Tag Archives: Rare Books Collection

Botanical illustrations from the Special Collections

As September 2019 marks 100 years of the Forestry Commission, we take a look at other green items in Special Collections – botanical illustrations.

The earliest botanical illustrations were mostly to show plants used in herbal remedies, so realism was important initially, though over time illustrations became debased and merely decorative. The Renaissance brought a revival in naturalism, and from the seventeenth century an emphasis on beauty over utility prevailed, with flower painting becoming important in its own right. This continued until the advent of photography and beyond. Even now, there is no substitute for careful, accurate botanical drawing for scientific purposes, which can show different stages of a plant simultaneously such as buds and seeds.

William Salmon Botanologia: the English Herbal or History of Plants (London, 1710): Black bryony (a diuretic), Bittersweet, (for purging) and Brooklime – all common British wild plants [Rare Books quarto QK 77]

Salmon was a quack-doctor, who also drew up horoscopes and dabbled in alchemy. His herbal includes some highly poisonous plants such as Hemlock and Henbane. He advocated the use of the leaves of Deadly Nightshade as a poultice but does warn users to keep children away from the berries! This herbal also includes some herbs still used today such as St John’s Wort, used for depression and Foxglove (Digitalis), valuable in the treatment of heart problems but poisonous in larger doses.

Richard Brook Cyclopaedia of Botany and Complete Book of Herbs showing the goddess Flora  [Rare Books QK 77]

Classic herbals from an earlier era are Gerard and Culpeper, but our library only possesses more recent reprints of these important works – 1815 for Culpeper and 1975 for Gerard.

The Botanical Magazine was founded in 1787 by William Curtis and is the longest running botanical periodical featuring the coloured illustrations of plants, still produced today.

Curtis was born in Alton in 1746, but moved to London when he was twenty to set up as an apothecary, later devoting himself solely to the study of plants. From its beginnings The Botanical Magazine contained many beautiful hand-coloured engravings, initially drawn and engraved by James Sowerby, who also illustrated Curtis’ publication Flora Londinensis as well as his own English Botany, which includes lichens and mosses as well as true flowering plants.

Plate 194 from Sowerby’s English Botany, Vol. 3 (London, 1794): Yellow wall lichen [Rare Books QK 306]

Sowerby also drew fungi, zoology, mineralogy and fossil shells. He even had a whale named after him.

Plate 16 by Sowerby from The Botanical Magazine Vol. 1 (London, 1797): Iris variegate [Rare Books per Q]

“This species of Iris, inferior to few in point of beauty, is a native of the hilly pastures of Hungary… It is a hardy perennial, requires no particular treatment and may be easily propagated by parting its roots in Autumn” Information not out of place in a modern gardening publication.

Later volumes of The Botanical Magazine were illustrated by Sydenham Edwards, who was a friend of Curtis and often accompanied him on botanical expeditions. In 1815, Edwards started his own publication, The Botanical Register.

Plate 1676 by Sydenham Edwards from The Botanical Magazine Vol. XL, (London, 1814): Stapelia bufonis (Toad-flowered Stapelia) A native of the Cape of Good Hope [Rare Books per Q]

Plate 34, drawn by Edwards, engraved by F. Sansom in Sydenham Edwards The New Flora Britannica (London, 1812) [Rare Books quarto QK 306]

This differed from the Botanical Magazine by adopting a quarto format and having two or three different plants to a page, with longer descriptive text. It appears to be an adaptation of The Complete Dictionary of Practical Gardening by R. W. Dickson, published 1805-7 under the pseudonym Alexander Macdonald. The title page states “Coloured with the greatest exactness from drawings by Sydenham Edwards”.

The Botanists Repository of 1797 “for new and rare plants … as have not appeared in any similar publication”, consists of seven volumes bound into four individual books by Henry Andrews including many coloured engravings.

The Botanists Repository Vol. 1 (1797) with illustration of twinflower [Rare Books QK 98]

Twinflower or Linnaea borealis was the favourite flower of the celebrated botanist Linnaeus, who devised the binomial system for cataloguing plants. However, he did not name it after himself, it being named in his honour by the Dutch botanist, J. F. Gronovius. It is nationally scarce in northern England and Scotland, but also found in northern parts of Europe, Canada and the US.

Want to find out more about related material in the Special Collections? See the guide to the Salisbury Collection or a previous blog A passion for plants.

