Forming a picture of the past: recording provenance in the Gregson Memorial Institute collection.

This post was written by 2nd year History Lessia Mbala. Lessia is currently undertaking a placement in Special Collections and Archives, recording provenance in The Gregson Memorial Institute Library.

The second semester of second year is often seen as entering the second half of one’s degree; with the end of the degree looming came the panic of what to do after graduation, as well as academic expectation and performance. The History in Practice module, to me, encompassed all of this — a basis in academia with a focus on transferable skills, such as time management, organisation, and the all-important knowledge of how to use Microsoft Excel.

The Gregson Institute is my assigned project. Named after Matthew Gregson, an antiquary with contemporarily peculiar focus on his local and native Liverpool, the Gregson Memorial Institute was created to be a museum, gallery, and place for lectures. His collections, both the ones featured in the Gregson Memorial Institute and his private one, were later donated to the University, his artwork finding a home in the Victoria Gallery and Museum and his books in the Special Collections and Archives. The aim then, in the Special Collections and Archives, is to use the provenance of these books to paint a picture of Late Victorian Liverpool.

With most, if not all, of my previous experience of history being essay writing, date memorising and argument creating, this task was daunting. However, the more I filtered through the collection, the more patterns I recognised and the more familiar the names became. Amongst Gregson’s collection was a copy of A Vindication of the Rights of Women. The title, and its author, Mary Wollstonecraft, was instantly recognisable. Published in 1792, Vindication was initially a rebuttal against Edmund Burke’s argument for the failure of the French Revolution, and is seen to be the first book to argue for total equality of rights between the genders. With its focus on education, Vindication is also seen to be an important piece when studying the Enlightenment as it carries key themes and ideas.

The fact that the book was still being read in late Victorian period only corroborates what is already known about Wollstonecraft: she is a figure in feminist history whose reputation has lasted, and Vindication is a timeless piece of feminist philosophy. However, the provenance of the book gives us information about Wollstonecraft’s interaction with the period.

First, the book, according to the written script within the first few pages, had two owners: I. Leigh Gregson and W.W. Richmond. The gender of these individuals are not immediately obvious from their initials, and their identity is something I am still piecing together as I go through the collection. Their surname, however, provides information about their family and their position in society: the maternal Leigh family was one of gentry and the Gregson, the paternal, were esteemed. This follows historical trends in education: it came to those who could afford it. Priority often went to boys. In fact women were expected to remain uneducated as it was unnecessary to their role as a mother/caregiver. This included governesses, whose education was only officially formalised in 1848 with the formation of Queen’s College. Furthermore, the Victorian era provided many dominant women, such as mathematician Ada Lovelace and nurse Florence Nightingale, who have come to be celebrated as pioneers in their field. Notably, however, these women came from families ranging from fairly wealthy middle class to the aristocratic. It is unknown as of this moment who W.W. Richmond was and his relationship with the Gregson family.

Second, within the book (p. 318) is a highlighted passage on female modesty and purity, and education’s contribution to this. Here, Wollstonecraft argues that, with education, a woman would know and understand the reason for such strict social restrictions, which would result in a more virtuous woman. The context as to why this passage was highlighted is unknown — who, why, under what circumstances? What is clear, however, is that female modesty was indeed being considered. I found this to be the most interesting. The feminist movement, at least by today’s definition, has been synonymous with sexual freedom and lack of judgement. This passage, however, argues in line with sexual constraint. It could be that Vindication, at its core, is an argument and so Wollstonecraft is adopting the social view of women at the time to push her point of view forward. However, it seems to me that sexual freedom wasn’t being discussed when there were more pressing issues in regards to female equality that needed to be addressed. Victorian England — and so Liverpool — is noted for its taboo-isation of the female figure; this passage being highlighted, then, is suggestive of society’s advancement (in that women were becoming individuals rather than property, an Enlightened thought) and its limitations. Moreover, female chastity was pursued more so in the upper classes than in the lower.

