Category Archives: New & notable

Rare Books discoveries, 2: Picture book of Hitler’s navy

from Sarah Wheale, Rare Books, Department of Special Collections

Not everything discovered during the recent emptying of the New Library ahead of the refurbishment was old or rare, but their subject matter or form brought them to our attention. One such item is a picture book of Hitler’s navy containing 270 photographs, looking much like cigarette cards, pasted into an album.

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Unsere Reichsmarine : Bilder aus dem Leben der Matrosen was probably published in 1934 in Hamburg and was based on an earlier book published in the previous year entitled Matrosen, Soldaten, Kameraden by Max Burchartz and Edgar Zeller (Hamburg, Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, 1933). This new edition was greatly enhanced with an additional 80 photographs by Burchartz but the text was largely taken from the earlier edition.
It covers every aspect of a sailor’s life at sea, from firing practice to disarming a sea-mine to keeping exotic pets on board ship. The intention is clearly to portray the Reichsmarine as a modern, well trained and well equipped service at a time when Hitler was pressing to increase the size of Germany’s marine forces beyond that stipulated in the Versailles Treaty. With full German rearmament just over the horizon this picture book was doubtless intended to justify the need for a larger navy, and the Introduction clearly draws comparisons between the size of the other great marine forces (America, Great Britain, Japan) and the depleted size of Germany’s.
There are few clues as to how this item came to the Library. It was found in the stacks of the New Library (construction completed 1940) in 2011, as material was being prepared for removal preceding renovation of the building (see http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/about/projects/new_bodleian).
It is now kept at shelfmark: Rec. d.494.

Purchase of historical medical books

from Francesca Galligan, Rare Books, Dept. of Special Collections

The Birmingham Medical Institute, established in 1875, offered a first part of its historical medical books at auction in April. The Bodleian purchased six lots, of fifteen editions, adding important new texts and editions to our extensive medical collections. Many of the books were chosen for their focus on women, and include a group on midwifery.

Midwifery

Fielding Ould, A Treatise of midwifry (1748; Vet. A4 e.3676)
This is the rare first London edition of a book striking in its concern for the wellbeing of and respect for the mother, and in its focus on observations from nature and on natural delivery. It includes a glossary: “To make this treatise of more general use, (especially to women who live in the country remote from the assistance of skilful persons) the editors have here subjoined an explanation of the tems of art”. Most of the words in the glossary are of a technical nature, though some are very general: ‘adult’, ‘pregnant’, ‘spine’, ‘intestines’. Ould discusses the work of several others in this field, including Henry Deventer, whose The art of midwifery improv’d was purchased in its 4thedition (1746, Vet. A4 e.3676).

Fig. 1

Deventer’s book contains a series of illustrations of the foetus in utero [Fig. 1].

Illustrations were, for some, a point of concern. Edmund Chapman notes in the preface to his Treatise on the improvement of Midwifery, purchased in its 2nd and 3rd editions (1735 and 1759, Vet. A4 e.3678, Vet. A5 e.7466), that plates of the body would only “serve to raise and encourage impure thoughts” (p. xx). He states “my design, on the contrary, was to compose such a treatise as one of either sex might read without a blush”, and the only illustrations present are forceps and another extraction tool called the fillet. [Figs 2 and 3.] The author recommends the book specifically to midwives, though he hopes that surgeons will also find it useful.

Fig. 2

Women’s health – general

Jean Astruc, Treatise on the diseases of women (1762, in two volumes, together with the rarer third volume, 1767), Vet. A5 e.7469 and Vet. A5 e.7470
An English translation of this important French work that includes an extensive “Chronological catalogue of the physicians, who have written treatises, particularly on the diseases of women…”, divided into four periods. In his preface, Astruc likens his task to that of Vergil, picking over the poetry of Ennius: “I acknowledge it is not without being surfeited with them, that I have gone over so great a number of such collections: and I question whether Virgil was ever so much so in reading the verses of Ennius. But we had both the same design: for I endeavoured, like him, to extract something useful from this heap of things, that contained so little of what was good; and this supported my patience” (p. iv).

