Auctions, Banks and banking, Barbers, Boats and boating, Cabinetwork, Clock and watch makers, Clothing trade, Coaching (Transportation), Concerts, Dentistry, Exhibitions, Groceries, Harness making and trade, Horses, Hotels, taverns, etc, Hotels, Ink, Insurance companies, Iron, Jewelers, Laundries, Lotteries, Millinery, Museums, Paint, Perfumes, Real estate agents, Restaurants, Saddlery, Sewing –Equipment and supplies, Shoe industry, Shoes, Taverns (Inns), and Tea.
• Forms and genres of ephemera such as Blank forms, Clippings, Invitations, Maxims, Military orders, Programs, Receipts (financial records), Satire, and Tickets.
> Call number: (Ex) 2014-0001M


Ephemera from the book trade as well as some library labels and bookplates, chiefly British, 18th and 19th centuries. The book trade collection includes 416 printed pieces of ephemera relating to every aspect of the Book Trade — Booksellers advertisements, Bookbinder’s advertisements, Paper makers, Printers, Stationers, Lithographers, Circulating Library labels and advertisements. Also included are some other library labels and bookplates of individuals. Not only has the Princeton University Library recently acquired these originals, it also provides:
Electronic access: Inventory list with thumbnails and links to full size images: PDF, 36 pages [link]
Description: .9 linear ft. (2 boxes)
Descriptive terms:
• Advertisements: printing, publishing, bookselling, stationery trade, bookbinding, commerical libraries. Library labels, rules and regulations. Bookplates.
• Forms and genres of ephemera such as trade labels, binder’s tickets, bookseller’s tickets, booklabels.
> Call number: (Ex) 2014-0002M

Abraham Ortelius presents a book


Inscribed at foot of titlepage: Pietate & humanitate venerabli D[omi]no, D[omino] Francisco Superantio Abraham Ortelius dono mittebat. [Abraham Ortelius has sent forth this gift to Lord Francesco Soranzo, venerable master in devotion and in cultured learning.]

❧ Francesco Soranzo (1557-1607) was a Venetian noble who served as ambassador to Spain from 1598 to 1600. • In 1597 in a letter to his nephew, Ortelius described his friend Soranzo: “At Venice, I doubt if I have, among the many friends there, any greater than Francisus Superantius (his venancular name is ‘de la Soranzo’), for I have felt myself to have had his benefits very often.” [Hessels, Epistulae Ortelianae (1887), 303: Venetiis magnum inter ceteros amicum Franciscum Superantium (vulgo de la Soranzo) habeam subdubito, at habuisse me saepius sensi suis beneficiis.] • Not only had Soranzo provided hospitality in Venice to Ortelius, he more notably provided him with books coming from the Venetian publishers. [See Hessels, Epistulae Ortelianae (1887), 85 and 141]. In return Ortelius sent him books. Books marked their friendship and the regularity of exchange was clearly noted. In the same 1597 letter to his nephew, Ortelius remarked further that it had been a while since he had received books from Soranzo and he just didn’t know why – perhaps ‘lost in transit’ he speculated. • This book clearly survived the trip between northern Europe and Italy as well as much between, eventually and arriving in Princeton in the late 1940s as part of the Grenville Kane Collection.
❧ Ptolemy. Geographiae libri octo. Cologne: Gottfried von Kempen, 1584. The first edition of Ptolemy’s Geography with maps by Mercator. Call number: EXKA Ptolemy 1584. Cf. Wilberforce Eames, A List of Editions of Ptolemy’s Geography 1475-1730, (New York, 1886), p. 25-26.
❧ For more on Soranzo see Barozzi, Nicolò, ed. Relazioni degli stati Europei lette al Senato dagli ambasciatori Veneti nel secolo decimosettimo (Venice, 1856) ser.1, v.1, p. 27 ff.

