The monster album

Working as a librarian you quickly become accustomed to books regularly being requested by a description, rather than a title. “I’m looking for a book, I saw it here before, I don’t remember the title but it was a small red book”. Happily, after a few probing questions, the relevant book can usually be located!

Indeed some books are commonly known by a descriptive title, for example, the ‘the blue book’ is the annual City of London directory & livery companies guide and the ‘white book’ is the legal publication Civil procedure.

Guildhall Library’s ‘hairy book’ has now been transferred to the archives at London Metropolitan Archives (search for Reference Code: CLC/313/B/012/MS25501 on LMA’s catalogue for more info! ), much to the relief of some of my more squeamish colleagues.

‘The bible’ is an indispensable (to Guildhall Library staff at least!) staff manual containing information about Guildhall Library policy and practice between 1930 and 1980.

Another book in Guildhall Library’s collection is best known by the description, ‘the big book’ or the ‘giant book’, or, as we have recently discovered, ‘the monster album’!

Here it is:

005‘The giant book’ is the largest book in Guildhall Library’s collection. It measures 3 foot six and a half inches high and 5 foot 3 inches wide. It is 8 inches deep.

014The cover of the book is so large and so heavy that it takes two people to open it – two handles are built into the cover of the book to assist with opening.

025‘The giant book’ is unfortunately too large to be consulted or displayed in the Library. On the rare occasions it has to be moved it takes 8 (fairly strong!) individuals to manoeuvre it. However, you can sometimes glimpse ‘the giant book’ taking up a whole shelf in the Library’s book stores during our monthly ‘History and Treasures of Guildhall Library’ tours. (You can book for these tours via www.ghlevents.eventbrite.co.uk).

Here is what can be seen if you can find another person to help you open the book!

023The end papers of this book are actually made of a vibrant pink silk, rather than paper. Another book is shown here along with a £20 note to give you an idea of scale.

And the contents of ‘the giant book’? Well inside this book is actually blank! The book is an album which was produced as an example of fine binding for the 1862 International Exhibition. It shows a range of types of binding, including this inlaid leather binding, tiny leather squares make up the flowers in a mosaic effect.

035Recently while undertaking research for an enquiry I came across a reference to the ‘The giant book’ in the Report of the Librarian and Director to the Library Committee from 1941. This not only provides the additional information, not previously noted in our records, that this album was made by Mr Charles Rollinger, but also reveals it nearly came to a fateful end that year:

“One of the most inappropriate gifts ever made to this Museum was a monster album presented to your Committee after the great exhibition of 1862, made by Mr Charles Rollinger as a specimen of mosaic binding, and weighing about 700 lbs; it consists of nothing but blank paper of fine quality. In these days of shortage, I cannot think it is right to keep lying idle this quantity of material so greatly in demand, and I venture to suggest that, if the covers and the dedication may be preserved, the contents could be put to some useful war purpose.” (Report of the Librarian and Director to the Library Committee, 6 October 1941, page 242).

While sympathising that during wartime this album represented a ‘waste’ of fine paper, we cannot help but be pleased that, for whatever reason, Guildhall Library’s ‘giant book’ was not put to “some useful war purpose” and is still in the collection over 70 years later.

Rosie Eddisford
Assistant Librarian

 

Happy 120th Tower Bridge!

084We’re wishing a hearty Happy 120th Birthday to our friends at Tower Bridge this month – on the 30th of June to be precise. To celebrate, we have digitised a copy of a lovely little book from our collections, published exactly 120 years ago to mark the opening: ‘Photographs of the Opening of the Tower Bridge, London, June 30th, 1894: by Their Royal Highnesses the Prince & Princess of Wales(London: Talbot, 1984).

078This little tome contains 24 black and white images from the big day itself, creating a real overview of the day. The photographs commence with one of the bridge at 9.30am on the day, then go on to document ensuing events, showing the opening of the bascules and various vessels passing through the bridge, with the final image taken one hour after the ceremony.

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We have created a Pinterest board showing each page from the book – which you can view at: http://www.pinterest.com/guildhalllib/photographs-of-the-opening-of-the-tower-bridge/

But you can of course view the item in real life here at Guildhall Library!

092Don’t forget to visit Guildhall Art Gallery’s striking exhibition of images depicting Tower Bridge throughout the years: 120 Years of Tower Bridge (1894-2014). Paintings, illustrations and photographs show how artists have perceived London’s iconic bridge over the last 120 years, and some engineering plans and ephemera are also on display. You can read London Historians’ excellent review of the exhibition here

Charles Pears (1873-1958), Blitz. Our London Docks, 1940, oil on canvas. Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London.

