Farewell feast for AMST 851!

   Posted by: rring   in Classes, Interns, students

IMG_2857Tonight one of my students provided a feast for our last “world of rare books” class: octogenarian Emily Leonard, who made (among other things) the incredibly sinful chocolate chocolate cake in the foreground. It was a grand finale to a truly great group-dynamic this summer–thanks to all of my students (two not shown), and best of luck in your collecting!


During the 1st summer session (June/July) I am teaching AMST 851, a graduate course on “the world of rare books.” I have nine (9) students in all–four from American Studies, four from English, and one auditor from Simmons College’s LIS program.

Len1A few of us were privileged to visit the home of one of our Trustees, who collects Americana before 1840. He laid out a table of some of his favorites and went around, book by book, telling each item’s story. He also told us how he began collecting as a child–first with coins and stamps, then on to books beginning in his teens.

The one item that sticks out in my mind was a little (but important) rare tract by Samuel Penhallow (1665-1726), published in Boston in 1726: The History of the Wars of New England with the Eastern Indians.  This copy was annotated with commentary by someone who knew a veteran of the wars–in some cases correcting the text. The Watkinson has a 19th-century reprint of this work, but not the original, and certainly not such an amazing copy!

Len4In all the collection comprises over 600 items, which are neatly  shelved in several rooms.

img938During the 1st summer session (June/July) I am teaching AMST 851, a graduate course on “the world of rare books.” I have four students from American Studies, four from English, and one auditor from Simmons College’s LIS program.

Several of us attended a sale sponsored by New England Book  Auctions, a firm that runs a few auctions per month out of the Hotel Northampton, serving mostly dealers but often collectors and librarians as well. The sale proceeded at a nice clip–faster than usual, and 215 lots were knocked down in precisely two hours. The Watkinson won the following items, to the delight of the students (and one of our new Board members, who came with us and purchased two items for his own collection).

A lot of ten (10) early 19th-century chapbooks for children (religious/moral/educational): two were published in London (with color illustrations) by the Wholesale Bible and Prayer Book Warehouse; two in Massachusetts (Worcester and Wendell); three in Philadelphia (issued by the American Tract Society); and three in New York (issued by the American Sunday-School Union).

img942An edition of the history of the Jews by Flavius Josephus published in Vermont in 1819–a rather scarce book, all told–which was clearly intended for a Christian audience. There are only 13 copies listed in American libraries (five of which are in New England), and ours is the only copy in Connecticut!

img941A very small (4 x 2.5 inches) edition of John Wesley’s Thoughts on Slavery, originally published in 1774. This edition was produced in 1839 by the American Antislavery Society in New York. According to the preface: “To many it will probably be a matter of surprise, to perceive how exactly the sentiments of Rev. John Wesley, on the subject of American slavery, agree, not only with those put forth about the same time, in this country, by Hopkins, Franklin, Rush, Jay, Jefferson and others, but, also, with those now advocated by the American Antislavery Society. –Truth is immutably the same; and hence the wisest and best of men, in every age, and in every country, have invariably arrived at the same results, when reasoning on the momentous question of Human Rights. Though written more than sixty years ago, the reader will find, in the following pages, a minute and faithful account of Slavery as it exists in this nation; and the sin of slaveholding, and the duty of instant emancipation, are here demonstrated beyond the possibility of successful refutation. Let no one, into whose hands this little tract may fall, fail to give it a candid perusal.”

img939img940And finally, a rather excruciatingly racist minstrel show, The Nigger Boarding House: A Screaming Farce, by Oliver Wenlandt, published in 1898 (New York: Fitzgerald Publishing Corp.). This is also fairly scarce–only 13 copies are recorded, and this is one of only two in New England (the other is at Yale). On the title-page it reads, “in one act and one scene for six male burnt-cork characters,” and further, “with complete directions for its performance.” Also of interest to theater historians is a full-page ad on the inside front cover for “Dick’s Theatrical Make-up Book,” shown here.



Commencement 2014

   Posted by: rring   in Events, Tours

IMG_2854We were thrilled yet again to have a steady stream of visitors on Saturday of Commencement Weekend, many of whom were urged to visit by President Jones, who has always been a staunch supporter of the Watkinson.

In all we had 113 people, including students and their families, as well as random alumni, wander in between Noon and 3pm, who came to view our featured items:


IMG_2853Lucky 13!, a “baker’s dozen” of student exhibitions in the Watkinson Library including Native American education movements, explorations of Latino identity through artists’ books, 19th-century tourism in the Hudson Valley, the history of the Hartford Insane Asylum, and the works of Beatrix Potter.

2nd folio t.p.The so-called “2nd Folio” of Shakespeare’s plays, acquired in 2012, which was published in 1632, nine years after the landmark “First Folio” of 1623 (in which eighteen of Shakespeare’s plays were published for the first time). The 1632 edition bore over 1,200 corrections as well as the first published poem by John Milton.
title pageThe first edition (Brooklyn, 1855) of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, which the poet self-published (he also designed the binding and set some of the type). Just acquired, this literary landmark has been considered America’s second Declaration of Independence, in terms of its radical break with European literary culture and distinctly American voice.
John James Audubon’s Birds of America (1826-39). Given in 1900, this is by far the most valuable book at Trinity. We began turning the page to a new bird every week in September 2011. We are halfway through Volume II, and will get through the entire 4-volume set sometime in 2019.


