Finding one of the oldest examples of printing in Britain: the story of the Caxton leaf

Written by Erika Delbecque, UMASCS Librarian, as part of the 2017 Being Human festival: Lost and Found.

The leaf on my desk was stained, torn in places, and fairly unremarkable. Unlike other loose leaves from the fifteenth century that I had been working on, which mostly contained standard texts that circulated widely at the time, the text proved difficult to identify. My secondary school Latin enabled me to, slowly, make some sense of the heavily abbreviated lines.

I read sentences such as

Feria iij. de sancto Augustino. et memoria sub silencio. de martiribus et de trinitate

On the third weekday, [hold a service] about Saint Augustine. And a remembrance in silence of the saints and the Trinity.

The Caxton leaf that was discovered at the University of Reading (detail)

It became clear that this was a page from a practical book aimed at clergy: an ordinal. Research into the publication history of this type of book led me to a version of the ordinal written by Clement Maydeston, a medieval priest from Middlesex. His text became the standard ordinal in the late fifteenth century.

However, the font and the layout of the text on the leaf did not match any known editions of Maydeston’s work. By chance, I read that an earlier version of the ordinal had been printed by William Caxton in 1477, which survived only in two fragments of eight damaged pages each. These had been discovered in the binding of a book in the library of the Grammar School at St Albans in 1858. Describing the pages, William Blades, the scholar who made the discovery, noted:

The lines are not spaced out to one length. A full page has 22 lines (cited in Wordsworth 1894)

The Caxton leaf that was discovered at the University of Reading

Sure enough, the leaf in my hands had 22 lines, which were not spaced out to one length. Could it be…? The surviving fragments that Blades had discovered, which are now kept at the British Library, are available digitally through Early English Books Online.

The font matched. The layout matched. The page measurements matched.

The unassuming leaf that had been in our collections for almost twenty years turned out to be a unique survivor from a long lost William Caxton book.

Late hym come to Westmonester

Having learned how to print in the Low Countries, Caxton arrived in London to set up the first British printing press about a year before this ordinal was printed. He was a shrewd businessman, seeking out texts to print that would appeal to a large audience. An ordinal would have been a safe bet in Catholic Britain: there was a steady demand for liturgical handbooks from the clergy.

To advertise his ordinal, Caxton printed notices that were pasted on walls and doors in London, in which he urged customers to head to his shop in Westminster to buy the book because it is “wel and truly correct” and “good chepe”. Incidentally, it is oldest surviving printed advertisement in the English language.

Advertisement for Sarum Pie [‘Ordinale ad usum Sarum’] ([Westminster: William Caxton, c.1476-7]) ©Bodleian Libraries

A perilous journey

What happened between the time when the freshly printed leaf left Caxton’s presses and the moment it was discovered in our collections over 500 years later? The leaf contains clues that offer tantalising glimpses into the journey it made before it ended up on our shelves.

Detail of the Caxton leaf showing the red paraph marks

The first of these are the red marks on the page, so-called “paraph marks” which indicate the start of new sections. Unlike the letters on the page these were not printed, but added by hand. Books from the fifteenth century were modelled on medieval manuscripts, and customers would take their printed book to a scribe who added initials, page numbers and paraph marks in coloured ink. Thus, the paraph marks on the Caxton leaf tell us that someone bought and valued the book it was once part of.

Detail of the Caxton leaf showing the offsets from a leather binding

At some point in the following centuries, its fortunes changed. The Reformation, which raged across Britain and the rest of Europe in the sixteenth century, eliminated the need for Catholic ordinals. Dark offsets from leather towards the edges of the leaf hint at what happened next: the leaf was folded and used to reinforce the cover of a later book. Rather than wasting new paper, which was a relatively expensive commodity at the time, bookbinders often recycled leaves from earlier documents for this purpose. So, we largely owe the survival of the Caxton leaf to the thriftiness of these craftsmen!

Portrait of William Caxton from a proof illustration to John Johnson’s ‘Typographia or the Printers Instructor’. 1824 ©British Museum

What happened next is shrouded in mystery. At one point, someone must have taken the leaf out of the binding, although it is unlikely that they realised its significance. The leaf may have changed hands several times, until the late typographer John Lewis purchased it as part of a collection of loose early printed leaves in the 1950s. Lewis suggests that these leaves may have slumbered in bindings of rare books at Cambridge University Library, until they were removed by a diligent sticky-fingered librarian:

A dozen years or so ago, I bought from a bookseller in Ipswich, Suffolk, an album compiled about the year 1820 by a Dr Lodge, sometime librarian to the University Library at Cambridge. […] As librarian to a great library, Dr Lodge’s opportunities for collecting pages from damaged books and packings from broken bindings were extensive (1990, pp. 9-10).

In this way, unbeknown to Lewis himself, a unique Caxton leaf made its way into his collection of historical examples of printing and graphic design. In 1997, this collection was purchased by the University of Reading, where it would sit on the shelves awaiting detailed cataloguing for the next twenty years.

Libraries within libraries

We will probably never know what detours and stops our Caxton leaf made on its five-century long journey from London to Reading via Cambridge and Ipswich. When I identified the leaf as an early example of Caxton’s printing, I realised that what I held in my hands was a unique witness of the introduction of what is perhaps the most significant invention of the modern age. This small, humble leaf has now assumed its rightful place amongst the treasures of our collection. Who knows what other treasures are lurking hidden in bindings on library shelves, libraries within libraries waiting to be discovered?

References

Lewis, John 1990, Printed Ephemera. 2nd ed, Woodbridge: Antique collectors’ club.

Wordsworth, Christopher (ed.) 1894, The Tracts of Clement Maydeston: With the Remains of Caxton’s Ordinale, London: Harrison and Sons, 1894.

Archive Animals- Ducks

Written by Bethan Davies, Trainee Liaison Librarian. 

