26 February 2011

'Libraries at Risk'

Podcast of a talk by Professor David McKitterick (Trinity College, Cambridge) on 'Libraries at Risk', delivered on 30 November 2010 as part of the History of Libraries seminar series of the Institute of English Studies, University of London. The talk has been made available through the Institute of Historical Research website.


'Several recent cases have drawn attention to the fragility of libraries as we know them - both large and small. In a world of changing attitudes to books, as well as perennial problems of cash shortage, how can library historians in particular contribute to a debate that will become even more urgent in the next few years?'

17 February 2011

Guest Post: Exhibition & Acquisition News, University of Otago Special Collections

Current Exhibition
'Faces of Authorship: Constructing the Author in Medieval and Early Modern Books' comes to a close on 25 March. If by any chance you are visiting Dunedin within the next month or so, please do call in. Dr Simone Celine Marshall, English Department, has done an excellent job selecting & writing on the exhibition books and manuscripts. An article on the exhibition appeared in the Otago Daily Times.

Upcoming Exhibition
On the headstone that marks a grave at Deyá, Marjorca, there is the simple: ‘Robert Graves Poeta 1895-1985’. And it was this aspect that attracted Charles Brasch, editor, patron and poet, to the works of Graves, calling him ‘among the finest English poets of our time, one of the few who is likely to be remembered as a poet’. Indeed, not only did Brasch collect his own first editions volumes written by Graves, he also encouraged the University of Otago Library to buy more. Thanks to Brasch, Special Collections now has an extensive collection of works (poetry, novels, essays, children’s books) by Graves.

The upcoming exhibition ‘Forging a Magical Landscape: The Works of Robert Graves, Poet’, which runs from 1 April to 17 June, reveals the scope and range of topics that Graves covered as well as his sheer industry. One moves from the trenches, Roman bath-houses and the American War of Independence, to life with John Milton, Jesus, and the poisoner Dr William Palmer. First and second editions, signed limited publications, reprints, illustrative editions, translations, contributions to the work of others, and children’s books feature as too do early influences and friends such as Edward Marsh, Siegfried Sassoon, and T. E. Lawrence. And then there is the all-important poetry, at first about the war, then to the three loves of his life: Nancy Nicholson, Laura Riding, and Beryl Pritchard. The works of (and critical analysis by) Laura Riding, American poet and Graves's collaborator for 13 years, also feature here.

Recent Acquisition
Late last year, Special Collections acquired the full colour facsimile of the Hereford World Map, made about 1300, and the largest Mappa Mundi in existence. The facsimile was produced by the Folio Society in a limited edition of 1,000 copies. After the rush from Summer School, the map will be on display for all to see.

Please contact Donald Kerr for further information on any of the above. Phone: 03.479.8330; email: donald.kerr@otago.ac.nz.

13 February 2011

'Upon beat of Drumme'

In the Alfred and Isabel Reed Collection, Dunedin City Library, there are fifteen boxes of printed leaves and fragments dating from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century that form part of the Printing Examples Collection. These items are currently being added to the online catalogue as part of an ongoing retrospective cataloguing project. The majority have been identified, and the project has yielded some treasures, such as a leaf from the Shakespeare First Folio (London, 1623) and another from Cornelius Roelans's Opusculum aegritudinum infantium (Louvain, 1486–1487). Not all the 'fragments', however, are what they seemed.

Among the cuttings and full pages are two Parliamentarian broadsides printed in 1644, the third year of the First English Civil War (1642–1646). Both were trimmed and possibly bound into a book, therefore mistaken for fragments as a result. The earlier of the two sheets is dated 'Die Sabbati, 24 August 1644', and the only other copies recorded in the ESTC are held by Harvard University and the Huntington Library respectively (ESTC R25376).

The August broadside included two orders. The first granted 'Serjeants and Councellors at Law' the power to execute 'the Commissions of Oyer and Terminer, and Goal-delivery', which empowered those so commissioned to 'hear and determine' ('oyer and terminer') all criminal matters, and to try all prisoners committed to a local gaol ('Goal-delivery' [sic]). The second, more mundane order, granted 'commissions of sewers'. Both are endorsed by Henry Elsynge, clerk of the House of Commons, a position Elsynge held from December 1639 to December 1648 when he resigned the post citing poor health. In truth, Elsynge wanted no part in the trial against Charles I (ODNB). The broadside was printed for Edward Husband(s), a stationer who, in 1650, was directed to print all the ordinances and acts leading up to and including the trial of the deposed king.

The second broadside is dated 'Die Lunae, 16 Septemb. 1644'. ESTC again records just two other copies, one held by Harvard and the other by the British Library (ESTC R212197).

The order granted 'Commissioners of Martiall-Law' the power to 'proceed against' soldiers and officers who abandoned their colours without leave, ordered the Committee for the Militia to instruct the Courts of Guards to arrest any deserters, and commanded all military personnel near London and Westminster to join their regiments or face prosecution. 

