Playwright Joel Orton and his lover Kenneth Halliwell “were jailed in 1962 after spending years doctoring books from Islington libraries, the jackets of which they would alter with surreal collaged additions, before returning them to the shelves.” They were sentenced to six months in jail. Today some of these same book jackets are “framed and proudly put on show by the same Islington libraries that once retained them as evidence of wrong doing.” Gill Partington. “Dust Jackets.” in Book Parts (eds. Duncan and Smyth): Oxford University Press, 2019.

Some 2019 Acquisitions

RALEIGH, Sir Walter. Judicious and select essayes and observations. By that renowned and learned Knight. Sir Walter Raleigh. Upon The first invention of shipping. The misery of invasive warre. The Navy Royall and sea-service. With his Apologie for his voyage to Guiana. Published by London. Printed by T. W.[arren] For Humphrey Moseley [dropped y in imprint], 1650. Collation: Engraved frontispiece, A4 + dedication leaf (inserted between title and A2), A-G8 (G8 blank); A[4], B-C8, D4, A-D8 (A3 labelled A2), E4. 4 separate title pages. Separate pagination with some pages unnumbered.

UTOPIA: written in Latin by Sir Thomas Moe, Chancellor of England. Translated into English. Publisher: Richard Chiswell at The Rose and Crown in St. Pauls Churchyard, 1684. Collation A2-A8, B-Q8, P3 [A1 and P4 blanks, lacking]. Pagination: [22], 206p.

Milton, John. A Defence of the People of England. Publisher Np, Np. 1692. Collation: [A1-A2], A3-A8, a-a8 [a8 blank], B-Q8, R4 Final leaf R4 “An advertisement to the reader.”

New Additions to the Anne & Kevin Major Collection

The following works were added to the Anne & Kevin Major Collection in December of 2019.

1. Hiddeness – Richard Tuttle / Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge

2. Annie, Gwen, Lily, Pam and Tulip – Eric Fischl / Jamaica Kincaid

3. Circhi e cene / Circuses and Suppers – Joe Tilson / Andrea Zanzotto

4. Opera of the Worms – Judy Rifka / Rene Richard

5. Snow Country – Tadaaki Kuwayama / Yasunari Kawabata

6. Dream Work – Bruce McLean / Mel Gooding

7. A Tremor in the Morning – Alex Katz / Vincent Katz

As well, there is a separate 5-unit group called “Penguin Designer Classics”. For Penguin Books’ 60th anniversary in 2006, five hardcover books were crafted by five internationally known artists, most with no previous experience in book design. Each volume was released in an edition of 1000 copies, with a transparent Plexiglas (Perspex) box serving as the book’s slipcase, which also supplies protection for the curious designs. Each is complete, with book, plexiglas case, and publisher’s storage box.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover (Lawrence) designed by Paul Smith

Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky) designed by Fuel

The Idiot (Dostoevsky) designed by Ron Arad 

Madame Bovary (Flaubert) designed by Manuel Blahnik

Tender is the Night (Fitzgerald) designed by Sam Taylor-Wood

Here is a link with a Guardian article dealing with the five books in more detail:

Seeing Through Things: Graduate Research in Material Culture

“What stories do objects tell? Through the study of folklore, we looked at the role of things in everyday life, from the mundane to the extraordinary. Each of us conducted ethnographic research focussed on materials in landscapes and communities; within one’s home and in public ritual; through music and performance. In this exhibit, we present the objects from our research. Each object communicates multiple experiences, from a variety of perspectives. We understand people, places and traditions—our material worlds—through these things.”

Exhibition statement from Dr. Kelley Totten’s Folk6400, graduate students in Material Culture. November 26 to December 17, 2019.

