10 July 2014

The Gutenberg Bible on Exhibit in Melbourne

Next week sees the launch of the third annual Melbourne Rare Book Week (17 to 27 July). Bibliophiles from across Australasia and beyond will descend upon the city and enjoy an array of talks, demonstrations and exhibitions, ending with the Melbourne Rare Book Fair (25 to 27 July). Visitors to this year’s Rare Book Week will also be able to attend a range of events in the university’s biennial Cultural Treasures Festival (26 and 27 July).

The university will once again host the fair in Wilson Hall, but also add something very special to the 2014 Rare Book Week programme: A 10-day exhibition of the Gutenberg Bible.

The Bible, on loan courtesy of The University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library, will be displayed from 18 to 27 July in the Dulcie Hollyock Room located on the ground floor of the Baillieu Library.

Like all Rare Book Week events, the exhibition is free and open to the public. Viewing hours are 11.00am to 5.00pm daily. Bookings not required.

A series of floor talks connected with the exhibition are also taking place. Details and how to book can be found on the Gutenberg Bible exhibition and Cultural Treasures Festival webpages.

A selection of incunabula and later religious texts from Baillieu Special Collections is also on display on the ground floor of the library in support of the Gutenberg Bible exhibit.

Whether you are local to Melbourne or just visiting, a chance to see a copy of the first substantial book printed in the Western world is not to be missed!

21 June 2014

Warburg Institute: library saved from Nazis awaits its fate

[Originally posted on the Centre for Material Texts bog]

The Times Higher Education Supplement reports that the Warburg Institute library is under threat again, as the University of London heads off to court to contest the terms of a deed of trust made in 1944.
Anyone who has worked in the library, based in the Institute’s building in Woburn Square, will know how special it is. With vast amounts of material, much of it available nowhere else in the UK, and instantly accessible on open shelves, it’s a goldmine for scholar working on the history of European art and literature.
The Warburg apparently runs a £500,000 annual deficit–which is presumably small change for an institution of the size of the University of London. Let’s hope that the administrators can be made to see sense.

09 June 2014

Australasian Rare Books Summer School 2015

The 10th anniversary Australasian Rare Books Summer School will be held 26-30 January 2015 in Wellington, New Zealand. The event is hosted by Victoria University of Wellington and the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand.

Three exciting courses are on offer, each of which runs for five full days:

History of Cartography/Maps
Tutor: Julie-Sweetkind Singer, Stanford University, USA

Geographic Information Systems for Digital Humanities
Tutor: Ian Gregory, Lancaster University, UK

Artistic Printing
Tutors: Marty Vreede, Quay School of the Arts, Whanganui and Sydney Shep, Wai-te-ata Press, Victoria University of Wellington

Follow the links above for full course descriptions and instructor bios.

The cost of each course is NZD $800 + gst per person. Places are strictly limited.

For more details about RBSS 2015 visit: http://wtap.vuw.ac.nz/wordpress/digital-history/events/rare-books-summer-school/

If you would like to attend, please use the Expression of Interest on-line form, and a member of the RBSS team will contact you with more information.

Hope to see you there!

23 May 2014

Provenance in Pictures: Tracking the Ownership of Three Early Printed Books

[First posted on University of Melbourne Library Collections blog]

Last week a group of Melbourne bibliophiles were treated to a delightful talk by preeminent bookman Nicolas Barker, editor of The Book Collector since 1965, and whose bibliography records an impressive 1,000+ entries.[1]

Barker examined twenty or so works from Special Collections and talked to the salient points of each book. This post highlights three of the selected items that had multiple signs of ownership, all of which caught Barker’s eye.

1. Johannes Meder, Quadragesimale de filio prodigo et de angeli ipsius ammonitione salubri per sermones diuisum [Basel: Michael Furter, 1495].

Title-page of the Quadragesimale

Judging by the number of inscriptions on the title-page, this copy of Meder’s Quadragesimale certainly travelled, but not very far. All of them can be localised to the province of Limburg in the Netherlands. The earliest is the inscription by Johan van Kessenich, shown above in between two other inscriptions towards the top of the title-page. Kessenich was born ca. 1522, served as steward of the Augustinian cloister of St Elisabeth in Nunhem, and died ca. 1608. The book then passed to a Wilhelm Horst, whose tidy inscription notes that he was a pastor in the town of Haelen (just 1km south of Nunhem), and came into possession of the Quadragesimale the same year as Kessenich’s approximate date of death. The last two pieces of evidence recorded on the title-page puts the book in the library of the Augustijnenkerk (Church of the Augustinians) in Maastricht, about 55km southwest of Haelen.

