Paramours and Publishers: Newly acquired collection of the Memoirs of Harriette Wilson

La Côterie Débouché is a pun on Harriette Wilson’s birth family name of Dubochet. (Henry Heath, del.; Published February 21, 1825 by S.W.Fores, Piccadilly).

In 1825, London publisher John J. Stockdale issued the Memoirs of Harriette Wilson.

It was a sensation. Her story was how she worked her way as a courtesan from want to luxury.
When her fortunes declined, she told all, naming Dukes, Earls, and other well-born with whom she had liaisons.

Stockdale published the Memoirs in parts. The back wrapper of some parts listed the names of aristocrats slated for coverage in the next. For £200 one could purchase removal of his name.

Fragment of back wrapper of part 3 naming those appearing or about to appear in the Memoirs

Stockdale claimed that, within a year, he had published more than 30 editions. Ink machined onto paper begat money.

He, however, was sued in court, more than once. His rivals ripped him off with pirate editions. Meanwhile, Harriette Wilson became rich and famous.

Readers were enthralled or incensed. Sir Walter Scott said “H.W. beats [the memoirs] of Con Philips and Anne Bellamy and all former demi-reps out and out.” “Push any man into the streets in his dressing gown and nightcap and he will be laughed at,” said the London Magazine (1825). The Duke of Wellington, who refused to pay, famously said “publish and be damned.”

Words describing Harriette seem today to be arcane and recherché : ci-devant, semptress, demi-mondaine, demi-rep (abbrev. for demy-reputation), hataera, cocotte, créature, dame de compagnie, femme entretenue, … the list goes on. It was a strain for others to express her liminal world.

Yet her narrative is direct and beguiling. She begins:

‘I will not say how, or why, at the age of fifteen, I became the mistress of the Earl of Craven. Whether it was love, or the severity of my father, the depravity of my own heart, or the winning arts of the noble lord, which induced me to leave my paternal roof and place myself under his protection, does not now much signify ; or, if it does, I am not in the humour to gratify curiosity in this matter.”

In the end, though, we are left with many questions: Is her narrative credible? If it is not credible, then what is it? What prompted her to break the rules and openly name those who could be considered ‘the profligate of the aristocracy’? Is the book libelous?* Could it be protected by copyright?* (*These questions were subjects of court cases at the time.) Was it a promoter of vice? Could it be regarded as prophylactic against vice? Was it just plain blackmail? Or, as one critic has asked recently, can it be regarded as the end of the epistolary novel? These are only a sampling of queries.

During the spring of 2012, Princeton acquired a Harriette Wilson collection, which does answer some questions concretely and may provide answers for many others. It is a collection of virtually all the editions of her Memoirs published during her lifetime (she died in 1845). Among other questions, these will allow us to answer the question as to what authentic editions looked like and how piracies appeared physically. Added to these editions are translations as well as some wonderful popular broadside précises of her Memoirs, together with a number of contemporary illustrations both serious and in the classic British satiric tradition, some companion works (e.g. Confessions … Written … in Contradiction to the Fables of Harriette Wilson by Julia Johnstone, also a courtesan, part rival, and niece of Harriette), and, finally, editions of Harriette’s novels published after the Memoirs. The novels include London Tigers and Paris Lions. (1825), Clara Gazul, Or, Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense (1830), and Lies (1830) (only copy recorded; more later on that.)

The collection was put together by Stephen Weissman (Ximenes Rare Books, Kempsford, Gloucestershire). The books are rare in the market; it took him several decades to assemble the collection. A list of the holdings of the collection is available. The list includes Mr Weissman’s bibliographical descriptions of the various editions issued by Stockdale and his rivals, William Benbow, Edward Thomas, Thomas Douglas, Edward Duncombe, and others.

As of March 15, 2013, all books have been catalogued and are accessible via the
main catalog.
The prints are in the process of being catalogued.

Here beginneth the tales: Copies of the Kelmscott Press Chaucer at Princeton

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

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

1785: The English Tea Trade at Work

A recent acquisition, this catalog describes the East India Company’s tea sales in March of 1785 – a year of great changes for the British tea trade. This sale was among the first to follow the Commutation Act of 1784. For years, and specifically over the last decade to help finance the war against America, taxes on tea had been continuously raised until they reached an exorbitant 119%. As a result, the high tax fostered widespread tea smuggling as well as unreliable quality. Introduced by William Pitt the Younger, the Commutation Act reduced the tax on tea to 12.5% thereby effectively ending the tea smuggling and establishing a monopoly on tea importing for the struggling East India Company.

Catalogs were produced before the quarterly sales for buyers to review the available tea and its condition. This catalog from the second March sale of 1785 features Hyson and Souchong tea. A key in the front of the catalog decodes the symbols next to the tea lots from various ships that had returned from China. Quality ranges from “musty and mouldy” to “superfine”. Additional symbols noted the leaf size, smells and other conditions such as “woody” or “smoakey”. Space was available on the right side of the lot listings to be filled in with manuscript annotations detailing the ultimate price and buyer. (Princeton’s copy is completely filled in, presumably by “J. Williams” whose signature is on the back cover and whose initials are on the front cover.)