Robert Morrison, his Chinese Dictionary and Hampshire Connections

Members of a group of Chinese teachers visiting Special Collections recently were very taken with the Library’s copies of Robert Morrison’s Dictionary of the Chinese Language (1815-1823) and Grammar of the Chinese Language (1815). Both books, the first publications of their kind, were given to the Library by John Bullar, a friend of Henry Robinson Hartley, the founder of the Hartley Institution. Intriguingly, the Grammar contains a note from the author to Bullar describing where the language was used, raising the question of how they knew each other – Morrison having spent most of his adult life in China and Bullar being a lifelong resident of Southampton.

The Chinese Language is read in Cochin china, Corea, the Loochoo Islands & in Japan; as well as in China proper, Chinese Tartary and the colonies of Chinese in the Archipelago South of China, note from Robert Morrison in his Grammar of the Chinese Language (1815) Rare Books quarto PL 1107

The fact that Morrison was a missionary and his interest in the Chinese language arose from his undertaking to translate the Bible, suggests that the link between the two men was the British and Foreign Bible Society. As the Secretary of the Southampton Branch, Bullar, a Deacon of Southampton’s Above Bar Chapel, would have known of Morrison’s work and of the grants the Society made towards his publication of the Chinese New Testament in 1814 and the Bible in 1823.

Prior to leaving for China, Morrison had attended David Bogue’s Missionary Academy at Gosport and their paths may well have crossed at this time.  A speech Bullar made in Southampton in October 1827 was reported in the Evangelical Magazine and confirms that he and Morrison were acquainted, ‘I can add, from my personal knowledge of the great, the good, the devoted Dr Morrison, that he told me incidentally that such had been his application to the Chinese language … he had scarcely the pen out of his hand from six in the morning till ten at night.’

Robert Morrison, from Eliza Morrison Memoirs of the Life and Labours of Robert Morrison (1839) Rare Books BV 3427.M

Another Hampshire resident, Sir George Staunton of Leigh Park, provided crucial support for Morrison after he arrived in Canton in 1807. Staunton had had a lifelong interest in China, accompanying his father, also Sir George, on the first British Embassy to China in 1793 and later becoming chief of the East India Company’s factory at Canton. In his memoirs, Staunton wrote that from the time of Morrison’s arrival they were in constant communication, either personally or by letter.

Sir George Staunton, from his Memoirs of the Chief Incidents of the Public Life of Sir George Thomas Staunton (1856) Cope 95 STA

Staunton helped Morrison to find language tutors, it being illegal for the Chinese to teach their language to a foreigner, and later gave him employment as a translator for the Company. When it became know that Morrison had published the translation of the New Testament, it was Staunton’s intervention which enabled him to keep his job – both the East India Company and the Chinese Government prohibiting the work of foreign missionaries. The Company did, however, recognise the value of Morrison’s Dictionary, not least to its own employees, shipping a printing press to Macau so that it could be published.

Robert Morrison Dictionary of the Chinese Language v.1 pt.1 (1815) Rare Books quarto PL 1071

Leaving Morrison to his translating and missionary work, Staunton returned to Britain in 1817, settling at Leigh Park in 1819 and pursuing a political career. His love of China was reflected in his house and the development of the estate, though much had still to be done when Morrison, back in Britain for two years, paid a visit in September 1825. According to his wife this was the ‘longest interval of rest that Dr Morrison allowed himself to indulge in during the two years of his sojurn in England’. Morrison was able to admire the Temple which commemorated several friends from China whom he and Staunton had in common, but the Chinese bridge, Chinese boathouse and Chinese summerhouse described in Edward Lloyd’s Notices of Leigh Park Estate (1836), had yet to be built.

The Chinese Boathouse from Edward Lloyd Notices of the Leigh Park Estate near Havant (1836) Rare Books Cope HAV 72

After this visit, Morrison never returned to Britain, dying in Canton in August 1834, and leaving as his legacy the contribution he made to the opening up of cultural relations between Britain and China, through his pioneering publications on the Chinese language.

Robert Morrison A Grammar of the Chinese Language (1815) Rare Books quarto PL 1107

Stocking the Shelves of Special Collections

The increasing interest in books as cultural artefacts means that some which have previously been thought of little consequence now find themselves on the shelves in Special Collections. Unlike traditional ‘rare books’ often characterised by their pristine condition, some of these books will have led harder lives and as a result have stories to tell about their manufacture and use.

One criteria for transfer is survival. Older books provide not only physical evidence of developments in book production but also show contemporary cultural and artistic influences. At Southampton books printed before 1850, the products of the hand press era, are routinely transferred to Special Collections. Elsewhere this date has advanced to 1860 and even 1900 in order to preserve examples of late 19th-century developments in printing. The output of small presses, examples of extremely large or extremely small books and those with distinctive bindings and illustrations are also important in showing aspects of book history. Through their post-production life – the bookplates and annotations – books also reveal evidence of their past ownership and use, an expanding area of research and study. Some examples of books added to the printed special collections help to show the changing nature of rare books.

