26 August 2011

Bound But Not Forgotten: Prospectuses as Binder's Waste

In my previous post I noted some Dutch manuscript fragments used by the binder of the 1631 Isocrates. This put me in mind of other items in the Heritage Collections with bindings that have their own secrets to reveal. 

This post is the first in a short series on additional interesting binding fragments still in situ and found in the Alfred and Isabel Reed Collection.

Johnsonian Prospectuses
The latest of the eighteenth-century editions of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language held by the Dunedin Public Library is the 1785 folio seventh edition. The Reed copy is bound in two slim volumes. The binding, a once attractive tree-calf with gold-tooled spines, is now in a poor state. The leather is peeling away from the boards, as are the front and rear pastedowns. The condition of the volumes is such as would make many a bibliophile cringe, but their decrepitude turns out to be a boon in this instance. Inserted between the boards and pastedowns of the first volume are two blue wrappers, each bearing a prospectus for the 'Genuine Edition' of Johnson’s Dictionary.


Fig. 1

These blue wrappers are mentioned in J. D. Fleeman’s A Bibliography of the Works of Samuel Johnson, under his entries for the quarto sixth edition (55.4D/8) and folio seventh edition (55.4D/9), both published in 1785. Though still partially attached the wrappers were loose enough to be examined. Based on the trimmed measurement (27.3 x 44cm) and position of the chain lines, it was determined that the wrappers were used for sheets of a folio edition rather than quarto. Printed on the top margin of one of the sheets is the number 3 twice, positioned to be visible along the section of wrapper forming the spine, and 'N3' above the title (fig. 1). The relevance of the numbers lay with the publishing of the 1785 folio Dictionary, which was released as a single volume and in weekly parts (Fleeman, p. 433). This particular wrapper, therefore, possibly enclosed the third set of weekly sheets. Unfortunately, the other wrapper was glued in top margin first (fig. 2), thereby obscuring the numbers.

Fig. 2

The number of Johnson-related proposals and prospectuses recovered from bindings remains unknown. Robert DeMaria, Jr., noted that Fleeman spoke of finding some, but is unaware of anyone currently searching for them in a systematic fashion. Regardless of their number, the discovery of these prospectuses proves the saying that you never know what will turn up where, and invites further discussion about what light such printing house discards might shed on eighteenth-century printing and Johnson’s bibliography.

Samuel Johnson. A Dictionary of the English Language .... London: Printed for J. F. and C. Rivington, L. Davis, T. Payne and Son, W. Owen, T. Longman [and 21 others], 1785. Seventh edition (shelfmark: RJJ Dic 1785 OS). ESTC T116652; Fleeman 55.4D/9.

This post originally appeared as a longer article called 'Between the Covers: Newly Discovered Johnsonian Prospectuses' in The Johnsonian News Letter (61:2, September 2010).

The second volume of the 1785 Dictionary also includes blue wrappers used as binder’s waste. These are prospectuses advertising an edition of Ephraim Chambers’s Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences with supplement by the Welsh minister Abraham Rees. Further research needs to be done on the edition advertised.

09 August 2011

Recent Acquisitions II: A Bible for Rarotonga and Isocrates in the Seventeenth Century

Opening of the Gospel of Matthew
Te Bibilia tapu ra: koia te Koreromotu Taito e te Koreromotu Ou (Lonedona: Societi Bibilia i Bertani e te au Enua Katoa, 1851).

The first full edition of the Bible in Rarotongan, or Cook Islands Maori. The initial translation work was carried out on Rarotonga by members of the London Missionary Society John Williams (1796–1839), Charles Pitman (ca. 1796–1884) and Aaron Buzacott (1800–64) in 1828. Williams, who was the primary translator, returned to England from the South Pacific in 1834 to oversee the printing of his translation of the New Testament. He returned to the Pacific in 1837. Two years later Williams and fellow missionary James Harris were killed and eaten by cannibals while visiting parts of the New Hebrides islands (now Vanuatu).

Pitman and Buzacott continued the translation work and printed portions of the Bible on Rarontonga. According to Darlow and Moule 'the missionaries had intended to print the concluding portions of the OT ... like the earlier portions, at Rarotonga; but the MS. was almost entirely destroyed in a cyclone ... in March 1846, and it had to be rewritten' (Darlow & Moule 7671). In 1847 Buzacott returned to England where he revised the Bible with the assistance of a Rarotongan native named Kiro and T. W. Meller, Editorial Superintendent of the British and Foreign Bible Society (Darlow and Moule).

The B.F.B.S. printed 5,000 copies, which were shipped to the Rarotonga. The translation was so well received by the local Christian population that the entire printing cost was refunded within a few years (Darlow and Moule).

Purchased from Blackwell's Rare Books, Oxford.

Isocratus logoi kai epistolai. Isocratis orationes et epistolae ... (Paris: Sébastien Chappelet, 1631). This edition of Greek rhetorician Isocrates's speeches and letters was edited by Ambroise Pezier and is based on the work of German humanist Hieronymus Wolf (1516–80), who first published his translation of Isocrates in 1551.

The printer, Sébastien Chappelet (1589–1647), was active as a printer and publisher in Paris from 1614 to 1642. The text is in Greek with Latin interlinear translation and marginal notes in both languages.

The copy is bound in contemporary vellum. The binding is mostly detached, revealing some fragments from a fifteenth-century Dutch manuscript used as reinforcing strips along the spine.

The front free endpaper has the ownership inscription of a young James William Robertson (1774–1855), later Minister of Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland. Robertson was licensed by the Presbytery of Edinburgh in 1796 and received his MA from the University of Saint Andrews in 1797.

Received as a donation.