Category: Bookplates

Tim Munby’s donations to Cambridge University Library, a post by Laura Nuvoloni and Liam Sims

comments Comments Off on Tim Munby’s donations to Cambridge University Library, a post by Laura Nuvoloni and Liam Sims
By , 23 December 2013 6:37 pm

Tim Munby (1913-1974)

In June the Special Collections blog advertised an exhibition in the Library to coincide with a conference – held at King’s College – in honour of Tim Munby, Librarian of King’s from 1947 until his early death in 1974, who was born a century ago this year.  The exhibition drew extensively on Tim’s own library of sale catalogues and bibliographical works, a large portion of which (1800 volumes) was purchased by the University Library after his death.  But with the actual centenary of his birth approaching (he was born on Christmas Day 1913), we thought this a good time to consider the many donations he made to the Library during his lifetime.  These include four incunabula (in addition to a further incunable owned by Munby which was bought by the Library), recently catalogued online as part of the Library’s five-year incunabula cataloguing project, and many rare eighteenth- and nineteenth-century books.

Continue reading 'Tim Munby’s donations to Cambridge University Library, a post by Laura Nuvoloni and Liam Sims'»

Unidentified ownership marks: our queries.

By , 6 August 2012 1:28 pm

One of the principal aims of the Incunabula Project team at Cambridge University Library is the identification, whenever possible, of the previous owners of our incunables.  Sometimes we are able to find unnamed bookplates, stamps or arms in printed publications or identify them through online resources, such as the images posted online by the Penn Provenance Project or Paul Needham’s Index Possessorum Incunabulorum (IPI) in the online Provenance Research pages provided by the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL), but other times we are at a loss and unable to find the answer.

We would therefore be most grateful for help from our readers in the identification of the puzzling bookplates, unknown stamps and unidentified coats-of-arms that we will occasionally post in our blog.

Our first query concerns a small bookplate (31 x 31 mm) representing a bull head in a collar pasted onto the front pastedown of a recently acquired copy of Biblia latina : cum postillis Nicolai de Lyra et expositionibus Guillelmi Britonis in omnes prologos S. Hieronymi et additionibus Pauli Burgensis replicisque Matthiae Doering, Venice : Franciscus Renner, de Heilbronn, 1482-83 (ISTC ib00612000; GW, 4287), volume 2 only (Psalms to Maccabees), Inc.2.B.3.6d[4638].  We suspect a 19th-century English provenance, but have not been able to trace it.

The second query relates to a stamp found on the first leaf of a Libro da Compagnia printed in Florence by Antonius Francisci Venetus around 1490 (ISTC ic00788450; GW 13393), Inc.4.B.8.12 [4461], [A1]r.  The library copy is one of the only three extant examplars of the edition.  The stamp shows three crescents addorsed, an eagle regaurdant, wings expanded, below, and the motto «Expecto», all surmounted by a princely crown.  It has been identified with the stamp of a member of the Strozzi family of Florence.  The same stamp also appears in one of the two copies of Angelus Politianus, Miscellaneorum centuria prima, Florence : Antonio di B. Miscomini, 19 September 1489 (ISTC ip00890000), held in the Houghton Library at Harvard, Inc 6149 (B) (26.4) (J. E. Walsh, A catalogue of the fifteenth-century printed books in the Harvard University Library, 5 vols, Binghamton NY, Tempe AZ, 1991-95, no. 2872). In the Hourghton copy a princely crown surmounts the initials “F.S.” in the lower compartment of the late 18th- or early 19th-century binding (information kindly supplied by William Stoneman).  According to the genealogy of the Strozzis, four members of the family by the first name beginning in “F” bore the title of Prince of Forano.  They were as follows:  Filippo (1699-1763), 2nd prince,  Ferdinando Giuseppe (1718-1769), 3rd prince, Ferdinando Maria (1774-1835), 5th prince, and Ferdinando Lorenzo (1821-1878), 6th prince.  We would be grateful for any information that might help in the identification of the actual owner of these books.