China: Political, Commercial and Social in an Official Report to Her Majesty’s Government by R. Montgomery Martin (London, 1847) is a book which not only fulfils the criteria of having been printed before 1850, but in retaining both its bookseller’s label and its Southampton Reading Society circulation label provides evidence of its past use. With none of today’s concern for privacy, the names of all those who borrowed the book are listed, displaying the reading tastes of the members of the Society. A step up from the circulating library, the Southampton Reading Society, ran from the early years of the 19th century to 1863, when it donated its stock to the Hartley Institution, the forerunner of the University.

R. Montgomery Martin China: Political, Commercial, Social (London, 1847) Rare Books DS 735

Illustrations of the Textile Manufactures of India (London, 1881) was also part of the Hartley Institution’s Library and retains a label recording it as being on a deposit loan from South Kensington Museum since December 1881. The book contains beautiful illustrations of Indian textiles, such as designs for turbans, clothes, scarves and mats, based on the items bought for the Victoria and Albert Museum by Caspar Purdon Clarke. Commissioned to find examples of objects in everyday use, Clarke returned with over a thousand items, which were intended to provide models of good design for both manufacturers and students.

Illustrations of the Textile Manufactures of India (London, 1881) Rare Books folio NK 8876

Another book which has made its way to Special Collections is notable for its distinctive cloth binding which is still in good condition – suggesting it was never part of the general Library stock. This is an edition of Jules Verne’s Cinq semaines en ballon which was published in the later years of the 19th century by the Hetzel firm of Paris.

Jules Verne Cinq semaines en ballon; Voyage au centre de la terre (Paris, 18–) Rare Books PQ 2469.C5

Finally, an example of a small press publication of the early 20th century. The edition of Richard Jobson’s The Golden Trade (Teignmouth, 1904) was intended as the first in the Saracen’s Head’s Mary Kingsley Travel Books series but appears to have been both the first and last book they issued. Printed on handmade paper and with a woodcut title page, it was published in a limited edition. Its bookplate reveals the broader book-collecting interests of Claude Montefiore, President of University College, Southampton, 1913-1934, whose Library, principally on the subjects of theology and philosophy, was donated to the College after his death in 1938.

Richard Jobson The Golden Trade (Teignmouth, 1904) Rare Books DT 376

Richard Jobson The Golden Trade (Teignmouth, 1904) Rare Books DT 376









Although none of these books is of great financial value – the forgotten or previously unidentified treasure which features in news stories rarely makes an appearance – in telling something of the history of books and their use, they all have a place in Special Collections.

The Repository of Arts

Objects found in books hold a fascination for those who find them. Usually they are unrelated to the text – tickets used as bookmarks or letters placed for safekeeping; it is less common to find objects which were part of the original publication, as is the case in the Repository of Arts which contains tiny fabric samples, as colourful today as when the issues were first published in the early nineteenth century.

Fabric samples: June 1812

Fabric samples: June 1812

Published by Rudolph Ackermann (1764-1834), the Repository of Arts, or, to give it its full title the Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics, was the style bible of its day. A monthly magazine, running from 1809 to 1829, it covered all of the subjects listed in its title as well as providing reports on public health and agriculture. The emphasis though, was on stylish living and the magazine was designed to appeal to members of fashionable society who could afford the subscription of three shillings and sixpence, approximately £11 today.

Morning dress: February 1813

Morning dress: February 1813

The Repository had developed from Ackermann’s publishing and print-selling business, also named the Repository of Arts, which he established in the Strand in 1798. There, the early nineteenth-century equivalent of ladies (and gentlemen) who lunch could keep up to date with latest trends, acquire art supplies and prints, take tea or attend lectures in the gas-lit surroundings of what became a fashionable social centre. The magazine kept those who could not visit the Repository informed by including hand-coloured fashion plates and by providing the fabric samples. These were accompanied by suggestions of the type of garment for which the material could be used – the issue for June 1812 included a new printed cambric ‘of the mosaic pattern, calculated for morning and domestic wear’, an example of the recently introduced ‘Chinese crape’ and ‘a new lilac sarsnet for evening or full dress’.

Furniture: February 1811

Furniture: February 1811

Interior design was another feature of the magazine, with many issues having a ‘fashionable furniture’ section, or presenting ideas for room designs, such as the ‘gothic conservatory’ illustrated in the April 1813 issue. On occasions, samples of wallpaper or decorative papers were also included, the final sample in the June 1812 issue being a ‘specimen of the new embossed fancy paper, coloured in oil over a silver ground, in every shade and colour’. The amount of descriptive detail contained in the Repository makes it an important source for anyone with an interest in the aspirational fashions and interiors of the Regency period.

