22 December 2012

Recent Acquisitions III: Boswell to the South Pole

[With Christmas just around the corner, my final post of 2012 highlights some of the year's notable purchases made by the Heritage Collections, Dunedin City Library. I'll be back in 2013 with more Antipodean bibliographic news.]

James Boswell. The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. Dublin: Printed by John Chambers for R. Cross, W. Wilson, [et al], 1792; three volumes.
The first Dublin and second overall edition of James Boswell's classic biography of Samuel Johnson. The text was produced quickly by having a separate printer print each volume in an effort to undersell the genuine edition, which appeared in London the previous year. The second London edition published in 1793 followed the Dublin three-volume octavo format.

According to Frederick Pottle, while a number of typographical errors found in the 1791 first London edition were here corrected, others were introduced (Pottle 80).

Purchased from Blackwell's, Oxford, December 2012.

F. A. Pottle. The Literary Career of James Boswell Esq.: Being the Bibliographical Materials for a Life of Boswell (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967 reprint).

Breviary leaf, Latin. Bohemia, ca. 1420 to 1450.
This single, illuminated leaf with a five-line initial 'D' containing a bearded figure dressed in a green tunic, is the first example of Bohemian manuscript production to be added to the Reed manuscripts collection.

The design was influenced by manuscripts illuminated for the court of King Wenceslas IV (13611419), with its use of silver to heighten the border decorations, and acanthus leaves extending into the margins with angles marked in gold.

Fitting for this time of year, the text is from the first Sunday in Advent.

Purchased from Maggs, January 2012.

Alan Loney. RISE: Governors Bay Sept / Nov 2000. Newark, VT: Janus Press, 2003.
The Library has been collecting private press books since the 1980s. Today new acquisitions focus mainly on New Zealand private presses, and books produced overseas with New Zealand content.

This poem by the New Zealand poet-printer Alan Loney may be read as paginated, but it is also intended for random browsing – and so was bound with two spines and three panels, so the alternating pages can be accessed from either direction.

In the centre of the book is a colour photographic illustration of Governors Bay, Canterbury, New Zealand, taken by Claire Van Vliet, founder of the Janus Press. According to Ruth Fine's catalogue raisonné The Janus Press, Fifty Years (2006), Van Vliet made the translucent tan paper fly-leaves 'from abaca pulp prepared with seawater by Bernie Vinzani', a master paper maker based in Maine. The binding was inspired by New Zealand bookbinder Elizabeth Steiner's Gioia II (2002) and executed by Audrey Holden.

An unnumbered copy out of 150 printed, this particular copy is from the library of Andrew Hedden, notable collector of press books and livres d'artiste.

Purchased from Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts, November 2012.

Robert McNab. Murihiku and the Southern Islands. [Invercargill: William Smith, Printer, 1906].
Described by T. M. Hocken as 'a mass of old history', Robert McNab's Murihiku tells the early history of New Zealand's South Island and the adjacent islands.

Murihiku was continually reworked by McNab. It initially appeared in 1904 as Murihiku: Some Old Time Events, a collection of twelve articles originally published in the Southern Standard. These were reprinted along with an additional thirteen articles the following year. In 1906 McNab was ready to publish a new edition. Mcnab, however, had gathered so much new material from a research trip to America that he decided to scrap the edition. Ending on page 144, all but six of the 600 copies in mid production were destroyed (Bagnall M568). A replacement edition of 1,000 copies covering the years 1770 to 1829 was produced in 1907, followed in 1909 by an expanded edition covering 1642 to 1835 produced in a smaller run of 515 copies (fifteen on hand made paper).

Not listed in Bagnall, the 210-page Murihiku recently bought by the Library is described in the National Library of New Zealand catalogue as a 'printer's advance copy', presumably for the 1907 edition. The National Library of New Zealand and Dunedin City Library copies are the only copies presently known. The Dunedin copy is inscribed by the author to Thomas Mackenzie, an explorer and politician who served briefly as the 18th Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1912.

Purchased from Art+Object auction, Auckland, 6 December 2012 (item 35).

A. S. Bagnall. New Zealand National Bibliography to the Year 1960, 4 vols. in 5 (Wellington: A. R. Shearer, Government Printer, 1970–1980; supplement and index 1985).

Robert Maunsell. Grammar of the New Zealand Language. Auckland: J. Moore, 1842-1843; four parts.
Maunsell's Grammar was described in my 25 July post for Maori Language Week. Its entry reads:

This grammar was written by Robert Maunsell in 1841–1842, encouraged by the support of prominent figures including the Governor’s private secretary (James Coates), Sir William Martin, the first Chief Justice of New Zealand, and George Augustus Selwyn, first Anglican Bishop of New Zealand. This support resulted in the work being printed in Auckland by the printer contracted to the government, rather than by the Church Mission Press at Paihia.

Freed from the influence of the Northern District, which controlled mission printing and translating, Maunsell took tentative steps at reforming Maori orthography and adopting (in preference to the northern Ngapuhi dialect) the conventions of the Waikato dialect, which was widely understood and had retained its purity.

3,000 copies were printed at Maunsell’s expense and issued in four parts. At the time of my July post the Library held only two of the four parts, and we are delighted to now have a full set in the collection.

Purchased from Art+Object auction, Auckland, 6 December 2012 (item 271).

South Polar Times. Facsimile edition produced by the Folio Society, 2012; thirteen volumes.
The South Polar Times is a remarkable publication that was produced aboard the Discovery when it wintered over in the Antarctic 1902–1903, and on the Terra Nova in 1910–1913. It was produced as a monthly journal, partly to relieve the boredom and monotony, and presumably also to aid in keeping the men disciplined. Contributions, which were made anonymously or under noms de plume, included poetry, puzzles, scientific articles, observations, mock interviews, reports on events, satires and song parodies. Some contributors, most notably Edward Wilson, provided their own illustrations.

A bound, three-volume reproduction was published in 1907–1914 after the expeditions returned to England, and was intended for the expedition members and their families as a record of and an insight into life in the Antarctic. The recent Folio Society facsimile was produced in the monthly journal format from the original issues held by the Royal Geographical Society, British Library and Scott Polar Research Institute, and include material not found in the 1907–1914 reproduction.

Purchased from the Folio Society, June 2012.


Wishing you all the very best for the Christmas season and a joyous New Year.

01 December 2012

The Oldest English Binding in New Zealand

The oldest English binding in New Zealand has been identified by Donald Kerr, Special Collections Librarian, University of Otago, and reported in the Otago Daily Times. The binding by Rood and Hunt, Oxford, dates to 1482, and covers a volume of Nicholas de Lyra's commentary on the Bible printed in Venice by Johannes Herbort de Seligenstadt the previous year. At some point in its history, much of the binding's spine and spine edge were damaged and replaced.

The book is also notable for another reason: the fragments of indulgences printed by William Caxton (Westminster, after 9 August 1480) and John Lettou (London, after 1480), which were used as sewing guards. These were identified by Christopher de Hamel, who first reported his findings to the Oxford Bibliographical Society in 1982 and included them as part of his 2009 Lyell Lectures.

Courtesy of Special Collections,
University of Otago

The book (and many others) will be on display in the exhibition 'From Pigskin to Paper: The Art and Craft of  Bookbinding', Special Collections, de Beer Gallery, University of Otago, scheduled to open on 20 December.