Cat sketches and cataloguing: Final thoughts of our Archive Graduate Trainee

Special Collections offer year long graduate trainee schemes in both the Archive and Library. In this month’s blog, our departing Archives Graduate Trainee Timothy Jerrome looks back on his year with us. 

 

Now that I am coming to the end of my year’s archive traineeship at Special Collections and the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), I feel it is a good time to reflect on the range of invaluable experience I have gained. Call me biased, but I honestly believe that this role has provided me with the best possible platform from which to dive into my MA in Archives and Records Management!

On top of the challenges of starting any new job, this was also my first period of full-time employment, so I am most grateful to the researchers and colleagues who tolerated my constantly exhausted expression over the first couple of weeks! However, I soon fell into the rhythm of working at the MERL, and my excellent prior work experience at the University of Surrey archives gave me a good idea of what to expect.

As any researchers who have visited frequently over the past months will know, the majority of my time here has been spent supervising the MERL Reading Room. I have interacted with a vast range of researchers with varying interests, from students interested in the materiality of archives to steam engine enthusiasts poring over engineering drawings. My experience in the reading room has taught me that access is the most important aspect of maintaining archives. Whether this is through creating a clear catalogue, knowing the location of every item in storage, or helping researchers handle material in a safe and sustainable way, I now believe that access to collections should be a high priority of any good archivist – and the archivists at the MERL are very good!

As well as Reading Room duty, I have helped catalogue parts of the Cole, Scrivener and Landscape Institute collections, and contributed to the digitisation of the John Fowler & Co. engine registers. Additionally, I have participated in a locations survey, and updated several of our website’s ‘A-Z’ pages for the MERL archive collections.

I would fully encourage anybody with a desire to become an archivist to apply for the traineeship at MERL and Special Collections. Furthermore I would encourage anyone with even a passing interest in our collections to pay us a visit and explore the archives. I have lost track of the number of researchers who came for a very specific purpose and then discovered a treasure chest of fascinating material which they did not know existed.

The best example I can give is that of my own personal experience. I never would have expected that the Landscape Institute archive, along with the associated collections of the Landscape architects, would become my favourite material both to look at myself, and produce for researchers. In particular, I love the sketchbooks of the Landscape Architect Peter Shepheard, who saw himself as an artist as much as a garden designer, and his sketches (including one pictured here – AR SHE DO1/4/1/14) really demonstrate this.

An unfinished sketch of a cat.

One of Peter Shepheard’s cat sketches, drawn possibly between 1940-80. Taken from the Peter Shepheard Collection (AR SHE DO1/4/1/14)

I wish all the best to my colleagues at MERL, and all researchers past, present and future. I am now looking forward to beginning my further studies at University College London.

Timothy Jerrome, Archives Graduate Trainee

For more information on graduate trainee roles in archives, check the ARA’s webpages on traineeships. 

The Future of Literary Archives: New Publication Announced

Book cover of Future of Literary Archives.

The long-awaited collection of essays reflecting the work of the Diasporic Literary Archives Network has now been published. Entitled The Future of Literary Archives(edited by David C. Sutton and Ann Livingstone), the book is published jointly by ARC Humanities Press and Amsterdam University Press.

The contents reflect many of the themes and challenges which were pursued and developed by the Diasporic Literary Archives Network, and it is indicative that the book’s Index, in addition to referencing the many literary authors cited, has multiple entries for concepts such as “the politics of location”, “archival ethics”, “archival return” and “appropriateness of location”. Other major themes of the book include the market in literary archives, archives at risk, publishers’ archives, the particular case of Caribbean archives, digitisation and digital archives, the collecting of emails, translators’ papers, appraisal and selection, and cataloguing challenges.

The full list of contents is as follows:
* David C. Sutton: ‘Introduction: Literary Papers as the Most “Diasporic” of All Archives’
* Alison Donnell: ‘Caribbean Literary Archives and the Politics of Location: Challenging the Norms of Belonging’
* Maureen Roberts: ‘The Huntley Archives at London Metropolitan Archives’
* André Derval: ‘Conserving Private Literary and Editorial Archives: the Story of the IMEC’
* Jennifer Toews: ‘Migration, Freedom of Expression, and the Importance of Diasporic Literary Archives’
* Jens Boel: ‘The Universal Dimension of Diasporic Literary Archives’
* Veno V. Kauaria and David C. Sutton: ‘Namibian Literary Archives: New Beginnings and a Possible African Model’
* Sophie Heywood: ‘Francophone Archives at Risk’
* Daniela La Penna: ‘Italian Literary Archives: Legacies and Challenges’
* Trudy Huskamp Peterson: ‘Unknown/Unknowns and Known/Unknowns’
* Andrew Nash: ‘Publishers’ Archives, Authors’ Papers, and Literary Scholarship’
* Serenella Zanotti: ‘Diasporic Archives in Translation Research: A Case Study of Anthony Burgess’s Archives’
* David C. Sutton: ‘Conclusion: The Future of Literary Manuscripts – An International Perspective’

For more information about this title, and how to purchase it, click here.

