Monday, December 31, 2012

Year-End Reading Report 2012

I almost can't believe another year of reading has come to an end ... as usual, it fairly flew by.

In 2012 I joined one of the LibraryThing reading groups, the 75 Books Challenge for 2012, which was great fun: I enjoyed the group reads and the neat atmosphere (plus the semi-obsessive stats-keeping). The 2013 group is already getting active, so if you're keen on such things, join the fray!

At least partly due to the gentle competition of the reading challenge, but also since things were at least a bit more settled this year than last, I read 184 books in 2012, for an average of one every 2 days. That's by far the most I've read in a single year since I started keeping track, and the grand total surprised me greatly. It was also, I must say, one of the best reading years I've had in a while: it was difficult to come up with just ten "top" titles this time around.

As per last year's resolution, I did read more books published before the current year: 2012 publications made up just 52% of this year's total, but the vast majority of books read (84%) were published since 2000, so I'll maintain the same resolution for next year and try to continue reading more not-so-recent titles.

The titles broke down into 93 fiction and 91 non-fiction books, running just about even there this year. For the true stats geeks, I read 84 hardcovers, 50.5 paperbacks, 48 ARCs, and 2.5 e-books (the .5s are a book I started in paperback and left behind when I went on a trip, so I finished it in the e-version). For a full breakdown of 2012 reading stats, see Message 11 here).

Since I didn't manage it last winter, I still have to get all my books back into order on the shelves. We'll see if I can make more progress with that goal this year.

And now, my favorite ten fiction and non-fiction reads for 2012 (in no particular order within the lists):


This Very Tree by Josephine Young Case (Houghton Mifflin, 1969). Review.

Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer by Wesley Stace (Picador, 2011). Review.

PYG: The Memoirs of a Learned Pig by Russell Potter (Canongate, 2011). Review.

The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann (Ecco, 2012). Review.

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King (Picador, 2007). Review.

Arcadia by Lauren Groff (Voice, 2012). Review.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (Random House, 2011). Review.

Shirley Jackson: Novels and Stories (Library of America, 2010). Review.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Henry Holt, 2012). Review.

Galore by Michael Crummey (Other Press, 2010). Review.


Books as History: The Importance of Books Beyond their Texts by David Pearson (Oak Knoll Press, revised edition 2011). Review.

The Rector and the Rogue by W.A. Swanberg (Collins Library edition published by McSweeney's, 2011). Review.

The Social Conquest of Earth by E.O. Wilson (W.W. Norton, 2012). Review.

The Passage of Power by Robert Caro (Knopf, 2012). Review.

The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom by Marcus Rediker (Viking, 2012). Review.

Writings from the New Yorker, 1927-1976 by E.B. White (Harper, 2006). Review.

The Dark Defile: Britain's Catastrophic Invasion of Afghanistan, 1838-1842 by Diana Preston (Walker & Company, 2012). Review.

The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies by Allan Taylor (Knopf, 201). Review.

Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile by Taras Grescoe (Times Books, 2012). Review.

A Man of Misconceptions: The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change by John Glassie (Riverhead, 2012). Review.

I also want to make a special mention of a literary podcast I discovered this year: A Podcast to the Curious, about the weird fiction of M.R. James. I've enjoyed making my way through all the episodes of this so far, and hope the hosts are able to keep up the great work.

My reading resolutions for 2013: continue reading more books published prior to the current year, and spend more time catching up on scholarly periodicals as they arrive.

Happy New Year, and may your 2013 be filled with good health, good fortune, and good books!

Previous year's reports: 20112010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006.

Auction Report: January Preview

Not too much going on in January, but I'll try to remember to update this post with links as some more of the catalogs come online.

- PBA Galleries sells Architecture Books & Folios on 10 January, in 195 lots.

- Lyon & Turnbull sells Rare Books, Maps, Manuscripts & Photographs on 16 January, in 564 lots.

No preview yet for the following sales:

- Bloomsbury holds a Bibliophile Sale on 17 January, sells Antiquarian Books on 24 January, and Maps & Atlases on 31 January.

- Swann holds a Shelf Sale on 17 January, and 20th Century Illustration on 24 January.

- PBA Galleries sells Americana, Asian-American History, Travel, Maps & Views on 24 January.

- Christie's sells Albrecht Durer Masterpieces from a Private Collection on 29 January.

- Dominic Winter sells Printed Books, Maps & Ephemera on 30 January.

Auction Report: December Recap

The final auctions of 2012 are now behind us:

- At Swann Galleries' Fine Photographs and Photobooks sale on 11 December, the top lot was a San Francisco police department album containing more than 700 mugshots, which fetched $36,000.

- Sotheby's sold English Literature, History, Children's Books & Illustrations on 12 December, for a total of £1,987,850. The first edition of Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte containing six manuscript Bronte letters brought the highest price, at £223,250. A collection of Mick Jagger letters came next, at £187,250. The earliest known photo album by Julia Margaret Cameron sold for £121,250, as did the gun used by Sean Connery in James Bond publicity photos. The collection of Virginia Woolf's pocket engagement diaries sold for £73,250, and the imperfect Second Folio made £37,250. The presentation copy of Emma didn't find a buyer.

- The Art of Illustration - From the Collection of Michael Winner, also at Sotheby's on 12 December, resulted in a total of £1,127,296. The top seller was an E.H. Shepard ink drawing of Christopher Robin dragging Pooh down the stairs, which sold for £139,250.

- Results for the Bloomsbury Astronomy and Space Exploration sale on 12 December are here. A first printed edition of Ptolemy's Almagest fetched the top price at £20,000.

- Sotheby's 14 December sale of Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana saw a total of $2,126,632. It was the set of The Pennsylvania Evening Post for 1776, including the first newspaper printing of the Declaration of Independence that brought the highest price, selling for $722,500. An 1814 work on the Lewis and Clark expedition sold for $218,500. The first edition of Newton's Principiafirst edition of Audubon's Quadrupedsand the collection of Charles Schulz drawings and letters all failed to sell.

- PBA Galleries sold Fine Literature, Illustrated and Children's Books, and Books in All Fields on 13 December; results are here. A first printing of To Kill a Mockingbird sold for $10,800. The first edition Ulysses failed to sell.

- Bloomsbury sold Antiquarian Books and Manuscripts on 14 December; results are here.

- There were quite a few bargains to be had at the 20 December PBA Galleries sale of Treasures from Our Warehouse with Books by the Shelf. Results are here.

Links & Reviews

A rather delayed links and reviews, since I took some time away for the holidays. It was very nice to have a full week at home with my family, and I was delighted to be able to meet a couple of the new additions (my cousins are now having children!), enjoy an afternoon of sledding on the hill across from my grandparents' house where we all spent many many winter days when I was younger, and snuggle with my sister's new puppy. And of course there were more delicious meals than I can count, several peaceful days in which I got a great deal of reading done, and some great birding at my mom's feeders, which I had a devil of a time keeping sufficiently filled!

But now, back to business:

- Last week's "On the Media" featured a discussion with Scott Sherman about his Vanity Fair piece "The Long Good-Bye," on the 1962-3 New York City newspaper strike. Both the interview and the article are highly recommended (I don't know about you, but I had no idea how dramatic and important the consequences of this strike were).

- From the Chronicle, Jen Howard's "The Secret Lives of Readers", on scholarly interest in the history of the reading experience, is a must-read.

- Jennifer Schuessler's "The Paper Trail Through History" in the NYTimes is a good look at some of the neat work being done in what Schuessler says might be called "paperwork studies."

- Convicted signature forger Allan Formhals has been sentenced to ten months in prison.

- Steve Ferguson highlights the scrapbooks created by Princeton Librarian Frederic Vinton in the 1870s and 1880s, on such topics as the assassination of President Garfield and the New York City snowstorm of 1888.

- From Wired, a look at how the digital shift has changed the antiquarian book market.

