The Renaissance Emblem, an explanatory chart by William S. Heckscher (1904-1999)

An illustrative chart by William S Heckscher, probably drawn in the 1950s.
[Click on thumbnail above to see much larger image.]
This is a chart meant to be read two ways.

First, reading from left to right gives a sense of chronological change, from ancient times on the left to the seventeenth century on the right. Secondly, the chart can be read in zones, as follows:

• Focal point of the chart is the first emblem book, the Emblematum liber by Andrea Alciati, first published in Augsburg in 1531.

•To the left of the focal point are arrayed 19 sources and seven antecedents.

•To the right are a series of branching diagrams covering seven diverse types of emblem books developing after Alciati. These are heroic, moral, and didactic, together with their subdivisions.

Note the foot of the chart: here are glosses for the labels above. For example, at lower left, the label ‘Egyptian: Hieroglyphs’ is explained as ‘Obelisk in Rome’.

Much of the text of this chart was reworked in 1954, when it was incorporated into the Library’s exhibition The Graver and the Pen: Renaissance Emblems and Their Ramifications. (ExB) 0639.739 no. 12 [link to full text]

Prof. Heckscher was a keen collaborator in the Library’s efforts to collect and interpret emblem books. He collaborated in publication of the 1984 short- title catalogue of emblem books in the Library. He complied The Princeton Alciati Companion: A Glossary of Neo-Latin Words and Phrases used by Andrea Alciati and the Emblem Book Writers of his time, including a Bibliography of Secondary Sources relevant to the Study of Alciati’s Emblems (New York, 1989). At present, Princeton’s holdings of emblem books and their cognates number more than 700. The collection continues to grow yearly.

A Look at Belle da Costa Greene

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

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

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

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

March 27, 1934
Dear Mr. Parrish:
At 11:30 this morning, I delivered the books to Miss Bella da Costa Greene and attach herewith a receipt for them, given at her instance and by her hand because she had visions of being snipped off by a taxicab when she went to lunch.
Miss Bella da Costa Greene is fortyish with brown hair and wears horn-rimmed spectacles. My first impression of her was that she looked bloated as if she had a touch of dropsy or perhaps drank too much, although she is not overly heavy and still not thin. She has a bulbous nose (perhaps caught from the numerous photographs of her patron, many of which hang, stand and lie about her office) and her skin must be very swarthy, for, she wore white powder which made her look kind of speckled gray, like the negro you see pouring dusty cement into the mixers on building construction jobs. She was dressed in a sort of classic garment of black velvet relieved here and there by bits of chartreuse lace. She has short, stubby fingers and chews her nails—to the quick.
Miss Bella da Costa Greene was very gracious and made an appointment to see me at 11:30. I was exceedingly flattered at my distinction when I heard her tell the operator upon several occasions that she was in conference with scholars and could take no calls. She brought out the Dickens that had been offered and pronounced an anathema upon all collectors.
They decided one day that the 1884 book was the first and then decided that the 1883 was the first and why should she bother her head about all of this business anyway. She did give you the distinction, however, of labelling [sic[ your books the best she had ever seen and they certainly were infinitely better than the ones she had. Hers were badly faded and the bindings were somewhat battered. Her 1883 copy was inscribed by Dickens on Dec. 17, 1893 and hence she could see no reason why anyone could see the 1884 book as a first and she was decidedly annoyed that any particular value was placed upon the Stave I—for such a little difference was of no specific import.
Miss Greene told me that she would like to see your library but that she could scarcely afford the time because she had to spend so much of her time with scholars. She hesitated a long time before writing to you, because she felt it was somewhat presumptious [sic] but finally bolstered up the requisite nerve.
She detailed a man to show me through the library and I spent considerable time in the manuscript vault, looking over the Dickens, Collins, Byron, Browning, et al.
I stopped in yesterday to see the dealer, Edward L. Dean and looked over what he had. His prices seemed quite fabulous and I doubt that there is much that would interest you. It is well that you keep him at postage distance or he will talk an ear off you. I went through his safe with him, heard all about his children’s croup and spent no more than 15 minutes there. He professes to be a close friend of A. Edward Newton and accuses his friend of creating artificial values for books by the media of his writings in magazines, etc. Dean also collected for Jerome Kern and says that Harry Smith has been taken to Arizona for his health.
I forgot to tell you that Miss Greene disapproves of your book covers and continued to protest about them even when I told her that they were used only to protect the books while I was transporting them. She would also like to meet Mrs. Maun and have her see the library some time.
I hope that this report of your New York agent is adequate and withal, comprehensive.
And I do thank you for the perfect week-end.
Very truly yours,
Ernest V. Maun