Charles Pears (1873-1958), ‘Blitz. Our London Docks’, 1940, oil on canvas. Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London. © The Artist’s Estate.

The exhibition is free and runs from 31 May to 30 June. And if you can’t make it in June the good news is that it is returning again during the Totally Thames festival, and will be on show from 12 September to early January 2015.

And if that’s not enough London bridges for you, the Museum of London Docklands’ Bridge exhibition will run from 27 June to 2nd November. Bridge promises to be the museum’s largest ever art exhibition, and will feature art, photography and film from their own collections. This exhibition will cover all of London’s major bridges and is also free to attend.

Anne-Marie Nankivell
Library Assistant

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Horticultural discoveries in Guildhall Library

126One would think that a volume offering the results of a series of experiments on the nutritional quality of animal fodder would be a book for the interested minority – not so as I recently discovered on a visit to our underground store. A colleague was shelf checking items from the Gardeners’ Company Library and called me over to take a look at this remarkable volume:

Hortus Gramineus Woburnensis: Or, An Account of the Results of Experiments on the Produce, and Nutritive Qualities of Different Grasses, and Other Plants, used as the Food of the more Valuable Domestic Animals: Instituted by John Duke Of Bedford; By George Sinclair

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This 1st edition copy was published at the Duke’s expense in 1816.

The title page tells us that it is “Illustrated with dried specimens of the plants upon which these experiments have been made, and practical observations on their natural habits, and the soils best adapted to their growth; pointing out the kinds most profitable for permanent pasture, irrigated meadows, dry or upland pasture, and the alternate husbandry; accompanied with the discriminating characters of the species, and varieties.”

It is an example of ‘natural illustration’ i.e. the volume is illustrated with 123 dried specimens and 35 samples of seeds mounted on blank leaves. The Latin and English names are printed on small labels and attached to the illustration. This was a common way of labelling natural illustrations as it was simpler to allow plenty of space on the mount for variation in the size of the plants across the volumes.

151This ‘herbarium’ (collection of dried preserved specimens that document the identity of plants and fungi) is an early 19th century ecological experiment. The work was directed by Sinclair and was highly regarded by Charles Darwin who made use of it for his Origin of Species.

It is difficult to assess the Duke’s expectation of interest and sales of the volume. The Duke’s herbarium was attractive but not economically viable and later editions were printed with conventional illustrations.

It is not surprising that the production and the subsequent preservation of this type of volume presented challenges for bookbinders and conservators. Common problems with herbariums are distortion of the binding owing to the thickness of the specimens, keeping the specimens attached to the mount and staining from the plants resulting in a transferred image on the facing verso.

131Fortunately Hortus Gramineus Woburnensis is interspersed with tissue guards offering some protection to both plant and page. The tissue guards carry imprints from the plants and are also a feature of interest.

George Sinclair (1786-1834) was born in Berwickshire and his father and uncle were professional gardeners to the nobility. He superintended the gardens at Woburn Abbey for the Sixth Duke of Bedford for about seventeen years.

The sixth Duke went on to produce Salicetum Woburnense (1829) and Pinetum Woburnense (1839) with the assistance of his later Head Gardener, James Forbes.

George Sinclair went into business with Cormack & Son, nurserymen and seedsmen at New Cross. He became a fellow of both the Linnean Society and of the Horticultural Society.

The Library of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners has been housed at Guildhall Library since 1891. Library users are welcome to consult volumes from this library by signing in at the enquiry desk and showing proof of name and address (passport, utility bill, driving licence etc.) All of the Gardeners’ Library Collection can be found on the library catalogue at http://capitadiscovery.co.uk/cityoflondon/

Jeanie Smith
Assistant Librarian

New maritime e-resources

???????????????????????????????The Lloyd’s Marine Collection at Guildhall Library is among our most valued resources. We receive more e-mail and postal enquiries for this collection than for any other.

We are very pleased to announce that the library has some new online resources for maritime history researchers to complement the Lloyd’s collection.

Lloyd’s List & Lloyd’s List Intelligence
www.lloydslist.com & www.lloydslistintelligence.com

We are delighted to have subscription access to both Lloyd’s List and Lloyd’s List Intelligence. Both resources include a searchable, online archive back to 1997. This is great news for those of you whose vessel research requires shipping movements and marine news from 1997 onward. No more laboriously going through each issue on microfilm!