Gothic conservatory: April 1813

Gothic conservatory: April 1813

Ackermann is considered to be a pioneering publisher of colour-plate books, having set up a lithographic press in the Strand prior to opening the Repository. The hand-coloured aquatints in his many publications were highly valued by contemporaries. Later generations have also to thank him for the record he provided of contemporary London in his celebrated Microcosm of London, (1808-1810), in which he employed the talents of Augustus Pugin (1768/9-1832) and William Rowlandson (1757-1827).

Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics, vols.3-9 (1810-1813) Rare Books N1

Reading Readers in the Special Collections

In this week’s blog post Jennifer Scott, a PhD candidate in the English Department, examines a unique copy of Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Goal held in the Special Collections.

There is something undeniably thrilling about handling an early or rare edition of a much-loved work of literature. An even greater thrill of working with Special Collections, however, sometimes comes from an unexpected discovery. The Hartley Library’s copy of The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde – a copy of the fourth edition of this work from 1898 – was, for me, one of those discoveries, holding between its covers a special collection of its very own.

The book is inscribed ‘R. Bruce Boswell 1898’ and has been treated as a kind of scrapbook. Pasted throughout, on the blank verso sides of the pages alongside the text, as well as on the book’s inside covers, are numerous contemporary newspaper clippings, many of which have been marked and dated in the owner’s hand. The clippings concern Oscar Wilde himself, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, the impending publication of De Profundis in 1905, and debates surrounding penal reform. Boswell’s careful collation of these clippings, as well as his written comments, show a reader forming links between the reports of the press and Wilde’s own poetic description of his prison experience.

Examining Boswell’s pencil markings, which range from ambiguous crosses and question marks to more revealing statements and questions, one gains a sense of a reader who was sceptical of Wilde’s account and of his views – a reader who even had the gall to correct some of Wilde’s most famous lines, changing ‘Each man kills the thing he loves’ to ‘Each man may kill the thing he loves’ and replacing ‘The brave man with a sword’ with ‘The bravo with a sword’!

Yet, one may also discover a reader willing to thoroughly engage with Wilde’s text and open-minded enough to also highlight some consistencies between Wilde’s account and those reported in the papers.

Remarkably, Boswell is not the only reader to have left their mark on this book either. A second reader, identifiable only as E.G.C., has responded to comments by Boswell, showing debates about penal reform, and Wilde’s place within it, to have transcended public spaces such as courtrooms and the House of Commons, and to have also occurred more privately.

This book provides a unique glimpse of some of the ways in which ordinary readers responded to Wilde and his poem following his release from prison in 1897. Despite Wilde’s name being too cloaked in scandal to appear on the ballad until 1899, Boswell’s copy reveals just how open the secret of its authorship was.

The first six editions of The Ballad of Reading Gaol bore only Wilde’s cell number, C.3.3.

The first six editions of The Ballad of Reading Gaol bore only Wilde’s cell number, C.3.3.

Furthermore, it reveals the human complexity of Wilde’s readership, which did not fall, as it is so easy to imagine, into black and white categories of supporters and detractors. The marginalia of R. Bruce Boswell and E.G.C. rather exhibit a developing engagement with this text that was influenced by both public and private debate.

I first wrote about this book in my MA thesis in 2010. I am now studying for a PhD and recently revisited the book for a conference paper, which I delivered at the British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS) Annual conference on 23 August 2017.

The Book The Object exhibition and private view

The Book The Object

This new exhibition in the Special Collections Gallery celebrates the culture, the manufacture and the artistry of the book, from the 15th to the 21st century.

It runs from 22 February – 18 March and 4 April – 27 May 2016 during which time the gallery is open weekdays 10am to 4pm.

A private view of the exhibition will take place on Thursday 25 February, 5pm – 7pm. All are welcome!

The private view will be held jointly with the exhibition Re: Making which runs from 15 February – 8 March 2016 in the Level 4 Gallery.

Re: Making is a documentary exhibition of three PhD seminars at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.

For a campus map and information on parking see, please visit the University website.

Please note that visitors may be asked for proof of identity at the Library reception.

Claude Montefiore and the Montefiore Lecture 2015

The Montefiore Lecture 2015 will take place this evening at the Avenue Campus. Titled ‘Magna Carta, British Values and Religious Minorities’ the lecture will be given by Professor Maleiha Malik, King’s College London. The Montefiore Lecture is part of the Parkes Institute annual lecture series and is the oldest lecture in the University’s calendar.