 

 

 

Born on this day? The strange case of Nancy Astor’s birthday

This weekend we celebrate Nancy Astor’s birthday, said to be on the 19th May. But is there more to this birth date than meets the eye? Head of Archive Services Guy Baxter takes a closer look at the mystery surrounding Nancy Astor’s birth. 

The first female MP to take her seat in the British House of Commons, Nancy Astor was born (as Nancy Langhorne) in Danville, Virginia. But when exactly?

It is not unknown for celebrities to be coy about their age, but there was no such vanity from Nancy Astor. The mystery in this case surrounds not the year (1879) but the date of her birth. Stranger still, it was not until the publication of Adrian Fort’s extensively researched biography in 2012 that the mystery came to the attention of the public – or even specialists in the field.

Fort sums up the mystery thus: “It was at street level in the newly built house at Danville, in a room with dull green walls and a bare wooden floor, that Nancy was born on 30 January 1979 – although subsequently, and throughout her adult life, her birthday was, for no clearly stated reason, given as 19 May.” The biography is aimed at the general reader so, understandably, there is no footnote; I therefore approached the author and asked his source. What came back to me was a scan of Nancy Astor’s birth certificate extracted (with some difficulty, I gather) from the State authorities in Virginia.

The plot then thickens somewhat. Waldorf Astor (Nancy’s second husband) was born on 19 May 1879. So Nancy Astor, for much or her adult life and to the extent it confounded biographers and academics for years, seems to have adopted the birth date of her second husband.

Apart from scratching our heads, what should we do with such information? I suggest three things: we can speculate on the reasons; we can do more research, or at least bear this my

A photo of two people on an ice rink. The man is kneeling on the floor.

Nancy and Waldorf Astor. Was their shared birthday an elaborate in-joke? (MS 1416/1/6/94/10)

stery in mind while researching in the archives; and finally we might use this as a starting point to explore some wider implications and issues.

The speculation first. Is the Virginia record incorrect? There would seem to be no good reason to back-date a birth record, and it seems like an odd error to make. Having said that, the strange case of Ulysses Simpson Grant springs immediately to mind.

Born and raised as Hiram Ulysses Grant, he was the victim of an assumption made by the Congressman, Thomas Hamer, who nominated him to enrol as a student at West Point. A family friend, Hamer only knew him as Ulysses and inserted Grant’s mother’s maiden name (Simpson) into the register. The United States Army bureaucracy proved immovable and Grant, once he realised the error, was unable to change it. By the time he became the head of the U.S. military and 18th President of the United States, it may well have ceased to bother him, and it gave him the patriotic initials “U.S.” which proved a boon as his military career took off. So mistakes in an official record can be hard to change.

If the record is correct, then we must ask whether Nancy was aware that this was her birth date. Could her family have deceived her? Apart from the fact that no obvious reason springs to mind, neither this idea, nor that of an administrative mistake, explains the co-incidence with Waldorf’s birth date. Though it should be noted that the odds of two randomly selected people sharing a birth date are not outrageously long.

Perhaps Nancy and Waldorf decided to align their birthdays: possibly for convenience, possibly as an in-joke or an intimate secret. Given their wealth, sharing a birthday party can surely not have been a money-saving measure. Or is it possible that Nancy concealed her real birth date from Waldorf? Could the shared birthday have been a ploy in her courtship? As the son of one of the richest men in the world, he was quite a catch – was it worth a small lie to grab his attention?

This must all remain as speculation until more evidence emerges. Neither Fort nor any previous biographers found any mention of it in Nancy or Waldorf’s personal correspondence, though this is very extensive. Nancy’s correspondence with her American relatives is more recently available and has been less used by researchers. Deceit, mistake or shared joke, it may well have been referred to in a deliberately obscure manner. Seekers of the truth will find the Special Collections Reading Room a pleasant and friendly environment in which to seek out needles from haystacks. As far as I know, Waldorf Astor’s birth certificate has not been checked: could there be a further twist in the tale?