Quadragesimale binding

The book was bound in a contemporary style by the twentieth-century French binder Roger Devauchelle (1915-1993), who preserved the original clasp catches, the paper spine label, and presumably the pastedowns: two fragments from a thirteenth-century Breviary.

Manuscript pastedown

Affixed to the front pastedown is the book label of ‘B. Couissinier’, and Devauchelle’s stamp can be found in the upper-left corner.[2]

Purchased by the Friends of the Baillieu Library with funds from the George Shaw Trust.

2. Eusebius Pamphilus[Greek title:] Evangelicae praeparatio lib. XV … [with] Evangelicae demonstrationis lib. X. Paris: Robert Estienne, 1544-1545.

Signature of Rudolf Gwalther

The earliest sign of ownership on Estienne’s 1544 edition of Eusebius is an inscription dated just five years after its publication. It reads: ‘Sum Rodolphi Gualtheri Tigurini 1549′. The owner, Rudolf Gwalther (1519-1586), was a Reformed Protestant pastor in Zurich (‘Tigurum’) who married the daughter of Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531), one of the leaders of the Reformation in Switzerland. He became head of the Zurich church upon the death of Zwingli’s successor Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575).

Heidegger collection inscription

The book can next be placed in another Zurich collection, the ‘Bibliothecae Heideggeriana’. This collection was formed by Hans Heinrich Heidegger (1711-1763), whose son, Johann Heinrich (1738-1823), continued to expand the library. A slip pasted on the front free endpaper with the date ’1783′ written upon it suggests the Eusebius was acquired by the younger Heidegger that year. The Heideggeriana collection was sold in 1810 when Johann moved to Geneva.[3]

Stamp of Hachette and Co.

Sometime after the Heidegger sale, the Eusebius made its way to France and into the stock of the great bookshop and publishing house L. Hachette et Compagnie, whose acquisition stamp on the title-page dates to 1918.

E. Doheny book label

The volume next appeared in the library of Estelle Doheny (1875-1958), who amassed one of the great twentieth-century book collections in America. Doheny left her library, which included a volume of the Gutenberg Bible, to St John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California.[4] In her bequest, Doheny stipulated that the collection must be kept together for 25 years after her death. In 1986, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Seminary Board of Directors made the controversial decision to sell the Doheny collection. The books were auctioned by Christie’s, New York, in six sales held between 1987 and 1989. The Eusebius was sold to Parsons Books in the 1 February 1988 sale (lot 559).[5]

Purchased by the Ivy M. Pendlebury bequest in memory of Gerald Frederic Pendlebury.

3. De recta pronunciatione Latinae linguae dialogus. Antwerp:  Christophe Plantin, 1586.

Stamp of Anton Fugger dated 1586

This copy of Plantin’s 1586 edition of Lipsius has a long connection to families that wielded financial power. The first being the stamp of Anton Fugger dated 1586. He was a member of a wealthy German banking and merchant family, their financial prospects secured by his namesake, Anton Fugger (1493-1560), whose trade empire extended to the Americas and the West Indies, and who also held mining interests in Scandinavia.

Bookplate of Zacharias Geizkofler von Gailenbach

This beautifully engraved bookplate is the most physically impressive piece of provenance evidence found among these three books. Measuring 17 x 14 cm, the ex libris belonged to Zacharias Geizkofler von Gailenbach (1560-1617), who had his name and that of his wife, Maria (nee von Rehelingen), along with her date of birth, engraved along the central oval frame. From 1597, Geizkofler served as Reichspfennigmeister (treasurer) of the Holy Roman Empire, and as an adviser to the emperors Rudolf II (1552-1612) and Matthias (1557-1619).

Lipsius title page

The Lipsius eventually travelled to what was Austria-Hungary. There it came into the possession of the noble Magyar family, Zichy, though which family member has yet to be confirmed. The title-page is stamped with the arms and name of Count Ödön Zichy. This may refer to Count Ödön (1809-1848), a governmental administrator who was executed as a result of a court martial, or Count Ödön (1811-1894), founder of the Oriental Museum in Vienna and a great patron of art and industry.

Bookplate of Jan Szasz

The second Hungarian collector to own this book was Jan Szasz, about whom I have been able to find very little.[6] It appears, however, that Szasz immigrated to the Antipodes, for a number of books with his bookplate are found in Australian institutional and private libraries.

Purchased by the Ivy M. Pendlebury bequest in memory of Gerald Frederic Pendlebury.