Spotting Wollstonecraft had made me aware of many things when cataloguing a collection; most importantly, however, it had shown me just how much a personal item contributes to forming a picture of the past.

New exhibition: Binned, banned, bombed: selection and survival in Special Collections & Archives

Have you ever wondered why there is what there is in Special Collections & Archives?

Our collections are a fascinating mixture of what survives physical degradation, individual actions, historical events and official censure. But just because something has survived for a long time doesn’t automatically mean it has a place in Special Collections & Archives.

The survival of printed books and archival collections usually contains an element of serendipity; a modicum of good fortune which means they have been able to transcend neglect, wilful destruction, environmental dangers and the censure of authority. But there is also the hand of the librarian and archivist in evidence, selecting and preserving through careful management to ensure the items are kept secure and made available for years to come in a way that is appropriate to both the resources available and the intellectual content of the broader collections.

Our new exhibition displays a range of items from the collections to provide an insight into some of the issues we deal with whilst working to ensure our collections are cared for and made available to facilitate your research and requests. 

For more information on the exhibition, please see our website here.

Visit us anytime between 9:30am-4:45pm Monday – Friday at the Ground Floor Grove Wing of the Sydney Jones Library to view the display, no appointment is needed. Also, keep an eye on our twitter for information on special events focused around the material used in the exhibition.

Charles Sydney Jones: Incunabula and Early Printed Books

We have now entered the assessment period at the University of Liverpool, and the Sydney Jones Library is filling up fast. But how many of the students currently passing long hours within the walls of the library have taken a moment of procrastination to consider the man for whom the library is named? As detailed in a previous post on this blog – Sir Charles Sydney Jones (1872-1947) was a successful politician and businessman who took an active interest in education in Liverpool. He was member, Treasurer (1918–1930), and then President, of the Council of the University (1930–1936); and served as University Pro-Chancellor from 1936–1942. Motivated by a staunch belief in the transformational importance of education, Jones was also one of the most important benefactors in the history of the University. Amongst his generous gifts he donated both books and the funds to buy books, and so it is fitting that the Library bears his name. In this post, I hope to look a little more closely at some of those books. In particular, I am interested to uncover the important role Jones played in the formation of University of Liverpool’s impressive collection of incunabula (books printed before 1501) and early printed books (in this case, books printed between 1501 and 1540).

The oldest complete printed book in the University of Liverpool’s collection, Cicero’s “De officiis”, printed – on vellum – by Fust and Schoeffer in 1465. This beautiful copy was purchased by the University of Liverpool in 1954 using funds given by Sir Charles Sydney Jones. Previous owners include Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843), and the book was rebound by Sydney Cockerell in October 1977 (SPEC Inc.CSJ.F10).

Most of the books which Jones donated to the University were not from his personal collection. Rather, acquisitions records and letters in the archive make it clear that Jones was a willing and generous provider of funds to buy books old and new. Indeed, he often took a pro-active role in this respect – personally identifying and purchasing books he deemed befitting of a University, in order that they might enrich the education of the many. In particular, Jones bought books for the University as part of his grand plan to create a leading centre for educational research and teacher training in Liverpool. To this end, he purchased, adapted, and furnished numbers 20 and 21 Abercromby square, before gifting them to the University in the early 1920s. He was clear that this gift must include a “panelled and fitted Library to contain about 9000 volumes and a reading room adjoining”, writing that a “well-equipped Library will enable Liverpool to become an important centre of Educational Research” (University of Liverpool archives: D728/4/1). For those familiar with the University, the library Jones created is now the School of the Arts Library, though the books he filled it with are now primarily housed in Special Collections.

