The Lennox-Boyd Collection (of printed ephemera) was accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by H M Government from the estate of the Hon. Christopher Lennox-Boyd and allocated to the Bodleian Library in 2015. Christopher Lennox-Boyd (1941-2012) was an antiquarian scholar and an avid collector, most notably of mezzotints, but also of ephemera, fans, picture frames and much else. He owned Sanders (the antique print shop) in the High Street, Oxford.
The ephemera collection arrived in 61 boxes (some very large) and bags. CLB had begun to sort some sections but a great deal of the ephemera remained unsorted, often still in dealers’ bags. (although provenance of individual items is not documented). It is, therefore, a delightful and privileged voyage of discovery – a rare opportunity to discover a private collection. My trusty team of volunteers and I are currently undertaking an initial sort, and are turning up all sorts of gems.
The material is more varied than I had realised and our list of categories now numbers over 30. The meat of the collection, however, is in the trade cards, bill headings and note headings. There is a substantial corpus of material relating to hotels.
The smaller, but choice, Ceremonial and Funeralia sections have already been sorted by our History graduate student, Leea.
Another volunteer is cataloguing a small collection of Bookplates.
An index will be produced in due course, and it is hoped also to catalogue the trade cards, which complement those already catalogued and digitised in the John Johnson Collection. Meanwhile, the focus is on appropriate housing for the collection – in the system of Conservation-quality ring binders with melinex pages begun by Christopher Lennox-Boyd. We were fortunate to raise money for this at Duke Humfrey’s Night 2015 (item 37).
We will post about the collection from time to time, but here are some items which have caught our attention as we sort:
First an Executioner’s trade or visiting card – the first I have seen. An unassuming item, it is attached to an album page (sadly all that we have) with images of crimals or suspected criminals, two of whom (Peace & Lefroy) are among the 176 people he executed. William Marwood merits his own Wikipedia article. He developed the ‘long drop’ (more humane) method of hanging.
While on the subject of crime, this handbill listing hangings in Bristol (42 in 89 years) forms a fascinating overview of the application of the death penalty.
Some of the humblest scraps of paper can prove fascinating, as is the case with this advertisement for the hire of umbrellas, to avoid the inconvenience of carrying them on dry days!
One of the more unusual Lost notices I have seen is this one:
While most of the ephemera pre-dates chromolithography, volunteer Caroline was delighted to find this early 1900s novelty advertisement for Au Bon Marché.
Watch this space, as we uncover more treasures! We will also post gems from the collection as we find them on our Instagram page.