After a special visit from our friend Hodor from Reading University Library, we decided to take a deeper look at our duck related objects in our collection. Along the way, we found several literary pseudonyms, famous works set to music, and a very famous Beatrix Potter creation…

 

Image of title page of book with illustrations of wild poultry.

The title page of Book of Domestic Poultry (Reserve 636.5) with illustration of wild poultry.

The Illustrated Book of Domestic Poultry, ed. Martin Doyle

Published in 1854, The Illustrated Book of Domestic Poultry includes stunning oil colour prints of a range of domestic fowl, and includes detailed information on breeding and rearing individual species. The named editor “Martin Doyle” is actually the pseudonym for the Irish writer and philanthropist Rev. William Hickey. Hickey was concerned with the state of the poor Irish farmer and wrote several tracts relating practical advice on husbandry and agricultural methods.

The illustrations from this title were drawn from nature by Charles Havey Wighall (1794 – 1877), a landscape and portrait painter. Wighall also wrote several guides to painting and drawing, including the apt Guide to Animal Drawing (1862).

 

 

Ploof the Wild Duck, by Lida

Cover of children's book with image of a duck.

Ploof the Wild Duck (Children’s Collection F. 598 LID.

Taken from our Children’s Collection, Ploof the Wild Duck (1938) follows the titular duckling as he grows up alongside his seven siblings, exploring the lake and hiding from predators along the way. The book is actually a translation of the French original (previously titled “Plouf, canard sauvage”). It is part of the  Pere Castor’s Wild Animal Books series. Pere Castor (real name  Paul Faucher), was an influential educator, who used his new publishing business to create a series of educational works for children. For Castor, images were particuarly important in ensuring children remembered the information they were being given. Thus Castor’s books stood out from other children’s books at the time for having high quality designs and illustrations. The illustrations in Ploof are drawn by the Russian illustrator Feodor Rojankovsky (Rojan), a respected children’s illustrator who worked with Castor on several works, before moving to America.

Sheet of music.

Up Tails, All! appears in the Cramer’s Library series, as part of the Finzi Music Reserve Collection 780.81 SHA 4.31

 

Up Tails, All! (The Duck’s Ditty), Martin Shaw & Kenneth Grahame

In the children’s classic The Wind in the Willows, Ratty, sitting by the river, makes up a “ditty” about his

friends the ducks. The poem was later put to words by the composer Martin Shaw, in “Up Tails, All! (The Duck’s Ditty)”. Shaw who helped to edit The Oxford Book of Carols, was noted for his commitment to the English church and “Englishness” in general. The song was especially popular with school children, with the children being told to “wag their fingers” along to the beat!

 

 

 

Front cover of small book with image of a duck.

Our first edition copy of Jemima Puddle Duck (Children’s Collection 823.9.

The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck, by Beatrix Potter

Possibly the most recognisable of the duck related works in our collection, (and this blog writer’s personal favourite), The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck is one of the most popular of Beatrix Potter’s works. The tale follows a similar narrative to Little Red Riding Hood and other fairytales, as the naive protagonist is led into danger. The tale is also notable for showcasing Potter’s realistic portrayal  of life and death on the farm. Our original first edition copy is part of our larger series of the Tales of Beatrix Potter.

 

 

 

If you want to follow Hodor in viewing these books, you can find them through our Library Catalogue, or contact us directly via phone or email!

 

 

 

 

References

Bromley, H. (2001). Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck, the (1908). In V. Watson (Ed.), The Cambridge guide to children’s books in English. [Online]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

“Charles Harvey Weigall”, 2017. National Galleries Scotland. [Online] Available at:  https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/artists/charles-harvey-weigall

Goodwin, G. ‘Hickey, William (1787–1875)’, rev. Anne Pimlott Baker, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2009 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/13209, accessed 18 Oct 2017]

Lallement-Renonciat, Annie. “Castor, Père.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature. : Oxford University Press, 2006.

“Music suitable for Schools.” (1928). The School Music Review : A Monthly Periodical Devoted to the Interest of Music in Schools, 37(436), 140-141.

Nières-Chevrel, I.(2006). Rojankovsky, Feodor. In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature. : Oxford University Press.

 

Studwell, W.E. & Jones, D. (1998) “Martin Shaw”, Music Reference Services Quarterly, 6:4, 67-69, DOI: 10.1300/J116v06n04_15

#ReadaBookDay – Our top suggestions!

In celebration of #ReadABookDay, members of staff at The MERL and Special Collections have been sharing their favourite books from within our collection on Twitter. This blog post looks in a bit more depth at our selections (beyond the 140 character limit).

David’s Choice- The Eagle Annual (1950)

David’s selection is from our Children’s Collection, which includes a significant run of the Eagle comics

David with the 1950 Annual of the Eagle. (CHILDREN’S COLLECTION–052)

and three annuals. Created in 1950, Eagle comics were created by Marcus Morris, an Anglican vicar who was disillusioned with children’s literature at the time. The comics ran from 1950 to 1969, and included the iconic character Dan Dare, iconic pilot of the future. The comic holds nostalgic value for many readers, including David, who can remember rereading old copies of Eagle when he was a young boy.

 

Erika’s Choice- Sallust’s Coniuratio Catilinae et Bellum Iugurthinum (1569)

Erika’s choice of Sallust, including marginalia. (RESERVE–878.2)

Translated into The Conspiracy of Catiline and Jugurthine War, Erika’s choice comes from one of the earliest Roman historians. This particular copy was printed in the late 15th century by Aldus Manutius, an influential figure in early Venetian printing.  The reason Erika chose this book, however, is because it includes a large number of drawings and doodles within the margins. The study of marginalia within books has become an important aspect of reception studies and book history, and provides an insight into the character of historical readers.

 

 

Claire’s Choice- The history of a Banbury cake (1835?) 