So to the final, and more serious word about this. Just as his mistaken identity probably mattered little to Grant, especially as he rose to prominence, so Nancy Astor’s birthday must have been of little real

Photograph of a large house, set in gardens.

Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire, family home of Waldorf and Nancy Astor (MS 1616/2/6/94/3)

significance in her life or livelihood. The official record is of minimal practical benefit for the rich and famous. But as the Windrush scandal has brought into sharp focus, for many citizens the possession of verifiable identity documents can be a critical matter. It is not for nothing that patients are identified not just by their name but also by their date of birth: even then, horrific mistakes can occur.

Windrush is not the first time that the quality of the data recorded by the state to identify individuals has been questioned: Dame Janet Smith’s third report as part of the Shipman Inquiry – that looking at Death Certification – noted: “The information received by registrars forms the basis of an important public record that is widely used for statistical and research purposes. It is vital that it is recorded meticulously and accurately.” It was not until 50 years after her death that the search for documentary evidence of Nancy Astor’s birth began. Most citizens rely on the integrity of such systems in their lifetimes: for the most vulnerable, this can be crucial.

So let us toast Nancy Astor, whether it’s her birthday or not, for reminding us of the value of the written record. Or as the Universal Declaration on Archives puts it, “the vital necessity of archives for supporting business efficiency, accountability and transparency, for protecting citizens rights, for establishing individual and collective memory, for understanding the past, and for documenting the present to guide future actions”.

Are you intrigued to do your own research on this mystery? Or just interested to know more about Nancy Astor? Find out more about the Papers of Nancy Astor held at Special Collections here. For further enquiries, or to request access, email specialcollections@reading.ac.uk.

 

 

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.

Cataloguing Cole: Fishes, Photographs and the Forces

Written by Sharon Maxwell, Archivist (Cataloguing & Projects)

Some of the original packaging used by Cole to house his archive

Some of the original packaging used by Cole to house his archive

I have recently been cataloguing the personal papers of Professor Francis J Cole, (1872-1959), the first Professor of Zoology at the University of Reading. The fascinating papers in the Cole collection include research for his academic writings and publications, bibliographies and indexes relating to his library and his bibliographic studies and photographic material including thousands of glass negatives and lantern slides used by Cole in his teaching.  Cataloguing this material has given me an insight into Cole’s research methods and his interests.

Cole was born in London, England on 3 February 1872. On leaving school Cole’s aim was to go to Oxford and read zoology. He learnt zoology at the Royal College of Science, and he also attended lectures at the Royal Institution and studied at Christ Church, Oxford and the University of Edinburgh.  In 1894 he was appointed lecturer in zoology at Liverpool University College, later the University of Liverpool.  He stayed there for twelve years and combined work during term time at Liverpool with research during vacation at Jesus College, Oxford.  In this way he obtained a B.Sc.

In later years Cole re-used many of his old College notebooks to record his research notes, examples of which can be seen here, alongside a photograph of Professor Cole taken in 1939 (MS 5315/2/2)

In later years Cole re-used many of his old College notebooks to record his research notes, examples of which can be seen here, alongside a photograph of Professor Cole taken in 1939 (MS 5315/2/2)degree at Oxford by research in 1905.

degree at Oxford by research in 1905. In 1906 Cole took up an appointment as lecturer in zoology at University College, Reading, and in the following year became the first occupant of the chair of zoology, which he held until his retirement in 1939.  In these thirty-two years he built up a flourishing department, founded a Museum of Comparative Anatomy which is now called by his name, and collected a magnificent library of early works on medicine and comparative anatomy.

 

He was awarded the Rolleston Prize at Oxford in 1902 for his researches on the cranial nerves of fishes, Chimaera.  Later he published a series of papers on the myxinoid fishes and received the Neill Gold Medal and Prize of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1908.  His D. Sc., Oxford, followed in 1910. During World War I he was commissioned in the 4th Territorial Battalion

A small image of Professor Cole in his uniform and a notebook he used to record notes for his work with his Battalion on the east coast during WWI, you can see his diagram detailing positions and trenches

A small image of Professor Cole in his uniform and a notebook he used to record notes for his work with his Battalion on the east coast during WWI, you can see his diagram detailing positions and trenches

of the Essex Regiment and was stationed on the east coast in charge of a coastal gun emplacement.