We were very sorry to see the demise of the printed version of Lloyd’s List in December 2013, especially as our collection goes back to the first (surviving) issue in 1741, so we are pleased to confirm that the archive continues in this new format (for use in Guildhall Library – proof of name and address required).

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Convoys Database
http://ww1.convoyweb.org.uk/guildhall/index.php

Guildhall Library has been honoured to host the work of the military historians who have given their time and knowledge to creating a database of the movements of World War Two Convoys. This work was begun in the 1980s by the late Arnold Hague (1930 – 2007); and has been continued by his associates.

Their invaluable work has only been accessible to staff members in the past, but has now been converted into an easily searchable website. Access to this resource is available in Guildhall Library only. We are very grateful for the generosity of researchers past and present and to the web master who willingly donated time and expertise in making this invaluable and accessible resource. We hope to expand and develop the site in the future so do look out for announcements.

ArcticStar

Ship Index
www.shipindex.org

We have subscribed to the premium version of this database and it is available not only to users within Guildhall Library but remotely for members of City of London Libraries.

The site now contains nearly 2.8 million citations compiled from indexes for books, journals, websites and other resources. Over 85% of the citations link to the full text, either through Google Books or to online resources and the vessel search is particularly useful for locating photographs of ships.

The citations also link to library catalogues helping you to locate material not available digitally.

Lloyd's list

Don’t forget to explore our Ebsco Discovery Service. With a City of London Library Card you can search in the library or at home for books, articles and reviews on maritime subjects using EBSCO, JSTOR and Oxford Reference. You can see a complete list and find an online form for joining the library at: http://capitadiscovery.co.uk/cityoflondon/assets/-/onlineref.html

We are committed to developing tools to help users to access our collections and we have been fortunate to have a dedicated group of volunteers who have completed some great work over the years, including putting over 250,000 voyage record cards which were in 6 chronological sequences into one alphabetical run!

The benefits of their labour and commitment are also felt by the many people who use Guildhall Library’s unique index to Lloyd’s List Marine News 1740 – 1837, freely available on our website: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/lloydslist/

In the coming years we hope to be able to make further indexes to Board of Trade Reports and Inquiries and other material available and our volunteers are currently working on an index to marine news in Lloyd’s List covering the 1920s to the 1970s. The task will take some time and we are grateful for all of our (past and present) volunteers’ hard work over many hours.

For more information and guides about the Lloyd’s Marine Collection see http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visiting-the-city/archives-and-city-history/guildhall-library/collections/Pages/Maritime-history.aspx
If you have any queries about access to any of these resources see the enquiry desk or e-mail us guildhall.library@cityoflondon.gov.uk

Jeanie Smith
Assistant Librarian

LR 1921-2

A Complete Reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnets

On 23rd April 2014 Guildhall Library celebrated what would have been Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday with ‘A Complete Reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnets’. The 154 sonnets were read by a team of 60 enthusiastic volunteers. Despite there being no practice run or rehearsal for the reading, the audience were treated to a wonderful and varied reading.

318Hearing all the sonnets read together was something of a revelation, at least to this member of the audience, as it was clear that the tone and emphasis changed quite radically, so that the final poems seemed very far removed from the earlier, perhaps more lyrical, sonnets.

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Dr Roy Booth, Senior Lecturer in Renaissance Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London, launched the event with an engaging and entertaining introduction to the poems and the sonnets were then read by volunteers including Guildhall Library customers, City of London Guides, Keats House Poetry Ambassadors and City of London staff.

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In addition we were joined by some special guests including Damian Lewis, the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning Homeland actor. Damian Lewis, who graduated from Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 1993, commenced the sonnet reading with the first five sonnets. He had previously prepared for this role by performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company and starring in the BBC’s updated ‘Shakespeare Re-Told’ version of Much ado about nothing!

005Damian Lewis’s participation was filmed for the City of London’s YouTube Channel, and you can watch the video online. The appearance of a Hollywood star as a sonnet reader received high profile press coverage, with the event reported by ITV News at Ten and ITV News Online, BBC London TV, the Daily Mail, City A.M. and The Daily Telegraph. 199

Other special guests included cast members from Grassroots Shakespeare London’s Othello: Nari Blair-Mangat (Othello), James Alexandrou (Iago), Boris Mitkov (Cassio), Emily Jane Kerr (Emilia), Adam Blampied (Roderigo), Helena Doughty (Bianca), James Law (Duke of Venice) and John McLear (Lodovico); Fiona Woolf, Lord Mayor of the City of London; Alderman Sir Roger Gifford; Alan Hollinghurst, Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Line of Beauty and The Stranger’s Child; Lucinda Hawksley, author and great-great-great granddaughter of Charles and Catherine Dickens; Lucy Inglis, historian and author; Kate Willoughby, actor and writer.