Accessioned 101 years ago


Purchased by Thomas Shepard (1635-1677), clergyman of Charlestown, Massachusetts, on February 24, 1660 • Accessioned by the Princeton University Library on March 26, 1913. • Digitized by Google on September 19, 2008 • Available now on Google Books [link] as well as Hathi Trust [link].

Rutherford, Samuel, 1600?-1661. A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience: Tending to Resolve Doubts Moved by Mr. John Goodwin, John Baptist, Dr. Jer Dr. Taylor, the Belgick Arminians, Socinians, And Other Authors … London: Printed by R. I. For Andrew Crook, 1649. Inscribed on p. 1: ‘Thomas Shepard: pret: 12 solid: 24.2°.60.’ For more on books owned and annotated by Thomas Shepard (1635-1677), see companion blog ‘Rare Book Collections @ Princeton’ [link1], [link2], [link3].

Gallery of sigla and other notations used by Shepard at

Aristotle on all fronts: Four 18th century editions bound in one volume covering child birth, magic, palmistery, jokes, sex, astronomy, astrology, physiognomy, “monstrous” children and slang words.

Bound in first:. Aristotle’s Compleat Master-piece. In three parts dispaying the secrets of Nature in the Generation of Man […] to which is added a treasure of Health; or the Family Physician. Twenty-First Edition. [London]: printed and sold by the Booksellers, 1738. (ESTC N298970, noting ‘Not in fact by Aristotle; the attribution is spurious.’)


Followed by: Aristotle’s Compleat and Experienc’d Midwife. In two parts. I. A guide for child-bearing women in the time of their conception, bearing and suckling their children […] II. Proper and safe remedies for the curing of all those distempers that are incident to the Female Sex […] Made English by W—S—, M.D. The Seventh Edition. London: printed and sold by the Booksellers, [1740?] (ESTC N51114 noting ‘Not in fact by Aristotle; the attribution is spurious.’)


Followed by: Aristotle’s Book of Problems. with other Astronomers, Astrologers, Physicians and Philosophers. Wherein is contain’d divers, Questions and Answers touching the state of Man’s body […]. Twenty-Fifth Edition. London: printed and sold by J.W, J.K, G.C., D.M, A.B, E.M, R.R, J.O. and L, B.M. and A.W, [1710?]. (ESTC N43372 noting ‘Not in fact by Aristotle; the attribution is spurious.’)

And lastly comes: Aristotle’s Last Legacy: or, his Golden Cabinet of Secrets opened for youth’s delightful pastime. I. A compleat English Fortune-Teller. II. The whole art of Palmestry. III. A treatise of Moles. IV. The interpretation of Dreams. V. Observations on the Fortunate and Unfortunate Days. VI. A compleat books of Riddles. VIII. The city and country Jester; being a collection of new and witty Jests, Puns and Bulls. To which is added the Most Compleat Canting Dictionary. Translated into English by Dr. Saman, student in Astrology. Second Edition with the “Canting Dictionary.” London: printed for A. Bettsworth and C. Hitch […], J. Osborn […], S Birt […], J. Hughes […]. [1720?] (Not in ESTC)

All these may be found bound together
    at call number (Ex) Item 6748731

Nicholson’s Circulating Library


Booklabel of Nicholson’s Circulating Library on front paste-down of Joseph Harris, The Description and use of the Globes and Orrery. … The Sixth Edition. London: Printed for Thomas Wright, mathematical instrument-maker, at the Orrery near Water-Lane, and E. Chushee, globe-maker, at the Globe and Sun, between St. Dunstan’s Church and Chancery Lane, both in Fleet-Street. 1745.


Instructions on front endpaper for titling the spine-label.