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

Part 3 – Books owned by Americans before 1700 – The books of Thomas Shepard

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

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

• 42 titles in 44 volumes at the Princeton University Library [from the library of Samuel Miller (1769-1850)]
• 16 titles at the Princeton Theological Seminary Library [also from the library of Samuel Miller (1769-1850)]
• 65 titles in 19 volumes at the American Antiquarian Society [Mostly in the Mather family library; note: 25 are bound in one volume inscribed “Thomas Shepard 1660” – see: Thomas J. Holmes, “Additional Notes on Ratcliff and Ranger Bindings,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, N.S. 39:2 (1929: Oct 16), p. 291-295)]
• 7 titles at the Massachusetts Historical Society
[See for much provenance detail from Jeremy Dibbell]

• 6 titles at Harvard (5 at Houghton, 1 at the Divinity School Library)

• 1 title at the John Carter Brown Library [detail]

• 1 title at the Pierpont Morgan Library (TS II’s Eliot Indian Bible)

• 1 title at the Huntington Library [detail]

• 1 title at the Folger Library [detail]

• 1 title at the New York Public Library [detail]

• 1 title in Bentley Collection at Allegheny College

• 1 title at Boston Public Library

Total extant: 143 titles distributed among thirteen libraries

In addition, there are books known but untraced, as per the following entry from the diary of John Langdon Sibley, librarian of Harvard (assistant from 1825-1826 and 1841-1856, librarian from 1856-1877, and librarian, emeritus from 1877-1885.)

“December 21, 1854

Thursday. Called on Rev. William Jenks, D.D. to procure a tracing, for Duyckinck, of New York, of an autograph of Thomas Shepard. He said Charles Francis Adams was a descendant & might have some of his books & writing; but unless he had he knew of only one besides the one in a Bible which he owned, & that was in a set of Augustines Works which he gave to go to the missionaries in Syria, where it probably now is. The Dr. showed me the Bible, also Cotton Mather’s manuscript Paternalia, which he owns & various other rarities, among them incredibly long & minute genealogical tables of his family. ….” (source:

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

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

Selected notabilia

• Inscriptions (one of several examples)

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

• Annotations

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

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

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

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

• Summaries of text

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

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

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

Other notable topics

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

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

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

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

Part 2 – Books in the collection known to have been owned by Americans before 1700

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books in the collection known to have been owned by Americans before 1700

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

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

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

He (or she) (a.k.a. “industrious bibliographer”) has yet to appear on the scene.

• • •

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

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

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

Collecting Ottoman ‘Incunabula’

“The Library of Grand Vizier Ragib Pasha,” engraving in the Tableau général de l’empire othoman
by Ignatius Mouradgea d’Ohsson
published in Paris, 1787-1790. In the new issue of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, a newsletter issued by the department, editorial assistant, William Blair, tells the story of the Library’s collecting books printed on the first Muslim-owned and operated printing press. Any copy of books from the press of İbrahim Müteferrika are rare, yet the Library’s collecting success has been remarkable. The Library now owns fourteen of the seventeen titles published by his press.

Full text of the article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1892 Four Private Libraries of New York by Octave Uzanne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Restoring Order

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obituary for Lara Moore (1971-2003)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Special Report on Purchasing Trip Abroad

As mentioned in June and in the report to which this is annexed, the librarian, who was spending last winter abroad, took advantage of the gifts of Messrs. M. Taylor Pyne and A. H. Scribner with certain other provisions to buy something less than 12,000 volumes of acknowledged value, for something over $5,000.

The effort was made to test for his own information and for the information of the trustees how far the market cost of books could be improved on by special methods of purchase when there was capital in hand.

Pains were taken to exhibit as many as possible of the various kinds, classes and ways in which advantage may be had: (1), buying in bulk (2), buying in quantity (3), buying from small dealers (4), buying in out of the way shops (5), occasional bargains from large dealers (6), buying at auction (7), buying of non-booksellers.

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Purchase memoranda were roughly classified (1) immediate wants, (2) early wants, (3) books of acknowledged value but not presently needed. Books of the first class included those which it was known would be, if not gotten this winter, shortly bought in routine at the market price. Any reduction at all on the market price for these was of course so much clear gain. The second class, that of early wants, included the books which it was likely might at any moment pass into the first class and the general plan was to buy such if they turned up at half market price. The third class included the very large number of books evidently useful sooner or later. Beyond this class and shading into it is a great mass of minor usefulness or valuable for rarity or curiosity to be bought in general only when the bargain is great. In this class this year were a great many Americana which in many American Libraries would be counted at least in the second class.