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Despite the complicated logistics of coordinating 60 volunteers (not to mention the media who accompanied our first sonnet reader!), the event ran more smoothly than we could have even hoped. We were grateful to the two sonnet readers who stepped in on the day before the event to cover for two poorly readers who were forced to pull-out. On the day, we had only one no-show, and the three sonnets that became available were quickly snapped up by other readers!

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The atmosphere at the event was enhanced by the sonnets being read alongside our ‘Shakespeare in Print’ exhibition with the First Folio, 1623, contemporary writers’ quartos, and later editions of Shakespeare’s plays and poetry providing a fitting backdrop to the event.

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We were delighted to host such a fantastic, enjoyable and unique event that allowed so many individuals to get involved with celebrating the Bard’s Birthday in style.

Take a look at our photos from the Complete Reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnets on Flickr.
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Incunabula project

INC34

INC34

Guildhall Library is currently working on an exciting project regarding some of the rarest items in our collection – our incunabula. The library holds 72 incunabula – books, pamphlets or broadsides printed in Europe before 1501 – in our historic collections. The majority of our collection is due to the generosity of individuals in the late 19th century who donated them to our library.  We are in the process of adding our incunabula to the MEI Catalogue (Material Evidence in Incunabula), part of the Consortium of European Research Libraries.

INC13

INC13

At the same time, we are photographing the key features of each item and creating Pinterest boards for each, so they can be seen by all in their full glory. We are recording and photographing features of their previous ownership – such as bookplates, signatures, inscriptions – and looking at how the items were used and valued through the centuries by noting readers’ annotations, symbols, bindings and even prices. We are also adding these images to our own catalogue and to the MEI catalogue – we’re extremely proud to be the first library to add images to MEI!

INC5

INC5

The aim of this project is to make our incunabula information available to academics, fellow librarians and the public worldwide. The information we are adding may be used in various ways, for example, to assist researchers who are looking that into the historic library of an individual or organisation, to explore how a particular work was received by readers in 16th century England, or even to investigate the going rate for incunabula in the 19th century. We hope that researchers might also be able to collaborate by assisting with transcriptions – in fact, we’ve already had one instance where a very faint signature was able to be read by one of the coordinators at MEI.

INC34

INC34

The project began at the start of this year and should run for about a year. Two incunables are brought up from the stores each Thursday and scoured for provenance marks and other points of interest. Two members of the project team then meet each Thursday afternoon to photograph the items. It’s always a bit of a surprise as to what we will see on any given Thursday.

INC33

INC33

Highlights so far have included a very cute manicule (pointing finger – seen above), some interesting bindings and clasps, some intriguing tri-foils and some lovely examples of rubrication. It’s been interesting to note that whilst some items have retained their original bindings (such as INC39), the owners have rebound others according their personal taste (for example, the rather lavish 19th century binding of INC32 – detail shown below).

INC32

INC32

The prices sometimes scrawled inside the covers have also been fascinating to see. The price of £1, 1s, 0 pence on the inside cover of INC39 is approximately £109 in today’s money. The same book also features a title page with three different inscriptions – showing a chain of ownership through the centuries (pictured below).

INC32

INC32

We’re updating catalogue entries and adding new Pinterest boards as we go along so keep an eye out! All of the boards can be seen at: http://www.pinterest.com/GLincunabula/

If you have any comments, queries or can see some text that you can transcribe where we have not been able to, please comment below or contact us on guildhall.library@cityoflondon.gov.uk

INC33

INC33

The Unsolved Mystery of Elizabeth Canning

Today in Guildhall Library our Principal Librarian, Dr Peter Ross, gave the first in a series of lunch time talks we’re holding as part of English Tourism Week. This talk featured the unusual story of Elizabeth Canning, discussed in further depth below. If this piques your interest, we have another five talks over the next week, with topics covering the plague, Jack Sheppard, Shakespeare, Victorian ‘lad’s mags’ and Agnes Marshall’s ice creams. Further details are listed at the end of this post.

Amongst Guildhall Library’s more unusual holdings are some rare pamphlets in the remarkable collection of material relating to a genuine mid-eighteenth century crime mystery – the disappearance of Elizabeth Canning.