Another look into our Children’s Collection now, which comprises over 6,000 books and journals written

Claire’s Choice- a talking Banbury cake on a journey to Bristol. (CHILDREN’S COLLECTION–828.7-HIS)

for children. Although the collection mainly covers the 19th and early 20th century. Claire’s choice,

however, is one of the 900 works which are pre-1851. Titled The history of a Banbury Cake: an entertaining book for children, the book is based around a talking Banbury cake, and it’s subsequent adventures from Oxford to Bristol. You can find more about Banbury from our previous blog here, alongside a further look at cakes within the Special Collections. 

 

 

Bethan’s Choice- The girlhood of Shakespeare’s heroines (1884)

Bethan’s choice- The girlhood of Shakespeare’s heroines. (RESERVE–822.33-CLA)

Bethan is one of our newest recruits to Special Collections, but she has already picked out a possible favourite- The girlhood of Shakespeare’s heroines by Mary Cowden Clarke. Clarke was often a partner with her husband Charles Clarke in various Shakespearean studies (Marshall & Thompson 2011). The girlhood of Shakespeare’s heroines was previously maligned by critics as supposedly focusing upon Shakespeare’s female characters as actual people, rather than literary creations. However, more recent research has shown Clarke’s writings to be more subversive and feminist then previously thought (Brown 2005). A previous English Literature student, Bethan  liked the focus on Shakespeare’s female characters, and the illustrations included throughout the book.

 

 

 

If you’re interested in any of the items mentioned here, please feel free to contact us for more information! We hope we’ve inspired you to pick out your favourite books.


References

Brown, S. A. (2005) “The Prequel as Palinode: Mary Cowden Clarke’s Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines,” in Holland, P. (ed.) Shakespeare Survey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Shakespeare Survey), pp. 95–106.

Marshall, Gail, & Thompson, Ann (2011) ‘Mary Cowden Clarke’, in Gail Marshall (ed.), Great Shakespeareans volume 7. 

 

Adventurous of Mind, Young at Heart: Herbert Leader Hawkins

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Herbert L Hawkins Signature

The University of Reading’s Special Collections Service is home to the fascinating papers and unique library of Herbert Leader Hawkins, Professor of Geology at the University from 1920 to 1952.  According to his biographer, Allen (1970), Hawkins was, “Adventurous of mind, kindly, young in heart, vividly imaginative and telling a superb tale, he radiated a genuinely joyful dedication to geology.”  This passion for geology is evident in his collection which includes over 700 maps, letters to and from noted geologists and a book collection featuring classics in the field, such as Rondelet Libri de piscibus marinis, (1554) and Phillips’ Illustrations of the Geology of Yorkshire (1874).

Hawkins established the strong foundations of the University’s Geology Department and enabled it to

One of the fantastic illustrations from Rondelet Libri de piscibus marinis, (1554)

One of the fantastic illustrations from Rondelet Libri de piscibus marinis, (1554)

flourish in the early 1900s by gathering together the much needed, but often hard to acquire teaching

materials and collections for the course.  Allen (1970) teases that there are many intriguing stories of, “how Hawkins “acquired, annexed

or just stole” (his words) the rich collections,” though sadly the tale behind the acquisition of Rondelet and Phillips’ work (above) seems to remain unknown.

Some of my favourite pieces from the collection however, are not ones acquired by Hawkins but those which feature the Professor himself, notably a small number of photographs from geology fieldtrips.  Although the geology students didn’t venture far, with labels indicating trips to Dorset, Frome and Shropshire, the images provide a lovely snap shot of Hawkins in his element.  Allen (1970) reports one of Hawkins’ students, Professor P.C. Sylvester-Bradley, recalling that Hawkins’ strength as a professor was in his ability “to fire the imagination, and it was especially in the first year and in the field that he was so successful.”

Geology Field Trip 1920

Geology Field Trip 1920

In the photographs we see Professor Hawkins amongst his students, often with pipe in hand, perfectly matching the description of him given by Allen (1970):

Physically and sartorially Hawkins was the epitome of a contemporary geologist: nimble of gait, wiry, walrus-moustached, unfashionably long- haired, brown-booted and attired in brown tweed hat, jacket and baggy trouser.

Geology Field Trip to Frome 1925

Geology Field Trip to Frome 1925

These field trips often involved demonstrations using Hawkins own hand drawn, large-scale maps, which are also stored as part of our collections and some were even “topped off by Hawkins’s accomplished playing on the piano.”  (Allen, 1970)

Geology Field Trip Shropshire 1919

Geology Field Trip Shropshire 1919

Sources and further information:
Allen, P. (1970) Herbert Leader Hawkins. 1887-1968 Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol. 16 pp. 314- 329 URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/769592
Hawkins Collection
Papers of Herbert Leader Hawkins

Topsell’s Fantastic Four-Footed Beasts

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Edward Topsell, a Church of England clergyman, was born in Kent in 1572 and managed the parish of St Botolph in Aldersgate, London from 1604 until his death in 1625 (Lewis, 2004).  Although he wrote several books, his most celebrated work is, ‘The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents’ (1607), a wonderful bestiary that describes all manner of creatures from Elephants to Bees to the Bear Ape Arctopithecus (or the three toed sloth as we know it today (University of Houston Library, 2013)).  Each entry describes the creature in detail, giving commentary from ancient, medieval and contemporary sources.  In particular, Topsell relied heavily on sixteenth century encyclopedia, ‘Historia Animalium’ by Conrad Gesner, reusing his work to the point where he could almost be accused of plagiarism (Lewis, 2004).  This makes Topsell’s following claim a little dubious:

I cannot say that I have said all that can be written of these living creatures, yet I dare say I have wrote more than ever was before me written in any Language

However, even though he was not a naturalist by any means and borrowed much of this work from others, ‘A History of Four-footed Beats and Serpents’ remains a fascinating text. One of my favourite things about the beastiary is that includes not only the familiar and common animals but also the fantastical and frightening!  Manticore, Satyr and Unicorn are all considered alongside cat and dog and horse and the descriptions provided are wonderfully detailed and perfectly illustrated.