- Andrew Scrimgeour, dean of libraries at Drew University, has a NYTimes essay about the care and handling of scholars' personal libraries after their deaths. If only were treated with as much respect as those Scrimgeour discusses!

- The Dallas Morning News profiles Don Hobbs, a collector of Sherlock Holmesiana in languages other than English (he's got about 11,000 volumes!).

- Sarah Werner recaps the three-day Teaching Book History workshop held at the Folger Library earlier this month. I enjoyed following the discussions on Twitter and Sarah's post is a good summary of the proceedings.

- Quite a surprising auction result for a thirty-volume set of Dickens' works sold at a Virginia auction in early December: the volumes fetched $70,800 (over pre-sale estimates of $2,500-4,000). To be fair, the collection did have a nice association: it was inscribed by Dickens to a friend.

- Tomorrow marks the 150th anniversary of day the Emancipation Proclamation took effect. The National Archives has posted a short film about the original document.

- In the Guardian, Joe Moran covers the Great Diary Project, a new effort at the Bishopsgate Institute to preserve British diaries.

- Over at The Junto, Seth Parry writes about finding a bible in the University of Chicago's Regenstein Library with an unexpectedly interesting and important provenance. I'm torn about this post: part of me is delighted that he got to experience the book in the way that he did, but the archivist/librarian in me thinks he ought to have taken it to Special Collections immediately upon discovering what it was, heh.


- Kevin Phillips' 1775; review by Jack Rakove in TNR.

- John Glassie's A Man of Misconceptions; review by Jennifer Schuessler in the NYTimes.

- Don M. Hagist's British Soldiers, American War; review by J.L. Bell at Boston 1775.

- B.A. Shapiro's The Art Forger; review by Maxwell Carter in the NYTimes.

- Joyce Chaplin's Round About the Earth; review by Bruce Barcott in the NYTimes.

Friday, December 28, 2012

More on the Bay Psalm Book Sale

A couple additional items of interest relating to the now-probable sale of one of two remaining copies of the 1640 Bay Psalm Book belonging to Boston's Old South Church.

On 25 December the New York Times ran a report by Jess Bidgood on the decision to sell one of the Old South copies; the article features comments by Rare Book School director Michael Suarez.

And from the "oldie but goodie" department, there's a 22 November 1954 LIFE article on the removal of the other three copies from the Prince Library, headlined "A Very Proper Swindle."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Book Review: "The Amistad Rebellion"

In his 2007 book The Slave Ship: A Human HistoryMarcus Rediker explored Atlantic slavery by focusing on the ships which carried enslaved Africans across the Atlantic and the slaves, sailors, and captains who populated those ships. In his new book, The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom (Viking, 2012), Rediker focuses on the slaves who made the middle passage aboard just one ship, the Teçora, and even then on just a small subset of those: the slaves transferred to the Amistad for what was supposed to be a quick three-day voyage from Havana to another part of Cuba, but which turned into something much more.

As Rediker notes in his introduction, in the story that's come down to us about the Amistad revolt and its legal aftermath, "American actors—abolitionists, attorneys, judges, and politicians—have elbowed aside the African ones whose daring actions set the train of events in motion" (p. 5). So instead of telling the story from an abolitionist perspective, or even by focusing on the political-legal aspects of the case, Rediker has, with this book, provided us, at long last, with a history of the Amistad case "from below," with the Africans themselves as the main characters (as, of course, they were). This is possible because of the great number of articles, letters, illustrations and other sources which the case engendered (Rediker has identified more than 2,500 articles, many of them written by correspondents who personally met with the captives):

"No other makers of a modern slave revolt generated such a vast and deep body of evidence, which in turn makes it possible to know more about the Amistad Africans than perhaps any other group of once-enslaved rebels on record, and to get to know them, individually and collectively, in intimate, multidimensional ways, from their personalities and sense of humor to their specifically West African ways of thinking and acting during their ordeal" (p. 11).

Largely relying on the words of the Africans themselves, Rediker is able to trace their individual stories: how they were enslaved, what their lives were like prior to their enslavement, and their experiences of the Middle Passage aboard the Teçora and later of the harrowing days on the Amistad and following their re-capture and transfer to Connecticut jails. The reader gets a real sense of how they felt about what was happening to them once they arrived in the United States: their continued fear that they would be either killed outright or returned to slavery in Cuba for almost certain execution, their often-expressed desire to go home.

Beyond this, though, Rediker explores much of what was going on around the case, from the way it was portrayed in newspaper articles to the plays it inspired, and how the case was seen and used by the various abolitionist/colonizationist/evangelical activist communities. He explores the efforts made to educate the group, and he provides a really important account of the "tour" the group went on following the Supreme Court's decision in their case, partly to raise money for their return to Africa. Finally, the closing chapters tell us what happened in the end, when the group returned to Africa alongside some American missionaries.

Rediker also brings up an element of this story which I wasn't familiar with before at all: the Poro Society, "an all-male secret society and fundamental governing social institution" (p. 31). All the Amistad Africans would have been familiar, Rediker argues, with the governing codes and hierarchies of the Poro, and the shared experience of Poro culture would have served to help bond the group together, even though they were from different ethnic and language backgrounds. It's a fascinating part to the tale that certainly seems worthy of further study.

Another interesting aspect of the case that Rediker explores is the way funds were raised for the Amistad group (for their board, education, and eventually for their homeward voyage). He notes that the general assumption has been that Lewis Tappan basically paid for the whole shebang, but Rediker found through an examination of the account books of the Amistad Committee that there was instead quite an impressive popular outpouring of funds ($90 from the "Color'd Citizens of Cincinnati," $58.50 from textile mill workers in Lowell, Massachusetts, &c.).

The political and legal elements of the case aren't ignored, but they're not Rediker's main concern, so much of the very complex legal drama is pared down quite a bit. Since I'm also interested in that part of the case, and particularly in the Supreme Court arguments about the case, I would have not have been averse to some deeper discussion and analysis in those areas from Rediker's perspective, but that's just me, and what Rediker has done is to put the Amistad Africans, both as individuals and as a group, back at the center of the story, where they belong.

I'm pretty sure I praised Rediker's footnotes with his last book, and I'll do so again here: they're thorough and useful, as footnotes should be. They, along with Rediker's excellent discussion of how the Amistad case was viewed at the time and how it has been seen and interpreted in the intervening years, add even more to what this book has accomplished. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Review: "In Pursuit of a Vision"

For the second installment in my review series of the American Antiquarian Society's bicentennial publications (see this post for the previous review) I turned my attentions to In Pursuit of a Vision: Two Centuries of Collecting at the American Antiquarian Society, the sumptuous and thorough catalogue published to accompany this year's exhibition at the Grolier Club.

As Ellen Dunlap notes in her preface, there were many different shapes a bicentennial exhibition for the American Antiquarian Society could have taken. They might have gone the route of displaying some of the many exceedingly rare or unique items in the collections ... but they've done that before, in a 1969 Grolier Club exhibition called "A Society's Chief Joys." They might have shown items from the collections grouped broadly by genre, or highlighted specific time periods where the Society's holdings are particularly strong. They might have curated an exhibit to display fruits of the labors of their many research fellows, accompanied by the primary materials which shaped those projects. Instead, they took a somewhat unconventional path, organizing the exhibit and catalogue "as a celebration of the generosity and farsightedness of a few of the many collectors, dealers, librarians, and others who have, each in his or her own way, contributed to the greatness of the Society's library by sending collections our way" (p. 5).

The majority of this catalogue is, thus, devoted to short essays on various collector/donors (brief biographies and discussions of their collecting interests and their involvement with AAS), followed by a selection of exemplar items from their collections now at AAS, or items related in some way to their donations: Isaiah Thomas' manuscript catalogue of his library, for example, or one of the eighty-seven(!) volumes of the library catalogue of Thomas W. Streeter, or working slips from Charles Evans' American Bibliography.