Booksellers were visited in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, the South of France and Spain. Few books were purchased in Holland and Germany, except the Goertz: lot of 3800 at Berlin. In Switzerland perhaps a couple of hundred were gotten at Lucerne, Zurich and Stans. In Italy, a few were gotten on the Lakes, a few more at Milan and Bologna, a couple of thousand more or less at Florence, Leghorn, Pisa, Siena and neighboring points, as many at Rome, a few hundred on the Rivera, a thousand or fifteen hundred in the South of France and perhaps half as many more in three or four places in Spain, chiefly in Madrid.

Germany, where the book trade is so well organized, proved as always not so good a hunting ground for individual bargains as Italy or the smaller cities of France but the Goertz collection this year has afforded an excellent example of what may sometimes be done even in Germany by buying a bulk. In general we do nothing with this class of buying (as I said when this collection was first offered) but, properly managed, it may be one of the best methods for cheap buying. The principle of such buying is, to be sure that a certain number out of the lot is worth the price of the whole and consider the rest thrown in. In

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this case I satisfied myself before purchase that 1/3 the books would be priced in a fair priced German catalogue at three times what was paid —- having satisfied myself first of all that it was an unusually useful lot, in unusual condition, and with almost no duplicates.

Auctions were attended at Florence and Rome and it was found that, with careful preparation, these Italian auctions are still among the very best sources of reasonable purchase in the world. Among the best sources of purchase when one has a large purchase list and a good memory for prices are the bookshops in the smaller places and those shops in the larger places which have no printed or even written catalogues and where no language in spoken save the vernacular, but when one’s range of wants is small the searching book for book through hundreds of thousands of volumes of stock is hunting a needle in a haymow. The larger and more disorganized stock, the better the chance of bargains, but to look at each one of one hundred thousand volumes takes much time patience and industry and does not pay unless one has so many wants, that he may expect to find, say, 1 in 1,000 volumes examined.

With careful memoranda, another of the most satisfactory sources of purchase especially when the list of wants is moderate is the native shop with the priced slip catalogue of stock. Here one may purchase from his memoranda with mathematical certainty. In Florence where there was most time available, three book-sellers were worked in this way, under the uniform understanding that if more than $40.00 worth was bought, there should be a 25% discount. In each case it would have been possible to have bought two or three times as many books at 1/3 the known market price, if time and money had permitted, but it was necessary to save both for other cities.

It is often asked if one cannot buy just as well from catalogues as from shops and it is true that the catalogues of the smaller dealers are a great possible

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source of bargain, but in the first place none of the minor dealers publish more than a small fraction of their stock and, in the second place these same catalogues are one of the chief sources for the organized trade especially in Germany and the most obvious bargains are immediately snapped up. Even a telegram was not quick enough to get for us a $50.00 copy of a $200 set which appeared in a little South Italian catalogue —- a set for which we were glad to pay $90.00 later; as it stood almost to the head of our list of wants.

The only really satisfactory way to purchase is to have memoranda of precise prices. This implies large want lists and very careful preparation, for it requires the utmost familiarity with prices and the kind of things which go to make up values in order to judge from general knowledge. With such familiarity a good deal can be done by guessing prices, and it must often be done. There is for example no way of getting actual quotations on unique documents and there is no great risk either in purchasing say a book on America, before the year 1700 for 25 or 30¢ whenever the opportunity offers. If, however this is done on any very large scale a certain percentage of errors may be allowed for. Mistakes are sure to be made now and then in both directions and one has not only the pain of having paid too much sometimes but often the chagrin of having missed good opportunities through ignorance of values. There were at least two narrow escapes last winter; in one case I hesitated to pay $2.50 for a book which proved worth $35 and at another time hesitated over giving $3.00 for a lot which proved worth several hundred dollars. If another dollar had been asked in either case, Princeton would have lost the bargain.

In general the buying from non-book-sellers in not very satisfactory. If one knows exact values, it seems morally necessary to pay a private individual at least 1/3 of the average memorandum price as being what he might hope to get from a dealer. The dealer in art antiques however often has a few books, and although the prices for these are apt to be extravagant, there are liable to be bargains among them. This was found to be the case at Lucerne, at Pallanza, in one case at

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Rome, at San Remo and since returning to America in one excellent case at New London. In purchasing of dealers whether of books or of antiquities, one may purchase in good conscience on the best terms that he can get since the dealer has made his legitimate profit in any event.