❧ “The principal Circulating Library in Cambridge, is Nicholson’s in Trumpington street. This Literary Repository has been established above fifty years, and may now be considered as one of the first in the kingdom: it is upon a different plan from any other extant ; consisting principally of classical and mathematical books, adapted to the lectures and studies of the University. The immense number of volumes, contained in this Library, is astonishing; for it possess three, four, and even five hundred copies of many publications, some of which are extremely scarce and of great value. The University and town are also accommodated here, with books of amusement and universal instruction: viz. Divinity, Law, Physic, History, Biography, Voyages, Travels, Novels, Romances, ‘Poetry, Plays, &c. &c, &c. in all languages: affording a Library adapted either for the study of the learned, or the instruction and amusement of the public in general. The terms of this Library are: subscriptions 7s. 6d. per quarter; for which sum each subscriber is allowed Fifteen Books at once, to be changed as often as agreeable. Books are also let out, on very moderate terms, by the volume or set, for any length of time. This Circulating Library has received the greatest encouragement from the members of the University, who in general become subscribers on their arrival at college. The number of subscribers in the University, (independent of the town and county) during term, generally exceeds five hundred.” — New Cambridge Guide; Or, A Description of the University, Town, and County of Cambridge (Cambridge: Printed for and sold by J. Nicholson, Trumpington-Street and F. and C. Rivington, St. Paul’s Church-yard, London. 1804) p. 97.

[For the portrait of bookseller and circulating library proprietor John Nicholson (1730–1796), see http://goo.gl/VTQe52 and for particulars about his nickname “Maps” see http://goo.gl/g8qt6H]


Inserted before page 35: Trade advertisement for Thomas Wright and Richard Cushee (d. 1732). Publisher of this 1745 edition, E. Cushee, succeeded Richard Cushee.

Rare Book Division. Call number: (Ex) Item 6813092

“New Pictures … from off Wooden Prints … With Verses applicable to each Print” • ca. 1750

Happy marriage. (London : Printed and sold by R. Marshall … , ca. 1750). Call number: (EX) Item 6699052q

Description of a Bad Wife. ([London: R. Marshall, ca. 1750]). Call number: (EX) Item 6699048q
• Note at lower right corner, the publisher’s series number ‘[No.I …’

❧ Richard Marshall was a printer, bookseller, publisher of chapbooks and prints, as well as a seller of maps, charts, and prints, who traded at number 4 Aldermary Churchyard, Bow Lane, London, from ca. 1753 to ca. 1785. He published on his own as well as with partner Cluer Dicey. It is from their joint catalogue published in 1764 that we get a glimpse of the publishing context for these two unrecorded prints. The catalogue [digitized copy] offers for sale more than 1000 separate prints arranged by type (copperplate, on the one hand, “wooden (i.e. woodcut) prints,” on the other) and size of paper (Royal, Foolscap, Pott). In addition, to Copper Royals, Foolscap Sheets, Pott Sheets, Perspective Views, and Wood Royals, Dicey and Marshall offered maps, copy-books, drawing-books, histories, old ballads, patters (i.e. verse), collections, Christmas carols, small histories, and small books. • Evidence from both these prints and the catalogue show that the prints were issued in numbered series. In the 1764 catalogue, as number 71 in the ‘Fools-cap Sheets’ series, Dicey and Marshall offer ‘The Happy and Unhappy Marriage.’ Although printed on paper larger than foolscap, the Library’s ‘Happy Marriage’ is perhaps a precursor to the 1764 print. Matching foolscap in size is ‘Description of a Bad Wife.’ • Popular ballads of the day warned of bad wives and extolled those “loving, careful [and] prudent.”

Note: For larger image size, right click image and select “Open image / link in new window / tab.”

Observing an engraver’s workshop in 1623

❧ Wolfgang Kilian, citizen and engraver of Augsburg.

❧ “Hard labor conquers difficulty” — Operating the rolling press requires two hands and a foot!


❧ Whereas others in the book trade choose emblematic figures or allegorical symbols for their devices, Wolfgang Kilian (1581-1662) gives us a detailed look into his shop. Depictions of his hard work now are his bona fides, while others prefer allusions to the past.

