A century ago today, on March 23, 1917, Leonard and Virginia Woolf purchased a small hand press and some type from a shop in London. They set the equipment up on their dining room table and thus the Hogarth Press (named after their home, Hogarth House) was born.
Virginia had taken some bookbinding classes some years previously, and the printing press was meant to be a new hobby to combat her depression. Because the Woolfs chose to print experimental work which would not have been commercially viable to large publishers, the press also allowed Virginia the freedom to explore new avenues in her own work. The first book from the new press was issued in July of 1917.
The Hogarth Press printed works by the Woolfs and the writers in their circle, as well as important emerging authors, and often feature the artistry of modern designers and illustrators, including Virginia’s sister Vanessa Bell. As their printing efforts expanded, the Press became a major force in the development and promotion of the modernist movement in literature, publishing works from writers as varied as E. M. Forster, T.S. Eliot, and Sigmund Freud. The Hogarth Press would issue over 500 titles before the imprint was sold to British commercial publisher Chatto and Windus in 1946.
Special Collections owns about 30 pre-1946 Hogarth Press imprints, the earliest of which date from 1920-21 and are shown in this post.
If you visit the “Curious Remedies” exhibit this month, be on the lookout for a small, nondescript book of medicine by Nicholas Culpeper. This item was published in 1684 by Hannah Sawbridge.
Hannah was the widow of George Sawbridge, one of the most successful London printers and booksellers of the 17th century. Sawbridge’s firm printed royal Patents and published and sold a variety of books, including popular medical works like Culpeper’s. Sawbridge also held major leadership posts in the Stationer’s Company of London, the trade organization for printers and booksellers.
After George died in 1681, Hannah carried on the family business until 1686. In 17th century England, it was common for the widows of printers and publishers to own and operate businesses in the book trades (sometimes in cooperation with their children). More women participated in the book trades as booksellers than as printers or publishers. The names of many of these women appear in the archives of the Stationers’ Company — around 8% of recorded names in the 16th and 17th centuries are women.
Researchers interested in sources for women’s participation in this period print history can consult a microfilm copy of the Stationer’s Company archives here in Special Collections or can consult Henry Plomer’s multivolume Dictionary of the booksellers and printers who were at work in England, Scotland and Ireland at the Humanities Reference area on level 5 of the library.
The Lee Library’s current exhibit, “Curious Remedies: Medicine During the Renaissance,” highlights medical knowledge of the Renaissance and Early Modern period with books from Special Collections. Before chemical engineering or even the discovery of penicillin, physicians relied on plants, minerals, and animals to concoct medicines for their patients. Botanical encyclopedias called herbals helped scientists identify plants and their medicinal properties, and physicians and apothecaries circulated recipes for medicinal compounds in books and manuscripts called pharmacopoeias. Recipes for home remedies were also commonly found in books on cookery and household management!
To find examples of early herbals and pharmacopoeias, search the library catalog with the subject terms “Materia medica–Early works to 1800;” “Botany–Early works to 1800;” or “Pharmacy–Early works to 1800.” Shown here is a page from a 1670 English pharmacopoeia, The Pharmacopoeian Physician’s Repository by Everard Maynwaringe.
Special Collections has a complete set of books issued by the Limited Editions Club, a publishing venture founded in 1929 to issue selected literary works in finely printed and illustrated editions. Many famous authors, illustrators, and designers of the 20th century worked on producing these books.
Some of the most spectacular of the Limited Editions club books published in the last 30 years feature the work of African-American writers like Richard Wright, Maya Angelou, and Langston Hughes. Here is a sampling of the illustration from these books.
One of the most famous early printed Bibles is known as the “Complutensian Polyglot,” a multi-language Bible published at the Complutense University in the early 1500s (the University is now the University of Madrid, but in the 15th and 16th centuries the university was located in Alcalá de Henares, which was called Complutum in Latin). This Bible was the first of its kind, containing the text of the Bible in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, with a separate volume of dictionaries and study aids. Scholars, under the direction of Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, began preparing the text in 1502. Their work culminated with the printing of the New Testament volumes in 1514 and the Old Testament volumes in 1520. The Complutensian Bible, and later polyglot Bibles inspired by it, ushered in a new era of Biblical scholarship in the Renaissance by allowing theologians to compare the Biblical texts in multiple early versions.
The original Complutensian Bible is extremely rare! A Spanish publisher produced a facsimile of the Bible in the 1980s, but even those are not widely distributed, with only a handful of copies in North American libraries. Special Collections recently acquired a copy of this facsimile (along with a leaf from the original Complutensian Bible) and it is now available to consult in our reading room. The call number is Vault Collection Quarto BS 1 1514z — the title page of the fourth volume is pictured here.
Enjoy these woodcut images of the Christmas story, as found in the Book of Hours printed by Simon de Colines in 1543. Three of the woodcut illustrations are signed by Geoffroy de Tory, and the kneeling figure in the scene of the Adoration of the Magi is thought to be a portrait of French king Francois I.
If you’ve walked past the exhibit space on the main floor of the library, you may have gotten a peek at the latest exhibit being installed. “Curious Remedies” will display the history of medicine in the Renaissance and features a variety of scientific books from Special Collections. This blog will highlight a few of those books during 2017. Enjoy this preview from the French-language edition of Charles’ Estienne’s 1543 anatomy book, De Dissectione!
When new manuscripts make their way into Perry Special Collections, they go through a thourough process to make them ready to be used by patrons. They go through accessions to become a permanent part of the library. Then workers analyze the items and enter information into the catalog so that patrons can find what they want.
A new item that is going through the processing stage is the Joseph H. Rosenthal collection of book leaves. These beautiful leaves cover a variety of subjects and the print is lovely.This series will discuss some of the beautiful and interesting items that will soon be available for patrons of Perry Special Collections
We are fortunate to be the recipient of a beautiful muslin coverlet from the 1700s. The coverlet was made by a fifteen-year-old girl. She used the patterns from her mother’s plates and the needlework is exquisite After a brief period of conservation, the coverlet will be available for viewing. Hopefully classes in textiles, folklore, and history will share this beautiful piece of handiwork.
Special Collections is always acquiring new fine press books. This year, we’ve added books from important 20th century presses like the Grabhorn, Gregynog, and Golden Cockerel Presses, along with the work of contemporary artists. Here is a brief sampling:
Edwin Grabhorn, “A brief history of Japanese color prints and their designers.” Grabhorn Press, 1938 (This copy signed by the author). Call number: Grabhorn Press Quarto 1938 no.26.
Title page from “A Lover’s Progress.” Golden Cockerel Press, 1938. Call number: Rare Book Collection Z 232 .G565 1938 no. 4
John Brandi, “Into the Dream Maze.” Santa Fe: Press at the Palace of the Governors, 2015. Call number: Rare Book Collection Z 232 .P92608 2015 no.1
Cover detail from Guy de Maupessant, “The Necklace.” Provo: Old Mossy Press, 2016. Call number: Rare Book Collection Z 232 .OL14 2016 no.1.