As his activities on behalf of the University suggest, Jones had considerable knowledge of the rare books market. Indeed, as well as buying books destined specifically to adorn the shelves of the Department of Education Library, he also bought rare books intended – at least in the first instance – to line his own bookcases. His impressive personal collection included a Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), as well as works printed by Nicolaus Jenson, Aldus Manutius, Johann Mentelin, Wynken de Worde and Richard Pynson, to name but a few. Mostly purchased during the 1910s and 20s, Jones’s personal library was eventually also gifted to the University, in the mid-1940s.

A heavily annotated copy of Higden’s Polychronicon, translated into English by John Trevisa, and printed by William Caxton, 1482 (SPEC Inc.CSJ.D03). This book came from Jones’s personal collection.

In all, we can thank Jones for around 150 books printed between 1501 and 1540, as well as for 46 incunables (the earliest complete work dating from 1465). These books were purchased from a range of booksellers, including Goldschmidt and Dobell in London, Gregory in Bath and Henry Young in Liverpool. The collection boasts the work of a wide range of early printers, and includes some landmark editions in the history of printing, as well as a number of especially rare early printed books.

SPEC EP.CSJ.A24 – the device of Wynkyn de Worde, in Incipiunt opera super co[n]stitutiones prouinciales & othonis (1517). The book contains annotations in more than one hand, including multiple inscriptions by “Arthuri Purde”. It is boxed with a letter from the Liverpool bookseller Henry Young, dated 30th December, 1912, describing this item, giving a price of £75, and suggesting that Sydney Jones may be interested to take a look at it.

A particular strength of the collection consists in the large number of books printed at the Aldine Press that it contains. As well as donating a number of Aldines from his own personal collection, Jones funded the acquisition of 100 formerly owned by the Rev. Mr. Charles Daniel (1836-1919), late Provost of Worcester College, Oxford, and founder of the Daniel Press. In a letter to his friend and collaborator, Professor Ernest Campagnac, he expresses his “delight” at this acquisition, and his desire to see the books for himself, particularly the “’Politiani’: I shall be interested to compare it with my copy for which I paid £15” (University of Liverpool archives: A192/5/2). The total sum paid for the Daniel collection was just £396. 

Jones’s books are rich in provenance, providing ample evidence of centuries of ownership. Many still contain marks of very early owners – in their early bindings, illuminations and inscriptions. Moreover, a number of the books have spent some part of their lives in the collections of important figures in the history of rare books collecting, including George Dunn, Michael Wodhull, Maffeo Pinelli, Richard Heber, Lord Spencer and Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex.

Catalogue records for all of the books donated by Charles Sydney Jones and printed before 1540 have now been updated, and his incunabula have been added to the Material Evidence in Incunabula project.

New Exhibition: Liverpool University Press: ‘Forward-looking for 120 years’

This exhibition celebrates the 120 year anniversary of the conception of the Liverpool University Press (LUP) in 1899. Drawing on archival material held within the Liverpool University Press archive and LUP publications held within Special Collections and Archives and the University Libraries, this exhibition seeks to document and display the key points in the rich history of the Press.

As with the scholarly communities it serves, LUP’s fortunes have waxed and waned over many decades but the unfailing commitment of Press staff, authors and editors, and a wider community of scholars who understood the distinctive and important contribution of university press publishing, have helped to lay the strong foundation on which LUP stands today.

Publishing more than 150 books a year, 34 journals and a number of digital products, and still the only university press to have won both The Bookseller and IPG awards for Academic Publisher of the Year, Liverpool University Press has been widely acclaimed for its willingness to embrace change. To that end, the team at LUP have chosen to celebrate the future as well as the past in 2019 with the strapline ‘Forward-looking for 120 years.’

(reference D80/5/2)

The exhibition is available to view at Special Collections and Archives, Ground Floor Grove Wing, Sydney Jones Library. It will run from September 2019-January 2020. We are open Monday to Friday, 9:30am-4:45pm.

Tweet us at @LivUniSCA & @LivUniPress; alternatively, contact us at scastaff@liverpool.ac.uk for more information.