The full device is on the colophon page of Serenissimorum Austriae Ducum, Archiducum, Regum, Imperatorum Genealogia, à Rudolpho I. Habsburgensi, Caesare, ad Ferdinandum II. Rom. Imp. semper Augustum, &c. Aeri incisa a Wolfgango Kiliano, Eiconographo Augustano. (Augsburg: Wolfgang Kilian, 1623). Call number: (Ex) CS807.F4 M3 1580q

Bookplate of Margaretta Elizabeth, Baroness Arden (1768-1851)


Bookplate in the Princeton copy of Gianvincenzo Gravina (1664-1718). Della ragion poetica tra’ Greci, Latini ed Italiani. Edited by Thomas James Mathias. (London: T. Becket, 1806) [Call number: (Ex) 2950.406]
❧ This bookplate is not recorded in such standard sources as Franks Bequest: Catalogue of British and American Book Plates bequested to the Trustees of the British Museum (London, 1903). By good fortune, there is tipped in at front an 1806 letter by the book’s editor Thomas James Mathias (1754?- 1835). The letter provides a substantial clue about the name of the bookplate’s owner — Mathias addressees “you and Lord Arden.” The coronet in the bookplate is that of a baron, signaling that “Lord Arden” must be the “Baron Arden” of the day, Charles George Perceval, 2nd Baron Arden (1756–1840). His wife is Margaretta Elizabeth, Baroness Arden, and we can directly see her initials (“M.E.A.,” including those initials reversed) in the monogram below the coronet.



A Victorian collector makes an incunable

Adnotatio on back pastedown.
Binding with the monogram of John Eliot Hodgkin
[On right] Facsimile leaf made ca. 1860 by John Harris [leaf 118]

❧ The present physical make-up of this 1476 Milan edition of Horace resulted from the fabricating instructions of engineer and book collector John Eliot Hodgkin (1829-1912) of Richmond, Surrey.

To understand this book physically we must reverse-engineer it. Doing so we discover the chronological sequence of its production:

1. About 1860, John Eliot Hodgkin came into possession of an imperfect copy of the 1476 Horace and about that time, he states, he obtained from John Harris a facsimile of leaf 118. [For more on John Harris, see “John Harris the Pen-and-Ink Facsimilist”
by Toshiyuki Takamiya, Keio University (Link)]
2. The assemblage went into the hands of a binder who added margins to damaged leaves thus bringing all leaves to a uniform size of 25.6 cm tall x 15.7 cm wide. The leaves were washed and bleached leaving ghosts of annotations throughout. On the last leaf, faintly appears the name ‘Zanner Amerigoti.’
3. The text block was sewn onto five cords laced into boards covered in brown calf tooled in gilt with the recessed monogram “I E H”. All edges gilt.
4. On the back pastedown, Hodgkin mounted his ‘Adnotatio,’ in effect a memorial tablet detailing the recording of this edition by authoritative bibliographers and cognoscenti collectors.
5. In 1902, JEH published his descriptive notes about this copy in his Rariora.


The book was sold at Sotheby (London) at Hodgkin’s sale in May 1914. In November 1914, Robert Patterson, class of 1876, presented it to the Library. Call number: PTT 2865.1476

The Publisher’s file copies for over two hundred issues of The Glocester Journal for 1794-97


“The publisher’s file copies for over two hundred issues of The Glocester Journal for 1794-97 (volumes 73-76), all but three numbers profusely annotated with information about each advertisement – how many times it has been inserted, the name of the advertiser, and how long it was to be run for. This is an exceptional discovery: not only are runs of 18th century provincial newspapers extremely rare outside the major libraries, but files copies originating from the publishing house and comprehensively annotated by the partners are, surely, almost unknown.

“Many of the notes are signed ‘R.R.’, which must mean that the paper was actively run by its publisher Robert Raikes (1736-1811), who had inherited this profitable and influential newspaper from his father and namesake (d. 1757) a week before his twenty-first birthday. Raikes went on to run the Journal for almost fifty years, retiring only in 1802 and dying nine years later, becoming a pillar of Gloucester society and a leading figure amongst its citizenry.