I think this approach worked extremely well, and the curators did an excellent job of choosing points of emphasis. While the Isaiah Thomases and George Brinleys and Thomas W. Streeters are well represented, with this catalogue you'll also meet Lucy and Sarah Chase, who as teachers at freedmen's schools during the Civil War heeded the call of AAS librarian Samuel Foster Haven for items of contemporary interest and collected all sorts of materials, including Confederate imprints, a slave dealer's account book, and more. Charles Henry Taylor, the publisher of the Boston Globe, gave to the AAS important collections relating to American lithography, the book trade, and journalism. The reader comes to understand the canny strategy employed by longtime AAS librarian Clarence Brigham (and others since) of not competing with collectors in specific areas, but instead working with them, building a relationship and a trust with the hope that their collections would eventually find their way to the Antiquarian Society (Wilbur Macey Stone's collection of Isaac Watts' Divine Songs and Donald McKay Frost's extremely important gift of Western Americana are two that stick in my mind from the catalogue).

The final two sections of the catalogue take a slightly different but complementary approach, focusing on the AAS' key role in the field of American bibliography, current priorities in terms of continued collection growth and development, and the many initiatives in which the Society has engaged in order to preserve, protect, and make accessible their vast and hugely important collections.

Throughout, the tone of the catalogue in both the introductory contextual essays and the item descriptions is pitch-perfect. It is a delight to read, and the extremely wide range of materials selected for inclusion adds a nice variety. The design is nicely done, and the many illustrations, all full-color, complement the text extremely well. While not every item is pictured, so many are that several times I was surprised to come across one that wasn't.

A gem of a catalogue, and the best kind too, in that it both serves its purpose as an exhibition guide and also will remain as a handy reference (not to mention a good read) for decades to come.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Links & Reviews

- New this week, and already bustling, The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History. I've added a link to the sidebar.

- I rather love this: the signed copy of the seventh edition of A Christmas Carol sold recently at auction was purchased by the people of the town of Malton, the small Yorkshire town where the woman to whom Dickens inscribed the book lived (and which may have partly inspired the story).

- A complete set of Signer autographs was up for auction at New Hampshire's RR Auction yesterday. I haven't seen a result yet; estimates suggested that the collection might fetch $1.2-1.5 million.

- New from Harvard Law School, a digital exhibition on the life and work of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

- The Daily Mail got an early look at the BL's new newspaper storage facility.

- More on the Roger Williams shorthand, from Slate and (discussing the Slate piece in part) on the JCB blog.

- The Folger Library announced this week that they were the buyer of a beautiful copy of Gerard's Herball, with contemporary hand-coloring and the cipher binding of the Earl of Essex. Also from the cool new acquisitions department, the Houghton Library is now the owner of a fantastic sermon manuscript in print-facsimile.

- A good bit of provenance reporting, from the Cardiff University rare books blog.

- Over at The Collation, Sarah Werner considers the wonderful volvelle.

- From the Clements Library blog, a look at a Revolutionary War-era rebus.

- In the Houghton "You've Got Mail" bag this week, a letter from Delia Bacon to Ralph Waldo Emerson in which she lays out some of her theories about the authorship of Shakespeare's plays.

- It's not entirely clear whether this is an actual surprising discovery, or one of those stories, but an early Hans Christian Andersen tale has been identified.


- David Von Drehle's Rise to Greatness; review by Harold Holzer in the WaPo.

- Victoria Glendenning's Raffles and the Golden Opportunity; review by Ann Chisholm in The Telegraph.

- Alberto Manguel's All Men are Liars; review by Michael Jauchen in the NYTimes.

- Stan Knight's Historical Types from Gutenberg to Ashendene; review by Alastair Johnson at Booktryst.

- David Schoenbaum's The Violin; review by Tim Page in the WaPo.

- Robin Sloan's Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore; review by Roxane Gay in the NYTimes.

- Joyce Chaplin's Round About the Earth; review by A. Roger Ekirch in the WSJ.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Auction Report: December 10-31

Here's what's up for the remainder of 2012:

- Swann Galleries sells Fine Photographs and Photobooks on 11 December, in 417 lots.

- Sotheby's sells English Literature, History, Children's Books & Illustrations on 12 December, in 186 lots. Austen friend Anne Sharp's copy of Emma rates the top estimate, at £150,000-200,000. The earliest known photo album compiled by Julia Margaret Cameron could fetch £100,000-150,000: a gun used by Sean Connery in James Bond publicity photos rates the same estimate, as does a first edition of Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte containing six manuscript Bronte letters. Eight of Virginia Woolf's pocket engagement diaries could fetch £40,000-60,000, while an imperfect Second Folio is estimated at £30,000-50,000.

- Also on 12 December at Sotheby's, The Art of Illustration - From the Collection of Michael Winner, in 157 lots. E.H. Shepard, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, Edmund Dulac, they're all here.

- Bloomsbury sells Astronomy and Space Exploration-related lots on 12 December, in 403 lots.

- At Sotheby's on 14 December, Fine Books & Manuscripts, Including Americana, in 191 lots. A first edition, first issue of Newton's Principia is up for grabs, with a $400,000-600,000 estimate. A set of The Pennsylvania Evening Post for 1776, including the first newspaper printing of the Declaration of Independence (the second printing overall after the Dunlap broadside) rates a $300,000-400,000 estimate. The largest collection of Charles Schulz drawings and letters ever to come to auction, romantic notes and drawings to Tracey Claudius, is estimated at $250,000-350,000. A first edition of Audubon's Quadrupeds could sell for $250,000-350,000.

- PBA Galleries sells Fine Literature, Illustrated and Children's Books, and Books in All Fields on 13 December. A first edition Ulysses rates the top estimate, at $25,000-35,000.

- At Bloomsbury on 14 December, Antiquarian Books and Manuscripts, in 418 lots.

- On 20 December at PBA Galleries, Treasures from Our Warehouse with Books by the Shelf.

And that should be just about it for December! Will have updates as required.

Auction Report: November-Early December Sales

Okay, catch-up as usual. Sales from 13 November-9 December are covered here; a preview of the rest of December is coming later today.

- At the 13 November Bonhams sale of Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Photographs, a first edition of Darwin's Origin sold for £45,650, and a nice copy of the first edition of Walton's Compleat Angler made £37,250.

- Bloomsbury sold Maps & Atlases, Watercolours and Prints on 14-15 November. Results are here.

- Looks like quite a few misses at the 15 November PBA Galleries Important Manuscripts and Archives sale; results are here. The top lot was an Elizabeth Blackwell manuscript letter, which sold for $9,600.

- Sotheby's sold Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History on 15 November, for a total of £2,229,738. Doing better than three times its estimate, John Thomson's Foochow and the River Min (1873) sold for £349,250. The collection of ornithological watercolors did not sell.

- At the 18 November Skinner, Inc. Books & Manuscripts sale, highlights included a delightful John Quincy Adams letter and a Sam Houston letter (both of which fetched $84,000). A full set of Diderot's Encyclopedie did not sell.

- The Sotheby's Paris on 19 November, Livres et Manuscrits brought in 2,092,450 EUR. The Catesby sold for 288,750 EUR, and a set of Theodor de Bry's Historia Americae fetched 228,750 EUR.

- At the 21 November Christie's, Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books, the impressive total amounted to £3,260,525. A collection of letters from poet Marina Ivanova Tsvetaeva to poet Anatolii Shteiger was the surprise top lot, selling for £433,250 (over estimates of just £40,000-60,000). A Beethoven music manuscript made £241,250. The first edition Hypnerotomachia fetched £97,250. Another first edition of Origin in this sale: it went for £51,650. The ~1530 Paris Book of Hours failed to find a buyer.

- Bloomsbury sold Important Books & Manuscripts on 27-28 November; results are here. Yet another Origin first was the top lot; it made £38,000.

- At the 27 November Bonhams sale of Printed Books and Maps, the top lot was a near-complete run of The New Naturalist, which sold for £6,250.

- Christie's 27 November Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts sale brought in £425,650. A signed first edition of Proust's Les plaisirs et les jours (1896) sold for £20,000, while a first impression of The Hobbit fetched £16,250.