Natural history in the LRI Library

Beyond the books donated to the Liverpool Royal Institution by Benjamin Gibson, the LRI’s library collection was dominated by material printed in the 19th century, with a particular strength in the natural sciences – the library having been developed primarily as a resource to support the Institution’s Museum of Natural History. The Museum was the jewel in the crown of the Institution’s activities. The first catalogue, drawn up in 1826, boasted 2467 specimens of rocks and minerals, 99 mammals and 826 birds – most of which were obtained through gift or deposit.

From “Index testaceologicus; or A catalogue of shells British and foreign, arranged according to the Linnean system”, by William Wood (SPEC Y82.3.18). The LRI Museum had one of the best collection of shells in the country.

Natural history books in the collection included works by some of the most important figures in the running of the Museum, including:

William Swainson (1789-1855), naturalist and artist, played an important role in organising the collections, as well as providing advice on their preservation. Swainson was best known for his illustrations, and the LRI library held a number of works illustrated by him:

Images from “Zoological illustrations, or, Original figures and descriptions of new, rare or interesting animals, chiefly selected from the classes of ornithology, entomology, and conchology, and arranged on the principles of Cuvier and other modern zoologists” by William Swainson (SPEC Y82.3.503-505).

Thomas Stewart Traill (1781-1862), was a physician and expert in medical jurisprudence. He nurtured a wide range of interests however, as evidenced in his being editor of the eighth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Traill became Keeper of the Museum in 1822, and was responsible for the creation of the first catalogue of its holdings (SPEC R.5.24/B). 

A second Liverpool physician, Joseph Dickinson (d. 1865) made a number of important gifts of botanical specimens to the Museum. Dickinson was also a lecturer in medicine and botany at the Liverpool Medical School, and wrote a work entitled The Flora of Liverpool (SPEC R.5.52/B).

And finally, one of William Roscoe’s many interests was botany. As well as being a key figure in the founding of the LRI, he was also instrumental in the creation of Liverpool Botanic Garden (later Wavertree Botanic Garden). In 1828 he wrote Monandrian Plants of the Order Scitamineae: Chiefly Drawn from Living Specimens in the Botanical Gardens at Liverpool:

References: H.A. Ormerod. The Liverpool Royal Institution: a Record and Retrospect. Liverpool University Press, 1953.

The Lancelyn Green Pamphlets

This post was written by 2nd year History student Aneurin Evans, reflecting on his work on the Lancelyn Green pamphlets for the HIST200 module.

As an undergraduate history student at the University of Liverpool, I was given the opportunity to work in the Special Collections and Archives of the University library. This was through my module History in Practice which was focused on practical applications of a history degree in employment. I worked on a collection of pamphlets donated by Roger Lancelyn-Green (1918-1987) of the prominent Wirral and Cheshire based family. The pamphlets were mostly collected by Thomas Green (d.1747), and as such most were printed in the years surrounding his lifetime between 1680 and 1740, though there are some outliers as early as the 1620s and as late as the mid 1800s. In total I went through around one thousand pamphlets, sorting them by size while noting their other physical characteristics such as inscriptions, damage, stitching and binding.

The pamphlets are almost universally of a religious nature: printed sermons, essays and back and forth arguments on theology. They sometimes comment on political events such as the English Civil War, the Glorious Revolution, through a religious perspective, and there is general discussion of liberties and the rights of men. However, most comment on more down to earth issues such as day-to-day morals and religious practice, offering insight into the cultural and religious life of the time. It must be noted that the writings come from a very specific and homogenous section of society and contribute mostly top-down perspectives. However, they certainly are still useful sources. The prominence of the authors positions and the sheer number of them make this collection really valuable, especially for anyone studying the history of religion, politics or the printing and consumption of writings in this period. The focus of the pamphlets is an advantage in this sense as it can provide a historian with deep and specific detail. As part of my cataloguing I noted how many copies of each pamphlet were available at other British universities and institutions, using the ESTC (English Short-Title Catalogue) database. A considerable number of pamphlets in the Lancelyn Green collection were one of five or fewer , and in some cases the only copy.