The 16 September date is key. Although the Royalists lost control of northern England after the Battle of Marston Moor in July 1644, the armies of Charles I were still a threat to the Parliamentarian cause in the south. Towards the end of June, Charles I won the Battle of Cropredy Bridge near Banbury in Oxfordshire. On 2 September, the Parliamentarians were again defeated, this time at the Battle of Lostwithiel in Cornwall. With Charles I now marching towards London, and their forces growing increasingly demoralised and disaffected, the Parliamentarian commanders could not have afforded any depletion in the ranks.

The September broadside was published 'forthwith upon beat of Drumme' by the Committee for the Militia, endorsed by another clerk of the Commons, John Brown, and printed for John Wright, Sr., the notable bookseller who published Shakespeare's Sonnets and Marlowe's Faustus.

05 February 2011

A Legal 'Second Boon'

In June of last year I attended the RBMS Preconference in Philadelphia, PA. The annual event kicks off with the ABAA Booksellers' Showcase, where members of the trade entice curators and librarians to put some dents in their acquisitions budgets (and to do a little trading amongst themselves as well).

Entering the Showcase on day one of the preconference, a friend working one of the booths greeted me warmly and then ushered me to the table of The Lawbook Exchange Ltd, a firm, as the name suggests, specialising in antiquarian law books. He was abuzz about one of the items for sale, a first edition of The Laws of England; Compiled and Translated into the Maori Language (Auckland, 1858). What intrigued him was the use of blue paper for the printing and, even more so, the paper wrappers complete with binders ticket of a J. F. Leighton, Auckland. The book was the only one printed in New Zealand at the Showcase, as far as I was (and am) aware, and it seems fitting that this book in particular - the connection to my new home found while visiting my old home - should be the first post to this blog outside of the obligatory welcome.

The book itself is a summary of English criminal and civil laws printed by W. C. Wilson, contract printer to the government. The text appears on facing pages: English on the left and Maori on the right.

From the Dunedin Public Library copy

The text was compiled by Francis Dart Fenton (1820/25?-1898), magistrate and public administrator, 'partly [as] a response to signs of Maori moves towards self-rule ... [and] as an opportunity for Maori to inspect the Pakeha legal system and decide whether or not to accept this "second boon" that followed Christianity' (Parkinson 476). OCLC Worldcat records fourteen copies, eight of which are held by New Zealand institutions. The edition was bound in marbled paper wrappers or brown cloth.

What of the binder, whose ticket drew much attention in Philadelphia? James Francis Leighton (b. 1830) was originally from London. His printing and bookbinding career began at the age of ten, when Leighton entered employment with the well established firm of Messrs. Eyre and Spottiswoode. After serving apprenticeships with other London firms, such as Messrs Samuel Bagster and Son, Leighton set sail for Australia in 1853. He was employed by the Church Press Office but, despite inducements to stay, departed Australia for a cooler climate in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1855. There he was first employed by the proprietors of the 'Southern Cross' before establishing his own business, and was later engaged as bookbinder for the government while Auckland was the capital of New Zealand. The firm of J. F. Leighton and Son became the leading bookbindery in the Province of Auckland.

The above was compiled using information from The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Auckland Province District. Follow this link for information on other Auckland binders and printers.

Leighton ticket in Ko te Kawenata Tawhito; no nga Whakatauki tae noa ki a Maraki ...  (London, 1858)
The Old Testament books of Proverbs to Malachi (Reed Bible Collection)

03 February 2011


Hello and welcome to what I hope is an enjoyable and interesting venture into the blogosphere. 'Antipodean Footnotes' arose from my realisation that there are few blogs promoting the rich and varied special collections of Australasia. This blog will focus on notable items uncovered in local collections, announce exhibitions and publications, and comment on books that were 'new' to this American expat in an effort to raise awareness of what is held by institutions 'Down Under'. Occasional news from the Northern Hemisphere will find its way here as well.

Who am I? Well, I grew up in New Jersey where in 2001 I earned a B.A. in Geography from Rutgers College, Rutgers University. Afterwards, I attended Indiana University, completing my M.L.S. with a specialisation in rare books and manuscript librarianship in 2005. While in Indiana, I was employed by the Lilly Library, first as a public services associate in charge of the Library's photo-reproduction and digitisation programme, and then as a reference associate responsible for managing the Reading Room, curating exhibitions, and answering reference enquiries. Today I manage the Reed Special Collections, a major part of the Heritage Collections of the Dunedin Public Library. Among the Reed collections varied holdings are medieval manuscripts, editions of the Bible and Bible commentaries, incunabula, hymns and hymnody, autograph letters, and first and early editions of works by Charles Dickens, Samuel Johnson, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns. Not content to leave formal study behind just yet, I am presently writing an M.A. in English Literature through the University of Otago. My thesis is an analytical and historical study of the Dunedin Public Library's collection of Johnsoniana.

Feel free to comment or email me with news and announcements.