- The Music, Continental and Russian Books and Manuscripts on 28 November at Sotheby's realized a total of £3,538,150. The working archive of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky was the star of the show, fetching £1,497,250. A Mozart manuscript sold for £409,250. The first edition Vesalius did not sell.

- The collection of manuscripts, letters, and memorabilia from the family of Alberto Toscanini sold at Sotheby's on 28 November brought in £1,281,402.

- The Christie's 29 November sale of An Important Collection of Russian Books & Manuscripts saw a total of £1,462,675. A 1769 illuminated heraldry manuscript sold for £205,250.

- Results for the 29 November PBA Galleries Fine Americana sale are here. An 1883 directory of Cheyenne, WY looks like the top lot, at $8,400.

- A coded 20 October 1812 letter by Napoleon indicating that he planned to blow up the Kremlin sold at a 2 December auction to a Paris museum, for more than $243,000.

- Bonhams sold the Dictionary Collection of Thomas Malin Rogers on 4 December, and the sale did quite well indeed. The top lot was a late 17th-century Chinese-Spanish manuscript dictionary, which fetched $112,900, but other lots also did very nicely.

- Also on 4 December, Bonhams sold Fine Books, Maps & Manuscripts. A copy of Purchas his Pilgrimes sold for $62,500, while a first octavo edition of Audubon's Birds (from the library of Boston's Samuel Appleton) fetched $47,500.

- The 5 December Western Manuscripts & Miniatures sale at Sotheby's brought in a total of £404,350, with more than half the total from a single lot: The Hours of Isabella d'Este (~1490), which fetched £217,250.

- Bonhams sold Russian Literature and Works on Paper on 5 December: a two-volume autograph album was the top lot, at $230,500.

- Bloomsbury held a Bibliophile Sale on 5 December. A first edition Tom Sawyer in a later binding sold for £2,200.

- Guernsey's New York sold maps, books, and illustrations from Graham Arader's collection on 5 December. I haven't seen a results list for this sale.

- Swann sold Maps, Atlases, Natural History and Ephemera on 6 December.

- The Christie's Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana Sale on 7 December was probably the sale of the month. It realized a total of $7,709,250, and three lots shared the top price of $782,500: a copy of the 1823 Stone engraving of the Declaration of Independence on parchment; Julia Ward Howe's original draft of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (from the Forbes Collection); and Charles Blaskowitz's Revolutionary War manuscript map of New York (another Blaskowitz map, of the Philadelphia campaign of 1777-8, sold for $338,500). A Bien second folio Audubon sold for $422,500. A first edition of Jefferson's Notes sold for $314,500. A Shakespeare Second Folio made $194,500, and yes, yet another first edition of Darwin's Origin was on offer: this copy did the best of the bunch, at $158,500.

- Also at Christie's on 7 December, Derrydale Press Books from the Le Vivier Library, which sold for a total of $346,375.

Preview of the rest of December, coming in a few.

Links & Reviews

- New on the acquisitions table at AAS, the 1860 Bien edition of Audubon's Birds of America.

- The Boston Globe profiled the great Brattle Book Shop this week.

- More on the probable sale of a Bay Psalm Book, from NPR and The Guardian.

- From Editer, a nicely-illustrated primer on collecting rare books, featuring Pom Harrington of Peter Harrington.

- A volume of the quite rare American Woods set has been returned to Penn's Rare Book & Manuscript Library, more than sixty years after it was borrowed by biology professor Ralph Erickson.

- Over at The Little Professor, Miriam Burstein reports on her year in books. I really love some of her categories: "Most unenjoyable contemporary reading experiences," "Neo-Victorian novel not to be read over lunch," and "Oddest Victorian religious novel."

- From McSweeney's this week, "Welcome to my Rare and Antiquarian eBook Shop."

- Sarah Faragher posts on some of her favorite literary figures writing about some of her other favorite literary figures.

- The Getty Museum purchased the illuminated manuscript known as the Roman de Gillion de Trazegnies at Sotheby's this week for almost $6.2 million.

- From the Sydney Morning Herald, Nicky Phillips reports on Auckland Museum librarian Shaun Higgins' efforts to find the first mention on a map of the now-discovered-to-be-fictitious Sandy Island. He's found that it seems to have first appeared on a 1908 map (which indicates that it was discovered in 1876 by the crew of the whaling ship Velocity; an 1879 directory also contains information on the supposed island).

- Booktryst notes that a three-page Emily Dickinson letter will be up for sale at an 18 December Profiles In History auction.

- For your holiday gift list: Wittgenstein's copy of Tristram Shandy is for sale. [h/t David Armitage on Twitter]

- The December crocodile mystery is up at The Collation.

- Also new from the Folger Library, Folger Digital Texts, edited digital versions of Shakespeare's plays.

- From Rick Ring, word that Trinity College has acquired a collection of letters to add to their holdings of the papers of the publishing firm Roberts Brothers.

- At the Justin Croft Antiquarian Books blog, a look at a very attractive Edinburgh relief leather binding, found in Copenhagen and now back in Edinburgh at the National Library of Scotland.

- Heather Wolfe reports on the identification of a third Thomas Trevelyon manuscript, at University College Library.

- Over at the Rare Books @ Princeton blog, Steve Ferguson has found what is, perhaps, the earliest bookplate designed for a specific book collection within a library.


- Digital resource The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe, 1769-1794, edited by Simon Burrows; review by Robert Darnton at Reviews in History.

- Karen Engelmann's The Stockholm Octavo; reviews by Susann Cokal in the NYTimes and Ron Charles in the WaPo.

- Robert Gottlieb's Great Expectations; review by Janet Maslin in the NYTimes.

- Joyce Chaplin's Round About the Earth; review by Carolyn Kellogg in the LATimes.

- Kevin Phillips' 1775: A Good Year for Revolution; review by Joseph Ellis in the NYTimes.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Old South Church to Sell Bay Psalm Book

The members of Boston's Old South Church have voted 271-34 to sell one of the two copies of the 1640 Bay Psalm Book belonging to the church (on deposit at the Boston Public Library since 1866). The congregation also voted 252-69 to sell the church's collection of colonial silver (currently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston).

This will be the first time since 1947 that a 1640 Bay Psalm book is sold, and the first time since 1966 that a copy changes hands.

More from WBUR.

For more on the known copies of the Bay Psalm Book, see my post from Friday.

[Update: The Boston Globe has more on today's meeting which resulted in the vote to sell the Psalm Book: they report that the meeting lasted for almost two hours of discussion, and that amendments to the sale proposals limit the window for selling the book and silver to ten years.]

Links & Reviews

- At Antipodean Footnotes, a look at what's been identified as the earliest English binding in New Zealand, an Oxford binding from 1482 (with fragments of Caxton-printed indulgences used as sewing guards).

- The SEA's updated list of recent and forthcoming books on early American topics has been posted.

- The New York Society Library announced the completion of their effort to catalog their Hammond Collection, part of a Newport, RI circulating library. To view the books, search by author for "James Hammond's Circulating Library" here.

- Over at Boston 1775, a trivia contest about early American politics.

- Harvard Book Store marked its eightieth birthday this week. Here's to many, many more.

- The effort to crack the shorthand notations made by Roger Williams in a book now at the John Carter Brown Library is highlighted in a new AP article on the effort.

- Over at Bookplate Junkie, fingerprints on bookplates.

- From The Appendix Blog, Ben Breen writes on "Cabinets of Curiosity: the Web as Wunderkammer." The Appendix journal is now open for subscriptions, too, and it looks like it's going to be a really fascinating publication. I've subscribed.

- At The Collation, Goran Proot uses Powerball fever as a good chance to highlight some early modern lotteries, and Deborah Leslie offers a primer on cataloging at the Folger.

- In the CHE, Jennifer Howard examines the concept of social reading, with some neat examples of recent projects in this area.