Much of the value of this collection lies in the attributes I was recording such as the size, format, stitching and binding. The collection is particularly useful for historians wanting to research these material aspects of written sources as the pamphlets have almost all been kept unbound as they were originally issued. The intact and well preserved nature of the collection gives an insight into the way that pamphlets were collected and read, as well as a good idea of the kind of literature a man like Thomas Green would have had access to and been reading. The pamphlets were more visually interesting and varied than one might expect. Though most were of a simple black and white design with only text, many others had printed ornaments or other illustrations on the cover pages that I am sure would be of interest to researchers but also serves to make browsing the collection more engaging. One element of design that stood out to me were the numerous multi-coloured and marbled covers on pamphlets throughout the collection, something I did not expect of widely circulated publications from the period.

Personally the work gave me an opportunity to experience a level of history I had not experienced before. By that I not only mean direct contact with physical primary sources but also the more practical side of research and preservation. Up to this point I had been more focused on secondary sources or reprinted primary sources. I knew relatively little about how high-level academic historical works were researched, compared to my undergraduate essays, and the ways in which primary sources are located and used by historians. In conclusion I would recommend that anyone interested in relevant historical research consults the Lancelyn Green pamphlet collection.

References:

Digitized copies of the texts (mostly from copies in other libraries) of the Lancelyn Green pamphlets can be consulted online (with institutional login) in the following databases:

  • EEBO Early English Books Online
  • ECCO Eighteenth Century Collections Online
  • Roger Lancelyn Green, the donor of the collection, wrote about the pamphlets as they were originally kept in the Library at the family home on the Wirral in: Poulton Lancelyn. The Story of an Ancestral Home (Oxford, 1948)

The Grace Library – The Brilliant Booles

This is the third in a series of posts by 2nd year History student Eddie Meehan. Eddie is working on The Grace Library of the Department of Applied Mathematics, a collection of 17th to 19th century mathematics texts, centred around the collections of Walter and Alicia Stott and Duncan C Fraser, and named after Samuel Forster Grace. The collection is rooted firmly in the city and University of Liverpool, and particularly in the Liverpool Mathematics Society and the Worshipful Company of Actuaries.

Particularly connected to the Grace Library collection are the Boole family, partly through Walter Stott, the husband of Alicia Boole. The most famous Boole is George Boole, known for Boolean logic, a key component of computer science and the philosophy of logic. Operators used on computers today such as ‘AND’, ‘OR’ and ‘NOT’ are known as Boolean operators.

George Boole (1814-1864)

George Boole taught briefly in Liverpool at Mr Marrat’s School , which would become part of the expanding Lime Street Station, at 4 Whitemill Street. This move was forced on Boole due to the collapse of his father’s shoe-making business. The school was run by William Marrat, who was, much like George Boole, self-taught in maths and science.

His wife, Mary Boole, specialised in the education of maths, writing various texts on education along with a variety of other topics including the occult. She was entirely self-taught, and was involved in the writing and editing of many of George Boole’s works. She was also the niece of Sir George Everest, after who Mount Everest was named.

In the collection, there is a bound collection of papers collated by Francis William Newman, one of which is written by and has a pencil inscription by George Boole. The collection also holds a bound group of papers written by him and owned by his daughter, Alicia Boole. Outside of the Grace library, the university library possesses a range of items relating to the Booles, including holdings from the transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, which George Boole contributed to.

Dedication from Boole to Newman.

Alicia Boole was also a mathematician, focusing mainly on four dimensional geometry, which she became interested in after receiving a set of small coloured wooden cubes from her mathematician brother-in-law, Charles Howard Hinton. She became a very well regarded mathematician, so much so that she was elected the president of the Liverpool Mathematics Society in 1914 and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Groningen.

