Celebrating the Presidency of Princeton

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Exhibition Room, or, why ‘Ex’ is the location designator for rare books in the Princeton University Library

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

1916 floor plan keyed with pictures (left to right) NW corner, NE corner, SE corner, and SW alcove (Hutton death mask collection)

For larger image [link]


An early photograph; display cases have not yet filled the entire floor as they would do during the 1910s and 1920s.

Original at Hist. Soc. of Princeton. Rose glass plate negatives: no. ROS6194.

An early photograph of the Hutton alcove; more masks would be put on display during the 1910s and 1920s.

For larger image: see


Northeast corner of the Exhibition Room

For larger image, see:


Northwest corner of the Exhibition Room
For larger image, see:


Southeast corner of the Exhibition Room. Visible are hinged panels on stands displaying prints by Rowlandson and Cruikshank. In the case adjacent is the Wordsworth Collection, assembled by Mrs. Cynthia Morgan St. John, and on display in hope that a donor would purchase it for the Library. In 1925, Cornell University
acquired the St. John Wordsworth collection.

For larger image, see: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/2n49t216v


The Hutton Alcove near full build-out; more masks added to the foundation collection.

For larger image, see:


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

For larger image, see:

Frederic Vinton, collector

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is easy to provide 20th century examples of this sort of ‘collection‘ bookplate. See, for example, that for, Ellis Ames Ballard Kipling Collection, http://goo.gl/pO3dP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are we to make of these arguments?

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

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

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

Issac Ambrose (1604-1664)
Prima, the first things; or, Regeneration sermons …[bound with] The Doctrine & Directions *[and] *Ultima.
London, Printed for J.A., and are to be sold by N. Webb and W. Grantham, 1650.
Call number (EX) 5849.122.2
•Ludovic Auber (1768)
•James Martin (1785)
•Olinthus Gregory = Olinthus Gilbert Gregory (29 January 1774 – 2 February 1841) mathematician
• “A.G.” = 2nd wife of Olinthus Gregory, whose identity is not known according to Oxford DNB [http://www.oxforddnb.com/index/101011469/Olinthus-Gregory].
•Canon Acheson = the Rev. Johnston Hamilton Acheson, Kirby-Cane Rectory, Bungay, Norfolk (19th cent.)
•George T. Juckes, bookseller, London
•Roderick Terry (1849-1933) (bookplate)
•Gift of Robert H. Taylor in 1968

Matter of surprise: Constitutions des treize états-unis de l’Amérique. (Paris, 1783)

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

Benjamin Franklin provides two key quotes regarding this book.

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

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

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

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

❧ Franklin’s “two Copies handsomely bound to every foreign Minister here, one for himself, the other more elegant, for his Sovereign” included 4to editions. For example, the 4to at the New York Public Library is printed “sur papier d’Annonay” and has the supra-libros of Louis Joseph de Bourbon-Condé (1736-1818). A 4to at the Bibliothèque Nationale has the arms of Marie-Antoinette.

❧ Moreover, 8vo copies stamped with arms are known. Princeton has such an 8vo. At left is Ex copy 1: Stamped on spine with arms of the La Rochefoucauld family. Given the “accolé” character of these arms, they may be those for the Duke’s mother, Madame d’Enville (the Dowager Duchesse de la Rochefoucauld d’Enville; Marie-Louise Nicole Elisabeth de La Rochefoucauld, 1716-1797), also a friend of Franklin. This copy also has the 19th century booklabel of James Toovey (d. 1893). Presented to the Library by Junius S. Morgan, accessioned May 10, 1893. [Note: A 4to bound in red morocco with the supra-libros of LaRochefoucuald was sold at Sotheby’s, Monaco, on 9 December 1987. See: Bibliothèque La Rochefoucauld au château de La Roche-Guyon: provenant de la succession de Gilbert de La Rochefoucauld, Duc de La Roche-Guyon (Sotheby’s Monaco S.A., 1987) lot 641. The 4to binding is reproduced as the frontispiece to the catalog.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

They are found on incunables at several libraries:

• University of Glasgow. Shelfmark: Bl9-g.25 “Feb. 10. 1723/4 Collat. & perfect. p[er] J. Wright.” [Image of inscription] and By.3.38“June 26. 1723 Collat. & perfect. p[er] J. Wright.” [Image of inscription]

• Houghton Library. Call number: Inc 4142.10 “June 27. 1723. Collat. & perfect. J. Wright”

• Bodleian Library. Shelfmark Auct. L 1.2-5. “Collat. & perfect Jan. 8 1724/25”

• Princeton. Call number:

PTT 2865.341.007
“Jan. 25 1722/23 Collat. & perfect. p[er] J. Wright”

Then on later books such as the following at

•John Rylands Library: Livy (Venice, 1520) “Collat. & perfect. [?] J. Wright”

JRUL copy at R213746

•Several examples listed in the ESTC for copies at Huntington, Folger, University of Wisconsin and Yale. Search the copy-specific notes for ‘Collat.’ and ‘Wright’ and six entries return; imprints dating between 1601 and 1689. Inscriptions:

“Feb. 5. 1722/23 Collat. & perfect [?] J. Wright”;
“Mar. 1. 1723 Collat. & perfect J Wright; Fawsyde, Bervie, N.B.”;
“Oct. 5. 1723. Collat. + perfect. J. Wright”;
“Dec 2. 1723. Collat. perfect. P.[?] Wright”;
“Dec. 2. 1723. Collat. & perfect. J Wright.”
“Dec. 5. 1723. Collat. & perfect. J. Wright”

•Two are listed in the Hunt Catalogue by Allan Stevenson: 351 and 385 “Dec. 9 1723. Collat. & perfect. J. Wright.”

•Four others at Princeton: imprints dating between 1543 and 1706. Inscriptions:
“Feb. 6 1722/23 Collat. & perfect. p[er] J. Wright.”;
“Oct. 23 1723 Collat. & perfect. J. Wright”;
“Oct. 29 1723 Collat. & perfect. J. Wright”; and
“Dec. 10 1723 Collat. & perfect. J. Wright.”

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

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

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

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

1872 • Printers’ Sheet of Miscellaneous Trade Receipts

Ever wonder how 19th century collectors had writing ink cleaned from book pages?
(“Be gone you pesky old annotations!”)

Might you be curious as to how they had their maps varnished? Or prints cleaned? Or books preserved? Here’s some answers:

For a transcription, go to this link


Call number for:
Crisp, William Finch.
The Printers’ Sheet of Miscellaneous Trade Receipts. Great Yarmouth, [England], 1 is
(Ex) Broadside 390.

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

Finding John Witherspoon’s books

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

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

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

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

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

Witherspoon number 244, Works [by] Mr Abraham Cowley (London, 1668) adjacent to Witherspoon number 245, True History of the Church of Scotland [by] Mr David Calderwood (1678). [Note: autograph of Witherspoon was snipped away during the 19th century. Autograph collectors prized signers of the Declaration of Independence.]
[Call numbers for these two volumes: (Ex)3693.3.1668q and WIT 1481.233q, respectively]
< Inscribed before 1847 on the front free endpaper of Witherspoon number 244, Works [by] Mr Abraham Cowley (London, 1668). This is likely the scribbling of a student:
Distinguished Characters of Princeton by a friend
Boss Carnahan [President of Princeton, 1823-1859]
Johnny Maclean [Vice-president under Carnahan]
Boss Rice [Rev. B. H. Rice, D.D., served in Princeton pulpit, 1833 to 1847], Cooley [Rev. E.F. Cooley], Daniel McCalla, Petin the boot black, Moses Hunter, Albert Ribbenbach [?], Old Quackenboth (Uncle Joe), Buddy Be Dash, Catling Ross [?], Goose Leg.
Note on catalogues: See the finding aid for the Library records in the Archives at Mudd Library: AC123 http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/9s1616192
The catalogues are in Subseries 5E, Early Catalogs and Technical Records, 1802-1961.

Why Cruikshank was collected

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

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

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

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