- The folks at American Book Collecting have posted some pictures of A.S.W. Rosenbach, including one of him with what is now the Yale copy of the 1640 Bay Psalm Book (more on which here).

- There's an interview with Nick Basbanes on WGBH here.

- A coded letter from Napoleon containing plans to burn the Kremlin is up for auction in France.

- There was quite a kerfuffle this week over news that a former OED editor reportedly "deleted" words from the dictionary (although it seems to be more the case that he didn't include them in later supplements, which does not amount to the same thing). Coverage: Guardian, LATimes, NYTimes, with a nice pushback piece by Jesse Sheidlower in The New Yorker: "[it] was not deletion, it was editing."

- Speaking of kerfuffles at Oxford: Inside Higher Ed reported this week on a series of changes at the Bodleian Libraries that have many fuming.


- Three ongoing exhibitions of Jewish texts (at the Jewish Museum, Columbia, and the Library of Congress); review by Diane Cole in the WSJ.

- Lawrence Principe's The Secrets of Alchemy; review by Colin Dickey in the LARB.

- Philip Pullman's Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version; review by Marjorie Ingall in the NYTimes.

- Kevin Phillips' 1775: A Good Year for Revolution; review by Gordon S. Wood in the NYRB (mostly being paywall, sadly)

- Larry McMurtry's Custer; review by Timothy Egan in the NYTimes.

- Sheila Hale's Titian; review by Mark Archer in the WSJ.

- Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve; review by Jim Hench in LARB. Don't miss this one, it's a classic.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Book Review: "The American Antiquarian Society, 1812-2012"

The year 2012 marks the bicentennial anniversary of the establishment of the American Antiquarian Society, and this happy milestone has been marked by a series of scholarly lectures and conferences, gifts and acquisitions, a major exhibition at the Grolier Club, a new promotional video, a grand gala, and even some commemorative (and delicious) chocolate coins. The Society also has released three anniversary-related publications as part of the celebrations, and I'll be posting reviews of all three in the coming weeks.

Philip F. Gura's The American Antiquarian Society, 1812–2012:  A Bicentennial History (distributed by Oak Knoll Press) is the first of the trio I'll consider here. Gura, commissioned by the Society for the task back in 2003, has done an admirable job of it: this is a well-researched and thorough account of the Society from its earliest days right through the bicentennial year. The goal of the book, as expressed in the preface, was an "intellectual history that emphasizes the development of the Society as a whole—its library, its institutional structure, its scholarly and bibliographical initiatives—in a constantly changing cultural context" (xii), and that benchmark has been met and exceeded. Gura, whose previous works include a history of American transcendentalism, a biography of Jonathan Edwards, and several books on the history of American music, clearly enjoyed the research and writing process for this history, and that enjoyment is evident throughout.

Following the short preface, the book is divided into eight chapters, each corresponding to a particular leadership period in the Society's history. The AAS has been blessed with a line of energetic, forward-thinking leaders who have understood and embraced the fundamental vision of the Society and worked tirelessly to make that vision into a reality even as the world has changed in ways that are probably beyond even Isaiah Thomas' wildest flights of fancy. To complement those leaders, the AAS has also been fortunate enough to have had the generous support of an active oversight body (currently called the Council). The ways in which the staff and Council have worked together over the decades to shape, protect, and provide for the fulfillment of the Society's mission is a major theme for Gura, and he manages to pull it off without the narrative devolving too far into "inside baseball" arcana.

That said, the most casual of readers may not find themselves entirely interested in some parts of this book, particularly in the final chapters. While I found the details of microform reproduction negotiations, building renovations, and staff comings and goings perfectly fascinating reading, others may not be so inclined. But there are still wonderful nuggets in the final chapters: Gura's treatment of Marcus McCorison's willingness to purchase necessary items regardless of how much of the acquisitions budget had already been spent is a delight (and looking back, is there any second-guessing now of those purchases? Being one of those who subscribes to the notion that you usually only regret the book you didn't buy rather than the one you did, I very much suspect not). And given the difficulties inherent in describing the very recent history of an institution, Gura's done a remarkable job covering the strategies to bring the Society into the digital era and the outreach efforts that have characterized the AAS in recent years.

It is the opening chapters where this book truly shines, though. Isaiah Thomas' efforts to establish, equip, and support the Society through its tenuous early decades, Christopher Columbus Baldwin's ceaseless acquisitiveness and devotion to the place, and Samuel Foster Haven's long service and careful attention, are what enabled the AAS to get off the ground, to successfully make a place for itself as a relevant institutional repository for the stuff of American history, from books to ballad sheets, newspapers to antiquities. Gura captures their stories extremely well, and the section on Baldwin was particularly enjoyable, which makes me all the more excited to read one of the other AAS bicentennial publications, an edition of Baldwin's diaries). As with many similar institutions, the focus has narrowed a bit over the years (most of the artifacts and historical curiosities have found other homes), but the AAS has remained, as Thomas envisioned it, a repository for the print culture of America, broadly conceived and carefully maintained. From the beginning the AAS and its leaders have promulgated an explicit concern for the potential scholarly interests of future generations, and the accompanying attention not just to important books but also to the ephemeral material that so often has not been an important part of institutional collections, is what set (and in many ways continues to distinguish) the Society from its counterparts. As Gura writes in his preface, Thomas and those who have come after him "understood that, to know the past as well as we can, we cannot study just great books by famous people but have to work with any and all the traces that we can find, often in the most ephemeral materials, using our imagination to allow light to fall on the shattered bits of mirror so that they reflect the surrounding age" (xv).

I could go on: there are fascinating sections here about the longstanding, mostly-friendly rivalry between the AAS and the Massachusetts Historical Society (whose president, giving an address at the laying of the cornerstone of the AAS' current home in 1909, used the occasion to urge the AAS, essentially, to back off by narrowing its collecting focus to central Massachusetts), while the accounts of the Society's involvement in the major works of American bibliography (Evans, Sabin, Shaw/Shoemaker, Brigham, Wright, &c.) show just how important a role the institution has played (and continues to play) in the field of American bibliography and, more recently, book history.

A few typographical errors made their way into the book, but thankfully they do little to detract from the text, and are mostly extremely minor (Isaiah Thomas read the Declaration of Independence in Worcester on 14 July, 1776, not 24 July, for example). The book's typeface is one of my favorites, and the many images are well-chosen and integrated into the text. The notes are thorough and the index useful.

Of course times are not always good at institutions like AAS, and the Society has weathered its share of tight budgets, cramped physical spaces, and various other trials and tribulations over its two centuries. They're part of Gura's book too. But through it all, AAS has persevered, and its collections and those responsible for their care, access, and dissemination remain a vital part of the American intellectual community. May it be so for another two hundred years and more.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Bay Psalm Book of 1640: Where Are They Now?

With the reports today (WBUR, Boston Globe) that the leadership of Boston's Old South Church is considering the sale of one of its two copies of the 1640 Bay Psalm Book, I thought it was worth taking a look at the eleven known copies. If one of the Old South/BPL copies is sold, it will be the first time since 1947 that a first edition has come to auction, and would be the first time a copy could potentially return to private hands.