Many of the volumes in the collection are linked to Alicia Boole through her husband, Walter Stott, who was a local actuary. Stott worked for the Worshipful Company of Actuaries in Liverpool, and was also elected president of LivMS. Much of the collection bears bookplates from the Walter Stott collection, and many bear inscriptions from him.

O is for Ornament

Headpiece on a sermon of 1717: SPEC LGP 425. ESTC T45992.

Printer’s ornaments are small decorative woodcuts or metal cuts used in letterpress printing as fillers on title-pages, and to demarcate the beginning and end of chapters or other sections.

Factotum containing initial T. SPEC LGP 425.

They may be described as head-pieces (at the head or top of the page) or tail-pieces (at the end or foot of the page); larger images may be described as vignettes. Ornaments include the large initials used to mark the opening section of text, and factotums, which form a decorative border into which any letter can be inserted in printing. Fleurons are flowers or other small pieces of ornamental typography.

Fleurons on the half-title of SPEC LGP 425.

Woodcut ornaments in particular show the wear and tear of repeated use, and can be used in dating and localizing publications, although in practice type may have been loaned or sold between printers. A change of ornament can also be used to identify a variant printing. In rare cases where the ledgers of a printing business survive, such as those for the firm of William Bowyer, ornaments provide rich supplementary evidence to identify anonymous printing by comparison with known imprints.

Ornament used to identify a false imprint on The monosyllable If! A satire. SPEC G12A.19. ESTC T170098

Although ornaments are generally decorative and are not used to illustrate a specific accompanying text, they may be pictorial in themselves, and are a charmingly various source for design history.

References

Tailpiece on SPEC LGP 425.

N is for Nuremberg Chronicle

The Nuremberg Chronicle (Liber Chronicarum in Latin or Das Buch der Croniken und Geschichten in German) is one of the most important books in the history of printing.

Produced on commission from Nuremberg merchants Sebald Schreyer (1446-1520) and Sebastian Kammermeister (1446-1503) in 1493, the 600 page text is attributed to Nuremberg doctor and humanist Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514). Drawing heavily from earlier, medieval and Renaissance sources, Schedel purports to tell the history of the Christian world from its creation to the time of writing. The text incorporates its fair share of myth and fable – with geographical and historical information on European counties and towns written alongside tales of epidemics, monsters and comets.

What makes this work remarkable however, is not so much the text itself, but rather the beauty and skill of the images that accompany it – bringing to life the biblical and historical events, major cities and important figures from myth and history within the text. Indeed, the Nuremberg Chronicle is the most lavishly illustrated book of the 15th century. In total, the work boasts 1809 images, produced using 645 woodblocks, many of which were used more than once. A mere 72 blocks were used for the 596 portraits of emperors, popes and other celebrities, for example – so each was used to represent 8 or 9 different people, changing only the caption.

As you can see from the above image, the woodcut images were incorporated closely within the letterpress text. A feat of considerable technical skill on the part of those involved in its production, this resulted in a particularly elegant and satisfying mise-en-page. To enable this, the work was first carefully planned in manuscript drafts (called ‘exemplars’) before printing. Remarkably, complete exemplars of both the Latin and the German edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle survive, and indicate that the images were sketched first, with the text inscribed to fit within the remaining space.

The “Dance of Death”
Double-page map.

The woodcuts and exemplars for the Nuremberg Chronicle were produced by Michael Wohlgemut (1434-1519) and his stepson Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (c.1460-1494), and the work was printed and published by Anton Koberger (1445-1513) – the largest printer and publisher in Germany at the time. Koberger printed the Latin version on the 12th July 1493, with a German translation following shortly after, on 23rd December 1493. The University of Liverpool Special Collections and Archives (SC&A) is fortunate enough to hold three copies of the 1493 Latin edition, and one of the German translation. A final copy of the Chronicle in SC&A is a pirated edition, printed by Johann Schönsperger (d. 1520) in Augsberg in 1500.