Left to Right. Dr Kelley Totten, Katie Crane, Shannon Bateman, Ting ting Chen, Kiersten Fage and Ayda Dalvand

Folklore of the Caucasus

Archives and Special Collections recently received a donation of six books on the Folklore of the Caucasus region of what is now Georgia. The history behind these books is as follows: prior to about 1910 there was no written language in the region. In the mid 1800’s Russia took control of the region and since then Russian scholars have recorded much of the Folklore and translated it into Russian. In the 1990’s, Dr. David G. Hunt translated these tales from the Russian into English and self-published about a dozen copies of each book. About 60 of the tales were published in “Georgian Folk Tales”, Merani Publishing House, Tbilisi, 1999 (ISBN 99928-16-42-2). Another 100 or so were published in “Legends of the Caucasus”, Saqi Books, London, 2012 (ISBN 978-0-86356-473-4).The six donated volumes are the originals and contain nearly 600 Folktales from which the 160 published tales were selected. The donor believes these are the only copies in Canada, and probably in North America. 

The Pitcher Plant Press

Brought to Newfoundland in the 1840s and later purchased by William Squarey to print the first issue of the The Standard, and Conception-Bay Advertiser in 1859, the press saw continual use until the Harbor Grace Standard ceased publication in 1936.  The “Washington” press equipment, manufactured by R. Hoe & Company, used to print the Standard, was still being used by Munn & Oke, Ltd. to print posters when Memorial University of Newfoundland purchased it in 1962 and named it the “Pitcher Plant Press”. It was subsequently used by Professor George Story to teach bibliography. It was later moved to Grenfell campus in 1994 where it was used in relief print making courses. It was returned to the Queen Elizabeth II Library in 2010 and is now part of the holding of Special Collections.

We hope to get the Pitcher Plant Press back in operation this year. Stay tuned!

New Acquisitions 2018-2019

MS 8: Tractatus de Superstitionibus by Polish scholar Nicholas Magni of Jawor (d. 1435) and Tractatus de Indulgentiis by  Franciscus de Mayronis  (Francois de Meyronnes,  d. 1327)

Treatises on superstition and indulgences. 83 folios on paper, complete (penultimate leaf cancelled). Germany, ca. 1460-1480: 308 mm x 215 mm (justification, ca. 230 mm x 140 mm). Double column, 46 lines. Vertical rulings only. Watermark close to Briquet 11799. Foliated 1-83 in modern pencil in upper right corner (both rectos and versos are foliated). Red tabs indicating the first and third texts (fols. 1r, 76r resp.). Corrections and emendations entered in the margins throughout. Decoration: multi-line rubricated initials; initials highlighted in red; red underlining.

A unique and unpublished treatise on superstitions. [Briefly described by Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, vol. 2, p. 24.]


Fols. 1r-53r. Anon., Tractatus de supersticionibus; incipit, “Utrum ydolatrie peccatum sit peccatorum gravissimum arguitur”; explicit; “et sic est finis deo gratias.” The text is anonymous, unidentified, and apparently unpublished. It cites a number of authorities, including Thomas Aquinas, William of Paris (perhaps the Inquisitor), and certain Church Fathers (Bede, Jerome, Augustine, Gregory, etc.). Of particular interest is a long section on music and demonology.

Fols. 53r-75v. Nicholas Magni of Jawor, Tractatus de superstitionibus, part II; incipit, “Questio est hec utrum quis licite possit uti ministerio demonum utpote ad prenunciandum futura”; explicit, “et presupposicione divine voluntatis vestre. Amen.”

Fol. 76r-83r. Franciscus de Meyronis, Tractatus de indulgenciis editus a fratre Francisco de Maronis fratrum minorum sacre theologie doctore; incipit, “Quodcumque ligaverit super terram erit ligatum et in celis”; explicit, “Restat ergo ibi locum sorciatur ubi nullus ordo sed sempiternus horror inhabitat a quo nos defendat qui in secula seculorum vivit et regnat.” This text has been written in a different hand.


Formerly Ampleforth Abbey (not before 1803), with their purple ink-stamp and shelf mark label “MSS. 8” on front pastedown.

Binding: Nineteenth-century (ca. 1870) three-quarter black goat over pasteboards with red, blue, and orange marbled paper. Ampleforth Abbey shelf mark on a paper label pasted to the spine reading “MSS. 8.” The binding remains in excellent condition, slightly faded at top.

Condition: Water-stains affect approximately the upper third of each leaf, but the text remains entirely legible; fol. 19 has a tear in the outer margin; fols. 82-83 somewhat degraded at top.