Bust of Claude Joseph Goldsmid Montefiore

Bust of Claude Joseph Goldsmid Montefiore

Claude Joseph Goldsmid Montefiore (1858-1938) was a Jewish theologian, Reform leader and philanthropist. He was the son of Nathaniel Montefiore and Emma Goldsmid, and the great nephew of Sir Moses Montefiore. Noted as a great scholar, Montefiore was educated privately and at Balliol College, Oxford, where he obtained a first class degree. He was Hibbert Lecturer in 1892 and was awarded the British Academy Medal for Biblical Studies in 1930.

In 1890 Montefiore founded and edited, together with Israel Abrahams, the Jewish Quarterly Review. From 1892 to 1921 he was President of the Anglo-Jewish Association. He was President of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue and Acting President of University College, Southampton, 1910-13 and then President, 1913-34.

The Special Collections Division holds a small collection of Montefiore’s  papers. The collection contains a volume of manuscript notes, chiefly on Aristotle’s politics; an address to Montefiore, written on vellum and signed by members of the senate of University College, Southampton, 1913; a letter from D.D.Balfour, 1885; and a typescript of ‘Some old fashioned opinions and reflections about the Jews: a die-hard’s confession’, 1935. In addition to the manuscript collection, Montefiore donated his private book collection the University which now forms part of the Library’s Printed Special Collections.

It was through the collections of Montefiore and the library of Dr James Parkes that the University formed a special interest in papers concerning the relations of the Jewish people with other peoples. Since 1989 this has been developed with a particular focus on the records of Anglo-Jewry, of national organisations, and of individuals, leading to the acquisition of the Anglo-Jewish Archives in 1990. The Special Collections Division has continued to receive a considerable number of major accessions relating to Anglo-Jewry and this remains an area where collecting is most active.

For further details on this year’s Montefiore Lecture please visit the Parkes Institute Events page.

Rare Books Collection: Between the Boards

Today’s post marks the first in a series focusing items from the Rare Books Collection. Further posts in the series will appear over the coming months.

There are certain things which you expect to find when you open a rare book – text and illustrations being obvious examples. But books can be full of surprises, not only in their published content but also in the materials and markings that they accumulate over the years.

The Rare Books Collection at Southampton includes examples of early books in such good condition that they could have been printed yesterday, but many bear, all too clearly, the evidence of their age and use. This is seen in the condition of the bindings and in annotations and bookplates, additions which have sometimes been seen as detracting from their value. With the increasing availability of early texts online, there is renewed interest in this copy specific information, now more easily traced through online catalogues and databases. Such features can provide an insight into the history of an individual book, in terms of its ownership and use, and also contribute to the study of both the history of books as cultural objects and the history of reading.

Signature of Elizabeth Cumberland

Signature of Elizabeth Cumberland
The Book of Common Prayer (Oxford, 1700)
Rare Books BX 5145.A2 (in box)

Ownership might be indicated by an owner simply writing his or her name in a prominent place and possibly recording how much the book cost and where and when it was acquired. Bookplates were often pasted inside the front cover, whilst wealthy owners also had the option of including a coat of arms on their personally commissioned bindings.  As well as recording ownership by individuals, books can also bear the labels of long defunct libraries and reading societies, some of which even list the borrowers’ names.

Annotations by Sir Frederic Madden

Annotations by Sir Frederic Madden
Lake Allen The History of Portsmouth (London, 1817)
Rare Books Cope POR 92

Evidence of use can be seen in the critical annotations made by former owners, often in a book’s margins whilst blank pages at the beginning and end of the text were used for a variety of purposes. These included unrelated lists and handwriting practice, as well as the records of family births, marriages and deaths which are often found in Bibles. Books could also be personalised with the addition of illustrations and cuttings related to the text or meaningful to the owner in some other way.

Advert for a Daimler car re-used in binding

Advert for a Daimler car re-used in binding
W.G. Johnstone The Nature-Printed British Sea-weeds v.4 (London, 1859-60)
Rare Books QK 466

The structure of the book can also be revealing. The fact that a binding is in poor condition or that a book has been rebound suggests that it has been well-used and valued, whilst a book with uncut pages tells a different story. Even damaged bindings are useful in exposing the practises of book-binders. Printers’ waste and discarded manuscripts were commonly re-used in bindings and only become apparent when damage has occurred.

Later posts will highlight examples of different copy specific features found in items from the Rare Books Collection, as well as books which on their publication contained unusual materials, quite literally in the case of the Repository of Arts, with its tiny samples of early 19th century fabrics.