Below are some of my favourite mythical monsters from the book:

manticore

Of the Mantichora

A terrifying monster residing in India that has earned the fearsome title of ‘man eater’, the Manticore is described by Topsell as a deadly combination of man, lion and scorpion:

a treble row of teeth beneath and above, whose greatness, roughness, and feet are like a lyons, his face and ears unto a mans, his eyes grey, and colour red, his tail like the tail of a Scorpion, of the earth, armed with a sting, casting forth sharp pointed quils; his voice like the voice of a small Trumpet or Pipe, being in course as swift as a Hart; his wildness such as can never be tamed, and his appetite is especially to the flesh of man.

The manticore uses its tail to attack hunters and prey and is able to grow back any quills lost in the fight.

 

 lamia

Of the Lamia

Topsell initially describes what he believes to be the fabled accounts of the Lamia, which show her as a ‘phary’ (fairy) or shape-changer who wishes to steal away children and tempt beautiful men.  As such creatures do not exist in the Bible, these tales originated, according to Topsell, from poets who use the term Lamia as an allegory for a harlot.

The true Lamia, instead hails from Libya and is known in Hebrew as the creature ‘Lilith’.  It is described as:

having a womans face, and very beautiful, also very large and comely shapes of their breasts, such as cannot be counterfeited by the art of any Painter, having a very excellent colour in their fore-parts without wings, and no other voice but hissing like dragons.

The Lamia is said to enchant men with its body before overthrowing and devouring them.

 

Unicorn

Of the Unicorn 

Although Topsell consults many ancient sources, he finds their accounts of the descriptions of Unicorns so divergent that he can only assume there are many varying kinds of the creature, much as there are types of dog or mice.  However, he confirms that they can be found in both India and Ethiopia, that they have a single horn in the middle of the forehead, are roughly the size of a horse, and tend toward a solitary life.

Of course the most fascinating part of a Unicorn is its horn and Topsell recounts an interesting story from the life of Apollonius of Tyana by Philostratus:

the Indians of that horn make pots, affirming that whosoever drinketh in one of those pots, shall never take disease that day, and if they be wounded, shall feel no pain, or safely pass through the fire without burning, nor yet be poisoned in their drinks, and therefore such cups are only in the possession of their Kings.

Although Apollonius discounted some of the effects of the Unicorn horn, he seemed to accept that it may have some medicinal properties.

 

dragon

Of the Dragon

Like Unicorns, dragons are also said to be bred in India and Africa and are diverse in size and colour.  The dragon illustrated above is the Winged Dragon whose wings are described as being of “a skinny substance, and very voluble, and spreading themselves wide, according to the quantity and largenesse of the Dragons body.”

More generally, dragons are beautiful to behold, despite their terrifying treble rows of teeth.  They have bright and clear seeing eyes, “dewlaps growing under their chin and hanging down like a beard[…] and their bodies are set all over with very sharp scales, and over their eyes stand certain flexible eye-lids.”

They also have very keen senses of seeing and hearing, making them the perfect watchful keepers of treasure and unmarried maidens.

According to Topsell (affirmed by Aristotle), dragons are specifically offended by eating apples and lettice and will eat the latter to vomit up any meat they find does not settle well in their stomachs!

To kill a dragon, Topsell recounts that Indians will,

take a garment of Scarlet, and picture upon it a charm in golden letters, this they lay upon the mouth of the Dragon’s den, for with the red colour and the gold, the eyes of the Dragon are overcome, and he falleth asleep, the Indians in the mean season watching and muttering secretly words of Incantation; when they perceive he is fast asleep, suddenly they strike off his neck with an Ax

Our edition of ‘The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents’ is a later revised version to which is attached the ‘Theatre of Insects’ by T. Muffet.  Lewis (2004) suggests that Topsell had originally intended to produce his own third and four volumes on birds and fishes but these unfortunately were never completed.

Sources:
Topsell, E. (1658) The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents. London: Printed by E. Cotes, for G. Sawbridge at the Bible on Ludgate-Hill, T. Williams at the Bible in Little-Britain, and T. Johnson, at the Key in Paul’s Church-yard [COLE–004Q – available upon request]
Lewis, G. (2004) ‘Topsell, Edward (bap. 1572, d. 1625)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press
University of Houston Library (2013) Topsell’s The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents Woodcuts.  Available from: http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/p15195coll18

Fragments of medieval manuscripts

Written by Siobhan O’Mahoney, a recent graduate from the MRes in Medieval Studies, who is currently volunteering with us.

Unknown to many members of the public, Special Collections holds an intriguing assortment of medieval manuscript fragments. They are part of the John and Griselda Lewis Collection, a fascinating collection which consists of some 20,000 items illustrating the history of printing and graphic design from the fourteenth century to the present day. I have had the privilege of working with these manuscript leaves, in an attempt to research, catalogue and raise awareness of their existence.

This project came about through the combination of my personal interest in medieval manuscripts and the need for these fragments to be catalogued for better access. I first became involved with the MERL and Special Collections during my undergraduate degree and this continued into my Masters, for which I just completed my dissertation on French royal medieval manuscripts. The fragments in this collection are all complete leaves/pages which would have made up a medieval book. However, all of the fragments have origins from different books except for two instances.

LewisMSS2

One of the fragments in the collection

I have spent the last three months conducting my research upon this variety of medieval manuscript leaves in an attempt to identify the contents of the fragments, date and localise them. The results of this research have shown that the fragments belong to various different books which were produced at different times and places across the medieval period.

Conducting this research is challenging when so little is known regarding the manuscripts, and when they are separated from their original book. However, with each fragment I began with the text. I was able to identify much of the content of the text through conducting transcriptions, followed by online searches of these texts. All but one of these fragments are in Latin, with the other being in Old French and presenting a much greater challenge to the modern reader. Editions of the various texts were therefore located, and have ranged from Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae to quotations of the Act of Apostles.