We are also seeking help for the identification of a coat-of-arms that belonged to an unknown family, probably Austrian [?] or South Tyrolean, possibly from Brixen (i.e. Bressanone, Italy).  The arms are painted in the upper pastedown in our copy of the Missale Brixinense printed in Augsburg by Erhard Ratdolt in August 1493, at the instance of Florian Waldauf von Waldenstein, a member of the Kannenordens (Orden de la Jarra y el Grifo, i.e. the Order of the Jar and the Griffin), and by permission of Melchior von Meckau, Bishop of Brixen  (ISTC im00653000; GW M24292), Inc.2.A.6.18[837] (Oates, 964).

Finally,  we are still trying to identify the arms found in our copy of Pomponio Mela, Cosmographia, sive De situ orbis, Venice : Bernhard Maler (Pictor), Erhard Ratdolt and Peter Loslein, 1478 (ISTC im00449000), Inc.4.B.3.23a[1454] (Oates, 1744).

With thanks from the Incunabula Project Team.

Three Unique Caxton/Maynyal Leaves? – A post by Ed Potten

By , 9 February 2011 11:50 am

Sig. r4, one of the leaves wanting from the only surviving substantially-complete copy

Between 1487 and 1488 Caxton commissioned the production of two liturgical books from the Parisian printer Guillaume Maynyal, both of which are rare survivals. ISTC records only one substantially-complete copy and two fragments of the 1487 Sarum Missal [ISTC im00719200 – National Trust (wanting 23ff.), Durham (3 ff.), Oxford (2 ff.)] and one substantially-complete copy and four fragments of the 1488 Sarum Legenda [ISTC il00118200 – British Library (imperfect), Cambridge UL (29 ff.,  Inc.2.D.1.18[2544]), Cambridge Clare (fragments), Cambridge Corpus (fragments), Paris BN (fragments)].

To reproduce liturgical books successfully, incunable printers needed to overcome significant typographical complications, not least the need to print in more than one colour. At the press he established in Bruges in 1473, Caxton, under the tutelage of Colard Mansion, experimented somewhat unsuccessfully with ‘one-pull’ two-colour printing. The eventual adoption of a ‘two-pull’ process overcame this problem, but liturgical printing on a large scale required a higher degree of technical proficiency than was available in the late 1480s at Caxton’s Westminster press. As a consequence the printer sought to ‘out-source’ the work. By 1487 the printing of liturgical books, some coloured, some specifically for English use, was already well established on the Continent – ISTC currently records 118 missal books and 196 breviaries printed on the Continent prior to 1488, with two breviaries specifically for Sarum use. Specialising in the production of these typographically-complex works, the printers of Venice, Basel, Louvain, Rouen and Paris cornered the market in liturgical printing and were the logical choice for the printing of English liturgical books. Caxton’s chosen partner was Guillaume Maynyal, a Parisian with proven experience of liturgical printing in red and black.

ISTC records only nine issues associated with Maynyal, surviving cumulatively in only 76 copies. These are grouped into two periods. Between March 1479/80 and September 1480 his name appears in five colophons alongside that of Ulrich Gering in books including a Psalterium Romanum and a copy of Guido de Monte Rochen’s guide for priests, Manipulus curatorum. In 1487 and 1488 he worked for Caxton, then in 1489 he issued alone two further liturgical books, a Latin Psalterium and a Manuale Carnotense. The fragments of the 1488 Legenda are the only example of Maynyal’s work in the CUL collection.

The decision to out-source to Maynyal is significant. Printing in England before 1534 was dominated by, and dependent upon, foreign tradesmen. In 1484 Richard III had introduced legislation exempting “merchant strangers” from any restrictions on either printing in England or bringing in books from abroad. The contracting-out of complex work to foreign presses and the immigration of skilled Continental printers and tradesmen became the lifeblood of the English print trade. Caxton’s employment of Maynyal is the first known example of this trend.

Set in two sizes of type, the Sarum Missal and Legenda may be seen as marking the beginnings of a transition in the typographical appearance of English books, away from styles characteristic of Flanders and Cologne, and towards type-styles imported from Paris and Rouen. Following the partnership between the two printers, Caxton purchased type from Paris, probably from Maynyal himself.