A census and account of copies is given in Wilberforce Eames' introduction to The Bay Psalm Book: Being a facsimile Reprint of the First Edition, Printed by Stephen Daye At Cambridge, in New England in 1640. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1903. Another census appears in Nathaniel B Shurtleff and Bradford F. Swan, "Some Thoughts on the Bay Psalm Book of 1640: with a Census of Copies." Yale University Library Gazette 22:3 (January 1948), 51-76. Since they provide good historical background, Eames' comments on each copy are given below, and I have added updates (both from Shurtleff and Swan and other sources) as needed. Additions/corrections are welcome! [Update: Note that the Sotheby's catalog for the 26 November 2013 sale also contains a detailed census]

1. John Carter Brown Library - Of this copy Eames writes "Perfect, but with a small portion of the blank margin of the title-page and the lower blank margin of the leaf of errata cut out; in the original old calf binding, rebacked. Size of leaf, six inches and seven-eighths by four inches and one-half. It was first owned by Richard Mather, one of the translators, whose autograph signature is in several places on the fly leaves and covers. From the Mather family it passed to the Rev. Thomas Prince, the bookplate of whose 'New England Library' is pasted on the back of the title. By Prince it was bequeathed to the Old South Church, in his will dated October 2, 1758, 'and from that time till 1860, the book remained in the custody of the deacons and pastors of that church. In that year it was given by the church, through the proper agents, to the late Nathaniel Bradstreet Shurtleff, M.D.' On Dr. Shurtleff's death his library was offered for sale at auction by Leonard & Co., Boston, November 30 to December 2, 1875, but the Psalm Book was withdrawn because the deacons of the Old South Church obtained an injunction to prevent its sale. After a hearing before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the injunction was dissolved and the book adjudged to belong to Dr. Shurtleff's estate. It was therefore advertised again, in a four-page circular, to be sold at auction, on October 12, 1876, by Joseph Leonard; and it was sold for $1025, to Mr. Sidney S. Rider of Providence, from whom it was bought by Mr. Caleb Fiske Harris. After the death of Mr. Harris, who was drowned in October, 1881, his collection was placed for sale in Mr. Rider's hands, and he sold the Psalm Books of 1640 and 1647 to the Brown Library, $1500 being given for them together with books worth considerable more. See Catalogue of the Library of Dr. N.B. Shurtleff (1875), no. 1356; Catalogue of Books relating to North and South America in the Library of the late John Carter Brown, part 2 (1882), pp. 201-202; Victor H. Paltsits in the Library Collector, December 1901, p. 70."

Shurtleff obtained his copy of the Bay Psalm Book via Old South deacon Loring Lothrop. On 30 December 1859 Shurtleff wrote to Lothrop: "My Dear Sir: I am very desirous of obtaining one of the duplicate copies of the old Bay Psalm Book belonging to the Old South Church Library, having a strong veneration for the old volume. I think I have books in my library, such as would be not only appropriate for the Library of the Old South Church but also valuable for reference and for the use of those who may rely upon the library for works suitable to be consulted. Among the books which I happen to think of are the original edition of Winthrop's New England and Belknap's New England Biography ... which I would gladly give in exchange [for] one of the duplicates ... " The books are inscribed "Given to the Prince Library of the 'Old South Society' of Boston, Mass., by Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, M.D., in exchange for the 'Bay State Psalms.' Boston, Jan. 11, 1860."

In the 1950s, BPL librarian Zoltán Harastzi explored whether this copy might be returned, telling LIFE in 1954 that he had asked to examine the files from the 1875 court case. "After a considerable search, the clerk located the old file and handed it to me. It contained about a dozen documents, summonses, briefs, affidavits—and that amazing letter of Shurtleff's to Lothrop. I don't believe anyone else has looked at the file since it was put away 79 years ago. Of course I should have known how the case turned out even before I looked at it. The deacons were too late—the statute of limitations had run."

Some additional notes on this copy: the blank leaf preceding the title page includes various Richard Mather signatures and other ink notations, possibly in several hands, on the recto. The verso includes additional ownership inscriptions by Mather, as well as a shelfmark [presumably Prince's]: "10.4.9." Below this, in ink: "Oct. 10. 1848. Examind this book by the catch word of every leaf and believe it to be complete. S.T.A." STA was Samuel T. Armstrong, a deacon of Old South Church. On verso of title page is the bookplate of the New England Library, with printed text "This Book belongs to The New-England-Library, Begun to be collected by Thomas Prince, upon his entring Harvard-College, July 6. 1703 ; and was given by said Prince, to remain therein for ever."

On leaf B1v the first line of Psalm 9:1, "the" in the text is lined through and "thee" written in the left margin. On leaf C4v at the first line of Psalm 15:31 is a smudged correction in ink, the only readable text being "(3)". On leaf D2r at Psalm 19:13, "let thou kept back" in the text is lined through, corrected to "kept back out" in ink. On leaf D3v at Psalm 21:8, "The Lord" in the text is lined through, corrected to "Thy hand" in ink. On leaf E1r at Psalm 22:23, "prayse yee," in the text is lined through, corrected to "do yee" in ink. On leaf L3v at line four of Psalm 50:7, "I" in the text is lined through, corrected to "God" in ink.  On leaf S2v at line three of Psalm 76:10, "earth" in the text is lined through, corrected to "wrath" in ink. On leaf Dd3v at line two of Psalm 113:5, "earth" in the text is lined through, corrected to "high" in ink. On leaf Kk2v at Psalm 143:6, "I even" in the text is lined through, corrected to "Moreover" in ink.

As noted, the lower half of the errata leaf is wanting. On the recto of the blank leaf following the errata leaf, of which a portion is also missing, is a notation in ink: "Aristotle sayd yt man was the [?], the [?] of [?] Image of Inconstancy the tryall of Envy & misery ; And all the rest of man flem & coeler". Various pen tests and other marks on the verso of the same leaf.

Chain of Provenance: Richard Mather - Mather family (likely Samuel, Increase, Cotton) - Thomas Prince - Old South Church - Nathaniel Bradstreet Shurtleff - Sidney S. Rider - Caleb Fiske Harris - Sidney S. Rider - John Carter Brown - John Carter Brown Library.

This copy was recently featured in Slate, and a full scan is available here.

2. Yale University Library - Eames knew this as the Vanderbilt copy, and describes it this way: "Perfect. It is one of the five copies bequeathed by Thomas Prince in 1758 to the Old South Church, from whose collection is passed by exchange, between the years 1850 and 1860, to Edward A. Crowninshield ... . In the catalogue of Mr. Crowninshield's library, announced to be sold at auction by Leonard & Co., Boston, in November, 1859, the book is described as 'in the original old vellum binding.' The whole library, however, was withdrawn, and sold at private sale for $10,000 to Mr. Henry Stevens, who took it to London, where the Psalm Book was offered to the British Museum for £150. Its purchase not being approved, the book was withdrawn by Mr. Stevens, and after being rebound by F[rancis]. Bedford in 'dark brown crushed levant morocco,' was sold in 1868 to Mr. George Brinley of Hartford, for 150 guineas. At the Brinley sale in March, 1879, it was bought for the late Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt for $1200. The statements in the Memorial History of Boston, vol. I (1880) and in the Catalogue of the John Carter Brown Library, part 2 (1882), that this copy was destroyed in a warehouse fire in New York, not long after its purchase by Mr. Vanderbilt, are both incorrect. Mrs. Vanderbilt writes that the book now belongs to her, and that it has never been injured in any fire. See Catalogue of the Valuable Private Library of the late Edward A. Crowninshield (1859), no. 878; Brinley Catalogue, part I (1878, sold 1879), no. 847; Stevens, Recollections of Mr. James Lenox (1886), pp. 61-63."

Shurtleff and Swan report that the book probably was exchanged with Crowinshield prior to 1850. It remained in the Vanderbilt family until its sale at Parke-Bernet Galleries on 28 January 1947 for $151,000 to the Rosenbach Company. The copy was purchased for Yale University by a "group of alumni and friends," as announced in September 1947. They note that there have been minor repairs at the outer margins of signatures Kk and Ll. An account of the 1947 sale of this copy (and of the transfer of the other Old South copies) is included in the 22 November 1954 issue of LIFE, under the headline "A Very Proper Swindle".

The Sotheby's census notes that this copy was acquired by Old South Church before 1750, and does not attribute ownership to Thomas Prince.

Yale Catalog Record.

Chain of Provenance: Old South Church - Edward A. Crowninshield - Henry Stevens - George Brinley - Cornelius Vanderbilt - Alice Gywnne Vanderbilt - Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney & her estate trust - Rosenbach Company - Yale University.