 

Cole’s detailed notes and transcriptions of each letter written by Leeuwenhoek

Cole’s detailed notes and transcriptions of each letter written by Leeuwenhoek

Returning to Reading after the war Cole turned more and more to the history of biology. His collection includes research for many of his major publications on this subject, including the zoological researches of Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723), and his history of comparative anatomy.

The material that has survived in Cole’s archive gives you an insight into his style of research, he liked to produce detailed indexes to sources that he used, which refer you to material within his own library and to sources he found in other libraries and museums, so that you can closely follow his research path.  He also took great care with the illustrations produced to accompany his published writings, drawing many of the original images himself and annotating proofs until they were perfect for publication.

Proofs and original drawings by Cole for his study on the nerves and sense organs of fishes, (MS 5315/1/2)

Proofs and original drawings by Cole for his study on the nerves and sense organs of fishes, (MS 5315/1/2)

 

Cole clearly liked to enliven his lectures and talks, and his collection includes thousands of glass

Index cards created by Cole to keep track of his vast collection of glass negatives, (MS 5315/3/14)

Index cards created by Cole to keep track of his vast collection of glass negatives, (MS 5315/3/14)

negatives and lantern slides.  Ceri, our Reading Room Assistant is currently cataloguing these images and each negative will soon be digitised so that an image of the negative will appear alongside its catalogue description. Our volunteers Ron and Jan are carefully re-packaging these items into acid-free covers and boxes to preserve them for the future.

Professor Cole’s papers are available for research in the reading room, reference MS 5315 and the glass negatives will be available to view on our online catalogue in the near future.

 

Sources and further reading:

Much of the biographical information above was taken from an article written by N.B. Eales in the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 1959, Vol. XIV, No. 1

See also the Cole Library and the Cole Museum for further insight into Professor Cole’s collections

Cliveden House Exhibition

At the end of February, staff from Special Collections were joined by students of the history department at Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire to showcase material from the Nancy and Waldorf Astor Archives. The material for the exhibition was chosen by the students as part of their discovering archives and collections module during the autumn term when they spent several weeks in the reading room at Special Collections. During that time they helped to catalogue the myriad of names in the Cliveden visitor books, got the chance to shadow archive staff and organise the material that formed the basis of February’s exhibition.

Students with Dr Jacqui Turner and Guy Baxter (University Archivist) in the reading room (Photo: Jacqui Turner)

Students with Dr Jacqui Turner and Guy Baxter (University Archivist) in the reading room (Photo: Jacqui Turner)

This is the second year in a row that students have had the chance to co-curate an exhibition at Cliveden and it proved just as popular with visitors as last year, if not more so. The exhibition offered a rare opportunity for visitors (including hotel guests and staff, as well as the National Trust staff that work on the Cliveden estate) to see original documents in their original setting.

Students at Cliveden House with general manager Sue Williams (Photo: Jacqui Turner)

Students at Cliveden House with general manager Sue Williams (Photo: Jacqui Turner)

You can see more of the display and find out more about the project in this short video:

The exhibition was separated into different themes including women’s suffrage, the Cliveden estate and the Cliveden stud. Hear more about the aspects of the exhibition in this conversation between Dr Jacqui Turner and two of the students who co-curated the exhibition:

The Nancy and Waldorf Astor archives can be accessed in our reading room. For more information about accessing our collections, click here.

College Song No. 1, “The Song of the Shield”

Written by Guy Baxter, Archivist

The Song of the Shield

The Song of the Shield

Since the University celebrated the 90th anniversary of the granting of its Royal Charter last Thursday, many people have been asking for the words of College Song No. 1, “The Song of the Shield”, which was performed with gusto by the University Chamber Choir that evening under the direction of Samuel Evans. It was discovered in the University Archive just a few months ago.

The music was written by J.C.B. Tirbutt (1857-1908), who lectured at Reading and who was the organist at All Saints church. The words are by the then

Sheet music for 'The Song of the Shield'

Sheet music for ‘The Song of the Shield’

Principal (and later Vice-Chancellor) W.M. Childs (1869-1939). More about the

inspiration for the song, the Coat of Arms, may be found here, and it is fitting that the original Grant of Arms from 1896 was on display last Thursday as well.  As for the style: well, it’s unlikely to be covered by will.i.am any time soon, but it’s very jolly and evokes a strong sense of the College in its early days when everyone would have known each other. Rumours of compulsory singing of the song before every lecture next term are thought to be unfounded.