Fig. 3

Also purchased were:

William Rowley, A treatise on female, nervous, hysterical, hypochondriacal, bilious, convulsive diseases; apoplexy and palsy; with thoughts on madness, suicide, &c. in which the principal disorders are explained from anatomical facts, and the treatment formed on several new principles(1788), Vet. A5 e.7468  [Fig. 4].

Fig. 4

John Friend, Emmenologia (1752), Vet. A5 e.3
An edition in English, with a typographical error corrected in manuscript [Fig. 5].

Fig. 5

Charles Perry’s rare A mechanical account and explication of the hysteric passion (1755), Vet. A5 e.74711st and 3rd editions of Pierre Pomme’s Traité des affections vaporeuses des deux sexes(Lyon, 1763 and 1767), Vet. E5 f.549 and Vet. E5 e.1221

General medical

William Salmon’s Parateremata: or Select physical and chyrurgical observations: containing divers remarkable histories of cures, done by several famous physicians (1687); Vet. A3 e.2219
One of three editions of this year, all rare, and all thus far absent from the Bodleian. [Figs 6 and 7]

Fig. 6

Fig. 7

Domenico Panaroli, Discorso delle stufe da bagni di Roma, e suoi nocumenti. (Rome, 1646); Vet. F3 e.66
A treatise on the perils of Rome’s modern public baths, known in only a few copies. [Fig. 8]

Robert Bunon, Essay sur les maladies des dents, (Paris, 1743); Vet. E4 e.92
One of the first books devoted to children’s teeth.

An Edinburgh edition of Anton Störck’s An essay on the medicinal nature of hemlock (1762).
Vet. A5 e.7465

Fig. 8

Rare Books discoveries : A first edition Mark Twain

The Bodleian’s legal deposit copy of the first edition of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, shelfmark 251 d.401.

from Sarah Wheale, Rare Books, Department of Special Collections

The Bodleian’s collection of mid-Victorian English literature in Old Class, (the Bodleian’s mid-19thcentury subject classification scheme) is outstanding, with almost 22,000 volumes housed together in a single sequence stretching more than 700 linear meters. The vast majority retain their original bindings with the addition of a black shelfmark label at the foot of the spine, and most were acquired under the terms of the copyright agreement.

Until 2010 it might have seemed to a user of the library catalogues that one item was missing from this collection – a first edition of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer (London, 1876). Happily, the move of library collections has brought this to light along with an array of other items which seem to have slipped onto the stack shelves without making their way into the printed books catalogue first. Some categories of material were known to have been exempted from the main Pre-1920 Catalogue (e.g. 19th century foreign dissertations, items in some non-Roman languages, etc.) but I was surprised by other omissions which cropped up during the stock-take and over the next few months I will be adding them to the catalogue. This occasional series will highlight the more interesting and usual finds as I go along.

The Bodleian’s legal deposit copy of the first edition of Tom Sawyer was resting at shelfmark 251 d.401. Twain insisted it should be published in London ahead of the US publication, to secure the British copyright.  It appeared in this red cloth binding in early June 1876, but delays with the US publisher meant that it did not appear in his home country until December that year. It was a bestseller, and allowed Twain, amongst other things, to engage Louis C. Tiffany in 1881 to supervise the redecoration of his home in Hartford, Connecticut in lavish style.

The Bodleian’s copy is not date-stamped (something the Library began doing from 1882 onwards) but almost certainly entered the collection in 1876. While it has an entry in the handlist (a 19thcentury manuscript inventory) and was given a shelfmark, it did not appear elsewhere in the various main Bodleian catalogues and was effectively untraceable in SOLO by readers.

After the creation of the Nicholson classified shelfmarking scheme in 1882, novels were more widely dispersed, being arranged by size, language, subject, target audience and even acquisition date.

For more information on accessing material via the Old Class or Nicholson Classification Scheme please email sarah.wheale@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Adventures in Provenance : the Gough Missals card index

from Sarah Stewart

As part of my SCONUL graduate library traineeship, I spent a week in Rare Books and Special Collections at the Bodleian Library, gaining a basic experience and understanding of rare and antiquarian book acquisitions, cataloguing and provenance. One of my projects during this week involved investigating provenance and cataloguing of a collection of missals held in the Bodleian Special Collections. These missals (dating between 15th-16th centuries, mostly pre-Reformation) were collected by the antiquarian and topographer Richard Gough (1735-1809). Although Gough is primarily known for his collection of antiquarian maps and topographical manuscripts, in addition to his work on the sepulchral monuments of Great Britain, Gough also contributed 200 early printed service books from the English Churches (primarily York and Sarum), including some illuminated Books of Hours, Missals, breviaries, psalters and hymnals.

