23 September 2011

Bound But Not Forgotten #3: Further 18C Prospectuses

My first post in this short series ended with a note on further prospectuses found in the binding of the 1785 folio edition of Johnson's Dictionary. Both were initially identified as being for an edition of Ephraim Chambers's Cyclopaedia, or a Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences revised and supplemented by Abraham Rees, though the exact edition advertised was unknown.

I have since been able to identify the edition, though it turns out my initial identification was only half correct.

First Prospectus
One of the prospectuses is indeed for the Cyclopaedia (fig. 1), advertising the first revised London edition (London: Printed for W. Strahan, J. F. and C. Rivington, A. Hamilton, J. Hinton, T. Payne [and 31 others], 1778–88; ESTC T136235), issued in parts.

(Fig. 1)

The edition was identified by the conditions of sale, made visible thanks to some very delicate peeling. Condition IV notes that the first part of the Cyclopaedia was to be issued on 10 January 1778 (fig. 2).

(Fig. 2)

Chambers's Cyclopaedia was first published in 1728 and went through numerous editions throughout the eighteenth century. It was one of the first general encyclopaedias published in English and a precursor to the great Encyclopédie of Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert.

Abraham Rees's revised edition added much new material to Chambers, and his scholarly efforts garnered Rees fellowships in the Royal Society and the Linnean Society. Rees went on to published his New Cyclopaedia in parts between 1802 and 1820. The complete work consists of thirty-nine text volumes accompanied by five volumes of plates and an atlas.

The Second Prospectus
The second prospectus turned out to be a surprise. It was not for Chambers's Cyclopaedia at all, but for Thomas Theodore Middleton's A New and Complete System of Geography (London: Printed for J. Cooke, 1778–79; ESTC N5096).

(Fig. 3)

In her Carto-Bibliography of the Maps in Eighteenth-Century British and American Geography Books (2009), Barbara Backus McCorkle describes Middleton's System of Geography (and other 18C folio-sized geographical works) as:

'[A] bibliographical nightmare. The title-pages in similar volumes by Thomas Bankes, q.v., closely resemble in both wording and lay-out those in Middleton and may well have been intended as successors to Middleton's work. [Thirteen] map plates first used here in Middleton later make their appearance in Bankes's publications. Some of the Middleton title-pages carry dates; some do not. But they seem to have been published within a fairly short span of years, 1772–1782. The title-pages of the numerous copies seen frequently vary. The initial wording is the same, but type-setting, lay-out, and dates are not. Most copies were undated; on dated copies, dates ranged from 1777–1779; often [the] vol. I date was later than vol. II'.

For McCorckle's full analysis of Middleton's System of Geography see entry 280 in her Carto-Bibliography, available online thanks to the Bibliographical Society of America.

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.

13 September 2011

Bound But Not Forgotten #2: 15C Manuscript Leaves

This week's binding fragments are two mid fifteenth-century manuscript pastedowns found in a seventeenth-century binding. The fragments are nearly contemporary with the printing a 1476 edition of Jacobus de Voragine's Legenda aurea and were possibly recycled as pastedowns at least twice in their history.

According to Christopher de Hamel the fragments preserve clear impressions offset from typical diaper ruling of late medieval bindings and may well have been with the volume since the fifteenth century. This suggests the parent manuscript had a fairly short existence, perhaps being irreparably damaged.

The fragments were visible beneath the overlaid seventeenth-century pastedowns, which were removed in 1984 to allow for access to the manuscripts. The text remained unidentified until this month and appears to be from Bonaventure's De Christi Humanitate, part of chapters 22 to 24. The front leaf (fig. 1) concerns Christ's descent into Hell and the beginning of the chapter on his Resurrection. The rear leaf (fig. 2) comprises further text on the Resurrection and the opening of the chapter on Christ's Ascension.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

The book itself has a very interesting and well documented provenance, which will be the subject of a future post.


Legenda aurea sanctorum, sive Lombardica historia. Cologne: Conrad Winters, de Homborch, 8 Nov. 1476 (shelfmark: RBC Jac 1476). ISTC ij00086000; GW M11193.

12 September 2011

Upcoming Rare Book Events in Australia

-- The Brisbane Antiquarian Book Fair begins in a few days' time. Sixteen exhibitors are offering something for every level of collector, from an attractive 1886 hand-coloured engraving of the Parliament House in Brisbane priced at $100AUD (Brighton Antique Prints & Maps) to a very fine second edition of John Gould's A Monograph of the Trogonidae for $60,000.00 AUD (Andrew Isles Natural History Books). The event is being hosted by the State Library of Queensland.

-- Australian Book Auctions is holding a sale of books, maps and prints on 26 and 27 September, in 672 lots. Lots 443 to 672 are individual plates from Gould's Birds of Australia.