Lyrics for 'The Song of the Shield'

Lyrics for ‘The Song of the Shield’

Congratulations to all involved in bringing this hidden piece of our past to light. The other music performed at the meeting of the University Court on 17 March included Prelude and fugue in C minor BWV 549 by J.S. Bach, which was also performed at the inaugural organ recital in the Great hall in 1911; I Vow to Thee, My Country by Gustav Holst (words by Cecil Spring-Rice) – Holst taught at the College from 1920-1923; and My Spirit Sang All Day, No.3 from Seven Part Songs op.17 by Gerald Finzi, whose literary collection is held here

Special Collections will continue to support the 90th Anniversary events with a series of displays during the Summer and Autumn.

Archive Animals – Horses

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Unsurprisingly, the Special Collections and Museum of English Rural Life Libraries have a number of items relating horses; from journals to artwork, rare books and DVDs. Here are just a few of my favourites:

Horses in Fiction:

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty – Anna Sewell, illustrated by Cecil Aldin (1912) [Children’s Collection 823.8 SEW]

The Special Collections library holds a number of editions of Anna Sewell’s horse autobiography, ‘Black Beauty’. Originally published in 1877, it tells the story of the titular horse, from his early days growing up on a farm with his mother, to the hardships he suffered pulling cabs in London. The story advocates fairer and kinder treatment of horses and has been described as “the most influential anticruelty novel of all time.” (Unti, 1998)

This edition was published in 1912 and contains a number of beautiful illustrations by British artist and illustrator Cecil Aldin.

Unti, Bernard (1998). “Sewll, Anna”. In Bekoff, Marc. Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare. Greenwood Press. p. 313.

 

Horse History and Care:

Modern Practical Farriery, A Complete System of the Veterinary Art – W.J. Miles c.1870 [MERL Reserve FOLIO 4340 MIL]

This wonderful book provides a holistic guide to horses; including their history, anatomy and medical care.

Group of Ponies - Modern Practical Farriery

Group of Ponies – Modern Practical Farriery

In an attempt to uncover their place of origin, Miles explores the history of the horse from Biblical times to the reign of Alfred the Great. He notes that psalmist David, “speaks with proud distain of horses as used in war,” and that in the era of Solomon a horse would set you back 150 shekels or £17 10s (roughly £800 in today’s money) an immense sum for the time. Having traced the horses ancestry to Africa and Eastern and Northern Asia, Miles goes on to discuss the natural history of the animal, looking at horses from all around the world, including wild horses, those of Persia, India and Arabia.

The books gives detailed advice on how to train, ride, race, buy and look after the health and wellbeing of a horse. Unsurprisingly, considering the title of the book, a large section is devoted to ‘shoeing’. It notes the interesting idea that Roman Emperor Nero had his horses shod with silver while his wife Poppea shod her mules with gold! There are also a number of careful diagrams, showing the tools of the farriery trade and the different types of shoe: such as the ‘Pointed Shoe’ supposed to bring comfort to all horses and horsemen (though Miles doesn’t seem convinced) and the ‘Bar Shoe’ useful for horses with poorly feet.

Horse feet and shoes - Modern Practical Farriery

Horse feet and shoes – Modern Practical Farriery

 

Horses in Science:

The Anatomy of an Horse by Andrew Snape, 1683 [Cole 092F/15]

Horse Anatomy - 'The Anatomy of an Horse'

Horse Anatomy – ‘The Anatomy of an Horse’

This comprehensive and beautifully illustrated book was written by Andrew Snape (1644-1708) who was one of the farriers to King Charles II. One of the most comprehensive books of its type, (U.S. National Library of Health) it contains five chapters describing the anatomy of different parts of the horse including; the lowest belly or paunch, the middle venter or chest, the uppermost venter or head, the muscles of the body and the bones.

 

Snape begins by defining anatomy as ‘an opening or cutting up of the body of any animal or living creature whatsoever, whether frequenting the land or water, whereby the knowledge of the frame of its body, and the use of its parts may be attained unto.’ He then goes on to describe each of the parts from the outside in. His description of the brain is particularly interesting; he describes it as being split into two parts; the brain (at the front and consisting of the cortex) and the after-brain (at the back and divided into four parts one of which is called ‘Worm-like processes’ as it looks like the worms found in rotten timber).

