CABS Archive

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

Current awareness, Artists files revealed

What is it?

It is a web-based directory of institutional holdings of artists files compiled by the Art Libraries Society of North America. Researchers can browse the collection statements of various institutions and find links to further institutional resources.

What are “artists files”?

They are anything that is related to a single artist. These could vary from small books and exhibition catalogues to cards, newspaper clippings, press releases, diaries, posters, etc. They provide critical documentation about well established artists, as well as lesser known ones that are not well documented in the literature. Researchers rely on such files to establish chronologies, find out about exhibition dates, review stylistic developments and assess the critical reception of artists over time. Libraries do not always catalogue artists files and therefore these are not found by browsing their online catalogues. Also such collections have regional strengths and therefore are very important repositories for charting communities and exhibiting bodies.

Which libraries participate in the Artists Files Revealed?

At the moment mostly American institutions have collection statements such as the Frick, Guggenheim, Houston, etc.; the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Centre of Architecture are also there as well as the National Portrait Gallery in London. The directory is open to all so I am sure that the list of participators will increase.

Is it easy to use?

The software is basic and very user friendly. At the moment the directory won’t allow you to do advanced searches but they say that an upgrade is on its way.

OK, is it really for me?

It is good for researchers who are willing to go a step further and travel to visit other libraries. It will save you from browsing the online catalogues of each library for stuff that may not even be on their online catalogues. And it gives contact details so you can verify if a library has what you are looking for. Some of them offer interlibrary loan service where we could be of some help to you.

How can I access it?

Click here.

Vicky Kontou
Systems & Services

Image: Poster for the “Nameless” exhibition at Grosvenor Gallery, 1921-1922. Held in our Special Collections – CABS Z5055 LON GRO

Special Collections newsletter

The latest edition of the Book Library’s Special Collections Newsletter is now available. Click on the title of this post to learn more.

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

Fire proof book arrives on exchange

Thanks to our exchange partners at the Belvedere gallery in Vienna, we are preparing to accession an exhibition catalogue with a very special feature – a flame-retardant, fully recyclable textile cover! The catalogue celebrates the work of a group of artists headed by Wiener Musterzimmer, and is clothed in “Returnity”, the world’s first fabric to be made with particularly durable and environmentally friendly properties.

Search our library catalogue by keyword Musterzimmer.
Please note this is a special collections (CABS) item.

More about the pioneering fabric –
More about the cover artist –
More about the exhibition –

[Image courtesy Lisa Ruyter (© Lisa Ruyter)
and Backhausen Interior Textiles GmbH]

Karen Smith
Exchanges Librarian