Book-of-the-month Archive

Book cleaning CABS book of the month – November

As a conservator you know why it is important to clean books, but sometimes it feels like you are not making any appreciable difference. Until you take a photograph half way through a cleaning job and you see the value of a whole day with a smoke sponge …

This is a book from CABS – Nouveau traité de toute l’architecture : ou l’art de bastir ; utile aux entrepreneurs et aux ouvriers, by Jean-Louis de Cordemoy, 1714 – that is being prepared to have its back board re-attached.

Erica Foden-Lenahan
Special Collections

Emblemata, Emblemata, Emblemata – May

What is an emblem book? It is a form that was tremendously popular during the Renaissance. It is believed that the Italian lawyer Andrea Alciato devised the first such book. The books themselves contained small illustrations (a bit like a modern thumbnail image) that were accompanied by “a brief title or motto, an edifying verse epigram, and often an additional explanatory text in verse or prose.”                (Gordon Collection: Emblem Books

These books were created by individuals and reveal their own outlook, but they also “communicate moral, political, or religious values in ways that have to be decoded by the viewer.” (Glasgow University Emblem Project. They often have classical or humanist sources, such as Erasmus’s Adages. (Gordon Collection: Emblem Books

Alciato introduced the first Emblematum liber, published by Heinrich Steyner and printed in Augsburg in 1531. Scholarship suggests that Alciato himself had nothing to do with this series of editions, but that his associate and friend Conrad Peutinger commissioned the publications based on unillustrated epigrams, etc., that “had circulated among Alciato’s friends in manuscript” (Andrea Alciato’s Emblematum. Alciato at Glasgow. Several versions were printed in continental Europe and were collected widely.

This month’s CABS Book-of-the-Month is a version printed, we believe, in Leiden by Franciscus Raphelengius (son-in-law of Christoph Plantin) in 1608. We don’t know for sure because the title page is a hand drawn copy that was added at some stage, possibly to replace the original title page which was destroyed. But one inclined to conspiracy theories might think that it was a deliberate attempt to associate an inferior copy with a renowned publishing house and established edition of the book. Who knows?

This book is fascinating for a number of other reasons, mostly relating to its binding. First of all, the book has no writing on the spine, but Alciatus is written vertically on the fore-edge of the book, two letters per row. Anyone interested in library history will know that bookshelves as we know them only came into common usage well into the era of the printed book. Manuscripts and early printed books were usually laid flat on lecterns or shelves and were often chained to the furniture. It was only with the mass production of books that forced libraries to find a more space-efficient way of storing them. Initially they were shelved upright, fore-edge facing out. Blind-tooled decoration was common in northern Europe into the 17th century and that did not lend itself well to spine titles. With the spread of gold-tooling from northern Africa via Italy and Spain, which was a more visible way of marking the spine, books began to be shelved spine outwards.

We know very little about the book’s provenance other than it was given to the Courtauld in 1978 in accordance with the bequest of the art historian and collector Dame Joan Evans. But if the book was published in The Netherlands it was northern Europe and the binding tells us a bit more. The book has been sewn onto pasteboard boards using 4 parchment thongs, which are visible because there are no pastedowns. These are all features of that suggest the binding is contemporary to the publication of the book, if 1608 is correct.

The covering is brown calf, blind tooled with floral and compass motif stamps, one of which incorporates the initials RW. The initials could be those of the owner of the book, although they are more likely to have been those of the binder or the finisher (the person who decorated the binding). The initials also suggest a northern European origin, as the letter W appears in Spanish, Italian and French words usually only of foreign borrowings.

The book has a shelfmark of CABS Z7483 ALC. We have another edition (Emblemata ad quae singula, praeter concinnas insciptiones, imagines…) in the Anthony Blunt bequest. This was published in Lyon in 1626. Its shelfmark is BLUNT ALICIATI. The library has a other emblem books, including a copy of Ripa’s Iconologia, which is not an emblem book per se, but has similar elements, Jacob Cats’s Proteus ofte minne-beelden verandert in sinne-beelden, for an example of a Flemish emblem book, and an 1883 facsimile of Jean Cousin’s Liber: Fortunæ centũ emblemata, et symbola centũ, continens…, as well as a number of books about emblem books.