For more information, see: The Management of Monopoly by Hoh-cheung Mui and Lorna H. Mui (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1984). “William Pitt and the Enforcement of the Commutation Act, 1784-1788” by Hoh-cheung Mui and Lorna H. Mui (The English Historical Review, Vol. 76, No. 300 (Jul., 1961), pp. 447-465).

East India Company’s Reserve of Hyson and Souchong Tea. Second March Sale 1785. (London: 1785). Call number: (Ex) Item 6538574. Purchased as part of a collection of 45 early English cookery books assembled by
James Stevens Cox.
See [full text] for a listing of this cookery collection acquired during 2012.

— Jen Meyer, Assistant to the Curator of Rare Books, Princeton University Library.

Gilder Lehrman Institute launches new educational website based on the collection of Sid Lapidus in the Princeton University Library

The Gilder Lehrman Institute recently launched a new educational website:

“Liberty and the American Revolution
Selections from the Collection of Sid Lapidus, Princeton University”

According to GLI’s associate director of education: “In addition to highlighting documents from the Sid Lapidus Collection the interactive includes:

• Lesson plans by Rosanne Lichatin (NJ), Nathan McAlister (KS), and Anthony Napoli (NY)

• Videos featuring: Nicole Eustance, Gordon Wood, John Shovlin, and David Armitage.

• Links to the catalog entries on Princeton’s website, Common Core units, DBQs appropriate for the AP/IB Level, and a selected bibliography for those who would like to explore the topics further.”

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:


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]

True Images of Illustrious ❧ 1577 Giovio

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

❧ Paolo Giovio (1483-1552). Elogia virorum literis illustrium. [Basel] P. Perna, 1577. Call number: (Ex) Oversize 1038.392.11q

Anatomia Statuae Danielis ❧ 1586

“A monumental historical and genealogical work presented to John George (1525-1598), Elector of Brandenburg, a member of the House of Hohenzollern, and Augustus I (1526-1586), Elector of Saxony, of the House of Wettin. The work relates the genealogy of Christ and the Judean kings, and the union of Monarchy and Christianity in general, with the understanding of monarchy as seen in the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. As such the major empires of known history is envisioned as elements of a statue, cf. Daniel´s interpretation of Nebuchadnessar´s dream, in which he sees a statue made of gold, silver, copper, iron and clay, illustrating the four empires. The main texts of these chapters are accompanied by genealogical lists of virtually every ruler, by then known, of the empires in question, and forms a more or less complete historical line from biblical Nimrod up till the then contemporary emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Rudolph II (1576-1612). It also contains a brief chapter on the Ottoman empire and its genealogy, since the Holy Roman Empire, of which Brandenburg and Saxony formed and important part, was on the brink of war with the Ottoman Empire at the time. The last part of the book is concerned with the genealogy of the Saxon Electorate, and its relation to the Kings of France, the Dukes of Savoy and the Margraviate of Montferrat. In full, the book forms a both religious and historical masterly treatment of monarchy and the monarchical ruler and its association with divine power, based on the before mentioned imagery of the Book of Daniel. In addition, it can be seen as a rethinking of the position and power of the German Electors to whom it is presented, since the Reformation, in which an older relative of Augustus I, Frederick III The Wise (1463-1525), played an important role, had taken place less than 70 years earlier” (Text supplied by Kaabers Antikvariat [København])

Loren Faust. Anatomia Statuae Danielis. Kurtze und eigentliche erklerung der grossen Bildnis des Propheten Danielis, Darin ein historischerausszug der vier Monarchien / und aller ihrer HeuptRegenten / auff die glieder des Bildnis / ober eines menschlichen leibes gerichtet / und sonderlich vom angang und fortpflantzung des Reichs Jesu Christi / ordentlich mit gemisser jahr rechnung bereichnet. Beneben Christlicher erinnerung und erklerung der Genealogien, und Fürstlichen Stammbaums der hochlöblichen Herzogen zu Sachsen etc. Als zu einem Extract und Memorial solcher ganzen historien / neben etlichen zugerichten Tafeln / mit lust und nuss zugebrauchen. Aus allen fürnembsten und bewertisten Chronicis und gelerter leut schriften mit trememsleis zusammen gezogen – Durch – Laurentium Faustum, Pfarrern unter der Meisnichen Thumbpropstey / zu Schirmenitz. Anno Christi M.D. LXXXVI (1586).
Colophon: Leipzig / Bey Johann Steinmann M.D. LXXXV (1585). 8°. [28]+404+[8] pages. With four folded plates. Call number: 2009-1746N. Digital scans of the other plates listed at

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,

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

New information about an edition of Mark Twain’s [1601] Conversation as it was by the Social Fireside in the Time of the Tudors.

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

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

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

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

Who was “H.D.W.”?

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

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

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

❧ With thanks to Henry Wessells for providing many details.