The card catalogue of provenance evidence in missals collected by Richard Gough

Former antiquarian books librarian David M. Rogers (1917-1995) had created a card catalogue with notes on the annotations and provenances of these missals. When presented with this card catalogue, housed in a brass tin, the ominous categories “No Clue” in addition to “Not Yet Seen” presented themselves. My task was to order some of the missals in the Gough collection from the stacks, and determine what some of the rather cryptic notes on these cards might indicate. If of use, the information would then be added to the library catalogue record, if not already included. Some of the information contained on the index cards had already been recorded and noted, but others, such as the cryptic “pencil” were rather mysterious.

Along with Antiquarian books librarian Dr Alan Coates, I examined several of Gough’s missals at the Special Collections reading room (currently in the Radcliffe Science Library). One of these missals, Gough Missal 129, presented us with an interesting puzzle. On the index card, “anon. bookplate” had been written. This anonymous bookplate turned out to be a coat of arms, but it did not include a name. The coat of arms depicted a single white rose and chief in ermine on a red shield, surmounted by a rampant Pegasus crest. We are currently in the process of investigating this crest, which will aid in determining who might have owned this missal before it became part of the Gough collection.

http://www.cerl.org/web/en/resources/provenance/main CERL’s page for finding and exchanging provenance information.

Many uses of a piece of parchment

Bodleian Library Broxb. 97.40

Bodleian Library Broxb. 97.40, a frisket made from a recycled manuscript leaf.

The Conservation Section is currently devising a new mount for a parchment frisket cover from the Broxbourne collection. A frisket is the part of a printing press that holds the paper in place during printing. Often covered with parchment, a frisket also acted as a mask to keep inky parts of the press bed from marking the printed paper.

The frisket cover (Broxb. 97.40), which is made from a recycled manuscript leaf, was framed behind glass when it came to the library and only one side could be seen. The library’s Rare Books curators asked whether it could be unframed and mounted so that both sides could be seen, and to make it more readily available for study. Once the Broxbourne frisket was released from its frame far more information about its early use and subsequent history could be seen.

A page of a manuscript

Manuscript writing can be seen on this piece of parchment, which has been identified as a page of an Italian fourteenth-century Canon Law text.

A “mask” for printing in colour

Two centuries later, this discarded piece of parchment from a law manuscript was used to make the frisket. The frisket was used to print the red portion of an octavo-format book in the early sixteenth century, and offers early evidence of two-colour printing processes. Here, areas of parchment were cut away to allow the red-inked type to print initials and so on, while the remaining parchment masked off the text which was to be printed in black. The attached photograph shows the upper side of the frisket cover and a detail of one page in raking light, which clearly shows impressions of type.

A lining for a bookbinding

Now that the frisket cover is out of its frame it can be seen that it was subsequently used as a board lining for a large folio bookbinding.

The final question remains – what was it used to print?

– Andrew Honey, Conservation, Bodleian Libraries

A gift of miniature books

The Library has just been given by Mrs Chloe Morton an extraordinary collection assembled by her late aunt Miss Ursula Mary Radford.

They arrived double- and triple-  banked in a specially made  bookcase with an overflow in a  cardboard box. So far there are  some 320, but more are being  found as the Radford house is  cleared and they are destined  for us.

The range of books is wide, from a 1625 Psalter in a contemporary embroidered binding to a mid-20th century paperback dictionary, a 1780 thumb Bible to a finger New Testament of 1900, a book bound in wood from the Mary Rose to a cathedral binding.

And there are books that aren’t: a housewife of scissors, bodkin, thimble, writing tablet, all contained in a book shaped case, a tiny wooden box with a sliding lid to keep something small safe, and a portable writing-case holding an ink-well, sealing-wax, and wafers, bound like a book in gold-tooled red-morocco.