“This set must have served two purposes to the printing office of the Journal: first, as a record of the newspaper over four years of its existence in the mid-1790s; second, as a record of which advertisements had been run before, and how long they were to stand for. ‘First’, ‘3d’ ‘2 more’, ‘till forbid’ (presumably, until further notice) are reasonably clear, but a few other recurrent notes, such as ‘In turn’, ‘Tymbs’, ‘Heath’, ‘Wilkes’ (these last three the names of the advertiser, one assumes), ‘Taylor & Paper’ and others may need interpretation, as will the initials of those signing the notes – R.R. is common, but other initials are also found, M.W. being the most common.

❧ The above paragraphs are extracted from the description of antiquarian bookseller Christopher Edwards, from whom the Library purchased these issues in March 2013. These issues not only provide evidence about publisher’s practices but also serve as material for such research into provincial newspapers as found in John Jefferson Looney, Advertising and Society in England, 1720-1820: a statistical analysis of Yorkshire newspaper advertisements. Thesis (Ph.D.)–Princeton University, 1983.

• Call number: (Ex) Oversize Item 6561945e

Sylvia Beach and the Bard sharing a goblet of wine

In her memoir Shakespeare & Company (1960), Sylvia Beach writes: “I have a treasure too, the bookplate Gordon Craig made for me. Like the least thing he made, his little Shakespeare with bookseller kneeling at his feet is fascinating.”

Gordon Craig, noting shortages due to the war, writes ‘Just a few of your bookplates on gummed paper – a rarety! If you wish for more do find some paper. S[‘il]. V[ous]. P[lait]. 17.4.45 EGC.’
‘At last a nice print of the little nothing —’ (in Gordon Craig’s handwriting).
Sylvia Beach’s handwritten notes on her envelope for the bookplates.

❧ Her bookplate appears in a number of her books held by Princeton in the separately arranged book collection called the ‘Beach Collection.’ For details as to how this collection came to the Library as well as information about her books not held here, see a related blog post “The Dispersal of Sylvia Beach’s Books.”

Further details about this bookplate are in John Blatchly, The Bookplates of Edward Gordon Craig (London, 1997) p. 22 ff.

Originals above are located in the Sylvia Beach Papers (C0108), box 16, folder 28, held by the Manuscripts Division,
Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

James Asperne, Bookseller • 1816


[Above] Detail of shopfront: Frontispiece to the European Magazine, Volume 69.
Drawn and engraved by Samuel Rawle (1771-1860).


James Asperne (1757-1820), bookseller and publisher of the The European Magazine. In 1803, he became successor to John Sewell at the Bible, Crown and Constitution, No. 32 Cornhill.

His portrait can be found in the online collections of the National Portrait Gallery.

For a description of the Frontispiece, see page 6 ff of The European Magazine Volume 69, January to June at http://books.google.com/books?id=NCkoAAAAYAAJ

1761 • Banning Jesuit books


Arrêt de la Cour de Parlement, du 6 août 1761.
A Paris : Chez P. G. Simon, Imprimeur du Parlement, rue de la Harpe, à l’Hercule 1761]. Arrêt, with contemporary manuscript annotations, interdicting a list of twenty-four Jesuit books which, in turn, were to be ‘lacerés et brûlés en la Cour du Palais, au pied du grand escalier d’icelui’ in August 1761, having been deemed ‘seditious, destructive in respect to the principles of Christian morals, proposing abominable doctrines not only against the life of common citizens but against the life of the sacred person of the sovereign.’ Call number: (Ex) Oversize Item 6740870Q

The Embleme of Humane Life • 1670

“For the better direction of the Reader, and greater ease of his Memory, there is at the end of this little Book, a piece of Sculpture, exhibiting the Embleme itself, and a short Explication, by way of Figures, in the Cut, answerable to other in the Leaf next adjoining thereto, the Description of it might be the more familiar.”