Anatomy of the horse's brain - 'The Anatomy of an Horse'

Anatomy of the horse’s brain – ‘The Anatomy of an Horse’

The action of the brain is to elaborate the Animal Spirits, which from it are transmitted to the Medulla oblongata, and from thence into the Nerves, for the sensation and motion of the whole body.

The brain he declares to be “one of the most noble parts of the whole body ranked for its dignity even with the Heart itself.” And points out how “absurd and ridiculous a thing it [is]then for any man that hath any brain himself, to imagine a Horse to have none? Yet such men I have my self met withal.”

Although the illustrations included in ‘The Anatomy of an Horse’ are spectacular, they are not entirely original as they appeared first in Carlo Ruini’s Anatomia (1598) (Peter Harrington) and a number can also be found in our copy of ‘la parfait cavalier ov la vraye connoissance dv cheval ses maladies et remedes’ by J. Jourdin, C. Ruini and L. Chamhoudry which was published 28 years earlier in France in 1655 [Cole 092F/20]

 

Horses on DVD!

The Shire Horse – Fifth Avenue [MERL Library]

The Shire Horse DVD

The Shire Horse DVD

 

 

A comprehensive look at the history of the Shire horse in Britain, from the animal’s introduction by William the Conqueror in 1066, to their role in the First World War and near extinction with the rise of the combustion engine in 1960s.   A thoughtful and informative documentary with particular insights from Mr Roy Bird MBE and The Shire Horse Society.

Explore your Archive: Ducks

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Jemima Puddle Duck - Children's Collection 823.9-POT

Jemima Puddle Duck – Children’s Collection 823.9-POT

Today the theme of Explore Your Archives is  Archive Animals so we’re going to have a look at some of our wonderful archive Ducks!

 

Let’s start with perhaps our most famous duck, Jemima Puddle-Duck! UMASCS holds a 1908 edition of the tale, beautifully illustrating the adventures of Jemima who gets into trouble with a fox when leaving the safety of the farm to hatch her eggs. Jemima was based on a real duck that lived at Hill Top farm, the home of author Beatrix Potter.

 

According to the charmingly illustrated ‘Ducks: Art, Legend and History’ by Anna Giorgettii, [Merl Library 4534 GIO] ducks belong to the Anatidae Family, a word derived from the Latin ‘anas’ meaning ‘to swim.’ The book goes on to give all kinds of interesting facts and stories about ducks, including the idea that in ancient China a prospective lover would send a live duck or goose to the woman he desired.

John Lewis Printing Collection, Group XII 1

John Lewis Printing Collection, Group XII 1

 

Our modern term of endearment ‘duck’ was even used by the Romans in the form of ‘aneticula’ or ‘duckling’ (p82). It’s unsurprising then that this sweet Valentine’s Day greeting from our John Lewis Printing Collection (Group XII 1), dating to 1858, features a little duck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the beautifully designed ‘A Book of Ducks’ by Phyllis Barclay Smith, we learn that it was King Charles II in 1661 who first formed a collection of wild birds in St James’ Park, so setting a precedent for the creation of collections in parks, lakesides and ponds across the country.

Printing Collection 082 Kin/58

Printing Collection 082 Kin/58

 

Engravings by T. Bewick, MERL LIBRARY RES--1840-HIS

Engravings by T. Bewick, MERL LIBRARY RES–1840-HIS

The great range of birds within the ‘Anas’ genus is explored in ‘A History of British Birds’ vol. II (1805) alongside beautifully detailed wood engravings by T. Bewick. For example, the rather cute ‘Scaup Duck’ (bottom centre in the picture to the right) is described as having a broad, flat bill , a black head and neck glossed with green and fan shaped brown tail feathers.

 

Finally we have ‘Ploof – the wild duck’, number 3 of the Père Castor wild animal books series, written principally by Lida Durdikova.  Originally published in Paris in 1935 by Flammarion as ‘Plouf, canard sauvage,’  it tells the story of the duckling’s birth, his first visit to the pond, a frightening attack by a hawk and his adventures out on a big lake before finally describing his migration south for the winter.

Russian illustrator, Feodor Rojankovsky, is quoted describing his artistic beginnings developing from a trip to a zoo being followed by a gift of colour crayons. His beautifully intricate drawings of Ploof and his friends show that animals must have continued to fire his imagination!

Photo 11-11-2015, 13 59 39

Ploof, Children’s Collection FOLIO–598-LID

Ploof, back cover. Children's Collection FOLIO--598-LID

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Peter Rabbit

Miami University Special Collections and Archives

Thesantis