There are numerous emblem projects, so if you are interested:
OpenEmblem Project – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign –
Alciato’s Book of Emblems – Memorial University at St. John’s, Newfoundland –
Glasgow University Emblem site –
Alciato at Glasgow –
The English Emblem Project – Penn State University –
Emblem Project Utrecht –

Erica Foden-Lenahan
Special Collections

CABS book(s) of the month- February

Beginning with the opening line ‘A tear is better than a word’, ‘Das Tränenmeer’ (‘The Sea of tears’) and ‘Dars Wähnen’ (‘The Delusion’) by Dieter Roth are three poetic artists’ books accessible from our CABS collection. The item is classed under two entries in our online catalogue but consists of three volumes, known as bands.
‘Das Tränenmeer’ was published in 1973 and collected together 248 aphorisms, or small one-line poems, which originally appeared from May 1971 in a local advertising bulletin. Band one solely shows these aphorisms, one per page, whilst Band two contain sketches and corrections, and Band three contains sketches, poems and prose. Band three is entitled ‘Dars Wähnen’ (‘The Delusion’) but sub-headed ‘Tränenmeer 3’.

Presented to the library by L. Pedersen in 1988, the books themselves are notable for their sewn pages and illustrations. The book was originally published in editions of 200 per volume. The library’s copy of volume 1 is numbered 108, and volume 2 is number 29.Roth’s Das Wähnen was also presented to the library by Pedersen in 1988, number 21 of another edition of 200 and is signed by the artist opposite the page numbered 262.

Dieter Roth (1930-1988) was a Swiss-German artist, also known as Dieter Rot and Diter Rot. His writing has been described as important as his art, with his poetry inspiring illustrations and so on in a cyclical nature.
As well as artists’ books, Roth was known for his printmaking and sculpture.
Throughout his life he continued to create art in various mediums.

Well known for his artists books’, the library unfortunately (or fortunately, given the tendency food has for rotting) does not hold a copy of the 1972 book Literaturwurst, which consisted of ‘various periodicals chopped up, mixed with lard and spices and stuffed into a sausage casing.’
We do hold a copy of the artists’ book “Tentative little recipe” which he produced with a group of students while he was teaching at the Watford School of Art. Other books by and about Dieter Roth can be found on the library’s open shelves.
Kimmelman, Michael, [obituary] ‘Dieter Roth, Reclusive Artist and Tireless Provocateur, 68’, in New York Times, 10 June, 1998.

Tamsyn Bayliss and Lloyd Roderick
Graduate Trainee Library Assistants

CABS book of the month – January

It may be our smallest book

L’immortalita e Gloria del pennello : Catalogo delle pitture insigni che stanno esposte al pubblico nella città di Milano (1728) . The original was published in 1671 and, as you can see from the title page of our edition, it is without the main title. It is a mere 11.8 cm x 6.2 cm and may be an abridged version.

It has been difficult to find much information about the book, its authors, or where there are other copies in the world. Some libraries hold a 1980 reprint of the first edition. In Shearjashub Spooner’s book A biographical history of the fine arts being memoirs of the lives and works of eminent painters, engravers, sculptors and architects, from the earlies ages to the present, he says that Agostino (circa 1640-1706) and Giacinto (circa 1620-1688) were the sons of Giacomo Antonio Santagostino, a painter from Milan. His sons were both artists with numerous works executed around Milan.

Nice parchment binding and marbled end papers too!

Spooner, Shearjashub Biographical history of the fine arts. 4th ed., v.II M-Z. New York: Leypoldt & Holt, 1867. p.845 Accessed 23 Dec. 2010

CABS book of the month – October

A review in the magazine Nature of Studies in the history and method of science, described Charles Singer’s book as “a notable contribution to certain branches of medical history and evolution.”1 We, in the Book Library, didn’t realize we had the author’s corrections, albeit only for the introduction and the two chapters he contributed to the work. His chief role was as editor of this seminal text.

Our volume was presented by Lord Conway to the library in 1933. It has lived in the Kilfinan Librarian’s office for some time until this summer when it was sent off to binding. Although just a pile of papers at the time we found it, evidence shows that it was, at one time, in a ring binder. Once compared with a couple of copies of the book at Kings College London, we realized that the thin paper and the cut and pasted illustrations were pre-publication versions of the texts; and the extensive annotations were corrections by the author, not overly-pernickety comments by Lord Conway.

Singer was born in 1876 in London and he attended the City of London School, where he distinguished himself as a Latin and Greek scholar. However he chose to study medicine at University College London, eventually graduating with a BSc, with a specialism in zoology. He then took a scholarship to study zoology at Magdalen College, Oxford. He returned to medicine in 1898 and graduated in 1903. He had a long, distinguished career holding several medical posts. He was also a founding member of the History of Medicine section of the Royal Society of Medicine.2

The first volume of Studies in the history and method of science was published in 1917, the second volume which the library does not hold, came out in 1921. Volume 1 includes the results of his investigation of Hildegard of Bingen’s manuscripts. It is likely this chapter which drew Lord Conway to it. However, we have no idea how he came to own this unique and quite special item. This chapter has the name Hugh of St. Victor corrected throughout, as it originally appeared as Hugo de St. Victoire. It also includes his handwritten addition of a note of thanks to a number of colleagues who permitted him access to the manuscripts.