That SC&A holds so many copies of such an early printed book is perhaps rendered a little less surprising when we learn that no other 15th century book survives in as many copies as the Nuremberg Chronicle, undoubtedly an indication of its popularity at the time, as well as its enduring interest to collectors and researchers alike. Indeed, the SC&A copies were given to us by some of the most important donors in the history of the library – Charles Sydney Jones, Henry Tate, Thomas Glazebrook Rylands and Robert George Morton, and we were recently very excited to have all five SC&A copies of this important work on display in the reading room at one time, having beeen ordered up by Dr. Nina Adamova, as part of her research into marginalia in copies of the Chronicle. 

Large flourished initial in gold and colours on folio 1 of the copy of the Chronicle donated to SC&A by Robert George Morton in 1969.

References and further reading:

Wilson, Adrian. The making of the Nuremberg Chronicle. (1976)

Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, ed. Worlds of learning: the library and world chronicle of the Nuremberg physician Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514). (2015)

The Literary Annuals – the Perfect Gifts for Christmas

For the last few months, I have been undertaking a SOTA300 work placement here at the Special Collections and Archives. The key focus of the placement has been to catalogue the literary annuals collection; we have around 200 literary annuals in the collections. The literary annuals were popular in Britain in the early-mid 19th Century; most of the annuals we have are dated from 1830-50 and span across many different titles. I have been cataloguing the binding details and inscriptions found in the collection. The annuals were typically targeted as gifts for the female audience with many even written by women. This is evident in the inscriptions as many of the annuals have been dedicated to women: family, friends, and sometimes prospective lovers. The annuals were often extravagantly designed with the content being made up of short poems and pictures. They ranged from tiny pocket-sized annuals to larger ‘scrapbooks’ and ‘drawing room’ books which were intended to be displayed in cabinets. Many prominent authors disparaged the literary worth of the annuals, but they nevertheless have proved important in literary history; the annuals influenced the publishing market and invoked changes due to their sheer popularity.

There are distinct differences between the older annuals; like the early Forget me Nots (the first of their kind in Britain) and the later annuals as seen in the pictures below. The annuals saw the introduction of new binding techniques.


The Forget me Not for 1824 was one of the first annuals introduced in Britain. The book is hardback and is kept in a cardboard slipcase; the pictures and designs are intricate, but it is clear this is an early prototype for what was to come

The Souvenirs pictured here are from 1848 and 1853. There is a clear shift towards lavish designs; the colours are unique, and the use of gold was commonplace across the annuals.

Silk was used on some of the earlier annuals, with leather or cloth covers increasingly used for durability. The use of bright colours and embossed designs were introduced in this period, and it became incredibly commonplace for gold to adorn the annuals; gilt-tooled/blocked designs and gilt edges became almost synonymous with the annuals. The literary annuals were innovative, for example by using steel plate engravings. The standard gradually increased as audiences desired the most attractive books to own.

The annuals were ideal Christmas and New year gifts. They were released late in the year and were dated for the following year, much like modern annuals. The Forget me not pictured above provides an example of an annual gifted at Christmas. This particular copy in our collection is inscribed ‘To M. A. Garle From Mr J Garle. December 25th 1823.’ This appears to be a gift from a husband to his wife; the presentation plates were provided in order to prompt buyers to dedicate their editions.

Some of the annuals were even published in Liverpool, and many of the copies in our collection have links to Liverpool as they have been gifted by prominent locals such as the Rathbones, the Holt family, Sir Henry Tate (1819-1899), and Sir. Charles Sydney Jones (1872-1947). Meanwhile, there are some other annuals in the collection from America and mainland Europe; the annuals proved popular worldwide. With their beauty and poetic contents making them ideal Christmas gifts, it is easy to see why they reigned for so long.

Some of the annuals will be presented in our upcoming exhibition. From the beginning of second semester, the display will show a selection of the bindings and the interesting inscriptions alongside further details and information. Visit the exhibition in the Sydney Jones Library from February 2019 to see more!