Cambridge0001If the Shakespeare world of the nineteenth century would seem at times to have been more than usually populated with brilliant rogues and charming rascals, it also had its less colorful and more sober-minded scholars. Chief among these were the editors of the Cambridge Shakespeare, who issued their enormously influential nine-volume text between 1863 and 1866.


Andrew Murphy, Shakespeare in Print (Cambridge UP, 2003)

FurnivallIn 1880, F. J. Furnivall began issuing photolithographic facsimiles of the quartos, with the texts being created by William Griggs and Charles Praetorius, which was apparently not a happy collaboration. While it provided facsimiles for students with scholarly introductions, it came under criticism a few decades later from the bibliographer W. W. Greg.

Andrew Murphy, Shakespeare in Print (Cambridge UP, 2003)

Halliwell0002Between 1853 and 1865 James Orchard Halliwell produced one of the most lavish editions of the nineteenth century, in sixteen extensively illustrated folio volumes, with woodcuts by F. W. Fairholt. The edition was strictly limited and very expensive.

According to the Edinburgh Review, “Mr. Halliwell’s magnificent folios, which rejoice the eye . . . afford no solace whatever to the mind.”

A total of 150 copies were produced for subscribers, after which the ‘blocks and plates of the numerous woodcuts , facsimiles, and engravings used’ were destroyed.

In 25 copies the plates were reproduced on India paper (the cost of these copies was 150 guineas). For regular copies, the subscription price was 80 guineas.Halliwell0001

Halliwell, who co-founded the Shakespeare Society with John Payne Collier (Shakespearean critic, editor, and forger) and others, had a rather shady past. Granted access to the manuscript collections of Trinity College (Cambridge), he stole some materials from the library and sold them to the British Museum! He managed to weather that storm (the two institutions failed to agree on terms regarding legal action), and became friendly with Sir Thomas Phillipps, the wealthy antiquarian and collector. After gaining access to the library, Halliwell also sought Phillipps’ daughter in marriage, which enraged the father and led to a schism, but the couple inherited the Phillipps fortune after his death in 1867.

Andrew Murphy, Shakespeare in Print (Cambridge UP, 2003)

8.  brownell statueFrom the Archivist’s Perspective: Feature Columns and Articles by Peter Knapp in the Trinity Reporter, 1976-2012

The Watkinson Library and Trinity College plan to publish a volume honoring the retirement of College Archivist Peter Knapp, which will occur on August 29, 2014.  Mr. Knapp is himself a Trinity institution. Graduating with the Class of 1965, he received his M.A. in History from the University of Rochester and a Master’s in Library Science from Columbia University. He was hired by the Trinity College Library in 1968 as Head of Reference.

In 1972 Mr. Knapp also took on the development of the College Archives, and soon began writing articles on Trinity’s history for the Reporter.  He would ultimately collaborate with his wife, Anne H. Knapp, to produce Trinity College in the Twentieth Century: A History (2000), intended as a second volume to Glen Weaver’s 1967 History of Trinity College.

The prospective publication of 40 short essays concerning Trinity history that Mr. Knapp wrote for the Trinity Reporter, including a few excerpts from Peter’s book-length study, also includes one original contribution never before published, on Trinity men who served in the Civil War (on both sides!).

More information about this publication is forthcoming!

1.  t r roosevelt (frontispiece)Theodore Roosevelt speaks at Commencement

7.  chapel

Building the Chapel

MaloneIn 1792 the comparatively unsuccessful Shakespearean Joseph Ritson had launched a direct assault on Edmund Malone’s 1790 edition, claiming that he wished “to rescue the language and sense” of Shakespeare “from the barbarism and corruption they have acquired in passing through the hands of this incompetent and unworthy editor,” and caricatured Malone as a “Paddy from Cork” Irishman.

In 1792 Malone proposed “a new and splendid edition” in fifteen large volumes, but the publisher cancelled his contract due to slow sales.

Although we LACK the 1790 edition, we have the Malone-James Boswell edition of 1821, which was the final realization of Malone’s vision of 1792.

Andrew Murphy, Shakespeare in Print (Cambridge UP, 2003)

1st americanLiterary historian George Churchill, writing in 1906, observed (with a typically imperialist tone) that a “people that is winning the soil out of the wilderness and defending itself against savages has no thought of literature, much less of stage-plays,” and further noted that “Massachusetts was a Puritan state, founded by the kin of those of those men who in England attacked so bitterly the stage of Shakespeare. Pennsylvania was a Quaker colony, and the serious views of the Quaker gave no more countenance to the drama than did the austere and ascetic Calvinism of the Puritan.”

Records indicate that among the first copies of Shakespeare in America were ones bought by New England Courant Editor James Franklin (in 1722), Harvard (in 1723, which had purchased Rowe’s 1709 edition), Yale (which listed an edition in the 1743 library catalogue), and in 1746 by the Library Company of Philadelphia (the Hanmer edition).

The 1795 Philadelphia complete works, which we have in the Watkinson, was the first edition of Shakespeare to be produced outside of Great Britain. Alfred Van Rensselaer Westfall has tentatively identified the editor as Joseph Hopkinson, a prominent Philadelphia lawyer, observing that his work on the edition “leaves little to his credit,” as he hardly did more than “hand the printer a glossary from one edition, the text from a second, and a few notes from a third.” Interestingly, the bulk of the preface is taken up with a defense of Shakespeare’s works against the charge of immorality.

Andrew Murphy, Shakespeare in Print (Cambridge UP, 2003)