Following this identification, an analysis was done of the script. This formed a crucial part of my ability to both date and localise the manuscript fragments. The form of the script indicated the period in which it was written in terms of its style and layout. Gothic textualis was the key script identified across these fragments, although varying in the quality. This was a common book script used from the 12th up to the 16th century. My analysis placed all of the fragments in the 13th and 14th centuries. With a comparison of each the script of each fragment with manuscripts contained in Andrew Watson’s Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts, I was then able to place these manuscripts within their context. This allowed for a clearer idea of their place of production. All appear to have been produced in continental Europe.

Example of Gothic Textualis Quadrata (medium grade bookhand) from the 15th century

Example of Gothic Textualis Quadrata (medium grade bookhand) from the 15th century

 

Two of the manuscript fragments in this collection have particularly stood out to me as a result of my research, and I wish to share these with you. First are the two leaves which contain the text of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae. I have dated these the late 13th century and into the 14th century, and to have been produced in France. As the text wasn’t completed until 1270, this is a crucial period for the reproduction of this work.

Fragment of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae

Fragment of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae

These particular fragments therefore hold particular resonance with me and my current scholarly research. Thomas Aquinas was a leading Dominican theologian in Paris in the 13th century. The influence of the Dominican Order upon the production of manuscripts in Paris in this period was an integral part of my Masters Dissertation. Therefore with such findings came great excitement.

A noteworthy inscription is also contained within the text of the fragment. ‘Thomas Gardener’ is inscribed in between the two columns of the text. This is an indication of the owner of the text, dating to the 16th or 17th century. Although the name Thomas Gardener remains common for the period, it is the greatest provenance in existence across these fragments.

The second prominent fragments were those containing musical notation which have been identified as a Gradual in Latin produced in the 14th century. Graduals are chant books produced for use in mass. In these two fragments we have the Gregorian chants of St Paul and St Anna. It is fascinating to think these would have been actively used during the 14th century for mass.

Fragment from a gradual from the fourteenth century

Fragment from a gradual from the fourteenth century

I hope that through my work with these manuscript fragments further research upon them will be encouraged and conducted. These have been fascinating fragments to work with and I hope others will find them equally intriguing!

Ready, Set, Bake: Recipes from the 18th and 19th Century

Front piece from Henderson's 'The Housekeeper’s Instructor' c.1800

Front piece from Henderson’s ‘The Housekeeper’s Instructor’ c.1800

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

In honour of the return of much loved T.V. show ‘The Great British Bake Off’ we’ve pulled together some wonderful recipes and baking tips from our favourite 18th and 19th century cookbooks.  Despite their popularity and the handy tips provided by the authors, I have to admit, some of these recipes seem trickier than a Bake-Off Technical Challenge but if you do brave tackling one or two, let us know how you get on!

There are several things necessary to be particularly observed by the cook, in order that her labours and ingenuity under this head may be brought to their proper degree of perfection.

(Henderson, c.1800)

 

Cakes

The author of the following recipe, Maria Eliza Rundell, became a household name in cookery when she published, ‘A New System of Domestic Economy’ in the early 1800s.  The title became an instant best seller, “with almost half a million copies sold by the time of Mrs Rundell’s death and remaining in print until 1886,” (Holt,1999).

Although this recipe suggests baking the cakes in tea-cups, Queen Cakes were often baked in a variety of shaped tins, one of the most popular shapes being that of the heart (Day, 2011).

Queen Cake Recipe - Rundell, 1822

Queen Cake Recipe – Rundell, 1822

Queen Cakes – (Rundell, 1822)

Mix a pound of dried flour, the same of sifted sugar, and of washed clean currants.  Wash a pound of butter in rose-water, beat it well, then mix with it eight eggs, yolks and whites beaten separately, and put in the dry ingredients by degrees; beat the whole an hour; butter little tins, tea-cups, or saucers, and bake the batter in, filling only half.  Sift a little fine sugar over just as you put it into the oven.

 

Biscuits

Our next recipe from Kettilby (1719) is the Ratafia Cake, a macaroon like biscuit that takes its name from the flavourings used.  The word Ratafia, meaning liqueur, “came to denote almost any alcoholic and aromatic ‘water.’” (Boyle, 2011)

To make Ratafia-Cakes – (Kettilby, 1719)

Ratafia Cake Recipe - Kettilby, 1719

Ratafia Cake Recipe – Kettilby, 1719

Take eight ounces of Apricock-Kernels, or if they cannot be had, Bitter-Almonds will do as well, blanch them, and beat them very fine with a little Orange-Flower-Water, mix them with the Whites of three Eggs well beaten, and put to them two pounds of single-refin’d Sugar finely beaten and sifted; work all together, and ‘twill be like a Paste; then lay it in little round Bits on Tin-plates flower’d, set them in an Oven that is not too hot, and they will puff up and be soon baked.

 

Bread

Maria Eliza Rundell suggests that her bread roll recipe is just as good as that found at Sally Lunn’s in Bath, which is quite the claim as Sally Lunn’s highly popular bun achieved legendary status in its day, (Sally Lunn’s, 2016).  You can judge for yourself however, as Sally’s buns can still be enjoyed at her old house in Bath.

Excellent Rolls – (Rundell, 1822)

Bread rolls recipe - Rundell, 1822

Bread rolls recipe – Rundell, 1822

Warm one ounce of butter in half a pint of milk, put to it a spoonful and a half of yeast of small beer, and a little salt.  Put two pounds of flour into a pan and mix in the above.  Let it rise an hour; knead it well; make into seven rolls, and bake in a quick oven.  If made in cakes three inches thick, sliced and buttered, they resemble Sally Lumm’s, as made at Bath. The foregoing receipt, with the addition of a little saffron boiled in half a tea-cupful of milk, makes them remarkably good.