While dealers everywhere in general claim not to give more than 10% discount and many of the best dealers are stiff in this, it was found that purchase of quantity often led to a 25% or even 40% discount and one dealer hinted even at 50%. No less than three large dealers practically said that their figures were for amateurs and that they would make the prices “right” for a librarian. Many such dealers offered to consider any offer and to “adjust” any difference of opinion: in one case a well known expensive dealer “adjusted” for about 1/3 the price printed in his catalogue.


Turning to report on the net result or purchasing last winter as compared with the routine purchases at the market rates, two or three things should be stated. In the first place 10% must be deducted from catalogue prices in reckoning the net catalogue price compared with cash price paid. In the second place it is true that the catalogues differ a great deal among themselves and no doubt the prices of many of them are excessive, but in point of fact the more expensive dealers quoted are those recommended by the American Library Association’s Committee on book buying and who are known to have sold largely to American libraries and Professors in our a University recently, at a maximum discount of 10%. The comparisons made are generally on a basis of 20 cts. to the franc and .25 to the shilling or mark.

In comparing prices it is always necessary to take into account condition and binding and these have been so taken into account go far as possible, but it has not always been possible to discriminate in detail between auction and catalogue and cash prices.

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The comparisons of prices here given are of necessity chiefly by comparison of the price paid with the auction or catalogue prices. The very best comparison would be with prices known to have been actually paid by American libraries for the same books. This is by the nature of the case difficult to get at, but in a few cases this method may be applied to duplicates among our own purchases and to books bought by Professors for their own use. In one important case the Goertz collection, we are able to make a pointed illustration of this most concrete of all bases, that of prices actually paid by another library.

This Goertz collection is the chief, and practically the only example of buying in bulk among these purchases. The collection consists of about 3800 or (if separate works bound in the same volume are counted) 4,000 volumes printed in the 16, 17, 18th centuries, in admirable condition. They represent that part of an excellent library, collected in the 18th century, which was not wanted by the Berlin Royal Library, simply because it already had the books. They represent, therefore, books which had been deemed worth adquiring for the Berlin Library and presumably thus form on the whole the more immediately useful, if less rare, portion of that library. We paid less than $750 for them on the spot or perhaps .18 a volume. The bulk was so disproportionate to price however that they had cost over $1,000 when laid down here, although the expenses of packing and transportation were reduced to the lowest terms.

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

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2. Another test was made in Italian History and 38 out of 87 volumes in Italian History have a market value of 290 lire or say $1.40 per vol. against 18¢ paid by us.

3. Again of 54 volumes on the History of Holland and Belgium, 17 are found in the two most recent catalogues at a value of $40.65, which with 10% off gives a comparison of $36 to $3 cost.

4. Once more: the section of this collection which was counted least useful for our purchases was that of theology, this department being cared for by the Theological Seminary. This section was happily surprisingly small, being only about 1/8 and nearly half of these of direct value in history and philology. The financial value of these as rarities is such that 110 volumes are priced at $298.50 in standard catalogues.

5. Again: Natural Science and medicine. 13 vols. priced at $30.50 cost us $2.30

The question how useful old books of the sort of this Goertz collection are is one which is often asked. It is not easy to answer such a question concretely, but it may be said in the first place that many Professors who have examined these books have found things useful for their purposes. One of the chief points in getting such books and one of the chief reasons why American scholars are so handicapped in their work, when they are working in this class of material, is the fact that it is only by having the material to use that men find the use that it is to them; not having they do their work without it and their work suffers. It is a pity that no record was kept as to actual use of these books during the month after boxes were opened but there were two or three things which are to the point. One of the first books that Prof. Paul Van Dyke saw was one that he had wanted for immediate use, and for which he had already put in an order slip which he canceled when it was found there. At another time another Professor came and said that “Scaliger Poetices 1581” was needed and that three of the departments had agreed to share the expense of getting a copy; could we tell him how much it would cost? We had pleasure in telling him that it was here and bought for a sum quite within the united resources of the three departments, having cost, including importation expenses, perhaps 25 cents.

Another way of seeing the value of such books comes out by the fact that the prime object of the purchasing last winter was sources for history, this being the object for which Mr. Pyne had given his money. In this line the Goertz collection includes 56 sets properly under the head of collections, 11 of these being series of Scriptores while there were also 27 volumes of Treaties of Peace and 234 volumes of early historical periodicals giving the current events

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of the time and most useful for historical purposes.