The Life, and Philosophy, of Epictetus. With The Embleme of Humane Life, by Cebes. Rendred into English, by John Davies of Kidwelly (London: printed by T[homas]. R[oycroft]. for John Martyn, and are to be sold at the sign of the Bell without Temple Bar, 1670). Call number: (Ex) B561.E6 E5 1670 copy 2.

❧ For another example of the Tabula Cebetis and further details, see
http://blogs.princeton.edu/notabilia/2012/07/21/tabula-cebetis/ as well as Tamara A. Goeglein, “Early Modern Emblem Books as Memorial Sites,” Princeton University Library Chronicle (Autumn, 2007), p. 43-70.



Dodona’s Grove: an early English publisher’s binding (1650)

Copy to come

Dendrologia. Dodona’s grove, or The vocall forest. Second part. By James Howell esquire [London, : Printed by W.H. for Humphrey Moseley, and are to be sold at his shop …, 1650.] Call number: RHT 17th-324

The Library’s copy in the Robert H. Taylor Collection is comparable to copies at Folger, University of Pennsylvania, the Bodleian, and the British Library. According to Frank Mowrey (Folger): “One of the earliest English ‘publisher’s’ bindings, decorated with a block specially cut for the book. … [However] this does not mean that the whole edition would have been bound in this way, as was the case with 19th-century and later publisher’s bindings.” ❧ Brown sheepskin over pasteboards with blind, gilt, and silver decoration. Two-line border in blind. Covers blocked in silver with an oval panel of three trees lettered “DODONA’S GROVE” inside a wreath. Red and black sprinkled edges. ❧ The Taylor copy also has contemporary manuscript annotations identifying the original corresponding to each allegorical name.

Charles Clark (1806-1880) of Great Totham Hall, and Heybridge, Essex

Clark2-Ex.TL618 .S37q


Booklabel, front cover and initial page of “Scrap Book on Aerostation,” complied by the antiquarian book-collector, amateur printer, and farmer Charles Clark (1806-1880) of Great Totham Hall, and Heybridge, Essex. [Call number: (Ex) TL618 .S37q]

❧ Clark is the focus of a book history research project conducted by Carrie Griffin, Teaching Fellow, University of Bristol, & Mary O’Connell, Leverhulme Visiting Researcher, School of English, University of St Andrews. They present their findings in the blog “Finding Charles Clark 1806-1880. Not just another book collector.” [Link]

❧ Recently they posted a short, engaging essay [Link] about Clark’s “Aerostation” compilation, a work consisting of approximately 46 pages of engravings, newspaper clippings, broadsides, songs and handbills on ballooning, dating from 1769 to the late 1820s, including as well material on the activities of balloonists Charles Green, the Montgolfiers, James Sadler and John Wilkes.

Mrs Jane Mecom, Her Book • 1769

Benjamin Franklin. Experiments and observations on electricity, made at Philadelphia in America, by Benjamin Franklin, L.L.D. and F.R.S. To which are added, letters and papers on philosophical subjects. The whole corrected, methodized, improved, and now first collected into one volume. London: Printed for David Henry; and sold by Francis Newberry, MDCCLXIX.

Benjamin Franklin. Experiments and observations on electricity, made at Philadelphia in America, by Benjamin Franklin, L.L.D. and F.R.S. To which are added, letters and papers on philosophical subjects. The whole corrected, methodized, improved, and now first collected into one volume. London: Printed for David Henry; and sold by Francis Newberry, MDCCLXIX. Call number: (Ex) QC516 .F852 copy 2.