 

Desserts

In the preface to, ‘A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery,’ Kettilby laments the unintelligible nature of many of the recipe books that came before hers, “some great Masters having given us Rules in that Art so strangely odd and fantastical, that it is hard to say, Whether the Reading has given more Sport and Diversion, or the Practice more Vexation and Chagrin, in spoiling us many a good dish, by following their directions.”  Hopefully, her recipe for ‘the best orange pudding ever tasted’ will be a piece of cake to follow!

The best Orange-Pudding that ever was tasted – (Kettilby, 1719)

Orange Pudding Recipe - Kettilby, 1719

Orange Pudding Recipe – Kettilby, 1719

PARE the Yellow Rind of two fair Sevil- Oranges, so very thin that no part of the White comes with it; shred and beat it extremely small in a large Stone Mortar; add to it when very fine, half a pound of Butter, half a pound of Sugar, and the Yolks of sixteen Eggs; beat all together in the Mortar ‘till ‘tis all of a Colour; then pour it into your Dish in which you have laid a Sheet of Puff-paste. I think Grating the Peel saves Trouble, and does it finer and thinner than you can shred or beat it: But you must beat up the Butter and Sugar with it, and the Eggs with all, to mix them well.

 

 

Pastries

When it comes to tackling pastry, William Augustus Henderson had a number of great tips in his bestselling guide from the late 18th century, ‘The Housekeeper’s Instructor’, including how to avoid the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’:

One very material consideration must be, that the heat of the oven is duly proportioned to the nature of the article to be baked.  Light paste requires a moderate oven; if it is too quick, the crust cannot rise, and will therefore be burned; and if too slow, it will be soddened, and want that delicate light brown it ought to have.

Once you’ve mastered the oven temperature you’ll be ready to bake this delicious treat:

Rasberry Tart – (Henderson, c.1800)

Raspberry Tart Recipe - Henderson, c.1800

Raspberry Tart Recipe – Henderson, c.1800

ROLL out some thin puff-paste, and lay it in a patty pan; then put in some rasberries, and strew over them some very fine sugar.  Put on the lid, and bake it.- Then cut it open, and put in half a pint of cream, the yolks of two or three eggs well beaten, and a little sugar.  Give it another heat in the oven, and it will be fit for use.

And finally, just in case you need to know how to get that thin puff-paste for your raspberry tart, here’s Maria Eliza Rundell to the rescue:

Rich Puff Paste – (Rundell, 1822)

Weigh an equal quantity of butter with as much fine flour as you judge necessary; mix a little of the former with the latter, and wet it with as little water as will make into a stiff paste.  Roll it out, and put all the butter over it in slices, turn in the ends, and roll it thin: do this twice, and touch it no more than can be avoided.  The butter may be added at twice; and to those who are not accustomed to make paste, it may be better to do so.

 

What makes these cookbooks particularly lovely is evidence that they were well used and well loved.  The

Autograph inscription in 'A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery.' Kettilby, 1719

Autograph inscription in ‘A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery.’ Kettilby, 1719

autograph inscriptions hidden inside ‘The Housekeeper’s Instructor,’ (Henderson, c.1800)  show it was a treasured family heirloom; given first to Helen Leachman by her Aunt Jane in 1879 then to Emma Leachman by her mother, June in 1825.  Sophia Ann Leachman’s name also appears on top of the first page.  Meanwhile ‘A Collection of above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery.’ (Kettilby, 1719) proved such a hit with Martha Kerricke, that she married the man who gifted it to her!

It’s lovely to see that baking and great recipes are things we continue to treasure and share- happy baking all!

 

Sources:

National Allotment Week: Top tips for green fingers!

Wright, and Wright (c.1909) The Vegetable Grower’s Guide.

Wright, and Wright (c.1909) The Vegetable Grower’s Guide.

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

 

It is not uncommon for inexperienced people to be guilty of omissions in providing for the establishment of a garden which strike horticulturists as almost ludicrous.

(Wright and Wright, 1909)

In honour of National Allotment Week we have dug up some handy horticultural tips from our collections to help turn us all into green-fingered gardeners!

 

 

Let’s start with some basics:

Tip #1: Setting out your plot the right way can make a big difference:

“All kitchen garden students should be taught the simple rule of arranging their plots so that the rows of vegetables run north and south.  This permits of sun rays getting free access to the rows.  When they run east to west the sun is kept from the inner rows by the outer ones in the case of tall crops.” (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Wright and Wright (1909) also suggest that a parallelogram shaped plot is best and emphasise not to forget planning in space for paths when designing your allotment garden!

 

Gardening Tools (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Gardening Tools (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Tip #2: Always have the right equipment for the job!

“Garden equipment cannot be provided without expense, and it is wise to face what is entailed resolutely.” (Wright and Wright, 1909)

There certainly is a lot to consider but this helpful illustration (right) should help you know your dibble from your bill-hook!

 

Tip #3: Make sure your plants get enough water at the right time:

When it comes to watering plants, Moore (1881) cautions that, “it is a wrong though common practice to press the surface of the soil in the pot in order to feel if it is moist enough, this soon consolidates it, and prevents it from getting the full benefit of aeration.”

While Garton (1769) helpfully adds, “whilst the nights are frosty water your plants in the morning; in warm weather water than in the evening, before the sun goes down.”

 

Now we have the hang of the fundamentals, how do we go about growing some vegetables?

Carrots (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Carrots (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Tip #4: Getting the soil right is very important!

According to Moore (1881) the enrichment of soil is often overlooked so when planting onions for example, remember, “a portion of good soil should be provided for each plant, and heavy mulchings of manure should be placed upon the surface as soon as practical after planting to prevent the soil becoming dry and parched.”

While for carrots, Wright and Wright (1909) suggest that, “the land best suited […] is unquestionably a deep, sandy loam. […] They are best grown after celery or some other fibrous-rooted crop for which the ground was manured the previous year.”

 

Tip #5: Not any old carrot will do, make sure yours are the cream of the crop with this advice from Wright and Wright (1909):

“Thinning is of the first importance, as on it turns not only the question of getting shapely roots, but also of baffling the maggot.  […] Carrots should always be thinned twice; the first time a few days after they have come through, the second when they are about the size of radishes.”