3. Boston Public Library Copy 1 - From the Catalogue of the Prince Library: "Has the book-plate of the 'New England Library' ... a small part of [leaf] Ee supplied in manuscript, and is otherwise complete." "Old South Church Library" stamped in gold on front board. "Thomas Prince Library In the Custody of the Boston Public Library" bookplate on front pastedown, with shelfmark H.21.14. Shelfmark written in blue pencil on verso of added front flyleaf. On recto of the blank leaf preceding the title page, a shelfmark [presumably Prince's] near the top in ink: "10.4.8" and below this "O.S. 132." In ink lower on the page is a citation from Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana: "'About the year 1639, the New English Reformers ... resolving upon a New Translation [of the Psalms], the chief Divines in the country took each of them a portion to be translated: among whom were Mr Weld & Mr Eliot of Roxbury & Mr Mather of Dorchester. ... The Psalms thus turn'd into Metre were printed at Cambridge in the year 1640.' Magnalia, III.100." On verso of title page, Prince's ownership inscription: "T. Prince. Milton. Apr. 9 & 10. 1728" [astronomical notations appear above the dates]. Below this is the bookplate of the New England Library, with printed text "This Book belongs to The New-England-Library, Begun to be collected by Thomas Prince, upon his entring Harvard-College, July 6. 1703 ; and was given by" with addition in manuscript "said Prince in his last will Oct. 2. 1758 to remain in said Library forever." See an image of Prince's inscription and bookplate from this leaf here.

On leaf **2r, in the preface, the following section of the text is underlined in ink: "it hath beene one part of our religious care and faithfull indeavour, to keepe close to the originall text." A marginal bracket in ink has been added to the text from the final, partial paragraph on leaf **2r through the end of the first full paragraph on leaf **3r. The phrase "a paraphrase" is underlined in ink on leaf **2v. On leaf A1r several notations to later changes are indicated in ink: the second line of Psalm 1:5, "rise to stand in the doome," in the text, is glossed "stand upright in ye Doom. 1647". Below the text, in ink: "All the Rest of this Psalm as in 1647. But the next edition ^after 1647^ greatly amended." On leaf A2r, at the end of Psalm 2 is added in ink "[all ye same in 1647.]" The second line of Psalm 3:6, "ten thousand" in the text, is glossed "ten thousands in 1647." On leaf A2v, at the end of Psalm 4, "all the same in 1647." Foliation notation on leaf Aa4v, in pencil at the top corner, "fo. 100." The missing portion of leaf Ee, noted in the Prince Catalogue as being supplied in manuscript, no longer has the manuscript portion present (a portion of the text from the lower half of the leaf is missing). On the verso of a later rear endleaf, in pencil: "Ee defective; otherwise perfect."

This is Shurtleff and Swan's BPL Copy A; they note that its condition "entitles this copy to a much higher ranking than is ordinarily given to the volume, which has all too often been passed over with the simple notation that it is 'slightly imperfect.' A full scan of this copy is available here.

Chain of Provenance: Thomas Prince - Old South Church - Boston Public Library.

4. Boston Public Library Copy 2 - From the Catalogue of the Prince Library: "[C]omplete, with the exception of a slight mutilation of the 'Finis' leaf, and the absence of the following leaf, which contains on the recto a list of 'Faults escaped in printing.'" These are Ll3 and Ll4. Contains the following inscription on the flyleaf: "This book was bound at the cost of Mr. Ed. Crowninshield and given in exchange for No. 259 in the catalog. Jan. 1850. STA." See entry 1 for another Armstrong note. No. 259 in the catalog of the Prince collection is the notation for the copy of the Bay Psalm Book Crowninshield received [entry 2]. This copy is Shurtleff and Swan's BPL Copy B, and they note that its "defects, especially the [missing leaf] are serious, but the copy is still worthy of a higher rating for condition than is commonly given it." The noted errata, with one exception, have been corrected in manuscript, and the first verse of Psalm 100 (Z4v) has a contemporary manuscript edit. The reiteration of sheet D is noted by the addition in manuscript of "miss 2 leaves" at the foot of D1r and D4r, and "Turn back a leafe" on D3r and D2r. This is item 112 in the 1847 Prince Library catalog, and bears the shelfmark 10.4.11 in ink on the title page.

This is the copy currently being considered for sale by the Old South Church.

Eames: "Both slightly imperfect, and both in modern binding. These are the two remaining copies of the five originally given by Thomas Prince to the Old South Church in Boston. In 1866 they were deposited with the rest of the collection in the Boston Public Library. For both BPL copies, see Catalogue of the American Portion of the Library of the Rev. Thomas Prince (1868), p. 16; and The Prince Library, A Catalogue of the Collection of Books and Manuscripts (1870), p. 7. Shurtleff and Swan add: "It has been said that the modern bindings were put on these two copies as part of the payment involved in the exchanges by which the other three copies passed to Messrs. Shurtleff, Crowninshield, and Livermore [entries 1, 2, and 10]. If this is the case, it is perhaps more to be deplored than that duplicates were allowed to leave the Prince collection."

Chain of Provenance: Stephen Northup - Old South Church (possibly via Joseph Sewall) - Boston Public Library.

5. Bodleian Library - Eames: "'The copy in the Bodleian is perfect. It formerly belonged to Bishop [Thomas] Tanner.'" — Cotton's Editions of the Bible (1852), p. 177. Bishop Tanner died  December 14, 1735; and by his will, dated November 22, 1733, he bequeathed his manuscripts and books to the Bodleian. 'Unfortuantely, when Tanner was removing his books from Norwich to Oxford, in December, 1731, by some accident in their transit (which was made by river) they fell into the water, and were submerged for twenty hours. The effects of this soaking are only too evident upon many of them. The whole of the printed books were uniformly bound in dark green calf, apparently about fifty years ago; the binder's work was well done, but unhappily all the fly-leaves, many of which would doubtless have afforded something of interest, with regard to the books and their former possessors, were removed.' — Macray's Annals of the Bodleian Library (1868), pp. 155-156. See the Caxton Celebration Catalogue (1877), p. 165; Stevens's Bibles in the Caxton Exhibition (1878), p. 117."

Bodleian Catalog Record.

Chain of Provenance: Thomas Tanner - Bodleian Library.

6. New York Public Library - "Slightly imperfect, the upper corner of leaf G being torn off, taking away portions of three lines on both sides; in modern binding. Size of leaf, seven inches and one-sixteenth by four inches and three-quarters. This copy turned up at the sale of the Fourth and concluding portion of the extensive and valuable collection of books, formed by the late Mr. William Pickering, of Piccadilly, bookseller, at Sotheby & Wilkinson's auction rooms, London, on Jan. 12, 1855, in a lot [with other early psalm books]. The lot was bought by Mr. Henry Stevens for £2 18s. On examining the book, Mr. Stevens, discovered that twelve leaves (sheets W, X, and Y) were lacking, having been left out by the original binder. These twelve leaves were finally obtained from Mr. Livermore's copy [see entry 11 below], and after being mended and re-margined, they were inserted in this copy; the book was rebound in red morocco by F[rancis] Bedford, and was then sold by Mr. Stevens to Mr. Lenox for £80. See Stevens, Recollections of Mr. James Lenox (1886), pp. 57-62, where, besides the error in stating the wrong number of leaves found lacking in this copy, an error is also made in referring to the wrong number in the Pickering sale catalogue... ."

NYPL Catalog Record.

Chain of Provenance: William Pickering - Henry Stevens - James Lenox - Lenox Library - New York Public Library.

7. Henry E. Huntington Library - This was, when Eames wrote, in the possession of Mr. E. Dwight Church of Brooklyn. "In the original old calf binding; lacking the first four and the last three leaves, which were supplied later in facsimile. Size of leaf, seven inches (nearly) by four inches and five-eighths. Accompanying the book is a manuscript note of which the following is an extract: 'It belonged to the Shuttleworth family, & is now handed down to my daughter Sophia S. Simpson, to be used at her own discretion, by her beloved mother. Sarah Shuttleworth, 1844.' About the year 1872 it was bought by the late T. O. H. P. Burnham, of the 'Antique Bookstore' in Boston, not knowing at the time exactly what it was. Years afterwards, on comparison by Mr. R. C. Lichtenstein with the 1640 edition in the Public Library, it was found to be a genuine copy of that edition. In August, 1892, it was sold to the late Bishop John F. Hurst, of Washington, D.C., and in February, 1903, shortly before his death, it was bought by Messrs. Dodd, Mead & Co., from whom it passed to the present owner."