“Franklin sent his sister a copy from London on February 23, 1769, writing, ‘There has lately been a new Edition of my philosophical Papers here. I send Six Copies to you, which I desire you would take care to have delivered as directed. There is one for your Trouble.’ Jane’s copy of this edition is housed at [the] Princeton [University] Library. It is inscribed ‘[Mrs] Jane Mecom, Her Book.” [Franklin biographer, Carl] Van Doren probably acquired this book in the 1930s; it went to Princeton with Van Doren’s papers following his death in 1950.” — Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (New York: Knopf, 2013), p. 315 (part of ‘Appendix F. Jane’s Library,’ p.312 to 323)

Jill Lepore adds “I have been able to locate five volumes inscribed with her name: … [Experiments being one of the five] … I have no reason to suppose these five volumes are the same five volumes found in her house at her death. Her letters reveal her to have either owned or read a wealth of books, magazines, and newspapers …” (p.313)

Martin Meurisse’s Garden of Logic • 1614

 Artificiosa totius logices descriptio. Author/Artist: Meurisse, Martin, 1584-1644. Published/Created: Paris? : s.n., 1614?  General: 1 sheet ([1] p.) : ill. (etching) ; 60 x 40 cm. (plate mark 56 x 37 cm.)  Notes: Dedication signed: F. M. Meurisse.  At foot of sheet: De hac Thesi horis et dieb[us] solitis respondebunt fratres logici in Conventu fratrum minorum Parisiensium a Calendas Iunij ad Calendas Augusti Anno Domini MDCXIIII.  Two sheets pasted together, with the coat of arms of J.A. de Thou and the Franciscans, dedication to Thou and title on the upper half, and elaborate emblematic illustration below.

Artificiosa totius logices descriptio. [‘Artful
description of logic in its entirety’] [by] Martin Meurisse, 1584-1644.
Published: Paris: s.n., 1614
Description: 1 sheet ([1] p.) : ill. (engraving) ; 60 x 40 cm. (plate mark 56 x 37 cm.)
Notes: Dedication signed: F. M. Meurisse.
At foot of sheet: De hac Thesi horis et dieb[us] solitis respondebunt fratres logici in Conventu fratrum minorum Parisiensium a Calendas Iunij ad Calendas Augusti Anno Domini MDCXIIII. [‘The logician brothers will respond to this thesis in the Convent of the Friars Minor at Paris at the usual hours and days from the calends of June (first day) to the calends of August in the year of our Lord 1614.’] • Two sheets pasted together, with the coat of arms of J.A. de Thou and the Franciscans, dedication to Thou and title on the upper half, and elaborate emblematic illustration below. Call number: Princeton Univeristy Library. Rare Book Division: (EX) Broadside 119
For large image: https://libweb5.princeton.edu/visual_materials/Misc/Art_tot_log_des/atld.jpg

For an admirable study of this wonderful artifact of 17th century learning, see Susanna Berger, “Martin Meurisse’s Garden of Logic” in Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Volume LXXVI (2013), p. 203-250. [Link]

“It is not in the power of the keeper of a lottery-office to command success”

State Lottery 1761. ... Sold and Registered by  A. and C. Corbett, Booksellers, at their Correct State Lottery Office, .. at Addison’s-Head, directly facing St. Dunstan’s Church, Fleet-Street.   Not recorded in ESTC.  Tipped onto final page of A new and easy method to understand the Roman history ...  translated from the French, with very large additions and amendments, by Mr. Tho. Brown.(London, 1748). Call number (Ex) 2012-0846N

State Lottery 1761. … Sold and Registered by A. and C. Corbett, Booksellers and Publishers, at their Correct State Lottery Office, .. at Addison’s-Head, facing St. Dunstan’s Church, Fleet-Street. Broadside not recorded in ESTC. Tipped onto final page of A New and Easy Method to Understand the Roman History … Translated from the French, with very large additions and amendments, by Mr. Tho. Brown.(London, 1748). Call number (Ex) 2012-0846N