To make sure your carrots are a rich bright red, try mixing soot and wood ashes “into the drills when the seed is sown.” (Wright and Wright, 1909)

 

Tip #6: Protect your plants and keep garden enemies at bay:

To fight against an attack by slugs and snails, Wright and Wright (1909) suggest that as, “they are principally night feeders, […] an attack can be stopped by looking over the beds at night with the aid of a lantern, dropping any slugs into a jar of brine.  Lime dusted round the outsides of the bed will stop the approach of fresh hordes.”

 

Onions (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Onions (Wright and Wright, 1909)

Tip #7: Harvest your crops with care:

You have chosen the right soil, fought off the slugs, tended your plants with care and it’s finally time to reap your rewards but while some vegetables can be easily pulled up Wright and Wright (1909) suggest a different method for large onions:

“The authors find it a good plan to gently heave the best bulbs from side to side with the hands day after day for a week, breaking a few roots each time, and thus bringing growth to a standstill by degrees.  This answers much better than forking them straight out of the ground at one operation.”

 

Great advice, now what should we be doing in our allotments during August?

In his, ‘The Practical Gardener and Gentleman’s Directory, for Every Month in the Year,’ Garton (1769) makes some useful suggestions:

  • “Cauliflower-seed to produce an early crop next summer must be sown between the 18th and 24th of this month, which will be ready to plant under frames in the last week in October, to remain there till the latter end of February, or beginning of March.”
  • “Weed and keep clean the asparagus beds, and the plants sown in the spring. Do this work with the hand only.”
  • “Sow carrots for spring use. Do this in the 3rd or 4th week of this month, and don’t sow this seed too thick.”
  • “This being the season for pickling cucumbers; they must be well watered in dry weather, three or four times a week; and be gathered at proper sizes three times a week.”

Finally, according to Mrs Loudon (1870), August is “about the best time of the year to visit famous gardens, one of the best ways of improving our knowledge of the art of gardening.”

Frontpieve from 'The Complete Gardener' by Thomas Mawe and John Abercrombie, 1854 [MERL LIBRARY RESERVE--4756-MAW]

Frontpieve from ‘The Complete Gardener’ by Thomas Mawe and John Abercrombie, 1854 [MERL LIBRARY RESERVE–4756-MAW]

You can find more advice on allotments and growing your own food at the National Allotment Society webpage.

 

Sources:

Moore, Thomas (1881) Epitome of Gardening. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black [MERL LIBRARY RESERVE–4756-MOO]

Wright, J. and Wright, H. J. (c.1909) The Vegetable Grower’s Guide. London: Virtue and Co. [MERL LIBRARY RESERVE–4752-WRI]

Garton, James (1769) The Practical Gardener and Gentleman’s Directory, for Every Month in the Year.  London: E and C Dilly [RESERVE– ]

Mrs Loudon (1870) The Amateur Gardener’s Calendar.  London: Frederick Warne and Co. [RESERVE–635-LOU]

All items are available upon request.

Delightes for Ladies

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Originally published in 1602, ‘Delightes for Ladies’ by Sir Hugh Plat is one of the earliest cookery and

Delights for Ladies to Adorne their Persons, Tables, Closets, and Distilatories, 1628

Delights for Ladies to Adorne their Persons, Tables, Closets, and Distilatories, 1628

household recipe books produced in England.  It contains a fascinating array of recipes, instructions and advice on everything from making almond butter and preserving roast beef to creating candles for ladies tables and dying hair a lovely chestnut colour.

The little book was a perfect companion for the wealthy Elizabethan housewife who owned her own Still Room; a place in the house, usually linked to kitchen and garden, where the ‘still’ was kept for “the distillation of perfumes and cordials,” (Oxford Dictionaries), it was also where food was preserved and stored and where medicines, cosmetics and alcohol could be made.

The author began writing shortly after graduating from Cambridge University in 1572 (Plat, 1955), publishing a number of books which similarly offered advice and new ideas on the topics of agriculture, food preservation and gardening.  Plat’s ‘Delightes for Ladies’ however, was one of his most popular works, having at least thirteen editions produced before the middle of the seventeenth century (Plat, 1955).  The work was more recently reprinted in 1948 amidst post-war austerity by G.E. & K.R. Fussell with the hope that “we may be able to use some of the simpler and less recondite recipes for the zest they may add to our plain, wholesome diet.”

Although ‘Delightes for Ladies’ was often bound together with another similar work, ‘A Closet for Ladies and Gentlewomen, or the Art of preserving, conserving, and candying,’ believed by most to be by the same author, our edition contains only the ‘Delightes’.  The book itself features a poetical preface and is divided into four sections with the table of contents acting as an index.  The sections cover, ‘The Art of Preserving, conserving, candying, &c’; ‘Secrets in Distillation’; ‘Cookery and Huswifery’ and ‘Sweet Powders, Oyntments, Beauties, &c.’  Below are some of my favourite pieces of advice from the book:

A 29. To make gelly of Strawberries, Muberries, Raspisberries, or any such tender fruite.

Gelly of fruits

Gelly of fruits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C.40 How to hang your candles in the aire without candlestick.

Candles hanging in the aire

Candles hanging in the aire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D.20 How to take away any pimple from the face.

Face full of heate, helped

Face full of heate, helped

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D. 37 How to colour the head or beard into a chestnut colour in halfe an houre.

Hair black altered

Hair black altered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is probably best not to try some of these at home…

Sources

Plat, Hugh (1628) Delightes for Ladies to Adorne their Persons, Tables, Closets, and Distilatories with Beauties, Banquets, Perfumes and Water.  Read Practice, Censure. London: H.L and R.Y. [Stenton B/G27 – available upon request]

Plat, Hugh (1955) Delightes for Ladies. Reprint of Delightes for Ladies by Sir Hugh Plat, 1609.  Introductions by Fussell, G.E. and Fussell, K.R. (ed). London: Crosby Lockwood and Son LTD. [MERL LIBRARY NUPTO NH10 – available upon request]

Oxford Dictionaries (2016) http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/still-room OUP.