[1] See A.S.G. Edwards, Nicolas Barker at Eighty: A List of His Publications to Mark His 80th Birthday (New Castle, DE; London: Oak Knoll Press; Bernard Quaritch Ltd., 2013).

[2] Do you recognise the ‘B. Couissinier’ bookplate? If you know who he or she was, please leave a comment or email me at Special Collections.

[3] Selecta artis typographicae monumenta e bibliotheca Heideggeriana sive Catalogus librorum seculo XV impressorum … qui pro adjectis in margine pretiis publica auctionis lege divenduntur d. 18. Jun…(Zurich, 1810)

[4] The Gutenberg Bible volume was purchased by the Maruzen Co. of Tokyo for USD $5.3m (with premium) in the 22 October 1987 sale (lot 1). It was acquired by Keio University Library in March 1996.

[5] The Estelle Doheny Collection … Part III: Printed Books and Manuscripts including Western Americana (New York: Christie, Manson & Woods, 1988) 173 (lot 559)

[6] As with the book label of M. or Mme Couissinier, I would welcome any information on this collector named Szasz.

04 May 2014

Original Les Miserables Manuscript on Its Way to Melbourne

[The following is from the Herald Sun website]

The original 1862 manuscript of Les Miserables — considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century — is on its way to Melbourne.

Victor Hugo’s 945-page handwritten document will leave the Bibliotheque nationale de France for the first time to be exhibited exclusively at the State Library of Victoria.

Arts Minister Heidi Victoria said the loan to Melbourne was an act of enormous trust and generosity by the French people.

“It is also significant that the State Library of Victoria is the first institution that France has entrusted this great work to,” she said.

Victor Hugo’s handwritten manuscript. Source: Supplied

[Exhibition] curator Tim Fisher said the “talismanic object” would be the centrepiece of the library’s forthcoming exhibition 'Victor Hugo: Les Miserables From Page to Stage', which coincides with a new production of Les Miserables premiering at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

“Victor Hugo had this amazing way of writing, where he would write down one side of the page and then sometimes, years later, go back and make corrections or additions,” Mr Fisher said. “It’s not a neat object; it is full of humanity.”

Victor Hugo started working on Les Miserables in 1845, completing it 17 years later in Guernsey, where he had been living in exile after declaring Napoleon III a traitor to France.

Les Miserables has been translated into 20 languages, reprinted at least 248 times, been adapted for cinema at least 50 times, and is the foundation for three major musical adaptations.

'The Victor Hugo: Les Miserables From Page to Stage' exhibition also features the six quills Hugo used to write the manuscript, portraits of the author, photographs of scenes from various movie, theatre adaptations and comic books.

'Victor Hugo: Les Miserables From Page to Stage' opens at the State Library of Victoria on 17 July. Visit victorhugoexhibition.com.au

29 March 2014

Australia's First Banknote Sells for $334,000

[The following is from Auction Central News]

SYDNEY (AFP) – The only surviving example of Australia's first official banknote exceeded expectations when it was auctioned for AUD $334,000 (USD $310,000), officials said Thursday.
The 10 shilling note – one of 100 issued in 1817 by the Bank of New South Wales (now called Westpac) on the day it opened – attracted bids from around the world, said Jim Noble of Noble Numismatics, which handled the sale.
"It's a record for a colonial banknote," he told AFP. "It will stay in Australia (but) I've no idea what the gentleman who bought it plans to do; he's a high up executive in a big organization.”
The auction price easily exceeded its Aus$250,000 estimate, with Noble attributing the interest to its unique historical value.
"It's the only one of its kind, even Westpac does not have one," Noble said.

Australia's first banknote. Image courtesy of Noble Numismatics.

Noble said the note was discovered in a private collection in Scotland in 2005, with Scots-born former New South Wales governor Lachlan Macquarie or one of his staff thought to have taken it there.
It was later bought by a private collector who sold it at Wednesday night's auction.
Macquarie arrived in Sydney at the end of 1809 to be confronted by a colony in crisis with no stable monetary system since the First Fleet landed in 1788.
As the new governor, he was given extensive powers to reshape the colony, but despite this his first request to London to establish a bank was rejected.
In 1812, to alleviate the shortage of currency, he imported Ł10,000 in Spanish coins from India and in 1813 manufactured and issued the "Holey Dollar" – one of which sold at auction for a world-record Aus$495,000 last year.
But it was not sufficient and in 1816 he revived his plan for a bank, this time getting London's approval, and on April 8, 1817 the Bank of New South Wales opened for business.

