18th-century printing innovations: conference, Sept. 2014

Harlequinades from the Bodleian Library's Rare Books colleciton

These notes on the Bodleian’s collection of harlequinades, by Sarah Wheale (Bodleian Rare Books), were  first posted in 2008-9, and are presented again in anticipation of the conference taking place in Oxford, Sept. 2014, ‘Forms and formats: experimenting with print, 1695-1815’ See the event posting to register: http://bit.ly/1lWPgxO

A harlequinade (known also as a metamorphosis, flap-book or turn-up book) is composed of two single engraved sheets. The first sheet is folded perpendicularly into four sections. A second sheet is cut in half and hinged at the top and bottom edges of the first so that each flap could be lifted separately. The sheets are folded into four, like an accordion, and then roughly stitched with a paper cover. A verse on each section of the flap tells a simple story usually concluding with instructions to turn a flap to continue. When the flap is turned either up or down the viewer sees that half of the new picture fits onto the half of the un-raised flap, so the act of lifting one flap after another creates a surprise unfolding of the story.

The Library has recently (in 2009) acquired an album of 89 coloured prints dating from the early 1820s. It may have been issued by William Darton Jr. (1781-1854) and his firm at Holborn Hill during the mid-1820s as a sample album to show potential customers examples of his work. It contains a small number of sheets originally issued in 1800 by William Darton Sr. (1755-1819);  11 harlequinades in unfolded sheets with the imprint of B. Tabart & Co., and some sheets bearing Darton Jr’s imprint with dates ranging from 1821 to 1824. This mix of imprints suggests that Darton Jr. inherited some of his father’s old stock upon his death, including some of Benjamin Tabart’s publications which William Sr. possibly acquired in 1811 when financial difficulties may have forced Tabart to sell off some of his stock.

The harlequinades are especially interesting as very few examples survive generally, and four of the eleven Tabart examples in this album are currently untraced elsewhere. There are certainly difficulties locating harlequinades in library and museum catalogues around the world as they can be treated equally as toys, books, ephemera or prints, but as some titles were not located by Marjory Moon in her bibliography of Tabart’s Juvenile Library it seems likely that some of the Bodleian copies may be unique survivals. It is also possible that these eleven titles represent Tabart’s entire output of harlequinades, but that is pure speculation.

Blue Beard. Sold by B. Tabart & Co., June 1st. 1809.
Robinson Crusoe. Sold by B. Tabart & Co. June 1. 1809.
Veroni or the novice of St. Marks. Published by B. Tabart & Co, June 1. 1809.
Mother Goose. Published by B. Tabart & Co., July 1st 1809.
Hop o’ my thumb. Published by B. Tabart & Co., Jany. 1st. 1810..
Black Beard the pirate. Published, by B. Tabart & Co., July 1st. 1809.
Parnell’s hermit. Published, by Tabart & Co., Jany. 31st. 1810.
Exile, as performed at the royal theatres. Published by B. Tabart & Co., June 1st. 1809.
Robin Hood. Published by B. Tabart & Co., June 1st. 1809.
Polish tyrant. Published, by B. Tabart & Co., Aug. 1st. 1809.
A tale of mystery. Published by B. Tabart & Co., Jany. 25th, 1810.
Shelfmark: Vet. A6 c.118

See the records of the pictured harlequinades here:

The Sister-Witches, or mirth and magic

Dr Last, or the Devil on two sticks


The first printing revolution re-examined: Oxford Bibliographical Society

12 May 2014: The Oxford Bibliographical Society hosted Cristina Dondi speaking about ‘the first printing revolution’ and our understanding of the transformation of the economics of communications.
Citing the many copies of 15thc-century books with former owners’ inscriptions or just localisable and datable decoration, and binding style or manuscript annotations, Cristina Dondi explained the possibilities of using books themselves as evidence for the impact of printing in transmitting texts and images.
The aim of the ERC-funded project headed by Dr Dondi, beginning this year, “The 15th-century Book Trade: An Evidence-based Assessment and Visualization of the Distribution, Sale, and Reception of Books in the Renaissance“, is to gather evidence from early printed books, to analyse and categorize the marks of ownership, by geographical area, period, or person (gender, status, and profession). This is the approach established by Dr Dondi in the database, Material Evidence in Incunabula. The current project will seek also to more closely analyze the textual contents of editions (not just the main text and author, but all dedications, prologues, etc.) This approach extends the practices of Bod-Inc, the catalogue of 15th-century books in the Bodleian, and promises to expand our knowledge of the transmission of texts in the early period of print.
A further exciting development will be image matching analysis of illustrations in Venetian incunables, using the image matching software developed by the University of Oxford Department of Engineering for the Broadside Ballads Online database hosted by the Bodleian Digital Library.

Help with 16th-century book provenance

Title page of Bodleian Library Don. e.817, with partially unread transcription
Title page of Bodleian Library Don. e.817
Bodleian Library Rare Books have posted the following to any helpful readers for identifying the provenance of this 16th-century publicatoin:

“Anyone like to help us transcribe this? We are halfway there!” See the catalogue record at:

See the images in the Bodleian Libraries CSB flickr sets:
Image 1
Image 2

Follow @RareBooksofBod on twitter for more questions and answers about the Bodleian Library’s Special Collections of printed books.