Shurtleff and Swan note that the copy includes signatures of Rev. John Cotton, John Dothirk, and Ann Dowding. The copy was advertised for sale by Dodd, Mead & Co. for $4,000 in April, 1903, when it was purchased by Church. It was used to make the plates for the facsimile edition of 1903 for which Eames wrote the introduction. Henry E. Huntington purchased the book as part of a 2,000-volume portion of the Church collection in 1911, and it remains in the library which bears his name.

The Huntington Library gives John Dethicke (rather than Dothick) as one of the inscribers, and does not mention John Cotton.

Huntington Library Catalog Record.

Chain of Provenance: John Cotton? - John Dothirk or Dethicke? - Ann Dowding? - Shuttleworth family - Sophia S. Simpson - T. O. H. P. Burnham - John F. Hurst - Dodd, Mead & Co. - E. Dwight Church - Henry E. Huntington - Huntington Library.

8. Harvard University Library - Eames: "Imperfect, lacking the first six leaves and the last four leaves; re-bound in October, 1900. The book was given to Harvard College Library in October, 1764, by Middlecott Cooke, of Boston, a graduate of the Class of 1723. See Catalogue of the Library of Harvard University, vol. 2 (1830), p. 679; and information from William C. Lane, the librarian." With a manuscript correction on W4r, changing "this man" to "himselfe". Signature of John Leverett on N1v.

Shurtleff and Swan note that Cooke's gift was probably to replace an earlier Harvard copy, likely destroyed in the library fire of January, 1764.

The Houghton Library record notes that the missing leaves are supplied in type-facsimile, and that the book is bound in modern black morocco. Haraszti notes that the rebinding occurred in 1900.

Houghton Library Catalog Record.

Chain of Provenance: John Leverett - Middlecott Cooke - Harvard College.

9. American Antiquarian Society - Of this copy, Eames writes: "Imperfect, lacking the title-page and the leaf of errata at the end; in the 'original vellum binding.' 'The upper portion of next to last leaf is torn and a corner from the first page of the Preface.' It was given to the American Antiquarian Society by Isaiah Thomas, whose book-plate is in the volume. On one of the fly leaves Mr. Thomas has written the following note: 'After advertising for another copy of this book, and making enquiry in many places in New England, &c. I was not able to obtain or even to hear of another. This copy is therefore invaluable, and must be preserved with the greatest care. It is in the original binding. I. T. Sept. 28th, 1820." See Catalogue of Books in the Library of the American Antiquarian Society (1837), p. 43 of letter P; and information from Mr. Edmund M. Barton, the librarian."

This is the copy mentioned by Thomas in his 1810 History of Printing in America as being in the collection of Rev. William Bentley of Salem, acquired by Thomas after Benthley's death.

The Sotheby's census notes that this copy is indicated in Bentley's "Book Accounts" as being purchased 15 May 1804 at Peabody's among "A Lot of old Books" for 36 cents, and prints certain correspondence about the volume between Thomas and Bentley.

The AAS catalog notes that the missing leaves are supplied in facsimile.

AAS Catalog Record.

Chain of Provenance: William Bentley - Isaiah Thomas - American Antiquarian Society.

10. Library of Congress - Known to Eames as the Alfred T. White copy. "In the original old calf binding, with remnants of the brass clasps; lacking nineteen leaves, i.e. title, O2 and O3, and sheets W, X, Y, and Ll; and showing marks of usage. Size of leaf, six inches and fifteen-sixteenths by four inches and three-sixteenths. This also was one of the five copies bequeathed by Mr. Prince to the Old South Church in Boston, from the custody of which it was obtained about the year 1850, by Mr. George Livermore of Cambridge, whose signature is on the inside of the front cover. In 1855 Mr. Henry Stevens of London made a trade with Mr. Livermore by which he received from him twelve leaves out of this volume (sheets W, X, and Y) to supply an imperfection in the copy which he sold afterwards to Mr. Lenox [copy 6 above]. After Mr. Livermore's death in 1865, some of his books were deposited in the library of Harvard College, but they were subsequently withdrawn, and all were sold at auction by Charles F. Libbie & Co., Boston, November 20-23, 1894, when the Psalm Book was bought for its present owner for $425. See Catalogue of the Valuable Private Library of the Late George Livermore, Esq. (1894), no. 531. See also Stevens's Recollections of Mr. James Lenox (1886), pp. 61-62, where an error is made in stating that only four leaves were taken from this copy to perfect the Lenox copy. The same error is repeated in Mr. Littlefield's Early Boston Booksellers (1900), pp. 18-21... ."

Shurtleff and Swan note that this copy was erroneously reported by Sabin and by T. J. Holmes in The Minor Mathers to have been at the Huntington Library. By 1948 the book was in the possession of White's son-in-law, Adrian Van Sinderen. It was placed with the Library of Congress on 2 May, 1966 by Mrs. Adrian Van Sinderen, when it was the last copy remaining in private hands. At that time the front cover was detached, and the leaves were measured at 7 x 41/4, making it one of the taller copies. See The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress 24:3 (July, 1967), pp. 204-205.

Additional notes on this copy: Livermore's inked ownership notation on the inner front board reads "George Livermore | Dana Hill | Cambridge." The title page is supplied in pen facsimile. Additional ownership note on title page, "Geo Livemore" (partially warn away). Ink markings, possibly an early ownership notation, on *2r along with a shelfmark [presumably Prince's]: "10.4.10." Lightly inked at the top of leaf F1v, obscuring part of the running title and the first line. Several circles and scribbles in ink at the right and bottom margins of leaves N1v and top and right margin of N2r. Several unreadable words[?] in ink at bottom margin of leaf R3r. Horizontal tear across the center of leaf Ff3. Diagonal tear on the outer edge of leaf Hh, affecting the text slightly on the verso. One side of sheet Ii very lightly inked. Several notations and a square in ink on inner rear board.

The Sotheby's census notes that this copy was acquired by Old South Church before 1750, and does not attribute ownership to Thomas Prince.

A full scan of this copy is available here.

Library of Congress Catalog Record.

Chain of Provenance: Old South Church - George Livermore - Alfred T. White - Mr. & Mrs. Adrian Van Sinderen - Library of Congress.

11. Rosenbach Library & Museum - This copy, the most recently-discovered, was not known to Eames. Shurtleff and Swan describe it as imperfect, citing a 1947 Parke-Bernet catalogue description: "Original calf binding. Lacks D1-11 [i.e. D-D2] but with original blanks." It was believed to have been discovered in northern Ireland sometime in the early part of the 20th century, and sold to Rosenbach. They note that this copy was exhibited on the Freedom Train in 1947.

In Legacies of Genius, Edwin Wolf 2nd notes that Rosenbach acquired his copy in 1933 from J. Weatherup, "a gentleman from Belfast," for £150. The Rosenbach Museum's A Selection from Our Shelves notes that this volume contains the early 18th-century signature of a William Brown, and that currently "the first four leaves and the four leaves comprising signature D are in facsimile."

The Sotheby's census notes the signatures of James and Thomas Lawrence on H1r and H2r respectively, and prints a June 1933 letter from Weatherup to the Rosenbach Company about this volume. This copy was that briefly absconded with by a UCLA undergraduate during an exhibition, but was recovered.

Chain of Provenance: James Lawrence - Thomas Lawrence - William Brown - James Weatherup - A. S. W. Rosenbach - Rosenbach Library & Museum.

[NB: this post has been updated, latest on 24 November 2013. In several entries references are made to specific leaves within the book: where Eames is quoted directly these have been left as given, with the leaf numbers in subscript.]