1808, May 8. Died, Sir Charles Corbett, bart. one of the oldest liverymen of the company of stationers, aged about 76. He was, in the outset of life, well known as a bookseller, opposite St. Dunstan’s church; where he afterwards kept a lottery-office; had dame Fortune at his command; and used to astonish the gaping crowd with the brilliancy of his nocturnal illuminations. But it is not in the power of the keeper of a lottery-office to command success. A very unfortunate mistake in the sale of a chance of a ticket, which came up a prize of £20,000, proved fatal to Mr. Corbett, and was with difficulty compromised, the chance having fallen into the hands of Edward Roe Yeo, esq, at that time M.P. for Coventry. Some years after, the empty title of baronet (a title, in his case, not strictly recognised in the college of arms) descended to Mr. Corbett, which he assumed, though he might have received a handsome douceur from some other branch of the family if he would relinquish it.—Melancholy to relate! the latter days of this inoffensive character were clouded by absolute penury. Except a very trifling pension from the company of stationers, he had no means of subsistence but the precarious one of being employed, when his infirmities and bad state of health would permit him, in a very subordinate portion of the labours of a journeyman bookbinder.” – Charles Henry Timperley, The Dictionary of Printer and Printing, with the Progress of Literature (London, 1839) p. 832

❧ There is a copy of Ann and Charles Corbett’s lottery broadside for the year before (1760) held at OSU. [Link]

Booklabel: Simon Villers, His Book, Coventry, April 12, 1763, pasted onto inside front board of  A New and Easy Method to Understand the Roman History ...  Translated from the French, with very large additions and amendments, by Mr. Tho. Brown.(London, 1748). Call number (Ex) 2012-0846N

Booklabel: Simon Villers, His Book, Coventry, April 12, 1763, pasted onto front free endpaper of A New and Easy Method to Understand the Roman History … Translated from the French, with very large additions and amendments, by Mr. Tho. Brown.(London, 1748). Call number (Ex) 2012-0846N

Typewriter Printed Book • First of the Kind • 1919


“It was bound to come. With the holiday season approaching, with book-lovers looking forward to new fiction, to special editions and illuminated texts, with nearly all the book and job compositors in New York City anticipating the festive season by beginning their “vacations” a few months earlier than ordinary people, and with pressmen “locked out” because of secession, something just had to be done to fill the want created by type that would not be set and presses that would not turn. So, enter the first book ever printed without the aid of typesetters or regular pressmen.

“It is “Piggie,” in itself an unusual book in that it romances so whole-souledly about hogs that one turns page 300 undecided whether to characterize it as the Pollyanna of the Chicago stockyards or as a post-bellum impressionistic conception of the true, inward piggishness of man. …” [Link to the complete article in 30 November 1919 issue of The New York Times]


“A novelty of book making. This book was written with a typewriter, the typewritten pages were photographed, and the book printed from the photographic plates. This was made necessary by a strike in the printing trades of New York, which prevented publication of books in the usual manner. The book is a pleasing innovation of permanent value, and perhaps may be the forerunner of the form in which all books of the future will be issued.” – Dustjacket of Piggie (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1919).


For more on ‘typewriter printed books’ see Printing without Type-setters, a composite volume of three numbers of the Literary Digest and other matter relating to the printers’ strike in 1919, gathered by Byron A. Finney, reference librarian emeritus at the University of Michigan. (Prime example of library use of the ‘typewriter printed book’ and still very valuable: Dictionary Catalog of the Research Libraries of the New York Public Library, 1911-1971 (G. K. Hall, 1979) in 800 volumes. It replicates the unique typewritten cards once filed alphabetically in thousands of wooden catalog drawers now vanished from the third floor of the Schwartsman Building.)

❧ Call number for the Princeton copy of Piggie is: (Ex) Item 6763728.



Revival of Self: an Original Comedy, first published in 1856

Sidney Frances Bateman’s 1856 play “Self,” at the Metropolitan Playhouse, offers timeless humor centered on social climbers.
❧ Review and picture in The New York Times: http://nyti.ms/1fN1vvi





Self: an original comedy, in three acts by Mrs. Sidney F. Bateman; to which are added, a description of the costume, cast of the characters, entrances and exits, relative position of the performers on the stage, and the whole of the stage business. (New York: Samuel French [1856]) Call number: Princeton University Library, Rare Book Division, TC023 (Playbooks Collection) Box 8.
      Note: This copy marked for the part of “Aunt Chloe: an old colored Nurse.”