The Cadiz pirates

Portrait of Elizabeth I (1533–1603)  by Wilhelm Sonmans
Elizabeth I (1533–1603)
by Wilhelm Sonmans
(c) Bodleian Libraries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Dr Anders Ingram (National University of Ireland, Hakluyt Edition Project) used copies of the second edition of Hakluyt’s Principle Navigations (1598-1600) to explore the nature of censorship in Elizabethan England. At issue was the passage describing the Cadiz Expedition of 1596, led by the Earl of Essex and Lord Howard, during which English and Dutch troops sacked the Spanish city.

But the failure to capture the Spanish treasure fleet, and the conduct of the leaders, including the distribution of the booty, led to royal suppression of Essex’s own account of his actions. Two years later, Hakluyt included in his Navigations a “brief description” written by the doctor who travelled on the Ark Royal. The pages containing this episode were later excised from many copies of the work, and a new title page was produced omitting mention of the Cadiz expedition. Examining the physical evidence in three copies of Hakluyt’s Navigations from Bodleian collections, Dr Ingram showed that these represented different variants, and called into question the reason for the removal of these leaves: was this censorship, or action by the publishers in advance of the appearance of Hakluyt’s second volume, printed in 1599, which had found a sponsor in Robert Cecil, one of the examiners of the costs of the expedition during the controversy?

The copies examined contained: (1) The edition intact with the Cadiz episode as originally printed and a title page dated 1598; (2) The Cadiz leaves intact, but with a new title page dated 1599; (3) The leaves containing the description of the Cadiz episode replaced with a later (c. 1720) reprint, in different type and differently set.

Tyrrell and Locke on Patriarcha non monarcha: Masterclass with Felix Waldmann, 26 Nov. 2012

In an exciting conclusion to the autumn season of masterclasses, Felix Waldmann (Cambridge) spoke on ‘James Tyrrell, John Locke, and the text of Patriarcha non Monarcha (1681): the evidence from some Bodleian copies’.
Examining three Bodleian copies, Dr Waldmann found that the pattern of annotations, corrections, and manuscript additions in these copies, from the libraries of Thomas Barlow (the subject of an earlier masterclass) and John Locke himself, contributed significant evidence touching on theories of the composition of the text, which have variously described the publication as a collaboration between Locke and Tyrrell or Tyrrell’s original work which inspired Locke’s Two Treatises of Government.
This was the second in the series of Early Printed Books masterclasses convened by William Poole (New College).

Girolamo Schola

Capituli di M. Girolamo Schola sopra varii suggetti, Girolamo Schola, [1540?]
Lawn f.44

A collection of Italian verses on a variety of subjects, including: the hat, gypsies, the goose, the horse, mustard, the cap, and sausages. The date, suggested by the British Museum’s Short-title catalogue of books printed in Italy, is supported by an early manuscript note in this Bodleian copy, which includes the date 1545.

Capituli di M. Girolamo Schola sopra varii suggetti, Girolamo Schola, [1540?], Bodleian Library Lawn f.44

A guide for confessors

Speculum confessorum et lumen conscientie, Mateo Corradone, Venice, 1538, Bodleian Library Lawn F.42
Speculum confessorum et lumen conscientie, Mateo Corradone, Venice, 1538 Bodleian Library, Lawn F.42

This Italian text serves as a guide for confessors, providing them with questions to put to those who come for confession. Each question, or set of questions, for example, “Have you cursed the sky and the stars, sun, and moon?”, is followed either by an instruction – “You have to ask how many times: ten or a hundred, etc., or more or less, etc.” – or by a statement of the seriousness of the sin (for example, “mortal”), together with references to autoritative texts on the matter. The book is held in a re-used Parchment wrapper containing a manuscript document apparently from a widow to her confessor. She asks the confessor to intercede with the bishop on her behalf, in connection with her desire to enter religion.

Avancini: 17th-century embroidered binding, on a rare meditation on the life and doctrines of Christ

The author, Nicola Avancini, was a Jesuit, and Professor of Rhetoric and Philosophy at Gratz, then of Theology at Vienna. This work, originally written in Latin, appears to have been his most enduring. It was translated into several European languages, including English in 1875. This edition of the Italian translation is unrecorded elsewhere. The binding is red silk/satin with large embroidered foliage in silver, yellow and white threads, and with gilt and gauffered edges. A child’s hand has written “magister meus et unus est Christus

Vita, e dottrina di Gesu Cristo raccolta da’quattro evangelisti, Nicola Avancini. Parma: Galeazzo Rosati, 1686. Bodleian Library Vet. F3 f.128.

Rainy weather …

This publication from 1758 should resolve our questions about the continuing rain.
The new book of knowledge. Shewing the effects of the planets and other astronomical constellations; with the strange events that befall men, women and children, born under them. Together with the husbandman’s practice: Or, prognostication for ever. With the shepherd’s perpetual prognostication for the weather. … London: Printed for A. Wilde, in Aldersgate-Street: sold also by the book-sellers in town and country. MDCCLVIII

The new book of knowledge, (London, A. Wilde, 1758), Bodleian Library Vet. A5 f.4135 [detail]

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.