The study of any type of printed output of the fifteenth century is hampered by the quantity of material lost to researchers. Certain classes of books, however, have suffered more significant losses than others; printed liturgies are one such class. Their poor survival rate is at least partially explicable by their practical nature and the type of daily use to which they were exposed. With the exception of the most lavish, printed liturgies were working books. Often associated with chapels and chantries they saw heavy use by multiple priests on every day of the liturgical year. Not considered ‘collectable’ for their antiquity until well into the eighteenth century, these hard-used books were superseded and discarded. In England, the 1549 Act of Uniformity and its successors further explain the paucity of surviving pre-Edwardian liturgies, whilst in Catholic Europe the imposition of the Missale Romanum after 1570 had a similar effect.

The provenance of at least some of the Cambridge fragments is traceable. One leaf bears a clearly recognisable shelfmark, Pp.1.167, indicating it was once part of the binding of a copy of the Opera of Jacques Cujas (Frankfurt: 1595) belonging to John Colbatch (1664-1748).

The bookplate of John Colbatch (1664-1748)

The leaves of the Sarum Legenda utilized by the original binder were removed and preserved when the book was rebound in 1937. There are other occasional tantalizing hints about the earlier use of the Legenda. References to Pope Gregory have been crossed through on sig. y3v and references to the translation of St. Thomas excised on sig L7r, suggesting it was in English hands in the first half of the sixteenth century. In addition, there is an intriguing Hebrew inscription on sig. y6v, which is currently being researched.

References to the translation of St. Thomas excised on sig L7r

The 29 leaves which survive at Cambridge are:

Sigs. r4, v1, v8, y1, y2, y3 and y6 (conjugate), y7, y8, z1, L1 (2 copies), L2, L3, L7, L8 (2 copies), M6, N1, P4, P5, Q2, Q5, Q7, T4 (final line of both columns cropped on verso), T5 (first two lines of both columns cropped recto and verso), V3, V4 (cropped), (2)b1. There is one additional fragment, which is too small to identify.

Sigs. r4, Q2 and Q7 are almost certainly unique – they are wanting from the only surviving substantially-complete copy, that at the British Library (IB.40010), and in the absence of a definite identification of the fragments in Clare, Corpus and the BN they are at present the only known surviving examples of these three leaves.                       Ed Potten


W. Blades The biography and typography of William Caxton (London: 1882) p. 52.

P. Gaskell A new introduction to bibliography (Delaware: 1995) pp. 137-8.

L. Hellinga (ed.) Catalogue of books printed in the XVth century now in the British Library – Part XI England, (The Netherlands: 2007) p. 342, 346.

L. Hellinga ‘Fragments found in bindings and their role as evidence’ in ‘For the love of the binding’ Studies in bookbinding history presented to Mirjam Foot (London: 2000) pp. 13-33.

P. Needham ‘Caxton, William (c.1422-1491)’ in Europe 1450 to 1789 Encyclopedia of the early modern world volume 1 (New York: 2004) p.430.

Unknown incunables from the collection of William Mitchell

By , 22 June 2010 5:21 pm

A small group of Cambridge University Library incunables and an early 16th-century edition decorated by woodcut illustrations and initials brings to light a previously unnoticed dimension to the collecting habits of William Mitchell (1821/22-1908), the elusive donor of a very fine collection of Renaissance German woodcuts to the British Museum (see  Stephen Coppel, William Mitchell (1820-1908) and John Malcolm of Poltalloch (1805-93, in Landmarks in Print Collecting: Connoisseurs and Donors at the British Museum since 1753, ed. Antony Griffiths. London: British Museum Press in association with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 1996, 159-210; idem, ‘Mitchell, William (1821/2–1908)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2009 [, accessed 21 June 2010]).