Canning

On 1 January 1753 Elizabeth Canning, a poorly educated maidservant, disappeared on her way home from visiting relatives and reappeared on 29 January 1753 at her mother’s house near St Mary Aldermanbury. According to her story, she had been abducted by two men in Moorfields, who dragged her to a house on the Hertford Road. There, an old woman solicited her to become a prostitute. When she refused, Canning was held prisoner for nearly a month, until she escaped through a window.

On 1 February a posse took Canning to Enfield, where, at the house of Mary Wells, Canning repeated her story, with notable inconsistencies. She picked a local Romany woman, a Miss Mary Squires as the one who had imprisoned her. Wells and Squires were arrested. The trial took place on 21 February 1753 at the Old Bailey.

Trial

Mary Squires said that she had been travelling in Dorset during Canning’s supposed imprisonment, and three witnesses supported her alibi. More witnesses had come to give evidence on her behalf, but the mob, incensed against the “Gypsy”, prevented them entering the courtroom. They were both found guilty and Wells was sentenced to branding on the thumb and six months in prison, whilst Squires was to be hanged.

Chief magistrate and Lord Mayor of London, Sir Crisp Gascoyne, however, was dissatisfied with the verdict. He opened his own enquiry, which resulted in several more witnesses supporting Squire’s alibi. Gascoyne appealed to the King who granted first a stay in execution and then a pardon in May of 1753. Canning was then indicted for perjury on 9 June 1753.

Portrait

The resulting press frenzy was extraordinary. The two camps were called the Canningites and Egyptians (for “Gypsy”). Henry Fielding wrote the pro-Canning A Clear State of the Case of Elizabeth Canning (Guildhall Library A 8.6 no. 5 in 10) and two of his enemies wrote replies. Allan Ramsay wrote A Letter to the Right Honourable the Earl of — Concerning the Affair of Elizabeth Canning (Guildhall Library Pam. 3226)  Gascoyne wrote An Address to the Liverymen of the City of London, from Sir Crisp Gascoyne (Guildhall Library Large pam. 580)  Gascoyne was physically attacked in his coach, and he received death threats.

Canning’s trial began at the Old Bailey on 29 April 1754 and there followed seven full days of evidence. She was eventually found guilty of corrupt and wilful perjury and sentenced to one month of imprisonment and seven years of transportation.

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Canning was transported to Wethersfield, Connecticut where she eventually married John Treat, a great-nephew of a Governor of Connecticut and had five children. She died 1773 at the age of 38. During her later years in America, she never explained what had happened to her during her missing month.

John Trehern’s The Canning Enigma provides an exciting modern description of the real events, whilst Josephine Tey’s novel The Franchise Affair updates the story to a home counties town in the 1940s. Tey’s novel regularly appears in listings of the top 100 crime novels and was made into a film in 1951. 

Peter Ross, Principal Librarian

Tey


English Tourism Week talks at Guildhall Library
As part of English Tourism Week, Guildhall Library is holding a series of talks that take you beneath the surface of its collection and provide an insight into London through the ages. With a free mini-cupcake and the chance to win a great prize, what more could you ask for?
Each talk is free, requires no booking, and runs from 1-1.30pm

Monday 31st March 2014, The Bills of Mortality – Tissick, Tympany and Plague in 1665 
Each week in the 17th century, the Parish Clerks recorded the number of burials in the City and the causes of death. In doing so they have left us a remarkable and unrivalled record of disease.

Tuesday 1st April 2014, The Prison-Breaker triumphant – Newgate Prison 1724
Discover how, with his extraordinary escape from Newgate Prison on the night of 15 October 1724, Jack Sheppard, a 22-year-old burglar, became the most famous prison-breaker of all.

Wednesday 2nd April 2014, Shakespeare’s First Folio
The world would have lost 18 of Shakespeare’s plays had his friends not published the first collected edition in 1623. Discover the history of this remarkable book and find out why Guildhall Library’s copy is amongst the finest to survive.

Thursday 3rd April 2014, Buying under-the-counter ‘lads mags’ in Victorian London 
Our early Victorian ancestors may not have been as prim and proper as we imagine. Discover the contents of the soft-porn ‘lads mags’ they could buy in London’s Holywell and Wych streets.

Friday 4th April, 2014 Mrs Marshall: the queen of Victorian ice-cream 
Entrepreneur Agnes Marshall built up a highly successful kitchen equipment and cookery school business in late Victorian London. She specialised in creating extravagant ice-cream recipes and ice-cream machines that, today, influence the extraordinary creations of Heston Blumenthal.