Archive Animals – Cats

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Our Special Collections Library and Archive is full of interesting creatures, big and small.  They can be found everywhere from our Children’s Collection story books to the detailed scientific tomes of our Cole Library.  So far we’ve explored the Ducks, Horses and Bees but today is the turn of the graceful Cat. Here are just a few of my favourite titles on Cats from our collections:

 

Cats in Literature

Orlando the Marmalade Cat – Kathleen Hale
[Children’s Collection 823.9-HAL]

This beautiful series of Children’s books created by Kathleen Hale feature the adventures of Orlando the

Orlando the Marmalade Cat, 1964

Orlando the Marmalade Cat, 1964

ginger cat, his wife Grace and their three kittens, Pansy, Blanche and Tinkle.

In ‘Orlando’s Invisible Pyjamas’ poor Orlando gets himself covered in paraffin oil, which makes him bald from waist to tail.  Grace manages to coax Orlando from hiding with the promise of knitting him some fur pyjama trousers.  While Grace knits, Orlando regales the kittens with stories from their family photo album.

According to MacCarthy (2000), Hale wrote to “reinvent a childhood, to recreate the domestic structure she had so badly lacked.”  And the bright story books with their tales of a tightly knit family of cats were a perfect distraction for children during WWII.  Indeed the bright colours of the ‘Orlando’ books are one of their best features; inspired by the series ‘Babar’ (Jean de Brunhoff), Hale had “envisaged a large format book in seven colours,” (MacCarthy, 2000) and although after some convincing from her publisher, only four were used, the effect is just as attractive.  After the publication of her first two Orlando books, Hale even learned the art of lithography herself, (Roberts, 2014) her efforts with the medium setting new standards for Children’s illustrated books.

As well as copies of a number of Hale’s books, our collection also includes archival material relating to their publication, such as uncorrected proofs of the text, holographs, typescripts and carbon typescripts.

For more information on Orlando see our 2007 featured item, Kathleen Hale, Orlando (The Marmalade Cat) buys a farm, 1972 

Sources:
Roberts, P. (2014) Orlando the Marmalade Cat
MacCarthy, F. (2000) Obituary: Kathleen Hale

 

Cats in Music and Art

Tabby Polka by Procida Bucalossi / Louis Wain
[Spellman Collection of Victorian Music Covers – Box 11]

This charming image comes from our Spellman Collection of Victorian Music covers, which consists of around 2,500 Victorian sheet music covers, illustrating virtually every aspect of Victorian life, culture

Tabby Polka [Spellman Collection]

Tabby Polka [Spellman Collection]

and preoccupations.

This particular piece, dating to c.1865 was composed by Procida Bucalossi (1832-1918), a theatre conductor and composer at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, London who was known for his dance arrangements for the Savoy Operas. (Stone, 2001).

The artist behind the illustration is Louis Wain (1860-1939), a British artist renowned for his wonderful pictures of cats.  Later in life, Wain began to show signs of mental illness but continued to draw and paint.  His artwork however, took on an unusual quality and he “produced the first of his fascinating series of “kaleidoscope” cats,” which included intricate geometric patterns and “images in which the figure of the cat is exploded in a burst of geometric fragments.” (Boxer, 2016)

Sources:
Stone, D. (2001) THE D’OYLY CARTE OPERA COMPANY
Boxer, J. (2016) Louis Wain –  Henry Boxer Gallery 

 

Cats in Science

Celestial Atlas by Alexander Jamieson, 1822
[Reserve Middle Folio 523 JAM]

Felis - Celestial Atlas, 1822

Felis – Celestial Atlas, 1822

One of the many constellations described in “A Celestial Atlas” by Alexander Jamieson in 1822, Felis was composed by French astronomer Jerome de Lalande in 1799 from stars between Hydra and Argos Navis.  Sadly Felis did not make the list of 88 modern constellations when the IAU (International Astronomical Union) created an official set of constellation boundaries in 1930.

Sources:
International Astronomical Union, (2016) The Constellations
Ridpath, I. (2016) Felis the Cat

 

The Cat by St. George Mivart, 1881
[Cole Library 185]

Cat Paws - The Cat, 1881

Cat Paws – The Cat, 1881

‘The Cat’ by British biologist St George Mivart is a fascinating, in-depth study of our feline friends.  The book provides highly detailed anatomical descriptions and illustrations, such as this of the cat’s paw:

Of these [pads of the feet] there are seven in the fore paw, and five in the hind paw.  Each pad consists of a mass of fibrous tissue and fat and a large trilobed one is placed beneath the ends of those bones on which the animal rests in walking.

Many of the careful illustrations, particularly those of the cat’s muscles, have been coloured over and annotated, showing that the book was very much in use by its owner.

Annotated Cat Paws - The Cat, 1881

Annotated Cat Paws – The Cat, 1881

As well as anatomy, ‘The Cat’ also delves into the development and psychology of the cats, and one of my favourite features of the study are the small footnotes which include interesting anecdotes about the nature of the cat, such as this one from p369:

Mr Douglas A. Spalding found kittens to be imbued with an instinctive horror of dogs before they were able to see it.  He tells us: – “One day last month, after fondling my dog, I put my hand into a basket containing four blind kittens, three days old.  The smell my hand had carried with it set them puffing and spitting in the most comical fashion.” (Nature, October 7, 1875. P507)

gif of cat anatomy from Anatomie descriptive et comparative du chat by Hercule Straus-Durckheim, 1845. [Cole Large 09]

Anatomie descriptive et comparative du chat by Hercule Straus-Durckheim, 1845. [Cole Large 09]

All items are available upon request, find out more about using our Library and Archives here.