The nine books in the group are all illustrated by woodcuts.  They mainly consist of slim pamphlets containing sermons and treatises by Hieronymus Savonarola printed in Florence by Bartolomeo di Libri, Lorenzo de’ Morgiani, Francesco Bonaccorsi, and Gian Stefano di Carlo da Pavia between 1490 and 1505  (see Inc.5.B.8.8[1974])

fol. c6r

They also include a copy of Joannes de Sacro Bosco’s Sphaera, printed at Venice by Guglielmo da Trino on 14 January 1491, is also included [Inc.5.B.3.89[1685]]

fols a3v-a4r

fols a3v-a4r

A bookplate inscribed “William Mitchell” is found on the pastedowns of six of these books.  It shows the motto “Spernit humum” and a crest issuing out of flames of fire, a phoenix rising proper and holding in the beak an arrow slipped and leaved also proper, semee of mascles sable.  The bookplate is decorated at four corners by a mascle charged by a cross pattée.

William Mitchell bookplate

My tentative identification of the William Mitchell of the bookplate with the donor of the German woodcuts at the British Museum has been kindly confirmed by Stephen Coppel (private correspondence).  Mitchell’s interest towards the unassuming Savonarola pamphlets was almost certainly stirred up by the presence of the woodcut illustrations which are interesting Italian counterparts of the German prints that he was actively collecting.

I believe William Mitchell also to be the owner of three more incunables that bear two different armorial bookplates which I regard as variants of the previous William Mitchell’s bookplate.

The first variant bookplate is found in two Savonarola’s pamphlets, Inc.5.B.8.8[1984] and F150.c.2.4 respectively.

Second William Mitchell bookplate

A decorative border, with the initials “WM” intertwined at the corners, surrounds the roundel inscribed “Arma Guillelmi Mitchell” that encircles unrecorded arms, with crosses pattée and mascles as charges, and the same crest and motto as in the previous bookplate.

The second variant bookplate is found in a copy of the famous princeps edition of Robertus Valturius’s De re militari, printed at Verona, by Johannes Nicolai in 1472 [Inc.2.B.19.1[2158]].

Third William Mitchell bookplate

The bookplate bears the same initials, arms, crest and motto, but the inscription “Liber Willelmi Mitchell” gives a Germanic flavour to the name of the owner, who was apparently “born a British subject” in Baden, Germany.

According to Gambier Howe, exemplars of all three bookplates should be found in the Frank Collection at the British Museum (see E.R.J. Gambier Howe, Franks Bequest: Catalogue of British and American book plates bequeathed to the Trustees of the British Museum by Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, 3 vols. London: 1903-1904, vol. 2, p. 258, nos 20744 or 20745, 20747 or 20748, and 20746).

The Valturius princeps was the first incunable edition to be illustrated by woodcuts of technical or scientific character and therefore an almost obvious and unmissable presence in Mitchell’s woodcut collection.

fol. v4v

fol. v4v

Mitchell’s copy [Inc.2.B.19.1[2158]] was rubricated and decorated in the late 15th century by hand, probably in Germany,

fol. [a1]r

fol. a1r

and has an illustrious provenance having previously belonged to Marie Elisabeth Auguste von Sulzbach (1721-1794), wife of the Elector Palatine Karl Theodor (1724-1799),

Sulzbach arms

Sulzbach arms

and possibly Prince Charles Maurice De Talleyrand-Périgord (1754-1838), Bishop of Autun, before coming into the hands of the writer and art collectior William Beckford of Fonthill (1760-1844).  It was donated to the library by John Charrington (1856-1939), Honorary Fellow of Magdalene College Cambridge and Honorary Keeper of the prints at the Fitzwilliam Museum, alongside all other Mitchell’s incunables.

Other late 15th– or early 16th-century editions of Savonarola works from the collection of William Mitchell can be found in the Library of Congress of Washington; a copy of Sacro Bosco’s Sphaera mundi, printed at Venice by Johannes Lucilius Santritter and Hieronymus de Sanctis on 31 March 1488, owned by Mitchell and C. W. Dyson Perrins (1864-1958) afterwards, is now in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois (x523 / Sa14s / 1488).

Confirmation of Mitchell’s identification and notice of other incunables from his collection would be gratefully received.