28 March 2014

Altering Shakespeare: An Interleaved Copy of Antony and Cleopatra

[First posted on the University of Melbourne Library Collections blog]

On 23 February 1855, the steamship Pacific docked in Melbourne harbour. Descending the gangway for his first tour of Australia was the Irish actor Gustavus Brooke, along with his wife Marianne, Brooke’s leading lady Fanny Cathcart, and his stage manager Richard W. Younge.

How Younge worked up a play for performance can been seen in his interleaved copy of Antony and Cleopatra, A Tragedy ([London?], ca. 1800), highlighted in this week’s post, along with some commentary on its provenance and use.

Half-title signed by R. W. Younge
Half-title inscribed by Richard W. Younge

The inscription shown above reads ‘R. W. Younge Theatre Royal Melbourne Feby 1856′. By ‘Theatre Royal’, Younge is most likely referring to Queen’s Theatre, also known as Queen’s Theatre Royal, where Brooke’s company opened with Othello to wide acclaim, and not the Theatre Royal owned by John Black. At the time of Younge’s February 1856 inscription, Black was in direct competition with the man responsible for Brooke’s Australian tour: the entrepreneurial actor-manager George Coppin, lessee of Queen’s Theatre and owner of the prefabricated Olympic. It was not until June 1856 that Coppin took over the Theatre Royal from his then insolvent rival, and so it is highly doubtful that Younge would have infringed upon his contractual obligations by being in the Theatre Royal before then.[1]

Potential confusion about the inscription aside, what makes this copy particularly interesting are Younge’s notes and textual edits.

Opening scene of play with annotations and notes.
Opening scene of play with annotations, notes, and a second inscription by Younge (p. [1])

Not a single page of printed text escaped his pen. Younge crossed out text, jotted down stage notes, cut entire scenes, changed characters, such as Demetrius and Philo being replaced by Enobarbus and Eros at the opening of Act 1, Scene 1 (see above image), and made numerous smaller alternations throughout the play in order to adapt the text to suit the production.

Younge's changes to Act 2, Scene 2, with a further inscription
Younge’s changes to Act 2, Scene 2, with a further inscription (p. 26)

Younge clearly made good use of the interleaving. His notes range from single lines to full pages of text, including many explanations and interpretation of phrases, definitions of words, musical accompaniment and stage directions, and even the occasional sketch of the set.

Sketch of set with stage notes.
Sketch of set with stage notes (p. 50)

Further stage notes (p. 51)
Further stage notes (p. 51)

Despite the amount of editing and annotation, no evidence could be found that Brooke and his company ever performed Antony and Cleopatra in Australia. Contemporary newspapers record the group performing scenes from Othello, Hamlet, Richard III, Macbeth, and Merchant of Venice. According to the Dictionary of the Australian Theatre, 1788-1914, Antony and Cleopatra was not performed at Melbourne’s Theatre Royal until 1867, six years after the actors returned to England.[2] 

Final page with notes.
Final pages (p. 141).

Perhaps Brooke and Younge found the existing repertoire sufficiently successful and did not feel the need to introduce scenes from another play.[3] Regardless of the reasons why Antony and Cleopatra was not used, this copy, with its copious notes and amendments, offers a fascinating study in nineteenth-century stage production and a fine connection with a booming Melbourne during Victoria’s early gold rush years.

Antony and Cleopatra; A Tragedy by William Shakespeare; Accurately Printed from the Text of Mr Steeven’s Last Edition ([London?], ca. 1800); from the library of Dr John Chapman with his bookplate; purchased by the University of Melbourne from the Chapman sale, Melbourne, 24-25 February 2004 (lot 340)

[1] According to Brooke’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, when the juvenile lead Robert James Heir married Fanny Cathcart the pair left Brooke’s company for an engagement at Black’s Theatre Royal. They were brought back by a court injunction. See H. L. Oppenheim, ‘Brooke, Gustavus Vaughan (1818–1866)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/brooke-gustavus-vaughan-3064/text4519, published in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 26 March 2014.

[2] Eric Irvin, Dictionary of the Australian Theatre, 1788-1914 (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1985), 28.

[3] Along with the inscription, the fact the play went unused suggests Younge bought the book in Melbourne where he had it interleaved and bound. His working up of the text for a potential addition of Antony and Cleopatra to an already full programme seems more probable after the company’s arrival in Australia than having such plans in place at the start of the tour and then dropping them (My thanks to Ian Morrison, who was Curator of Special Collections at the University of Melbourne when this book was acquired, for discussing its provenance and history with me).