The Wellcome Library holds a lot of correspondence between Singer and his wife Dorothea, who was herself a medieval scholar and who assisted with research and publications throughout his career.

Erica Foden-Lenahan
Special Collections Librarian

1. Nature 101, 82-83 (04 April 1918)
2. E. Ashworth Underwood. “Obituary: Charles Singer (1876-1960)” Medical history. V.4(4), 353-358 (Oct. 1960). Accessed 28 Sept. 2010 through the National Center for Biotechnology Information
Julia Sheppard. “Charles Joseph Singer, DM, DLitt, DSc, FRCP (1876-1960): papers in the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre.” Medical history. V.31 (4), 466-471 (Oct. 1987). Accessed 28 Sept. 2010 through the National Center for Biotechnology Information

CABS book of the month – July

Coinciding with the current London exhibition – Treasures of Lambeth Palace Library (17 May-23 July 2010) – July’s CABS book-of-the-month is a full-colour fascimile of the Lambeth Apocalypse (manuscript 209 in Lambeth Palace Library).

The Lambeth Apocalypse is a richly-illustrated copy of the text of the Revelation of St John, accompanied by extracts from the commentary of Berengaudus (9th century) on the allegory.

Apocalypses were amongst the most popular manuscripts used by the clergy and laity throughout the Middle-Ages. The Lambeth Apocalypse is one of about 20 apocalypse manuscripts still in existence that were produced in England in the 13th and 14th centuries.

It is believed to have been produced some time in the latter half of the 13th century and though its provenance is debated, one theory is that it was created under the patronage of Lady Eleanor De Quincy, Countess of Winchester, (c.1230 and 1274), presumed to be the kneeling figure beside the Virgin in one of the full-page images in the manuscript.

For a while the Lambeth Apocalypse was in the hands of the Elizabethan book collector, John, Lord Lumley (1534-1609). After his death, his book collection became part of the Royal Library, (which eventually formed the nucleus of the British Library), and it then passed on to become part of the founding collection of the Lambeth Palace Library.

The full-colour facsimile, in our CABS collection, was published in 1990 with an accompanying critical commentary by Nigel Morgan in a limited edition of 550 copies (which can be found on the open shelves at D2897.LAM MOR). Photographs of many of the images from the Apocalypse can also be found in the Conway Library.

As explained in the foreword by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, Robert Runcie, interest in the Lambeth Apocalypse also threatened its preservation. To preserve the original manuscript and to make it available to a wider audience, the Lambeth Librarian, Dr. E. G. W. Bill, decided to have the facsimile made.

If you wish to see the original manuscript along with a range of other archives and manuscripts from Lambeth Palace Library, information on the exhibition can be found here:

Boryana Bojkova
Graduate Trainee

CABS book of the month – June

This item from Special Collections is from the archive collection of Stella Mary Newton and is not a book at all. It is an invoice dated 15 May 1934 when Stella was still Stella Mary Pearce and had her own fashion label. The invoice recipient was the author Dodie Smith (1896-1990), best known for her book The hundred and one dalmations. Smith noted on the invoice that the silver evening dress had been “a great success”.

Smith had been an actress, which may be how she came into contact with Pearce, who often designed costumes for the theatre. In 1934, Smith published the play Touch Wood, which, according to her Oxford DNB entry, was the first to be written under her own name instead of the pseudonym C. L. Anthony.* Her day job was at Heal’s, running the store’s gallery and working as a toy buyer. Her future husband Alec Beesley, the Advertising Manager at Heal’s, gave her as a birthday present, Pongo, a Dalmatian. And so the story began …

Dodie Smith’s journals, correspondence and manuscripts are held in the archives at Boston University.

*Valerie Grove. “Dodie Smith”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. URL: Accessed 10 May 2010.

Erica Foden-Lenahan
Special Collections Librarian

CABS book of the month – May

In honour of the Sotheby’s sale Trésors du Coffre Vollard, the Special Collections Book-of-the-month is Ambroise Vollard’s biography of Paul Cézanne. Vollard was a art dealer, who died in 1939. The sale features works by Derain, Cézanne, and Picasso, among others, that were deposited in a Paris bank vault in 1940. The book, entitled Paul Cézanne, was written by Vollard and published by his imprint in 1914. It came into the Book Library collection through presentation, in 1932, by Samuel Courtauld. It bears Courtauld’s distinctive bookplate, designed by Paul Nash, and is at CABS shelfmark D553.CEZ VOL (oversize).

Erica Foden-Lenahan
Special Collections Librarian