And finally: Shortly after my return last spring the library had specific suggestions from two Professors (one of the Prof. Osgood) as to whether we couldn’t do some thing in the way of Neo-Latin writers in which we were weak. Dean West had previously made a suggestion to the same effect and it had been with a good deal of interest that the librarian had found this collection rich in this line. When considering purchase, it was with much pleasure therefore that the was able to tell Mr. Osgood and Mr. Critchlow that there were no less than 108 items in this field in the Goertz collection.

It may be said in brief of the Goertz collection that the total number of volumes embraced in these five sample tests is 421, costing us $74.80 having a catalogue valuation of $975.50 or more than was paid for the 4,000 volumes. These 4,000 volumes at the same ratio would be worth more than $9,000 (less 10%) and, although the ratio of the remaining will probably be less, it is fair to say that a reasonable market price is more than was paid from all the 12,000 volumes purchased last winter.

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Turning from the Goertz collection to the remaining 2/3 of the purchases, it is not quite so easy to get a definite statement for books purchased in such various methods and places without a complete working up of catalogue prices for all but there are two or three lines of analysis which give a pretty good view of general values.

The chief object in purchase was historical sources for which Mr. Pyne had given money. The figures for these books is especially interesting on account of the fact that the majority of items fall within the first and second classes of purchase i.e. those in which it is a decided economy to buy for 50% of the catalogue price. A report made to Mr. Pyne in January included 343 volumes for which we had clear market prices of $719.60 and which cost us $333.50. To this may be added now 186 volumes giving with the others a total of 529 volumes having a market value of $1149.00 and for which Princeton paid $418.00.

Another good example is in the field of maps and atlases. Just before going abroad a collection of about thirty early American maps were offered for sale to Mr. Pyne. He asked if we would like them and if the prices were fair. The matter was referred to Prof. Bingham who was our specialist and who had an elaborate system of price memoranda. He pronounced the maps desirable and the prices fair and his judgment was confirmed by quotations from recent catalogues. Purchasing during the past winter it was often necessary to get several maps in a lot or a volume and this resulted in a number of duplicates of these maps and from these we get a basis of actual comparison with our buying at ordinary good rates.

Nearly 100 volumes of atlases were purchased and perhaps 200 separate maps for not more than $200.00. 27 volumes of these atlases seem to have a fair market value of not less than $785.00 and one of the separate maps, purchased with 59 other for $3.00 is quoted at $80.00, several others being worth $10.00 or more each. Circumstances proved that it is much cheaper to buy maps at wholesale than at retail, one of the best ways being to get imperfect atlases —- although it is hard to tell often in the case of atlases what is perfect as copies were published with very different selections of maps. One not very perfect atlas contained, together with several other American maps and many foreign ones, two duplicates of maps purchased by us for $5.75 each. The cost to us of the whole

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atlas was the cost of one single map and the cost of each American map less than $1.00 as compared with the regular market price of $5.75.

One more illustration may be taken from the works on Latin America purchase through the aid of Mr. Scribner. The price of these have not yet been so well worked out as in the above cases, but 80 out of 196 volumes, costing Mr. Scribner $109 have a catalogue value of $ 463.

Among these books too we have a cross check for actual purchase prices as one work of first importance cost one of our Faculty $20.00, and appears in English catalogues for £4-8-0 or more, but was gotten for $6.00.

Another somewhat different line of illustration is found by analyzing all the purchases made at a smaller center: Toulouse. This is as good as any in prices and the condition of the books is very superior. 1053 volumes were bought here for $551.00. A selection of 101 of these volumes indicates a market price of $553.60 leaving the remaining 952 a clear profit. Quotations are now in hand for 468 volumes out of the whole 1053 and these indicate a fair market price of $1104.75 for these volumes and, although these are quite the more valuable portion, indicate a total value of not less than $1800.00 or 2000.00 for the 1053 vols. costing $551.00.

In bringing this matter to your attention it is not pretended that foreign purchase is the only method of purchase or that other librarians may not exercise this as well as ourselves. The same principles apply to the auction and book-shops of our own country. Only by the nature of the things the bulk of the books wanted even in English are foreign books. These are found here less often and this fact although it now and then works for cheapness on the average tends to a very much higher price. There are few instances in which other libraries do work the foreign travel method in a practical fashion but there is no reason why anyone would not. It is simply a matter of patience, industry and above all of adequate preparation.

The net conclusion is that with capital, preparation and attention books may be bought for this library at one third or one fourth the market value for books not needed at once.

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

Overwrapped in otterskin

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

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

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

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

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

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